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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Crates are not cages! They're dens!

For those of you who are unsure about crate training your dog. Here are three pictures of 3 different dogs enjoying their den. Of course the den needs to be placed where they can be part of the family. Not in the basement boot room!

My dogs will even put themselves to bed at night if they feel we are staying up too late. We have crates in just about every room of the house & they can pick whichever one they'd like.

Mary Ann

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Puppies Due April 4th!!!

FINALLY!  Cruz came into heat on January 20th.  She and Merlin were put together on Jan. 26 and again Jan 29th but it just wasn't quite time yet.  Jan 30, Feb 1 & Feb 3 were successful matings.  Usually I breed only twice but I wanted to be absolutely sure of the timing so this time she was bred a third time. 

There are two scientific ways that I use to determine when the female is ovulating.  One is to collect saliva and let it dry without disturbing it.  After it dries, it will have a crystalline look thru the microscope.  It is called "ferning".  If there is no ferning yet, there is no point in breeding.  (This works for people to by the way!)

The other way I use, is to collect swabs off the vaginal wall.  By staining the blood cells on a microscope slide you can see if the cells are "cornified".  When they become flattened and jagged, and you can no longer see the nucleus, the female is ovulating. 

I collect samples both in the morning and evening to see how far things have progressed. It takes about an hour each time. I try to leave nothing to chance.  According to both tests, she was ovulating on all the days she was bred.  The sperm can last 2-3 days inside the body so essentially she had viable sperm from Jan 30 all the way thru until Feb.5.  That should cover all of our bases!

It will be 30-35 days at the earliest before we know if she caught.  I'm not going to bother ultrasounding her again because last time it was a waste of $150.  They told me they saw puppies and in hind sight I really wonder if they saw anything at all.  I think maybe they just wanted to see puppies.  Whatever the case, I will take her in to be palpated at 30-35 days and even then, it may be hard to tell. 

So wish us luck.  Pray for us.  Whatever your lifestyle is.  Please send your good thoughts to Cruz to have a healthy litter and a successful birthing process.  Maybe my dog building will have finished being constructed by then!  It's hard to find the time to work on it.

So after death, comes life.  Kahlua was Cruz's mother so she would have been a Grandma again.  I miss my old girl terribly but time marches on.  Hopefully I can spend my time with her Grandpuppies in a few months from now. 


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

This is not a pleasant post. Those with weak stomachs should stop reading now.

It has taken me 3 weeks before I could write to you about an incident that occurred on January 9th.  Our beautiful Kahlua has passed to the other side.  She would have been 16 years old shortly.  There was a terrible incident that happened.  One that I have a very difficult time talking about. 

Kahlua was attacked by a cougar.  In her own yard.  It makes me sick.  It makes me sad.  It makes me angry. Kahlua and her daughter Indy were outside in their yard.  It was a beautiful warm night so I left them outside.  As close as we can figure, Kahlua must have left the doghouse in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  She must have been attacked at the furthest end of the yard.  Mark heard a big commotion thru the night but he said it only lasted about 15 seconds and then everyone was quiet.  He listened for a few minutes but heard nothing else so went back to sleep.  When we started doing chores, I noticed that Kahlua hadn't come out of her doghouse yet.  That wasn't terribly unusual because she couldn't hear much anymore.  I've often thrown a few kibbles onto the wall so she could feel the vibrations.  When she emerged from the doorway I wasn't even sure what it was.  Her head was swollen twice its size and she had pieces of flesh hanging from her face.  I was in shock!  She stumbled out of the doghouse and I screamed for Mark.  He came running and just stopped cold in his tracks.  It was horrible.  Something that is emblazoned in my memory now and I wish I could forget it.

We believe that Indy was woken up by the noise and went running to the defense of her mother.  Luckily Indy was not hurt in the confrontation.  Kahlua managed to make it back to the doghouse where she lay waiting for us to discover her in the morning.  Mark carried her into the house and straight into the bathtub to start washing her off.  It was soon evident how devastating the injuries were.  I phoned Dr. Curt Luzi who dropped everything he was doing and came out to the ranch.  God bless Curt.  I knew before he got here that she would not recover from her wounds.  The kindest thing to do was to put her down.  She died on her favourite couch surrounded by people who loved her. 

As for the cougar, I have no ill feelings.  It was just doing what cougars do.  I've been lucky enough to raise many orphaned cougar kittens in my life and I know a fair amount about them.  I love them, as I love all animals.  Fish & Wildlife officers have come and we've discussed how to help prevent anything like that from happening again as well as why it might have happened in the first place.   As far as I'm concerned, as long as I don't see it's face anywhere even remotely close to my house, it can stay in the area.  However, if I see it close by, it will be a death sentence.  F&W said once they have discovered something as an easy food source, they will come back again and again.  In this case, it turned out not to be an easy food source so hopefully it will be on its way and never come back.  It is likely an 18-24 month old that has just been ousted by it's mother.  They lack the skill needed to take down big game and they are surviving on squirrels and mice.  The deer numbers are low and the cougar population has exploded.  Not a good combination.

One of the things I've missed is her exuberance at dinner time.  No matter the weather, every time we went out to feed, she would run a lap around the yard.  It's a large yard and there's obstacles like downed trees that cut across their paths.  Just like it would be if they lived in the wild.  But she would actually CANTER around the yard every time it was chore time.  Pretty darn good for a 16 year old German Shepherd.  It was always so cute...

So we say goodbye to dear Kahlua.  (I can't even see the screen thru the tears).  Her mother was bred in East Germany (DDR bloodlines) and the litter was born here in Alberta.  She added a great number of attributes to my breeding program.  She will live on in her daughters and sons.  Goodbye my sweet girl.