Tube Feeding Puppies

Over twenty years ago a I co-bred a litter with good friend of mine who handled the whelping of our eight Gordon Setter puppies . Everything went smoothly at the birth and they were all plugging along, doing great and gaining weight when out of the blue, four days after giving birth, the dam became critically ill. An emergency call and wild ride to the vet revealed that Eclampsia had struck, and in addition to being life threatening for our bitch it created the need to completely take over the feeding of those eight newborn puppies, the dam could no longer nurse due to this condition. Without tube feeding, this litter’s chances of surviving and thriving would have been fairly slim. Bottle feeding eight puppies around the clock and all by oneself was not an option. Tube feeding only means by which my dear friend could save those babies.

And that brings us to to thanking Barbara Manson for sharing this excerpt on tube feeding and for bringing this topic to my attention, it’s something I hadn’t thought of in awhile, but it certainly should be given space here, so here we go!

Tube Feeding Puppies

The following is an excerpt from the book, Feeding Dogs and Cats by Mark L. Morris Jr. DVM, Ph D and Lon D. Lewis, DVM, Ph D.  Copyright 1984, Mark Morris Associates, Topeka, Kansas.

Tube feeding, for most people, is the easiest, cleanest, fastest, safest and most preferred way to feed orphans,  An infant feeding tube (available from many hospitals, pharmacies or pediatricians), number 8-10 French, or a small male urethral catheter can be used.  Once weekly, mark the tube 75% of the distance from the nose to the last rib.  This is the length necessary to just reach the stomach.  If more is inserted, when withdrawn it will frequently come back doubled, possibly damaging the esophagus.  Attach the tube to a syringe, aspirated the amount of formula needed and expel any air aspirated.  Open the mouth slightly, and with the head held in the normal position (not flexed upward or downward) gently pass the tube to the mark.  If an obstruction is felt before you reach the mark the tube is in the trachea.  If this is not the case, slowly administer the formula over a two minute period to allow for gastric dilation.  If resistance is felt, stop.  It probably indicates the stomach is full.  With these precautions, regurgitation rarely occurs.  If it does, withdraw the tube and do not feed any more until the next scheduled feeding.  For the first few weeks of life after each feeding, burp the animal (just like an infant) and swab the genital area with moistened cotton to stimulate deification and urination.

Below you’ll find more resources, including websites with photos to help guide you, simply click the colored links to go to there.  This is also where I ask other breeders if they have techniques or advice about tube feeding that can be shared with others to help round out this information? Please use the comment section to add your thoughts or if you’ve got more detail to add than can be shared in comments feel free to send me your notes or an article at gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com and I’ll get it published on here.

Many thanks to talented photographer Susan Roy Nelson for the peek-a-boo photo!

Legislative updates August

Charles KushellWritten by Chuck Kushell
“With the summer upon us and, mercifully, many local and state legislatures in recess (you know, like we had in grade school), not a great deal of action to report.
However, worthy of note include:
MA:  Continuing issues remain with SB2390, which has now been cleverly renamed SB2370 (no doubt to cover its odious trail) and has been passed and referred to the Ways and Means Committee for further action.  As residents will recall, this bill, actively opposed by the AKC and local Club associations, seeks to severely and unnecessarily restrict legitimate breeders.  Contact your local reps and register your opposition to this bill.
MD:  In Baltimore Cty, the effects of the rabid animal rights crew are on display in bill 42-16 which in a massive overreach seeks to overturn the long-standing law that permits use of county lands by those training dogs for hunting.  Meaning, if this bill passes, planting a pigeon for your JH in training dog would earn you a fine and citation.  Needless to say, anyone who pays taxes and has the right to use these lands and is concerned about the never ending march of animal rights nutcases should get on the horn to their county board members and tell them to stuff this bill at countycouncil@baltimorecountymd.gov
NJ:  Again and continually, SB63 is coming to a vote and represents the worst of what the animal rights loons bring to the table.  Draconian indictments in the form of a screed against all dog breeders as well as unconstitutional restrictions (see 4th Amendment) are in the offing if NJ breeders don’t support the AKC’s efforts to get this bill crushed.  There’s always hope Christie won’t sign it, although given his issues of late, faint hope that this will come to his attention, should it pass the Senate.  Follow this link to see what you can do:  http://www.akc.org/government-relations/legislative-alerts/nj-senate-bill-63-june-30/
That’s it for now.  May your future be legislation-free (fat chance) and the rest of your summer productive in the ring, field or whelping box.  And as H. L. reminds us, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
c”
Featured image by Susan Roy Nelson

