Archive for May, 2012

Puppies gotta eat, and today they got their first taste of solid food. Take puppy food, mix with warm water, stir, and wait until the food is soft. Add more warm water and mash it up. Mix in a heaping helping of love. Serve.

I got the following pictures and commentary from Colleen. [I’ve added a few comments, in the brackets].

The first meal went VERY well. Really, there is a dish [under that pile of puppies]. What a bunch of gluttons.

[From the picture above, the puppies] move counter-clock wise around and around the dish. [Mr. Blue has made it almost 180 degrees around.]

Yummy! [In the following close-up, you can see the circle of the metal dish as well as the raised section in the middle that makes it kind of like a doughnut-shaped trough. Not that the food stays in the trough. Some is in the puppies, some is on the towel, some is all over the puppies’ faces and bodies. Adventures in puppy food, indeed.]

Crowded![How many heads are in the picture below anyway? 4?]

First round of clean up [Tooey gets a bit of the food, too, and keeps everything clean and tidy.]

Satisfied [cleaned up and happy puppies] Lights out, please. [It’s time for a group nap.]

[Tooey] is all smiles now that those little imps are going to be less demanding! [Relaxed, happy, and all by herself up on that platform bed. Wonder how long that will last?]

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In short, a Spaniel hunt test can consist of 8 hours of waiting, and less than 3 minutes of hunting. For a tightly wound dog, this is a formula for chaos. And in the world of tightly wound dogs, Cooper is at the upper end of the taut-scale. Waiting is not in his genes. (Which is one of the reasons he is a great hunting dog and a work-in-progress hunt-test dog.)

“I was born ready”

On Saturday, we ran 3rd in the running order and got to start at the beginning of the course. Norm was able to make these photographs at the starting line because Cooper flushed his first two birds while I was still within the first 20 feet.

Looking for bird #1

60 seconds later and 2 birds delivered, we were done while the judges consulted and compared notes.

By now it is only 8:30 in the morning (notice the early morning fog still hanging over the hunt test grounds at Scatter Creek, Washington), and it time to wait for the water series.

Waiting our turn for the water series

Now at 2:30 in the afternoon and after trying to keep Cooper relatively cool and collected for 5 hours, it is time to for a single water retrieve.

1 second into the water series

30 seconds later

. . . and we’re done

That took another 45 seconds.

Fortunately I got to spend the weekend with Norm (who took these photos) talking dogs, guns, and trains. If one isn’t content to be outdoors with your friends and dogs in the rain and sun, then hunt tests can be tedious except for the few moments of working. But if you like those things, then they are great activities.

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I was going to start out this post by saying that Cooper is now a Spaniel. But the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous that sounded. He’s always been a Spaniel, hunting up birds, even when the only available bird was a rubber toy I’d hidden in the living room.

So, I guess what Cooper really is, as of yesterday, is a titled Spaniel — Junior Hunter Upland (JHU). To celebrate, Russ did a portrait of the boy:

SHR CH Realta Rosario Cooper CD RN SH JHU WC CGC FdX

Somewhat less formally, a couple of shapshots also got taken this weekend after his 3rd and 4th pass in two junior-level Spaniel Hunting Tests, both held by the Western Washington English Springer Spaniel Association.

3rd pass — May 26, 2012 — WWESSC

4th pass and JHU title — May 27, 2012 — WWESSC

Cooper had the same successes and the same weaknesses as last weekend:

  • quick flushes of the birds (on Saturday, Cooper didn’t even get 20 yards down the course before he flushed both his birds),
  • laser-like retrieves to hand on the land,
  • over-enthusiam (read: out of control) going to the line at the water (fortunately, at the Junior level, you can hold them by the collar),
  • dramatic water entry (read: flying leap) — one judge on Sunday even said, “Water entry: 11!*,
  • quick swim and decisive grab of the chukar in the water,
  • and an embarrassing spit to foot (rather than a deliver to hand) of the soggy chukar on the water portion of the test.

Spaniel hunt tests are way more appropriate to Cooper’s talents and how we actually like to live. So, there is a possibility that we’ll keep working on the boy to get that enthusiasm under better control. Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted.

* out of 10. In Spaniel Hunt Tests, a dog can earn 10 points for each area being scored: hunting ability, bird finding ability, flushing ability, trained abilities, retrieving abilities. These past two weekends, Cooper’s scores were strong on everything except trained abilities. This would not be a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog. Sigh.

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The puppies are getting adventurous. It seems like almost every time I went down to the puppy room this weekend, at least one of the puppies was out of the whelping box. Looking somewhat befuddled, or whimpering slightly, or, in one case, just sitting there looking around.

So this morning I was not surprised to see some pictures from Colleen about puppies escaping the whelping box, one in a more direct manner than others.

Mr. Orange and Mr. Blue making a break for it

Mr. Orange figured it out and is heading toward Mom

Mr. Purple takes a short cut over Mom’s head

So far, it’s just boys escaping. Wonder what that means — the boys are braver? More impulsive? The girls want to think this whole thing through? Or they figure Mom will come to them, no need to worry?

