Chocolate Clan Labradors

To know one is to love one

2018 Year in review

Posted by Pat on December 8, 2018 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (1)

A litter of puppies is always years of planning, nine weeks of waiting, and eight weeks of intensity with whelping, growing pups, and finding forever homes. Then there is the aftermath. All of a sudden there is quiet.

Except for 2018. This year we had HOPE!

Hope was one of the littlier, quieter pups from our 2017 litter.  It was one of the reasons we chose her. Were we wrong. To start with we baby-gated her in the kitchen. That way we got to sleep through the night for a couple of weeks....until the cats knocked Kassey's Gabapentin off the shelf and there was that emergency trip to the Animal Hospital. So after Christmas, Hope got banned from the kitchen, and began to sleep with her Grandma.  All fine except she woke us up two or three times a night to go outside.  So after Christmas we got out a kennel and tried to crate train her at night.  Afterall that was what we recommended to all our puppy families. Hah! Now Hope started developing her lungs and barked all the solution was to move her out to the garage in her crate for the night. That worked for us, as we could no longer hear her barking.

As a reward for a good job, Maggie got started on scent training in 2018. We got through the first scent, wintergreen, and got Maggie's certificate from the Sporting Detection Dogs Association. Love that scent as it reminds me of livesavers. Anyway it was a lot of fun, and Maggie was great at it. Also enjoyed participating as a volunteer at some trials. Maggie and I were just not quite ready for them.  We continued training over the summer, but this fall, I just never got organized enough to get us back into it. Maybe after Christmas.

Hope passed her level One for training at Waggles Academy for Dogs. We were not able to continue training there as they no longer let non-spayed or non-neutered canines over the age of six months attend :(. Love Waggles but that meant Hope got sent to boarding school over the summer. Kelsey Boettcher at Alberta K9 accepted the challenge of trying to make Hope into a bird dog.  After three months, Hope got sent home with the proviso, that perhaps next year, she will have matured enough to be steady enough to continue training. So Hope does at least retrieve her rubber duck and is quite good at finding it. Alas the snow came early and that curtailed duck training. So we are back to household obedience.  Somehow have come full circle, as this week Hope was back at the vet receiving charcoal for getting her Grandma's Gabapentin off the shelf and chewing up the bottle. (Hope has learned how to get out of her kennel....we don't know how....but she is back to being crated in the garage in the old metal kennel when no-one is around especially because of her second breakout. Keep on reading.)

We had some scares this past week. Grace has two large lumps in her chest, that we were afraid might be something scary. But Dr. Cindy did her magic needle aspirations, and they are both fatty lumps. Grace also got attacked a week ago by another dog. She got some bites on her muzzle, but did not need stiches. They are still healing up. But just goes to show you, that even the nicest dog can be the victim of an attack. The other scare was with Hope. Two days after the Gabapentin incident, Hope decided to get into my vitamin D. Until that moment, I had no idea that vitamin D could be toxic to dogs. So Dr. Cindy was a little more concerned about this ingestion, and blood and urine work was also done. But because we got Hope in quickly for the usual (induced vomitting and charcoal), there should be no long-term effects.  Except that the counter has now been cleared off, except for the dog bisquits:D.

Next year, we hope to go back to having a litter. Will be a lot less stressful. Ha Ha Ha.


Posted by Pat on August 14, 2016 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (0)

No breeding guarantees puppies. Once again we were disappointed that AI did not take with Maggie. We tried twice with AI, once in the summer of 2016 and then in January of 2017. While we waited until her expected due date, with a little anticipation, we did not expect puppies as her ultrasound showed nothing, and Maggie never acted like she was pregnant. No getting big, no nipple enlargement, no hair loss, and no mellowing. :( We were sad to announce that there was no litter in 2016 and again in 2017.  It is time to go back to a natural breeding.  Hope we can get down to Illinois sometime this summer.

Anticipation 2016

Posted by Pat on June 22, 2016 at 8:20 PM

Well, Maggie's much awaited 2016 cycle has begun. Due to circumstances in Illinois (a litter of pups expected this weekend), We are going to have Maggie bred by Aritificial Insemination (AI).

