Super Puppy Test

red demonstrates its no big deal

Tactile stimulation

Head erect position

Head erect position

Head down position

Head down position

thermal stimulation

thermal stimulation

On day 3 , I started the Early Neurological Stimulation Testing . This test was designed for  military dogs to enhance their  performance . As a result, many breeders of working dogs still use this test in hopes of producing dogs capable of handling the stress and demands needed in canine athletes.

There are 5 exercises which include tactile stimulation, the head erect position, head down position, supine(on back) and thermal stimulation. They are performed for a maximum of 3-5 seconds on each puppy.

I did this program with my first litter 10 years ago and those puppies were outgoing and bold. Although genetics can account for a portion of a dog’s responses to stressful events, research has shown that early neurological stimulation can help boost our dogs immune systems as well as their problem solving skills.

To learn more about this program, I recommend you visit the website below  read the full article by Carmen Battaglia on early neurological stimulation.

http://breedingbetterdogs.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The puppy shuffle

Who needs television when you can watch a litter of week old flatties  vie for front row seats!

Dancing at the milk bar

Got milk?

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Litter Theme

Mt._McKinley,_Denali_National_ParkMany breeders can follow their litter by a particular theme or alphabet letter. The first Pemberly litter theme was “Disney songs”, in honor of their mother , Disney. We had Go the Distance(hercules),  Beyond the Sea(Finding Nemo) , Hakuna Matada(lion king) and Give a little Whistle(Snow White) to name a few.

Ten years later, we have Mountain Names.  We chose this name as both my new husband, Virgle Beeler and I enjoy the outdoors. We were married October 3rd, two years after we met. We spent our honeymoon out west hiking at several National parks. Although I am afraid of heights, I made it through hikes on the North Rim at Grand Canyon and switchbacks at Bryce Canyon in Utah.

There are lots of choices so we will have to wait till their new owners put on their registration papers in 7 weeks.

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“Life is Good”

The first two days there was a big learning curve for our first time Mom and newborn flat ties. Taylor was very concerned if one of the babies seemed fussy and was not always sure what they wanted. She kept her family very close to her and did not seem interested in leaving the box. Of course true to her character, she did not refuse food before or after whelping the litter.

The milk bar

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They have arrived at Pemberly

8 new pemberly dogsAs any first time mom, she was pretty worried and confused about what was happening and stuck pretty close to me. She did not even really want to lie down and almost delivered the first puppy standing.

At 5:18 we had our first puppy, a boy weighing in at 1# 1/2 oz. We helped her open the sack but then Nancy cleared his nose and throat of mucus by gently swinging him to dislodge any fluid. It is not uncommon for newborn puppies to have fluid in their airways from “floating around in the amniotic sac”. This can prevent their lungs from expanding and nostrils from taking in oxygen and if not swiftly resolved prevent the puppy from breathing. Blue collar boy quickly complained that he was ready to take on the challenge of life and he was placed with his new mom.

Taylor relaxed once she understood her new role and started grooming him  from head to toe. In succession of about 15 minutes intervals, 3 new girls arrived and were weighed, cleaned and given rickrack collars of pink, purple and red respectively. Since flat coats come  in only black or liver, colored collars allow us to identify each puppy.

An hour rest period followed which allowed us time to clean up the box and make sure the new arrivals were suckling . It is important that puppies nurse within the first 24 hours of birth in order to acquire colostrum from their mothers. This is a rich source of  antibodies to protect the newborn from common diseases.

Part two: The second horn- After our wait, we saw the arrival of 2 boys green,  and orange. According to our x-ray, we had our six puppies . Mom relaxed and nursed her pups. Time for a glass of wine and cheese snacks(for the people).

Well, the truth about x-rays is that they don’t tell all. It only tells you the minimum number of pups. As we were “celebrating” our success, another boy(lime green-we were running out of ribbon ) entered the pack followed by another girl(rainbow) 30 minutes later. Miss Rainbow was the smallest of the bunch weighing in at 9+ oz. Its all about attitude though as she found the faucet quickly, moving aside her bigger siblings. Its 9:30 pm and all is quiet.

 

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Still Waiting, November 9th

the whelping roomTaylor has started panting, and nesting this am. She prefers to whelp on Keaton’s bed in our kitchen. Good friend and long time breeder of Flat Coats, Nancy Schenck DVM of Destiny Kennels is driving up from Terre Haute to help with puppy watch.

Nancy arrived at noon. It is great to have someone else here for puppy watching so I worry less! In addition, Nancy has whelped lots of litter over years and her knowledge is invaluable.

3:30 pm-Contractions started and nestings behaviors have increased. Time to move to the whelping box!

