Monday, December 22, 2014

Snow Falling on Tollers

Sounds like the title of a haiku. Here are some pictures that didn't make the holiday card this year...



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Introducing Zephyr's Koan

Having two litters this summer really made it hard to keep up with things like blogging. I have a lot of catching up to do. First on my list is introducing Zephyr's Koan. Yes, we kept our singleton pup born May 31st of this year. I stopped resisting somewhere around the time she picked up both live and dead pigeons at just under 8 weeks. About a week later she picked up a duck I thawed out for her to practice with. Of course, we're still working on the bring it back part, but that will come.

Koan's first duck

I'm not sure if Koan's drive and intensity is the result of her being a singleton or if that's what she would have turned out like regardless of how many littermates she had since she does have some pretty awesome parents, but she is amazingly smart and intense even in a breed known for those characteristics.

About the name.... Koan "is" our K litter. I was struggling a bit to come up with a name I liked, but decided this one fit. It's an unusual name and the shortest registered name I've come up with to date. Not too many people know the meaning of this word, so I've been telling people I'll pay them a dollar if they can tell me the meaning without having to look it up. So far I've only had to pay out one dollar.

Definition of Koan

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Play date for the singleton

After doing a lot of research and reading about raising a singleton, including this excellent AKC breed column, The Singleton Syndrome, I became convinced Eta's puppy was in need of a puppy play date or two with a litter of puppies around the same age. I was very fortunate to have a local breeder open up her home and litter to Eta's puppy. Puppy was able to spend a few hours around the five week mark hanging with a litter of Golden Retriever pups who were about a week younger. The puppies were very close in size, and in color too, since this litter is from field lines. 

At first Eta's puppy thought I must have made a mistake. Surely I didn't mean for her to be stuck in a pen with these other creatures! But eventually she warmed up to them, hung out and played a little, then settled down for a nap with her temporary littermates.

Where's the Toller?

There must be some mistake...

I'm stuck

Need a nap buddy?

New friends

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Our singleton - the first five weeks

As in more recent years it seems we've been checking off the many things that breeders can experience when producing a litter, apparently it was time for our singleton experience. Eta was bred to Apache via AI in early April and though the timing appeared to be good she ended up carrying only one puppy. Based on an x-ray which showed the one pup looking rather large and in a breached position, I opted to work with a reproductive vet in order to ensure the best possible outcome for both Eta and pup. Per a phone consultation with the vet, we showed up at the clinic shortly before 8am on May 31st to begin monitoring and testing. Although progesterone was still high, the fetal monitor revealed a low heart rate on the pup, indicating distress. Because we were fairly certain we were within 1-2 days of Eta's actual due date, but not at all confident she would be able to deliver without assistance, the recommendation was to perform a C-section that day. Both Eta and pup came through beautifully.

We took them home and everything seemed fine but for the first four days the puppy lost weight. She was born weighing 11.9 oz and by the Wednesday following her birth was down to 8.8 oz. While it is not unusual for a newborn puppy to lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first day or so, the puppy's loss was at least 25%, so 1-2 days in I starting supplementing with formula. On Wednesday she leveled out and began to gain weight again. At just over five weeks, she is now above 4lbs and continues to thrive.

She has four white feet and a white chest and is quite active. It's too early to say if she's a keeper but for now we are enjoying watching Eta bond with her pup and keeping a close eye on them both to ensure they continue to thrive.


Day 22 was the first attempt since supplementing she's been offered anything other than Eta's milk. I poured a little goat's milk into a saucer, then mixed in just a bit of finely ground turkey. I dabbed my index finger into the mixture and offered it to her, then repeated the process twice more before positioning her over the dish. She caught on pretty quickly and lapped up most of what was there. I think she may be fairly easy to wean, which seems odd to me since Lark's small litters have always seemed resistant.

The pup currently resembles a pot bellied pig as we are feeding her 2-3 times a day as we accelerate the weaning process and she still has quite a bit of access to her mother so she can continue to have company and learn from her.     

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are you a good dog, or a bad dog?

We've been known to utter those words in our household with the same inflection Glinda asked Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz if she was a good witch or a bad witch, though thankfully our current canine residents don't respond back with "but I'm not a dog at all!" Only Gem would have ever contemplated that retort.

It's all a matter of perspective, of course. I'm sure June and Lark think they're being very good dogs when they're digging furiously into the comforter, blankets, sheets and pillows on our bed in order to make themselves the perfect nest for napping. Though their efforts are momentarily amusing, we humans have a different perspective and their activity usually gets them banned from the bedroom until the next time we forget to close the door.

As the self appointed border patrol of our small homestead, Lark certainly thinks she's being a good dog when she races out to expel any critters who might have had the audacity to set foot or claw in our backyard. Her zeal extends beyond the boundaries of our yard to include any walkers, joggers, bikers or skateboarders who happen to be within her line of vision as she peers through the slats in the fence. The ruckus she makes is disruptive and embarrassing at times, but she hardly ever looks as pleased with herself as she does after completing her rounds. Recently she's been a bit less vocal in her efforts, though just as energetic. Could this be a sign of maturity?

Lark preparing for patrol

The next time I am confronted by a less than desirable behavior I will try to remember, from their perspective, they are likely being a very good dog indeed.

She ain't steady, she's my Junie

Almost 9 years old, you'd never guess! But she does love fetching up her ducks. Thanks to Mary Palkowski for the photos from the BYC weekend.

Steady... NOT!

June's happy to heel when I'm holding a bird.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Travels with June & Lark

BYC 2013 - June waiting for the bell hop to take her to the lobby

2013 National Specialty preparations - June supervises packing

2013 National Specialty - June enjoys hotel comforts

2013 National Specialty - Lark relaxes after her big day in the field

2013 National Specialty - Lark posing with DogWise bag