Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
My husband and I got into bulldogs looking for one thing. A pet. Our plans for Hudson were modest. We didn't ask much of him. We hoped he was healthy and friendly. We wanted him to be well behaved. We wanted him to like us. We wanted to spend as much time with him as we could and give him a happy life.
So we did our part. We tried to learn a lot about bulldogs. We religiously watched the Dog Whisperer. We talked to people about their dogs. I spent hours researching dog foods (and still got it wrong). We got vet references from others. We looked at breeders, pet shops, and kennels from all over. Our area is notorious for puppy mills, so this was time consuming. (Side note: No clue at first that puppy mills were bad. Snoopy of Peanuts fame was from "a puppy mill." If not in the comics, it was in a TV special. And I love Snoopy!) We were so ready for our puppy.
We brought Hudson home and were filled with joy. (Duh, you can read that part in prior posts!!) Oddly, though, almost everywhere we went with him as a puppy, even right out in the yard, people would ask if we were going to breed him. To this day, I still don't really understand why. Because he was adorable? His puppy pictures have been declared fake by some because he was so dang cute. I still don't know, but we knew the answer.
"Oh, no, that's too much work!"
At least we knew. We were intelligent. We didn't have a eight weeks and 6 day pregnant female going into labor with puppies with no prenatal care and having them all die with the first one stuck in the birth canal. I educated people before I owned a bulldog about the cost and why it was so "high." I knew the basics. I knew artificial insemination and C section. I didn't know about progesterone testing, multiple ultrasounds, hand feeding, tube feeding, pre and post food weights, among other numerous things I've learned in the past (almost) year and a half as an owner and aspiring breeder.
There were no plans for a show dog. I thought showing was stupid. Open mouth. Insert foot. Like many people, I didn't know what dog shows were for. I seriously thought it was for people that took their dogs way too seriously and wanted to prove theirs was the best one. I didn't know about breed standards and how that affects a dog's progeny. Early dog shows were exactly that - a "contest" for the best breeding stock. We just don't use those words anymore because we personify our dogs, myself included.
I guess it became more obvious when I took Hudson to the vet for an ear infection. The doctor that day kept saying "he has great conformation" over and over. I didn't really understand it at the time, and I wonder if she'd still say the same thing. The judges don't... All the docs, vet techs, and other staff told us Hudson was adorable. I figured that was partly because he was and partly because its their job to fawn over their clients.
Our first thought was, we'll stud. My husband liked that idea. No messy c sections, no losing your dog on the table. He could just make a "donation" and be done. Later we'd be entitled to a puppy or at least a few hundred dollars. Awesome.
Obviously, nothing's that easy. We took the steps, getting him ready to show, getting him in the best health, learning more and more about breeding. I guess just one day I realized I wanted to do this. I wanted to take on the challenge. I wanted to make baby bully pups of my own. I wanted to educate new owners. I wanted to be part of bettering the breed.
In the interim, my husband decided that he really wanted to foster. I told him no a lot, just because I wasn't sure I could handle it. But eventually we decided to go for it and got hooked up with a rescue. We're only on our second dog. We're no experts. But I'm glad we did it. It translates over into my breeding too.
I'm thinking about it as I prepare to take Elvis to his new home. There's a lot to do.
I get the contracts ready. The rescue has one we print and have the adopting family sign.
I call the vet and request records. I'll have to go and pick them up. That way they can go right along to his new vet.
I make sure they have a new vet to go to. I try to ask around when they don't live in our area, since we have many foster families. Some vets will nickle and dime bulldog owners. I have no tolerance for this. Vets don't need to find things wrong with bulldogs. It happens on its own. I can walk out of the vet with a bill over a hundred bucks and our doc under charged for the visit and made a medicated wash for us. That's just how it goes.
I talk to the new family about supplies. We don't supply very much as all the foster families pay for everything aside from vet care themselves. So if we purchase a crate, we keep it. If the crate comes with them, then it's going with them, like with Elvis. If there's a towel/blanket we can give, we will. Collars, leashes, bowls usually stay. Toys go. I make sure they know what they'll need. Poop bags, treats, and anything I think they might not think of, especially first timers.
I give my food talk. Most rescue adopters will keep the dog on the same food. Good. That's what they need. We feed Wellness core in our house, which is a grain-free, high protein food. It's so good for bullies. Both of our fosters, as well as our pup, have transformed on this food, especially when coming off a vet-prescribed food. (Sorry!)
I stress over and over that we're always available. Always. Call or email me anytime, I insist. And if/when they do, I answer as quickly as possible. We want to be a resource. We're not done with this dog when it's sent out. Yes, please send us pictures!
As it turns out, these are some of the things you do as a breeder. You screen your "applicants," you educate, and you stick around. Good breeders are always available and are committed to that dog for life. If things don't work out, bring me the dog, no matter what age! Life happens. I would never want someone to lose their job and their home and have to worry about their beloved pet. I made it. I love it too!
Bulldogs are my love. They're so much fun. Hudson makes my life better every day. Elvis cracks me up on a regular basis. I can't imagine my home without one. It would be too quiet. It would smell too good.
As I said in a previous post, in ten years I hope to have a house full of dogs and be a successful breeder, which is not measured in money, but in beautiful confirmation pups with good health and a fantastic temperament and relationships with other breeders and owners who say good things about me. A couple champions wouldn't be bad either...just saying...
Monday, January 30, 2012
Now it's the countdown to the upcoming bulldog litter. Next weekend. Unbelievable. Obviously I'm more excited to go be with the pups on the 25th. I can't wait to experience being around them and seeing their cute little faces. One of my facebook "friends" had a litter last night. Such sweet little faces!
