31 July 2008

Visit to Eileen's cottage

After getting the pups vaccinated in the morning of July 30, the thunderstorms and rain finally eased off & I packed the van and piled all the critters plus Grandma Nova in for our estimated 3-hour drive to the cottage of Eileen Wilkes, Nova' breeder. Miska stayed at home because I was still weaning her from the puppies and I didn't want them trying to suckle.

Eileen had recently used the same stud, CH Hubertus Quality Control FDJ, as I did for our puppies. Her pups are 10 days older than ours and not only was I curious to see them but they were about to be evaluated using Pat Hastings "Puppy Puzzle" method. In actual fact, the mother of her puppies ("Dasher") is a cousin to Miska so it made it more intriguing to see how similar or dissimilar the pups from the 2 litters would be.

That day, my puppies stools were rather loose (trying to get the food quantities right) and so I gave them a bit of Pepto Bismal before we headed up to cottage country for the 3 hour drive. They were quiet as mice in the van and slept well and I was hoping they wouldn't need a potty break. Altho we were heading into a long weekend, it was the middle of the week and I didn't expect any problems on the highway. We were running late but making good progress until an accident occured just about 1 km ahead of us. For anyone who knows Hwy 400 in Ontario, it's an extremely busy highway running north of Toronto to cottage country, used by commuters and cottage folk. We crawled along and then finally came to a complete stop. When people starting getting out of their cars, I knew the problem was serious and heard on the radio they had completed closed the highway. We had no way of getting off the highway so how long would we be stuck for? No idea.

I started worrying about a potty break for the pups as any delay would make it difficult for them to hold their bladders. I was stopped in the centre lane and emergency vehicles were racing up both shoulders. After about 20 minutes, I made the attempt to get the puppies out, 2 at a time, on leash and take them to the road side to pee and poop. Needtheless to say, they created a little stir with the folks around us who were very curious to see the puppies. I discovered one or more had made a mess in the crate but being an experience dog traveller, I had extra crates and bedding so moved them into clean crates. No sooner had I got them all pottied, given them a little drink when the traffic started moving again. The accident delayed us by almost 1 hour and I eventually arrived at Eileen's cottage at 6:30 pm. After our long journey it was a haven - right on the lake, beautiful views!

Our pups got to meet their 3 older and bigger half-brother. As there were only 3 puppies in Dasher's litter, the pups were larger at birth and didn't have to fight for nipple time so they were amply fed by Dasher. :-) Our puppies were rather dwarfed by their older siblings but they made up for their smaller size with their might. Anyway, they had lots of fun playing with their bigger brothers. And Eileen's two kids, Connor 7 and Erin 5, had a wonderful time handling and playing with 6 extra puppies as you can see from these photos. Erin kept saying she loves the 'girlie girls' and desperately wanted to keep Miss Purple.

At the end of the stay, I took photos of the 6 puppies and their Great-Grandmother Bree (11 yr old) and Grandma Nova (9 yr old).

Here is a slideshow with more photos of our visit to Eileen's and then a link to the same pics in our Picasa album if you want to download any.

Visit to Eileen's

30 July 2008

Vaccinations & checkup

On the day the puppies were scheduled to go to the vets for their first set of shots (Jul 30), it was absolutely pouring with rain and thundering. I knew when I woke them up from their morning nap that there was no way they would go outside to eliminate so I had to bundle them in the van and head to the vets as is. Of course, the moment they came inside, it was potty time all over the floor but our vet was very accomodating and understanding.

In the past, the person who tattooed my puppies always insisted they be vaccinated first which is why we had the puppies done at 6.5 weeks and not 8. That person is no longer around so I had to find someone else to tattoo. As it turns out, my vet told me the vaccinations take about 2 weeks to have an immunizing effect so really I could have waited until 8 weeks to have them immunized. Nonetheless, the first set has been done.

