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Saturday, 30 March 2019

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

New Digs

The puppies have graduated out of the whelping box and into the exercise pen (x-pen). I usually wait another few days when they start escaping the confines of the box but there are so many puppies, Maya can't find a place to lay down any more! An x-pen is something I suggest all new puppy owners purchase. It allows the new puppy a place to have some freedom but keeps them safe from electric cords, poisonous plants etc. And also prevents chewing on the furniture and disappearing into another room for a quick pee while nobody's looking.

An x-pen is big enough for toys, food and water dishes, and a bed, as well as an area for elimination if need be. And some come with "Dutch doors" which can be handy in some situations.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Saturday, 23 March 2019

The next stage

Now the pups are old enough to regulate their own heat. This means Maya can come and go from the whelping room whenever she pleases. This half door on the exercise pen prevents the older dogs from going in but let's her come and go.

Friday, 22 March 2019

LOUD hungry German Shepherd Puppies

I hope everyone knows and remembers that I have a YouTube channel! It's called Guardian Angel Shepherds. You can type that into the search engine on YouTube or you can directly link to my latest video by clicking the link below. Don't forget to like and subscribe! It is not a monetized channel but I'd like everyone to know the quality and the care I put into these dogs. It's my life's passion.

Mary Ann


Here you go Julie! White! Clean white collar! (Just bugging you).

Brand new, bigger collars on a few today! Unfortunately I don't have all the colours so some will change colours and some might have to have ribbons. I'm not set up for 11 puppies!

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Spay, Neuter and Joint Disease

I could have sworn I posted this already but I don't see it in the archives.  Maybe it was deleted for not following the rules but I put the source at the bottom.  I'm not sure where it went??


This is something that has really got my attention in the last several years.  I've gone from recommending castration at 6 months to 12 months and now I'm thinking more along the lines of 18-24 months.  And some dogs not at all.  I have not made it a hard and fast rule in my contract as some do but it is something we always talk about when you pick up your puppy.  There's getting to be so many findings against early castration that I may have to include it in the paperwork.   For the good of the dog.

Spay, Neuter And Joint Disease

Spay Neuter Joint Disease

There are three topics you shouldn't discuss with friends: religion, politics and mandatory spay/neuter. Talking frankly about spay/neuter is worth the backlash however because the health risks associated with it, especially when done in a young dog, are worthy of discussion. That isn't to say that dogs shouldn't be spayed or neutered; that's a personal decision best left to the pet owner. Like vaccines and most routine veterinary procedures however, vets spend a lot of time discussing why you should spay or neuter your dog, but spend very little time talking about why you shouldn't. The goal of this article is to give you the information your vet doesn't, so you can make the best possible decision for your dog.

I'll preface the article by stating that I breed Labrador Retrievers, a breed that can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as cruciate tears. The families that get one of my puppies receive a warranty of sorts, saying that I have done everything I can to prevent these issues and if, despite my best efforts, the puppy I've bred ends up with a debilitating joint issue, I will refund the purchase price to the puppy's family.

There is one disclaimer however and it's as follows: if the family decides to spay or neuter the puppy before 24 months of age, my warranty is null and void. The reason is that research shows I can't guarantee the puppy's joints won't be affected by this seemingly simple medical procedure. Spay/neuter has the capability of permanently changing a healthy puppy joint into an unhealthy one.



At the heart of the matter is how spay/neuter affects the dog's hormones. When a dog's reproductive organs are surgically removed, the sex hormones they produce also disappear. The sex hormones are responsible for more than just sexual behaviors and one of their responsibilities is regulating growth.

Breeders can readily spot the difference between an intact dog and a neutered dog: neutered dogs have longer limbs, narrower heads and bodies, and they are lighter in bone. When the sex hormones are removed, the growth hormones are missing important regulatory input and the bones continue to grow longer than they ought to. Studies have proven this to be true (Salmeri et al, JAVMA 1991).

