Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crate Training

Positive things happen in crates! We leave the big dog crate open so the pups can explore and feel comfortable in it. After they have had their breakfast of goat's milk they get play time and Maeve plays with them and sometimes they decide they need to nurse for a few minutes. Here a couple of pups have followed Maeve into the crate and are having some warm milk. What a positive first crate experience for the pups!

And why goat's milk? Goat's milk is a very good source of calcium and the amino acid tryptophan. It is also a good source of protein, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and potassium. Perhaps the greatest benefit of goat's milk, however, is that some dogs who cannot tolerate cow's milk are able to drink goat's milk without any problems. Goat's milk is easier to digest and has also been shown to enhance the metabolism of both iron and copper. These factors and others are likely to play an important role in the tolerability of goat's milk versus cow's milk. Allergy to cow's milk has been found in pets with conditions such as recurrent ear infections, asthma, eczema, and even arthritis. LInda has access to a local goat farmer and gets the milk - Fresh From The Farm!

Monday, June 29, 2009


Well, it has been the wettest June in YEARS! And with all this rain my yard wants to turn into a jungle. So when one of the dogs has an upset stomach I can usually point to the mushrooms that are likely to pop-up overnight.

Many pet owners don't realize that some of the mushrooms that grow in their yard are toxic to dogs. Dogs who like to "graze" will sometimes eat wild mushrooms along with lawn grasses, leading to mushroom poisoning. Dogs can sometimes become ill by just licking a poisonous mushroom. Some dogs, like some people, are allergic to even edible, normally safe mushrooms. Most cause gastric irritation resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Others can cause damage to the heart, liver and kidneys.

Always watch for mushrooms in areas where you walk your dogs or where they run and play. Be especially cautious of parasol-shaped mushrooms and all small brown mushrooms. Check your yard each morning, especially in damp weather, for new growth before letting your dog outside. Remember that new mushrooms can appear overnight. Whenever you find mushrooms in your yard, dig them up. Smashing or kicking them spreads the spores and even more will grow.

It can be very difficult to tell the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms, and even harder to describe them over the telephone.

The potential for ingesting such toxic agents is another reason to keep your dog from roaming freely. Owners should constantly inspect their pets' outdoor environment for potential toxins. These include garbage, dead animals, dangerous mushrooms and toxic plants. Remember pets, especially dogs, are non- discriminating when it comes to potential food. Items such as rotting garbage and dead birds may appear disgusting to us, but they can be filet mignon to some pets.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


It was a raining day in Maine so no playtime outside for them today. We did have some visitors for them to meet and make friends with and the puppies got to have some new adventures.

Today we started them on goat's milk fresh from the farm down the road. They are still nursing but we are starting to wean them with warm goat's milk and egg.

We started "stacking" the puppies or teaching them to stand squarely. They seemed to catch on fairly easily and this helps us look at their structure.

Grandma Sara does a very good job working with the young puppies. It isn't always easy to get 3 and a half week old pups to hold still. We make it fun and they learn that it is a good thing. We usually do this once a week or so and photograph them so we can see their progress and it helps us evaluate their structure. We save these puppy photos and refer back to them over time. We have the same photos of their parents "Maeve and Corey" at that age to compare to if we so choose.

Sometimes a puppy will look just like one of it's parents did at that age and sometimes it will look like a combination of both of them. This is not unlike looking at human baby pictures and figuring out who they resemble.

Sometimes they stand squarely very easily and all the parts seem to just fit. Some puppies you can make look great but it takes work. My experience has been that the ones that it is easiest to stack are the ones that are built correctly.

We are very pleased with this litter of puppies. They all have dark eyes (no blue eyes) and markings are very good. Trim is coming along nicely and it looks like they all may end up with good trim.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


It was a lovely day and the babies went out to play in the sunshine while I did some landscaping and Maeve ate strawberries on the lawn nearby. Before long Maeve was asking to join the pups in the x-pen where they all had a milk break. Wonder if the milk tasted like strawberries!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Too Tired To Play

The puppies now have new toys to play with on their big adventures around Linda's living room. Busy Friday at work, so quick blog.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Calling ALL Dalmatians

The puppies have eaten, played hard and are now doing the next best thing - sleeping on the BIG DOG bed!

The Dalmatian Club of America and The Dalmatian Club of America Foundation invite ALL Dalmatians to participate in the DNA Collection Clinics at regional Dalmatian specialties throughout the country.

The CHIC DNA Repository, co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF), collects and stores canine DNA samples along with corresponding pedigree and health history information to facilitate future research and testing aimed at reducing the incidence of inherited disease in dogs.

Confirmed collection clinics will be held at:

Aug 7, 2009 Western Reserve Oberlin, OH
Aug 22, 2009 Greater Twin Cities Lake Elmo, MN
Sept 25, 2009 Cumberland Valley Murfreesboro, TN
Oct 9, 2009 Heartland Lawrence, KS
Oct 10, 2009 Chicagoland Schiller Park, IL
Oct 23, 2009 Northern CA Dixon, CA
Oct 29, 2009 Tulsa Joplin, MO
Mar 26, 2010 Greater New York Edison, NJ

The clinics will be underwritten by the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation. We are asking that all Dalmatians, couch potatoes or performance dogs, “just pets” or conformation dogs, all have blood drawn. We would like to get the DNA on as many dogs as possible. So that we may encourage as many participants as possible there is no cost to the owner. As might be expected, there is paper work involved.

