“Hybrid” Dogs

This makes me furious! We spend endless hours making sure our breed is improved and protected, we spend more money than you want to consider, doing health clearances, so that we minimize or eliminate the chances a puppy will suffer in their lifetime, justifying a cost, and people without care, beyond that of the almighty dollar, bastardizes our established breeds.

Do you have a “hybrid” that you love? Good for you for loving your dog! You are not “the problem”. It’s breeder is!

Hybrid. Because hybrid sounds cool. Because hybrid doesn’t sound like mutt, or mongrel, or… just simply mixed-breed. Hybrids are typically produced through human manipulation to produce something uniquely different, like mules (horse and donkey combo), ligers (lions and tigers), or plant hybrids. True hybrids are often sterile, as they’re from differing species, and lack chromosomes that compliment each other. The animal shelters are filled with mix-breed dogs. Save yourself $2000 and get one, because typically, that’s what the shelters are filled with.

Please, bear with me and get through the following:

The Labrador Retriever has been the #1 popular breed in the U.S. for 26 years running for a reason – they’re smart (but not so smart as to out think you), athletic (without being athletic to the extreme) family and other animal friendly. The Lab is a versatile dog, who is as happy to be a couch potato, as they are working in the field. A Lab is strong (emphasis on strong), athletic and muscular. They’re usually larger boned, and weigh more than they look. Labradors have a coat with two layers to keep him warm, dry and comfortable, but it sheds a lot. They are known for destructive behavior such as chewing furniture and woodwork or digging up the yard. They are a gentleman’s dog. Content to be a pet at night, and hunt in the day. Health issues include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which is canine elbow and shoulder dysplasia. They also occasionally suffer from distichiasis, exercise-induced collapse, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, tricuspid valve dysplasia, and entropion. Many of these are discoverable now through DNA testing, and affected dogs are never bred.

Pointers (for this example, the German Shorthaired Pointer) are very active dogs, who belong with an equally athletic owner who will take him running, biking, or hiking. Did I emphasize active enough? A walk around the block is not even a warm-up for a GSP. Some can be aggressive with strange dogs, and some are determined chasers of cats and other fleeing creatures, often with deadly intent. They are tautly-muscled, and *extremely* athletic. They’re finer boned than the Lab, and lithe. They are known for “separation anxiety” (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much. They are hunting machines, who can be one so fixed on the hunt that no recall can get their attention.

Their known health issues (which are bred against by reputable breeders include gastric torsion, hypothyroidism, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), entropion, and pannus, and major issues such as lymphedema, and occasionally cardiomyopathy, ectropion, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Again, their breeders do DNA testing, and affected dogs are never bred.

Imagine if you will, the finer bony structure of a Pointer, with the heavy musculature of a Labrador, causing bone and joint pounding. A bone/muscle mismatch. A dog with a downy undercoat, but the extremely short top coat of a Pointer, setting the dog up for freezing in cold water, and a knotted mess of endlessly shedding fur, on a dog who is very oral and full of anxiety over being left alone for the day, mixed with a dash of heavy-muscled hyperactivity that wants to be friends with other dogs , but has a sudden urge to fight, without the innate caution of a Pointer on the approach of another dog. Confused. Now add all of the breed genetic problem propensities, most doubled up, because no genetic testing is done by these “hybrid” breeders, and then add to that different medical problems known to those distinct breeds, which now combine into one poor dog.

Will all of the breed traits combine in every puppy to create a genetic nightmare from head to toe? No, but I promise that some will, and all will have some piece of it.

I love my breed. Reputable Pointer breeders love theirs. Each of us does the best we can to breed the best our breed has to offer, and know how to work with the more difficult traits each breed has. Specifically, we have the advantage of being able to best select homes for our puppies, so that owner and dog are happy.

Please don’t be duped into thinking that the breeders of these mixed dogs have done their due diligence, and have many years of application (in my case, 38 years).

You get what you pay for, and yes, there is a sucker born every minute!

BTW, the people who took this add out want $1800 for their mix-breed puppies. Go to the pound! There are lots of mix-bred dogs waiting for homes.

Sincerest Form of Flattery?

I often have people call and ask if they can link to our color inheritance chart. I created that page in 1998, because I wanted an easy chart to reference myself. It became a chart that many referenced, because it is easy to use. The AKC sends people to it!

