03/3/16

Photographic Guide to Saving Swimmer Puppies

Saving a swimmer puppy

 

 

I’m proud that, for a number of years, the most popular post on this blog is ‘How to Save a Swimmer Puppy‘. However, I am frequently asked for photographs to illustrate the techniques I mentioned. I have recently had a litter of puppies, so I could stage images showing techniques on young puppies for saving a swimmer puppy.

 

Sling Method

This is by far the most simple method. I use a pillow case, suspended from the back of a chair, and then the puppy is placed inside the pillow case, meaning the puppy is basically in a hammock. When the puppy is placed in the hammock, is important that their legs are tucked underneath them, or the puppy is on their side.

It’s important that the puppy is not allowed to get cold while in this sling, too. You can warm the material of the hammock before placing the puppy inside, and then you can also put a heat pack underneath, on the ground, too (as hot air rises).

You can do this several times a day, ensuring that the puppy stays warm and gets plenty of time to feed in between its time in the sling. Puppies are surprisingly tolerant of this process and rarely object when their stomach is full and their a good temperature.

This is a (zebra-print) pillow case that is suspended on the back of a red chair. Inside, is a baby puppy.  This process will help to fix swimmer puppies.

This is a (zebra-print) pillow case that is suspended on the back of a red chair. Inside, is a baby puppy.
This process will help to fix swimmer puppies.

A puppy (little black blob at the bottom) in a suspended sling. This will help puppies recover from swimmer syndrome.

A puppy (little black blob at the bottom) in a suspended sling. This will help puppies recover from swimmer syndrome.

 

 

Handcuff Method

Using electrical tape, you can create handcuffs that pull the puppies legs inwards, preventing them flailing out to the side as a swimmer. It’s important when using this method that you don’t do it too tight. (To be honest, when I’ve used this method, I’ve had it fall off numerous times a day because of how loose I make it. Fine by me!) You also want to make sure you don’t put too much length between the cuffs – remember the cuffs are supposed to pull the pup’s legs inwards, so if you make the cuffs too long, then the puppy’s legs are still going to be able to swim.

Tools required for the handcuff method: Electrical tape and a pair of scissors!

Tools required for the handcuff method: Electrical tape and a pair of scissors!

Step one: Cut a length of tape. We only need one length of tape, and the exact length will depend on your puppy and how far east west its legs are.

Step one: Cut a length of tape. We only need one length of tape, and the exact length will depend on your puppy and how far east west its legs are.

Step three a: Make one loop of the handcuffs. (This image is for illustration purposes - in reality you'd need the puppy's leg in that loop!)

Step two a: Make one loop of the handcuffs. (This image is for illustration purposes – in reality you’d need the puppy’s leg in that loop!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step three b: Make a second loop of the handcuffs. (Photo for illustration purposes - in reality, there would be a puppy with a leg through each loop!)

Step two b: Make a second loop of the handcuffs. (Photo for illustration purposes – in reality, there would be a puppy with a leg through each loop!)

I’m sorry that I am not much of a photographer, but here are some pictures to try to illustrate how these handcuffs look actually on a puppy.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

The benefits of the puppy handcuffs is that they can stay on for long periods of time, and the puppy can still feed and cuddle mum and litter mates while wearing them. Sometimes mothers will remove the handcuffs, and sometimes they fall off, so you are likely to have to put on new handcuffs several times a day. Initially, for a severely affected puppy, you may need to start with long handcuffs then reduce the distance between the handcuffs over time. Puppies are surprisingly tolerant of the handcuffs and rarely fuss once they’re on and they’re back at the milkbar!

 

For more tips please do see How To Save a Swimmer Puppy.

04/6/14

How to find a good dog breeder

Purchasing a Dog or Puppy: What to look for in a breeder

 

So you have made a decision to add a dog or puppy to your family. Congratulations!

But how do you make sure you’re getting a puppy from an ethical source?

It’s not a ‘black or white’ matter. There is no definitive issue that makes a breeder ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Instead, here’s a guide which talks about necessities, niceties, and red flags.

 

Necessities

If your breeder doesn’t do this then walk away…

  • Breeder shows concern and regard to the health of dogs and puppies – either in health testing or in the studs used (e.g. choosing old studs that show they’re healthy, using DNA testing, using x-rays, and other relvant tests)
     
  • Breeder shows concern and regard to the psychological well being of their dogs and puppies – either in providing enrichment on site, by frequently taking their dogs ‘out and about’, by using Dunbar’s methods of raising puppies (with toilet area, kongs, socialisation), and preferably a combination of these methods.
     