All pertinent information and health forms may be found at

To schedule a clinic contact Dr Ginger Iwaoka: giwaoka@aol.com or (765) 538- 3257.

Meg Hennessey, DCA President
Jim Smith, DCAF President

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Housebreaking Starts

This puppy has left the box to pee on the papers and is now climbing back into the box.

So she can snuggle with her littermates and go back to sleep on a clean bed.

Linda has started the process of potty training the puppies. It is very important to start this at 3 to 3.5 weeks old, when the pups become mobile. The front of the whelpikng box is opened up to allow access from their sleep/play area to the potty area. The potty area is lined with long sheets of paper that can be rolled up for easy cleanup. This is roll ends of newsprint. Newspaper does work, but the ink can transfer onto the dogs and for white pups, this is not good. Maeve will feed the puppies in the sleeping/playing area.

Upon waking the puppies will naturally look for the potty area. It is not really a natural thing for a dog to pee or poop in his sleeping area. Wolf mothers are meticulous about keeping the "nest" very clean. So, once a baby starts being mobile, and the mother no longer cleans it up because they can walk at this point too, it is up to the breeder to keep the box/nest very clean. This causes an aversion to poop and pee. When this is done right, by the time the puppies go to their new homes, they will already know not pee in their crate or bed. They do not pee or poop where they eat or where they sleep. So believe it or not, what goes on from the time of birth to the time you buy the pup, plays a big role on the young life and what a buyer will be faced with.

They learn from the start, there is a place to sleep, a place to play, a place to eat and a place to eliminate and they will carry this concept with them after they leave the breeder. Puppies who are raised in cages where the areas are not separated do not understand this concept. They learn they can eliminate anywhere they wish at anytime they wish. Than, after you take them home, you suddenly expect them to understand they cannot pee and poo in the house.

Housebreaking is extremely difficult for puppies purchased from puppy mills and breeders who don’t make the commitment to start their puppies off right. Most of those puppies will spend their formative weeks in small cages with wire bottoms that allow wastes to drop through onto a tray. This teaches puppies that 1) it doesn’t matter where they eliminate because they never have to step in it, and 2) they can’t get far from the smell, so they’d better learn to live with it. The end result is a puppy that can’t be housebroken using a crate (cages are self cleaning!) and that doesn’t have any desire to eliminate outside of its home turf (no use trying to escape from that poop smell!). On the other hand, puppies raised in a large pen in a kitchen learn the difference between living areas and elimination areas. This makes it very easy to teach indoor/outdoor discrimination later.

Just another reason to buy from a good breeder and shows what a time commitment it is to raising a litter the RIGHT way!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Collar Safety

One of the first things you do when you acquire a new pet is to put a collar with identification tags on him. This is the responsible thing to do, but you should be aware that collars can also present unexpected, even fatal, dangers.

At our house, all dogs are collar-free. They play “naked” in our home and fenced yard. The only times they wear their collars are for walks and trips in the car, where we are with them at all times. Of course, if we were going to play at a dog park, this might not be the best option, as they could get tangled with their buddies.

Dogs love to wrestle and play. Mimicking the dominant posturing of their wild wolf cousins, they jump on each other and bite each other’s legs and necks. During this kind of play, it’s very easy for one to get a tooth or lower jaw caught beneath the other’s collar. And it happens fast. Wrestling isn’t the only way a collar can become a killer. Dogs can get their collars looped around short fences, decorative rod iron railings, branches and more. They can also get their tags caught in small places, such as air vents and radiators. In fear, they struggle to get free and you can guess the result.

Another way to keep your furry friend collared while lessening the danger is the KeepSafe™ Break-Away Collar. This collar is specially designed to break open under pressure, but it can still be used to walk your dog safely on a leash. On either side of the break-away mechanism is a metal ring. Simply thread the leash clip through each ring and the collar stays on during your walk. You can find embroidered collars at www.dogidcollar.com

There are those the feel that buckle collars were stronger when walking their dogs and other who just like convenience of the quick release collars. While wearing quick release collars it is much easier to free them from a dangerous situation. If they are wearing buckle collars, it would be much more difficult to release the dogs."

Another danger is present if your dog is alone, but is in a crate or on a deck. The tags on the dog's collar can be dropped between the slats of the deck and become caught. The dog, desperate to free himself, can spun and spun until he chokes himself to death. Many dogs have died when, while in their crate, they have caught their collar on the crate and been hung.

Most dog owners are aware of the dangers presented by training or "choke" collars which can be made of chain or nylon. These collars can easily become caught on a fence or other obstacle, resulting in a dog that is marooned or strangled. NEVER leave a training collar on an unsupervised dog.

The lesson in all this: Use a training or "choke" collar only for walking your dog on a leash and leave that collar permanently attached to the leash. For identification purposes, use quick release collars. If you have more than one dog and the dogs are in the habit of wrestling with each other, do not leave them unattended wearing collars. (Naturally, dogs should never be left outdoors when their owners are not at home and they should be secure in the house without collars.) Keep the collar handy by the door which the dog uses so you can put it on him before he goes out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yard Safety Continued

So, I'm back from a very successful agility trial. For people with Carina in their dog's pedigree, they can now update it to read: Ch PatchMtn C Pepper N Paisley TDX RE OA OAJ NAP NJP NF (then there are those many other non-AKC titles that stay the same for now).

