Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gibson Therapy

We are trying something else with Gibson to overcome his show phobia.  I bought a "Thundershirt" which is used to help dogs with thunderstorm anxiety, but also helps with general anxiety.  It's light weight fabric with velcro closures that puts pressure on the relaxation points of the body (also has a money back guarantee, another selling point).  Shortly after it arrived, I put it on Gibson and took him to Home Depot and the local Farmer's Market--two places that makes him anxious.  Gibson was more relaxed in the car, laying down in his crate for the ride to Home Depot.  But once there, he was his usual self, pulling on the lead, shying away from the carts and people.  At the Farmer's Market though, it was a huge difference!  While I could tell he wasn't 100% comfortable, he was much calmer than at Home Depot and willingly let kids come up to pet him.  Someone recognized the Thundershirt logo and asked me how it was working for Gibson.  We ended up talking for quite awhile and she could see Gibson relaxing as we talked.  At one point, the wind picked up a nearby vendor's sign and it blew right into Gibby--he barely flinched! 
  Today, we took Gibson to the Middleburg Kennel  Club show in his shirt.  When we first arrived, it was normal behavior for Gibson, but shortly after we stood at ringside, he started calming down.  Ears up, self stacking, relaxed lead .  The only time Gibson got anxious was when we walked around the vendors and were near generators.  So, now I know one of his anxiety triggers.
  After the show, we had lunch at Doener Bistro.  I could see that Gibson wasn't comfortable, but he was working to calm himself (something I've noticed he does since his reiki treatment).  Success!  Gibson was able to take (and eat!) french fries and some bread from my doener.  He watched the soccer game on the t.v. near our table and was generally the happy guy we see at home. 
  Gibson is very much my boy and I will probably have to be his handler in the show ring.  But, there is a definite difference in his behavior outside of the safety of home and now we can formulate a  plan.  It will be babysteps but so gratifying to see Gibson become the dog he should be!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Fashionista

Poor Jewel!  Her piranha babies are really rough on her and her not so subtle suggestions to stop nursing are not having much effect.  It really is too soon to separate her from the puppies so I'm trying to fashion a way to just separate the "food bar" from them until Jewel's milk dries up.  My first attempt with a t-shirt did not work out quite as I had hoped.  The puppies started to use their mother as a tug toy!  Some modifications have us on the right path as the puppies' appetites have almost doubled in less than 24 hours!  This morning was better than yesterday.  Jewel was playing with her puppies with an actual tug toy and was enjoying her babies once again.
Just one of the reasons Jewel's wearing this shirt!

Jewel's not very happy with her new wardrobe (it wasn't one of my favorite t-shirts, either!)

Once she walked around a bit and got some relief from little teeth, it seemed o.k.

The Fashionista!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dixie Did It!

  We now have our second champion and first homebred champion, CH Hillcroft Heartsong!  Dixie won Best of Variety yesterday to finish.  In the Group competition, she was pulled for consideration, but didn't place.  We couldn't be more pleased with our girl!  Dixie looked like she was having such a great time, I wish we had more shows lined up for her.  She's due to come into season soon and then it will be her turn in the whelping box.  Such exciting times!

Friday, October 22, 2010

News from the Show!

Dixie has her 14th point!  Only need one more for her championship!

Busy Day

  Yesterday was dog day!  The puppies had their eye exam, which is a major undertaking for a large litter.  David and I packed everybody up, loaded up on towels and an extra crate mat for the 1+ hour trip to the canine opthamologist.  The puppies did great!  Lots of crying but no car sickness.  The eye exams were even  better.  One of the smooth boys is normal eyed, and everyone else is very mild to mild for choroidal hypoplasia. 
  We caused quite a stir as we came off the elevator after the appointment.  The pups were in a crate on a dolly and were pretty quiet at this point.  But then, the waiting room of patients practially exploded as everyone started exclaiming over the puppies and rushed to see them.  Several people whipped out their cell phones and started taking pictures.  What could the pups do but look adorable and pose?  It took us quite awhile to get back to the car!
  We swung by the library on the way home so my former co-workers could get a peek at them.  More oohing and aahing then it was time to get home for the second half of the day.
  Dixie got a bath in preparation for a week-end of shows in Cumberland, MD.  We decided to take Jackson along to meet Ellen.  The car was packed up once again with an extra crate and towels and we were under way.  But, somehow, Ellen and I got our signals crossed and we were at the meeting point an hour and a half early!  Plan B was to meet at the Red, Hot and Blue in Annapolis which worked out better for me as that meant dinner out!  Ellen liked Jackson and he showed off nicely for her.  He was slobbery on the trip up, but didn't get car sick until halfway home.
 Dixie was a funny girl though.  She readily went to Ellen's van, but wouldn't jump into her crate like she normally does.  Usually she's so excited about shows that she doesn't pay me any notice but yesterday she looked like she didn't want me to leave her.  She has been maturing and losing her "bad baby" ways.  I've been anxiously waiting for that to happen, but now that it is, I'm not sure I like it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Thrill Is Gone