  • The breeder has a clear purpose in their breeding program that goes beyond ‘breeding pet puppies’ – they may enter their dogs in dog shows, participate in agility or obedience with their dogs, or have dogs that compete in working dog trials
     
  • The breeder’s dogs approach you in a friendly and sociable way. You are able to interact with and handle all dogs on the property. The mother should be available and should show exceptionable sociable behaviour.
     
  • The breeder is willing to provide life-long support to you as a puppy buyer – including taking back the dog at any point things ‘don’t work out’
     
  • The breeder happily shows you all the dogs in their care
     

 

Niceties

It’s nice for the breeder to do any of these things, but don’t be concerned if it doesn’t happen.

  • The stud dog is on site
     
  • The breeder asks you lots of questions about your household and what you’re looking for
     
  • There is a sales contract that goes beyond simple money exchange
     
  • The breeder can show registration or affiliation to an organisation with a code of conduct/ethics
     
  • The breeder can recite pedigrees and seems to be oozing with knowledge about the breed
     

 

Red Flags

If any of these items take place, you may want to reconsider purchasing an animal from this breeder.

  • The puppies are not vaccinated
     
  • The breeder seems overly concerned about the purchase price
     
  • Not all adult dogs are sociable and friendly
     
  • Part of the breeder’s sales pitch is ‘lots of colours available’ or ‘will grow up big’ or ‘will stay tiny’ or ‘rare!’
     
  • The breeder asks for deposits before a bitch is mated
     
  • The breeder sells puppies together to the same pet family
     
  • The puppies are crossbreeds which seem to have no real purpose (ask, how do they fit into the clear purpose of their breeding program?)
     
  • The puppies are crossbreeds and are given a fancy name like ‘labradoodle’ or ‘spanador’.
     
  • The breeder does seem to be putting the hard sell on you – they’re saying “if you put a deposit down today, I’ll take $100 off the asking price” or “If you don’t buy him now, I have someone coming at 2 o’clock who will buy him”.
     
  • The breeder breeds more than 3 different breeds of dogs
     

stop sign

 

Do Not Buys!

If a breeder performs any of the following points, then do not purchase a puppy and look elsewhere.

  • You cannot meet the mother or father in any circumstances (e.g. ethical breeders, even if the stud dog owner is interstate that should be able to say ‘you can meet them if you really want to go interstate’)
     
  • Puppies are not microchipped – in most states of Australia, this is a legal requirement
     
  • The dogs or puppies seem unhealthy or in poor condition (dirty, matted, skinny, fat)
     
  • The adult dogs are not sociable and friendly, especially if many of the adult dogs are not friendly
     
  • The breeder is unwilling to show you all the dogs at their home
     

 

Is there anything you would add to this list?

 

Further reading:

Red Flags: Warning signs when dealing with a breeder

How to tell if your dog breeder is responsible

A puppy ‘with papers’ from a ‘registered breeder’

Select, select, select

Dog Breeders: Don’t produce lemon puppies

01/10/14

CECS in Border Terriers

ResearchBlogging.org Regulars of this blog will know that I breed border terriers, and I am excited to share with you some new and ground breaking research within the breed.

In December, the Journal of Small Animal Practice published an article on canine epileptoid cramping syndrome (or CECS) in border terriers. This is exciting because it is the first academic article to consider this condition in border terriers, and it therefore documents and legitimises the condition.

 

This is Chip (Au & NZ Ch Dalshoj Chippendale ME TD). He does not have CECS but he is a border terrier.

This is Chip (Au & NZ Ch Dalshoj Chippendale ME TD). He does not have CECS but he is a border terrier.

Research Design

  • A small study of 29 border terriers.
  • There were 33 respondents in all, but 4 dogs were excluded for not meeting the criteria.
  • Recruitment took place through veterinarians, using dogs that had diagnosed and treated for CECS.
  • In 14 of the cases, owners were questioned about their dog’s episodes. In 15 cases, videographic evidence was used.
  • In order to be included in the study, dogs had to:
    • Have a one year history of episodes (i.e. abnormal involuntary hyperkinetic movement)
    • These episodes did not include epilepsy-like symptoms (like loss of bladder or bowel control, hyper salivation, or loss of consciousness)
    • Have other medical ruled out (if possible)

 

What happens before a CECS episode?

  • 18 out of the 29 owners felt they could predict the onset of an episode.
  • 11 out of the 29 dogs became ‘quieter’ before an episode.
  • 6 out of the 29 dogs sought comfort in their owners before an episode.
  • 4 out of the 29 dogs would vomit bile or eat grass before an episode.
  • While most episodes were unpredictable, some owners felt that excitement, waking from sleep, and stress were all triggers.