BIll and Marcia Butikus kindly arranged for a semen collection from Bustin' on Tuesday, and it is on its way to Cedarwood Veterinary Hospital as I type this.

Maggie's first progesteron test was done on Tuesday and it was still baseline (0.8 ng/ml). A second progesterone test will be done on Friday, and then we will see what the results are.  If it has gone up, Ronnel and Dr. Hubbard will decide when to perform the transcervial AI.

Exciting times ahead!

2015 in review

Posted by Pat on January 24, 2016 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Without puppies or major health issues, life can be pretty dull and boring with the clan.  We did start the year with a major concern around Kassey and her nose, but it has turned out to be nothing as a year later she is still okay.  Kassey has now entered the era of OLD GIRL.  Seems like only yesterday she was our puppy.  Now she is her mom, and we are giving her glucosamine and a daily dose of anti-inflamatory to help her joint mobility.  She still loves to go on walks. But with old age she is starting to have difficulty jumping into the car to go on walks, her eyes are starting to cloud over, and she is starting to bark at ghosts. In the fall, Kassey was an active participant in a first aid course for dogs, from "Walks 'N' Wags" Pet First Aid". We learnt that nylon stockings and baby socks can be important first aide tools to keep bandages in place and tails from wagging when hurt.

We were hoping to breed Maggie last fall, but she was so late in the season by the time she was in season, that we missed that opportunity. So we took the Adult Refresher Obedience course from Waggles Academy for Dogs. She did very good in most tasks, but it took three tries for her to do the three minute down without breaking (more than once).  But Shar was patient with us and we did finally do it.  This is great news, as now we can sign up for other types of classes such as massage and scent.  Nothing to much, as I am not able to be too active other than walking.

As for pups, well we will just try again this spring, God willing. :)

Summer of 2015 with the Clan

Posted by Pat on August 16, 2015 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Life has been great. No serious health issues or injuries. Kassey's nasal problem from the winter seems to have subsided. Maggie's itchy coat seems to be settling with steroids and a food change. Grace continues to eat anything that she can reach.

A picture of Browning, a pup from the 2014 litter of Maggie and Bustin'.  He is quite the lad.

Clan Updates February 2015

Posted by Pat on February 22, 2015 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow, thank you to all those who have been sending us pictures. The pups look like they are doing great.Amazing to think that our Maggie produced such a great bunch of pups.  Way to go Girl!

I know that I sent the 2014 puppy families home with six weeks of free pet insurance. I am a bit ambivalent about insurance, as I know that these companies are making money off of me. If I could put my money away rather than give it to them, I should be making the money.  But like most of us, putting aside $50 or so a month for possible future vet bills never gets done. And over the past few months, I have been very grateful that we have had a bit of insurance with PetSecure, to cover some unexpected incidents.

First there was the hole in the side incidents:  Both Maggie and Grace over a period of a week managed to tear holes in their sides.  I posted some pictures of Maggie's hole.  The vet suggested we just let it heal up as it was far enough down her side, and did not penetrate into her body cavity.  It took awhile, but it healed up so nicely there is not even a scar. However, Grace's cut was into some of her shoulder muscles, so we actually had that one sown up. It costs a lot to have emergency surgery even for a minor injury like a tear.  With Secure level 2 and a $300 deductible we were able to get some of the costs covered for these incidents (mainly because we had already covered the deductible for Maggie with all the unexpected costs of a C-section and mastitis with her 2014 litter.) 

We are really hoping that our next misadventure will be covered as well. Kassey has been having a nasal problem (wheezing and snorting) and running eyes since last August. Originally we thought it was associated with an eye injury at the end of July (ran into a stick we think). When we took her for her annual physical in September, the vet did not think it was anything to worry about. And Kassey was not too bad over the October-December period. But IN January it seemed to worsen, so off to the vet we went.  And she thought we should get a specialist to see it, so off to the CARE Centre in Calgary we went. The suspect of course was that she had something lodged in her nasal passage, that could have been anything from a seed to a cancer tumour.  So a couple of thousand dollars later for a CT scan and oncology consult, we are happy to report that there does not seem to be a TUMOUR or any foreign body.  Of course we are no closer to knowing just what the problem is, but sometimes when you rule out the BIG issues, the little ones don't seem too important.  