 

 

 

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The Countdown Begins

Its been 10 years since Pemberly has had a litter born at home! There is something to said about the benefits of owning the father of a litter vs. the mother. Mom and her owner have the hard part: whelping and raising the puppies.

Taylor turned three in April and we had already taken care of her health clearances. In Flat-Coats, it is important to have the eyes cleared by an opthomologist for heritable eye problems.Glaucoma can also be a problem in flat-coats so it is recommended that the eye doctor evaluates them through Gonioscopy which involves placing a small lens(like a tiny magnifying glass) into the eye where the angles between the front and back portion of the eyes meet.

Hip and elbow dysplasia, and patella luxations are evaluated through examination and x-rays by a veterinarian. The OFA(orthopedic foundation for animals) is the organization which examines the films sent in order to classify the dogs as normal or diseased.

Taylor is a small bitch so we were looking for a dog who had more substance but still had a strong work ethic. We picked a male from Michigan named Phinn who seems to compliment her well. The breeding took place in mid-september so we are expecting puppies between the 12-15th of November. The gestation period for dogs is 60-67 days but dogs do not always follow the book!

The Whelping box was set  up the weekend before the predicted whelping date to allow Taylor  the opportunity to get comfortable sleeping in area where she will care  for her babies the first few weeks of their lives. Their are as many designs of boxes as their are breeds of dogs. One feature include an inner firm edge known as a pig rail which presents the mother from laying on her puppies.

Also on hand is rickrack in a variety of colors to identify the puppies, towels, newspapers,hemostats(small instrument used to clamp   the umbilical cord), a small food scale to weigh each puppy when it was born and a notebook to record the information on each individual.

The temperature of the expecting mother usually drops 1 degree within24-48 hrs prior   to whelping. Taylor’s started at 100.6 and as of saturday afternoon it was 99.4. Although she appears uncomfortable with the large load she is carrying, she has been eating and sleeping well.

So we wait….

 

 

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Interactive Toys for those Hot Days

Hints on Using Interactive Toys and Treats

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The UKC Hunt Test

After finishing his master title, I decided it was time that I learn to handle a gun so we could run the UKC hunt test program. One of the biggest differences between the UKC and AKC tests, is that the advanced levels require the handler to shoot the gun from the line using primer shells.

The UKC stresses the importance of gun safety at all levels. Before each series , a judge shows proper gun handling. If a gun barrel is aimed at a dog or person, the team is automatically  failed. One warning can be given  for leaving the chamber closed or the safety off. Another automatic failure is handing back a gun with safety off AND chamber closed. A pump gun is the gun used at the test(often a remington 870).

The UKC program works on a point system vs the number of “legs” or passes. Started (SHR)requires 20 points(each leg worth 5). Seasoned(HR) requires 4o points of which 10 points can be from started.  Finished(HRCH) requires 100 points(upland points do not count) of which 40 can be from seasoned.

Keaton received one pass last spring with friend and pro trainer , Jim Price, handling him. I knew I wanted to do this myself so I spent time having friends coach me on using the shot gun this season. One of the most difficult parts for me was the shells jamming in the chamber and improper timing. You should swing the gun to help your dog find the next mark as the birds goes in the air.

We started the season in mid may at Kalamazoo HRC club test. Despite a mild winter season, the holidays and other obligations did not  allow for much training in the field or the obedience ring. The first test of the season usually finds us with cool temps and a ramped up dog. One of the difficulties that all performance handlers find is trying to recreate a “test” or “trial”-like setting in training. Most dogs know the difference-whether it be the nerves of their handlers or the lack of treats and collars, these dogs know its the real thing.

This May did not include the cool winds of spring and  felt more like mid-August. Unfortunately, the heat did not appear to cool Keaton’s engine . It was the first test of the season and he was pretty sure he could drive the bus. I was not surprised when he broke, but was able to call him back. One controlled break is allowed at finished. Unfortunately, he repeated his performance on water and we did not finish the test.

Keaton usually is a more settled dog the second day of testing, but I knew he was still going to be hard to control at the line. He broke again-this time he was not given the opportunity to retrieve and we scratched him from the water series. We needed to train.

Once a week training was not enough to keep Keaton tuned and in control. Although Indianapolis does not offer a lot of training grounds(fields, cover, ponds), we are still able to use our mowed lawns and parks to practice concepts and drills to fine tune the skills needed by upper level dogs. I made use of  long lunch hours and evenings to reinforce these skills. On weekends, we tried to meet with other area trainers and work on marking setups, gun handling and steadiness.