 

So what does a CECS episode look like?

  • Generally, an episode lasts from 2-30 minutes.
  • All owners felt their dog was uncomfortable during the episode.
  • Most dogs had difficulty walking (27 of the 29 participants).
  • Most of the time all four limbs are affected (25 of the 29 participants).
  • Most dogs had at least some time that they were unable to stand (22 of the 29 participants).
  • Most had a mild tremor (21 of the 29 participants).
  • Most had the head or neck affected (21 of 29 participants).
  • Most had dystonia (muscle tremors) (22 of the 29 participants).
  • Many had the back and abdomon affected (16 of the 29 participants).
  • Some licked the air (14 of 29 participants).
  • Some excessively stretched (14 of 29 participants).
  • Some had all four limbs go rigid (14 of 29 pariticpants).
  • Some had the tail affected (11 of 29 participants).
  • Some dogs got a rumbly tummy (11 of the 29 participants).

 

What happens after an episode?

  • Most owners (18 of the 29) described their dogs as acting similar after an episode as before.
  • 11 of 29 respondents were quieter after an episode.
  • 4 of the 29 participants sought human company after an episode.
  • 2 of the 29 participants were hungry after an episode.

 

What helps reduce symptoms?

  • Most owners found the condition could be managed by diet. 19 of the respodents changed their dog’s diet as a result of their condition, and over 50% thought that this helped.
  • Drugs did not help the condition (including phenobarbital, potassium bromide, and buscopan).
  • Once an episode had started, none of the owners in this study thought they could change the course of the episode.

 

What is CECS correlated with?

  • In short: Not much!
  • Dogs appeared normal despite: blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging, cerbospinal fluid collection and analysis, and neurological examinations.
  • “No significant underlying metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, orthopaedic or other neurological conditions were identified in any respondent.”
  • 15 of the 29 borders also had skin disease.
  • There is “an apparent association” between CECS and digestive or food intolerance issues.
  • CECS is not epilepsy. Dogs who have CECS differs from epilepsy as affected dogs remain conscious during an episode, have longer episodes, and do not respond to medication.

 

Implications for Breeders

  • Most dogs had their first episode before 3 years. This may mean that only breeding borders 3 years and older, who are asymptomatic, is a way forward. (But some dogs started cramping at 0.2 years, and some at 7 years, so there’s no guarantees.)
  • 10 of the 29 owners (34%) felt that CECS had a negative impact on the dog’s quality of life. While this is a significant number, it is reassuring to think that most owners (66%) therefore did not think that CECS negatively impacted on their dogs life. This is not a way to justify breeding CECS affected dogs, but it is reassuring to know that the condition does not seem to be incredibly debilitating in many situations.
  • Skin disease is correlated with CECS. Any dogs affected by skin disease should not be considered for a breeding program.
  • For those trying to determine the inheritance of CECS, it is important to note that CECS is not epilepsy. A condition that can be controlled by medication is almost certainly not CECS, and it would be hazardous to lump the two conditions together.

 

Congratulations and thank-you to those border terrier people who have been campaigning and working behind the scenes for research like this for many years.

I hope this is the first of much research to come.

This is Clover (Ch Burrowa Blue Flame ME TD DWDF.S) and Chip (Au & NZ Ch Dalshoj Chippendale ME TD). Neither of them are CECS affected, but they're pretty cute.

This is Clover (Ch Burrowa Blue Flame ME TD DWDF.S) and Chip (Au & NZ Ch Dalshoj Chippendale ME TD). Neither of them are CECS affected, but they’re pretty cute.

 

Reference:

Black V, Garosi L, Lowrie M, Harvey RJ, & Gale J (2013). Phenotypic characterisation of canine epileptoid cramping syndrome in the Border terrier. The Journal of small animal practice PMID: 24372194

11/19/13

Dog Aggression in a Breeding Program

Should you breed from a dog that is dog-aggressive?

"Deez" was surrendered into rescue having almost-exclusively lived in a backyard for 2 years. Despite this, he was friendly with other dogs. While his breeder wasn't what would be regarded as highly ethical, they obviously were producing dogs with good temperaments.

“Deez” was surrendered into rescue having almost-exclusively lived in a backyard for 2 years, with minimal interaction with other dogs. Despite this lack of socialisation, he was friendly with other dogs. While his breeder wasn’t what would be regarded as highly ethical, they obviously were producing dogs with good temperaments. His sociability with other dogs was the reason we were able to so easily place him into a new home – he now has another dog for company.

There’s four questions concerning that particular dog’s aggression that I would consider when elevating a dog’s suitability for a breeding program.