Sportsmanship Reigns at The Greenville Kennel Club Dog Show | Canine Chronicle

By Bev Crosby, Greenville Kennel Club Obedience & Rally Chairperson Each year at the Greenville Cluster, there is an elderly handler who comes to show her Shih Tzu in obedience. This is the only show she does each year. She comes alone, carrying her dog in her arms. Someone drops her off and picks her up at the end of the day. Usually she shows up too early for her class, but always finds the courage to ask someone where she should go and when her class starts. She isn’t very knowledgeable of the rules, nor has she progressed very far out of any of the various options of Novice classes. But, she loves to show her dog. She sits silently in a chair outside her assigned ring, waiting…waiting. Invisible to the rest of us bustling about warming up our dogs, worried about the slighest bobble. Close your eyes and imagine the picture of what I witnessed today. On one side of the obedience venue, Utility B is celebrating a 200. With that party over, I return to my […]

Source: Sportsmanship Reigns at The Greenville Kennel Club Dog Show | Canine Chronicle

For your dam’s sake, know the signs of Eclampsia

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Photograph by Sarah Armstrong

 

Your new litter is doing wonderful, they’re all snuggled in next to mom, squeaking and squirming, gaining weight and growing strong. But something doesn’t seem right with mom and you can’t quite put your finger on it. She’s always loving on those puppies, seems like she’s nursing them round the clock, but her appetite is off, she won’t eat, and she seems so nervous and restless, panting and drooling at times. Her movements were stiff, like an older, arthritic version of herself when she got up to go outside with you, and when you called her to come in from outside she seemed disoriented, like she couldn’t figure out how to get to where you were standing.

These are just a few of the signs of Eclampsia (some folks call this Milk Fever) in it’s early stages. While Eclampsia occurs more often in small or toy breeds, it can affect large breeds like our Gordon Setters too, especially those who have given birth to a large litter, or who have gone through a particularly difficult or prolonged labor. Risk factors include large litter size, prolonged or difficult labor, poor nutrition during gestation, stress, underlying systemic illness and excessive calcium supplementation during pregnancy.

Eclampsia is an emergency medical condition resulting from a life-threatening drop in blood calcium levels. Eclampsia occurs in nursing dams and is most common when the puppies are one to five weeks of age and the dam is producing the most milk.

Signs of Trouble

Eclampsia comes on suddenly. It progresses very quickly. It seems like one minute you have a healthy, lactating bitch with a thriving litter and the next minute she is on the ground convulsing. This is not a wait and see disease…seek immediate emergency veterinary attention at the first sign that something’s amiss.

The symptoms can be subtle at first and resemble those seen before whelping, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Muscle tremors or spasms
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Tightening of facial muscles
  • Stiffness
  • Aggression
  • Hypersensitivity to touch or other stimuli
  • Continuous, steady muscle spasms without distinct twitching (called “tetany”) Tetany usually presents as rigidity in the legs, unusual pricking of the ears and/or flaring of the nostrils. The signs of eclampsia can advance to where the dog begins to walk in an abnormal, stilted manner and may seem unable to walk in a specific direction.
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Vomiting
  • Itchiness (pruritis)
  • Head rubbing
  • Biting at the feet
  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased water intake
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased body temperature (hyperthermia)

If eclampsia is not treated immediately, it can lead to death. Respiration eventually becomes compromised, heart arrhythmia develops and the bitch’s condition deteriorates to seizures, paralysis, coma and death.

To learn more about Eclampsia, including how it is treated, I’ve included reference links below for you.

