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Chocolate Clan Labradors

To know one is to love one

Blog

For the Love of the Chocolate Clan.

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Clear Bills of Health

Posted by Pat on June 17, 2021 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The first vet visit is always stressful for both the pups and the rest of us. Never know what they may notice or feel or hear that we have not observed. But these guys have no issues. There are no hernia (umbilica that sometimes happen if where the umbical is attached does not close properly), no overbites, no heart murmurs. The boys both have two testicles (so unicordate is not an issue). Some of the girls do have vulvas that are somewhat indented, so I asked Dr. Nowle about this and she said not to worry about them at this stage, as they are still growing and they can totally change with age. 


As well as their wellness check, the pups each was micro-chipped. The contact info at this stage is mine, but as the pups go home, I will have that changed over to the new family.


The pups were vaccinated with Nobivac DAPPV, which is their first shot against canine distemper, adenovirus type1 and type2, canine parainfluenza and canine parvovirus. This vaccination should be repeated in about 4 weeks (definitely before 6 weeks, and aim for July 15) when they will get bordettela as well, and then 4 weeks later should get their 3rd booster and their rabies shot.  They have not been vaccinated for rabies. The rabies vaccination cannot be given until the pup is at least 12 weeks old. After those next two visits, the pup hopefully will not need to go to the vet for a year. (However, accidents do happen, like Hope getting into her Grandma Kassey's gabapentin at 10 weeks of age.) Do not take your pup to dog parks or other areas where they may be exposed to unvaccinated dogs before they have all three shots. Not everyone vaccinates or keeps their vaccinations up to date, so do not put your pup at risk.


For those who watch the live video, I was going on about yellow no longer being the lightest. Then I double checked with the vet office, and indeed they had transposed the numbers. Yellow is still the smallest pup at 4.5 kg; Pink and Mauve both weigh 4.8 kg; Teal weighs 5.08 kg; Silver is 5.2 kg; Red is 5.4 kg; Orange is 5.59 kg; Green is 5.6 kg; and our biggest pup is now Gold at 5.73 kg. For comparison purposes Abbey was 5.6 kg at 7 weeks. At 6 weeks, Hope was 4.68 kg, Maggie was 5.24 kg and Grace was 5.8 kg.


So I hope the clean bill of health sets everyone's mind at ease. There is no reason to pick one pup over another based on their health. Dr. Nowle did put them down as 5.5 for body score, but she said that was just to indicate that these were well fed, chunky lab pups that have not suffered from any malnutrition.

Selecting your puppy

Posted by Pat on June 16, 2021 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

So this week we hope to have all the puppies selected. You have had a chance to watch them grow. I hope you have been able to join our Private Facebook group Chocolate Clan where I have been posting live videos (Uncut) of the pups. As well I have tried to post as many pictures as possible, although there is a limit to my photography skills, and it is a very time consuming process to select and resize each picture (again my lack of photographic knowledge). 


For the boys, selection has been a pretty easy process as there were only two, and I think they are each going to the type of family where they will fit in. Orange is Mister in your face and he will suit an active family cause he has lots of action. Red is a little more laid back, and willing to follow not initiate. He is going to a family where he will get a lot of positive reinforcement that will bring out the best in him.


