Puppies, Puppies, Puppies!
It’s been a long time since we had a puppy here, but we have one now. She’s three months old and cute as blazes and we’re enjoying her thanks to Kathy and Jerry Zehetner. Leash breaking, grooming, trimming nails, and feet are all part of her education and it reminds me of how important these things are. Puppies are the fruits of any breeder’s dreams and they represent the future if things go well.
If puppies are the fruit of our labor and dreams, then the sires and dams are the foundation we build upon. The dog and bitch that we use to produce our next generation will determine it’s success or failure. As has been stated many times the two cornerstones for success in a breeding program are health and temperament. You may achieve some short term success with dogs that fall short in these areas, but sooner or later your house of cards will tumble down.
People sometimes get on the stud dog kick. Van Dyck used to call it the “who’s he by” syndrome. The truth is that your brood bitch is just as important. The people who spend a lifetime trying to upgrade mediocre bitches by breeding to top studs are legion. People used to ask me how the puppies I had by my studs were often the best that they produced. My answer was simply that my bitches were top of the line and I knew what kind of bitch worked best with those studs.
Don’t ever forget that “good mothers beget good mothers!” The stud dog certainly has major influence on those puppies, but in addition to her genetic contribution the bitch contributes mothering that includes producing strong puppies, lots of good milk, and calm temperament. Years ago my mother bought a tri bitch of impeccable breeding and a real looker. We bred her to Ch. Windsong Dealer’s Choice, our first champion, and she had a lovely litter of tris and blues. I whelped the litter and got to endure this bitch laying on the pups until only two were left. I sent her home to my mother to keep me from killing her. Other qualities not withstanding, she was worthless.
You plan your breedings carefully and use individuals that can be expected to produce well. You feed a good ration and provide the bitch with exercise so she comes to whelping with sufficient muscle tone. She will be up to date on all shots and free of worms, heartworms, and all external parasites. You will provide her with a place to whelp that is quiet and removed from activity both human and canine. You will introduce her to this area at least a week before her due date and two weeks is better. Now all you need are the puppies!
There are so many things that happen once the puppies are whelped. Routine things such as worming, shots, and good food and water are a given. If they’re not you shouldn’t have bred a litter at all. There are other things that you need to do as well, but what works for me may need some tweaking to work for you. My puppies started having nails trimmed at one week and it was done weekly the rest of their lives. They get a gentle, rudimentary brushing several times a week as well. The brushing and nail trims were done in my lap at first and later on the grooming table when they could stand. They also had a lead put around their necks on the grooming table and little tidbits of steak. They always were groomed and handled when due to get a meal to make sure they were hungry and in the evening on hot days.
A puppy who has been fed and groomed on the table learns it’s a nice place. When you set them down they readily follow some food in front of their nose and are lead broken in short order. Teaching them to pose takes some patience, but it’s important to show a Collie on it’s four good legs, not have them stacked like a Dobe. Any dog I judge is asked to come to a natural stop when finishing a down and back.
We used to have match shows, both specialty and al-breed, to use for training our puppies. They duplicated the experience of going to a show and helped training tremendously. Matches have gone the way of the Do-Do bird and it’s too bad because they were very beneficial. I guess we’re so busy going to point shows we don’t have time to support matches. Everyone’s in such a hurry to take points, they forget how to prepare.
Admittedly some people used to show too much at matches and that’s a case of overkill. Occasional practice at home and a few shows are all a puppy with good disposition needs. I never showed puppies too hard since every day a pup is at a show is a day it doesn’t eat and exercise normally. They need to do both to grow properly. Don’t let’s be like the owners of Thoroughbreds who race two year olds rather than let the horses mature. If we’re breeding dogs that have to do their winning as puppies, we may be breeding the wrong kind of Collies.
Think about it!