While there, I asked him if his 4 kids were around as I wanted more children to handle the puppies. Three were at home (his clinic is in his home) and they enthustiastically agreed to come see the puppies. Here's a photo of Adriana, our vet's daughter, trying to squeeze all the puppies onto her lap. She fell in the love with the puppies and begged her dad to keep one. He turned to me and said, if he didn't already have two dogs, he would be very tempted to get a Vizsla from me. Nice words from my veterinarian.

Plus it was very gratifying to hear my vet say that our puppies are just 'awesome' in terms of their behaviour with people and to being handled. Of course, to me, their behaviour is just what I expect and want in dogs and I've been working very hard to ensure they are constantly handled and done so by so many people. I was pleased to hear him say this but at the same time a little surprised. But he went on to explain that puppies from 2 other litters brought into his clinic recently were snarling and snapping at him and that he 'almost lost it' with one breeder because of the puppies' behaviour. He gave that person a good heart to heart talk and apparently the breeder did listen up. So, I guess the moral of this story is that not all puppies are well socialized by breeders and so it pays to deal with someone who takes the time and puts in the effort to ensure it's done and done well.

After our pleasant visit with our vet and his kids, I later took the pups up to Grandma Nova's breeder's cottage for an overniter. More on that trip with lots of photos later on. I need some sleep now!

29 July 2008

Biting Machines

Puppies are now into their 6th week and they are becoming real biting machines as can been seen in this photo of one puppy biting the leg of another puppy.

But this is GOOD! Any puppy that doesn't try to bite, doesn't learn bite inhibition. These are the ones we need to worry about. We actually want these critters to bite us and their littermates and other dogs because that's the only way they will learn to inhibit their bite. Puppies cry out, we humans give loud cries to indicate we are in pain and usually puppies back off when this happens. That's when they learn their bite can hurt and a well-socialized puppy with bite inhibition will learn not to bite. Vizslas often take their owners' wrists into their mouths to lead them but it should be done softly. Miska does this and so do some of her littermates.
On this post's slide show, you will see photos of Mr Black and his Grandma Nova where he jumps up and gives her a little nip & then she turns and growls at him and tells him off. Then he exhibits classic body language of submission much of which I captured in the photos (tongue comes out to lick, ears are pinned back, he rolls over on the ground to expose his belly). POST EDITED: Black is learning an important lesson on discipline. Puppies that are released to their new homes at 6 weeks of age is in danger of not learning bite inhibition and how to submit because they are removed from their littermates and their dams just when they are starting to interact with the world. This is one of several reasons I don't let our puppies go until at least 8 weeks of age.

Summer litters are ideal for making advances in house training. As soon as puppies wake up, I open their crate which is about 18 inches away from the patio door. Outdoors they go and immediately 'do their business'. They are now figuring out that they get 'paid' to pee and poop outside. So we are having fewer and fewer accidents indoors and more stuff happening outside.

The pups are growing bigger and heavier but their weights are getting more difficult to assess as they are too big for our kitchen/postal scales and too small for human scales. We try weighing them by holding them in our arms when we weigh ourselves but this gives us weights rounded to the closest 0.5 pound instead of in ounces or grams. So they are somewhere between 5.5 to 6.5 pounds, give or take 1/2 LB.

Routine is very important for puppies. In fact, dogs thrive on a routine but hopefully these puppies will not be stressed by changes in routine if done positively. Our puppies awake or we wake them up sometime between 5:50 AM and 6:30 AM. They go outdoors immediately to do their business and get clicks/treats for eliminating. Then they may come back indoors or go into the exercise area outside. Then they get their meal. Each puppy is now served his/her own meal in his/her own dish so I know they are getting a full meal. If this is done indoors, after about 5-10 min., it's time to go outside to eliminate again if needed. We play games and do some training for about 60 - 90 minutes and then it's their nap time. They sleep for about another 3 hours and then routine starts again. Feeding times are around 6:30 AM, 11:30 AM - noon; 5:30 - 6 PM & around 10:30 PM. We say our goodnights at around 11 - 11:30 PM and then the same routine starts again the next morning.