Firstly, if the dog is biting/attacking other dogs, is it illustrating bite inhibition by not actually doing damage to other dogs? If a dog is ‘attacking’ at a lot of dogs, but never doing damage, then this is a good sign that the dog is not intending to physically harm other dogs.

Then, how common is this type of aggression in this breed? Very common, uncommon, rare? In some breeds, all you can do is pick ‘the best of a bad bunch’. Complimentary temperaments in proposed matings are important, too (you wouldn’t put a ‘bad dog’ to another ‘bad dog’, for conformation or temperament).

Is the dog so aggressive to other dogs that you can’t achieve a natural mating? If the dog is not psychologically sound enough to have sex then it shouldn’t be bred from. Consider that many solitary species, like tigers, bears, rhinos, are generally territorial and aggressive to one another – yet, they still able to reproduce naturally. That is, the instincts associated with reproduction are strong enough to override a natural dislike to their own kind. Dogs, who are naturally social animals, should at the very least have a temperament conductive to natural matings.

Finally, a question to ask yourself as a breeder: Would you be satisfied if your puppy buyers ended up with a dog of similar temperament?  That is, would you be proud to produce a dog with similar dog-aggression? Are you puppy buyers able to manage or train against dog-aggression? Dog owners want dogs to be ‘friendly’, and producing dogs with dog-aggression are likely to fall short of the owners’ expectations.

 

What do you think? Should a dog that has dog aggression be bred from? Under what circumstances?

11/16/13

Rescue vs Breeders

There are a lot of people who love dogs. They may express this love in many different ways: some people own many dogs, some people make donations to important dog causes, young children may adorn their lockers with images of dogs, others may find their joy in training dogs for specialised tasks. While this expression of love is wildly different, there is no denying the central thread: a love of dogs.  This love makes up the dog world.

But there’s division in the dog world.

There is a perpetuated myth that dog lovers who engage in dog rescue are some how more experienced, or compassionate, or just better than people who breed dogs.

There is a theme: the dog rescuer versus the dog breeder.

Sometimes the expression of this phenomena is not even subtle:

574696_424635367615092_1369832126_n

During Facebook discussions, I see people describe themselves as a ‘rescuer’ or as a ‘breeder’, and therefore differentiate themselves from others in a conversation. Like this:

Picture 4

As you can imagine, the term ‘breeder’ is sometimes used interchangeably with offensive terms like ‘greeder’, or ‘producer’, and then these are also used to delegitimise the experiences of the breeder in hand.

Like the rescue group below (another screen shot from Facebook, in regard to ‘Desex the bad ones!‘):

Picture 3

It’s frustrating when I criticise proposals like the Select Committee Recommendations in SA, or the Breeding and Rearing Code in Victoria, to be told that my biased because, as a breeder, the recommendations would influence my ability to make a profit.  Anyone reading my blog would find that I object to many government recommendations for a variety of reasons –  not one of them is “because it’ll be harder and more expensive for me to breed puppies”.

This divide in the dog world is not just seen online and on Facebook.  I have blogged before on The Sin of Breeding Dogs and the judgement I receive for being a breeder when out and about.

Let me share a secret: No one wants to see dogs euthanised in shelters.

When talking about ‘rescue vs breeders’ on Facebook, Allie, from Maggie’s Farm, said:

I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to talk about “breeders” and “rescuers” because it kind of presupposes two homogenous groups, which isn’t the case. Among some breeders, “rescuers” are “animal rights” people, which to them is like a dirty word. And to some people in rescue, breeders are terrible, selfish people who make more dogs, when they are already dogs needing homes. And implying that there’s some zero sum game here, where a breeder bred and bought dog means a shelter dog dies. It’s not that simple. I think people who fall into both groups can be guilty of alienating the other, because it’s easy to have someone to blame and dislike.

Allie is of course right. There’s not just two groups in the dog world – the dog world is an amazing assortment of people with differing interests and passions. It is this very stuff that unites us.

 

What unites the dog world?

Comments and images, like those used above, are made like there is no glue in the dog world – and no potential for cohesion. It builds up a divide and splits the dog world into different sides. Our compassion and passion for dogs and their welfare unites the dog world, and this similarity should be embraced, not diminished.

The fact is, there are many in the dog world that bridge both sides. For example, I worked at a shelter for 3 years, have fostered about 45 animals in the last 5 years, and yet I also breed dogs. These roles aren’t in contradiction. I actually really like dogs, in all forms, and so fill up my life with them.

But, in conversations like that above, the dog world is polarised – between rescue problems, morals, and ethics and those of breeders. Between ‘the rescuers’ and ‘the breeders’.  As Allie pointed out, it’s not as simple as that – the groups aren’t homogenous.