Many have asked if they could link to it. Of course I don’t mind that! Others have asked if I would mind if they created their own. That’s cool. I don’t own the pundant squares used to determine color inheritance, but I ask that they not copy my chart.

So why would people do just that? A TOTAL copy! I’m not going to pitch a fit. But why would someone reinvent the wheel, unless they are trying to draw people away from the original? When people “borrow” my hard work, intellectual or otherwise, I just call attention to it.

I believe I recall these folks asking if they could use my chart to create their own. I thought they meant the color outcomes, not the entire idea!

Example

Geesh! Why not just *link* to someone’s hard work, rather than exactly copy it?

There are several coat color charts for Labs on the Web. The creators of those pages put some real original work into their pages! Bravo to them for coming up with unique ideas:

http://labbies.com/genetics.htm

http://beulahland.tripod.com/coatcolor.htm

Another K-9 Road Trip

It’s never easy knowing you’ll be driving for two days with a puppy. It helps to have an older dog along.

We’ve been on the road with Luna and 15 week old Riley since yesterday.

It is hard for a puppy to get the hang of going potty on leash, walking on the leash, and being crated in the vehicle for long periods of time, but this little girl took to it all quite naturally. We let them be together in one crate some of the time for company and comfort, and in separate crates for eating and rest.

In the hotel, they co-inhabited, and we’re the perfect hotel guests. Quiet and using good manners:

If you are traveling with a pet (or two), be sure to follow a few steps, so that hotels that are pet friendly will remain that way!

  1. Pick up after your dog (a plastic bag in your pocket will assure easy waste pickup)
  2. Keep them quiet (no barking, which will disturb other guests)
  3. Keep your pet in a crate when you are out of the room, to prevent damage to floors or furniture.
  4. Never bathe a dog in tubs or showers!
  5. Make sure not to leave evidence of dogs behind (clean up fur or wood shavings that may have escaped your crate).

Traveling with a pet can be fun and rewarding.

Luna Stacking Lessons Aborted

First, I had a foot surgery that stoped our daily lessons, then the weather changed, preventing me from continuing once I could ambulate. The Dr. gave strict orders about keeping the dressing dry. A canvas, pen toe boot is not conducive to keeping it dry in about six inches of sticking snow. After a week of snow on the ground, I decided her lessons would have to wait until spring! — sigh!

This was our training area view the past several days:

Luna Stacking Lesson 2

Some days you take three steps back. Today is one of those days. Luna had no interest in the bait, declined to hold still, would not position her feet, gave me squinty eyes and pinned back her ears (her favorite thing when someone is trying to make her do something other than play). So, we focused on standing still, and not crouching up on me. A few successes, and I called it a day, ending with her just standing still. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day!

“You can’t make me!”
“I can’t. I just CAN’T”
“I won’t pay attention! I won’t look at you! I think I am being tortured!”
Nope… I won’t open my eyes, and I won’t lift my ears!
“This is all you’re going to get!”
DONE! I’m *so* exhausted from that 15 minutes of torture!

Luna Stacking Lesson 1

Luna needs to learn to stack for showing! She’s a wild child, who runs up on me and thinks she needs to stack with her nose touching my knees. She’s not a baby anymore (even though she acts like one!). So… every day, we’re going to practice being a show dog. First lesson, is to simply stand still away from me. Style and finesse is not the object. We’ll work on just one thing…stand still away from me. A barrier on the ground (a hose) will be her target that says “do not cross!”. We’ll do no more than 15 minutes/day, end on a success, and have a play session after.

Here we go…..

Nope, don’t cross the boundry!

Better!

She’s letting me get further away:


Much better!

Now, without the pipe, and we’re done for the day!

Fall to Winter

In North Idaho, Fall means one thing… Winter is coming!

Our days are filled with getting the dogs ready for cold/bitter days. We do that, by first getting about five cords of wood cut and stacked. Our indoor kennel includes a large wood-burning stove. The cement floors are cold during winter, so as soon as the snow flies, each indoor kennel will be filled with wood shavings. Their water is indoors, so freezing is not an issue. We’re stocking up with wood shavings now. We also have two large electric heaters hanging from the ceiling on the kennel. Often we find that the dogs feel too warm during the winter, and go outside to lay on the frozen cement in their outdoor runs! Labradors love the cold.

