Chocolate Clan Labradors

To know one is to love one

For the Love of the Chocolate Clan.

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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


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.

Tex, you're going to be a Dad

Posted by Pat on April 9, 2021 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (0)

It is always so exciting to confirm a pregnancy. On April 6, we took Hope in for her ultra-sound, and Dr. Skylar Bieleny was able to confirm that she is pregnant. Which is good, because she is starting to look a bit chunky and we were wondering if we were feeding her way to much food LOL. From the looks of things there are many puppies, as he was able to see five for sure, with little effort. 

Now it is time to start looking for forever families. Please send us a message through our contact page if you are interested in a pup from this litter. Or if you have any questions about the litter, the application process, the pricing or just labs in general.

An application is required. On this form you will put all your contact information so we can make sure to get your pup properly registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. This registration is your passport, that will allow you to know the heritage of your pup, can be used to sign up for CKC events (showing, competitions), and ownership (so should your pup become lost or stolen, you will have proof of ownership). The application also allows me to assess you goals and needs when getting a pup (do you want a sporting/hunting companion, a laid-back stay at home dog, or a raring to go hiker).

A deposit is required. A dog in your life for 15 plus years is a big committment. Is this the right time? Have you discussed with your family? Have you thought about what will happen post-Covid19? We are making the deposit rather substantial this year ($500 Cnd), because we want people to really think before they jump. Pups are really cute, but can be destructive especially when teething, and without training or activities to keep minds busy. The deposit is non-refundable, except in the unfortunate circumstance that an accident or disease happens with the litter, which we sure hope does not.

The pick list is the list of puppy families that we create on a first come basis (based on approval and receipt of deposit). One list for males and the other for females. It is possible that it could be an all male or all female litter. All pups are expected to be chocolate based on their parentage. Starting around 5 to 6 weeks we will be asking families to list their preference for pups. We mark each pup at birth with a colour, and you will be able to track their progress. As well I will help you chose based on your requirements (ie if you are going to be competing in scent trials, I will suggest the pups with the best noses; if you are into agility, the pups that are fastest on their feet; if you want a more quiet family member, I will point out those pups). Please note that at 8 weeks it is hard to tell exactly what these pups will be like, and it is possible that you can quiet an excited pup by being a quiet family and vice versa. We do expect based on their parents that all the pups will be very intelligent and highly trainable. Based on you place in the pick list, you may not get your first choice, but you will get a solid, healthy, and wonderful pup.

Final word: We expect these pups to arrive between April 29 (earliest and highly unlikely) and May 7 (latest and will be by this date). We did not do progesterone during the week that Hope was with Tex so do not know exactly when Hope ovulated (generally pups arrive 63 post ovulation) but I feel the pups will arrive on May 5.


Posted by Pat on March 27, 2021 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Every breeding is a time of anticipation. Even though there is only a nine week pregnancy, and pups stay with us for eight weeks, we do a lot of planning and background work prior to each litter. This work is like home renovations, you don't see it and it does not make the house look any better, but it does make the home a better place to live. It is also sometimes the most expensive part of the process. So what I am speaking about are the health clearances and finding a stud dog with the same. These clearances are identified by breed associations as being health concerns within the breed, that can be identified through phenotyping and genotyping. For the Labrador Retriever, screening of Hips, Elbows, eyes (opthamologist screening), Exercise induced collapse (EIC), and dilute gene, are currently desired. Desired but not required are screening for centronuclear myopathy (CNM), prcd-PRA (adult onset blindness), and cardiac exams. We also have to ensure our girl is free from Brucella prior to breeding. 

Our new Dam is Hope. She is now over 3 years old. She has excellent hips, and is free from other defects. She does however carry the prcd-PRA gene, so although she will never go blind, she may pass this gene to half of her progeny. That is why we found a male who does not carry this gene, so none of the pups will be affected. However, half of the pups may be carriers, so if you plan on breeding your pup sometime down the line, you need to check for this gene, and make plans accordingly. We can do genetic tests on the pups if needed. 

Let's talk a bit about the sire. Duxbac Prairiestorm Vortex. We had to find a Canadian sire this time due to Covid restrictions for travel to the USA. However, we have been looking at the Saskatchewan chocolates for a few years now. Some really fine males over there. We had picked a male from Prairiestorm last time for the 2019 litter, but when we double checked the pedigrees decided the lineages were too close. That took us over to the eastern side of the province and the two males that Kristy at Oaklane Retrievers has. Both are fine boys, but we decided on Tex as he had a softer personality and is a slightly smaller dog. As this was Hope's first breeding, it is always nice if things go smoothly and the male was not too large as she is smaller. From what Kristy told us, Tex and Hope got along fine and had three matings.

So now we wait. Hope does not look pregnant. But as it is a very rapid gestation, we don't expect her to look pregnant until 6 or 7 weeks. And how big she gets will depend on the size of the litter. Maggie never did look pregnant with her first litter of eight. We will do an ultra-sound at 5 weeks, and if it shows fetuses, will do an x-ray at 7 or 8 weeks. These are more for our sake, so we can make plans, and get information out to people. The x-ray is important so we will get a rough count. If there are fewer than 4 pups, we would elect for a c-section, as pups would get very big and be an issue for a first-time Mom. And if there are more than 10 pups, it could be an issue to get them all out alive and without Mom having problems with uterine inertia.


Wrapping up the litter

Posted by Pat on December 15, 2019 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

After all the pups but Abby had been sent to their new homes, we took a week off to rest.  My full intention on returning home was to get the last of the puppy pictures posted, and give an update on registrations with the Canadian Kennel Club. But then the most horrific thing happened. Tucker was lost at 12 weeks old. Further investigation has led us to believe he was stolen. As sad as the latter is, at least it gives us hope that perhaps Tucker is living his puppy life somewhere out there with a new family. And maybe someday, for some odd reason, he will be scanned, and his new family will return him to his First Forever Family.

So this is not to be a rant against the thievery that is occurring in central Alberta. But this is to be a reminder to all my families of the importance of keeping your pup and dogs safe. And to have a plan if your pup and dogs are lost or stolen. Have the following:


  • Pictures of your dog: front, side, standing, sitting, and any distinguishing features.
  • Make posters: and put them everywhere; schools, shopping centres, neighbours. Plaster them where-ever you can. Someone saw something.
  • Post it on the internet: kijiji and facebook; sadly for the latter there are hundreds of groups
  • Keep checking: get your information to local shelters, and do a weekly check-back. Shelters run on volunteers, so the person who took your information may not be the person who recovers your dog.
  • If possible: use that tattoo series I suggested on your bill of sale and get your pup/dog tattooed. A tat is a visible sign that is unique to your dog because so many chocolate labradors look alike. And it only takes about a week with lots of treats to teach a dog a new name, so don't count on a thief not to rename your dog.
  • Keep handy the following: your bill of sale, vet bills, grooming bills, and your registration. If you have to involve the police or a rescue organization, you will have to be able to prove that this is your dog. Memorize your microchip number: but do not post it, as it gives theives and scammers power.
  • Let us know and we will try to help.