This terminology stops rescues and breeders being united and does nothing for animal welfare.

 

The divide impacts upon animal welfare

Rescuers and breeders have different skills and expertise. They have a lot to offer one another. I think it is important for us to recognise how animal welfare could be improved if we were to work more tightly together.

  • Rescues are often key in finding purebred dogs in rescues and returning them to their recognised breeder. Sometimes, without ethical rescues, ethical breeders would never have the chance to get their dog back. This is a win for rescue, too: one less dog in the rescue system as ethical breeders will take back dogs in need.
     
  • Breeders are an excellent knowledge base for rescues, especially when it comes to matters concerning newborn puppies, or when it comes to breed specific knowledge.  As a personal example, when my bitch Clover whelped a singleton litter, she then fostered 9 day old rescue puppies as well. My knowledge as a breeder was important to these puppies as they arrived emaciated, dehydrated, and practically dead. On the flip side, because rescue entrusted me with these puppies, I learnt a lot that I didn’t already know.
     
  • Breeders often have a list of people interested in dogs, and receive puppy and adult dog enquiries on an ongoing basis.  Letting breeders know about dogs locally who are somewhat ‘like’ their breed (in looks or temperament) may mean that breeders can refer enquiries to rescues.

Currently, breeders criticise rescue and rescuers criticise breeders. This is not good for anyone. Having a reciprocal relationship is, obviously, much more desirable.  Quite simply, by not tapping into shared passions and shared resources there is a risk of opportunities being lost.

Be Responsible - Save a Pet!
Celebrate those uniting factors

Guess what?

Both rescuers and breeders love dogs.

Both rescuers and breeders want to see animal welfare improved.

Neither breeders or rescues want to see shelter euthanasia at its current level.

Both want to keep dogs out of pounds and rescues to start off with.

There is a lot in common that we can use to our advantage, moving forward.

 

How can breeders work with rescue?

If you’re a breeder, you can:

  • Contact your local rescue group and see what areas they need help.
     
  • Provide breed-specific advice to rescue groups or adoptive families.
     
  • Foster or kennel dogs in need.
     
  • Donate information that you’ve designed for your puppy packs.
     
  • Make a monetary donation.
     
  • Offer to groom rescue dogs.
     
  • Offer to transport rescue dogs (especially if you’re travelling interstate to dog show events or for servicing a bitch).
     
  • Share your local rescue group’s dog for adoption, including with those that enquire wanting a purebred – their perfect dog may just be in the local shelter.
     
  • Make efforts to stay in touch with your puppy buyers to ensure that your puppies stay out of the rescue system.
     
  • Educate yourself on the rescue and sheltering system.
     
  • Congratulate and support those who choose to adopt a dog.
     
  • Do not take a ‘breeder’s side’ by default – recognise the diversity among breeders and feel free to criticse unethical breeders, as well as celebrating ethical rescues.

 

How can rescues work with breeders?

Responsible BreederIf you’re a rescue, you can:

  • Contact breeders to see if they can help with boarding or fostering rescue dogs.
     
  • Ask breeders to share rescue dog’s availability with puppy enquirers.
     
  • Avoid posting breeder-slamming content (like that on the right) on social media (or anywhere else).
     
  • If you can identify the breeder of a dog in care, please contact the breeder – it’s their baby, too.
     
  • Utilise breeders as a resource – especially when it comes to rearing baby puppies or breed-specific advice.
     
  • Becomes informed on what ethical breeding practices look like, and support ethical breeders.
     
  • Support those who choose to purchase a dog from an ethical breeder.
     
  • Don’t take the side of ‘rescue’ by default – criticise unethical rescues as well as celebrating ethical breeders and other ethical rescues.

 

Moving Forward

When I asked about this topic on Facebook, one of my friends said,

There are ethical and unethical people on both sides, reasonable and unreasonable. I believe the ethical and reasonable can effectively work together in the best interest of dogs, the other side there isn’t much you can do about it.

Only those who are ‘reasonable’ and ethical will understand what this post is getting at.

Overall, we need both rescue and breeders to promote ethical places to acquire dogs from:

  • From a registered breeder
  • From a private rehoming
  • From an ethical rescue

We are all passionate about dogs and their welfare. So; Let’s focus on the dogs, and not each other.

 

Further reading:

Our dogs are our beloved companions 98% of the time (written by a breeder)

I love dog breeders.

Patricia McConnell on Breeders Versus Rescues (Responsible breeding – an oxymoron?).

It’s become fashionable to hate dog breeders.

I hate dog breeders.