Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Puppy Whelping tips

Today I went over to my breeders house to play with puppies. It is Spryte's mom's second litter. 3 boys who are now just 4 weeks old. They are adorable, fluffly little puppies.  They mostly just slept while I was there, but I had fun cuddling them just the same.

While visiting I received a lot of advice for my first litter.  Things like using a hard kennel bottom as the whelping box, with a wood platform on the bottom of the kennel.  Laying a heating pad on this and then either a towel on the heating pad, or even covering it with plastic bed covers for potty training children. What a great idea!

For the birthing cover the kennel with puppy pads and clean them out between puppies.  When puppies are born clean the sack off right away with a towel so they can begin to breathe.  Use a small bulb syringe to suck out fluids in the puppy's airways that might cause him to have difficulty breathing. Warm the pups and get them feeding right away.

Use a hemostat on the umbilical cord about an inch from the puppies body. Leave it there for a few seconds, sqeezing gently before cutting the umbilical cord off with sterile scissors.

Use a plastic container with a heating pad and blanket in it to keep the puppies warm while mom is busy birthing the next puppy.

Let mom eat only two placentas, after that she might get sick.

If mom has stopped contracting, get her up and moving, sometimes the movement will start her contracting again.

Puppies can move to an xpen in the kitchen at about 3 weeks of age. But cover the sides of the pen as puppies can get feet or heads caught in the bars!

Those are most of the tips that I can remember right now.  The nice thing is Leane repeated a lot of the same things that I read in the "Puppy Intensive Care" book. Hearing it twice will help me remember what to do and what to expect.  I am feeling more and more confident about my first litter thanks to all the great advice I have received so far. (and I am more than happy to receive more great advice from all of you pros out there).

Spryte and siblings at 3 weeks of age. Spryte is the middle puppy.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Pictures and stuff

When I take a bath Spryte always has to supervise. I think she is worried I might drown. She spends most of the time leaning over the side of the tub watching me with this concerned look on her face. If she is not doing that she is lying right next to it, just in case I might need her help. The rest of the dogs are no where to be found, they know bath time means water, yuck!

"Mom can you please step out of the tub before you drown!"

I took the dogs out yesterday for a walk just after it rained. Hoping to get some nice outdoor pics.  Mostly I always end up with the same pictures of my dogs standing and watching stuff.  My dogs don't play with each other and if there is no toy to chase they just wander and sniff stuff. Oh and eat grass. Actually that is pretty much all they do at this time of year. I think I have a herd of cows, not a pack of dogs :(

 Spryte eating grass

 Strider eating grass


The family                   

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Conformation at Evelyn Kenney

I entered Spryte in conformation at the Evelyn Kenney dog show in July (along with obedience and rally).  I figured if I am going to be there for obedience, why not add something else to the mix. I often find there is too much down time at obedience trials. So having something else to do will fill up some of the day.  Besides I really do want to get that Championship.  It seems like an impossible goal right now, but I'm not the type to give up on my dog training goals, so we will just keep entering shows until it happens.  We have started practising our gaiting and stacking on the table.  I took a handling class for beginners last year and it was really helpful. The only problem is that I have forgotten most of what I was taught. It was just too long ago with no practise in between.  I wish I could get out to a handling drop in class before the show, but they are all in the evenings when I teach classes. So I will muddle along and hope I am doing it right.

 What amazes me most is how well Spryte adapts to the sport I am working on.  She can go from agility, to obedience to conformation and not skip a beat.  Too often I hear that you can't teach your conformation dog to sit (or attention heeling) and I just don't believe that is true.  As soon as I put Spryte's conformation collar and leash on and move her into a stacked position she knows what she is doing. My body language is completely different from the obedience ring and the commands are different as well. Right from the time Spryte was a puppy I started this with her.  She has no problem telling the difference between coming into a stacked stand and coming into an obedience front and sit.  The gaiting is different than obedience too. I hold my hands in a different position, move differently and they have different names. Yes she checks in with me a bit while gaiting, but it certainly isn't attention heeling. 

