Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heading Home!

The house is growing quiet and is already much cleaner :-). I always revel in this week: It's always nice when our lives return to normal but I love even more when the new owners share their joy and excitement over their new pup's first week home. I love the calls, the stories, the questions. I love to hear about the flights home (so far, all the pups have been good), the first night, the first night the pup sleeps through the night :-), new adventures, new training. All of it.

Early yesterday morning, Mr Blue headed to Manitoba. An hour or so later, Miss Raspberry flew off to Louisiana. An hour after that, Lauran (and Katie) came to pick up Skye before the snow arrives. Mr Rust then left this morning. Peggy Sue now has a Peggy-Sue-sized x-pen, with her own bed, potty area and toys. We're kicking into house-breaking with her, too. She's starting on her training--little things like learning to sit for her meals, wait to come out the gate, walking nicely on leash and more. Of course, there is an equal amount of playing, cuddling, visiting.

It's hard to believe that our part is done with the pups. What fun we had with them. Hopefully, we prepared them well for their lives and we will all enjoy them for the rest of their lives. Even if the time feels like it was short, my body is telling me that I've earned a rest so I'm off to do so.

I hope you've enjoyed following the Southerners. You'll be able to see them on the Gaylan's website soon. I'll post more about Peggy Sue as things develop.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And then there were three

Seven of the pups have headed off to their new homes. Yesterday, Miss Green headed to Florida, Miss Lilac to NJ and Mr Red to CT. Mr Blue already flew out this AM for Manitoba. Miss Raspberry leaves in a few hours for Louisiana. At that point, we'll be down to Mr Rust and Peggy Sue. Thank goodness because it is turning very cold. It's much easier to exercise two pups in the cold than ten!

We've been messing around with the videos. I think you'll get a chuckle out of our night videos. We were making the next Blair Witch Project :-). We've also posted more walk videos. And of course, the going-home photos are up, too.

I'm off to pack some orders and get some work done before Miss Raspberry heads out.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Going Home

The pups are heading out but we are still pretty busy here. Miss Black flew out to California yesterday and, from what we've heard, the flight was uneventful (although the car ride to the airport was a bit noisy :-}). We had lots more visitors yesterday as new owners arrived in NY and prospective owners wanted to meet some of our pups before committing to a puppy.

In between visitors, Mom and Rosie put together the Puppy Books and bags. This is a big job around here since our pups get so many gifts from Gaylan and Topmast owners and my Puppy Book has grown into a 3-inch binder. Toys, treats, supplments and more fill the bag and the binder has everything I can think of to get buyers through their pup's first year.

There are lots of videos up from our morning walk. It was 50 degrees this morning so the pups and I headed out for a short walk. During it, Skye started playing with the pups and I got it on video. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do; they are very special. We also learned about stairs so enjoy them.

Miss Pink left for Virginia while Liz MacArthur's bulldog babies came to visit. There are some short clips of our pups figuring out what the heck a bulldog is and then playing with her. Liz's dogs have fabulous temperaments so it's great for our pups to learn about other breeds.

God speed to our babies who have left! We are enjoying the diminishing work with the diminishing numbers and are happy to hear about those that have left.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone had a great day! New photos and video are up! Pups start goinig home tomorrow so we'll be very busy and may not have time to post.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waiting is the worst, I know!

It's the morning after the temperament test and I know there are nine folks out there dying to hear the results. Alas, I'm going to make you wait a little bit longer since eye exams are this afternoon. That will be the last piece of information we need to start deciding which pups go where.

However, I'll share with you some results from yesterday. First, the pups across the board did great on the temperament test. They were confident, stable babies who actually returned with retrieve objects :-O! That is unusual for Gaylan's pups. I always say that we can teach a dog to come back much easier than you can teach a dog to love to go out. We have come to call the more typical Gaylan's puppy, the one that races out, grabs the item and races away, as a triever rather than a retreiver :-). Well, this crew was fabulous--out and back, out and back. I got tired of writing that after a while :-).

I do want to publicly thank my helpers for the test. Marcy Burke was our tester, despite a sore back. As always, she was fabulous! Lise Pratt was the videographer, making sure everything was captured on video. Buyers will receive a copy of the video with their Pat McKinney was wonderful hauling puppies and equipment. Pat Swallows made sure Marcy had everything she needed at the right moment. Stephanie Schmitter, her friend, Marie, and Brass's owner, Jack Belicka were also here. I couldn't have made it through the day without everyone. Thank you!!!

My mom has just arrived so I have to cut this short. More tomorrow.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Puppy Walk But We Still Had Fun

We were very disappointed to have to cancel the Puppy Walk but it was the best decision. You probably know about the major snowstorm that is hitting the East Coast. Many of the Puppy Walk participants were coming from NJ, which is getting snow this morning. The temperature hasn't gone above 23 degrees so it is cold! We've held Puppy Walks in colder weather but not during snowstorms.

Don't worry, the pups have had a good day regardless. I've posted lots of video and photos from today. They've played for hours, had visitors, gone for a walk and a few even went swimming. They had turkey (blech!), ostrich (yum) and elk (yum, YUM) to eat. They are being entertained by all of our sound CDs. And both Corey and Dreamer have played for hours with them.

I'm exhausted but in addition to the above (except for the meals :-P), I've had the opportunity to do laundry, clean the pen, clean the dog yard, feed and water the pigeons so they'll be okay if we can't get to them tomorrow and clean the house. People always ask how I can let the pups leave at 8-9 weeks. Heck, I need a vacation at that point :-).

The pups' scrapbooks arrived today, along with other goodies from Pat Swallows. The Southern litter owners are going to love these books. They are just beautiful. Now for me to find all the photos to put into them. Mom and Rosie are coming for Christmas so I'll have some extra hands :-).

Enjoy the videos. Oh, there are some new ones on Week 6. Turn your sound down--one gives you a good idea of how loud the pups are in the morning.

Finally, we send our congratulations to Mike and Mary Ducross and the first Canadian Triple Champion golden retriever, Push. Push is granddaddy to this litter and finished his Canadian UD this morning. Very exciting!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Videos and Photos are Up

I'm out of energy tonight but wanted to let you know that new photos and videos are up. The pups are doing great going outside so we are walking three times a day. It's cold but they don't seem to mind. I think the Puppy Walk will be fine! Whew, I was getting worried.

Gotta hit the hay!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So much to tell, so little time

We've had an exciting time since Friday. The pups have quite the social calendar. Saturday was visitor day. After Amanda and I took 6-week stacked shots (posted to the right), the guests started arriving. From 10 AM till 8:30 PM, the house was non-stop. Stephanie and Gail came from NJ. Stephanie is taking one of the girls so this was her first time to meet them. I don't know if she and Gail planned to stay till after 1 but they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Marcy and Lise rolled in around 11, following shortly by Maggie, Flaire and Scorch. Marcy is testing the litter so she can only play with Peggy but the two of them had lots of schmoozing time.

We had a few hours of playing and cuddling (and cleaning up) before Deb and Pat arrived with Zahra and Bryce. We all went out and played with birds for a while and let the pups rest. The young dogs did great on the birds so it was a good afternoon. Then back in for more puppy snuggles and dinner.

Most of the dogs didn't come in but the pups have spent time with Cruise this week. Cruise is a 5-month old from our last litter and he's been very good with the babies. Flaire also met the pups and was intrigued.

Sunday was hunting day for the big dogs so Una, Dreamer, Andy and I headed south with Maggie, Scorch and Flaire to pick up pheasants with George and Emma. (I hope you are keeping all these people and dogs straight since there is a test at the end!) We had a fabulous morning of hunting and all the dogs did well. Una and Emma are like twin working machines out in the field. I could watch the two of them work together all day.

Sunday was the first that either Scorch or Dreamer had hunted but it was a pleasure watching them figure it out. Given how little Dreamer has worked this year, I was thrilled at her quartering, marking and retrieving to hand. What a good girl! Scorch also did a very nice job, once he stopped lusting after his mother. Boys! He then really focused on finding the birds, putting them up and bringing them back. We quit after a few hours in the rain but were still smiling! It took 4 hours to drive the normally 1 1/2 hours back home and it was worth every minute. Thank you, George for another wonderful day!

Today the pups got not one but two walks. It was finally above freezing so Amanda got them out this morning and I took them out this afternoon. I actually got five of them all the way to and down the path aways which is pretty good for their first real walk. (For those who haven't been here before, that's about 250 yards from the house, across parking lots, lawn, past chickens, trucks and wood piles, which apparently are lots of fun.) Peggy Sue was up with me on the trail but I did have to carry her part of the way home.