Now for the girls: They are all loving and smart. So on the cuddle scale (I think of this as the submissive scale as well, as these are the pups who are willing to be picked up and cuddled): Pink and Mauve are my most cuddly pups. I love to pick up either of these two girls because I am assured of kisses. Also they are the easiest to handle. The least cuddly are Silver and Yellow, although both love attention. The inbetween pups are Green, Gold and Teal. So this does not mean Silver and Yellow are not sweet girls, but just that they would rather be down on the ground investigating or interacting with their pals. Silver and Yellow want to be in the thick of things. On the Independence scale (also a measure of their startle response), there is no doubt that Silver and Yellow are willing to try things, and are willing to run towards noises to investigate rather than run and hide (although all the pups still run away from the vacuum, so go figure). These are the smartest of our pups, willing to learn on their own. Gold and Teal are in the middle, and it depends on the situation whether they are on their own and investigating or following. This is one where Green falls in with Pink and Mauve. Green, despite her size, startles easily and would rather run away than see what's happening. However, because of her size, she has been able to develop her stair skills more rapidly than Pink and Mauve. Both Pink and Mauve are willing to learn, they just need encouragement. Yesterday was a breakthrough for Pink in the yard. She negotiated the steps several times, and once down was on her own exploring. It was exciting to see that development. So there is no wrong choice here. Each girl is lovely. But if you do not have the time or skill to invest in training, then Silver and Yellow will be more than willing to teach themselves (however, they also could develop bad habits so you do have to watch for that). However, they are also very smart so will be the most likely to respond positively to training, so would be your best service, obedience, or gun dogs. Also if you do not have time for training, then Green, Pink and Mauve are probably not for you. These girls are going to need an investment of your time to bring out the best in them. They will respond very well to positive reinforcement training. That leaves Gold and Teal, my middle of the pack girls. These two will be the middle of the pack, for training needs, and response to training.  As far as size is concerned, it is never set in stone, as sometimes pups lag behind because they are not highly competitive at the food bowl or on Mom. However when I look at PInk and Yellow, they have the same small features that Hope had as a Pup. So for those two I expect them to stay smaller. Green and Gold are the big pups, and while I would not expect them to be huge, there is no doubt they might end up being 70 lb adults (similar to their Great Aunt Grace). Silver, Mauve and Teal look like they might be slightly larger, more like their Aunt Abbey. While Abbey is still small (55 lb) she has the potential to be bigger (because of her stature) as she matures (I expect her to put on another 5 lbs or so over the next year).

Each pup has the potential to be a loyal and loving companion. There are no wrong choices in that department. You might want cuddly rather than smart, but that does not mean your pup is dumb, just that you will have to invest time in training. You might want smart rather than cuddly, but that doesn't mean you won't have a lap dog that wants to give you kisses and wags their tail when you come home nor does it mean that you should not invest time in training. Training (whether on your own or at a class) develops your bond and understanding of your pup. It is what makes a great Dog.

Week 6

Posted by Pat on June 16, 2021 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Hard to believe in 2 weeks the pups will be going home. We have continued to have a few visitors, and introduced the freedom of the deck. They love to run or hop, and are so happy to be outdoors.


A few questions have arisen about food, grooming etc. so I though I would try to answer them in a blog so everyone can get the information.


Food: We have been feeding the pups Purina Proplan Chicken and Rice. We are still soaking it, but keep reducing the amount of water we add. The pups seem to like to eat from one bowl, so I have not introduced individual bowls. Seems like a waste of time at this point, as even when I spread them out, they all end up at the same bowl. It all gets eaten so they are migrating. The pups are getting about 1 1/3 cups of food aday. The recommended feeding amount at 6 weeks to 3 months is 1 1/4 to 2 cups of food aday. The smaller amount would be for your smaller females (50 lb), while the larger amount would be your larger males (70 lb). While we feed Purina, we recommend any good or premium puppy food for your pup (up to 18 months), as there are many on the market. It is important that the crude protein for growth is minimum of 22.5% and fat 8.5%. Calcium content should range from 1.2% to 1.8%. Excess calcium can have a detrimental effect. The Calcium to phosphorus ratio should range from 1:1 to 2:1. While there is no established evidence of risks associated with high protein diets, there has been some reported heart-related problems due to excess protein in the diet.  While raw has many benefits, there are risks associated with pathogens when the raw meat thaws. So if you want to feed raw, please have an area that can be santized easily and wash bowls after every meal. If for some reason your pup is refusing food, please watch them carefully, as this is the first sign of sickness in a pup. It will not hurt them to go without food for 24 hrs, if it is a gastro-intestinal issue. But if vomitting and diahrea occurs, take to the vet as it is possible as it may be something more sinister. Parvo is the biggest fear. Although your pup will be vaccinated on June 17, it does take time for full effectiveness. 


Grooming:

Ears: Clean ears every month with a product recommended by your vet. Once they shake it out, then gently wipe out the gunk with cotton balls. You will find out if your dog has an issue with dirty ears pretty quickly. Of the four dogs we currently have, two have ear issues and two do not. We only clean if necessary, and in the summer if there has been alot of swimming.