Just when I thought Jewel would never entertain the thought of weaning the puppies, she's had enough!  Within the course of 24 hours, she's gone from pining to be with her babies to snarling when they start to nurse.  They have doubled their food needs with this change in the game plan but are still nursing whenever Jewel is in the mood.  At one point today, I saw a puppy chewing on Jewel like she was a rawhide!  No wonder sweet Jewel is snarling and snapping at her babies!  I don't want to separate Jewel from the pups at this point as they are still so young, but I hope her milk dries up soon.  I think she would enjoy playing with her babies far more than being the snack bar!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Outdoor Adventures

We took advantage of summer's return and introduced the puppies to the great outdoors.  Initially, they'd be outside for about 10-15 minutes, now they are out for about half an hour, two or three times a day.  They're getting bolder and more adventuresome, exploring the garden and the back yard before running back to me.  They are starting to explore more inside, too.  This morning, they were in the t.v. room, meeting Bootsie the cat, while I cleaned their room.  Jewel is spending more time outside, too, and seems to like the break.

Fresh air really wears a puppy out!
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Friday, October 8, 2010

First Video!

The puppies have their first video on YouTube!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What a Difference!

  The tree work was done in the kennel on Tuesday.  We had planned on having the four trees inside the runs taken down, but once the guys were in the tree tops, they could see some damage in a tree in one of the play yards.  That one needed some limbs removed, although it really needs to come down completely soon.  I had the men look at two trees at the front of the big play yard, and yep, those needed to come down, too.  One actually made a cracking noise just from them pushing on it!  In the fall and winter, we get  very strong winds from the west.  If those trees went down, it would take the fence with it.  Almost all the wood is burnable, so we have a huge pile for the woodstove!
  The dogs were very good during all the work.  Noisy chain saws and falling limbs didn't bother them at all.  Jackson was not as brave by the end of the day.  The pile of debris and the cutting of the tree closest to his yard must have unnerved him as I found him standing on his gym, frozen, when I went to get him out of harm's way so the tree top could be trimmed.  When I picked him up, he started shaking so I carried him into the house.  When the work was finished, I took him back outside and at first he wasn't sure about navigating through all the logs and limbs, then decided everything was o.k.  One of the workers described Jackson as "the puppy with the mohawk".  With his ears glued over and his fuzzy puppy head, it does look like a mohawk!
  When I let the adult dogs into the kennel for their dinner, they had a great time sniffing out the new smells the cut up logs must have released.  Sadie and Phoebe had a great time snuffling through the sawdust.  Along with the new view, it's much quieter in the kennel now that the squirrels aren't running through the trees aggravating the dogs.
  We still have a lot to clean up, but here's the new look:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's Done!

  I finished knitting my great-nephew's gift and got to spend some (but not enough!) time with him on Tuesday.  O.K., technically, this isn't a post about the dogs, but Ian is so darn cute that I'm sure you'll see why the puppies had to take a back seat for a little bit!  My lucky sister is blessed with four wonderful grandchildren--Ally, Aaron, James and Ian.  I don't get to see them nearly enough!

Ian is a ham!  

Ian was more impressed with the tissue paper than Ziggy the Zebra gift!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


  today didn't go as planned at all!  Yesterday, we had contracted to have some troublesome trees taken down from the kennel.  The job would be finished by the time we got back from the show this afternoon.  Ellen was going to come back to our house to see the puppies and hopefully we'd be celebrating at dinner the points Dixie and Gibson won.
  The day started at planned.  I was right on schedule feeding dogs, cleaning kennels and washing Dixie and Gibson.  Two of the tree guys were here right on schedule but the vital tree climber guy never showed up.  Truck trouble or maybe too much Saturday night fun?  Whichever, the tree cutting is now postponed.  Then, Ellen called to say she had an emergency and wouldn't be able to make it, but she had already arranged a  back up plan for handling for me. 
  At the show site, all was going well until Dixie got on the grooming table.  I found a small puncture wound on her front leg and remembered she had an overly enthusiastic play session yesterday.  While I was brushing her, she snarled when I went over her shoulder.  Gibson, however, was great on the table!  When we went to the ring, Gibson seemed relaxed, Dixie was behaving pretty good and I thought we were right on track.  The judge arrived a couple minutes late but seemed like a laid back person, who I thought would be good for Gibson.  When she went over to the judge's table, she lit up a cigarette--a first for me to see!  While she was smoking, Gibson was called into the ring.  He was a little antsy at first, then lost it during the exam.  I think the judge's cigarette breath was the cause as he settled back down for the down and back.  Dixie was no better, also backing away from the judge, then looked for food on the ground for the entire down and back.  She didn't behave much better for Winners, refusing to show and pretty much blowing off the judge.  Dixie went Reserve but we were very happy that Deb's puppette, Anna, won her first point!  Anna also went Best of Winners, so no point for Gibson. 
  So, even though the day didn't go as we wanted, Dixie has some chances in a couple of weeks to finish, Gibson is coming out of his show jitters, Anna is pointed and we still had some fun.  On to the next show!
  I was also told today by a couple of people that the blog needs more pictures of Jackson and the puppies.  I'm knitting a gift for my great nephew, but, after Monday (when it WILL be finished!) there will be lots of pictures and probably a video or two!