Puppies' training now consists of:

  • learning how to 'stack' for the show ring, i.e., stand on all 4's for a second or two with a click/treat

  • nose/hand touches (targetting) with a click/treat

  • eliminating outdoors with a click/treat

  • coming on the 'here' command with a click/treat

  • having their lips pulled back to exposure their bite

  • having their ears massaged and poked

  • doing all the handling we did from day 3

  • having nails done

  • swimming (or being placed into warm water in a kiddy wading pool
Tomorrow (July 30), the puppies will receive their first set of vaccinations and also be examined, along with their stools, by our vet to ensure they are in good health.

Enjoy the photos and thanks to Corrine Sellars who took a few of them.

    25 July 2008

    Sasha-Lucy Puppies Turn 9

    Happy Birthday to Susan Scobie's litter of Vizslas born July 25, 1999. Our beloved Sasha (Am/Can CH Varazs Kiraly Sassy Sasha Am/Can CDX, FDJ, Am RAE, CGC CGN TT) sired this litter and Susan's beloved Lucy (Ch Pozsony Csongrad Lucy CDX FDX TD AGN CGC), her first Vizsla, was the mom.

    Click to play Sasha-Lucy Pups Turn 9
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    30 years owning Vizslas!

    Gosh, it just dawned on me today when I was outside playing with puppies that in June of 2008, we had owned Vizslas for 30 years! (Sure doesn't feel like it's been that long.) Our first Vizsla, Marelsa's Cy ("Csarda") pictured above was 8 months old when he joined me and my-soon-to-be husband. We later married in December. Csarda was with us for 14.5 years. Could I have ever predicted how my life changed because of him? Nope. So here's to you Csarda for introducing me to this incredible breed of dog and all the wonderful Vizslas I've owned since and all the terrific people I've met because of you.

    24 July 2008

    Soggy Doggies!

    It's official now. June & July in SW Ontario have been the wettest on record. And this summer, Toronto has received more rain than Vancouver! This record follows our winter that had record snowfalls and last summer was the driest on record. Nothing is 'normal' any more or this is the new 'normal'. Because of the rain, it's been a challenge to get pups outdoors between thunder storms or rain. The only good aspect about this weather is that pups are being exposed to actual thunder instead of recorded sounds and they are adapting to wet grass and some light sprinkles on their coats.

    Well, puppies are taking up a whole lot more of humans' time now which is why I am not able to post very often. I know people, especially the new buyers, have come to look forward to the posts and photos and I apologize. But, lack of blogging means I'm spending time with the puppies - handling, training, exposing them to new situations (and trying to get other things done too) and also hosting visitors. Rarely a day goes by when we don't have visitors so pups are getting a lot of handling by strangers. I know some breeders leave puppies in an exercise pen outdoors unsupervised for long periods but I don't. I am always close at hand or interacting with them, and only leave them for a few seconds if absolutely necessary. (Many years ago, I dropped in at another breeder's house to see their pups; because I had been there many times before, I popped into the house because the breeder wasn't answering the door but I knew she was around somewhere. The litter of Vizsla puppies was left to run loose in the basement with all sorts of things they could get into; they were skinny & were so hungry, they were eating their own feces. Not a pretty sight nor, IMO, a good way to raise a litter.

    Anyway, our puppies' house training is coming along. As soon as they wake up, they are herded outside to do their business' and then again shortly after each meal. When they eliminate outdoors, they now get a click & very small treat to reinforce this behaviour. Of course, they still have accidents in the house - they are, after all, only 5.5 weeks old - but they eliminate more outside than in now. I have also started reinforcing a nose/hand touch as this behaviour is useful for so many things even if their owners don't do agility with them later on.

    Miska has now been totally segregated from her brood for 3 days now in order to fully wean the pups. Her mammary glands are still filled with milk and will take several more days to dry up. In the meantime, Grandma Nova is giving them some discipline - from her spot on the couch - and Uncle Tyro is playing with them so they continue to have positive interactions with other dogs. Uncle Chili just can't figure the pups out and would rather avoid them, at least in the house - so we allow him a safe escape route.