Then we introduced the pups to dead pigeons. They were all over that bird. Miss Pink was crazed and though she was the smallest, she was able to get it away from the other pups. Mr Red, Bobbie Jean, Miss Green, Mr Blue and more were in the mix. They are now tired and sleepy puppies after an exciting afternoon.

Photos and video will be up later.


Friday, December 11, 2009

The finished not puppies!

I thought everyone would enjoy seeing the finished portraits of the pups and Skye. Yes, we really did get all (or almost all) the pups in the photo at one time. No, we didn't have to photoshop them in. Yes, we were really tired by the end. No, it didn't take all day, just a few hours. Yes, Skye and the pups were amazing!

The hunting set was particularly fun because I put Flyer's portrait in the photo (that's her on the left behind the pups). Flyer is the pups' great-great granddam so it was fun to have her with them. You can see the pups peeking out around the boots--they did that themselves. We do however, only have nine pups in that photo but we never could figure out who was missing so we went with it. By the time we realized it, the pups were too tired to pose again.

Copies of both portraits, framed and unframed, are available for purchase. You can do so before you come to get your pup or you can check them out while they are here to get your baby. The photographer is Barry Rosen (, another golden person, and he does great work. He also has the patience of a saint, as you can imagine.

Off to feed the crew! We are going through nearly 20 pounds of food a day at the moment so there is a lot of thawing, preparing and feeding happening in this house.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Puppy Portraits

I have always wanted to get formal portraits done of my pups but most of the time, I just can't get it organized. I think 5 weeks is the perfect time for photos like this because the pups look pretty mature but are relatively controllable. I say relatively because it really is chaos trying to get 10 puppies to sit still but somehow it happens. Well, it happens if you try it when they are 5 weeks. By 6 or 7 weeks, they are just too energetic and independent.

My big work project finished up yesterday afternoon so I decided to schedule a photo shoot for today. Barry Rosen, a friend and excellent photographer from my town, Amanda and I prepared ourselves. I wanted to do two themes: one hunting and one Christmas. I hoped to get Skye in but that would require the pups to be really full so they didn't spend all their time trying to nurse.

You will see the formal results of our session soon but in the meantime you can enjoy some photos and video that I took during the pauses. The people were all exhausted afterwards and, come to think of it, so were the pups.

I've also posted lots of video from this week.



Saturday, December 5, 2009


I've been getting lots of questions lately so I thought I'd take a moment and answer some of them.

How much do the pups weigh now?
The pups range from Miss Green at 4# 12 oz to Miss Lilac (Bobbi), who is 5# 15 oz. Most pups are over 5# now. All are eating well and growing fast.

What are the pups eating?
Skye was having trouble keeping up with the nursing demands so I started feeding the pups this week. Since we begin feeding when the pups have teeth, we transition pups directly to Bravo, ground raw meat/bone/organs and veggies. We add a little Dr Harvey's Canine Health, which is a mix of grains, as well as a multi-vitamin supplement, probiotic and salmon oil. The pups dove in their first meal and haven't looked back. They still nurse a number of times each day, too.

So far, the pups have eaten chicken, turkey, lamb, beef and pork. They liked them all but beef is the favorite!

What have the pups learned so far?
At this point, our primary focus has been housebreaking. This is a time when pups can either grasp housebreaking or miss it completely. Early in the week, the pups were struggling to "hit the spot." I had the smaller pans in the pen for ease of entrance (the lip isn't as high on them as it is on the box) but they are slippery and require better aim and balance. We had started feeding solid food, which does increase pooping, so there were lots of missing.

When I didn't see an improvement in a few days, we made some changes. The smaller pans were replaced with the larger box so that half the pen area was now potty. A few challenging days and then yesterday, it all came together. The pups are now hitting the spot 90% of the time. Whew! That was a good thing!

What else have the pups learned?
Although housebreaking is important, it is not the only thing the pups are learning. We are teaching them to come to the come-in whistle and "here." We signal meals with one of the other of these "commands" and the pups are really tuned in to them now. They hear those sounds and start moving fast!

We also use mealtimes to introduce new places and eating utensils. The pups have eaten in three different rooms with three different kinds of dishes (metal, plastic and paper). As the pups get more mobile, we'll feed them in as many areas of the house as we can move them.

We are also doing physical and mental stimulation with sounds, scents, textures and anything else we can think of. The pen has different floorings, toys of all shapes and textures, hanging toys and mobiles and things that make sounds. All of this is changed twice a day.

As of tomorrow, we start the sound introduction. We have tapes of all kinds of sounds, including gunshots. We start playing them every day at low volume at 5 weeks. As the pups age, we play them louder and in different locations.

Of course, the pups are learning all about people and dogs. They've met people of all ages, shapes and sizes. They play regularly with their mom, Corey, Dreamer and Una. Tonight, they even got to meet a cairn terrier puppy.

We've got lots more to do with them but I'll tell you more about that in future blogs.

Are the pups going outside?
We've had one trip outside thus far but tonight its 30 degrees and snowing so it will be a week or two before they go back out. Even at 60 degrees, the pups got chilled within 20 minutes. I'm sure we'll have more nice days and, even if we don't, the pups will be able to handle the cold within a week or two. Then we'll hit the woods!

When will I know which pup goes where?
I know it's hard to wait to find out which pup goes home with who but we wait till the temperament test is over and all the health checks are completed before we figure out which pup matches well with new homes? The temperament test isn't till December 22 and the health checks are around the same time so looks like we might have some great Christmas presents for our patiently waiting owners.

Just to reassure everyone, so far the pups look terrific! They are developing normally, both physically and mentally. So far, so good!

How are Miss Lilack (Bobbi Jean) and Miss Rainbow (Peggy Sue) doing?
Bobbi Jean is the pup whose tail had to be docked at two days of age due to damage it sustained before she was born. Bobbi is a terrific pup who shows no indication that she misses her tail. She is active and curious.

Peggy Sue is our pup with only three normal legs. She has one front leg that is stunted. She took a little longer to learn to walk but she is doing very well now. She loves to carry toys in her mouth, plays with her brothers and sisters and climbs on everything.

Peggy is incredibly sweet and very pretty. We are thrilled she is doing so well and expect she will continue to develop well. She'll be a 3-legged dog but a very happy one.

Well, that's all. There are videos and photos posted under Week 5.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The great outdoors!

Sixty degrees in December and we were out the door as soon as possible this morning. The pups did great on their first outing. At 5 1/2 weeks, the pups are just barely following. From what we can tell, following triggers or starts at around 6 weeks. So, the pups followed for 4-5 feet, then stopped. Once they are 6 feet away, they can't see very well. People look like...trees, vans, woodpiles, other dogs, and more.

But despite the fits and starts, we ahd a great time outside with them today. They went down along the tennis court to the trail head before getting too cold to continue. The slept for a few hours after getting home :-). Hopefully, we'll get them out again soon.

Photos and videos are up!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick note. Photos and videos are up. Pups are now running around the dining room and kitchen. Hopefully, they can go out in the next few days, depending upon weather. They are eating well and really interacting now. Come visit!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving...a little late!

I just posted the photos and videos from the last few days. I'm sorry I haven't been on the blog but I've been very busy with work and puppies. No time for anything else these days. I've grabbed pictures and videos when I can so you can at least visit in cyberspace. I promise I'll have more time after Wednesday...I promise.

Let's see, what has happened with the pups? They are enjoing their new pen and all the fun toys and stuff to do. They are getting started on housebreaking, using the pans about 60% of the time. They come out to play in the kitchen a couple of times a day where they explore and play with the big dogs.

I started feeding them solid food today since they had stopped gaining weight and Skye was less interested in nursing than I'd like. So, they had raw ground beef and beef heart for lunch. They thought that was pretty amazing and licked the bowls clean.

Dinner was Bravo beef blend with supplements and grain. Peas didn't go over well wiht this crew but they ate around them :-). They have started gaining weight again so all is well.

What else? Well, Jack and Sue Belicka found out that Brass is prcd-PRA clear so that means the pups are clear, since we already knew Skye was. That's a nice thing for me because it means I don't have to put in microchips and draw blood next week. I know it has to be done sometimes but they are so little, that I'd much rather wait till they are older before sticking them.

Hopefully, the weather will be warm enough this week to get the pups outside. No doubt they will love that! Photos and video will be posted!

