Archive for February, 2012

As breeders who prioritise health and well-being we were very interested to watch the BBC’s documentary on responsible dog breeding yesterday.

I hope it goes without saying that we  applaud all efforts to increase the overall health of every dog. When we were looking for Poppy our research suggested that breeders of working labradors prioritised health, well being and brains over the aesthetics and conformity to the breed standard. We chose Poppy because she was a fit happy dog with a diverse pedigree which indicated intelligence. She is everything we could have hoped for. Her pedigree entitles her to enter Crufts, but we, personally, think it more fun to take her for a long walk round a forest or lake.

The Kennel Club’s website does have a very useful tool for breeders which we used when we were researching potential fathers for the pups, the inbreeding coefficient indicator. This calculates the inbreeding of any dog or potential mating by percentage. We had rejected quite a few studs after running the potential mating through the calculator (Poppy’s is so low she seemingly is related to practically every dog in the land somehow, making things very difficult). We eventually picked Rufus, we were also pleased at his good health tests and champion ways, and Poppy liked his charm and good looks. It is horrifying to read that the practises of yesteryear encouraged people to “fix your line” where dogs who portrayed the nicer coat/shaped head/ tail size etc were mated almost regardless of relationship. Breeds rapidly changed but the overall health of dogs declined because of it. Medical and scientific breakthroughs lead people to realise that something had to be done. Attitudes are improving, thankfully.

 

So the pup’s  have a 3.2 % inbreeding coefficient- the breed average is 6.4%.

Click here to see the Kennel Club’s inbreeding calculator, organised by breed.

They’re still babies, but they are beginning to act really grown up- their walking is much steadier and their little yaps are much more confident. They are starting to actively look for the newspaper when wanting to toilet, dashing across the room to find it and making happy noises when they get there and squat. They are starting to play fight with each other- the first time it happened Popsy rushed over, woofed really loudly at them, just as I was starting to think she was going to separate them, she play-bowed and tried to get them to chase her! They stopped playing to look at the commotion but didn’t understand her gestures and so they just sat down watching, looking puzzled …  it won’t be long 🙂

They come up and want to interact, when I’m sitting on the floor a few have climbed onto me and crawled up to try to lick my face ..its lovely to have that closeness with a pup, they can be so gentle- but their little whiskers are so fine they really, really tickle and I can’t stand it for long!

Their teeth are coming through and they are enjoying gnawing and chewing so we are at the important stage of teaching bite inhibitions. On the infrequent occasion they bite too hard I squeal, high and short, like a litter mate would and withdraw my hand. They are understanding the process, when they go back to the finger they lick it “sorry” before playing again. This teaches them that human skin isn’t as robust as fur and over time they will understand the acceptable limits to their play.

We are pleased to announce that today we were accepted into the Kennel Club’s “assured breeder” scheme.

Big day today … weaning begins.

 

We got tiny morsels of meat for each of them .. once they got some near their mouths and they licked their lips, there were no stopping them- eating like pros already!

Here’s some video from yesterday … they are unbelievably cute, taking first steps and learning to speak

They’re thriving, gaining weight well, walking and stumbling about with opening eyes

Our puppy was about 4 months when she started turning her nose up at her dinner. It was a more expensive brand of dog food, recommended by her breeder. We began to get concerned.

The label of the food was the first thing I looked at. It was mostly filler, with a quantity of some kind of meat derivative. Didn’t really sound very appetising. Back into the lounge and powered up the laptop.

A TV show was trying to put children off eating fast food by making chicken nuggets, making a big show of the poor quality of the raw ingredients- the chicken carcass used had nothing left worth eating. It was quite stomach churning.

A thought…. What is in pet food if they use all the “yuckky” bits in human food? I had always thought the pet food people would use the rest of the animal after the butchers had got all the good bits off… so what is in pet food if there’s nothing left?

The laptop powered, several days of reading and cross checking and referencing later we were convinced. BARF.

Raw food with bones in (for the calcium), or cooked meat without bones (cooked bones shatter into sharp bits when bitten). Veg, fruit and nuts. Offal for vitamins, an egg and some fish. Chickens have the correct meat-bone ratio for protein-calcium, but other meat is necessary too for variety.

We got a diet sheet worked out and printed off and went off to the supermarket. For comparison we noted the price of their dog food and began filling the trolley with our long list for veg mix and the chickens, offal and a couple of bit of lamb and that had been reduced…. the trolley was full and it came to quite a bit. Pet shop next- tripe, frozen in portion sized packets that you just need to defrost, no cooking involved. I sighed with relief. We got some more microbiotic cleaning stuff in case she wiped the uncooked meat over the floor. It was all going brilliantly until waiting at the till I wasn’t paying attention and was gazing about the shop and suddenly started laughing at an extra twee rabbit hutch. My husband glared at me… “what?” I had started giggling the very moment a chubby lady in front of us couldn’t lift a heavy sack of food out of her trolley. Oh no!

So very glad to be home we set about making the veg mix. My husband already had showed me how to cut up a chicken into quarters, soon we were good to go. Would our pup like it though?

With some trepidation the bowl went on the floor, the dog sat nicely and then “take it”. She caught a whiff. Her eyes widened and her head was in the bowl and she was munching before my heart had time to beat. Then it nearly popped with joy to see her relish her food so much, after such ambivalence.

As the weeks went on she grew and gained weight appropriately. More dogs came along and they too seemed to thrive. People ask if Poppy had been swimming when she wasn’t wet, her coat is so shiny. Now our dogs’ seasons are frequent, a sign of great health. There was one drawback on offal day as some dogs don’t like raw liver. Once we worked out they love it cooked with a some carrots (microwaved for a few minutes with the extractor fan on)….. there was no turning back.

How about the price? it works out cheaper than the stock-standard branded food we price checked at the supermarket that first day. Cheaper still if you buy the offers and reduced things and then freeze them, or become friends with your butcher.

We have no food aggression here… I suppose because they perceive the supply as plentiful they don’t get anxious about sharing.

Our diet sheets are available on request 🙂

P.S. Dogs will become ill if they are fed grapes and raisins, onions or leeks. Chocolate is also poisonous and can be fatal.

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