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Puppies are wiggly! They don’t particularly care if I get a picture of them or not. But I care, so I wrangled up a volunteer to hold each and every sweet puppy for me. Even so, I couldn’t get them all to be still for the same profile. Oh, well!

Mr. Blue

Mr. Red

Mr. Purple

Mr. Green

Ms. Pink

Mr. Orange

Ms. Yellow

Ms. Rainbow

Mr. Gold

Mr. White

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Just a short video here of the Tooey x Cork puppies at 17 days. I think it nicely shows how they’re moving around their whelping box, and how they pile up when they all decide it’s time for a nap.

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I just got these pictures from Colleen of Cork, Tooey’s puppy daddy. They were all taken by Jeremy Kezer at the 2009 IWSCA National Specialty.

Cork in the show ring and at a working certificate test with bird — photos by Jeremy Kezer

Cork coming back with a bird and going out for another — photos by Jeremy Kezer

A previous post on this blog has a couple more recent pictures of Cork (with Tooey) just before they mated.

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In a calculated plan to ration my time away from the dog world and try and catch up on life, I swore off hunt tests after Cooper earned his AKC Senior Hunter title. But Patrice wanted a hunting title for Cooper in the AKC Spaniel Hunt Test world, so she entered him in a series of tests. She was intending to handle him while I stayed home and tended to the backlog of dog-delayed projects. But then there were puppies.

Patrice is absolutely compelled to take care of Tooey and monitor this brood of 10 new Irish Water Spaniels, so when that coincided with Cooper’s hunt test entries over the next few weeks, I found myself coming out of hunt-test retirement to run with my boy again as Team Cooper.

While Patrice tended to her new pack, Cooper and I joined up with Norm and his Boykin, Scarlett. The four of us headed for Scatter Creek, Washington for two days of Spaniel hunt tests. Cooper was a bit rusty and relied on his old tendencies to disengage his brain and let his prey drive kick in and rule the day. It wasn’t pretty at times, but we got the job done with two qualifying scores and a chance at completing his AKC Junior Hunter Upland (JHU) title next weekend.

Cooper with chukar — Photo by Christine Robertson

Delivery to hand – Photo by Christine Robertson

Christine was able to capture a number of photos on day 1, which was blessed with sun and moderate warmth. Cooper zoomed out, flushed hard (perfect scores on that element), and brought his birds back. On the water series, his water entry was wonderful, especially when compared to some inexperienced Spaniels who where not comfortable plunging into moving water after a soggy chukar. Cooper’s advice would have been, “If you don’t like to swim, then fly.”

“Now that’s a water entry!” said the judge — Photo by Christine Robertson

Day 2 was classic Pacific Northwest Weather – low 50’s and rain. The birds didn’t fly or flush as nicely as yesterday, but Cooper was a bit more deliberate in his hunting style and in responding to my whistle. He got all his birds with respectable scores. There were no action photos today due to the fact that it was a bit too wet for cameras, just this ribbon photo with my multiple layers of wool, fleece, and rain gear.

Team Cooper back in business

Now I have just 5 days to get him tuned up for 3 days of tests over the Memorial Day weekend. Stay tuned.

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Tooey calmly feeding her 10 fat and happy puppies: that’s the sight that greeted me on Friday night at Colleen’s. Russ, bless his heart, agreed to run Cooper in this weekend’s spaniel hunt tests, so that left me free to go take care of my girl Tooey and her puppies.

The first order of business on Saturday (after picking up each puppy, kissing it on it’s cute little nose, and telling pup how wonderful it is) was to brush Tooey out and get her a bath.

Tooey getting dried after her bath — photo by Colleen

Having puppies is a slimy, dirty business. Not surprisingly, Tooey’s nether parts were covered with dried puppy poop, dried milk, and slimy discharge. With all this mess, her normal tendency to get mats in her coat was intensified. So I spend a good two hours (with breaks for treats) first combing, brushing, and scissoring through mats, and then Colleen and I gave her a nice bath and blow-out. She smelled and looked so much better.

Then it was time to weigh the puppies again and change out their rickrack collars. That gave me the perfect opportunity to take Day 11 puppy pictures:

Mr. Blue

Mr. Red

Mr. Purple

Mr. Green

Ms. Pink

Mr. Orange

Ms. Yellow

Ms. Rainbow (formerly Ms. Silver)

Mr. Gold

Mr. White

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Tooey and her ten three-day-old puppies:

Tooey and her pups — May 12, 2012

Now in birth order (not to scale):

Mr. Blue, #1

Mr. Red, #2

Mr. Purple, #3

Mr. Green, #4

Ms. Pink, #5

Mr. Orange, #6

Ms. Yellow, #7

Ms. Silver, #8

Mr. Gold, #9

Ms. White, #10

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Last night, Rosemary called me, and Christine emailed me with congratulations. Well, actually, first Rosemary called to ask me to confirm that Cooper had 3 passes in Senior-level retriever hunt tests in 2011. And then Christine emailed me to say that I would probably get some good news, but that she couldn’t tell me what it was.