Merck Veterinary Manual – Puerperal Hypocalcemia in small Animals (Postpartum hypocalcemia, Periparturient hypocalcemia, Puerperal tetany, Eclampsia)

Knowing the Signs of Eclampsia Can Save a Dam’s Life – Best in Show Daily written by Susan Chaney

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photographs by Sarah Armstrong

 

 

 

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Hot weather tips from AKC

steelfurnaceFeature Photo – River’s Edge by Susan Roy Nelson

Hot weather is the norm here in AZ and it starts in the spring for us. When the wind blows here it feels something like standing in a steel foundry next to the furnace. Keeping our dogs cool is an art form for us, and we practice our skill with a vengeance.

 

I’m only managing two girls right now so they spend most of their time indoors lounging on the couches in the air conditioning. They do, however, still need plenty of exercise and potty time, but even during those breaks we need to employ a good deal of caution when our temps are soaring above 100 degrees. Kenna likes to retrieve toys from the pool so getting her wet to help her stay cool is easy, not to mention that swimming is great exercise.

Sara by the hoseSara, on the other hand, hates swimming so she sits next to the garden hose to remind me to come over there to soak her down instead.

The girls and I get up early in the morning, before the sun rises, so they can get morning exercise without battling the desert sun, the ground has cooled off over night and they get an hour or two to run and play before the sun heats everything to blistering temperatures. The misters on the patio, sun shades, trees and umbrellas in our backyard offer additional patches of cooler temps. It doesn’t take long though for the sun to rise and the temperature along with it. That’s when the dogs head back into the house to laze the day away in the air conditioning, waiting for the sun to go down and the ground to cool off so they can get another couple of hours to play when the temps go down. Needless to say they refuse to spend more than 10 minutes or so on potty breaks during the heat of the day, and not wanting to burn their feet on the hot rocks that make up the desert landscaping of our yard, they stick to the shady areas whenever they do go out to pee.

Living in AZ I’m always aware of the heat and the impact it can have on my dog’s lives. It’s easier though, for people to forget the dog’s needs when living in more temperate climates, and a heat wave can be deadly for dogs if owners aren’t prepared. AKC has offered some tips for breeders that I’m sharing here, and as breeders we also like to share tips with our puppy buyers. It never hurts to remind folks that dogs need protection from the heat as much as humans do.

So – what tips would you share with others about how you keep your dogs and kennels cool? Use the comment section to share your best advice!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

From the AKC website tips for breeders – How to get your kennel ready for hot weather

Summer officially arrives next month, but hot temperatures have already hit many areas of the country. Get your kennel ready for the warm weather and assure your dogs are comfortable and avoid heat stroke even on the hottest days.

  1. Clean and service your fans and air conditioners prior to using them.
  2. Make sure your dogs have plenty of sturdy shade that will not blow away or shred in high winds.
  3. Keep the dogs’ exercise/play yards mowed and edged to reduce pests.
  4. With the good weather, it is a great time to make repairs. Freshen up things from the winter months and add some curb appeal to your facilities and sites.
  5. Think about adding a water element for your dogs to cool off, such as a wading pool in the play yards. But make sure they have a separate sturdy water bucket or bowl for fresh drinking water. Keep the buckets and bowls under shade to assure that drinking water stays cool.

And from the AKC website – Dog Health – Here are a few more tips on how to keep your dog cool during the hot summer months.

Summer Safety Tips For Dogs

Hot weather can make us all uncomfortable, and it poses special risks for your dog. Keep the following safety concerns in mind as the temperature rises, and follow our tips to keep your dog cool.

Heat Hazards

If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child’s wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.

Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense.

Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.

Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Japanese Chins, and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.

General Health

Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, especially since dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.

Keep dogs off of lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers.

Keep your dog well-brushed and clean.

Fleas and ticks, and the mosquitos which carry heartworm disease, are more prevalent in warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog. The AKC Pet Healthcare Plan can help with the cost of providing quality healthcare, including preventive medicine, throughout your dog’s life.

Beach Tips

Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of fresh water.

Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog’s exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.

Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions. Dogs are easy targets for sea lice and jellyfish.

Running on the sand is strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog’s activity.

Do not let your dog drink seawater; the salt will make him sick.

Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog’s coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day.

Not all beaches permit dogs; check local ordinances before heading out.

Water Safety

Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before trying to make him swim.

If you’re swimming for the first time with your dog, start in shallow water and coax him in by calling his name. Encourage him with toys or treats. Or, let him follow another experienced dog he is friendly with.

Never throw your dog into the water.

If your dog begins to paddle with his front legs, lift his hind legs and help him float. He should quickly catch on and keep his back end up.

Don’t let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly.

If swimming at the ocean, be careful of strong tides.

If you have your own pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladder are located. Be sure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs have been known to slip in under openings in the covers and drown.

Never leave your dog unattended in water.

Travel

By Air

Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening. Check with your airlines for specific rules.

If you do ship a dog, put icepacks or an ice blanket in the dog’s crate. (Two-liter soft drink bottles filled with water and frozen work well.) Provide a container of fresh water, as well as a container of frozen water that will thaw over the course of the trip.

By Car

Keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated.

Put a sunshade on your car windows.

Bring along fresh water and a bowl, and a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you stop. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your dog to cool him down.

By RV

A dog’s safety should not depend on the air conditioning and generator systems in an RV or motor home. These devices can malfunction, with tragic results.

If you leave your dog in an RV with the generator running, check it often or have a neighbor monitor it. Some manufacturers have devices that will notify you if the generator should malfunction.

Never leave an RV or motor home completely shut up, even if the generator and AC are running. Crack a window or door or run the exhaust fan.

Never, ever leave a dog unattended in a vehicle in the summer months. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.

Heatstroke

Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog’s prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are the signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your dog is overcome.

Early Stages:

  • Heavy panting.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:

    • White or blue gums.
    • Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
    • Uncontrollable urination or defecation.
    • Labored, noisy breathing.
    • Shock.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down:

  • Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog’s paw pads.
  • Apply ice packs to the groin area.
  • Hose down with water.
  • Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
  • Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Check your dog’s temperature regularly during this process. Once the dog’s temperature has stabilized at between 100 to 102 degrees, you can stop the cool-down process.

If you cannot get the dog cooled down and you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Musings on Color

The following includes many excerpts from the article “Musings on Color” published on the blogspot Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover written by Stephanie.

I’ve added my own thoughts and comments to embellish and round out the information for the Gordon Setter lover and breeder.

Setters 1805 - sydenham-edwards-the-setter-1805
This 1805 depiction of “setters” appears in the Cynographia Britannica. Note the black and tan setter and the red setter with the white face. The white dogs was also considered a Setter and it is speculated that these may all be litter mates.

Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Gordon setter is one of a small number of setter breeds, which also includes the English setter, Irish setter, and Irish red and white setter. Though the Gordon Setter now only comes in one acceptable color, the breed’s history included a number of other colors that are now considered to be mismarks. Part of why these colors are in the breed is due to its relationship with the other setters. So, what are these mismarks?

Dogs with more or less than than required in the standard  

*Based on the current breed standard the Gordon Setters depicted in this artwork from the 1940’s carry too much tan.

Inherited on the Brown locus, a dog must be bb to be liver

Liver Gordon
Liver colored Gordon Setter

 

Inherited on the Extension locus, a dog must be ee to be recessive red

Barn hunt image 2
Red Gordon Setter

 

Inherited on the Spotting locus, a dog with a variety of genotypes can have too much white

Looking at these mismarks, they are all recessively inherited except in dogs that are genetically solid but have too much residual white. All of theses colors were well known when the breed was young. Much like the Irish setter, the predominant color in the early years of the breed is actually not what you think it would be when looking at modern dogs. Gordons were once mostly tricolor with some dogs being solid black and tan, liver, or red, but the white markings and other colors fell out of favor and led to the production of the breed you see today.

The current breed standard for the Gordon only allows for black and tan dogs with specific tan markings. Dogs that are anything other than black and tan are disqualified and anything more than a small bit of white on the chest is not allowed. A dog with more or less than the required tan would be penalized, despite the fact that tan markings can vary greatly on dogs that are all genetically tan pointed. So far, it is known that there are modifiers that control this amount of tan, but it isn’t known where they are or how they are inherited.

