Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Somepuppy crouched over the edge of the pool today and looked in. Somepuppy thought carefully about it. And then SOMEpuppy dove in. Somepuppy then calmly swam to the nearby stairs and got out.

Somepuppy now has the hoohaws and is terrorizing his elders and fellow terriorists.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Very Vet Tuesday

Dubious Flint Is Dubious

Flint rode with me to Richmond today to the veterinary dermatologist. They ended up doing skin testing on 75 allergens--he reacted to 25 of them: dust mites (2 types), house fly, mosquito, 3 types of mold, Birch, Willow, Walnut, Cottonwood, Cypress, Oak, Sycamore, Pine, Cedar, Mulberry, Sweet Gum, Alder, yeast, 2 more types of mite, and Kapok (used in furniture stuffing).

Scratch the White Spot

So, basically, he's allergic to the world. He's going to be starting a shot regimen designed to desensitize him. It can take 8+ months to work and it works about 75% of the time, and he'll have to get shots 1-2 times a week for the rest of his life. But for him, it could change his life--he's been scratching himself bloody for most of the last two years, unless he was on steroids and antihistamines or covered by sweater or jacket that protected his skin.

Flint's been blind in his left eye for about 3 years, and since Christmas, he's become blind in his right eye. He can still see something around the edges of the collapsed lens in his left eye, but his vision is very poor. He'll be 6 this winter--not an old man yet!

Then this afternoon, I took Hunter in for a brucellosis test and Musket and Macha for their 12 week vaccinations. Musket and Macha had a blast wrestling in the exam room and mock growling and snarling and barking. They gave great eye contact to the vet and techs and had no concerns about the new building or flooring or the moving table or being poked and prodded. Such good puppies.

Macha continues to claim that I belong to her. She recognizes my truck and me from across the parking lot, and when I loaded Hunter and Musket back in the truck, she jumped on my leg and let me know that she was next. But, no, I sent her back home with Wanda, Puppy Raiser Extraordinaire (Macha is very happy there and is learning to watch TV with Wanda's husband and is doing things like picking up Wanda's aluminum cane and carrying it out of the room). Macha will be coming back to live with me, but this period of outside socialization is incredibly important for both her and for Musket. It allows them to grow up without each other and to gain more self-confidence and also to develop more of a one-on-one relationship with a person, which is very important for future training and the ability to form a strong bond.

Musket's still looking for a working home--he's actually pretty good in the house, but he's got enough drive and attitude that he definitely needs someone who is going to train him and teach him to channel his drive into constructive activities.

Macha... I suppose she's technically for sale, but I'm in no hurry to see her go. But if the absolute right home came along, I might let her go. (Of course I've been saying that about Lynx for a year now, and I don't see him going anywhere....)

Hunter just came in heat--sooner than I had hoped, so I'm making the final decisions on who the papa dog will be. I'm considering a cross into German showlines--I'm looking at a couple of very nice dogs who have proven not only their beauty in the show ring but also their solid working ability. It's a big change in bloodlines for me, but I think this type of breeding holds a lot of promise for the future of the breed--working toward the important goal of creating dogs who can work and who are excellent examples of the breed standard.

Right now, Hunter just wants me to throw the ball again...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Puppy Ears

7 Weeks

"When will my puppy's ears stand up?" Half the fun of having a GSD puppy is watching the ears stand, fall, tilt, stand, fall.... As illustrated by these pictures of Musket over the last 4 or so weeks.

Many times puppy owners will begin to panic as the ears do their up and down dances. When should a puppy owner start to worry?

8 Weeks

General things to look for are lift from the base (which Musket shows throughout in the following pictures). Also, if the ears are ever standing, even if they fall, they will almost certainly stand up again. As puppy molars start moving around, the muscles around the jaw and head are affected--which also affects the puppy's inclination to hold his or her ears up. So, seeing ears flop between 8-14 weeks is normal.

10 Weeks

But if the puppy's ears aren't mostly upright by 16 weeks, you should examine the degree of lift from the base and also the thickness of the cartilage in the ears. You might need to think about whether you want to assist the ears with taping. At the very least, encourage the puppy to "exercise" those jaw and head muscles by chewing on toys and knuckle bones--and make sure they have lots to watch and be interested in--give them a reason to hold those ears up.

10.5 Weeks

Adult Ears!
Musket at 12 months

At one year...
(Updated August 2011.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Entertainment!Puppy Goes to Work on Coal

Musket has opinions

I dragged Muskie out from under the desk and told him it was up to him to be entertainment!puppy.