OK, time to go back to work. Enjoy the photos and videos.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Digs

I'm pretty beat so this won't be long but there are lots of new photos and videos up on the site. The pups moved downstairs to the puppy pen yesterday. Well, it's a small version of the pen until they get their sea legs and figure out the potty area. As they grow, we'll expand the room they have and the stuff they get to do it in. Skye can get in and out during the day but spends her nights with the pups. Everyone seems quite content.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Catching Up

We made it through the weekend! This was the second Canine Reproduction Workshop that I've hosted for Dr Mary Stankovicz and Debbie Leach. We had 20+ dog breeders here over the weekend, complete with stud dogs and brood bitches. It was wonderful to have Gaylan's family members, Pam Martin and Jill Brown, down from Canada, as well as Newfie, curly-coated retriever, Rhodesian ridgeback, English cocker and many golden retriever breeders with us. We learned a lot about how to be more successful breeding our dogs.

Although the weekend was about puppies, the actual Southern Pups didn't feature prominantly. Not to worry, they were by no means overlooked. Througout the day, Amanda kept tabs on Skye and the babies. Then, each evening, after a long day teaching, working and learning, a bunch of us gathered with the pups and bottles of wine. The pups got cuddled, tickled, kissed, and hugged by many, many "aunts" (not many guys come to these workshops). Everybody had their favorite so the pups each got lots of one-on-one time with someone. It was a great way to end each day.

Tomorrow is a big day for the babies because they are moving downstairs. They have become quite active and coordinated so we are going to move them into the center of the house where they will get lots of stimulation and Skye will be in the center of the action, her favorite place to be. This will begin the pups housebreaking, since we will set up a large litter area in the puppy pen. They will also get introduced to things to climb on, crawl into and sleep under. It's an exciting time for them. Amanda and I will definitely take some photos and videos tomorrow.

The ones who felt the most ignored were Corey, Una and Dreamer. Dreamer finally got to feeling better as of yesterday. I'm assuming it was a spider that bit her and it got her good. The swelling of her ear flaps finally resided last night and she ate her first regular-sized meal this morning. Dreamer and Una decided to have some fun with Amanda this afternoon by *presto-chango* turning into chocolate Labs.

BTW, for those who were wondering, Gaylan is back from Tennessee. She goes to see Dr Jim on Friday for an evaluation and then we'll decide where she is going. Marcy and Jim were wonderful to go pick her up from Karen Langer. Hopefully, she'll be cured quickly and will head off to learn how to hunt.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dog Days

There are some days that I wish that pups were the only exciting thing in my life but that isn't often the case. Not to worry, the pups are doing well. They see (sort of) and hear (even less sort of) and walk. They interact with toys, kind of, and love their mom and the other dogs. They play with each other...some and sleep...a lot.

So the pups are the high point these days. Work has been pretty rough and then last night, I walked over to get some dinner to find Dreamer looking like a Shar Pei. Her head was swollen twice its normal size, her eyes were almost swollen shut, her lips and ears were about an inch think. Darn! I had to work last night so I crammed her full of Benadryl and prednisone and then took her to the office with me in case she ran into problems. Thankfully, the night passed easily and by this morning, her head was nearly back to normal.

Unfortunately, midafternoon she took a turn for the worse, vomiting and starting to swell again. I decided to take her to Dr Jim so we wouldn't have a crisis this weekend. A little Cerenia and Benadryl and she looks like she is on the mend.

In the meantime, Marcy and Jim Burke are in Tennessee picking up Gaylan for me. We donated Gaylan as a breeder to Retrieving Independence, a new service dog organization. Unfortunately, after two snake bites, it appears that Gaylan has demodectic mange so she is on her way home. This is only our second case ever of demodex but it happens. Since I was at Dr Jim's this afternoon, I could pick up medication for her so it looks like we can get her treated in six weeks.

I was excited to learn that Promeris has been approved as a treatment for demodex it makes it much easier on dog and owner than daily Ivomec. She'll be home on Sunday and will get started on treatment and evaluation so we can make some decisions on her future.

So, the puppies are the high point these days. I am looking forward to seeing Pam Martin (Gambling Dice) and Jill Brown (Comedy Punch) who are traveling down from Canada for the reproduction seminar this weekend. Chris Marinelli (Fire Tux) is also stopping by tomorrow. A few more Gaylan's folks will also be joining us, as well as some wonderful breeders of other breeds. Should be an interesting time!

So, I've posted lots of puppy video and some photos. Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks, Carrie

I am working 24/7 for the next few days finishing a project for work and getting ready for the repro workshop this weekend so tonight you get to see Carrie Neyland's video of the pups.

Carrie came up from New Orleans on Saturday so she could meet me, Skye, her relatives and the pups. Carrie spent Saturday night with Stephanie Schmitter and her family (Thanks, Stephanie!!), including Pilot, Skye's brother. Steph and Carrie headed off to the agility trial at Dream Park to watch some runs and visit with some other Gaylan's dogs.

Carrie arrived here on Sunday, while I was working madly so she did a lovely job occupying herself with puppies and dogs. Andy and I so enjoyed meeting her.

Without further ado, here are the Southerners from today, brought to you by Carrie!

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Changes!

I haven't posted in a few days and during that time, the pups have "woken up." They are now seeing pretty well and starting to hear. They are walking, playing with each other and engaging with toys. They now bark, chortle, purr and scream bloody murder when they aren't happy.

We finished the Biosensor exercises today. With their improving senses, there is no need to put additional stress on them through the exercises. They will now stress themselves just by interacting with their environment. Their last two scents were a goose wing and a duck; both were VERY interesting.

Dreamer and Corey are regulars in the whelping box. Corey is a diligent cleaner and has even settled in to "nurse" on occasion. Dreamer is eager for the pups to start playing but isn't interested in any of the hard, dirty work. Skye is watchful but very tolerant. Una is disinterested.

Skye is gleefully participating in all of the woods walks now. She's getting bored with nursery duties so we may move the pups downstairs a little earlier so Skye doesn't have to be off by herself.

Lots of new photos and videos are posted. Check out the pups playing with each other and their toys.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The Aunties

I've mentioned Dreamer and her passion for the pups in many of my posts but she isn't the only doting aunt. Her mother, Corey is the Main Mom in this house. She loves all puppies, firmly believes that cleanliness is next to Dogliness, and adopts any and all pups. However, Corey has also been a mother herself so she is more respectful of maternal concerns than Dreamer is. Well, until tonight.

Skye was off chewing on a bone when I came in to clean up, weigh and cuddle with puppies tonight. Apparently Corey thought the pups weren't clean enough so she went to town, scrubbing each puppy until they were spotless. Skye came in at one point but decided that Corey had things well in hand so went back to her bone. Eventually, she returned to her kids only to find Corey still in the box. Corey ignored her, finished cleaning the pup she was working on before casually strolling away. Skye appears a bit confused in the video but she tolerates Corey's care. Dogs are just so interesting.

Dreamer is in the box more and more but we are all watching her closely so she doesn't step on anyone in her enthusiasm. Una is interested in the pups but sees no reason why their mom can't take care of them.

I was able to get some video of the pups walking today, as well as their eyes. They are looking more and more like little golden retrievers. Enjoy!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Up On All Fours

I couldn't get any photos of the pups walking but they are indeed tottering around on all fours as of today. All eyes are open, though some more than others. They now get very excited when Skye enters the whelping box, crying and milling around. This can be a time that dams get concerned about handling their pups. The pups start getting very active and careful dams are worried about lying on them so they circle and circle, trying to find a place to lie down. So far, Skye has taken all the activity in stride and has had no problem getting in a out.

Not much else happening here outside of eating and sleeping. The pups got to smell pigeon today. Yum! Skye is now walking with the other dogs on their morning woods walks with Amanda. She is thrilled with that but definitely has to get back in shape. She actually had to lie down and rest while making her way back up the hill. Not to worry, six more weeks of woods walks and she'll have her girlish figure back again.

New photos and videos are posted.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nose...and Eyes!

Puppy development is a good indication of the priority of dogs' senses: nose, eyes, ears. The pups have been able to smell well since the instant they were born. Their noses, dogs' primary sense, have enabled them to stay alive by helping them find their mom and figure out where the milk is.

Now the pups' eyes are begining to open. It is always such an exciting time when we get a peak at the little eyes as they gradually appear. Over the next few days, they will open fully but it will be weeks before they can see well. Their ears are also gradually opening but it will be another week or so before they can hear.

In the meantime, the pups are receiving lots of visitors. Today, Charlie and Lauran Mancuso arrived early for a visit with Skye and the babies. Skye loves it when they come, squinting her pleasure at seeing them. While Charlie and Lauran spent an hour petting Skye and loving the babies, I trimmed toe nails, weighed the pups and did their Biosensor exercises. After Charlie and Lauran headed back to Pennsylvania, Amanda, Jimmy and 8-year old little Jimmy came to pet Skye and love the pups. Then, tonight, Jack and Sue Belicka, Brass's owners came to visit for the first time. They had a great time with the pups and I got to visit with Brass (and 14-year old Red).