In each long bone there is a growth (epiphyseal) plate, which is a band of cartilage found near the joint. This growth plate lays down bone as a puppy develops and, as it builds bone, the bone becomes longer and the puppy gets larger and taller. Once maturity is reached, this growth plate turns into bone and the puppy's full height is reached.

When dogs are sterilized before maturity, the closure of some but not all growth plates may be delayed and this would be especially true if a dog is sterilized when only some of his growth plates are closed.

The dog's elbow and stifle joints are similarly designed. Above each joint is one bone (the humerus and femur respectively), and below are two bones (in the elbow there is the radius and ulna and in the stifle there is the tibia and fibula). One bone effectively sits on two. What would happen if one of those bones underneath the joint stopped growing before the other bone and they ended up being different lengths? It would be very much like building a house on a slope: the weight of the home wouldn't be evenly distributed and there would be increased load at the lowermost corner of the house.

The same could very well happen in the elbow and stifle joint when closure of the growth plates is artificially delayed and this could in turn lead to increased risk of both elbow dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament tears.

There is research that supports this. Whitehair et al (JAVMA Oct 1993), found that spayed and neutered dogs were twice as likely to suffer cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Slauterbeck et al also found an increased risk (Clin Orthop Relat Res Dec 2004).

Chris Zinc DVM PhD DACVP explains, "…if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at eight months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament."

Additionally, sterilization can cause a loss of bone mass (Martin et al, Bone 1987), and obesity (Edney et al, Vet Rec Apr 1986). Both of these factors could lead to an increased risk of cranial cruciate ligament tear. Furthermore, spayed/neutered dogs are greater than three times more likely to suffer from patellar luxation (Vidoni et al, Wien Tierartztl Mschr 2005).



The thought of hip dysplasia is enough to strike fear into any large breed dog lover. For that reason, the bulk of research on spay/neuter and joint disease is focused on this disorder.

Dogs who are sterilized before the age of six months have a 70% increased risk of developing hip dysplasia. The authors of this study (Spain et al, JAVMA 2004), propose that "it is possible that the increase in bone length that results from early-age gonadectomy results in changes in joint conformation, which could lead to a diagnosis of hip dysplasia."

There is more evidence that spay/neuter can increase the risk of hip dysplasia. Van Hagen et al (Am J Vet Res, Feb 2005), found that of the sample dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia, those that were neutered six months prior to the diagnosis were nearly twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia.

Interestingly, a study by Dannuccia et al (Calcif Tissue Int, 1986), found that removing the ovaries of Beagles caused increased remodeling of the pelvic bone, which also suggests an increased risk of hip dysplasia with sterilization.


Although not technically a joint issue, osteosarcoma is a cancer of the bone. This bears mentioning because spayed and neutered dogs are twice as likely to develop this deadly disease (Ru et al, Vet J, Jul 1998).

In another study, male Rottweilers, a breed susceptible to osteosarcoma, were nearly four times more likely to develop osteosarcoma than intact dogs (Cooley et al, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, Nov 2002). In fact, Rottweilers spayed or neutered before one year of age had a 28.4%(males) and 25.1% (females) risk of developing osteosarcoma. Interestingly, the researchers concluded from their results that the longer the dogs were exposed to sex hormones, the lower their risk of osteosarcoma.



There are other related risks with spay/neuter, including an increased risk of many cancers, hypothyroidism, diabetes, urogenital disorders, cognitive impairment, obesity and adverse vaccine reactions – not to mention the risk associated with the surgery and the anesthetic. These risks should all be considered when it comes time to decide if spay/neuter is an option for your dog.

What does seem to be clear is that the risk of joint disease in particular is greatly exaggerated if the dog is sterilized before the growth plates close. It's important to remember that the sex hormones do play a synergistic role in your dog's growth and development and their removal will create imbalance in the body. Just what the fallout from this imbalance entails remains to be seen, as research into the effects of sterilization is in its infancy, even though hysterectomies on humans and spay/neuter on dogs has been accepted as a normal procedure for decades!

