Friday, July 27, 2007

Marcus' First Major

Marcus went WD for 3 pts last Sunday and his litter brother, Teagan, owned by Miss Cheyenne Schlect, went RWD. We are proud of our puppies! Taffy and Marcus both went reserve on Saturday. Not too bad for puppies in the 6-9 mth class.

Friday, July 20, 2007

First bath

My Bella puppies had their first real bath Tuesday. They get their first haircuts this weekend. Hard to believe they will be five weeks old on Sunday. Neil is headed to a show in Portland with Wincent, Marcus, and Taffy this weekend, so think good thoughts for them. I will be home puppy sitting (-:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Puppy Toys, The Good, The Great, The Dangerous

The photo is of Finn (Marcus and Taffy's litter brother) with his weim friend.

Well, my thoughts are still on puppies (it is all I think about right now!!)

I have a collection of toys that I rotate in and out of the whelping box/puppy pen. I have ordered most of them online, been given some, and others were things I saw at pet stores and thought would be great for my puppies. I think puppy toys are a great way to help socialize puppies. I work very hard to give my puppies as many experiences as possible that will bring out a slight startle reflex followed by a quick recovery. I think this helps to create fearless, outgoing, happy, friendly English Cockers. With very young puppies, I give these experiences mostly by taking them to new areas of my house and by giving them new toys to explore and play with.
My favorites:

The Babble Ball- This is a ball that makes noise each time the puppy touches it. It is soooo hilarious. It says many things including: Come along little doggy, here doggy doggy doggy, ouch don't do that, oh you got me, hot diggity dog, grrrrr.

Fat Cat Mini Big Mean Kitty and also their Crackler series of toys for cats. These are tiny little toys that my four week old puppies can carry around and they make a crackling noise when mouthed.

Toys with a noise box that make an animal or other type of noise or toys with a loud and sensitive squeaker.

Nylabones- The smallest size.

Petstages: They make so many neat little toys that make puppies think, I can't mention them all.

Ruff Doggie Puppy Teether
- These really do help teething puppies feel better!

The Dangerous: Any toy that a puppy can get trapped in or under requires supervision and can be very dangerous!! I bought the neatest little cat bed for my puppies recently. It is one of those tunnel style beds and it makes a crackling noise when walked on or layed in (I *love* noisy toys for puppies as I am sure you have noticed.) Well, I heard some crying from the puppy pen and found two puppies trapped in the bed by other puppies who were sleeping across the opening, locking the first two puppies inside. I no longer give beds like these unsupervised.

Please note: These toys are recommended for puppies only and most are not appropriate for older puppies and adults. Pet owners, I will make a list for you soon of my favorite toys for adult English Cockers!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Toys and Puppies

Raising puppies can sometimes be very humorous. Each canine mom has their own opinions about what is allowed in with their puppies and what is not. I have a digital thermometer that has two units, one that goes into the whelping box to read the temperature and the other unit I carry with me so that I can see what the temperature is wherever I am in the house. My red girl, Mandy, who is now retired was so funny about that thermometer. My alarm would go off on the unit I was carrying and I would rush to the whelping box, only to find that Mandy had removed the thermometer from the box and placed it as far away from her puppies as she could. She considered that thermometer a huge threat and I was never able to use it as she wouldn't allow it to remain in the box for more than a few minutes. I tried to talk to her and explain that it really was not a threat, but she was stubborn and not at all sure I was telling the truth. Mandy also would remove all squeaking toys from the proximity of her puppies. I am not sure if she considered a squeaker the sign that the toy was still alive?? She was quite happy to remove the squeaker (and the stuffing) while away from her puppies and then happily trot back to the whelping box to give the newly killed toy back to her babies.

The reason I bring this up is that I have two litters right now and each mom is completely different in what they feel is appropriate to have near their puppies. Bella is quite the minimalist (maybe she doesn't want her puppies to be spoiled?) and removes all toys of all kinds from her puppies' pen. She just picks them up and drops them over the side of the x-pen until she has emptied the puppies' area of any and every toy. On the other hand, she will carry to them anything and everything she thinks is edible and leave it for them to enjoy. Anything I feed her is fair game and she always tries to save a bit to carry in to the puppies.

Sophie spends her free time finding the very best toys in the house and carrying them to her puppies. Her whelping box was always filled with more stuffed animals than there were puppies! If this spoils a puppy, I am sure hers are doomed. Each new toy that enters our house finds it's way in to her box sooner or later. Sophie has not yet tried to share anything edible with her puppies... those things quickly find their way in to Sophie's stomach.

Health Testing, the TRUE test of a Good Breeder

I was reading a post on a dog blog this evening talking about websites like and similar sites that are for the sale of dogs over the Internet. Several pet owners were talking about whether or not breeders who sell on Internet sites like those are reputable. As these pet owners discussed what made a breeder reputable, they mentioned things like meeting the breeder and the sire/dam of the puppy in person, how many breeds the breeder was breeding, and whether the puppies were vaccinated. The did NOT mention health testing.

To me, health testing is one of the key things that separates a reputable breeder from everyone else. Yes, you should try to meet at least the dam of the puppies, yes you should look for a breeder who is not breeding many breeds as that is often a sign that they are breeding purely for profit, and yes you should look for a breeder who provides puppies with good health care.

You should ALSO look for a breeder who does health testing on the sire and dam of the puppies and who ALSO has an extensive knowledge of the health history of the sire/dam. The test results on the sire/dam are important, but it is also important that the breeder know the "lines" they are working with, meaning they know health results on several or more generations in the pedigree of the sire/dam. In many cases, the cumulative information that is gained from studying the health history in a 5 generation pedigree can give a breeder a much clearer idea of which sire to choose to use with their prospective dam. If someone purchases a dog from a breeder, does not get information about what health issues are in that line and then goes on to breed that dog, they are really breeding almost blindfolded, even if they do health testing on that dog. For example, if a dog is OFA Excellent, but has a dysplastic sire/dam he is more of a risk for breeding than a dog who is OFA Good, but has two OFA Good parents. This is the reason that finding a breeder who is very involved in their breeding program, very informed about the breed in general and involved in the dog community is important. Dog shows/events are not just a place to walk in the ring and show a dog, they are also the place where breeders are able to meet and talk about the breed and about their dogs. I am personally quite grateful to several English Cocker breeders who have helped me to learn much of what I know about the breed. I do read dog related material constantly, and learn through experience, but advice and knowledge shared by other breeders is invaluable.

Here is the health testing that I personally recommend for an English Cocker before breeding:

OFA Hips
Optigen Test for PRA

Optional but preferred:

OFA Elbows
OFA Patellas

For parti-colored English Cockers also add these to the necessary list:

Baer Test for Hearing
FN test for Familial Nephropathy.