We also collected DNA from Brass for the prcd-PRA test (progressive rod-cone degeneration progressive retinal atrophy). We'll know in a few weeks if Brass is clear or a carrier. prcd-PRA is a newly discovered disease in golden retrievers, primarily in field lines. It causes blindness in midlife so our goal is to not produce any effected dogs. Luckily, this form of golden PRA is genetically similar to the disease found in other breeds so we were able to piggyback off of their research efforts. Doing simply DNA tests, we can determine if dogs carry two, one or none of the genes for this eye disease. Skye has already been tested and is clear so even if Brass is a carrier, none of the pups will be effected.

The pups have been enjoying their scent items recently. We used grouse wings two days ago and three of the pups actually grabbed the wings. Wow! Then yesterday, we used a chrysanthemum blossom. The pups literally buried their noses in the flower and breathed deeply. It was a hoot. This morning was a dirt day. This was clearly not as exciting as grouse or flowers, they sniffed and moved on. Oh well, we don't always pick well.

We have two-pound pups so they are eating well. Most of us are sleeping much better these days. Poor Skye still has to pull night duty but she still seems to be enjoying most of it, particulary with visitors who will tell her how wonderful she and her babies are.

Time to hit the hay! New photos and videos posted under Week 2. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Week Old

Well, the Southerners are a week old and growing by leaps and bounds. Their lives are filled with sleeping and eating, with the occasional disruption from me--trimming toenails, doing Biosensor, giving them really cool things to sniff, and putting them in that cold pan. Oh, and their mom cleans them all the time. Now even their doggie aunties are in the cleaning mode, too, so these pups are spotless. Dreamer was allowed in the whelping box yesterday and she was beside herself with excitement. Thus far, she has avoided stepping on a puppy but she definitely keeps Skye on her toes.

The pups are having more and more visitors. Today it was Auntie Sue who came for a nice visit with lots of hugs and kisses. While she was here, we changed collars since they'd grown so much since last week.

New photos and a video are up. Their eyes open this week so we'll be stopping flash photography for a few days. We'll try to get some photos in the dark though.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Bobbi Jean, Peggy Sue and Friends

I know you've been waiting for more photos and updates. Not to worry, all is well with the pups and Skye. I've just been working my tail off on other things but I know that isn't a good excuse :-).

So what is new? Lilac is now Bobbi Jean. Rainbow now has two names, Peggy Sue. They and the rest of the crew are growing like proverbial weeds. Check out the photos, you'll see they have nearly doubled in size.

Skye continues to be a great mom and has even started to spend a little time away from the whelping box, especially before meal times. She is being tremendously patient with Dreamer who thinks she has died and gone to heaven now that there are more pups. She spends hours sitting outside the box watching the pups. Skye won't let her in the box but let's her within a few inches, the closest that Dreamer's ever been allowed.

All of the pups are approaching 1 1/2 pounds, a pretty good gain for the week. We like to see them double their birth weight in the first week and they are all close. We are well into daily Biosensor exercises, introducing new scents (tonight is apple, last night was aloe) and doing the pie plate race. The litter was very slow the first night on the pie plate--most had to get helped off after 1 1/2 or 2 minutes. However, they are quick learners since last night they took between 15 and 40 seconds. What a surprise!

The pups are having lots of visitors, too. Skye patiently watches while we all ooooo and ahhhh over the babies. They aren't too tolerant of being held but that will come over time. Tomorrow is the second nail cutting so we'll see if they are a bit more comfortable being constrained. You have to love 1 # 4 oz pups throwing hissy fits--you'd think they were the size of Great Danes :-).

Off to play with pups. Enjoy the new photos and videos.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ooops, Only Nine Tails :-(

I haven't posted for a day because Skye and I have our hands full and are pretty darn tired. Though only three days old, the Southerners have already provided many learning experiences. It's a good reminder for me that despite 30 years of experience and 200+ puppies, there is still more to learn.

So, why the title of today's blog? Not to worry, we have not lost a puppy, we only lost a tail. Yes, we had to dock Miss Lilac's tail yesterday. Although it was not an easy decision to make, it was an decision that I made quickly. Here is the story. Sunday afternoon Amanda called me in my office to tell me there was something wrong with Lilac's tail. I went over and found that the very tip of her tail was hanging on by the proverbial thread (actually a tiny tendon). Hmmm, what to do? Fearing that Skye might take care of it herself, I snipped the little tendon and saved the tip to take to my vet. The part of the tail still on Lilac was not bleeding and was sealed over.

I awoke Monday morning deciding to get the pups and Skye in to the vet for a check up. I no longer do that regularly since I can check for cleft palates and other newborn problems myself and thus reduce the risk of them getting chilled or catching something at the vet clinic. However, given I was seeing so many things that I'd not experienced before, we all piled in the van yesterday afternoon to go Otterkill Animal Hospital.

Dr Jim did not like the feel of Lilac's tail so shaved it for a better look. At least 3/4 of the tail was black, clearly dead or dying. Tails are notorious for having a poor blood supply so once a tail starts to go, the only real solution is to dock it. Jim and I discussed the options--take off a little and see if the remainder could heal or dock it well below the black line and into the healthy tissue. I hated to do it but I simply would not risk her getting gangrene or having multiple surgeries. Docking at 2 days is relatively simple and could be done under a local anesthetic. So, that is what we did. The first 6 or so hours after the Lidocane wore off were tough but she is fine now. She is such a lovely little girl that I know she is going to really stand out with her special tail.

Dr Jim also looked over Peggy to determine if she is going to need surgery on her leg. He does think she has all of the bones that should be in the leg, they are just very short and the paw very poorly developed. At the moment, it appears that the leg will remain short and will not bother her at all. Most importantly, any surgical decisions can be left for the future so she doesn't have to face that now at such a young age.

All the other pups are healthy and growing well. And Peggy and Lilac are also healthy aside from their "differences." All the pups are over a pound and nursing well. Skye continues to be a fabulous dam, although she and I were both totally worn out when we got home last night. Listening to Lilac cry during her procedures took a lot out of both of us.

We have put all of these challenges behind us and have started on the pups' developmental program. Amanda learned to do Biosensor this morning so we'll be doing those exercises on the pups every day. We introduced them to their first unique scent, a pheasant wing. It was so interesting to see the pups stop squirming and get very quiet when we put the wing in front of their noses. We also trimmed toe nails so Skye doesn't have to deal with 180 little needles digging into her.

So, that's the news from Cold Spring where this week we were again reminded of the amazing activity that we do, bringing new life into the world with all of its fits, starts and imperfect perfection. It also reminded me that although we breed to produce working dogs, each puppy born into our hands is an individual whose life path may not go where we intend it but will still be right for that pup.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ten Tails!

Skye finished whelping last night when the 10th pup, Miss Lilac arrived. We had a relatively quiet night as Skye and the pups got to know each other. Skye is a fabulous dam, attentive to her pups, obsessive about cleanliness but as calm and centered a dog as I've ever been with. I call her the Zen Dog. There were some highs and lows yesterday, as we celebrated the Southerners arrival but morned the loss off one pup. Through it all, Skye maintained her typical calmness. I love working with dogs like this!

All of the pups gained weight overnight and are nursing well. About 10 AM this morning, they started wagging their tails when they nursed. I love that point when you look at the litter and all those puppy tails are wagging. You can't help but smile :-).

So, who are the Southerners? Well, here goes:

First born was Miss Black who weighed in at 14.75 ounces and was born around 4:25 AM. Only she and Skye know since we were asleep until she was a few minutes old. She is medium gold with lovely pigment.

Then came Mr Blue at 5:28 AM. He also weighed in at 14.75 ounces, is medium gold and has good pigment.

At 5:49, Miss Raspberry was born. She was the biggest pup at 17 ounces. She is medium gold. About an hour later, at 6:44 AM, Mr Red was born, weighing 14.0 ounces. He is dark gold with a white spot on his head and white toes.

At 7:14 AM, Miss Rainbow was born, also at 14 ounces. Rainbow, also known as Peggy, has a deformed left front leg. Her shoulder to the elbow is normal but the foreleg is quite short with a partially developed paw. I've never seen this before so will have to get educated over the next few weeks but my conversation with my vet yesterday indicated that assuming she can nurse (which she can with no problem), she should be fine on three legs. As I always say, every litter teaches you something. Peggy is our lightest puppy and is quite cute.