He expressed his opinion at this state of affairs....

And decided he needed another nap.

(nearly) empty nest

Macha's with my friend W. for socialization and some expert puppy raising. (For now, I'm planning on keeping her. I should sell her, but when I see her, my heart just melts...)

Morrag went to a great home on Sunday, and today Mica went off to rule the roost on a 50 acre farm.

So, it's just me and Musket in the house right now, and he's sleeping quietly at my feet. He needs a working home, although right now, with him dozing calmly while I work, I think he's trying to persuade me otherwise.

It's a great but odd feeling when puppies go off--a feeling of relief as each one ends up with a whole family to take care of them and no longer am I their sole source of training and love and socialization and all the other things puppies need. But also, I will miss each of them somewhat. And I absolutely love to get updates and to know how they are doing. So, all in all, it's a good feeling. But still... so quiet around here!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

10-Weeks Old--Macha, Musket, Mica, Morrag

The pups turned 10 weeks old yesterday, so today we went and visited a friend so they could explore a new environment and smell new smells and generally have a positive outdoor experience. Mica got out of the car and I swear her ears went up the minute she hopped out of the truck. The puppies were kinda enough to pose for a LOT of pictures, so I figured I'd share.

Macha will be staying with my friend--an experienced puppy raiser--to get super socialized, well-loved, and to get a chance to develop her little self without her siblings. I've got a few people asking about Morrag and Mica, so I hope they will find their new families soon.

Mica and Morrag

Mica and Morrag are very similar in personality. Morrag's turning into a very substantial girl--picking her up is like picking up a brick! Mica seemed to be quite the model today--couldn't take a bad picture of her!

I've had several people inquire about Musket--but he's really quite a drivey and mouthy boy. He needs a working home--he'll drive a pet home nuts--while disassembling their household.... When he's excited or stressed, he vocalizes and loads in drive. At this age, this translates to barking and whining--and tugging on my pants with all his strength. I'm working on channeling this into toys and play. When he's an adult, this drive will be very usable for training and working. I'm hoping he can find a SAR home with someone who knows how to channel this drive productively.

(clicky for the rest of the day's pictures)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pool Zen and Leaping Lynx

Nike is outside right now, by herself, and I will let her remain while she wishes. She is seeking to achieve pool zen. This exercise is as to "will it float" as tai chi is to kickboxing.

She has placed a floating Jolly ball in the pool. It has floated out of reach. She is moving it with her mind, and at some point in the next hour... or two, she will either force the ball to float to her or she will lose her state of zen and will leap in after the ball.


Today Madchen's new human came and picked her up. She will be meeting her new "brother" -- Darth (now Rommel) from my D litter (Enni x Cliff).

As soon as Madchen and her new human left, I had to run south into town on a couple of errands, then I drove north about 30 minutes to an agility lesson with Lynx. It was his second time on any obstacles and his first time ever trying to train in such a totally new place surrounded by new scents--a horse barn and indoor ring with wood chips on the flooring.

Overall, he was a VERY good boy. Before we started, I walked him around and he curiously eyed a pony not much bigger than him. I walked him down the aisle of the barn and back and he leaned on my leg a bit but didn't hang back or seem overly uneasy.

The lesson started with us doing a jumping exercise--teaching him to hop from one side of a pvc bar to the other. Although very simple, Lynx didn't quite believe that was the goal of exercise and kept offering sits with attention and downs. So, we switched to just teaching him to go over the jump between me and the instructor, so he would get that the "over" part was the goal.

We then did some A-frame training--which he thought was just dandy. Then we did some tunnel work--sending him through to get his toy. He wasn't super interested in tugging with his fabric "boomerang" or the rubber "stick," but he was happy to play tug with his ball on a rope.

He displayed very good offleash manners--wandering a little bit but remaining close and responsive when offleash outside and passing a car full of dogs. He met an Aussie and a Border Collie while he was leashed and the other dogs were offleash and was curious but not reactive.

