Archive for September, 2008

From the Highs to the Lows of Dog Breeding

Like a bushel of fall apples, a large basket of stories are just waiting to be written from the events of the past week here. Over the next few weeks, I will share with our readers just how unpredictable this “business” is, and show you why no one should be doing this work unless their love of the breed exceeds the many trials they will face. But first..

Just as important to us as the many smiles our dogs generate from the visitors to our home, is the recognition from the professionals that we use, that we are breeders to be recommended and respected.  We always look forward to seeing Dr. Steve Feldman of Animal General for that final “litter visit” and review. We packed all our little furry children into two crates and made the drive at the end of last week.

There is usually some mild chaos as the pups stretch their legs and explore the wealth of smells that surround them.

Then comes the moment where we beam with pride as Dr. Feldman makes his final comments. “Another wonderful litter and all healthy”. The untold hours of work fade away as your efforts bound around the room with energy and affection. And many kudos back to Dr. Feldman and his wonderful staff. They all deserve special applause for their dedication and clinical acumen in caring for our many animals over the years. This final picture of the visit to our vet says it all about Steve’s caring and commitment.

But along with all the happy moments, are those situations that are just the opposite that we must face and endure. Mother Nature always seems to exact its price in keeping the score even between a happy outcome and one not. And our clients are sometimes the sad recipients who must pay.

First was the family who long wished for a golden to add to their family. When they were notified of their place in line for a puppy, the husband went to get tested and unfortunately was diagnosed as allergic to dog dander. Next was 5 year old Carson, who used to come to my office to see my “dog photos” while his mother had her OB visits. I promised him when his parents decided the time was right, we would have a golden puppy for him. This summer the timing was right, and his sister and he enjoyed playing with the pups in our yard. The following day we were saddened to learn he had an asthma attack that prior evening, and the allergist painted a grim picture if a long haired dog entered the family. There is a hope he will outgrow this sensitivity, but for the family that had been planning on a golden puppy for the past three years, it was a crushing blow. And finally, we had a surgical emergency with one of the pups two days prior to the puppy leaving for its new home. We are saying our prayers for Mr. Black as he is fighting for his life in the ICU at Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Massachusetts. Our best wishes go out to Leslie and her family for their disappointment in waiting so long for a puppy, only to have seen their plans go horribly awry. We will keep everyone informed as we know more.

Temperment Testing

Coming off two 24 hour shifts in the hospital this past weekend has put a serious crimp in the time available to keep everyone informed about puppyville here. Tales and photos of more visitors, and another visit to the hospital to render healing puppy hugs, will have to wait so I can stay current.

Yesterday, a very good golden breeding friend of ours, Donna Talbot, came over to do the temperment testing of the litter. The pups were judged on 9 categories: from social attraction, following, restraint, social dominance, retrieving,  and chase, to sound and touch sensitivity. Like the other hallmarks of this litter of color and size, uniformity continued with the personality tests. There were no outliers, and we were very happy with everyone’s scores. “Perfect” puppies all! Thank you so much, Donna, for volunteering your time and expertise.

Barbara then assigned the puppies to our clients based on the timing of their applications and their own first, second, and third choices. Everyone has been notified. Now we are counting down the remaining days to this saga of puppyville. Bittersweet as always…

Everyone was pooped by the end of the morning.

Next week at this time, everyone will be starting their new lives with their adoptive families. And that golden magic of goodness, love, and energy will be blessing ten new families.

New Chapters From Dogville

The last few days have been frenetic with visitors, website upgrades, more visitors, and puppy travels. I will try to give everyone a synopsis of what we have all been up to in this past week…

First the big news! Emma got to reunite with her family today. Off antibiotics for 24 hours now, her milk supply has dried up with medication, and it is safe for her to be with her pups again. A very long two+ weeks of recovery, she wasted no time getting reacquainted.

The change in her demeanor is so heartwarming. She is content again. That last photo says it all!

We’ve had lots of visitors to the whelping box in the last two weeks, but with the upgrade changes to the website, I had to learn some new steps to doing this blog. I finally have the know how thanks to Dana Rockel of our website team.

So here are many of our initial visitors, family, clients, friends.. If you don’t see your photo here, it is only because the shot did not do you justice for the world to see.

Friday was a special treat for me. After I got home from call, I picked up Mr Red and Miss Silver and we visited my offices and the hospital. The nurses on the various floors where I work knew I was coming all week, and the excitement was palpable. The puppies were just their simple selves, but just look closely at some of these photos to see how much happiness people inhaled from their hugs and kisses. Amazing! And that is what keeps Barb and I doing this work… So much goodness for such a small price of time and work.

All my medical friends in the above photos have seen life in its full spectrum of colors. From the darkest blacks to the brightest blues. They know how hard the daily struggle of this life is, and how short a time we are given to make a difference. Many of these folks are golden owners themselves, and have experienced the extreme sadness of a beloved companion passing. That is why I felt this visit to the hospital was so important. To bring healing to the healers. It became almost a mystical experience..

Now on to today.. We started the day like any other day we expect visitors: up by 5:30 AM, breakfast for all, and then baths.

Then it was outside for the first time for this litter. The back patio made a nice enclosure for the pups and all the visitors today.

And the day still wasn’t over. My cousin Ron and his wife Barb always come over to see our litters. They are special to us for more than our bloodlines. They have had faith in our breeding efforts from the start. Their first golden, Emma,  from our very first litter, has passed away.  Sandy and Maggie though, were in fine form for their visit today.

Our big girls are very territorial so we left them in the house. They managed though to crowd around the window watching…

We let Lucy out to see if she remembered her litter mate, Maggie.

Sadly enough, dogs do not have long memories for that sort of thing. They may know their masters forever, but not their kin.

Now it is evening and the pups are back in their whelping box resting. This has been an extra long bit of story telling. I have now caught up with the goings on here. Tomorrow brings another day full of different families coming to visit. You can see how this breeding business takes over your whole life for the span of eight weeks. Still, if I count the number of smiles that we brought to young and not so young this week, it would far exceed the number of minutes that it took me to put this together tonight.

I will leave everyone with the picture that Claudia brought for Barbara today. She is five years young and wanted to give Mrs. Bourque her rendition of the whelping box and our puppies after her visit the other day..

Priceless..         Thank you, Claudia, for your gift to us.

Goodnight and puppy hugs to all.

Visitor Parade

Despite the threat of drenching downpours this weekend, we have had a nice flow of clients, neighbors, family, and friends to the whelping box. The socialization skills of our pups are developing nicely, and true to their golden heritage, they exude major cuteness and cuddliness. Emma is still forbidden from seeing her pups. She is almost well and we hope by next weekend she can return to them. Her milk is drying up nicely and her antibiotic course is almost done. She still looks longingly at the cellar stairs, but she is not crying as much now thankfully.

Barb has to work extra hard to keep the box and puppies clean for company. Usually a visitor day starts with baths for all and then a manicure. Trimming 200 little nails turns out to be quite a chore as well. We want to be sure that none of the pups scratches anyone.

We just had an upgrade to our website and email system at the end of last week. I haven’t learned the new system so I can’t upload all the photos of everyone I was expecting to show off. The email system is new to me also, so be patient if you don’t hear back from us as quickly as usual.

We expect another full day of golden lovers today. I expect everyone will leave a little happier in spirit and with a smile in their hearts from the good vibes these little creatures give off. I will leave you with one photo of a very clean and fluffy puppy, waiting to be held and loved.

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