    Here's a slide show of photos from this past week. I am grateful to Greg Howell for providing photos of his daughter Rae Brynn and wife Cynthia with our puppies; the beautiful shots of the pile of peaceful sleeping puppies was taking by Greg.

    If you want to view the larger versions of the photos in our Picasa album, click on the link below to open a new window.

    OK - It's almost midnite & time for my bed. Puppies tend to rise early - I must get some sleep now! Good night.

    Miska's puppies, 6th week

    20 July 2008

    Rain, rain go away!

    We had almost non-stop rain/showers today & it wasn't fun. Sure glad we don't live in Vancouver or Seattle because I wouldn't be able to tolerate constant rain. (Apologies to those people who live in drought-stricken parts of the world because I know my attitude would be different if I hardly ever saw rain. Not the case here,) We don't often get a full day of rain, rain & nothing but rain; happens infrequently here. Today was one of those days.

    Yesterday, we moved puppies out of their whelping box and set up a special puppy pen right next to the sliders leading out to our patio/garden. The pen has a grate floor so if they have to 'go', they do it onto papers below the grates. They sleep on soft mats inside this special crate. It's close to the patio doors so we can let them outdoors as soon as they awaken - all part of their house training. The next step after this puppy pen will be individual crates.

    Had to wait for breaks in the downpours today to let the pups outside to do their business today. They didn't like the rain but they were pretty good at going outdoors when it stopped - got their tummies & paws wet on the grass, endured some raindrops too. Not their preferred type weather right now. But at almost 5 weeks, they have started the road to housetraining. I started giving them a small food reward for going outdoors - when I could get to the puppy in time.

    Sundays are usually doggy 'pedicure' days. All the adults have their mails trimmed (did the puppies too) - the dogs lie on the couch (this is one of those times when it's actually good to have your dog up on your furniture because it's easier on your back!), put their paws up in the air & I trim their nails & they get rewards. I used to Dremel their nails but have become so adept at using a clipper that that's how they get their nails done. Later on, when the puppies were nursing from Miska, I brought out the power vacuum head and turned it on to pick up all the nail clippings while they fed. Did any puppy notice the scary sound of the power vacuum? Nope! Not a one. Several of them came up to investigate the vacuum head, showing no fear. Here's a photo of Mr Blue climbing on the power head (motor is off but the suction is still going).

    Two days earlier, I had set up a small crate inside the whelping box & that's where the puppies slept overnite. I've now moved it into the family room next to the puppy pen so puppies can go in/out as they please. Here's Mr Black enjoying being in the crate (and I haven't even started playing Susan Garrett's crate games with them yet).

    Milo's 1st AGI leg!

    Milo (Varazs Mokany Ficko FDJ, RN (CARO), RN (AKC), AgNJ, AGN, SSGDC, SADC, CL1-R, CGN) and his owner Corrine Sellars earned their first Agility Intermediate qualifying score on Sat. July 19 with a 'clean run' (i.e., perfect score). Plus, they were the only dog to qualify in the 24" class.
    Correction! Milo was the only dog to qualify in the entire trial!
    This qualifying leg is a major accomplishment for Corrine who has suffered some frustrations lately with Milo in the agility ring. Since dogs can't talk, he wasn't able to tell her about some pain he was experiencing; recent treatments may have made all the difference because he ran the course with no faults and a fast time. Way to go and congratulations! (Photo of Milo taken in 2006.)

    19 July 2008

    More pics of 4-week old puppies

    To see the same photos in our Picassa album, but in larger size, click on this link photos link below:

    2008 pups, wk 4

    I tried to upload a large-sized video (25 MB) of the puppies to this blog but after two hours of electronic churning away, I received a message that the upload failed. Will have to find a way of compressing the AVI files more or converting them to a different format such as MOV so the files aren't so large. In the meantime, enjoy the photos.

    18 July 2008

    Attack the umbrella

    Our puppies had fun attacking an umbrella this week.

    4 weeks old!

