Archive for October, 2017

Tamarack Lake AKC Agility Trial

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Nina and I have been off since the end of September (basically she got her MACH on a Saturday, another double Q on that Sunday, and then we were off for puppies). But since we’re going to the Invitational in December, which is getting extremely close, we really need to start getting back into practice. Since the puppies are still nursing a lot, I scratched Zhora, but still ran Nina. I crated out of my car and only took her into the building to warm up and run, to hopefully minimize exposure to other dogs as much as possible.

Nina was AMAZING! Over the course of her career, she’s had some periods where she hasn’t had three double Q’s in a YEAR, and she came back after 12 weeks of and DOUBLE Q’D! That’s three IN A ROW, she’s never done that. 10 year old Nina was so excited to be back she couldn’t stop bouncing up and down and barking. When we went to Sue’s on Wednesday just to at least try and remind ourselves how to play agility, she was so happy she zoomed!

This was our first time showing under judge Bob Jeffers, and I hope it won’t be our last. His courses were challenging but very fun, they ran better than they walked, and Nina double Q’d! So NO complaints!

Jumpers With Weaves (Q, third place, 4.9 YPS, 20 points, the top 3 dogs were all within half a second of each other):

Standard (Q, second place, 4.06 YPS, less than 1/10th of a second behind the first place dog):



Friday, October 27th, 2017

Clockwise from top left: Popcorn, Ruffles, Chex, Orson, Frito

…and it was NO thanks to me!

As you know if you’ve been reading along, the puppies haven’t been all that interested in solid food. Well between my friend Lynn Uram of CastleGate Shelties (who suggested the Answers goat milk), and Jim, who just happened to offer them straight kibble today instead of soaked mush, THE PUPPIES ARE EATING LIKE REAL EATING PUPPIES WHO EAT! Mush is for babies, I guess.

This is truly my “it takes a village” litter!

They have the cool chewies suggested by my friend Megan, and they’re extremely playful and interactive (or “obnoxious”, depending on your point of view and/or mood and/or if they’ve just demolished the potty area you just finished cleaning). They still sleep probably 80% of the time (that’s when they grow after all), but when they’re awake, they’re very, very busy.

Yesterday I snapped open a garbage bag next to the pen and startled the bejeezus out of them, it was loud enough that they actually ran away, but then they came RIGHT BACK to see what it was. Can’t hope for more than that!


Thursday, October 26th, 2017

They celebrated by getting their nails Dremeled for the first time. Baby food was the reward. They mostly complained about having to hold still, none of them seemed to care about the actual Dremeling.

They’re eating a bit better but still prefer mum. I’m starting to keep her away for periods of time so they’ll be hungrier and eat more. I don’t normally do this but Zhora can only keep up with so much demand and they’re BIG and HUNGRY. They drain her in a very short amount of time now. I’m adding Answers raw goat milk to their kibble/mousse/tripe mush and they seem to really like it.

I think they liked the baby food enough that I can use it to at least charge the clicker, I’m champing at the bit to start clicker training but with them not really caring that much about food, it’s been impossible.

They visited with Sue on Tuesday and had a wonderful time. They got dried duck feet as their enrichment item on Tuesday, yesterday it was a different toy, and today it was various different chew things suggested by Megan (who works at Pet Supplies Plus).

Yesterday we separated them from each other and the other dogs for 2 1/2 hours so that we could do their cheek swabs for the Animal Health Trust DNA test for retinopathy. Again, caution is the key here, remember that there is a LOT we don’t know about the retinopathy, almost no dogs go blind if they have it, and dogs who are genetically “affected” can still have normal eye tests (Nina is one of these, she had yet another normal eye test this year at the age of 10). But still, I think it’s important to test and know what you have, so I opted to test this litter instead of doing eye examinations. They were surprisingly (or not) wonderful for this – just some fussing but mostly they just snoozed. I was very impressed considering they’ve only been apart for considerably shorter periods. They did NOT like the swabs, poor babies. Their soft little mouths must be so tender. But it’s for a good cause.

They are definitely baby dogs now, they’re looking very attractive and they’re so outgoing and so BITEY….oh lordy they’re bitey…sitting in the puppy hot tub is an exercise in trying not to be eaten alive too badly just now. They definitely tell each other off for biting too hard, and they’re NAUGHTY – part of the problem with all this enrichment is that everything is something to be explored and experimented with and dragged around, including the potty patch (not mentioning any names…RUFFLES), the litter box (not mentioning any names ORSON AND POPCORN), the TOWEL THEIR WATER BOWL IS ON….not mentioning any names CHEX! Frito is a perfect angel except when he tried to pull my sock off and run away with it….poor Zhora can’t be enjoying nursing them. I keep waiting for her to kick them to the curb but she’s still gamely in there feeding them of her own volition. Definitely going to start pushing the food though.

