Welcome to the family....Skye! We had an offer that we couldn't refuse from the prestigious Kyleburn kennels in Buckinghamshire, she's been with us for about a month now but we've had such a hectic time I haven't been able to post. Find out more about her on her own little page!
Finally....after all the testing, the assessments, the travelling...it was time! I suppose a bit anti-climatic....nearly two years in the planning, a 1,500 mile round trip, for half an hour of "romance"! We did it though, and hopefully in roughly 8 weeks we will be home to the third litter ever to be born in the UK.
The lucky man was one "Abe fan it Roekebosk"....and what a gorgeous dog he is!
Abe fan it Roekebosk
Abe (pronounced "Abba") is a 6 year old brown and white Stabij, the colouring is recessive, so it's a fair bit rarer than the black and white colouring. We will be very unlikely indeed to have any brown and white pups ourselves, as far as we know Mieke will contribute all B & W genes, so her babies will be B & W, but carry the brown gene - good news for the future population, as next generation we could well have some brown puppies :) We had to travel to Schnijdel, in South Holland, to visit Helma and Martien at their very beautiful little farm, they were absolutly fantastic with us, so hospitable, and beautiful dogs!
Mieke was fairly late ovulating in her season, we needed up travelling across on day 16 of her cycle, almost a week later than we had originally expected. That's one reason why the progesterone tests are so great, it gives us a really good indicator of when she will be ready, and we can be given a "best day" to have the mating done, which if you are travelling a distance - even in the UK - is a really useful thing to know.
If you're mating a dog for the first time, it can be a strange occasion! Most people thin that you just pop the dogs in the garden, and nature will take care of itself! This can happen of course, though it's not advised! First time bitches - or "maidens" can be snappy and scared when the male tries to have his way, or can get frightened during the "tie" because they can't get away from the male. The dogs are "tied" together for often up to half an hour - longer is possible but not common - as you can see in the picture at the top. This is necessary for all the little swimmers that have been released to be flushed fully into the uterus, but for some bitches it's a strange and possibly uncomfortable experience. It's essential to keep hold of both dogs during this time, as if one of them gets frightened and sets off, serious damage can be done, especially to the male.
First time dogs have their own concerns - don't laugh - they don't always work out where "it" goes! With Shelties, the long coat makes things even more complex! If possible, it's unadvisable to use two first timers together, especially if the individuals aren't that laid back....you can picture the scene with a fidgety bitch who's getting fed up with being mounted this way and that, and when the dog does managed to find where he's going, she freaks out and snaps at him. In no time at all, you have two stressed dogs and flustered owners! For a first time dog, try and find a bitch who isn't going to put him off for life by putting up a fight, and for a first time bitch, it's far easier to use a dog who knows what he's doing, before she knows where she's at its "Wham, Bam, thank you ma'am"!
It can of course go perfectly smoothly :) and many have mated two first timers with success! But it helps to go prepared with what can happen....Mieke was fine for the first bit - stood like a rock - but when he got off she obviously expected him to wander off - not be stuck to her! She freaked out, but we were ready for her and had her calmed down in a minute or so. We knew it wasn't pain, just fear at the unknown, and once she calmed down, she was fine.
Next time...So You Want to Breed? Where to start...
We had a lovely surprise today, a visit from Apollo and his family on their way home from their holiday in the Lake District. it just so happened, that it was exactly one year ago today that they picked him up as a 9 week old puppy to take him home! It's always a real treat to see the pups that have grown up, almost like a parent seeing their kid go off to Uni and returning an adult ( a great analogy by Tracey there! ). Another angle for us is that it's a really good opportunity to see how the dogs from that mating have turned out, from a purely impartial point of view - what worked with that mix of genes, and what could be improved on. In the case of Apollo, there isn't much room for improvement! He's a truly stunning dog, and obviously incredibly happy in his little family, a big well done to them for bringing him up so well.
So here are some fun photo's of Briarmere Apollo Creed "Apollo" at one year old.If anyone is interested in stud services I'm sure his family would be happy to discuss, he is CEA clear and a perfect height/build. Enjoy!
Sometimes, things just don't work out the way they ideally should.
If you've never had a dog before, you might have an idea of what dog ownership is all about. The long awaited arrival of your first puppy...you've bought the toys, bed, treats...read as many books as you can (and got a little bit confused in the process)... chosen a puppy...and he comes home - WHAM! The cute fluffy little thing (with teeth comparable to tiny needle-like daggers!) takes up far more energy, time and patience than you could ever imagine! You learn a massive amount - usually through a bit of trail and error - and soon your mischievous little puppy is growing into a beautiful dog who you couldn't imagine living without.
But what happens if it doesn't work out like that? You just don't "click" with your dog, under estimated the time and patience that it takes? Or your life gets turned upside down due to things beyond your control, and suddenly that flexible work schedule is solid and unmoving, keeping you away for 6 + hours a day?
Recently, one of the puppies bred by us was returned by his owner. She had tried her best to make things work, but in the end she made the difficult decision to bring him back to us, rather than him have a life that was less than ideal. May I say what an incredibly brave decision it was for her to make, as she truly had her dog's best interests at heart.
