Archive for November, 2007

Emma’s Cape Cod Adventure


I dropped our Emma off at the Cape on Sunday for Berna of Pebwin Goldens to try and work some magic with her Golden boy Mulder. Our frustration this year with our breeding program continues. The infertility vet has been away on vacation with her return not a good match to Emma’s heat. In addition, Emma is having a delayed ovulation this cycle, compared to last year which has forced us to do every other day progesterone levels. The cost for this series of blood tests is now over $900 so far and continuing. Without the vet being available for a surgical insemination, we have come up with plan B being a natural breeding or an artificial insemination by Berna when her progesterone levels are finally appropriate.

It is almost laughable to think that at the beginning of 2007 we were wondering if we could successfully handle three litters this year. This is our last shot at a single litter.

So for everyone waiting for a successful breeding, please say a prayer that all will go well later this week with Emma and her beau.


So that we may be blessed once again here with happy growls and puppy squeaks from the whelping box.


On another depressing note, Barb and I are saddened to report that Cam, a seven year old from Abby’s second litter, passed away last Friday due to cancer. He fought a valiant fight with months of chemotherapy and boundless love from his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lisa and Tom and their children during this very tough time.

First Snowfall and Other Events


Here in New England earlier today, winter touched us gently on the shoulder to remind us of her coming along with the holidays. The dogs had a frolicking time, and Riley was quick to try and make snow angels despite the limited amount of snow that fell.

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Walking home after our wet adventure on the fields, the slippery roads made me feel a bit like Santa with my reindeer dog team pulling me along. Of course we couldn’t fly but the dogs showed their excitement at the surprise weather by keeping a very fast pace.



With Thanksgiving only a few days away, on behalf of all of us here in the Farmington Valley…

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Solo: FirstSnowfall18.jpg


And Barb And I, we would like to extend our best holiday wishes to our friends and family. May everyone have safe traveling wherever your destination may be.

As always though, the gears of the circle of life are forever turning. With every happy event, life seems to extract a balance by having something equally sad happen. I am very sorry to report that Rudder, Riley’s recent stud, and only seven years old passed away this week, due to the sudden diagnosis of cancer.


Our prayers go out to Cindy Jones and his co owners for losing such a special boy.

The disappointing news continues with our Riley having her final ultrasound tonight. She is without pups. Our disappointment for ourselves and our waiting clients however, pales to the loss our friend has just suffered.

And speaking of prior heartbreaking losses, I am happier to report that my efforts to keep our Abby’s memory alive has reached fruition. Today I applied “Abby’s labels” to my first two batches of homemade Ale. My unsuspecting family on thanksgiving will be the first to try it and see if it is worthy of her memory! If so I will give it away as gifts.
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I have found that beer making is much more complex than making wine although the fermentation process is shorter. There are many more kinds of hops to choose from than there are varieties of grapes.
Finally, we have been doing serial progesterone levels on our Emma, who is in heat. It looks like her fertile time will be this weekend. I am in close contact with Berna at Cape Cod to see how we will arrange our Emma and her Mulder having a successful mating like a year ago at this time. Further details will be forthcoming as they happen.

Mission News and Breeding Updates


We had a very successful week in the Dominican Republic. The mission base was located in a high mountain town called San Jose de Las Matas. Although the water supply was intermittent along with the electricity, the physical conditions were not as harsh as the desert area we were in last year, so all members of the team came back healthy. The terrain was lush and jungle like and amazingly free of bugs compared to last year. It did take a while to get used to the guards patrolling the compound with shotguns and machetes however.

The people live simply. There is no running water or electricity in most of the town. There are no mail addresses and very few street names. I saw only one working traffic light in the whole town. These people live in the present, with little hope that tomorrow will be any different from today.

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The medical team travels around in a big yellow bus. Most of the roads are unpaved. There is no trash pickup and so debris and filth are everywhere. There was only one working toilet in the whole hospital, and that was also where the liquid medical waste of blood and body fluids went. Of course the toilet only flushed with gravity, by pouring water from a large garbage can into the bowl. The water came from a faucet that was locked in a closet with locks on the spigot. A special local official was in charge of the key. There was an XRay tech there that had an antiquated machine. He is paid 15 dollars per month. He has only done about 5 XRays in the last 3 years.

So the medical needs are tremendous and empty benches in the hospital are soon replaced by teaming numbers of people seeking help once they hear of our arrival.
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We did about 70 surgeries in 4 days of hard work, plus one day to set up the hospital and another to pack it up again. We lost no patients this year, although one had to be transported to a big city hospital to an ICU after complications of thyroid surgery required an emergency tracheostomy. Three in country hospitals had turned her down as too risky a surgery. The surgeons with me successfully did her operation. Post-op complications occurred mainly because she hadn’t been taking her required pre-op medications and she didn’t tell anyone. Two team members stayed with her overnight for two nights as we learned from last year that the local nursing care is non existent. At the end of the week we learned she was doing well and expected to make a full recovery.

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On a personal note, we did two successful emergency cesareans, and both mothers and babies did well. One delivery we completed by flashlight as the power went out in the middle of the case. The happy smiles of the new mom and dad helped me mentally balance out the lives lost on the prior mission trip.


I have a new appreciation of the fine line between life and death down there but also realize that is the way of most of the world. And any success is one that wouldn’t have happened without our presence there.

There were personal rewards everyday and most were unexpected. Like the impromtu concert my son Brian put on in the street among the squalor. The team was gathered outside a small cantina at the end of the day, and a passing school student came along with a guitar. I asked if I could rent it for a short while and she cautiously agreed. By the end of a few songs we had a gathering of children surrounding us with beautiful smiles and amazed looks. That was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for my son who came along as an interpreter and helper.


Of course we had to leave a little bit of American culture there when we left. All the children got goody bags filled with crayons, toothbrushes, and assorted small toys. The photo of these four kids says it all… God bless America!


Be sure to click on the photo above to see the smiles on these young faces.

Now back to life here in dogville. Sorry about the digression into areas far removed from the world of golden retrievers. But if I can inspire just one person to donate some time or funds into helping another during this Thanksgiving season, then the effort required to compose this post will be worth it.


The disappointment continues here with our recent breeding attempts. Riley had an ultrasound yesterday and no puppies were seen. I will repeat the study in one week and if that does not show any life, then our attempts were unsuccessful. On a positive note, our five year old Emma just started her heat. The amazing sire from last year is available. Unfortunately her fertile time will place her needing insemination around Thanksgiving. Looks like I will be spending my holiday in the truck commuting back and forth to the Cape and the infertility vet. A small price to pay though if we can finally have a successful litter.

Update On Riley


Tonight we did an ultrasound on our Riley. No puppies seen. All is not lost as this was about the earliest you could see them if she conceived on the first day of trying. We will repeat her scan in 9 days when I return from the mission. We will be optimistic, but her breeding was a difficult endeavor and lasted four days. She was a lady throughout her medical adventure tonight, and now is sleeping at my feet. We will be surely disappointed if she is not pregnant, but we give thanks for her good health and great companionship.

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