Friday, August 28, 2009

The puppy puzzle...

Dear MA Beagle

Thanks for putting us up over night.
You had warned us that everything chewable had to be put out of puppy reach to prevent further damage to your pristine home.
You hadn't mention their juggling skills and this is why I am still totally mystified by their farewell trick.

Early the next morning I quietly opened my bedroom door to avoid a boisterous welcome and to my surprise, no puppies.
To my even bigger surprise they had left evidence of their incredible juggling skills..... a grey cardboard container for eggs had been torn to tiny shreds and scattered about the carpet, but the six eggs had remained intact !

The carton of eggs was taken off the kitchen table, carried along a tiled floor and down to the bedroom wing, The mystery of how a beagle puppy managed to do this remains.......................

Mystified Mom.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Out of the woods...

Jemma came home yesterday looking a bit woozy and hang dog. In the evening she began to get the shakes.
So I gave her some gentle Tellington TTouch, particularly on the ears which apparently helps if your dog is in pain or shock. I wrapped her up in a blanket and she settled down.

She has a shaved tummy revealing lots of large freckles and a remarkably small incision so she will not be scarred for life.
Jamie was not quiet sure what to make of it all. He tried barking at her to encourage her to play but she snapped at him to shut up.
The poor chap also had it a bit rough. He gets car sick and
I was not sure whether I would be travelling home with two nauseous dogs vomiting on my car's back seat.
The vet recommended a homeopathic product with cocculus indicus for this problem.
He was also rather stressed at having his scrotum thoroughly probed and prodded for his missing testicles. They are still deep undercover.
However the next day Jemma was much better and ate a hearty breakfast! So hopefully she is on the mend and will soon forget yesterday's events.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jemma is under the knife...

Jemma looked unusually subdued at 7.00am when we left for the vet for her sterilisation op.

I was very matter of fact about taking my first female beagle to be spayed but this time I felt a sense of guilt and regret. Both Jemma and I had a very disturbed sleep. I could hear her moving around restlessly at all hours of the night. Did she know something was up or was that my imagination?

She was whisked off to surgery whilst I anxiously asked the vet a whole lot of questions.

How should I prevent her stitches being pulled out or an infection if she played boisterously with Jamie? Would she need pain killers or tranquillisers? The vet was obviously used to dealing with neurotic mothers. She reassured me that Jamie would sense Jemma was off colour and that she would bounce back remarkably quickly. And no she would not need long term pain killers. The brochures advise one to check the incision daily for signs of infection and not bath or allow one's dog to swim for at least ten days.
So Jamie and I will be setting off later today to pick Jemma up. I want the vet to check for any sign of his missing balls (And I hope my baby girl will be OK)!

Monday, August 10, 2009

To breed or not to breed...

In the beginning I had dreams about breeding cute little puppies. But then I began to learn about some of the hard realities of being a proper breeder. Dog breeding is complex, time consuming, expensive, requires expert knowledge and is not necessarily profitable. It is also full of pit falls.

The most difficult part is the huge anxiety about whether your puppies are going to loving, dedicated and knowledgeable caretakers.

Then I let all the compliments about Jemma's great temperament and what a perfect breeding dog she was, go to my head. Even my breeders (from whom one needs permission to breed with their puppies) encouraged me to think about it.

But she can come into heat anytime between 6 and 8 months. If Jamie as a result of his problem testicles can only be neutered after 9 months, there is a distinct possibilty that an accident might happen. The consequences could be disastrous as one should not breed with a female until she is at least two years old. Otherwise one is endangering her health and even her life. Everything was becoming a bit complicated.

But the truth of the matter is that if I breed, I really want to be a good breeder.

I will need plenty of time, energy, patience, finance and knowledge about how to produce well bred and well behaved puppies. It's not just about genes, its also about understanding the early learning period of pups and how this will influence their future behaviour. I think one has a responsibility to hand over not only a healthy puppy but one that has been well socialised.

So until I am ready and able to do that, breeding is not an option.

Jamie's secret outed. He's got no balls...

It's that time when all owners with puppies of six months or so have to decide whether to neuter or spay. Unless you are a serious breeder there is really no option. But my fellow puppy mothers are debating about who will be the one to take their precious bundle to the vet and become forever vilified as the person responsible for the loss of vital bits and pieces.

The problem is that Jamie's has no balls to chop off! At least they are still not visible at the very late stage of 6 months. The vet has warned me that the fact that his testicles have not dropped could lead to serious medical complications. His testicles will continue to grow inside the abdominal area and put pressure on his internal organs. So they must be removed in an operation that will be more complicated than a straight forward neutering.

The behaviourist advised me to wait until he was at least 9 months because dogs go through a fearful period between 7 and 8 months. And the vet said that we should wait as long as possible so that his testicles grow bigger and are therefore easier to find during the operation.

Poor old Jamie. There is no alternative. Off with his balls!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Panic in the Park...

It was bound to happen - a panic attack in the park.

Jamie was separated from me by a group of dogs and people. Disorientated, he headed off like a bullet in the opposite direction and disappeared from sight. Having been through this before with my previous dogs, I did not panic...yet.

I have been slowly introducing my dogs to different parks graduating from the one at home to bigger and bigger public parks. Today was the first day we were trying out a park with wide open spaces.
Everything had been going well until Jamie spooked.

Various other dog walkers said they thought they'd seen him heading back down the hill. So Jemma and I backtracked whilst I blew the red whistle at regular intervals.

Thank goodness for the red whistle. In my younger days, I could run faster and shout louder. But now there was no way I could keep up with a sprinting beagle. Eventually he must have zoned into the sound of the whistle as I spotted him coming back. We met up at the bottom of the hill and I did a few TTouch movements on his body to calm him. We slowly climbed the hill again.

Eventually the sight of people and other dogs cheered Jamie up and he was back to his usual self running ahead and exploring with zest.

So what are the lessons I learnt?
  1. Always keep your dogs attached to you by a mental elastic band. Use your voice and treats to keep them coming back to you before they range too far and break the elastic band (use the red whistle when they start to go too far).

  2. Sometimes sound is not enough to orientate your dog. It took a while for Jamie to pin point exactly where the sound of the whistle was coming from. So now I am going to use large flapping motions of my arms in association with the whistle so that my dogs can see and hear me (Do not laugh if you see me in your local park blowing a whistle and flapping my arms like a large ungainly bird. There is method in the madness).

  3. It helps to park in the same, safe place every time you go to a park, so that if your dogs do get lost, hopefully they will head for the car.
Your puppies are bound to get lost a couple of times before they learn not to range too far from you. So don't panic!