Teeth: Use an enzymatic toothpaste. Please do not use a human toothpaste, as they often contain flouride that is toxic to dogs, and dogs do not spit out. As for a toothbrush, as a pup you can use you finger, or get a finger brush. We have used a child's size toothbrush with soft bristles. You can get dog toothbrushes (centre in picture), but we just use any soft bristled adult toothbrush. The more often you can brush the better. (If we can get it done more than once a week, we consider it a good week.)

Nails: Some dogs need to be taken to a groomer to have their nails trimmed. Some dogs live on concrete or take lots of walks on concrete so wear their nails down naturally. Otherwise, take the time to trim your pups nails once a week if you have kids (to prevent scratches), or once a month as the pup ages. I use the type of clipper in the picture. It is fairly easy to use, just clip off the tip until you see white. That is the start of the quick. If you cut off too much you will cut the quick and it will bleed (dogs bleed profusely). If it bleeds, you can use stop-quick or baking soda. The pups have five nails on their front paws as their dew-claws were not removed. They have four nails on each of their rear paws.

Coat: Brush as needed. We find there is a significant shed in the spring and one again in the fall. During that period we use a fine tined brush to get out the undercoat too (see pictures). It is not unusual during the shed to get four or five brushfuls of hair, every day.  So you are either brushing or vacuuming, it's your choice. As for bathing, we only do it if they get into something like a skunk (dead or alive). There are dog shampoos and anti-skunk shampoos. We have opted for baby shampoos as least hard on the coat. For skunk, we google the hydrogen peroxide/baking soda/dish detergent formula, and it works. It is important to remember that labs have a good double coat, and that stripping oils will cause skin and flaking issues. When wet, they usually take about an hour to dry, however, in very cold weather, do not bathe and then go outside for a long period of time. Let them dry for at least 24 hours to ensure the insulation effect of their coat is maximum.


Hardware:

Collars: Have one or two. We like to use martindale collars for training. These are the collars with the chain, that tighten when the dog pulls. So the idea is that the collar is generally loose around the neck, but when the dog pulls it tightens to the size of their neck, creating pressure (but not choking). The pressure is a feedback that they are pulling and should come to heel. The downside to the martindale, is that when you have multiple dogs, the chains can get caught together and may cause issues. We have never had any issues with martindale collars. The other type of collar is the flat collar. These are also good for training. The downside to them is they have to be on tight enough that the dog does not slip out of them. Getting loose from a collar can be an issue for dogs that are just learning to obey commands, or who are fearful.


Leashes: Best by far is a flat, 6 foot leash with a nice handle and an easy to release clasp. Kong makes one that has another handle down about two feet. This leash is by far the most versatile we have every had, as when meeting other dogs, there is that handle to pull back on if lunging occurs. Rope and retractible types get  tangled too easily (in storage, or when there are more than one dog around). A long flat 30 foot leash can also come in handy for training at distance. PLEASE always leash your pup when out of your yard until you know that his/her recall is absolute or you are in a dog park where it is safe to be off-leash. 


Bowls: Labradors are messy drinkers, and they love water. So always have water available, but ensure your bowl does not tip over. It didn't take long for our nursery to be flooded by pups taking the flat sided water bowl for a walk! Feeding bowls can be either plastic or metal (but just know that if it is plastic, it will be chewed unless you take it up right after feeding time.)


Crate: all pups should have a crate big enough for their adult size. Then you should spend time training your family that this is the pup's safe zone and where he/she can go to rest. Alway treat your pup for entering the crate, and big rewards for staying in the crate. Start the pup out at a few seconds, and build up. Eventually the pup should be able to stay in the crate for hours without incidents or compaints. Although all pups will whine if they know they are missing something exciting. The pups have been exposed to both metal and solid sided crates, but have not really been crate-trained. Some pups like to go into the crates already for naps. We cover our wire crates with a blanket so there is less stimulation and it is more of a cave for the dog, however your pup may be fine without one.


Vaccinations and vet visits: They seem expensive but can reduce the risk to your pup and yourselves. Your pup will have its first set of vaccinations, but will need a booster in a month (So about July 14.) Also the rabies vaccination can only happen when the pup is older. Your vet may recommend neutering/spaying as early as 6 months. However, the longer you wait, the more time growth plates have to mature and the sturdier your dog will be. For females, waiting for at least a year is highly recommended. Although there may be a heat cycle, one cycle should not greatly increase the risks associated with cancer. However, if you live in an area with lots of intact males, you may wish to spay earlier as the risk of an unwanted pregnancy may warrant it. It would be highly unlikely for these girls to go into their first heat cycle before 18 months, based on their family history, but not impossible if there are intact males around. We also use Heartgard once a month for worms and Nexgard for the six months of April to October for tick control (your area may be different). Dosage depends on size of the dog.