Miss Yellow arrived soon after Peggy, weighing in at 15.0 ounces at 7:25 AM. Yellow is also a medium gold. At 9:30 AM, Miss Green arrived. She weighed 14.0 ounces and another medium golden puppy.

At this point, I was wondering if we were going to have any boys. It's really rare for us to have more girls than boys in a litter so on cue, Mr Rust was born at 2:50 PM. He's a big boy at 15.5 ounces and is one of our darker pups.

At 3:27 PM, Miss Rose, our darkest pup was born. She weighed 14.5 ounces and arrived with no fanfare. We didn't even know she had been born until we heard her cry. Finally, Miss Lilac was born at 8:02. She was 17 ounces and is another medium golden pup.

So, that's the crew--7 girls and 3 boys, ranging from light to dark gold. They are vigorous but contented pups. All are gaining well and thriving under Skye's watchful eye. I'll post some photos and a video as soon as my battery camera recharges!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nine and Counting!

We are up to nine pups now, six girls and three boys. We lost a lovely big male pup who got stuck. Skye did everything she could to get him out, as did I, but our efforts were in vain. It is always so sad to lose a healthy pup. Thankfully, it is very rare and the other nine pups cheer us immensely. Amanda and I figure that Dana needed one of these very special pups as one of her angels.

They are here!

I guess I should say, they are coming. Skye had her fist pup, a lovely little girl, at 4:25 AM before we woke up. Both Andy and I were up and moving within a minute. Since then, Skye has had three more girl and two boys, all vigorous. At first, Skye wasn't sure what was up but after that she has become a very good mom, cleaning her babies and the box. Stay tuned, more are on the way.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nothing Yet

For those of you wondering what is happening, don't worry, there isn't much happening. Skye let us sleep through the night though I was up regularly to check on her. She didn't sleep much but seemed to just be uncomfortable. No contractions, not much nesting, just hanging out. That's pretty much where we are today, too. She's doing some nesting but I think we are still hours away from pups. We'll let you know when they show up.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hmmm, MIght Be Tonight!

I was going to post a resounding post that confidently stated the pups would be born tonight. Skye's temperature was 98.6 this morning and then 97.3 (!) at noon. She had started that inward look that often accompanies labor. And then tonight she went out and "chased" the ball, climbing up and down the hill at a slow but steady pace. In fact, she was the only one that found a ball in the house so we could head out to have some fun. And she steadfastly refused to stay with me and instead, went out to find balls. Hmmmm, she didn't look like a girl about to deliver pups. Of course, she looked like a watermelon going up and down the hill (if you haven't been here, our hill is s-t-e-e-p!) but she was going.

So, I don't know where we are at but stay tuned, pups are coming. If not tonight, soon!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Puppy Watch Begins

Skye has reached the beginning of Puppy Watch, which means the pups can come at anytime now. We aren't able to pinpoint her delivery date as closely as we often can because we only did a little timing for the breeding. However, we've been over and over the breeding calendar, which captures Skye's behavior and vaginal cytology, as well as the behavior of the dogs around her. Even other girls can indicate the progression of a dam's cycle. I still think that Friday, October 30 is the earliest we will see pups but I was relieved that her temp was still high this morning since I have a very busy day today.

So, what do I mean by temperature? Well, a dam's basal temperature will drop below 99 and will stay there for at least 12 hours just prior to the pups' arrival. So, we have been taking Skye's temperature four times a day, ideally beginning at 7 and ending around 11 or midnight. I'll confess that I haven't been able to do both the early and late measurements but Andy is home so he'll be able to help from now on. I'm really glad he got his golf vacation in before the pups arrive :-).

Some dams have temps that stay relatively high until the 24 hours prior to the birth. That isn't Skye. She has been teasing us for days. On 10/21. her temp droped down to 97.6. Then it was back up over 100. Since she came here, Skye has had at least one temperature reading each day under 99. I think she just wants to make sure I'm paying attention!

At noon yesterday, she was at 98.6 but then last night it was back up to 99.8. This morning it is the same os no pups today. Whew!

Off to start the day! Keep thinking positive thoughts for Skye-girl!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

We're Getting Ready!

Skye's due date is rapidly approaching so I'm starting the blog for the "Southern" litter. We've chosen that theme to honor Dana Morris, Skye's first owner who died from ovarian cancer three years ago, and Lauran Mancuso, Skye's present owner. Dana was from Lexington, KY and was a true Steel Magnolia. Lauran is from Louisiana and is a true Southern. So the pups' registered names will either have the words South or Southern in them or will have to do with the American South.

Skye is looking pretty darn big at the moment and is waddling wherever she goes. She has an excellent appetite so far and is a happy a dog as we've seen. We've started spending time in the whelping box but I'll confess, Dreamer thinks it is more fun than Skye. Skye can't really figure why we are hanging out in this silly white box. Not to worry, she'll figure it out.

I wanted to get an idea of how many pups we have, either confirming or adding to the ultrasound results of 10 pups. Skye was also smelling kind of ripe after enjoying some good rolls in God knows what so I shaved her, scrubbed her down, bathed the rest of her and dried her. After dinner, she settled down for a nap and I poured a glass of wine. Using a Sweet Beats doppler (thanks, Charlie), I started the slow process of finding heartbeats on the pups. It took an hour but I found quite a few--we are somewhere between 11 and 13 pups, if my investigation was correct. It's always fun to see how well I did once the pups are here. Skye thought I was pretty crazy, marking big X's on her belly for each heartbeat. The X's make it much easier to check on the pups over the next few days. All the pups sound good, with heartbeats between 196 and 209 beats per second. Think "bdrdrdrdrdrdrdr."

Her temp is all over the place, ranging from 98.6 to 101 degrees over the past few days. However, the general trend is down so we know the process is starting. For those who didn't follow our last blog, we are looking for two temperatures below 99 degrees out of the four we take each day. That will indicate the pups should be born within the next 24 hours. I've estimated her due date as Oct 30 but we aren't sure. Only time will tell.

Well, it's time for all of us to hit the hay! Stay tuned, Southerners coming!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Endings

In 30 years of breeding, I've only had a handful of placements that didn't work out. My goal is always to match the right pup to the right owner so both can thrive. We put a huge amount of work into those matches, from the pups' development and socialization program to our obnoxiously long application to talking at length to prospective owners to our extensive testing and evaluation program. But despite all of that effort, sometimes things just don't work out as planned.

Such was the case with Miss Yellow from the 4th of July litter. Soon after she left, phone calls from her new owners were indicating that things weren't going as they should. So, after two and a half weeks, we called it quits and I went to work figuring out how to get her home, a trip of 2000 miles. Unfortunately, by that time, she was too big to fit back in the Sherpa and fly in the cabin. I even had two friends in Florida who were willing to fly her back to NY with them. There was just no way she would fit :-(.

Thankfully, Amanda was willing and able to make the trip. Miss Yellow was her favorite pup in the litter so she was only too glad to bring her home. Four days driving and Miss Yellow arrived back home. She was thrilled to be here, all of the dogs greeted her warmly and both Andy and I were relieved to have her safe with us.

I kept her for five days to reevaluate her before I decided what kind of home she would fit well in. After those few days, my initial opinion of her was reconfirmed and off she went to a competition home with my good friend, Maggie Lukiewicz. Maggie and I met when she got a dog from me in 1997. We've showed and trained together over the years and even co-founded Canine Health Events, Inc.

Maggie lost her 16-year old golden, McDuff on the same day that I found out Miss Yellow was coming back home. Although I thought Maggie would have a great time with the pup, I wanted to be sensitive to her recent loss so didn't mention my idea to her. However, when Maggie called suggesting that she foster Miss Yellow, I leaped at the chance. After spending a week with Miss Yellow, I knew it was a great match.

So, Miss Yellow is now Flaire, Gaylan's Rockets Red Glare. She went to Maggie on Saturday and on Sunday they ran in the Southern Berkshire Golden Retriever Club Club Field Trial. Despite her delayed start, 3-month old Flaire took 2nd place out of four 3-6 month old puppies, behind the oldest pup in the competition, a 5-month old. She retrieved chukar, pheasant and even a duck although she thought Connecticut water was much colder than Florida's.

Since the weekend, Maggie's other dog, Scorch has fallen in love with the little girl and she has settled in easily at Maggie's. They have already started training in agility and obedience, in addition to field. We all have high hopes for this little dynamo.