We wouldn't encourage anyone to "give up" on their dog, but sometimes it is better to be honest with yourself if things just aren't working. There are often many options for dog day care if its just work that's the problem, and it's good to explore them all before parting with your pet, but if it comes to it, contact your breeder. Don't put your dog in a rescue centre, your breeder will know of people wanting a dog, and can vet homes on your behalf. Most breeders will also take the dog into their home whilst they find the best home possible, a far better option than a cold kennel. I suppose that is one large benefit of buying a puppy from a reputable breeder rather than from a shelter, you have a little "support crew" if/when you need help and advice, or worst case scenario, a new home for your dog!
Part of our code of ethics is to take back/rehome any dog that we have bred, no matter what their age. We're pleased to say that the little man who came back to us last week now has a fantastic new home near the North East coast, with human and canine company all day, every day. We're sure he'll be very happy, thanks in part to the unselfish decision made by his first owner.
We are always happy to give help and advice to puppy homes at ANY time in their lives. Don't suffer in silence :)
There is a wealth of information on the internet about buying a puppy...questionnaires on which breed is right for you, how to find a breeder, which questions you should ask the breeder, what you should look for when you visit the puppies....the list goes on. BUT...there isn't much information out there on what a responsible breeder is looking for from YOU. After you have searched long and hard for a breeder you feel you can trust, don't take it for granted that they will simply sell you a puppy because you say you want it. Chances are they will be trying to figure you out just as much as you are to them - if they've put so much care into doing all the right things to raise these little dogs, they want to make sure the pups aren't going to anywhere but the best homes.
So...here's a list of things that WE (speaking for any decent breeder) look for in a good potential home...
First, we try to make sure we are not dealing with time wasters...usually this can be found out in the preliminary emails/phone calls. Yes, there really are people who will arrange a visit just to play with some cute puppies, and try to ascertain if they REALLY want a dog or not...
Second, are you who you say you are? There are unscrupulous people out there who will present themselves to as a private family looking for a pet dog, when in reality they have other plans- such as buying the dog for someone else or planning to use the dog for intensive breeding. It's not common...but it does happen!
It's pretty easy to weed out those first two points...after which it can become a bit of a minefield!
How much do you know about the breed you are buying? We want to see that you have done your research on the breed (for us that would be Shelties or Stabyhoun) so you are aware of the specific needs and traits of the breed, and that you are prepared for obstacles that may come along. For example many Shelties enjoy nothing more than to bark their heads off! We would want to know that you are aware of this, and if it's an issue, that you have a plan to discourage this. We also need to know that you understand how to care for a dog - exercise, feeding and training to name a few. The majority of breeders are more than happy to assist with these things, but we want to know first that you have done some research on the matter!
We want to be asked questions! Questions such as health test results, history of their lineage, what the parents are like, how the puppies have been fed and socialised so far. I for one am very wary if someone comes along and doesn't ask any questions, we question how much you really care about the dog you are getting. It's important though to think about how you might want to word some of the more sensitive issues. For example, a couple who have had a puppy from us (they have given me their permission to use them as an example!) during their first visit to see the litter, after a question about Contract of Sale, "What is your returns policy?". They asked the question as they had read online that it should be asked to a breeder, amongst many other things, but without further qualification, it came across as possibly showing a lack of commitment to keeping a puppy....I discussed this with them later, and they were horrified that it had sounded like that! It was something they hadn't really thought about when asking, as they were very sure it didn't apply to them! So bear in mind how something, such as that, might sound to a breeder who is trying to work out your long term intentions with the puppy they have nursed for so long! It's worth reading through their Contract first, then asking questions in further detail if it isn't clear.
What's your family situation like? Are you aware of the costs that can come up? Of course very likely you will already have asked yourselves these questions, but a breeder will want to know themselves that the dog will have a stable home for life. Unfortunately it's all too common for people to buy a dog to "mend" relationships - it's great for 6 months or so, but of course it doesn't last. We also want to meet all the family - we want to see how each family member interacts with the dogs, and to see that every family member is on board with having a dog. Besides anything else, if a family is serious about having a dog, they should all want to meet the litter and mother!
Will you look after the dog in a way that we would be happy with for the rest of his life? Most often this is a yes, but rough handling of puppies or mum, a dismissive attitude towards training or socialising, and no interest in the best diet or health schedule...that's not going to convince a breeder that you're a good home for their puppy!