This was posted on the Show Dalmatina list and I thought it ver ypertinent to all. Remember that household plants can be very toxic to pets - cats and dogs. Check to make sure none of your pets have access to your house plants.


Greetings form the Burnt Hills Veterinary Hospital. Our goal is to make our clients the most educated pet owners in the community.

Recently the home improvement stores have stocked their shelves with a plant called the *"Sago Palm".* This is a decorative houseplant that you may be tempted to purchase.

If your pets ingest ANY part of this plant it will cause liver failure. Even with aggressive veterinary treatment 70% of these pets will die. We implore you to keep your household free of this plant. We are devastated when we are unable to help your pets.

Go to our website and get a look at this plant.

www.burnthillsvetho sp.com <http://www.burnthillsvethosp.com/>

We hope this will help keep your pets safe. Feel free to give us any feedback on this information and any other topics you would like to be educated about.

The Best Of Care For The Best Of Friends
Burnt Hills Veterinary Hospital
145 Goode Street, Burnt Hills, NY 12027
burnthillsvethosp. com <http://burnthillsvethosp.com/>
Phone 518-399-5213
Fax 518-399-3370

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The puppies are nursing while momma Maeve is sitting up. They take every opportunity to nurse and Maeve is a wonderful mother.

Meanwhile, at the agility trial grandma Sara has qualified with the puppy's grandmother, Carina both days in both Novice Preferred Jumpers and Novice Preferred Standard classes. If she qualifies today they will bring home a new title. I was very pleased to learn that my Dal, Violet also qualified yesterday for her second Novice Jumpers leg with Sara showing her! What a good girl ! Violet was bred by Sara and is spending the long weekend with her as we don't want to bring any germs from the dog shows home to my house with the new pups here. We are very careful about that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The puppies are snoozing in their temporary quarters while the whelping box are is expanded. Their eyes are open and they are staggering around, woofing a little trying out their new voices. They wag their tails when I talk or sing to them. This is a very cute age !

Extraordinary blogger, Grandma Sara, is at a 3 day agility trial with Corey, his sister Violet and their mother Carina hoping to add yet more titles to their credit. Meanwhile, I'm manning the whelping box and posting an occasional photo.

Grandma Sara will return on Monday to bloggerland and in the meantime I get to post whatever I want!

Linda McSherry

Friday, June 19, 2009

Maeve and the "About Time Litter"

Here are Maeve and her pups on day 18. Their eyes are open and they can hear. They have started to wag their tails. Maeve is a wonderful mother and takes good care of her babies.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yard Safety Part 2

Inside the fence that surrounds your dog yard, try not to grow any plants in the area immediately adjacent to the fence. Dogs like to investigate things outside the yard, and their favorite path in a fenced-in yard will be right along the fence. Unsightly "dog paths" are the result of this predictable behavior.

Rather than fighting it, plan your yard around your dog's predictability. Install stone walkways over existing dog paths. Now everyone will be happy: the dog still has its path, and you get to have a better looking yard. Stone walkways exude charm and are a desirable addition to your landscaping regardless of dog problems. DO NOT USE COCOA MULCH - it attracts dogs and is HIGHLY toxic.

Your beautiful back yard with the trees, flowers, grass and vegetable garden may seem like paradise to you, and your dog will certainly enjoy romping around back there, but there are safety considerations as well, and you will want to make sure your tender plants are protected from your dog.

Dog resistant plants are textured or thorny. For obvious reasons, dogs do not like thorny plants, such as barberry or evergreens. Unusual textures also deter dogs, like lavender or rosemary. Many of these plants are beautiful winter features which can also be planted in front of the dog’s bathroom creating year round beauty and hide their waste.

You'd be surprised at how many of the most common landscape plants and native volunteers contain at least some parts (leaves, berries, etc.) that are toxic. Consider carefully what you plant in your yard. Plants that can cause complications include: Rhododendron, Japanese Yew, Lilly of the Valley, Peach and Cherry Trees (pits) to name a few.

Dogs love to dig. Some breeds, in fact, simply have to dig. For them, it is part of the joy of being alive. They don't care if what they are digging up is a prized flower garden or the spinach crop you have been carefully tending since early spring. And a dog doesn't at all mind taking a short cut through the flower beds trampling them as he goes. You may want to consider fencing off areas of your yard to protect your plants. This is particularly the case with frisky young pups. As your dog grows you will be able to train him to stay out the flower or vegetable garden, but to a puppy, it all looks like a playground.

Dog Behavior Modification: Another option is to train your dogs so as to restrict their "toilet space" to a designated area. To facilitate clean-up, make sure that designated area has a surface of dirt or gravel. Start on day one by taking your puppy IMMEDIATELY to this "place" you want him to use. As soon as he pees or poops, praise lavishly and reward him at the right place. Soon he will learn that the praise comes when he does his business there, but not anywhere else. My dogs all go to the back corner furthest from the house. Makes clean-up chores much easier!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Securing your yard

As I desperately need to mow and weedeat my dog yard, I'll also start puppy proofing it. Here are some hints for you, too.