From day one when doing conformation I always rewarded her forward movement by throwing food on the ground out in front of her. This has her moving out and looking ahead for cookies that might appear.  She does not have her nose to the ground, she just scans ahead while moving.  In obedience the food is always fed out of my hand in exact heel position, this way she is always looking up at  me for the reward. Placement of rewards can greatly affect performances in any sport. Where you reward is where your dog is most likely to gravitate to.  Change the reward placement and you can often change how the dog performs the behaviour.  This is a training rule that I have always followed for all the sports I compete in with great results. Now if only there was a simple rule I could follow to guarantee a win in the conformation ring ;)

Here is Spryte winning Best Puppy in Breed with breeder Leane Lorenzen

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The deed is done.

Spryte has been bred three times now to Ace.  The deed is done and now we play the waiting game.  We can ultrasounds on day 32. And the first expected delivery date will be August 17.  So fingers crossed that Spryte becomes pregnant and gives birth to at least 3 healthy, lively puppies.  I will keep you all updated as the information comes in.

I'm really enjoying this next phase in my dog career. I have been reading dog books and articles like crazy on breeding, birthing, puppy raising etc. I just finished the Puppy Intensive Care book by Myra Savant-Harris and although it made me realise all the things that could go wrong in the birthing process, it did make me feel more prepared if something were to go wrong.  I now have a list of supplies that I will need for that special day, and a plan of action for the pre-delivery, delivery and post delivery care.  Thankfully for me I have Paul who will be there too and he will know exactly what to do if anything goes wrong.  I think he is the reason I'm not panicking about the whole thing.  If I was by myself I would be alot more worried about my first litter of puppies.  Instead I get to relax and enjoy the whole process.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

that last CD leg

Well it's time to finish that darn CD. Spryte earned two legs back in December and I haven't entered her in obedience since. We have been far too busy focusing on agility to spend any time on another sport. But now with regionals finished it's time to switch gears and focus on obedience again.

 I entered Spryte in two rounds of Novice B at the Evelyn Kenny show in July. Now that she is entered it's time to practise!  Today was our first session in months. Truly I can't even remember the last session we did.  We had a friend run us through a novice round to see where we are at and it went very well. She would have passed everything with a nice score. The off leash heel wasn't as sharp as the on leash heel, but I can live with that.  Mostly I just want to get it over and done with.  I have always completed my CD in a weekend or two back to back. So to have waited 7 months to get that last leg is killing me.  I really regret not entering her in another show in December while we were on an obedience streak. But it's too late now, so hopefully that last leg will come at Evelyn Kenny.

I really enjoyed my obedience session with Spryte today.  I don't get that same adrenaline rush as in agility, but there is something really special about the teamwork that forms doing obedience. I love a focused heeling dog. There is something really cool about having a dog happily trot along beside you, watching your every move and not missing a beat. And I like working on the other obedience skills too, I think it makes my dogs a lot more well rounded and gives their mind and body a break from agility.

Besides the novice routine I also worked on all the non jump exercises in Open and Utility.  I haven't done scent discrimination in forever until today and Spryte also did very well with this.  She had no problem finding the wood and leather, and found the metal right away. But she didn't want to pick it up, so she pushed it around a bunch, and then grabbed a wood instead.  After hearing a "wrong" for the wood she decided that she did have to pick up the metal one after all and brought it to me right away. Again for not practising in months I was thrilled with how she performed. Her drop on recall, signals, glove were also very good.  She is still mouthing the dumbbell like crazy and I wonder if I will every fix this one.  We continue to battle it with little success. Her go backs were also less than desirable.  She was hesitant to leave and didn't run a straight line.  So I will need to work on those too.

