So we are trying not to get too excited before Monday and the puppies are confirmed. But Maggie is changing and we think it means she caught!
We have one family on our pick list (already approved from our last breeding and who were willing to wait for this one). We have had three or four serious enquiries (Sarah and I have put out some ads on Gun dog Breeders and Facebook). Once Monday rolls around and we do the ultrasound I will send out applications to these families and if they are serious, they can return the applications and a cheque/deposit for $200 to reserve their spot on the pick line. I will return the cheques/deposits if there are not enough puppies of the sex desired. The ultrasound will confirm if there are puppies and can give a general idea if there are only a few or seem to be many.
As for Maggie. She is the epitome of health. Nothing wrong with her and at three she is actually young for her first litter. We bred Koko once at five and she had ten puppies. We bred her daughter Kassey at six and she had 7 puppies. We tried again when she was eight and she did not catch. With Maggie, we decided we would try for a couple of litters with one earlier in her life, ergo at three. The next, if all goes well with this litter, will be at five or six (with the hope of keeping one from her next litter). We are not in the business of breeding dogs. We are labrador owners who hope to contribute to the health of the breed through selective breeding to enhance labrador health. That is why we have ensured that both parents have health clearance (EIC, eyes, hips, elbows, etc). I took Maggie to Illinois to put a little diversity back in the western Canadian gene pool for chocolate labs that have a lot of the Barracuda Blue blood line.
We have Grace, Maggie's sister. Grace was returned to us over a year ago because of bad knees :(. The owners' claimed that she had juvenile arthritis. This disease is inherited and we would not have continue our breeding program if this was indeed true. As it turned out, Grace had torn ACLs that for the worst one should have had surgery. By the time she was returned to us, her knees had started healing. Our vet thought that she was doing pretty well through reduced activity and mega-doses of supplementation. In the year that we have had Grace, she has regained total mobility in her back legs. However, she will always have these big lumpy rear knees that cause her rear legs to go to the side when she sits or lies down. We don't care because at least now she can do these things that she was not able to do when she was returned. We have learned a lot about torn ACLS and the link to spaying and neutering too young, food quality (puppy food for juvenile dogs until they are 12 months and preferably 18 months old and good food for adult dogs), and how to deal with torn ACLs without surgery (rest and supplements).
So our desire is for our puppies to go to homes that understand the needs of labradors. Our application process is part of that exercise. We hope that families answer honestly and are willing to meet the exercise and training requirements to make these good dogs. The application process is also so that I can make sure I have the information needed to register your dog with the CKC. All puppies will be registered. It takes a bit more work with an American sire, but the Butikas' (Bustin's owners) were happy to take on the challenge and see another one of their dogs being bred outside of the USA (they have sent semen as far away as Australia).
Sorry to go on for so long.....it is an exciting time for us