Sometimes, things are just meant to be.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Going Home

Sorry it's been so long since I posted. In the midst of all of the chores required to send our pups home, my laptop stopped working in the house. It just wasn't possible to have enough time in the office to post to the blog and get everything done for the pups and their new owners. We had pups to bathe, photos to print, scrap books to complete, notebooks to make and bags to pack. It all got done except the blog so you all suffered.

But here I sit tonight with Risk, Una, Corey, Dreamer and Miss Black, soon to be known as Lexi. Everyone else has flown the coop. Skye has been bred and is back with her co-owners, Charlie and Lauran Mancusos. Eight of the nine pups have flown or driven to their new homes. It has been wonderful getting to know the new owners we hadn't met before and sharing the joy of a new puppy with those we've known for a while.

The pups each have a web page on our website. You can find the links to them at Here are short introductions.

Mr Green is now "Cruise," Gaylan's Born on the 4th of July. He stayed close at hand with Blanche and Carol who fell in love with him at the Puppy Walk. Blanche and Carol have two Gaylan's girls but were missing having a boy around. They already do it all with their dogs--tracking, agility, field--so Cruise will fit right in. I suspect he may also teach them about conformation in the future, too.

Mr Blue flew to Georgia with Paula, Chester and their son, Chaz. Paula had contacted me a while ago after they lost their last golden. I wasn't sure we'd have the right match in this litter but Mr Blue sure looks like it. He is now Huggy Bear, formally known as Gaylan's All American Huggy Bear.

Miss Black is still with us but Sarah flies in tomorrow morning from Houston, TX to pick her up. She will become Gaylan's American Revolution and will be known as Lexington or Lexi. Lexi will join Sarah and Esteban's Gang of Six agility fiends to tackle the highly competitive Texas agility circuit. We think she is up to it!

Miss Raspberry was the first to fly the coop when she headed to North Carlina with Gene, Cindy and Jeannie McIntosh. She remains Razz to her friends and Gaylan's July 4th Razzmatazz elsewhere. Razz will be Gene's hunting Buddy and they hope to tackle agility, too.

Mr Purple also headed to North Carolina. He moved in with Terrie and David Leafstedt and their golden Silas. He is now Gibbs, Gaylan's S.P.arkler of Gold and will be doing obedience and hunt tests with Terrie.

Mr Red stayed close at hand, moving to NJ with Kathy Santo. Kathy does obedience and agility and hopes to add hunt tests to her activities. Mr Red is now Indy, Gaylan's Mississippi Gambler. I get to see him next week and can't wait!

Sweet Miss Sienna also didn't go far, heading to Long Island with Christy and Todd Luse and their daughters Makayla and Maya, as well as assorted family and Guide dogs. Sienna is now River, Gaylan's Fireworks Over the Hudson. River is going to do rally, agility, obedience and hunt tests with Christy and Makayla.

Mr Brown was also one of the early departures when he flew to Iowa to live with Brent and Tamara Danielson. We had a great visit with Brent and got to show him all of Gus's special skills, like swimming, digging in the mud, excavating the lawn and more. Gus is now Gaylan's Give me Liberty and he will be doing lots of hunting with Brent.

And, last but by no means least, Miss Yellow headed to Miami, FL yesterday with Hilda Wood. Hilda is a fire-fighter and already has some FEMA Search and Rescue dogs that she also shows in hunt tests, agility and obedience. Miss Yellow, now Karma, Gaylan's Flashing Fire & Thunder, is hoping to join the SAR team.

This isn't quite the last post for the 4th of July litter. That will come after Lexi leaves for TX and Risk goes home to Virginia with Rosie. Then life will get back to normal for a short period before we start again with Skye's litter.

In the meantime, I'm posting videos of Risk playing with her pups and lots of going home shots. Enjoy!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Puppy Walk

Boy did we have fun but we also R-A-N! I think this was the fastest puppy walk ever. This litter ran to the front of the crowd and took off. What game puppy walkers we had, dashing through the woods, over rock walls, across streams to keep tabs on their puppies. The pups had a great time. We sweated! They swam at the end. We hoofed up a very steep hill. But it was worth every second watching those babies have such a wonderful time.

As we paused at the stream, three pups broke away to head back down the path. Thankfully, they came when called and we headed back up the long hill to a photo, the air conditioning and lunch. After that it was hours of playing with the pups, throwing the ball for the big dogs in the pool and on the hill, and just enjoying the company of other dog lovers.

It was a wonderful day! Of course, the pups think there should be a party every day at this point :-). As Andy says, they are ready to go home :-).

Off to put notebooks together for the Thursday pick up!


Friday, August 28, 2009

So Much To Tell

I have wanted to post many times this week but to be frank, I was too tired every night to do anything but roll into bed. What has happened since I last wrote? In a word, lots!

Eye Exams. Tuesday the pups, Amanda and I went to the see Dr Chuck Stuhr in Wilton, CT. This experience gave the pups a longer ride in the van (an hour each way), the chance to hang out in the x-pen near a very busy road so they got to hear traffic sounds, having eye drops put into their eyes to dilate them, playing in the exam room and then having an eye exam. If you've never seen a dog eye exam, it is an unusual experience for them, even the adults. The room is dark, the vet has lights on his headgear and he shines different lights into the dogs eyes. The pups had to hold very still while they were examined and they all did very well. And best of all, they all received a passing CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) exam!

Many people ask us why we take the trouble to take our pups to eye and heart doctors, rather than just our general practitioner. We do it for a number of reasons, most importantly to ensure that we know as much as we can about the health of the pups we sell. Goldens face a number of genetic problems, some of which can be found in puppyhood. Eye problems such as retinal folds, retinal dysplasia, dystichia, entropion and the primary heart problem that goldens face, SAS, can be seen at this age. These early exams are not foolproof since problems can also develop as the pup matures but they are the best we can do with such young animals. There are also a number of congential problems that can happen during fetal development that we like to track. We don't see many of them but they are worth noting.

Temperament and Bird Tests. Wednesday was temperament test day. Naturally, since it is the Summer of '09, it was over 90 degrees. We tested in the upstairs of the guest house, somewhere the pups had never been before AND a place we could air condition. Hot pups just can't show us who they are so the latter was critical.

Marcy Burke did the temperament test. She has been our primary tester for some time now and has terrific timing and rapport with the pups. The pups hadn't met Marcy before and they hadn't been in the guest house so they were meeting a stranger in a strange place by themselves for the first time in their short lives. I am always fascinated to see how pups can change when you take them away from their littermates. Courage definitely comes with numbers in the case of pups. This is one of the reasons that we continue to rely heavily on temperament testing; over the years we have seen significant but persistent changes in some pups when they are on their own. They are confident and bold in the puppy pen and/or with their littermates but become very different by themselves. Since we are looking to produce pups that can stand on their own two feet and be confident workers as individuals, we find this testing extremely important.

We also use a somewhat different temperament test. Rather than the shorter Puppy Aptitude Test, we have adapted Sheila Booth's Positive Puppy Preview. The PPP is a long test, averaging 30 minutes per puppy. This gives us an idea of each pup's stamina and whether or not they accumulate stress over time. We test three drives: food, retrieve and play/tug. We also assess energy level as well as a number of characteristics: environmental/people focus, forgiveness, dominance/submission, pain tolerance, sound and sight sensitivity, courage and persistence, and more. We stress the puppies in a number of ways to see how they handle stress and if playing helps them release it. And, of course, we have fun watching their antics as they leap, pounce, gambol and cuddle their way through the test.

This litter all did well but showed some interesting similarities across all puppies. None of the pups accumulated stress during the test. They were actually more relaxed at the end of the test than they were when they walked in the room. That is rare in our experience. They also all had great noses so their scent work should be very good. And, no surprise, they all turned on to the pheasant wing, easily bounding over obstacles to get to it.

After the temperament test, we brought the pigeons out for some bird testing. We use live shackled pigeons, gradually unshackling them as the pups gain confidence. (I want to emphasize that the pigeons are not harmed during this testing. They are alive and well, if a little pissed off, in our coop.) All of the pups showed good birdiness, snatching and carrying the shackled bird. Most were equally enthusiastic about the unshackled pigeons but a few were bold enough to chase but not carry the flapping prize. However, all showed strong birdiness that will easily develop into good field work with training.

Thursday. That brings us to Thursday and what a day it was. I woke up early intending to pack for the trip to the Structural exam in CT but it was such a beautiful morning, that I had to take the pups for a walk. Four of the adults, the pups and I headed out into the woods with Lise Pratt, who had helped with the temperament test. There is a video posted showing the start to our walk. There is definitely no video showing the end though.