This is a case where color standard is based on, basically, fashion. What once was popular was no longer liked by those who wrote the breed standard, and thus those other colors faded into obscurity. However, since the colors are basically all recessively inherited, they continue to pop up on occasion in litters that are born today. These past decisions are really problematic when looking at the breed’s history and what this holds for the future.   Stephanie


Sally says…It is at this point that as a breeder of Gordon setters I would step in to say that I disagree with Stephanie’s call that the Gordon’s color standard (black and tan) is based on fashion and that this preference is problematic for the breed.

The color preference written into the standard was developed well over a century ago by avid bird dog breeders. They didn’t have an eye to fashion when it came to writing their standard, but they did know exactly what kind of dog they wanted to hunt over, as well as why those traits, written into the standard, were important to them. It has been my understanding that the vivid black and tan coloring of the Gordon Setter may have been written into the standard as the preferred color because of it’s contrast to the gold, tan and red foliage of the fall hunting season, the black dog contrasting, standing out against the fall foliage, making it far easier for the hunter to follow the dog while he worked the field. A red or buff dog, even a white and tan dog would more easily blend into the foliage, his coat acting to camouflage him as he worked the field. And, with the deaf link to the white gene it is certainly understandable why white was weeded out as an allowed color.

If there are other history buffs out there who can offer more insight as to the color preference we’d love to hear your thoughts and hope you’ll share those and any references for us in the comment section of this article.

Anita Aronsson, Sweden shared this stunning link to photos of Gordon Setters in many colors and patterns, be sure to check it out by clicking here!

We’d also welcome your photos, if you have some to share, of red, liver, or other mismarked Gordons to be shared here to help others learn.  Please email those to us at gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com, we will respect your privacy and photos can be published anonymously.

Charlie Royster was kind enough to share this example of Gordon Setter color photo with usColor example

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

 

 

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July Legislation Update

Charles Kushell Written by Charles Kushell
“A short report this month, for reasons too tedious to relate.  But, we press on.
NC:  Beginning with some good news for a change, congrats to the NC voters for electing some not entirely dysfunctional legislators.  Some of the brightest are supporting HB1009 and SB849 which permit the transfer of military service dogs their handlers upon their retirement or to surviving family members of fallen servicemen handlers.  The only effluent in the punchbowl with this is, for inexplicable reasons, this only applies to certain town and counties within the State.  Why this isn’t a State-wide law is beyond me (or better yet, Federal law…maybe our Dear Leader could actually put his Executive Orders to good use for a change and mandate this nationally?).  If you’re a resident of NC, do take a minute to call your Rep or Sen and say thanks, and tell them to get busy doing the right thing State-wide.
NJ:  Continuing, for no good reason, with this month’s effluvia theme, what better place than NJ to visit next, heading up our Bad News Department, in the form of SB63 which, like zombies, Eastern Airlines and socialism, utterly refuse to stay dead.  This floater of a bill is the height of the “pet safety” extremists agenda, who approach the level of “gun safety” nuts with their willful stupidity while celebrating the triumph of their zealotry over any shred of sanity and logic.  This hideous bill, if you haven’t been taking careful notes, seeks to:
—  For utterly no good reason, repeal the existing NJ Pet Safety Act.  A sensible Act that actually conforms to the AKC legislative model when it comes to protecting the rights of puppy purchasers and sellers.
—  Replace the NJPSA by requiring sales of dogs to be conducted only face-to-face, exempts only breeder-breeder sales “necessary” to preserve the breed, and even those require NJ Dept of Health pre-approval.  Are these morons kidding?
—  Limit pet stores to only purchasing their inventory from state shelters or certified rescue organizations (but then fails to compel either type of organization to actually sell to pet stores.
Consider the utter stupidity of this bill; buyers will not be able to purchase anything other than a rescue animal…thus ensuring that basically only mutts will be available for sale…breeders will be unable to sell purebred dogs online or over the phone…and this list of horrors just goes on and on.  It’s supported by pages of junk “science” and claim made by pet safety nuts, all of which are utterly false.
If you live in NJ, click on this link, call your Senator and get this insanity stopped.  http://www.akc.org/government-relations/legislative-alerts/nj-repeal-consumer-protection-restrict-breeders-opposition/
OH:  I know we have lots of members in the Buckeye, so heads up.  SB331, in the category of good intentions gone awry, was on-track with AKC support to clarify State overview of breeders, but some lone goofball inserted language that blew up the utterly sensible definition of what a “high volume” breeder is…literally to the point of describing it as anyone having 4 breedable bitches.  Now, while the sponsor of this bill is promising an amendment removing the newly added language will be introduced, but to make sure it does, if you breed in OH, click this link to find the Senator you should call and ask for support in restoring the original language.  http://www.akc.org/government-relations/legislative-alerts/ohio-pet-shop-standards-regulate-breeders-may23/.  Maybe some should ask him how he managed to let the rogue language get into a good bill in the first place.  See how governments waste time?  Scary.
 