Weigh in:

Ruffles – 3.7 lbs/1680 grams (birth weight 216 grams)

Orson – 4.5 lbs/2050 grams (birth weight 189 grams)

Chex – 4.2 lbs/1892 grams (birth weight 180 grams)

Frito – 3.8 lbs/1720 grams (birth weight 179 grams)

Popcorn – 2.7 lbs/1247 grams (birth weight 158 grams)

30 Days Old – More Visitors!

Saturday, October 21st, 2017


Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s been coming to visit, we’re averaging at least one new visitor per day just now and this is exactly what we want!

Today the puppies met 6 year old Abigail (they already know her mum Caroline), and her grandma Sharon, who kindly brought her cane and wheelchair so they got to see those too!

Mum Zhora came in to provide refreshments

30 Days Old – Collars!

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Usually with Vallhund litters there’s enough variation in markings, tails (not in this litter obviously), etc. that you really don’t need to put unique markers on the puppies at birth. And I’m paranoid about collar safety. However, they do need to wear collars eventually so today they took them out for a test drive! These are breakaway puppy collars but still, they will only be wearing them while we’re in the same room just in case.

As with the last litter, I’ve purposely tried to avoid anything other than relatively neutral colors to avoid influencing my opinion (or your opinion) about the puppy. Just like in Reservoir Dogs, everybody wants to be Mr. Black.

Collar colors:

Ruffles – red

Orson – orange

Chex – yellow

Frito – green

Popcorn – blue

LOVE this quote

Friday, October 20th, 2017

“Breeding is an important by-product of the wider interest in ones breed and some kind of dog hobby/work, not the main aim.” (from “Brainless” on the forum. “Brainless”….ain’t)

29 Days Old – THE BIG HOUSE

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Here is the Ruffly Speaking post I referenced in an earlier blog post. I love this post.

After Orson’s escape yesterday, Jim set to work building the 6 x 8 Big House. Jim put a lot of thought into the building of the Big House this time around. In the past, when puppies were ready to move into bigger digs, we just put an x-pen around the wooden box a friend kindly made for me years ago. The problem was that the puppies didn’t have quite enough square footage, and much more importantly, they could get to the x-pen. Now I don’t know how it is in other breeds, but standard x-pen wire spacing is precisely the right size for a Vallhund puppy to get their muzzle through (as they all do), and then get stuck. It happened with both our previous litters and once a puppy got REALLY stuck and we had to work as a team to unstick him. This was traumatic for all concerned (the puppy was fine, we were freaked out).

Jim solved this problem ingeniously this time around. This time the x-pen is inside a wooden frame and there are clear acrylic sheets attached to the inside of the x-pen. The puppies can see out, but they can’t get to the x-pen.

The Big House is in our living room (taking up approximately half the space, we’re a bit cramped in here!). We have a sheet of linoleum on the carpet, on top of that are two large indoor-outdoor rugs (for grip), on top of THAT are various different surfaces for them to walk on – hospital pads, towels, upturned bath mats, plush VetBed. There’s a comfy bed and various toys will be rotated through. There’s a large Wee Wee Patch with a pee pad with an attractant in it under the turf. They’re right next to the sliding glass doors onto the deck, so they can see OUTSIDE, and they’ll be right in the heart of the house, with all the noise and comings and goings.

Fully renovated with ensuite potty turf and floor to ceiling windows looking onto the living room and back garden.

They spent their visit with Nicole today taking the grand tour of their new home, they got the zoomies (AKA the staggers), and they tuckered themselves out.

Brand new comfy bed!

They’ll still be sleeping in the Dura Whelp box in the guest room at nights for now, since Zhora needs to be able to get in and out to feed them regularly. But they’ll spend more and more time in the Big House.

They’re real puppies now, they play and invite each other to play. They bite and wrestle and argue. They complain if someone bites them too hard. They run (sort of) and jump (kinda). They ate some baby cereal and goats milk today (thanks Michelle).

Today’s enrichment (other than exploring the new digs and all the new surfaces in there) was a GIANT ropey toy AND the Enormous Purple Octopus toy. There are a couple of Very Special Toys they will get when they truly graduate to living in the Big House full time. And our awesome and much-loved friend Zap built us a frame for an Adventure Box – we need suggestions for things to hang from it! Send em in!

