Friday, December 7, 2012

Too Cute For Words!

And no pictures to prove it. . .   The last few evenings have been filled with a retirement dinner for a friend and a fish club meeting, so I have not been able to just sit in the box with the pups and admire them.  That comes tonight, along with a few new pictures.  I stop each time I go by to speak with and cuddle each puppy, but it's not the same as being able to climb in the box with them.  Oh my gosh these are cute puppies!

On Monday the pups will be 21 days old, my very favorite day.  That's when they will start greeting me with wagging tails and will also start trying to keep their bed clean.  This weekend I'll change their box from a carpet with two throw rugs, to newspapers and just one throw rug for sleeping.  The pups will quickly catch on to crawling off the rug to pee on the papers.  It always amazes me how strong that instinct is, and how certainly behaviors occur on very specific days.  In another week I will take the panel out of the front of their box to allow the pups access to the entire puppy pen, and they will begin exiting the box to pee.  It will take them awhile to all catch on to that and do it consistently, but it will happen right on schedule.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

This Too Shall Pass

As I took the "Whole Dog Journal" magazine from Fern, I said, "Fernly, WHY are you such a bad dog?  Why must you get into mischief all the time?"  She looked at me inquiringly and said very distinctly, "How was I to know that I should not take that magazine off the bar stool?  You never told me I couldn't do that!"  Yes, I heard her say that, or maybe I just read it in her expression. . .

Fern is not what I would call an "easy" puppy.  She's very active, always busy, way too smart, incredibly curious, and already seems to have a wicked sense of humor.  She misses absolutely nothing, and MUST check out all new objects and anything else of interest.  It must be studied, smelled, and often tasted as well.  I've raised a lot of puppies over the years and some were easy, while others were more of a challenge.  We often joke that the dumb ones are the easiest to raise and the best for pet homes, yet the smart ones are incredibly entertaining and often amazingly funny, and they do grow up to be wonderful companions.  BUT they take a lot more time and patience!

This is not an easy time for Fern.  Because it gets dark so early there is no time to take her running after work, on-leash walks just don't do it for her.  Weekend runs just aren't enough for her.  The puppies will take an increasing amount of my time too.  Fern will enjoy all the visitors, but because she'll get so excited I may have to keep her on leash, at least at first.  She's very easily stimulated and will definitely jump up on and climb all over visitors.  It will provide lots of training moments, but if she's like her Grandpa Argus it will be a long time before she actually has Company Manners.  It's much easier to manage and control a single dog - an enthusiastic puppy with all the competition for attention is much more of a challenge.

Fern was a Puppy Kindergarten drop out because of my broken hand, so it's time to get back to class with her.  We work for awhile every evening, doing Sit, Down, Stand, Stay, Watch, and Walk (not formal heeling), and she's very good - when there are no distractions.  Home training does NOT take the place of a good obedience class!

Beginners Obedience starts a week from Saturday, Hooray!  Although I ask my puppy buyers to attend training school or obedience club classes, Fern & I will be going to PetCo to train with Carol.  Many of the pet shop trainers have gone through their company's classes to train "trainers", but are not actually very qualified.  Carol is a trainer at my local PetCo and I have gotten to know her over the years and respect her knowledge of dogs and training methods.  Her sister also breeds and shows dogs, AND Carol feeds her dogs a raw diet, just as we do.  The store is only a mile away, which will be nice when the weather is bad, and classes are Saturday afternoon.  My only conflict will be the weekend of the local dog shows.  Hopefully we get through the entire class before Fern comes in season!

This too shall pass - but not without a fair amount of work on my part.  Good dogs don't "just happen".  They are raised to be that way.   I know Fern will grow up to be a Good Dog - it will just take time!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Someone Will Be Disappointed

Although it's nice to have a great many reservations for pups, it will be difficult when the time comes to place them because there won't be a puppy for everyone.  Because there is no way of knowing how many (if any) show potential pups we have here, I have enough reservations to place them all (except the patch) in show homes, as well as enough to place them all in pet homes . .   Probably MORE of each than there are puppies, but as I have learned over time, not everyone who expresses interest will actually be ready for a puppy when the pups are ready to go.  Sometimes life gets in the way and adding a puppy has to be delayed or even cancelled.