A Month to Remember

Posted by Pat on July 26, 2014 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be in three different states during the month of July doing three completely different things. It started out in Minnesota attending the North American Barley Researchers Workshop, a wonderful time to drink beer and connect with old colleagues and new ones too. Then it was off to Califonia to support Sarah as she participated in "Dance the Magic", a parade through Disneyland and California Adventure Land. But then the much anticipated heat cycle happened and I was off with Maggie to Illinois!  We had a grand adventure travelling to O'Hare International Airport on WestJet, the closest direct flight I could find to Indianola.  WestJet treated us great, although Maggie was less than enamoured with being separated from me to go into oversized luggage. But she arrived safely in Illinois and back in Calgary.  I was so fortunate to have help along the way with her crate, my luggage, and her.

Our stay with Bill and Marcia Butikas of Blindfaith Retrievers was wonderful.  These people invited us into their home and made us feel both welcome and at home.  They have a wonderful set-up for their dogs. No pretense inside their home, just welcome.  It was a busy place with AD and Bill just having returned from a breeding in Texas. Bill and the boys, Tru and Ten having done a hunt test over the weekend and practicing for another one the next weekend. Several breedings taking place over the week with visitors. And Marcia was keeping it all under control. Wow, it was busy! But their 45 acres in the centre of the corn belt was a treed oasis. Maggie and Bustin did a natural breeding outside under the stars and lit by fireflys. If you were human you could not have asked for a more romantic setting.  

Despite all the travel and wonderful events of July 2014, the month was marked by the saddness of having to say goodbye to Koko. Her life spanned fifteen years, two months, and 21 days.  It was a good long life. She was so intelligent and beautiful.  But injuries and arthritis were taking out her back legs so we had to assist her down and up the stairs. Despite Metacam and Tramadol for pain, she would just stand panting, not wanting to lie down because it hurt so much. It seemed a gust of wind would knock her over and she did not know whether it was worth the effort to get up or just semi-sit where she was. She still loved to eat and go on walks. At the end time, the walks were so short, it took her a long time to get through her bowl of food that she often left, and her tail never went up in joy any more. Knowing we were helping relieve her of pain, did little to relieve our pain in making the decision to let her go. My hope is that she is now enjoying chasing squirrels in the heaven that GOD has made for dogs. Our lives were blessed by having Koko share her years with us.

When is the end time?

Posted by Pat on April 27, 2014 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

We never set out to have a 15 year old dog. We had heard that large dogs die young but that labs could live to 12.  When Koko had cancer at 5, we thought, well let's do what we can to keep her alive for a few more years. They removed as much of the cancer and surrounding tissue as was possible without going into her heart and lungs.  Then we had her x-rayed a few months later to see if enough had been removed to keep it from going to her liver, spleen, etc. She was good to go until about ten when some other lumps appeared.  She was starting to slow down but still going strong, so she underwent another surgery to remove the lumps. One was cancer.

When Koko was 12, we were happy to have kept her alive to the average age of a lab.  But by now she was constantly undergoing some type of crisis. She had pancreatitis, so she was sick, lost weight and we had to put her on a fancy diet. She had old dog disease, was sick, lost weight, and we had to feed her Gravol and pureed food. She had another cancerous lump. She pulled her ACL.  Each time a major issue arose, we were prepared to put her down.  Sure we were crying, but it looked like this was the END.  

We were wrong. The vets told us that she could live through these events if we did A,B,and C.  So we did. But the old girl has forgotten how to let us know she needs to go outside. She paces and she pants. We give her pain killers, and supplements to counteract the negative effects of pain killers. The carpet has been peed on so many times we almost don't care if it gets peed on again. We confine Koko to the kitchen with baby gates. We assist her up and down the outside stairs. We look at her and ask "Are you ready yet?" But she never responds, just gets sadder and sadder to watch.