All went well until we were about 10 minutes out. Lise and I realized that we were missing three pups and the adults had all come back so the pups weren't out with them. Crud! We head down to the swimming hole, since the pups will often follow the dogs there and then stay to play on the bank. We get pups. I decide to call back to Andy, who tells us the pups had come home a few minutes prior. Good puppies!

As we are standing there, both Lise and I see Una aways off, clearly hunting something. Suddenly she bolts toward us, shaking her head. We thought she had stirred up a bee's nest until she got close enough for us to smell her. Skunk! Yuck! The pups took one sniff of her and gave her wide berth.

We head home because I realize I have to bathe Una before we leave for CT. We keep the big dogs close so the pups would stay with us. We are about 5 minutes from the house and we let the big dogs run, since they usually head straight home to the pool at this point in the walk. However, when we get to the house, we are short another three pups and their ever-hunting mother, Risk. Argh! Risk dashes in a few minutes later with no pups in tow.

Ten years we've walked pups in these woods and we've never lost one...until this day. I put Una in an ex-pen outside so she couldn't stink up the house, called Corey and headed back into the woods. I suspected that Risk had headed up the ridge and the pups couldn't keep up so I hung a right and started climbing, swearing at Risk under my breath. Corey and I walked the top of the first ridge line, me calling and her sniffing for pups. Of course, I am also thinking of the darn bear that was around last week. I decided that if I was going to meet a bear, this was the morning to do it because I was pumped enough to take him on. Thankfully, I didn't have to test my cockiness.

Ten minutes of walking and there they were, scrambling up the ridge to my calls. Raz, Purple and Red--very happy to see Corey and I. I slid down the ridge to them and then the rest of the way to the path. From there, they knew their way home. As I trailed them in, I decided that Risk was fired from puppy walking!

A quick de-skunking made Una tolerable so we loaded up the pups and Risk and headed for Dr Debbie Gross Saunders' facility in Colchester, CT. She was to evaluate the pups' structure for performance. This was their longest van ride yet--2 1/2 hours each way but they did wonderfully. In addition to being evaluated, the pups met "Pig," the Saunders' pot-belly pig, the burros, ponies and cow. They hung out in Deb's treatment room next to dogs in the underwater treadmill and the kennel. They met kids, grown ups and more. It was truly an adventure! Photos and videos are posted.

During the week, we also took some 7 1/2 week stacked and head shots. Those are or will be up shortly.

Whew, I know that was long but I think you are up to speed on what we've been doing. Final placement decisions will be made today and tomorrow then the serious work of getting the pups ready to go home must be done.

All of that means that I have to get back to work!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Going-Home Preparations

Although the pups have another ten days or two weeks with us, we are starting all the steps to sending them home. Today, they got their first vaccine and their health certificates. They were terrific at Dr Jim's--confident and playful until we picked them up. Then they sat very calmly while Dr Jim weighed them, checked them out and gave them their vaccine. Not a cry out of any of them.

We decided to vaccinate them today based on Risk's antibody levels to distemper and parvo. We checked her levels two weeks before the pups were born and those results told us what antibodies the pups got from her milk in the first few days after birth. From there, we calculated approximately when their maternal protection against each disease would run out. Since her distemper titer was toward the low end, we needed to vaccinate the pups now to be sure they are safe when we walk them in the woods. However, her parvovirus titer was pretty high so it will be a few more weeks before their body can respond to that vaccine.

The pups traveled to and from the vet's very well. This was their second long car ride but there will be many more in the next week or so. It's a 35-minute ride to my vet's which is a stretch for such little guys. They cried a bit at the beginning and the very end, but otherwise, they slept and played with each other. The crying at the end was my fault because I forgot to potty them before crating them to come home. They had been sleeping while Dr Jim, Lauran Mancuso and I chatted so I should have realized they'd need to visit the litter box before I put them in the car. They let me know of my error about 10 minutes from home but they all held it. I was practicing the story I was going to tell a cop in case I got stopped for going a little over the speed limit. Thankfully, I didn't need it.

Tomorrow we are off to the veterinary ophthalmologist for their eye exams. We can't see all of the eye problems that goldens face this early in their lives but we can see enough to make that trip worthwhile. Keep your fingers crossed that all goes smoothly.

We added a big dog to the pack today. Skye, Gaylan's Winning Colors MH WCX joined us in preparation for her breeding to Brass, Brassfire's Seattle on a Lark MH WCX later this week. The girls all recognized each other immediately so Skye just fell right into step. I know Charlie and Lauran Mancuso miss her but it sure is wonderful to have her here with us, if only briefly. She'll go back home after the breeding until just prior to her whelping, which we think will be right around Halloween. Now there is a litter theme for you.

I'll post photos tomorrow.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Storm

The pups and I had an interesting socialization opportunity yesterday. Our county got hit by a very serious thunder storm in the late afternoon. The pups had weathered regular storms without missing a beat but this was a big one and it passed right over our house, complete with thunder, lightening, torrential rain and very strong winds. The EZ-Up that provides shade and shelter in the puppy yard got picked up and tossed about 30 feet onto our patio. Trash cans and lids were thrown about and leaves were dumped into our swimming pool but thankfully we had no serious damage.

The pups were a little unsure when I came running over from the office. The noise was loud and the lightening bright. The electricity in the air was so bad that the hairs on my necks and arms were standing up. The pups were debating whether to hide but our adult dogs are calm in storms so the pups were reluctantly taking their cues from them.

We focus pretty heavily on ensuring our pups and dogs are not afraid of thunder but we usually do that by playing tapes and CDs. Alas, this was no CD. So, I started playing games with the pups. I let them loose in the porch, dumped the bag of toys on the ground and threw kibble whenever the thunder or wind shook the house. Treats rained from the sky at every scary moment and soon the pups were scrambling around to get the treats even when the noise was at its loudest. We played tug, fetch and "climb all over Gayle" (a traditional favorite). The pups played keep away and WWF wrestling with each other. They ended up trashing the screen porch but having a great time in the process and forgetting about the storm. To be honest, I'm pretty afraid of lightening so it did me good, too.

The only repercussion from the storm that I can see is that the pups are using the litter boxes more than before. I suspect it is because they are somewhat reluctant to go outside to pee and poop. Any that were outside when the EZ-Up took off may take a little bit of time to get over that event. We'll spend lots of time out there over the next few days, when it isn't raining that is. The EZ-Up goes back in the yard tomorrow and we'll have a party with our sister-in-law, niece and anyone else that comes to visit.

One last story before I go. As I'm sure you have noticed, we teach our pups to climb for many reasons. They learn they have a rear end when they have to go up or down things, thus developing the nerves that fire their back legs. They learn they can fall off of things so they should be careful around edges. They learn to problem solve, how to get up and how to get back down. And, its very entertaining to hear the stories from their new owners when they find their pup climbing on every surface in sight--picnic tables, agility tables, etc.

Yesterday after the storm, the pups were having a great time playing on the small goose decoy in the inside pen. They were balancing on it, lying on it, chewing on its beak. As I was watching, I saw Miss Yellow starting to ponder something. She climbed on the goose, stood on her hind legs and reached for the chair that holds the x-pen in place. Sure enough, she hauled herself onto the chair and started exploring the window and sill. She contemplated trying to get over the x-pen but decided that wasn't going to work. She had a grand time before hopping down. I enjoyed watching her but decided to move the goose out of the pen for a while :-). You can see a photo above of her on her perch and more in the Week 7 listings.

Still hot and sweaty in NY,


Friday, August 21, 2009

Sometimes It's Just Not Fun

In most of my recent posts, I've told you about the fun we have been having with the puppies. However, it's not all fun and games and puppy kisses. There is a massive amount of work that goes into raising pups the way we do. It's work we love but it is still work.

For the last week, we've been doing that work in record heat and humidity. Personally, I am not a summer fan and I hate the three Hs--hazy, hot and humid. Andy wants to move south and to me that means Philly not Atlanta. At some point last night, I was tired of sweat running into my eyes, matted hair and everything being slimy and damp.

This morning was the worst--Amanda called in sick, I couldn't walk the dogs/pups until after 9 due to another appointment, and it was 80 degrees with 89% humidity when we started out. We all trooped into the woods but the pups were struggling from the start. The big dogs had a good run since they know where the stream is and can swim anytime they want to cool off. The little ones and I were not so lucky.

I had planned to head up the mountain today to introduce them to a new path. However, a bear went through our neighborhood night before last so I decided that adenture could wait until I had another person with a cell phone. We don't often have bears but the thought of four adult goldens, nine puppies, me and a bear is more than I can process early in the morning.