And sometime the available puppies aren't right for the individual situations.  Several of the people with reservations for pets will only consider a black spotted female, so a male pup or the liver spotted girl won't work for them.  One or more of the pups may have unilateral hearing which is relatively common in Dalmatians, and although hearing in only one ear does NOT affect a Dal's ability to be a wonderful companion (or even a show dog, for that matter), not everyone will want a uni puppy.
Patches are normally popular, but not everyone will want a patched puppy either.

NO show puppies are flawless - they all come with a few holes, however minor, or a few things we are not quite sure about.  For instance, a tiny bit of nose trim will most likely fill in - but it might not!  A high tail will probably come down (at least from this litter), but there is no way I can guarantee that.   Some people have spotting preferences, and a pup might be too lightly or heavily spotted for them, and although we can show blue eyed dogs in the U.S., not everyone finds them acceptable, and blues are faulted in Canada.  Several people on my list would prefer a liver girl, while others only want a black one.  First pick belongs to me, should I decide to keep a puppy, but after that we'll see how it all plays out.

I received the good news that Argus's liver daughter GCh. Cassie is pregnant by a top quality black-spotted boy (A GCh., Top Ten, National Specialty BoB winner).  Both Cassie and Gabe are wonderful dogs with lovely temperaments and all their health testing, and I know Cassie's family will do a good job with the puppies. Star Chart Dalmatians  or contact John directly at

The pups have names now - Maxwell, Folgers, Britt, Melitta, Vittoria, Gevalia, and Sanka!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pretty Spots - Just The Beginning

My daughter Jess came over to admire the babies yesterday and they did their best to be cute, staying awake for about 10 minutes each time we went down to visit them.  They've started swaggering around the box and are doing some slow motion wrestling, so are already very entertaining.  From now on it will be hard to get anything else done as visits with the babies will be longer and longer.  I'll stop in to check on them and end up staying for a couple of hours. They are even cute when they're sleeping!

Jess agreed that the faces and markings are particularly nice on these babies, one of the "prettiest" litters we've had here.  So we're past the first hurdles - everyone hears, the trim will be good on all, and everyone has a pleasing spotting pattern.  Now we will cross fingers for dark eyes, good structural conformation, correct bites, proper tail carriage, good legs and feet, and most particularly good dispositions.  They'll be BAER tested to confirm hearing and identify any that might have unilateral hearing, get thorough health checkups at about 6 weeks, be intensely socialized with people of all ages, and I'll spend many many hours just watching them stand, interact and move around.  And we'll have LOTS of puppy visitors.

As a responsible hobby breeder who breeds for the show ring, I hope that some of the pups will be show potential.  That's why I am putting all this time, money, and work into a litter of pups.   If I'm fortunate and this breeding turns out as well as I thought it might, some of the pups will look like potential show prospects, while others will be pet quality for minor reasons that do not detract from their good looks or personalities. All puppies will receive the maximum amount of attention, whether they go to show or companion homes, will be carefully evaluated, and appropriately placed.   Fingers crossed . . . 

Monday, December 3, 2012

And Now For The Naming

A short post today as I spent too much time admiring the pups.  I did one last hearing test (what we refer to as "home testing"), and got this picture of all the pups listening to me.  I had previously tested them (multiple times) while they were laying more spread out, since a deaf pup will respond when a hearing littermate moves in response to sound.  I was about 95% sure on Saturday evening that everyone heard, got positive responses from everyone when I tested them yesterday, and much stronger responses today when I just spoke to them in a normal voice (I start off with soft whistles and hand claps).  Hooray!

Now it's time to assign their names, something I will probably do this evening.  They all get coffee names and I have narrowed the list down to eight, so will discard one.  Britt, Gevalia, Mill Stream (Millie), Tully, Sanka, Vittoria, Maxwell & Folgers.  I'll probably discard Mill Stream, and name the liver girl Sanka.

Pups will be BAER tested to confirm their hearing status, and by then I will have figured out if any of the pups are unilateral hearing - pups who just hear in one ear, rather common in Dals.