So with the foregoing in mind and the upcoming elections to consider, as the Master reminded us some 100 years ago:  “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”  Few truer words were ever spoken.
Until next time.

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The Dog Lover

The Dog Lover takes a hard, inside look at the agenda of animal rights groups and will leave you questioning the tactics used to achieve their goals. Based on a true story, The Dog Lover tells the story of a young woman who goes undercover for an animal advocacy group to collect evidence against a breeder (played James Remar) the group believes is neglecting his dogs.

 

Keeping Ourselves Honest as Dog Breeders

Many thinks to Jill Pauline for sharing this article with me, so I could in turn, share it with you. There are many pearls of wisdom for all breeders found in this piece written by Kathy Lorentzen, whether new at this game or at it for decades.

Thanks also to Ben Perez for sharing these photos from the 2016 GSCA National Specialty.

Photographs are included here for your viewing pleasure and are not intended to illustrate any material contained in this article.

I smiled as I read Kathy’s words regarding picking puppies, as what she said reminded me of Loree Ragano. I never saw Loree stack a puppy when we evaluated litters together. We always put them down to play, sometimes separating male from female, and occasionally then sorting them down to the 2 or 3 that we liked the most, but I don’t recall ever putting them on a table. Loree always told me she picked them on the ground and believed this to be the best way to do it.This article certainly brought that lesson back to mind as Kathy said “Don’t just put your puppies up on a table, shove them into a stack, look at them in the mirror and convince yourself that you have a keeper. Let others look at them and most importantly watch them on the ground. Have you heard the old adage, “Sell them on the table, pick them on the ground”? Do I believe picking puppies on the ground is sound advice – bet your bottom dollar!  This is good advice that I still follow today.

So, on to Kathy’s article. I hope you enjoy!

Keeping Ourselves Honest as Dog Breeders

The only real road to success as a dog breeder is the one where you force yourself to be honest about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

By Kathy Lorentzen | Posted: July 1, 2014 10 a.m. PST  DogChannel.com

That old saying, “My momma didn’t raise no fools,” doesn’t necessarily apply to all of us in the sport of purebred dogs. We all get foolish, full of ourselves and kennel-blind at one time or another in our careers as dog breeders. Regardless of someone’s early success as a breeder, I’ve long felt that you have to get at least 15 years down the road in a breeding program in order to have enough wisdom to look back and see just how many mistakes you have made and realize that you are going to make many more.

I had early success with my English Springer Spaniels. Goodness, my first dog, whelped in 1972, was a multiple BIS and Specialty BOB winner, and a top-producing sire. Boy, didn’t I start out with the world by the tail, and wasn’t I just so smart? As I learned later, not so much. I got extremely lucky with that first dog. He was a natural-born show dog, and I just held on to the end of his lead and let him do his thing. And great, he was an outstanding sire, but I didn’t have anything to do with that, either. He had the genes that clicked with a lot of differently bred bitches. Lucky me, again. July3