It may not make sense to you that the same dog that is so happy to see you when you get home may want to find his way out of the back yard to freedom, but many dogs are lost each year because of this. Most dogs do not have a good sense of the dangers cars represent. Once outside your yard, they may just follow interesting scents and be so focused on those they aren't aware of approaching vehicles. They can also get frightened and run right into traffic. Many are efficient diggers. They can tunnel under a wooden fence with ease. With puppies, only a few inch gap between slats can be enough for them to squeeze through.

A back gate that is not latched properly can also give your dog an escape route. In order to prevent unintentional opening of any gate, secure the gate so that it cannot be opened from the outside. Make the latch inaccessible or put a lock on the gate and keep the key handy in the house. I have heard horror stories of neighbor kids letting dogs out and people stealing puppies right out of the backyard.

You need to do is check the perimeter of your yard for any gaps in the fence. One easy solution is to dig down six inches below ground and affix narrow gage wire fencing material to your existing fence. You can hold the fencing in place below ground by burying bricks, rocks or pavers. This will make it more difficult for your dog to tunnel under, and have the added benefit or making it harder for rodents or snakes to get into your yard. You may also want to padlock your gate. A strong dog may try to push open the gate, and some gates with loose latches can even be blown open by the wind. Keeping your fence in good repair is important. If the dog can find a loose or weak slat to chew through, he will.

I do not recommend Invisible Fencing. Other animals can still attack your dog, and someone could easily walk off with your dog. And they can cause real yard aggression issues. Think out it – every time someone or something goes by, your pup goes to investigate and gets an electronic shock. Soon he will associate the people, kids, bike, dogs, etc with the shock. NOT what I want to teach my youngster.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Head to Tail

It sure is cute watching them grow. Even at this stage the puppies are never completely still. As their neurological systems grow and develop the puppies twitch and move even in their sleep. They appear to even be dreaming as times as all their legs move and they make puppy barking and mewing sounds. Now what do you possibly suppose puppies can be dreaming about? Chasing their siblings or catching their meals in the wild? Maybe a doggie communicator could try connecting with them at this age.

Linda has been doing Tellington Touch massages on them. We attended a wonderful seminar that said even puppies can benefit from the relaxation and immunity stimulation exercises. And it certain can't hurt. Who doesn't want to spend time petting and just holding the pups?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Puppies Snuggling

The puppies are starting to be able to generate their own body heat at this point, but will still enjoy the warmth of the heat lamp. They will frequently sleep in a “puppy pile”, and like contact with their littermates. They are still getting weighted in the mornings and handled many times a day. Puppy stimulation exercise will continue until Day 16. Puppies are great “time suckers” and there is no such thing as a quick trip to see them.

Transitional: Two to Four Weeks

The Transitional stage generally lasts from age two to three weeks, and it’s during this time that your puppy’s eyes will open, and he’ll slowly start to respond to light and movement and sounds around him. He’ll become a little more mobile during this period, trying to get his feet underneath him and crawling around in the box (or wherever home is.) He’ll start to recognize mom and his littermates, and any objects placed in the box. They will start to bark and wag their tails.

The puppies will be receptive to the stimuli of light and dark, noise and quiet. Some puppies will open their eyes before 12 days; some are even later than the 15 days. The puppies’ eyes when first opened will have a protective film, bluish in color. This will diminish over the next week or so and we will begin to confirm eye color. By three weeks of age, the puppies’ should be able to focus fairly well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Other Girls

This week has a few interesting happenings with the puppies.

Their eyes are beginning to open. This starts as a small slit in the corners and very gradually spreads across the eye. It can take several days before they are completely open. They will all appear blue and hazy for the first several days. They are far from focused and the pups are NOT really "seeing" yet. But it is a sign they are growing and healthy. Some eyes will look brown within a very short period of time - like a couple of days. Sometimes it can take a week or more to be sure if the eye is blue, brown or a combination of both. Remember that WE prefer brown eyes - the darker the better - for the show ring, but blue eyes are perfectly acceptable. And many people want blue eyes - it reminds them of Dals they may have had in the past. And, FYI, Frankie is a VERY common name for blue eyed boys - but hopefully they won't grow up to be vocal like "Old Blue Eyes" Frank Sinatra.

And, they are beginning to "lurch" around the whelping box, but they still sleep congregated to-gether, for warmth and for comfort. They try to walk, stumble and roll on their sides. Linda has put down blanket with a lot of texture, almost like lamb's wool, for them to get traction. This will help build leg muscle tone and give them purchase for those sharp puppy claws.

They are not nursing constantly as they have been, but they are draining all the milk in each teat. Maeve continues to lick and clean them as well and is such a great mother!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Meet the girls

Yesterday was just too crazy a day to make a post, but let's hope this makes up for it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Puppy Selection Continued

Okay, so let’s assume all the puppies have complete trim, brown eyes and bilateral hearing.

There are breeders out there how will now say they are all “Show Quality”. At best they MIGHT have show potential, but no one can guarantee at 8 weeks that a puppy will become a champion. There are just too many pieces to the puzzle.

And it is rare to have all puppies truly be “show potential”. We will start playing “Show Dog” with the puppies at about 3 weeks. All the puppies will be trained to stand and be handled. Even those not destined for the show ring need this valuable training. Your veterinarian will thank you for having a pup that enjoys standing, being gone over and having his ears, toes and tail touched daily.