Week 5

Posted by Pat on June 11, 2021 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Best week ever. The first week the pups got to go outside. And the weather was so cooperative: warm. And then the pups also got to meet some of our forever families. I do not like to take pictures of our families due to internet privacy and safety of the pups as they move out into the world. Therefore there are fewer pictures on visitor days (Like Days 30 and 31). As well I am finding that by doing the live-feed on Facebook, I am not picking up the camera as often to take static pictures. So for those families who want more pictures, especially of specific pups, please let me know and I can do Photoshoots of the pups.


The first day outside was pretty stressful for the pups. They were kind of hesitant at first. As well because of the gating, the pups could see Mom, but just not get to her. We did try the pool, but it just did not keep Orange contained once he got used to it again. So First week outside visits were contained by the corral. (see photos starting on Day 29)


I do try to remove collars every night. Without supervision, it is just a safety issue. Don't want any of the pups to get tangled up in something, or with each other. Although they have pretty good vocal capacity now, and I am sure I would be up in a minute, it is just something I do. Therefore the ears are still being painted so we can tell who is who. And despite our efforts to feed them all the same, Pink, Yellow and Mauve are still our little ones, and Green and Orange the Big ones (see photo on Day 35 for weights). The pups were being pretty active so these weights are not that highly accurate. Still it tells us that the pups are gaining weight. The weights are about the same as our 2019 litter when we fed Purina ProPlan (large breed rice and chicken, the same as this year), but slightly lower that probably reflects Hope's milk production. Hope has been a very attentive Momma, but there is no doubt that having to reduce her calorie intake due to the Colitis, has affected her output. The pups are much lighter than our 2017 litter when we fed Acana Large Breed Puppy. Hope was a 2017 litter pup, so even having a higher weight in the beginning, has not affected her adult weight, of about 55 lb.  While we have been trying to reduce the moisture in the kibble, the pups are not very enthused about it. So we are keeping it moistened for now.


Week 4

Posted by Pat on June 2, 2021 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Well the week was full of changes for the pups. On May 23 they moved from their natal nursery (the pool), to the big nursery. This change is equivalent to moving the baby from its crib to its toddler bed. It usually makes the pups look very small, but I did a design change this time, with the kennel/crates beside each other and then just a small area under the table and towards the crates as their bedding area. The rest is paper. In theory at least, the pups should not poo or pee in their eating/resting area, so should only go on the paper. They are 80% there, but a few odd mistakes get made especially in the pee department. 


Our other big development was they finally got big enough to wear their collars. These are small collars, and we hope they will still fit so we can send them home in them. Collars and blankets can be their security as they transition to their new homes. The blankets can get washed over and over, but should still have some residual smells of the litter and Mom, their safety group for their first 8 weeks of life. The collars will even smell better, cause who knows how dirty they are going to get. However, they will not fit for that long after two months, so if you are buying a new collar for your pup, the next size up is medium. 


And just another small indication of how much bigger they are getting, is on May 25, I broke down and started feeding them in two pans. Still gruel, but spread out so there is room for all. As well I try to put the little and less dominant pups on one pan, so they can get their fare share, something that may not happen on the nipple especially now that Hope stands, and it is a long way up for the little ones.


Big enough for collars, makes puppy identification in pictures so easy.



Big enough to need two feeding pans.



The upscaled nursery. 


Week 3

Posted by Pat on May 26, 2021 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Exhaustion.What a week. Hope developed Diahrea and vomiting. She would not eat. We had to rule out infections to her mamary glands and uterus, as there are so many possibilities with a new Mom. Luckily, her blood work and x-rays came back clean, so the the vet decided that the answer to her diahrea and vomiting was colitis. So we had to cut her back from 15 cups of puppy food a day, to a mixture of rice and wet I/D (Hill's). We fed 1/2 a cup ten times a day. Small meals, but lots of them. After three days we gradually increased the amount of I/D to rice. After 5 days we began substituting the rice with puppy food. The good news is she has milk and is trying to feed her puppies.