    If you're wondering why we haven't blogged lately, it's because these puppies are now starting to take over our lives! And visitors and interviewing and meeting prospective buyers also occupy our time but they are helping to socialize the puppies.

    Puppies turned 4 weeks old on July 14. Their heads have really changed & they are starting to look more like real Vizslas. In fact, I think they will have gorgeous heads, judging from these photos. That's one aspect of my breedings I can usually count on - beautiful heads and faces - because the parents also have gorgeous heads.

    Above left is Mr. Green, 4th born. What a handsome guy! He's a sweetheart (well, they all are!).

    It's also been a week of firsts: first visits outdoors, first taste of solid food, first meals of kibble, first to climb up a stair, first drink of water from a bowl, first time eating out of a bowl, first nap in a crate, first night without mom. Lots of new experiences in a single week and they are handling them all like pros! (It must be that Super Dog program we used!) Plus, the puppies have had so many visitors this week. They have far exceeded this category in the Rule of 12!

    This is Mr Blue, first born. He's an energetic puppy showing lots of prey drive. Not surprisingly, he was one of the first to try to climb up steps and explore the world on his own. He's now weighing in at 5 lb.

    Here's Mr. Black, 2nd born. He's a little sleepy here but he sure has lots of spunk and lots of personality. No fear, this little guy! He along with Mr Blue were the first to try to climb steps and explore on their own. Mr Black's coat colour is a little lighter than the others but I am confident that it will darken up. His grandmother on his maternal side was like that when we imported her at 9 weeks and after she lost her puppy coat, her coat came in a nice, rich dark colour.

    Miss Yellow was 3rd-born and for the first 3 weeks, was the heaviest in the litter. She's outgoing, mischievous, and keeps up with the boys. She was the first to climb a step. Miss Yellow shows signs of being a very spunky, confident and energetic puppy - perhaps like her mother Miska or her dad, Ozzie?

    Mr Red - another handsome devil! He's a 'sandwich' kid - born in the middle of the litter. A bit of a suck right now - he lets us know when he's not happy! but he's starting to develop his own personality. He's feisty too but will be a sweetie.

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    Last born, but definitely not least, is Miss Lilac-Purple. She wore a lilac ribbon when born and has now donned a purple collar. She's very sweet and very pretty but she can alos be a terror! Although a little smaller than the others right now, we've learned over the years that: a) there is little correlation between birth weight and final size/height/weight of the dog and b) they will grow to whatever their genetic profile is no matter what they weigh as a puppy. One of our heaviest puppies at birth was a female born at over 1 lb. She was heavier by a couple of ounces than her brother. But she ended up being the smallest in the litter once those puppies were fully grown and her brother is the tallest/largest.

    Well, I'd better get this blog uploaded because puppies are awakening from their nap and want out to play!

    12 July 2008

    Photo of the week

    I think this is a great photo! Two-year old brothers, Chili (L) & Tyro (R), from our last litter are reaching out with some trepidation to investigate 3.5-week old Mr Black (who was showing no fear whatsoever).

    Pups at 3.5 weeks old

    Oh how fast puppies grow and develop! Look at the change in their size!

    Clicking on the photo album will result in your leaving this blog but you'll be able to see the same photos as above, but in larger size.

    Miska's pups, 3.5 weeks old

    Only week and a half ago, their eyes and ears were opening and now they are motoring around. What an improvement in the puppies' motor skills in just a few days. This is only their 2nd time on this slate floor and they are much, much steadier on their feet compared with the other day.

    Pups are interacting more with each other and also with Mom. Their teeth started erupting around July 9-10. By July 12 (almost 4 weeks), they have all broken through. They are more aware of us humans when we enter the room, turn on lights, talk to them, etc. I've significantly increased the volume of music and other sounds being played on my computer. Their room is situated by the laundry room so they hear the washer and dryer be operated. I get sick of hearing babies crying, doorbells ringing and other sounds on the Gentle Leader Sound Desensitization CD so I play it when I am out. The pups are learning to pee on puppy pee pads. They are very comfortable with Grandma Nova and the older, 2-yr old male dogs being around (altho the adult males are more uncertain of the puppies! - see my July 9th post). Mom is still nursing them FT. She's doesn't spend all of her time with them now. Miska leaves them for a couple of hours while they sleep and then goes in to feed and clean them. She continues to be an excellent and very patient mom as you can see from this second video.