DON'T HAGGLE!! Buying a puppy is not like buying a car, or a house. The price that the breeder sets is a reflection on the time and effort put in, the breed value, and to cover breeding expenses. All the health testing that goes into preparing a dog to be bred from, the stud fees and travelling, care and vet checks for a pregnant dam, extra food and care whilst she's feeding them, food for weaning and the weeks after, puppy health tests, registration fees - this is all WITHOUT any complications that might arise during whelping or with sick puppies - the cost of all this runs into triple figures. Not to mention the HOURS and HOURS of care and worry, day and night, and the effort put into socialising and bringing up the puppies in a way that sets them up in the best way possible for their life ahead. If you start trying to push a breeder down on price, more than likely they will see this as a lack of appreciation for the work they have put in, and possibly even question your ability to afford to keep a dog at all. You may be able to find a puppy online for half the price...but odds are the parents won't be health tested, neither will the litter, it won't be registered, and won't have been bred by an experienced, responsible breeder who has evaluated the genetics and health of the dogs involved. If the price of a puppy is beyond your limit, don't be afraid to say so...but don't expect a reduction in price!
Finally, there are times when we feel the need to say No. Please respect the breeders decision if they decide they cannot sell you a puppy. Of course, ask the reasons for their decision - it may be a simple misunderstanding on an issue - take their comments on board, and think about it if the answer is still No. From a breeders point of view, we find it really awful turning people down who really want one of our pups. We've had to do it ourselves before, and it's a truly horrible conversation. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. Fortunately for us, it was very amicable, however I know of people who have been verbally abused and even threatened for turning down a buyer. It's a very hard decision as it is choosing the right homes, not something which is taken lightly, so there will always be a good reason if a breeder turns you down. Please, be respectful, take it on the chin, learn from it, and move on!
I hope that this proves useful for someone out there!
Well, they're here! After a long Sunday night/Monday morning, we have three healthy little boys! More info and pictures can be found on our puppy page, just click here. Enquiries after these little boys are very welcome, we have two so far still available!
Well we've kept quiet about it, to make sure all was going well, but after a successful mating on 24th February Stella is well and truly in whelp! Puppies expected to arrive on the 29th of this month...keep an eye on our puppies page for pictures and news :)
It's been an eventful year for us, so a bit of peace and quiet is very much appreciated! Another home move in-between which has seen us back at our original address in the Red Squirrel Reserve, we missed the place so much we moved back! Apologies if anyone has tried to contact us via the details on here, I've only just got around to changing them but all is up to date now!
It's not set to be quiet for long though, with a possible 3 litters planned this year we will be kept very much on our feet! Stella will come first, due to come into season by the end of January, so hopefully puppies will be arriving in March. Suzi next, her final litter sometime this summer which hopefully will be as good as her previous litters - she's a fantastic mum and although her litters have been small, whats lacking in quantity definitely hasn't been lacking in quality! Most excitingly (if that's actually a word...) if all goes according to plan then Mieke will be having a litter at the end of the year, which will be likely the third litter ever born in the UK.
But for now we're just enjoying the crisp winter mornings, and enduring the sideways dales rain!
Mieke and I third from the right. Mieke's dad Anco first on the left, and mum Hinke second.
As part of important a Stabyhoun, we have a responsibility to return to Holland for the litter assessment which takes place for every litter born in Holland. It's an important opportunity for breeders and owners to see how the litter has matured, and if the match between parents was a good one, or if it left something to be desired. With such a rare breed, this is invaluable in keeping the breed healthy and to the standard, as if a litter has major health faults, temperament issues or glaring conformation errors, a repeat mating will not be allowed and the parents may not be allowed to breed again individually, in order to protect the population from hereditary issues. It's something I feel a lot of breed clubs of pedigree dogs could learn a lot from! Here is our experience of the day:
Our day in Zutphen was wonderful. We had to get the whole trip done in a day, we got the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland, on the Friday night, and back again on Saturday evening! The ferry crossing was comfortable and smooth as always, and I can't commend the kennel facilities enough, Mieke settled very well and it's so nice to be able to see on the webcam from the cabin how she was doing. The journey to Zutphen was fairly straightforward, and the "Hanzenhal" was easy to find once in Zutphen - very conveniently signposted! Everyone there was so friendly, and seemed to really appreciate the effort we had made to get there. Mieke was a bit overwhelmed at first, but once we had her settled next to the ring on her bed, she was very happy. We were a bit worried before going that we'd feel a bit left out, but quite the opposite, everyone who was in our litter went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and to understand what was going on. At the end of our litter assessment, the judge spoke to everyone in dutch and then repeated it all in english just for us! We were very touched by the amount of effort everyone put in, and it was wonderful to catch up with her breeder, and to see how the rest of the litter had grown up! Definitely a day to remember!!
Hello, It's that time...weaning! The pups enjoyed their first little meal on Monday, and certainly got the hang of pinning the food down and getting their tiny teeth in! It's incredible to watch naturally weaned puppies - they know exactly how to eat the food put before them, rather than mush that just slides down, they have to pin their meal down and try to tear the meat off, and yet they know exactly what to do. We start the pups off on wing halves and necks so they get a feel for the taste and action of eating, but of course at this age their jaws and teeth are not strong enough to chomp through bone, so once they are showing a real interest in the food we put in front of them , we start them on a minced mix of meat, organ and bone. As you can see in the latest instalment on our puppy page, these pups are ready!
Thank you to all who have posted and left comments, it's nice to know the time taken to take pictures and update the website is time very well spent! Goodnight for now :)