Getting a Wake-Up Call

When you start with a dog like that, time shows you that you probably have nowhere to go but down. I didn’t have a beginning breeding program at all. I had this dog, one of his full sisters and one of his half-sisters. I bred the sister to a top-producing dog in the breed, and though there was one champion in the litter, there were also a myriad of problems that I didn’t see coming. I didn’t see them because I didn’t know nearly enough about the genetics and the history of the pedigrees I was working with. I hadn’t been honest with myself about admitting that there was so much more I needed to learn before I started having litters. The problems that showed up (and fairly early) in that first litter were the beginning of my wake-up call. Oh and I got more wake-up calls, and shortly.july2

I very stupidly bred the half-sister to a dog on the opposite coast that I had never seen. But his ads were great, and his photos were quite lovely. His pedigree was mostly West Coast dogs that I had virtually no experience with. (I said I was starting to get a wake-up call, but I didn’t say I was totally awake yet.) Those puppies, though healthy and with good temperaments, were pretty poor quality. They didn’t look much like their mom, and they sure didn’t look like the photos of their sire! How could this be? Here’s how. About six months after that litter was born, my then-husband was in California on business and went to visit the sire of the litter. To say he was a bit taken aback by the actual dog might be an understatement. He really didn’t resemble his photographs at all.  Serious dog-breeding lesson number one: Don’t breed to a photograph! Even back then, creative photography existed. This dog had been retouched and photographed at specific angles to make him look much different. When we put all this newly acquired knowledge together, it made perfect sense that the puppies looked as they did. Since that time, I have never bred to a dog that I or my breeding partner (my daughter) have not personally seen, touched and spent time with.

july4Yet over and over again I see people breeding to dogs that they have never seen in person. One dog in my breed a few years ago was used quite extensively and mostly by people who had not only never seen the dog but had never even seen a photo of him! After being finished by a handler, he went home to the kennel and was never seen again until he was of a fairly advanced age and taken to one Specialty as a Veteran. I actually saw a post on a public forum where someone who had bred to the dog was looking for a photo of him because she had never seen him; and shortly after another person chimed in that she had bred to the dog too and would love to see what he looked like. I almost fell off my chair.

Choosing a Good Stud Dog

Just because a dog has produced a few offspring that you find attractive does not automatically qualify that dog to be the right one for every bitch out there. And if you think it does, then you are not being honest with yourself about what you are doing. Do you really think that your bitch is so perfect that she can be bred to any dog to give you more just like her? Maybe you should step back and take a long look at your bitch. And be brutally honest with yourself about how she stacks up to the breed standard. Maybe you don’t want more just like her. It might be better if you admitted to yourself that there is room for improvement. If you are so blind to your bitch’s faults and failings (and they all have some!), then go to someone who has a long and successful background in the breed and ask for help and advice. In fact, seek out two or three long-time dog breeders, as each will have a different perspective.

july1People who truly love your breed want to see more good-quality, healthy dogs produced. They know how to think outside the box when breeding. If you run into someone who only wants to talk to you about their own stud dogs, move on. That person doesn’t want to help you do anything but line their own pockets. You do not have to let somebody else tell you what to do, but you should let someone else tell you what they see. They might know far more than you do about the pedigree that you are working with. They may be able to offer up suggestions about what you should be looking to strengthen in your bitch and where you might be able to find the dog or dogs that can do it. If you are just breeding to a dog because some other people bred to it, then you are wearing blinders and not being honest with yourself at all. And guess what, your dogs won’t get better. But you probably won’t realize it. You cannot live on a secluded island in your own mind and be a knowledgeable, successful dog breeder. It takes a village, and there are many people out there who want to help you be part of that community.

Letting Them Go

july5Back to that second litter of puppies of mine sired by the West Coast dog. Not a single one of those puppies ever hit the show ring. Not only was this a lesson learned about not breeding to an unknown dog, it was also a lesson learned in realizing and admitting that the entire litter needed to go to pet homes. This is a mistake that I’ve seen happen over and over again in our sport. People plan a breeding, have a litter and convince themselves that because the puppies exist, there must be some really good ones to keep and show and go on with. Just because you have a litter of puppies doesn’t mean that there will be one or more in the litter that will be useful to you in moving forward as a breeder. We all breed with the hope that there will be something good enough to keep. But we have to recognize if we are going backward instead of forward. It’s difficult to look at a litter that grew up under your feet and admit to yourself that there really isn’t one in there to move you further ahead.