Anyway I am happy I have entered Spryte in obedience. I feel like I am ready to return to the sport and ready for all the training that is involved. And Spryte also seems happy to be focusing on some different skills for a change.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

2012 AAC Alberta Regional Championships

This past weekend I attended my third AAC regional championships in Medicine Hat.  It was a great experience and I think the best regionals I have been to yet.  The event was held at a baseball sports center with 4 large ball diamonds.  The rings were set up in two of the diamonds with plenty of space between them.  This was a nice touch as there was lots of room to set up chairs around the rings to watch the dogs competing.  The other great thing about the location was an off leash park minutes from the ball diamonds.  The tipi in the pic was located at the entrance to the offleash park and several paths lead down into a beautiful greenspace with a stream running through it.  It was a great perk to be able to walk the dogs Friday and Saturday evening, allowing all of us to relax and have the stress of competition melt away.
      Flashing Canines in Medicine Hat was the hosting club this year.  They were incredibly organised and the trial flowed smoothly all weekend long. The volunteers were wonderful and everyone was happy and having a good time.  The club was also really quick at posting results and they added some original flair with a live auction (complete with a true auctioneer) on Sunday and pizza for everyone while waiting for the aggregate results.
       I even attended the banquet dinner on Saturday night, a first for me, and I had a great time at this event as well.  The food was excellent and the company entertaining.  The club even had a fun little game for door prizes where if your ticket was called you were given three darts and you had to pop a balloon on a board.  This is harder than it sounds!  Anyway my ticket was called and I did infact manage to pop a balloon with my second dart. Winning a very nice sports bag with the 2012 regionals logo embroidered on it.  I was thrilled with my prize and my full belly.  What a fun evening!
   So on to the results. Friday we did the warm up events which included a steeplechase and a snooker round.  Spryte won the steeplechase round and Strider came in third (I think, it's been a while now).  The snooker round had a twist were if you could get maximum number of points you won money.  So you needed to get four 7's and finish your closing.  Snooker is not Spryte's forte, running PAST obstacles is a hard thing for a speedy dog to do.  So we only got to three 7's when she took an off course on our way to number 4 and got whistled off. Strider is a good snooker dog and we did manage to get the maximum number of points and win $100 too. This was our first time getting the maximum number of points as I tend to just play it safe in snooker, get my 3 reds and get out of there.  So it was a good start to our regionals weekend.
     Saturday morning was the beginning of the actual regionals event and our group started with Standard, then on to Jumpers and we finished off with Gamblers.  Sunday we ran Jumpers, Gamblers and then Standard.  Both dogs ran really well all weekend. I was especially thrilled with Spryte who handled her first regional event like a pro. She was focused and responsive to my handling all weekend long.  She also never missed a contact and never self released from one either.  She was a rush to run and kept her speed up all weekend long.
        In the end Spryte had three clean runs, getting both gambles and a standard run.  Both jumpers and 1 standard she had just one refusal on each run.  She earned two first place finishes and a second place finish for those individual rounds.
    Strider was my steady little guy all weekend, and I had a blast running him.  He was always smiling and barking happily throughout every run.  He ended up running clean in 4 rounds, both jumpers, one standard and one gamble.  The first standard he unfortunately got an off course when I pulled to hard and sent him into a tunnel instead of onto the aframe. oh well, these things happen.  The gamble he took an off course jump, which ended that round.  In the end he placed 1st in three of the individual rounds and second in his other clean round.
        Now for the aggregate results.  You need 350 points to qualify to attend nationals.  I am so very pleased to announce that both my dogs qualified for nationals and both dogs ended up on the podium.  Strider placed third overall in the 10" vets division with a final total point value of 542.38.  Spryte shocked me by placing first overall and becoming the 16" Special Regional Champion with a final point total of 527.12. 
    I feel very blessed to have such wonderful shelties.  Strider who is nearly ten is still running agility and loving it. He is in great shape, healthy and happy. He lives for agility and I am so happy we can continue to share this sport together.  I am also so fortunate to have Spryte, my little firecracker who gives it her all in everything she does. She loves competition and loves to work.  She challenges me everyday with her abilities and potential. I love those crazy dogs!

here are some of our runs: