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!
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!
She’s letting me get further away:
Now, without the pipe, and we’re done for the day!
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:
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!
“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!
“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.
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.
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:
and the best example of how dogs use their dew claws:
I hope this helps you understand why very few Labrador breeders amputate the dew claws of their puppies anymore.
The snow has melted, and we’re well into spring activities. Rose is healing well. She has had it with months of rest. As a puppy, all she wants to do is play and run. But, her exercise is quite limited and always monitored for another few weeks. As you can see, she puts good weight on the knee. We’re still dealing with a bit of tendonitis in that hock, but it should work out with time and more movement with exercise.
Today is the big day! Rose had her 6 week checkup. She had an x-ray, which her surgeon states looks good. Her healing is normal. I discussed with him the lateral wobble of her knee, and he believes it may be a little tendonitis. She may now have three 15 minute walks/day. As stated previously, she is increasingly difficult to entertain. She is inventing ways to chew up anything that is stationary in her box. She wants to play with her sister so very badly. It will be a very long time until she is allowed to do that.
This is Rose waiting to see her vet.
Rose continues to improve. I am noticing a lateral rotation to her knee when she walks. I suspect it has to do with muscle atrophy. She is so tired of the inactivity. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to entertain her. Every so often I cheat and put her on the flexi leash to let her move out a bit without running or jumping (which she is not permitted to do).
We’re at the beginning of week four. This has been the week that marks Rose’s breaking point. She is so done with inactivity. We’ve bought chew toys, chew bones, real bones, distraction toys… you name it. Her attention span is almost nil. She has decided to take her frustration out on the carpet she is on, chewing the corner nicely. We take Rose everywhere we go, so as to give her new things to look at, people to see, and so that we can monitor her activities. She has been increased to one 10 minute slow walk each day, which she loves. She continues to put more weight on the affected leg. This was taken on a trip to set up 6000 Easter eggs stuffed with candy for local children.
Happy Easter, everyone!