    9 July 2008

    Mr Black meets the big boys

    It's been interesting to watch the behaviour of our 2 adult male Vizslas around the 3-week old puppies. The puppies were finally old enough to come out their whelping box. They were exploring the room this particular evening. Chili and Tyro (full brothers), lay just outside the room in the doorway, keeping a very respectful distance.

    Then as one of the puppies, Mr. Black, approached them, they weren't sure what to make of him. They stood up, sniffed, but as he got closer, Chili (on the L) decided it wasn't safe to stick around and left. Tyro (R), on the other hand, was much more curious and interested. He decided to risk his safety and stay but he's still not certain what Mr Black is doing to do or where he's going to go. Tyro still wanted to maintain a safe distance but there was a lot of approach-avoidance behaviour going on.

    6 July 2008

    19 days old

    Physical and mental development is moving at a fast rate. What a dramatic change in the puppies in less than a week! At 19 days of age, puppies are vocalizing, moving more comfortably, starting to interact with each other. Now that their vision is improving, we added several visual field stimulation patterns to their whelping box for them to focus on.

    They are adapting to auditory sounds being played on a CD (Gentle Leader Canine Sound Desentization) that has babies crying, dogs barking (they get exposed a lot to that from the other dogs in the house), chain saws buzzing, door bells ringing, etc. Yesterday (day 20), I started using a clicker as they nursed. Several are also now wearing proper collars so they are already adapting to that around their neck. Non-sleep time is increasing and it's fun to watch them.

    4 July 2008

    Informative Websites

    The Internet is a very large place and time-consuming to surf. Periodically I'm going to add various dog-related websites/links that I think provide useful information about canine training, health, nutrition, etc. Here are 5 sites/links that I recently discovered which are 'must visit'.

    Dog Food Analysis, Reviews of Kibble.
    http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/ Want to know what is contained in the kibble you feed your dog and how it stacks up when rated by independent reviewers? Check this site out.

    Training Levels
    http://www.dragonflyllama.com/%20DOGS/%20Dog1/levels.html This is an excellent structured approach to training your dog, documented by Sue Ailsby. This is really helpful for increasing the learning demands on your dog. Sue Ailsby, a Canadian, is a well-known and highly accomplished clicker trainer who has put years of clicker training wisdom into her online Book of Training Levels which is free to use.

    How to Put An End to Counter Surfing
    http://www.clickertraining.com/node/1034 . Counter surfing is a highly undesireable canine behaviour. Read about an effective way to end it.

    Karen Pryor's Library
    http://www.clickertraining.com/dogs Karen is a world reknowned animal behaviourist and has amassed a huge number of articles re: dog behaviour, training, and clicker stuff. This library is a wonderful resource for just about any issue a dog owner faces.

    Study: Dogs And Cats Contaminated With High Levels Of Toxic Industrial Chemicals.
    If you're a dog or cat, you are what you eat, breathe, drink, sleep on and it's not always healthy. "This study shows that our pets are susceptible to the absorption of potentially harmful chemicals from our environment just as we are. Perhaps even more troubling is that these chemicals have been found in higher levels in pets than in humans implying potential harmful consequences for their health and well being and the need for further study," said Dr. John Billeter, DVM, the veterinarian who conducted the blood and urine tests.

    1 July 2008

    Miska's puppies turn 2 weeks old

    Miska's puppies turned 2 weeks old on June 30. Eyes on all the pups have opened (to varying degrees).Click on the link below to see a slide show of the pups taken that day. (To view the same photos but in a larger format in our Picassa album, click on the photo link at the bottom of this post which means you'll leave this blog. But you can run the slideshow and get full-sized pictures or just click open individual photos.)

    Miska's puppies, 2 weeks old