julyBe honest with yourself about the quality of your puppies. And if you can’t be, have a puppy party and invite those same breeders that you talked with before when searching for a stud dog. Invite them to look at and watch your puppies and discuss them with you. Get the right people together and you will have a wonderful learning experience. Don’t just put your puppies up on a table, shove them into a stack, look at them in the mirror and convince yourself that you have a keeper. Let others look at them and most importantly watch them on the ground. Have you heard the old adage, “Sell them on the table, pick them on the ground”? Well, it is so true. You can make almost any puppy look good enough on the table to “sell” it. But the honesty in the situation comes when you put that puppy on the ground and stand back and just watch it. Can it carry a correct profile? Does it move freely and easily at a trot with coordination and balance? Does it maintain its proportion on the ground? Eight-week-old puppies should stand and move correctly for their breed. If they don’t at 8 weeks, please don’t try to convince yourself that they will “grow into it.” You will be in for a disappointment.

If you are dragging a dog to show after show with poor results, take a step back. Perhaps the dog just isn’t good enough. In that case, let it go to a loving pet home.”

I am fortunate because I have a breeding partner who happens to be my daughter. I was raised in the sport by wonderful mentors who taught me to be realistic about my dogs above all. I raised my daughter the same way. We are so lucky that we can bounce ideas off one another, discuss plans, look at puppies, make choices and most importantly disagree with one another! We spend hours and hours driving to dog shows discussing our dogs, where we are in our program, what we need to improve and how to go about getting it. We have a very similar eye but some differing priorities, which makes for lively conversation and more learning for both of us.

july6Realize that even a promising puppy can go wrong at some point during its growth and may not make the grade. Even the best, most well-made puppies can disappoint. Of course, you have to differentiate between a growth spurt and a puppy really losing its early promise. Know the difference and know when to place that dog. Don’t get so invested in it that you convince yourself that it is a great one! I see this again and again too. Bred it, kept it, grew it up, and it has to be a champion even if it goes to 50 dog shows to finish that title. Oh, gosh yes, then by all means breed it because it’s a champion! Any well-trained dog that is in good condition and properly shown that takes more than about 15 to 20 shows to finish is probably not a very good one.

If you are dragging a dog to show after show with poor results, take a step back. Perhaps the dog just isn’t good enough. In that case, let it go to a loving pet home. Try again and keep trying, and keep learning until you have gained the knowledge that will allow you to have confidence in your breeding program and the ability to discuss in breed-specific terms what you are doing and why you are doing it. Recognize that just because a dog has a champion title and its health clearances, it is not necessarily a good breeding prospect. If it took 30 shows to finish a dog in a breed where it only takes six to make a major, and your dog had a very hard time winning those majors, maybe you should step back and honestly assess the quality of the animal that you are considering breeding. Do you want another one that will take so many shows to finish? If not, if you really want to improve the quality of the dogs that you will go forward with, it might be wisest to place that dog with the hard-earned champion title in a pet home and go in a different direction. Disappointing? Yes, but it is absolutely the best thing you could do for yourself and the future of the breed.

We all know that dog breeding is fraught with heartache and setbacks. The only real road to success is the one where you force yourself to be honest about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Make those difficult decisions as a breeder who truly has the best interests of the breed at heart, not as an owner who loves a dog too much to let it go to a wonderful home. Or keep it and love it but don’t breed it. Long, long ago I told my husband something that he has never forgotten. “It’s just as easy to love the great ones as it is to love the mediocre ones.” What I meant was, love them all, but be aware that many dogs will move through our household and few will stay their entire lives. Enjoy them while they are here, but be willing to let them go to make room for progress and improvement. We have lived by that rule for 36 years, and it has served our breeding program very well.

 

From the July 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.

We are dedicated to building a knowledge base and a sharing site for those who are involved in all of the various aspects of competition with Gordon Setters, competitions that showcase the Gordon Setter’s Beauty, Brains and Bird-Sense.

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