I was joking with another bulldog friend about stacking the puppies. Most breeders will stack them all at four weeks so they get used to it. The ones that are just for pets forget about it and don't need it and the show dogs keep working at it and have an early start. I told her I'll be trying to stack the two week old puppies. We had a good laugh. I don't think their eyes are open yet by then.
Hudson has been adjusting to my husband being back at work. Now he's very cuddly with me in the mornings and nights when Chris is working. I do like that.
We also have a potential and promising family for our foster Elvis. I hope it works out. There's kids. He loves kids. I would love to see him spend his final years with kids that shower him with attention. I know Hudson will be excited in the spring and summer when the kids in our neighborhood are outside playing. He loves to get attention from them! They all lay on the ground and let him lick their ears. He has them trained!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Saturday is the Lenape Bulldog Club Specialty Show. I'm using it as my judge as to whether or not I want to keep showing Hudson. I want to, and I think he's handsome, but there are a lot of things that make me think I ought to stop with him for now and just let him be. We were able to pack a few pounds on, but the weight is starting to go in places it shouldn't, so we backed off the high-fat stuff. I want him to look like the other bulldogs, but what I really want is for him to be healthy and live a long life. If he turns into a tootsie roll, the latter won't happen. We're up against one other dog in our class on Saturday, so we'll see how we fare. We could get our first point on Saturday, but more than likely, we'll just help someone else get one.
In other exciting news, I've been talking with a breeder from Virginia since about October in hopes that we'll be able to start our own breeding program. The hubby and I thought we ought to look at getting our female soon, since she'll need to be mature before reproducing, and Hudson isn't getting any younger!
Most responsible breeders either refuse or take a long time to give up a female to be bred. That's a good thing. Bulldogs especially are very hard to breed. It takes a lot of time and energy. It's also easy to breed some of the very common health problems that exist because of poor breeding. I knew I would need to start to build a relationship with someone who would be willing to mentor me and trust me with a female from their litter and hard work.
Laurel's next litter will be delivered by C-section (as they all are) on Feb 11th, unless the girl goes into labor earlier. She's going to let me come down and stay with her when the puppies are two weeks old so that I can learn about taking care of young puppies. Sometimes bulldog pups have to be tube fed, so I'll learn that technique, and often the mom isn't interested in getting them to potty after they eat, so I'll learn that as well. I'm sure I'll also learn what tired really is. Maybe I'll be able to relate to new moms better!
I'm very excited about this opportunity and thrilled that Laurel is allowing me to come to her home and learn from her puppies. I've had a blast talking to her several times over the past couple of months. She's a hoot and we're a lot alike in our "craziness." She's been very encouraging, and I appreciate beyond measure how much she's been willing to teach me already.
In ten years, I see myself in her shoes...minus her two daughters. She's just too amazing for my abilities. I'll have to substitute work for the "skin kids," as us dog people call them. ;) It's nice to have an answer to that question. Where do you see yourself? Oh, I know where I'm going.
The 4-6 month old puppy class is something else I'm excited to start. My next puppy? Not the old mistakes I had with Hudson not knowing what the best food was and starting the stacking training and other show work well after 6 months old! Heck, I'll probably help Laurel stack her puppies at another visit when they're a little older...like 5 weeks!
Meanwhile, praying that Hudson will stack as well as he does the first time I do it every night, instead of the awkwardness that follows on the 2nd, 3rd, and 100th stack. Oh, my crazy little boy!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
We have an even more extensive routine right now at feeding time...mostly at dinner. I've started Hudson on herbals for his skin, though its looking stellar right now. Erm, maybe not stellar, but vastly improved. Regardless, he now has echanacea and fish oil with dinner. We've also added coconut oil and now are back to puppy food to help pack on the pounds.
Meanwhile our foster is being treated for possible causes of his diarrhea lsat week, so he gets two and a half pills hidden in your standard grocery store cheese balls. We also concoct a probiotic and deworming powdered medication in yogurt he eats every night.
Dinner is quite a production at our house. If you need free entertainment, come on by!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
We've been a little consumed with our foster lately, he had a nasty bout of diahrrea. That's right, bulldogs are not all glamour. (Just mostly!) Poor Hudson tries so hard to do things for him that when there were accidents in his crate, he would look very guilty, but it wasn't his fault! Silly Hudson! I'm not sure how we got to have such a good little boy.
Hudson has been improving on his lead. We've been back to our nylon one, and he tends to listen pretty well with that one. He fights me a lot less when we're outside, so hopefully it'll continue to be better and better.
Yesterday, Chris made a fabulous cheese soup. It had 2 and a quarter pounds of cheese in it! We gave Hudson some (a very small amount). I hope it stuck to his bones! He's gained a little weight. He's up to 54, but we still need more. His proportions are good, but he needs to be just a little bigger. He definitely doesn't mind the extra food and treats.
We're also are about to finish our first 6 weeks of Atopica. After that we should be able to tell if its working and we can go to every other day. I think it has helped to a certain extent, but I'm nervous it won't be enough. I'm not entirely sure all his hair will be back in 39 days from now. As long as we don't get any new infections, it should.
I'm waiting anxiously, hoping that the local contact gets back to me about some practice in the ring. Official handling classes don't start until Feb for the Celtic Classic, so I might not get any "professional help" until after Lenape. *sigh*
Also, stay tuned about our family growing.... but don't start any rumors! :)