I have most definitely noticed that these guys are very, very curious. They startle like any puppies will, but then their first reaction after startling is to go and find out about what startled them. This is EXACTLY what we hope to see!











The Fab Five minus Orson, who was schmoozing with Nicole


Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Since a certain puppy whose name rhymes with “schmorson” ESCAPED today (there’s always one who’s the first over the wall, this time it was Orson on their four week birthday!), we are in the process of hustling to build them their new digs in the living room. If all goes according to plan, they’ll have a 6 x 8 pen with a window view through the sliding doors into the yard! This will also make visiting easier. Since Zhora is still feeding them regularly (although I am getting the feeling that the bitey teeth are making that less appealing to her, more on that later), they’ll go back into the Dura Whelp box in the guest room overnight, and into the big pen during the day. At least for a few nights.

Today’s new enrichment item was a piece of tinfoil that made new sounds and was weird to grab and move around. The BAD thing about all this enrichment is that they think that EVERYTHING is there to be played with (which is what you want, of course, that’s a big part of the whole point of the Puppy Culture thing) – and now the cord for the heating pad seemed interesting to Ruffles all of a sudden, so we’ll have to address that for safety!

And they got to eat some MEAT! They all tasted some ground beef and three of them were pretty good eaters! Orson lay on his back and let me feed him tiny meatballs as if they were grapes. Ruffles happily ate tiny meatballs from my fingers (also important for learning how to take food from hands, which you don’t really think of as a skill they need to learn, but they do!), and Frito had to be convinced by having some put in his mouth, but once he tasted it he ate with enthusiasm. Popcorn and Chex ate some but then the sandman came for them and they needed to snooze. Everyone got a dose of BeneBac again this morning, since I knew I was going to start really insisting that they eat solid food and I wanted everyone’s digestive systems to be happy.

The last two litters took to eating solid food like, well, proper Vallhunds should take to food! I started offering food at three weeks and they ate it. This litter seem to be holdouts. I’ve been offering them various things over the last week, getting them to lick off our fingers, using various different bowls and plates. They just haven’t seemed to want to eat much that wasn’t ZhoraMilk. However, a bit of chatting to other breeders and research on the good old internet gave me a couple of ideas for today, and they seemed to help. First, I added some Karo syrup to their goat’s milk, and the sweeter taste seemed to make it more appealing, they all at least lapped some up. And they all seemed to like raw ground beef (90/10 if you’re interested). So I feel a bit better that they all at least ate SOME solid food, since Zhora isn’t going to be able to keep up with providing them with 100% of their calories for very long! Plus…the teeth. Owwy.

You can see their shapes changing, they’re less roly-poly and starting to look more streamlined. They’re all walking fairly well and they’re using the litterbox as best they can (they will have a turf patch in the big house which will make the potty area larger and easier for them to use, plus it should help a LOT with housetraining).

25 Days Old – BABY FOOD

Monday, October 16th, 2017

So the puppies had visitors over the weekend, and spent some time in a pen in the living room. They met a PUMPKIN thanks to Nicole.

Melanie and Rick came to visit (note the Tish photobomb in the background)

They haven’t been all that interested in non-Zhora-milk food. But tonight I think I found the magic potion – beef baby food. They all ate quite a bit of it off my finger.

Grandma Nina loves her grandpuppies.

Did you see how cute these things are?

Nina and Tish are allowed into the puppy room for supervised visits. Nina tries to nurse them and Tish wants to zoom with them (but is actually being quite gentle and respectful, for Tish). Zhora doesn’t mind at all.

Also they took turns coming out to watch Star Trek tonight and Ruffles actually played with Grandma Nina while on my lap:

23 Days Old

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Lots of playing with each other and with us!

Eating little bits of Royal Canin Puppy Mousse.

They have a startle reflex now (but no fear associated with it yet), so we’ve suddenly become very clumsy and are dropping things and slamming doors and generally being obnoxious. You want to exercise their startle/recovery reflex a lot before they start to associate the startle with fear (which happens later in their development).

Frito trying to snooze on Ruffles, who is playing bitey face with Chex

They all have teeth in varying stages of eruption, some almost all the way in, some just poking through. Poor poor Zhora. I have been putting lanolin on her teats to try and keep her as comfortable as possible.

Ruffles and Chex

They are ridiculously cute. They are all at least trying to use the litter pan, some closer than others, but all at least trying.

Unpopped Popcorn!

Orson in the “off” position

Jim being attacked by Popcorn:

Videos of bitey face: