Friday, December 31, 2010

Actual Conversation

hears ruffling sound

"Ruffian, are you being bad?"

I get up and tip-toe toward the tv room. Ruffian sees me, and greets me in the hall with her jazz-hands specialty, up on her hind legs, reaching out with her front paws. She dances.

"Yes, yes, I am! I am bad to the bone!"

She dances more, she leaps, she bounces, she turns circles, all standing up on her hind feet, she can't bear it, and she taps her paws on my legs. 

"I am! I am! Bad, bad, bad dog! 

All bad, no good, just bad to the boowwne!"

"Grrrr!!! Rrrrr! Rrwwwwhuhhhhh!"

"Bad to the bone! Bone?"
She collapses to the floor and wriggles on her back, all paws in the air.

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, belly rubs!"

And that's how we roll around here. Belly rubs to you all! 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The No-Snowday Pictures

Blackthorn's Musket, 11 months
Musket controls the ball ... with the power of his mind!!!!


Outlaw, Musket, Obsidian
Outlaw <3 Musket

Thursday, December 9, 2010

News and Gratuitous Oda

Gratuitous Oda picture... isn't she pretty!

Back in early November, I sent off DNA swabs on five of my dogs to test for the gene for Degenerative Myelopathy.

There is some anecdotal information swirling around that the DM test for GSDs isn't very reliable--some dogs tested clear have shown up with problems that certainly look like DM. And other dogs who show two copies of the suspect gene have never had any DM-like problems. These are not widespread contradictory cases, but that they exist at all implies that the full genetic story has not been revealed for DM in GSDs.

For a long time, I resisted doing the DM testing because of this reliability problem. Finally, though, I decided that what the test did was give me information.

And it is up to me to gather as much information as possible before doing a breeding--it is up to me to try to apply that information in ways that will increase the likelihood of sound puppies with long, healthy lives. And if the DM test can help me avoid having even one puppy whose body starts failing at 5 or 6 years old, if it can prevent one family and one dog from having to live with that misery, then the DNA testing will be worthwhile.

So, in the absence of symptoms (in parents or the dogs themselves), I decided to treat the test results as both informative and useful--at the least, the genes tested for are likely involved in the inheritance of the problem in GSDs, even if we later find out that it's necessary to look at other factors as well.

Well, the good news is that every of my tested dogs came up clear, carrying none of the suspect alleles. So, Nike, Coal, Danca, Hunter, Jubilee, and Xita all came up clear.

And because both parents (Coal and Danca) are clear, then I know that Lynx and Macha and Musket do not--cannot--have the genes for this problem.

Gratuitous Oda picture #2 (with a rear end of Macha) --doesn't Oda look a lot like Outlaw?
For the O puppies, I know that they are in the absolute worst case "unaffected carriers" -- which means that even if they did get the gene from their dad (who may or may not have any genes for this problem), they should never be affected. So, for the O puppies, it would be a good idea to test any individual who is going to be bred, but there's no point in doing the test until all other health/performance/conformation hurdles are crossed. A dog who comes up with 1 allele (an unaffected carrier) can still be bred--selectively and with care (which is the whole point anyway, no?). In that case, one chooses a partner that has zero alleles (non-carrier), then all of the puppies will be healthy and unaffected, and individual pups can be tested if they are being considered for breeding.

Gratuitous Oda #3
She's so pretty, I can't believe she's one of mine.

Other good news is that I have Xita's AKC registration in hand, and back in early November, I sent off her DNA swab to AKC. (Before registering puppies out of an imported dog, AKC has to have a DNA sample for their records--they don't actually do anything with this sample unless someone challenges the parentage of a puppy somewhere along the line.)

As soon as I get her DNA confirmation, I can register the O litter, and I should be able to send puppy owners the AKC papers within a few weeks of that date (AKC typically has a fast turnaround at the litter registration stage). So, hopefully that will be completed before the new year. Such a long chain of paperwork!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sid and Outlaw

Woe. Woe is me.

I'm working at my desk with one eye and one ear on the puppy behind me.
It's Outlaw, who is growing into a big, sweet, thoughtful girl. I was about to write about how she was gnawing on a blue Wubba skin, but something sounded wrong and I realized that she had my glasses and had thoroughly licked both lenses and was getting ready to test her molars on them.

Outlaw, 5 months

So. Even the good puppy is still all puppy. 

Outlaw and Oda are still almost twins. Outlaw is slightly bigger overall, three pounds heavier at 4.5 months, with larger ears and slightly thicker boning. She's got a bit more tan in her coat, although she's still very red. She's playful and sweet and is incredibly affectionate. She's been known to ask for snuggles and then wriggle her way up, until there I am, holding her in my arms and laughing at her as she kisses my chin.

Outlaw, 5 months
I am still looking for homes for both Outlaw and Obsidian (Sid). I have been sort of sitting on them, a bit, watching how they grow, seeing their personalities develop, learning from them, thinking about what their mom has put into them. This will, hopefully, help me make more informed decisions for breeding Xita in the future. But it's really time for me to find them permanent homes, their own people to love.

What I've seen in both of them is super temperaments--sweet, interactive, loving--and very sound nerves and gorgeous looks. Their conformation is excellent (as in, they would be likely to be able to get a V/Excellent rating as adults)--heavy bone, great shoulder angles, lovely toplines, beautiful heads with large, expressive ears, thick coats, strong pigment.

They are very human oriented--they are clear in letting me know that I am their person and I am important to them and they need their daily quotient of physical affection. While they like to chase and carry things--sticks, balls, tugs, bones, metal bowls, giant buckets, eyeglasses--they are not natural retrievers. They are more inclined to get a toy and play with it near me than to bring me something to play with. They have very good food drive and are extremely trainable. They aren't stubborn or resistant--they want to do things that I want them to do--because I want them to do them. In short, they are both delightful to have around--good company, good looks, and easy to live with.

Sid is much more of a handful. He is 100% boy--galumphy and sweet and demanding and sensitive and pushy and possessive and snuggly and very physical in his enthusiasm and affection. He likes new people, but he watches them. When he is older, I suspect he will be aloof but accepting of strangers--but he will watch out for his person--I can see hints of his protective instincts as he eyes people who walk past the car--not reacting, just watching.

Unfortunately, one of his testicles hasn't descended, so he is only available to a home that doesn't plan to breed. I think he could be a great active companion, but he could also be a nice working prospect. I do think he'll fit best with someone who has had GSDs (or at least, big dogs) before.


He's the one who wakes me up every morning, demanding to go out, warbling and scratching at the door of his crate. He can hardly hold himself still and bounces forward to hit the door then back--he knows the door doesn't open if he's touching it, but it is very hard to be still!

He needs a home with someone who can handle his enthusiasm, his size--his very big sense of self.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Roughousing Around

I always recommend not trying to raise two pups from the same litter. They can so easily become utterly dependent on each other for support and confidence, and you have to work hard to make sure they have sufficient interest in interacting with the human members of their family. So, by and large, Macha and Musket don't hang out together much--usually walked separately and traveling separately and definitely socialized separately.

But every now and then, they get together for a play session or just for a daily walk. Monday they got together for a photo session after not having seen each other in more than a week. It was all hugs and kisses and widespread mayhem.

Mouth hug!
I think this is called an "oh shit" moment.

(with Oda? chasing along behind)