He was a tad distracted, a tad less interested in his food than I'm used to--but I think I've just forgotten that focus on me for rewards, that the "working time" is a learned thing, not just something that is automatically born in the dog. But he wasn't distressed or worried, just curious and a bit looky. I could tell he was getting just a bit tired--and I think he'll sleep well with the mental and physical workout he got today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Final names

When tattooing the puppies last Saturday, I wanted to have names for all of them so I could use the German tattoo coding system. The way this system works, the code is set up like this:

First digit: region code (I'm in region A)
Second digit: tattooer code (R)
Third digit: year digit (0)
Fourth and fifth digits: Breeder code (ED)
Sixth digit: litter letter (M)
Seventh digit: puppy number (1 through 6)

To figure the puppy number, you list the boys alphabetically, then the girls. So each puppy needed a name! At this age (7-8 weeks), I also need to try to figure out what sort of home best suits these puppies. Because I am breeding for working traits and working homes, I breed for higher energy levels and high prey drive, and along with that, a high desire to do stuff. Some of my puppies are just too much to handle for a casual pet owner. And even the mellowest needs to live with someone who will give them regular exercise and mental stimulation--every dog needs that, but a large GSD is going to need more.


Musket is a rowdy boy. A rough and tumbler with a big mouth -- he talks to you, barks and mouths to get your attention. He's a bit of a steamroller with his sisters, but not mean--just bigger and pushier. He's got a lot of drive and is already retrieving balls and tugging enthusiastically. He's going to need to be with someone who enjoys a physical dog and who can give him something to do with that
energy. He's looking for a working home--I think he would flourish in SAR or schutzhund work.


She's outgoing, investigative, friendly--very drivey and intense. At this point, I plan to keep her and see how she grows up. She also seems to have claimed me--she inevitably chooses to fall asleep in my lap.


Madchen is big girl with a sweet disposition, great eye contact, and loads of personality. She's a talker, but also rather a princess. She has claimed her person and will be going to live with her big brother Rommel (Darth from my "D" litter out of Enni and Cliff).


Masquerade, call-name Macy, has gone to live in Florida where she's got lots of land, some horses, and an experienced owner--she should be doing agility and obedience competitions and living an active life as best friend and companion to Joyce.


Mica was once the smallest girl pup, but she's grown into a big girl with a cuddly disposition and an inclination to look adoringly into your eyes. She's got moderate drives and energy levels, so she will be good for most people looking for a companion.


Morrag's drivey and interested in everything and loves the ball and tugging, but she's not as pushy as her brother and Macha. She will do well working in SAR, Agility, or other competitive training, but she'd also make a great companion for an active person. She's going to be medium-sized and very athletic. She is a lot like her mom.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Frontline--don't leave me now, baby

Having lived with dogs in Virginia and North Carolina before Frontline became widely available, I remember what it was like to have to worry about fleas--fleas in the grass, in the carpets--not just on the dogs. At times, it was so bad that you could watch them jump onto your ankles as you walked across the yard--or room, if you were so unfortunate as to have a house infested.
Frontline has literally wiped the concern for fleas off the slate for me and many other dog owners I haven't had a dog with fleas in nearly 10 years.

Ticks are a perpetual concern--but it's manageable, and when the dogs are treated during the summer, often the ticks I find are dead ones.

What if Frontline (or the other monthly applications) were to stop working? I've heard from some dogfriends that they think it's no longer as potent as it once was. Some of this ineffectiveness may be due to counterfeit or diluted products, but maybe something more is going on. This blog post talks about how it could be happening now.

Pedigree advert

Although this is an advert for a food I wouldn't want to feed, they have done a good job capturing some classic canine joy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A story of GSD registries

For a more than just a few years, I was an ardent supporter of the United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USA)--I edited the national magazine and wrote articles and I was a breed warden and tattooer. I have titled 4 dogs in Schutzhund and put breed surveys on 3 of them. I competed nationally with Thorn and Ash, and with Ash, I won the first ever H.O.T (Handler-Owner Trained) competition at the Sch1 level and we went back the next year and won the Sch3 level. I threw my life into it for nearly 10 years.

USA is an organization that began as a way to have schutzhund clubs and competitions and recognized titles in the U.S. But USA gradually migrated to aligning itself more and more closely with the SV--the Deutsche Schaferhund Verein--basically, the German breed club for German Shepherd Dogs. From the SV, grew the WUSV--the World Union of SVs, basically.

The GSD in Germany is closely regulated--you are required to have every litter of puppies inspected by breed wardens (who check for failing puppies, genetic and inherited flaws from rear dewclaws to cleft palates to non-accepted colors), then you are required to have an official tattooer come and tatoo your litter at 8 weeks. (All tattooers are breed wardens; not all breed wardens are tattooers.) In order to have a litter tattooed, in Germany, you had to have both parents with a working title, such as a herding (HGH) title or a Sch1 title.