So, what are we looking for? EVERY dog has faults. A good breeder realizes that even their most favorite dog of all time is not perfect and will recognize what is close to ideal and what could be improved on. To not do so is called “Kennel Blindness”. “My dog is perfect, but THAT person’s dog is not”. Ask us individually and I will tell you what my dog’s strengths and weaknesses are. The idea of breeding is to IMPROVE on the weak points and reinforce the good points.

Then there are faults the individual can live with, and others they just can’t get over. Some of the thinks I personally place strong weight on:

  • Nice tight feet – without good feet there is no way the dog can hold up to long endurance rides. You will see dogs with flat feet, no arch over the toes. To me, this is a major issue and I always check out a dog's feet when evaluating him. Just can't get over bad feet.

  • Tail set and carriage – the tail should be carried level, with a slight upward curve. Tails carried up over the back are very incorrect and definitely distract from the overall picture. I once saw a Dal whose tail curled over it's back like a chow's!

  • Front legs – feet should point FORWARD. Toes pointing out are frequently called “Easty-Westy”. Toes can also point in – “Toeing In”. These dogs will have issues again with distance work. I found that when I road worked Windy (over 12 years ago), because she did toe in – her pads did not wear even. She would get blisters on the outside of the feet where they landed wrong and rubbed on the pavement.

Got to get to work, more details later!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Puppy Eval Part 2

The fat ones sleeping

While to little ones nurse!

So, what goes into selecting a DALMATIAN show puppy from a non-show puppy? The process starts at birth and continues, sometimes until they are 6 to 8 months old. As a GENERAL rule the selection is made by the time they are 7 to 8 weeks old. But with a choice between 2 outstanding puppies that can be difficult. Linda had to decide between Iris and Tulip on the drive to deliver one to August when they were 8 weeks old. Both parties involved were very pleased with her final selection!

First, we start with at birth. Patches are automatically classified as non-show puppies, but can still go to homes interested in performance events – obedience, agility, tracking to name a few.

Then, we watch pigment and markings. As pigment around the eyes and nose fills in the puppy is “moved” to the possible show home list. Ideally pigment is complete at 7 weeks, but can take much longer to completely fill in the edges of a nose or corner of an eye. And sometimes, in spite of waiting, it never does fill in.

Third is eye color. Eyes start to open between 10 days and 2 weeks. Although blue eyes are perfectly acceptable, we would prefer not to have them in show homes. There are theories that blue eyes are related to deafness in the breeding process, so why take the risk. Entirely a matter of opinion, and there are many top winners and producers with single and double blue eyes. The darker brown the better.

Next, the REAL worry – hearing. Around 3 weeks we will be able to tell if a puppy is hearing. Telling if they are deaf takes longer, and it is even more difficult from just watching to tell if they only hear out of one ear. Unilateral hearing – only hearing from one ear – if hardly noticeable and these puppies make perfectly normal pets. But, again, like blue eyes, should not be used in a breeding program. Sometimes the only real way to tell unilateral versus bilateral hearing is by the BAER testing. That will be done on the litter at about 6 weeks.

And, one big part is structure evaluation – but that is a subject for another time.

Now – Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Evaluating Puppies

(Waiting on an internet issue before today's picture is up. Sorry!) In the meantime here is a cute picture of Corey - doing his favorite cute trick.

And here is an article about Show vs Pet puppies. I will follow up with more details over the next few days.
>We are often asked to explain the difference between "show" and "pet" quality puppies. I find the difference often hard to explain without leaving the impression that "show" means "good" and "pet" means "bad." I have many times heard breeders (myself included) refer to a puppy in a litter as "just a pet", inferring that there's something wrong with him. What qualities are necessary for a puppy to be labeled a "show quality puppy?" And what lack of qualities cause a puppy to be "just a pet?"
There is often a fine line between what is considered "show" or "pet" quality, and two breeders evaluating the same puppy may come up with different answers, depending on what they value in a dog. For every quality one breeder values, another breeder may decide that it is an undesirable trait, and label the puppy "just a pet." These qualities do not necessarily have to be structural. Many a breeder has agonized over the "absolutely breathtaking" puppy that is a shy violet that could never withstand the rigors of the show circuit.

Usually, to a person with little knowledge of canine structure or the breed standard, there is no difference between the classifications "show" and "pet" unless the puppy in question has some obvious flaw, such as a patch. What it boils down to is this: if you want a Dalmatian as your family pet, and you have no intentions of ever showing, then don't feel that your potential puppy is being downgraded by breeders' jargon, the reference to "pet" quality. More important to you than a straight front, lovely movement, level bite or all those other things "show" people might admire is that your Dal puppy have a great disposition and fit in with your family's lifestyle. And don't apologize to people for having "just a pet." Showing is definitely NOT for everyone!

However, if you are looking for a Dal to show, keep in mind that dog showing is expensive and you want as high a quality puppy as possible to be competitive. If you buy an older puppy or young adult, you have more of an idea of structure and "show quality" than if you buy a young puppy. Many breeders will advertise their older puppies as "show quality" and their younger ones as having "show potential," simply because there are times when even an experienced breeder finds it hard to predict exactly how a young puppy will develop. Sometimes a buyer will ask, "If I buy this 'show puppy' will you guarantee that it will get a championship?" My answer? NO! Why? Because so much depends on the buyer and what he/she does with the puppy after it leaves the house. Will the puppy be socialized, taken places to get used to different people, sounds, and smells? Will the buyer train the puppy correctly? There are many aspects to showing a dog that go far beyond the dog's structure.

Concerned breeders carefully evaluate puppies before choosing a show potential puppy for themselves or their puppy buyers. They want the Dal in the ring with their kennel prefixes to be as outstanding as possible. They want what they consider the best of what they have produced out there speaking well of their breeding programs. Also keep in mind that show quality includes attitude as well as structure and movement. An average Dal that has that "look at me! I'm special!" attitude often has a competitive edge over the more structurally sound dog that is not excited about being in the ring. And don't forget that "there is no perfect dog." There is something about every Dal that someone would like to change: "He's got a great profile, but he holds his tail wrong." "He has a lovely head, but I'd like to see a little more muzzle." "His movement is to die for, but I wish he were an inch shorter!" "He has lovely straight forelegs but lacks shoulder layback." etc...

Even when a breeder keeps a show potential puppy for himself it's usually a matter of trade-offs. He decides what quality or qualities he really wants (or needs) in his line and what traits he's willing to overlook to get them. He might say, for example, "I don't mind markings a little off but cannot tolerate a bad topline." or "I don't mind that slightly light eyes because he has the rear I've been looking for." or "This dog has the neck I'm looking for; I can live with his soft coat."

Each Dal was born to love and be loved, and whether that Dal is a family pet or top dog in the country, he deserves to be "Best of Breed" in the hearts of his owners.
Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's LhasaApsos. Thanks!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spots Showing

The puppies spots are just starting to show on their ears. They will continue to become more visible over the course of the next couple of weeks. And trim - those beautiful dark eye rims and solid colored noses are filling in as well.

Most show dogs have completely colored rims around their eyes and a solid colored nose. There certainly are champions who might be missing slight amounts, but ideally that is not the case. And as markings come in we hope for those perfect "hand painted" spots. These puppy's uncle Ghost has those markings. He is very lovely to look at in the show ring. To many markings can even happen in the same litter, and his little sister Marigold ended up too spotted to be considered a show dog. So many things to worry about when finding that ideal show puppy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What's In A Name

Practicing how to climb over things, starting with Mom's legs. Could be out of the box if we could only see!

Within the next couple of weeks the puppies will all have a litter name. Linda has decided to use watchmaker names - hence "Swatch" - since Maeve's registered name is "About Time". But, their AKC registration names do not have to be related to their litter or call names. Maeve's litter theme was Irish names, Corey's were all flowers.

For their AKC registration papers, they will all include the kennel name PatchMt, but then it is the decision of the breeder and owner to decide the rest. With LUCK mine will be PatchMt Spring Time at Blackthorn - call name SPRING!

Here is an article on the process:

How to name a new puppy or dog.

It can be difficult to name a puppy. Because people have a strong attachment to their own names, there's a desire to come up with a name that means something special. For dogs, however, things are a little different. Puppies don't identify themselves with their names like humans do. They only recognize it as us asking for their attention. When they hear the sound of their name, they know it's time to listen up because we want something. A good puppy name is a call to action.

With this in mind, here are a few guidelines to help you choose the perfect name for your new puppy:

  • Keep it simple. One or two syllable names are usually best, three syllables at the most. If the name is long or complicated, it'll be hard to call out and your dog may not understand. Having to repeat a dog's name to get his attention makes training difficult and can be dangerous in certain situations.

  • Avoid names that rhyme with or sound like obedience commands. The basic dog obedience commands include sit, stay, down, come, and heel. Of course, if you plan on teaching your dog to shake, you don't want to name him Blake.

  • Short names with ending vowels are easier for a dog to learn. This is due to the nature of how people form words. A name that starts with a sharp consonant and ends with a trailing vowel sound is easy to pronounce and has a distinctive sound. Examples would be Donka, Hero, or Vera.

  • Consider not using traditional human names. A good puppy name should be just that, a puppy's name. By naming your puppy or dog like a person, you might forget that he's, in fact, a dog. This only increases the tendency to treat our pets like people while forgetting that they see the world very differently than we do.

  • Don't use dog names that demean or poke fun at your dog. Dogs are very perceptive and they know when you're being insincere. You want people to respect your dog as much as you do. A name that's overly sweet or dopey makes that impossible.

Have fun choosing a name - and remember most of our pets end up with several - Carina is also KK, and Corey is Coorman!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dew Claws

Here is a puppy recovering minutes after having her dew claws removed. You can see how it upset her. The puppies disliked being held still and all exercised their lungs!

Dewclaw removal is the surgical removal of the first digit, sometimes referred to as the thumb. This toe is located on the inside of the paws.

Why Dewclaw Removal?

At one time the presence or absence of dew claws was an indication of a poor breeder and a quality breeder. That is no longer the case. Many breeders are now opting to leave them on, and in some performance circles it is felt that dogs benefit from them. However, these puppies have all had their's removed. Why?

One of my very first Dals, Cheeca, had her dew claw ripped off while playing in the yard. It was extremely painful for poor Cheeca, with cartilage exposed and raw. At first the vet wanted it just keep if wrapped and let it heal on its own. That was a poor choice and did not work. She then had to have surgery for its removal and had a very difficult time recovering. Since then I have always elected for removal. It is very much a personal breeder choice and the luckily the only cosmetic surgery our breed has to have done.

Dewclaw removal is most often performed in puppies around 2-5 days of age to prevent the loosely attached dewclaws from catching on furniture, carpet, etc. resulting in damage to the toe.

Some pets have dewclaws only on the front feet and some have dewclaws on all four feet. Some have multiple dewclaws. Dewclaw removal may also be performed in older dogs if the toe becomes injured or damaged.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Puppy Stimulation Exercises

The 2 little boys nursing to catch up

Girls (plus one boy) in the Incubator

Here are some pictures of the little boys eating while their chunky sisters wait in the incubator. Everyone is getting weighed in the morning, the girls weighing a little over a pound each, the boys a little under. It is a case of the bigger puppies pushing the littler ones off the prize nipples. With a little help like this the boys will soon catch up and be able to hold their own. Of course, once the toys come into play, the girls will probably start bossing those boys around again!

And Linda has also started doing the Early Stimulation Exercises For Puppies -

from Breeding Better Dogs by Dr. Carmen Bagittalia

The Importance Of Early Stimulation And Socialization

The U.S. Military, as part of their canine program, developed a method to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes. This program, initially named "Bio Sensor", is now commonly referred to by the public as the "Super Dog" Program. Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects on dogs. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance.

These simple exercises do not replace routinely handling and playing with each pup, however, they are designed to stimulate the neurological system.

These exercises impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected. The result being an increased capacity that later will help to make the difference in its performance. Benefits observed in dogs exposed to this stimulation were improved cardio vascular performance, stronger heart beats, higher tolerance to stress and greater resistance to disease.

Stimulated pups were found to be more active and more exploratory than their non-stimulated litter mates over which they were dominant in competitive situations. They seemed less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were calmer, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress when stressed.

Additionally, socialization of each puppy is critical in the early development for a puppy. Pups that are handled early and on a regular basis, generally do not become hand shy as adults. During their first two months of life, exposure to children, people, toys and animals on a regular basis, as well as handling and touching all parts of their anatomy is also necessary to ensure appropriate development.

The workouts require handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup.

The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

  • Tactical stimulation (between toes): Holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle.
  • Head held erect: Using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position.
  • Head pointed down: Holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground.
  • Supine position: Hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep.
  • Thermal stimulation: Use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. Do not restrain it from moving.

These five exercises will produce neurological simulations, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises, others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered to those who plan to use them.

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non- stimulated litter mates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.

Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated litter mates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated litter mates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress sound when stressed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Meet Swatch from the About Time Litter

I need to work on making all the photos line up correctly, but for now this will have to do!

From the Dalmatian Club of America standard:

Patches are a disqualification. A patch is a solid mass of black or liver hair containing no white hair. It is appreciably larger than a normal sized spot. Patches are a dense, brilliant color with sharply defined, smooth edges. Patches are present at birth. Large color masses formed by intermingled or overlapping spots are not patches. Such masses should indicate individual spots by uneven edges and/or white hairs scattered throughout the mass.

Now- all that really means is that they can't be shown in conformation at dog shows. Some of the best performance - obedience, agility and tracking - Dals in the country have been and continue to be patches. They make GREAT pets and tend to be the cutest pups in the litter. I have seen patches around eyes, on ears and even on tails. While they can occur on other parts of the body but that is very rare.

And why Patch Mountain Dalmatians? - Patch Mountain is the mountain outside Linda's back door and between our houses. Named for old time settler Isiah Patch. And her first Dalmatian, Emily, had an ear patch. Patch Mountain Road becomes a discontinued road about 1/2 mile from my house and then you can ride a horse or ATV up to the old Patch Mountain Cemetery, viewing headstones from the 1700's.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Maeve resting under the heat lamp with her babies. Because puppies can't generate their own body heat, it is the breeder's responsibility to make sure all are warm and happy, thus the heat lamp. Now everyone is toasty warm, fed and happy.

Linda and I will be working on getting the puppies AKC registration process in the next few days. Because according to the records we are both listed as co-breeders we both have to sign tons of paperwork. We will start the ball rolling now so puppy papers are ready when the pups go to their new homes.

Here is an interesting article on why to buy an AKC registered puppy.

The ad said “AKC registered puppies, $400.”

Below it, another ad for the same breed read “Puppies, no papers, $150.”

What's the difference?

By the organization's own admission, American Kennel Club registration is not a mark of quality. In many cases, it indicates that the breeder has taken some steps to assure that the puppies meet the breed standard in some fashion — in other words, that they look and act like the breed they are identified to be. However, the fact of registration, a process that requires that registered dogs are used as sire and dam of the litter and costs the breeder some money, may indicate either that the breeder cares about the puppies or wants merely to get a few more dollars for each puppy.

Puppies without papers might be fine examples of their breeds, but they are less likely to be so. A $150 puppy of whatever breed without papers is also likely to be less physically or mentally sound than a more expensive puppy of the same breed. While it is not always true that you get what you pay for when buying puppies, the difference between those two puppies may be far more than the presence or absence of a piece of paper.