The age at which the growth plates close is entirely dependent on the dog and the breed. In general, the larger the dog, the later the growth plates will close. In giant breeds, this could be nearly two years of age.


Getting back to my puppy contract, given the above research, I simply can't guarantee the puppies I breed will have healthy joints if they are spayed or neutered, especially before the age of two. Whether the puppy's family decides to keep their dog intact or sterilize him after that age is entirely up to the family. I do an extremely good job of screening the homes that apply for one of my puppies and if they aren't responsible enough to keep an intact animal, they certainly aren't responsible enough to deserve one of my precious puppies in the first place.

People who are involved in rescues and shelters may have a different view on this and they are certainly entitled to it. When considering if and when your dog should be spayed or neutered however, it's important that you make the decision based on facts and try to steer clear of an emotional response that may affect the health and longevity of your dog. It's really not for me – or your vet – to dictate what you should do with your dog.

Happily, there are alternatives to the complete removal of the sexual organs. Vets are starting to experiment with zinc injections to sterilize male dogs. This leaves about half of the circulating testosterone available to the body. Vasectomies and tubal ligations are also becoming more popular and they have the happy consequence of less interference with the sex hormones – and your dog gets to keep his reproductive organs right where nature intended them to be.

You have a choice in whether and when your dog is spayed or neutered and how important it is to you that his/her sexual organs and hormones remain in place. Once your dog is spayed or neutered, you can't reverse your decision, so dig a little deeper and you just might find a solution that you and your dog can live with, happily and healthfully.






Dana Scott is Editor In Chief for Dogs Naturally Magazine. She also breeds Labrador Retrievers under the Fallriver prefix. She is an advocate for natural health care for dogs and people and is on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Consumer Centre for Homeopathy.

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Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Home date and gender colours

The day the puppies will be going home is April 28th or anytime after. We have 5 females and 6 males. Males are Blue, Red, Tan, White, Brown & Black. Females are Pink, Purple, Yellow, Green & Orange.

Fwd: My beautiful dog

Begin forwarded message:

From: Darren Harvey <>
Subject: My beautiful dog
Date: November 20, 2018 at 6:38:45 PM MST

Hi Mary Ann, 
I want to let you know that my beautiful girl Liberty (We called her Vanya) who we got from you passed away. She was my best friend and more than I could ever have wished for. She accompanied me everywhere across the country and when my little girl Penelope was born she became an awesome protector and guardian. When the baby first came home from the hospital and cried in the night, my wonderful puppy girl would grab my PJs and drag me out of bed to make sure the baby was fine. She went from sleeping at my feet to sleeping right beside the crib.
She was my once in a lifetime dog and although my heart is broken I want to thank-you for allowing me to have such a special girl in our lives.
Darren, Erin and Penelope Harvey

Did someone say milk?

Did this video work?

Attachment available until Apr 18, 2019
Click to Download
87.6 MB

Puppies are just like human babies!

Anyone who has had a baby knows that trying to change the nipple on the bottle comes with a lot of grief. I'm trying to switch the puppies from those smaller bottles in the picture to the bigger bottle so I don't have to keep refilling as often. But the nipple is different! And do you think they'll suck from that nipple? Absolutely not. I remember as a young mother being encouraged to buy a half dozen soothers of the same kind. At the time I thought it seemed like a waste. But one day when I lost the soother and I was away from the house I went and bought a different soother at the store. Boy was that a bad idea! Not only did it not stop the crying, it created more of it! So puppies are just like human babies. They just don't want the nipple to be changed

Monday, 18 March 2019

Home Made Puppy Formula

This formula recipe was given to my by Myra Savant Harris.  She taught a Puppy Intensive Care Course in Cranbrook, BC, probably over a decade ago.  She and her husband took a liking to my stud dog "Diesel" who I had brought along to keep me company on the trip.  We spent some wonderful time visiting in their hotel room with Myra and Diesel forming a wonderful friendship playing on the bed together. Her husband said Diesel reminded him of the military dog he had in the armed forces.  I've written Myra many times to thank her for sharing her knowledge as I know I would have lost several puppies had she not taken the time to teach me her skills.  By day, she is a pediatric emergency nurse.  She found the same skills she used on the job, were of benefit to her as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeder.  So she has taken the time to share her knowledge and I am forever grateful to her!


I've had a few people ask what goes into the formula.  Here it is:


10 oz can of evaporated goats milk (evaporated cow milk will work if you can't find goat)

3 oz of Liver Water (below)

2 raw egg yolks

1 cup whole fat live culture yogurt

1 tbs; of mayo or canola oil

1 dropper full of infant vitamins

One teaspoon of corn syrup


Liver water – Boil a large piece of liver (palm size) in water.  Be sure the liver is well cooked.  Boil liquid down to 1 cup.  Strain the liquid and freeze leftover liquid in ice cube trays and keep in plastic bag.  The liver can be fed to the bitch.  It is not for the pups. 


This formula can also be used to mix with solid food when you are transferring the pups over to "solid" food. (mush)


It is thick enough to avoid aspiration

There is enough yogurt to avoid diarrhea issues that are so common with tubing

There is enough glucose to avoid hypoglycaemia

There is also enough glucose to avoid constipation, common with tubing

There are enough calories to set up a weight gaining pattern immediately

Amino Acids in sufficient quantities to avoid juvenile cataracts

It is high in Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates with vitamins, minerals and iron and designed especially to head off the problems we all seem to have with tubing/handraising babies.



Anyone who needs to bottle feed puppies should keep this recipe.  I've used it successfully for many, many years.


Mary Ann


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Friday, 15 March 2019

Time Saver

With interruptions, it took me 4 hours to weigh and feed the puppies once. I'd say about 30% of that time is warming and rewarming the bottles. I ordered an express bottle warmer and it's finally here! It has a hold warm function so I'm hoping I can feed with one bottle while the other is staying warm. I can only feed 2, maybe 3, puppies at most before the formula gets too cold. If it drops too low the puppy won't even open their mouth for the nipple. Instinct says if it's not warm it's not edible.

Here's hoping without interruptions and adding a bottle warmer my feeding will be a lot more streamlined! I'll let you know how it goes!

This is not an ad and I have no affiliation with the maker.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

I’m so behind on my responses!

I am so sorry that I am so far behind on getting back to you in emails and phone calls. My days are spent cleaning, feeding, making formula, laundry, service dog puppy program, etc. etc. Up until the last two nights I've been up probably 10 to 12 times a night checking on the puppies. They're finally getting big enough now that I don't have to be quite so worried about them.

But now, unfortunately I have to take a few days off. Nothing that I want to do. Has to do with hospitals and good fun like that. So now my communications will be even later. So my sincere apologies please be patient with me.

Thank you everyone for all your congratulatory emails notes and phone calls.

I'll check back in as soon as I can.

Mary Ann

Video clip (hope it comes thru)

Testing to see if I can get short clips onto the blog.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Litter Weight Chart

Every day I weigh every puppy to make sure that they are doing well. You can see they all had their ups and downs but overall they're all doing really well.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019


Tazer is wondering about all the squeaking he's hearing behind the door! Once the pups get older, and if Maya approves, he will be introduced to his kids. The pups will be introduced to the whole pack as they mature. Just as it is in nature; it takes a pack to raise a pup!

Friday, 8 March 2019

The puppies 5 days old

I'm sorry to say we lost Miss Purple a few days ago.  They range in weight from 540-385 grams.  Hard to believe they may end up weight 100 pounds!

Thursday, 7 March 2019