In addition, in order to get the coveted "pink papers"--the highest grade of registration, both parents had to have been surveyed and passed the "Koerung"--an examination of size, weight, temperament, conformation, and working ability. Prerequisites for the Koerung are either an approved hip certification, an HGH or a Sch1 (or police certification, I believe), an AD (a 12-mile bike endurance test at a set speed), and have a conformation rating of G (good) or better (SG = Very Good; V = Excellent; VA = Excellent Select, which is only available at the national breed shows held once a year).

So, it is a labor intensive process and involves a lot of time and energy and people. In Germany, a country smaller than the state of Montana, there are 100s of clubs and judges and shows. In the United States, you'll be lucky if there's 2 clubs in your state.

So, over the years, USA wanted to be able to offer these breed surveys and conformation shows--and pink-papered registrations to qualified dogs bred in the U.S. The problem is that the FCI (the international "UN" of breed registries) will not recognize more than 1 registry per breed per country. So, because AKC recognizes the GSD and the FCI recognizes the AKC, no papers issued by USA would be recognized by any other breed registry. Well, this wasn't good enough--if you're going to put the hours and miles and money into titling and surveying your dog, shouldn't that title be recognized somewhere outside of the U.S.? Shouldn't you be able to export your dog to Germany and have them recognize your working titles so you can compete against them? Shouldn't your dog be able to compete in the WUSV working championships?

So, USA sought for further recognition and did gain some concessions. They set themselves up as a sort of appendix registry to the SV in Germany. You could get actual SV certified pink papers on a dog.

The problem, however, arose when people realized that these pink papers were nothing but a shadow registration. They still had to register with AKC if they wanted to export or breed or show anywhere other than in the U.S.

And then the nitty-gritty details began to wear--you might have a dog with all her working titles and hip x-rays and getting ready to come in heat--and then there would be no dog shows within 1,000 miles for the next 6 months. And then it would turn out that the cost of registering a litter of puppies with USA might cost $800.

So, for a few years, I registered with USA. I believed... believe... in the benefits of the breed survey system. But I no longer believe in the value of registering litters with USA. They began to allow registrations that wouldn't qualify under German rules. And, ultimately, it began to look to me like a rich person's hobby--where if you had the money, you just sent your dog to Germany to get its titles and conformation ratings and survey. And if you hired the right people, the quality of the dog didn't matter--they'd still come back with the highest surveys and the working titles.

So, when the clubs near me crumbled, when my training friends moved away, when I moved and had a new house and 8 acres to deal with, I'd had enough of the competition and the driving, and I quit schutzhund... or took a break at least. I stopped registering with USA. I didn't have a tattoo kit, so I stopped tattooing. But I still had good dogs. Dogs with titles, dogs with proven production records, dogs who wanted to DO things.

So, I am exploring other options, like herding, agility, and SAR training. And I've had to re-examine what I consider my requirements for a dog to be breed worthy. And I find that while I value the (relatively) objective tests the SV system endorses, it doesn't always work here in the United States, where fewer than 5,000 people train in Schutzhund, where driving 2.5 hrs is the NORM to get to a club or a trial, and where the conformation shows are even less frequent than the working trials. I still want to get Coal his Schutzhund 1--but committing the time and energy and money have made it slow going. And when money becomes one of the most significant factors in getting a title... to me, that devalues the concept of a title as an indicator of breed worthiness.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Green Tattoos and Doberfriends

It's been a big week for puppies--on Wednesday they had their first vet visit. The vet declared them all extremely healthy and friendly, and they all got their first shots. They were all between 10 and 12 pounds, so a lot of uniformity in the litter.

Then on Thursday, they turned 8 weeks old and we celebrated with a walk around the property.

Friday, I took the 2 bicolors and Musket to visit a friend and play on her agility field.

Saturday, they all went to see a friend of mine who helped me tattoo them all (hence the green left ears in the following pictures!) then they got to visit with their older half-sister from the K-litter and her 2 doberman buddies.

They also saw strange cats, went in a new house with new scents and flooring, and then they all zonked out in a heap in the middle of the kitchen floor while we ate dinner.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Circe, SAR dog at work

Here's a brag for a find by Circe, out of my 2002 litter from Nike and Ash. This story is from about a year ago, but I just found out, so time to brag on her! She and Guinness (Clue) are on the same SAR team in the Atlanta area--obviously they have done some good training and have put some major time into making Circe and Clue the best they could be.