And what a week it has been for the puppies. They continue to grow and thrive. Eyes are wide open. They are eating gruel. They can hear now. And I have decided to paint ears as the paint on their paws is not sticking (new formulas I suppose). Soon enough they will fit those collars.

Pups eating gruel Day 19



Hope not feeling well, Maggie checking the pups (Day 19)


Gold Girl with ears down, eyes open and using her voice (day 16)

  

Week 2

Posted by Pat on May 24, 2021 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

As I write this on May 24, Week 2 seems so long ago, and so much has passed since then. But Week 2 was so important. It was the week when the pups really came into the world, as their eyes and ears opened. And they learned how to walk. These were major milestones on their road to becoming pups that can go to their forever families.


Hope continued to be a diligent mama, feeding and cleaning her family. While she changed from never leaving them, to visiting them regularily, it offered the pups time to rest and grow.

Eyes opening Day 13



Day13 


Day 8

Week 1

Posted by Pat on May 9, 2021 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

So happy to have had a good first week. With a new mother, it is always a marvel at how so much of what she does is pure instinct. Just up to the humans to keep things clean and warm. And of course, keep Hope fed.  She is up to 12 cups of puppy food with additional wet food a day.The demands of nine pups is pretty high. To keep the whelping pool warm, we regularly place hot water bottles around the edges of the pool. These also help the pups not get crushed when Hope slides in to feed them. Or falls asleep in the pool and rolls over. For the first few days, like all Moms, Hope stayed in the whelping room 24/7 except for nature call breaks. By a week, she has become much less enthusiastic about staying in the room.  However, she is in there about 50% of the time. As the weeks progress, Hope will spend less and less time with the litter.


For those of you who are new to how we do things to keep you informed, we would just like to let you know that we paint paws at birth. Then we keep repainting so we can follow the pups until they go to their forever homes. Once the pups are bigger, we do put collars on them to reflect their paint colour so it is easier to transition in following them. Once they are bigger we also do not paint as often. For the first couple of weeks, the pups are weighed daily to ensure they are gaining weight as expected. Some days they gain alot and some not so much, because weighing a moving pup is more difficult than you might expect. You will also notice the colourful blankets, that also reflect the colours of the pups. These were new blankets and one will go home with each pup. The idea is to get the scents of their Mom and litter mates imbedded into the fabric, so they will have this for comfort as they transition to their "furever" homes. And yes they will get peed and pooed upon, and that is just part of the scenting process. We will wash them regularily. At this time we do not have collars for gold girl and orange boy. Also missing some of the blanket colours. But we can always just send one of the girls blankets, as we still use Maggie's, Hope's and Abbey's blankets for the pups.


Over the next week, we will be expecting the pups to open their eyes. Yes right now, you can see from the photos, all eyes are closed. Also their ears are closed too. So their only senses are smell and sensation. They really hate the smell of the nail polish we use to paint their paws. But it sure has been an effective way to watch them grow.


Also I would like to apologize for the lack of videos on You-Tube. Policies have changed, and my software is no longer accepted for direct transfers. So just when I get one IT issue figured out, another arises. If you are an Instagram follower, I can try to do a live feed every day. Perhaps Puppy Families can email or text me when the best time will be for a live Instagram video. They are usually only a minute or two long. Although once we get outside, it can be longer and more times a day. 

The Arrival

Posted by Pat on May 5, 2021 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The pups arrived on May 1. Two boys and seven girls. The pups arrived a couple of days later than the stud breeder suggested and five days earlier than the vet, so I guess they were just right. Hope had a relatively easy time of it. The pups were all healthy and are thriving. We are all sleep deprived.


The Countdown

Posted by Pat on April 22, 2021 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Today, April 21, was the big day to do the first puppy count!


Why? Well it helps us to know how many pups to expect on whelping day. If there are fewer than four, then we might opt for a pre-planned c-section as some or all of the pups might be too big for natural birthing. If it is more than ten, then we might also plan for a c-section as a very large litter can lead to complications with uterine inertia. 


So how many do you count? 


The vet thinks 8 or 9. You need to count skulls and backbones. So that is right in the ballpark for a good natural birth.  See you back in two weeks, when we hope to show you each of these pups out in the real world.


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