We found our first year here, that the dogs love to lie on the snow, but it causes them to burn calories quickly. This is the time of year we start to increase their food, putting a little more weight on them, so that they go through the winter without losing weight.

So, while the dogs are soaking up the beautiful fall sunshine, and growing their winter coats, we are busy thinking winter, and preparing the dogs and kennel for it!

Enjoy this fall image from the area that I took a few days ago. It’s beautiful here in the fall:

Sacred Duty

We have been asked how we decide on homes for the dogs we place. The answer is simple. We believe the right home exists for every dog, and the right dog exists for every responsible person, but not all dogs and people are right for each other. It is our responsibility to select wisely, and that is where experience and God come in. I trust that we will be sent people we need to speak to, but that doesn’t mean I’m being sent people who need a dog! My husband tells me I spend more time talking people out of a dog than into a dog. I think he’s right!

We have been blessed with some of the best placements we could have prayed for, and the reason, is that we ask hard questions, make hard observations, and critically evaluate the dogs in question. I can not count the number of calls I have received from prior placements, telling me that the dog died of old age, that it was treasured, and provided a family with a life filled with love. At that point we know we are blessed. We have had families who, in 38 years in this, have as many as three dogs from us pass away well in their senior years. My heart is full when I hear their stories, even if through grief.

Our placement decisions are a sacred duty!

———–

Job 12:7

“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.”

Dogs can tell you a lot about people. We watch people and dogs together. Nothing is set in stone until an animal demonstrates to me that these are the people for them!

———–

Psalm50:10-11

“For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.”

We’re responsible for those things that are precious to their creator!

———-

We love these creatures we have been trusted with, and we are tasked to be sure the arms we place them in will care for and love them. That is our criteria.

Mom always said…

DON’T RUN WITH STICKS IN YOUR MOUTH!!!

Luna demonstrated this month, how a dog can impale themselves on a stick. For now, that’s what we think happened. She showed up in the morning with facial swelling, and the Vet found a puncture wound in the back of her mouth where the muzzle meets the upper jaw, behind the last pre-molar. It’s still possible that this is really a tooth root abscess, but the wound he found was bloody (not pus filled), and pretty large. It seems that she punctured it with a stick (that we never found). Antibiotics have taken care of it… thankfully!  Picture three is two days after antibiotics. This shows you how fast it can happen, and, with treatment, how fast it can heal.

Sudden swelling on the left side of her face.
A few hours on antibiotics
Much better after 24 hours on antibiotics.
Feeling much better!
A few days on antibiotics, and she was feeling great!

Dew Claw removal. Do we?

I just had someone ask me if we remove dew claws on our dogs.  I haven’t had anyone ask me that in a very long time.  The answer is no.  We did them on litters up until sometime around 2002, when other breeders were already starting to stop removing them.  My vet taught me how to do the removal myself.  I think she had a reason.  It was easy to take my 3 day old babies to the vet, hand her a basket full of happy/content puppies, then receive a basket of crying puppies to take home.  Doing them myself caused me to really think about what I was doing.   We always said it was because they could tear them up the leg, and that’s not untrue, but I had a puppy buyer once ask me “can’t they tear their other toes too?”  Actually, yes.  They can tear them severely, just catching a nail in a sprinkler head.  I finally realized that the truth was, we were removing them because it gave a clean look to the leg in the show ring.  That is no reason to amputate the toes of a newborn puppy!

Studies have been done that now show the important purpose of the dew claws.  They need them! They very seldom tear them, any more than they tear their other toes. There are indications that dogs without dew claws have more foot injuries and are more prone to arthritis.  By the time I was questioning why I was doing them, I noticed that fewer and fewer Labs had theirs removed. They were hunting with them, and showing in the ring (and winning) with them, and I believe in 38 years of being in Labs, I have only known one dog who tore their dew claw.

Here are a few links to help you understand the purpose and reasons for leaving them:
http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/dewclawexplanation.pdf
http://petcarefacts.com/blog/health/purpose-of-the-dew-claw

and the best example of how dogs use their dew claws:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4XflsMEk-k&feature=youtu.be

I hope this helps you understand why very few Labrador breeders amputate the dew claws of their puppies anymore.