In mid-June we signed up for BackWater Retriever Club’s UKC test in Northern Indiana. We had had little rain since May and many of the ponds used by the club were nothing but dried up holes in the ground. The temperature was in the upper 90’s and the judges were asking handlers not to let their dogs put up long hunts to prevent heat exhaustion.

Swimming does not necessarily cool off a dog especially when the water is like bath water. I made sure that the dog’s had plenty of cool(not ice cold) water, shade and fans on their crates to circulate the stagnant air. Many of our hunt test dogs are so driven to work that they continue to gear up despite the heat so its their handler’s job to gage their dogs.

Although Keaton needs time to settle in, I took him on several short, controlled walks on the grounds before we ever entered the first holding blind. Even when the temperatures are more moderate, the longer he sits in a holding blind, the more excited he will become and we rarely go into the last holding blind(the one closest to the line)before called. I stay on alert though so not to slow down the test and have the judges or marshall upset.

Unlike Master, Finished only has two series: land and water and both require a triple and a blind. There are no  double blinds but a honor on 1 series. As a result, they can finish the test in one day although it may be a LONG day.

The water series on saturday was in the stick pond. The drought and shallow water made the going tough as most of the marks were in lunging water with sticky muck on the bottom of the pond. Thats when owning a black dog is deceiving as you dont REALLY see how dirty your dog really is, but you sure can smell them!

Due to the rough water conditions and heat, the marks were  short. Short marks are often more exciting to the dog and may often cause a hard charger to break. ” Break ” infers that the dog went for the retrieve before he was signaled to go for the bird. Here again is another difference between AKC and UKC. In AKC, the judges release the command for the handler to send the dog. In UKC, the handler determines when to send his dog. However, the bird MUST have hit the ground before the dog is sent in UKC as well as AKC tests.

Keaton was working well despite the heat that weekend and managed to pick up legs 2 and 3 that weekend. The judges were very impressed with this non-labrador in their test. On saturday, he ran the best water blind of the day being the ONLY dog who took a direct line to the blind. The line was over a log and no other dog took the log on the way out and few on the way back.

Keaton finished his UKC title in August at the Kalamazoo Test in Michigan. The test grounds in Michigan provided some challenges in the water as they covered with large lily pads. They are actually spatterdots as they had deep, thick roots making swimming a challenge if the marks are through the pads.

In addition to providing a tough going, the picture to the dogs is challenging as it is easy for the dog to lose his mark as they make their way through the pads. Keaton got lost on the memory mark and had to be handled. I chose not to run the blind as it was even tougher and he was tired.

Sunday provided another opportunity to title. We ran clean on the water and had the land series in the afternoon. He ran the land marks well. I was relieved that we did the tight marks despite and a  blind  in close proximity that many dogs were winding before they picked up the memory bird. I started to leave the line and the judges said, “Aren’t you going to run the blind?” I was so glad we had finished the marks that I had forgotten the blind and I forgot about MY DOG who had grabbed a bird of the ground and was trotting around with his “prize”. I told him to heel and he looked at me like “its MINE”. He started to freeze on the bird(This is when the dog starts to clamp down on the bird, look glassy eyed and doesnt want to release the bird). I was FINALLY able to get him to release his treasure. I knew they could fail us for disobedience, but I think his work that day was so good that we got a reprieve.

In typical UKC style, we received our final UKC ribbon for the title AND a bucket of ice cold water poured down your back for your hard work. What’s next? 500 point UKC title, the Grand? The master national? No to all of them,  but we may run tests for fun , we will try to go hunting and we will always train. This is what he loves and I love that he loves it.

 

 

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Reagan’s First Titles

I dont know if maybe I am getting a little smarter having “been raised” by 4 flatcoats here at Pemberly or  if Reagan is just an exceptional little girl. I would guess its the latter. Miss Reagan’s field work had really started to come together last summer. We had spent a miserably cold winter working on our force fetch and collar conditioning as we were starting to see a tendency to drop items or not return as promptly on her retrieves.

Many positive trainers cringe at the mention of an electronic collar or as they call it, a “shock collar”. However, this tool can be very effective in the right hands and is to be only used to enforce behaviors a dog already UNDERSTANDS! It is not designed to TEACH and should be used only by or with the assistance of a professional. Choose your pro carefully and ask to watch them work the dogs in their care. You want to see dogs HAPPY doing their jobs not ones with ears back, tails down or not even wanting to come off the truck!

The reason a “trained” retrieve is necessary for a working dog is  to assure that your dog will return with all birds even wounded,wet ducks. It is important to seek a professional if you choose this method although several videos by Mike Lardy, Jim Dobbs and Evan Graham demonstrate this exercise well. Many obedience trainers use a positive form of this exercise as an alternative . One reference is “Positively Fetching.”The key to this exercise is to teach the basics of holding an item whether it is a bumper, dumbbell, newspaper or bird. Then teaching the fetch or take it command and reinforcing your commands.