So where is that point that you know it is time? We have lived through many points that we thought were the TIME. We asked others and they have told us many things. Mostly just that you will know. We don't know anymore. This once proud dog looks so sad, but she does not tell us it is time. We just hope that the sun will finally dry out the backyard, the temperature will warm up, the grass will grow, and we will be able to let her spend her days outside.  And perhaps one sunny day, it will be the time.


Posted by Pat on June 17, 2013 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Well the disappointing end of the 2013 batch of puppies was accompanied by an unexpected incident.  In March we were contacted by the Duran's about Grace, Maggie's sister.  It appeared that Grace was developing juvenile arthritis and would require expensive surgeries or euthanasia.  While we have a refund policy for genetic disorders that we have tested for and feel our girls and studs are free from, juvenile arthritis was a new one for us.  Sure, we know that Labrador Retrieivers are prone to senior arthritis. Koko has suffered for years from senior arthritis.  And that is why we have fed her a good quality food and supplemented with glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). And that is why we are feeding the other girls a good quality food with added glucosamine and supplements.

So I offered to refund the Purchase price to the Durans for Grace's continued care.  However, they did not want to keep her.  When they brought back to us, she had a pronounced limp and you could see she was in pain.  When I took her for a walk that first day, I was not sure what to do with her.  And then I read the vet notes that the Durans' had brought with them.  Grace was suffering from suspected torn ACLs.  Now this is a problem that atheletic dogs suffer from. And they need to be repaired surgically which can cost from two to five thousand dollars per knee (stiffle). For a returned dog, that we had no attachment to, looking at $10,000 was not something I wanted to consider.  Especially as we had just spent $3,000 on a breeding that did not take.

What to do about Grace?  The thing about the internet is that there is a lot of available information.  Some good, some bad, some right, and a lot of wrong stuff.  All I knew was that we needed to stop playing fetch with her.  She definitely is obsessed with toss.  And then we started to give her supplements. And we have put her on a joint food.  And we took her to the vet to get her shots all up to date.  We had no indication from the Durans that since her shots at three months and  her spay at six months that Grace had any preventative treatments. We had no indication  that Grace understood any of the basic commands of sit, stay, come and down.

Rehabilitating Grace's stiffles is how we are proceeding. She is too nice a dog to euthanize without at least trying to restore her to health although we must acknowledge that we may never afford surgical repair. We have the challenge of training an older dog. Grace is too intelligent not to learn quickly, but we can have to proceed slowly as we do not want to further damage her knees. Patience is a virtue with Grace.

We send out a application form for all potential Labrador owners.  We converse by e-mail and phone.  We ask people to drop by for a visit or two.  If people have previous dog experience, a large yard and seem committed to meeting the needs of the Labrador Retriever, we think they will be good homes. In Grace's case, despite the Durans being good people, they were not good Labrador Retriever people.  At least not for the high drive of our American type labs.  It is disappointing to learn that despite these attempts at good placement, we failed. 

Endings and Beginnings

Posted by Pat on January 26, 2013 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow, hard to believe it has been several months since Koko had her third operation for Mast cell cancer.  She is doing great for a Labrador who is almost 14 years old.  Oh, I know she is hard of hearing and cannot see very well anymore.  But her tail still goes up when she goes on walks.

Dave is taking Koko for her walks more often.  He just takes her around the block on leash, while I take Maggie and Kassey on long, off-leash walks.  Maggie is always wanting to play, and she tends to plow over anything in her way.  Kassey can still take it, but it is hard for Koko to get back up once Maggie blows her over.  And the snow is fairly deep in spots, and it is hard for Koko to leap through it like a deer.

Koko and Maggie went into the vet to give blood and start the genetic tests for breeding purposes.  I took Koko in as the OFA has a blood bank for canine research.  If there is anything in Koko's blood that helps researchers find a cure for Mast Cell cancer, that would be great.  As for Maggie, so far she has come back normal for Canine Narcolepsy.  We are still waiting for her CNM and EIC test results. 

And for Kassey we are trying to put a little weight on her prior to breeding.  She is in great shape for an eight year old.  Bustin' is off to South Carolina for some training, but Blindfaith's will have him back in time to get some semen sent to Canada.  We are starting to get excited about our next litter.