Buyers should ask what else they get for the registered puppy. If the sire and dam have been screened for genetic diseases, the puppies are clean, healthy, and well-socialized, the breeder offers a contract that protects the breeder, the buyer, and the puppy, that additional money buys a lot. If those things are not available from a breeder, the quality of the puppy is suspect.

But back to AKC registration.

Actually, the puppy is only registered as a member of a litter by the breeder. The buyer gets a slip giving the names of sire and dam, the breeder, and a physical description of the puppy that must be filled out with the puppy's name and the buyer's signature. The puppy name can be up to 25 characters and must be unique. For example, a puppy with the call name Sassy might be named Nancy's Sassafras or may include a kennel name, as in Nancy's Sassafras of Oaktree.

Puppies can be assigned full or limited registration by the breeder. Limited registration is for puppies that the breeder does not consider breeding quality; if they are bred, their puppies cannot be registered. The individual puppy is not registered unless the registration form is filled out and mailed to AKC.

When the puppy is registered, he is eligible to compete in all AKC competitions, bringing to his family the opportunity to enter the exciting world of dog shows. Far from being an elite and limited field of interest, dog shows are far more than the Westminster Kennel Club Show seen each February on cable television. AKC runs more than 13,000 events each year ranging from the “beauty contests” epitomized by Westminster to field events, obedience trials, and agility competitions.

Included are

  • Conformation shows, some for all breeds, others for a single breed. Judges at these shows evaluate the dogs for adherence to the breed standard, to see if the dogs look, move, and act like the breed they represent. Junior showmanship, an opportunity for youngsters aged 10-18 to compete with the purebred, registered family pet. In this event, the entrants are judged for their ability to handle the dog and show its best characteristics to the judge. Junior showmanship helps teach patience, poise, and sportsmanship.
  • Obedience trials promote the partnership between people and their pets. Contestants compete at three levels, each more difficult than the last. Obedience competition builds on the basic manners that every dog needs and calls for some creative problem-solving to teach the dog exercises ranging from a drop-on-recall to finding an item scented by the handler.
  • Agility trials are the next step in dog-owner companionship. Agility involves teaching the dog to maneuver over, under, around, and through obstacles such as an A-frame wall, a teeter-totter, tunnels, and a variety of jumps. Agility training is for dogs with basic obedience training that are at least six months and preferably more than a year old.
  • Tracking tests evaluate a dog's ability to follow a trail by scent. The dog must track a person over uneven terrain and retrieve scented articles.
  • Junior showmanship, obedience, agility, and tracking events are open to all breeds registered by AKC.

For more information about AKC registration and events, visit the AKC website at www.akc.org .

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NOT a Text Book Whelping

Maeve, Linda and I are exhausted. Things did not progress well with the at home whelping process so we made a trip to our local wonderful veterinarian. Even had one puppy born enroute. In the end we have 8 beautiful puppies, 5 girls, 3 boys. One of the girls is a double ear patch - very, very cute! Mom is home resting up and all the puppies are doing well.

And a HUGE HUGE Thank You to the wonderful staff at Bethel Animal Hospital, with a special recognition going to our very close friend and fellow Dalmatian owner Dawn Eliot-Johnson. We owe them one huge favor.

A LONG Night

Here's Maeve with 3 puppies - and it is 5:30 in the morning. First puppy, a girl, born at 12:15 a.m. Then at 4:30, in quick session, a boy and a girl. All doing well, but more still to come. Maeve is NOT making this an easy process.
Back to the whelping box.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Still Waiting

Remember I said this wasn't fun. 20 hours later we are still waiting. This is called Stage 1 labor, nesting, panting, not eating, small contractions, but not hard labor. The books say this can last 24 hours, and Maeve is proving them right. She has eaten small snacks of pork, and yogurt and honey, but doesn't want a regular meal.

Linda and I can remember litters without the wait. Her first Dal, Emily, had her first puppy under the dining room table without realizing she was even in labor. I remember growing up and my older brother Joe and I watching TV while our beagle had a litter start behind the couch. Were they easier litters or we were just numb? Probably just numb. Now we are always so worried and concerned for the mother we stare at them and don't want t miss anything in case they need our help.

So, could be an all nighter. Linda and I have at least had a chance to read all the whelping books for the 20th time and even some puppy training books in the process.


Well, it looks like today might be the day. I've always wondered why people would want to have a litter of puppies so their kids can "Watch the miracle of birth". While I agree it is a miracle, the process is not one I would care to have young children exposed to!

First, you start with 24 hours of pre-labor. Restlessness, panting, nesting, and just making you wonder when it will actually start! That is where we are at, 8:30 Monday morning. I zoomed into work VERY early to get the worst things done and Linda has been working from home. Waiting, waiting and more waiting.

Then the process itself is NASTY! After half a dozen litters I've learned to not actually gag, but it's not a pretty sight. We plan on a towel for each puppy and lots of paper towels for clean-up. I have a friend who breeds Bernese Mountain Dogs and always just plans a C-section so she doesn't have to go through this whole process. That is much harder on the mother and not something I would prefer, but is considered the norm in many breeds. Fingers crossed we don't have to use that particular option.

Hopefully we'll be pretty busy her soon and we'll let you know the results later.