Reagan worked well thorough the fetching exercises and her drive and reliability improved. We decided to enter her in an AKC Junior Test. It was a 1 day test and Keaton was entered in Master so I thought it would be a good day to see “where she is at”. At some point in your training, you just need to dive in  and see how well your dog handled his/her new skills in a testing situation. Sometimes, it turns into an expensive training day but I have always found a lesson learned even if no ribbion comes home with us.

Junior dogs are required to retrieve 2 ducks on land and 2 ducks on water as single retrieves. Although many junior dogs have been started on blind work and handling, it is not a required part of a junior test. This test is designed to test a young or inexperienced dog’s marking ability, trainability, style, and perseverance as a hunting dog. If your dog does handle and is having trouble, you can handle to 1 mark only.

Many junior dogs fail due to lack of experience by not coming up with the bird . Other dogs are not yet force fetched and will not return with a bird or drop the bird and not pick it back up. The dogs do not have to be steady so the handler may hold onto the collar or a lead slipped thru the collar.

After running master, junior seemed so straight forward and less pressure on me since Reagan did not handle. She either found the bird on her own or not and that was it! Our first series was the land series with a number of large goose decoys which the dogs would need to run past to get to the bird. Reagan had seen decoys before, but she did glance at them as she ran thru them which took her eyes off the mark resulting in her putting up a hunt for the bird. Her second bird was down a hill and it is hard for dogs to drive straight down a hill and not fade . Although she faded with the hill, she found it quickly.

The water marks were in a pond with patches of lily pads and decoys on the edge of the water. Reagan was not deterred by the lily pads on her marks and even took the angle entry mark well. She had her first junior leg.

With each test, her confidence and marking improved. Her manners in the holding blinds was quiet and steady;however her love of the game made it a bit of a challenge to come down to the line . She wanted to forge ahead . As I have found with both her grandmother and dad, reinforce manners early!

Later that summer, she was entered in her first UKC started test. In started, the dogs do not have to deliver to hand and the marks are generally shorter than in AKC junior. It also requires 4 legs to get the title, Started Hunting Retriever or SHR. Unlike Junior, the birds are never live flyers and the gunner shoots primers from the line. Reagan was a rock star and  earned her first two legs at the BackWater Retriever Club in June of 2011.

She finished her AKC junior in september at Backwaters fall test doing nice solid work. Her UKC title was finished in April of 2012 in Kalamazoo Michigan. She was 8 for 8 for both titles.

To add to her accomplishments, she ran and passed the White River Golden Retriever Working Certificate in October 2011. This is similar to a “mini-field trial” that was developed prior to the introduction of hunt tests to test working talent of dogs whose owners did not wish to pursue the competitive sport of field trials but wanted to demonstrate field ability in their breeding stock.

It is known as the WC and WCX(working certificate excellent) and requires only 1 pass to achieve the title. The gunners are wearing white coats and are in full view of the dog/handler. The golden club require upland birds on land(pigeons, chukkars or pheasants are the most commonly used). Pigeons, “rats with wings” , are frequently used due to availability and price. Flatcoats can use ducks, which are much more pleasant for the dogs than pigeons but there is NOTHING more exciting than a Rooster Pheasant flyer to most retrievers.

The WC includes a “double”(2 birds thrown sequentially at 90degrees from each other) on land and 2 singles(30-40 yards) in the water. The dog does not have to deliver to hand, just within a few feet of the handler. I never enter my dogs before they are through force fetch and delivering to hand. I dont want to start a bad habit of dropping birds at tests, but many handlers standards are different.

Reagan had never done a double prior to september so we had a month to prepare. She did not need to be steady for the “C” , but it does require the dog to count to two. Since the two marks are short, the dogs have “less time to forget” where the second bird fell IF they do not have a long hunt on the first bird.

The dogs must also not “switch”. Switching is defined as the dog hunting the area of the fall of one bird, leaving the area and hunting the second fall area. If the dog runs out to the area, but does NOT hunt and swings over to the other fall, many judges will not call it a switch and can pass the dog. Again, some handlers will allow this but since I am looking for a dog who will run master in the future, I would rather my dog fail the test then give up a hunt and look elsewhere. Thus, I would either whistle sit my dog and handle to first area or call dog in.

Reagan pulled off the WC although I could tell her memory was a little “shakey”. All in all I am proud of her accomplishments with our limited time to train. I look forward to this journey. She is truly a dual purpose dog, pretty and smart. She is a joy to train and fun to cuddle.

 

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