So, we did a relativly easy walk but we were all panting and tired after 30 minutes. Once back, the pups passed out on the cool slate floor in front of the fan, the big dogs went in the air conditioning and I got to clean the pens. Two guesses who has the better life around here.

Thankfully, the pups have become well housetrained in the past week. They poop outside or in the pans 99.9% of the time and pee there about 90% of the time. They do love to play in their water bowls though :-).

There are some new photos and videos up under the 7th week. Most of them are swimming shots due to the heat but I've also got some shots of the pups playing in the puppy yard and even doing the slide. Down at the water, you will hear them whining in the videos--the process of being left on the bank is stressful for them. I try to monitor their stress; I don't want it to be too much (I've made that mistake in the past) but I want to teach them to feel stess and handle it. Every puppy swam that day except Mr Brown. However, he swam the next day. They each develop at their own pace.

The slide is a favorite developmental activity for our pups. The process of doing the slide is complicated for a puppy--they have to find the up ramp, cross the crate and part of the wire grate, then climb up on the slide and, with courage, go down it. We make a big deal out of them going down so soon they want to do it over and over. They try climbing back up the slide but they can't do that. They try climbing onto the grate but they can't do that either. It takes some teaching over Week 7 and 8 but soon they have put the whole sequence together. Most love it--Dreamer will still do it today if you ask her and she can barely fit her butt on the slide anymore.

Well, it appears I talked myself out of whining. Have a good day! I'm off to take another shower!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer Fun

I decided that it is just too darn hot to do anything serious today. Now, I know you are thinking "What serious things could puppies possibly do?" Well, we have lots on our list this week. Things like bird introductions and evaluations but the birds are too hot and so are the rest of us. The pups hunkered down on the cool slate floor after their walk and breakfast. They woke up briefly for lunch but with temps still in the low 90s, they went back to their siesta until 5 PM.

At 5, I decided it was time for fun for everyone so we all headed back down to the creek. I like puppies to see adult dogs swimming a lot since I think it affects how they see the world so I figured even if they didn't swim, the pups would cool off and watch the other dogs swim. In addition, they could have some summer fun--playing in the shady grass, wading or swimming in Clove Brook, mucking around in the mud, chewing on sticks and, the best fun in the world, digging.

Well, they did all of this and more. There are photos and videos posted. WARNING! You won't see clean, fluffy pups in the pictures. Instead, you'll see wet, muddy, grassy, happy puppies. I'll try to remember to take a picture later tonight because they will be dry *and clean* by 8 PM. They have my favorite kind of coats--truly wash and wear!

Once we were all cooled off but before the mosquitoes ate us alive, I decided we needed to do edge and stair training. I believe that given the opportunity, puppies at this age can learn to discern the danger of edges and can make reasonably good decisions regarding getting off of things. That is one of the reasons that we have the crate jungle gym in the puppy pen. On it, they learn they can fall off of things, in addition to assessing differences in height and see-through footings. This must be innate in dogs if we get them off of flat surfaces and give them the chance to learn.

Today it was time to take the lesson out of the pen to our rock walls and stairs. I'm sure these multi-level patios were built for other reasons but they are also great for teaching pups about these concepts. It is particularly important here because our woods have many extremely high cliffs, stream banks and walls that can be a danger to naive puppies. You can see the pups tackling the stairs and walls in the videos. Like all pups, they learned that going up is much easier than going down so you'll see the pups going down are like salmon swimming against the tide of their littermates.

I think that's about it for today. Signing off from hot and humid Cold Spring.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Whew, it is H-O-T!

It took summer a long time to get here this year but it has arrived with a vengeance. We are having another 90+ degree day and the pups are hot! Looks like the next few days will be the same so we are settling into a South American routine. Get up early. Do all we can till it gets hot. Snooze until evening. Then rock and roll till quite late.

This morning, we walked the pups down to the stream, Clove Brook. It was their first introduction to swimming water. They all waded and three boys--Green, Blue and Red--went for a real swim. We then walked through the marsh and the pups got to play in the mud. That is such a favorite for all of our litters that we always do it, even if it means clean up afterwards. When we got back, we decided to snap their 6-week photos even though they were wet and dirty. Most importantly, they were tired so we could stack them easily :-). Stacked photos and swimming videos are up under 7 Weeks.

The pups have had quite a few visitors this week. Most fun was our neighbor Laura and her friends Ann and Raven. Laura is sponsoring Raven for a few weeks through the Fresh Air Fund. When Raven walked in the door, she was afraid of big dogs. When she walked out, she had played with all the pups, teaching Mr Green to "swim" in the pups' pool and giving Miss Sienna belly rubs. It was a pleasure to meet such a lovely young lady and introduce her to our dogs.

The pups had to say goodbye to my mom this morning. She has been a huge help with the pups since before the Reunion. I had a very demanding work week this past week and she carried on through that, giving me lots of comfort that the pups were being cared for when I was off working.

Lots of photos and videos are posted. Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Did you miss me?

I can't believe I haven't posted in 9 or 10 days. I'm sorry if you have missed me and the pups. The Gaylan's Field Reunion was amazing, awesome. I missed the pups but it was a wonderful experience watching 37 goldens, from 5 months to 8 years, working in the field. But, I digress. Back to the pups.

My mother and Amanda held down the fort while I was away at the Reunion and this week while I had to work pretty heavy hours. They did a great job keeping the pups' schedule going. We moved the pups to the big puppy pen with the outdoor yard before I left. Mom and Amanda started taking them out into the various parts of our property while we are away--they went to the patio and into the agility field.

Despite the heat, we took the pups on their first woods walk today. They did a wonderful job, following their mom and Corey for a 20-minute walk through the woods. They all followed well and boldly. They started solving their first problems with logs and rocks. They had a great time smelling the new smells, carrying leaves and getting aquainted with the woods. Risk wasn't too thrilled to meander through the woods but she'll survive--she'd had two other runs in the woods earlier today so she isn't suffering.

Most of the pups are now 8 pounds so they are growing like weeds. They are good eaters, scarfing down chicken, turkey, lamb and beef. We'll start on the exotic protein sources next week.

Oh, the pups also went on their first car ride last week when they had to go to my vet's for microchipping and blood draws for the PRA DNA test. Poor babies cried during the procedures but did a great job on the trips and hanging out at Dr Jim's. No one was car sick and aside from singing along with the music :-), they were a pleasure to travel with.

Come visit if you are able. They are at a terrific age although I'd recommend you wear slip on shoes without shoe laces :-). New photos and videos are posted. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Surprise and Farewell!

I woke up this morning thinking that all I had to do today was to organize everything for my mom to stay with the pups and Risk, pack the car, and wrap up work for the week. I am leaving tomorrow morning for the Gaylan's Field Seminar and Reunion in MD and will be gone for 5 days. It's not often that I leave puppies at this age but it was a matter of scheduling. I had to book the property for reunion before Risk came in season so I guessed when the pups would be born. My big fear was that the pups would be 7-9 weeks old during the reunion; at that age I simply cannot leave a litter. From 4 1/2 to 5 weeks, they are still pretty easy to handle so when Risk came in season and I calculated the whelping date, I asked my mom if she'd be willing to hold the fort down while I went away. Brave soul that she is, she said "Yes!"

Over the past few days, we've gone over the schedule and all was under control...until this morning. Risk finished her breakfast, climbed into the puppy pen and regurgitated for the pups. They dove in and enthusiastically cleaned up her breakfast in minutes. So much for all of my plans which did NOT include Mom feeding the pups solid food.

We decide when to introduce solid food based on three criteria: the dam's condition, the pups' growth ,and whether their dam is regurgitating for them. Two of these criteria pushed me to feed the pups earlier than normal. Typically we wait until the pups are 5 1/2 weeks old but Risk is struggling to maintain her weight, even on 6 pounds of food per day. The pups' weights are fine but I'm a great believer that dams know a lot, both about how their pups are thriving but also how their own body is doing. This morning, Risk made the feeding decision for me by giving the pups her breakfast.

We fed the pups Bravo ground chicken blend tonight and they dove in, eating 1.5 pounds of food in a few minutes. Tomorrow they will take on 4.5 pounds, 10 percent of the litter's combined weight. I'll bet they finish it all! Risk will continue to nurse the pups until she decides she is done; if she is like her dam and granddam, she will nurse the pups until they go home, which we think is very healthy for the pups.

I won't be blogging for the next five days but Mom has said she'll give it a try so stay tuned for her observations and insights on the pups. Photos and video will be going up, too. In fact, there are some posted from today. Enjoy and I'll see you when I get back.