Well, OK. I love good news. And getting good news this way is a little like Christmas. You know something good is probably coming, but you have to wait. And just in case something good ends up not coming, you reserve yourself a little for protection. And besides, with the excitement and many hours of lost sleep due to Tooey’s new baby puppies, I was exhausted. It’s hard to feel too excited when you’re exhausted.

But then I actually got the good news itself. Rosemary called me to say that Cooper had won the Top Retriever Hunt Test IWS for 2011 award* from the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America. And then Christine emailed me with congratulations.

Cooper with duck

So it’s real, after all, and very cool. This is the first year this award has ever been given, so Cooper will go down in the club history books as the first one to win this.

And since I actually got a few hours of sleep last night, I can now feel EXCITED!

Hooray! Go Team Cooper. And many thanks to Russ for persevering. And thank you to Tim, Rosemary, Christine, and Elissa for putting this award together.

*Top Retriever Hunt Test IWS for 2011 – Presented to the IWS who while competing in AKC Retriever Hunt Tests amasses the highest number of points as a result of passing tests in the Junior, Senior or Master Retriever Stakes in any one year. Bonus points to be awarded for completion of a title, qualifying for the Master National and/or completion of the Master National (Retriever).

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My last post caused quite a stir. I got Facebook comments and private messages, emails, and texts, all telling me, more or less kindly, that bottle-feeding puppies is a bad idea.

This is what I said that caused the ruckus: “Tooey was about out of milk after almost exactly 12 hours of whelping, so I ran to the store for goats milk and baby bottles. We fed the pups who were still hungry…”

Every message, comment, email, and text made the same assumption: that I was choosing to bottle-feeding the pups instead of (or in addition to) allowing Tooey to feed them herself. True, this is one possible interpretation that could be made from what I said.

But it’s not the only possible interpretation.

Interestingly, before offering their opinion, none of the people who contacted me asked me what the circumstances were or why I did what I did.

It’s true that I’ve never whelped puppies before, and experience is a great teacher. Reading and research are no substitute. Even so, I have enough years in writing professionally about healthcare to understand the many advantages of breast-feeding human babies, to know what colostrum is and what it does, and how breast-feeding stimulates the mother to produce more milk. It’s not a stretch to make the correlation with dams and puppies. Added to that, all who contacted me are themselves experienced, knowledgeable breeders. I have no doubt that bottle-feeding puppies is not the best idea.


There are probably among those who contacted me, breeders who would be willing to see those last puppies not get fed because their mother wasn’t producing anything from her nipples. But those people weren’t there. I was, and I’m not.

Fortunately, the situation was very temporary. Tooey was enticed to drink more water and get something to eat. Within just an hour or so of the last puppy’s birth, I could express liquid from Tooey’s nipples again, and all puppies have since been able to get as much as they want.

I doubt that these puppies will have any further need for baby bottles, and Tooey enjoys the goat’s milk.

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Well, I ended last night’s post too early. Tooey delivered two more puppies for a total of 10 (so far). 7 boys and 3 girls.

Tooey was about out of milk after almost exactly 12 hours of whelping, so I ran to the store for goats milk and baby bottles.

We fed the pups who were still hungry and now we’re ready for bed. Every dog is full and tired. The humans are just tired.

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63 days came and went. Finally today, the 66th day, Tooey had eight beautiful puppies: five boys and three girls.


It did not go like the textbook says. Besides whelping being days late, there was the matter of the temperature. Supposedly when the bitch’s temperature goes down to 99°F, she should start having puppies within the next 24 hours.

But Tooey has her own agenda. Her temperature went down on Tuesday at 5:30 in the morning. She did not start having puppies until this morning at 10:52.

Then, I’m told, it’s more typical for bitches to have several puppies quickly in a row and then, as they get tired, for the time periods between the puppies to get longer and longer.

But Tooey did it the other way around. Mr. Blue was born at 10:52 a.m., and then we waited almost 2.5 hours for Mr. Red to appear. All the rest of the puppies were born within from 15 minutes to 1 hour of each other.

Except for the eighth one, Ms. Silver, born 4 hours and 20 minutes after the one before her.

I almost wrote “the last one.” But the day is not over.

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The big yellow notepad in Colleen’s whelping room says “Sunday.” That’s today. It’s 63 days since Tooey’s first tie with Cork, which was on March 5th.

But so far, no puppies.



Of course, there was a second tie on March 7th. Maybe that’s the one that took.

Her temperature isn’t dropping to 99 degrees F, which everyone tells is a typical sign that whelping will happen soon. It’s been going up and down between 99.6 and 100.6.

So who knows? For sure it’ll be another night of getting up to check on her every couple of hours.

But that’s OK. I wouldn’t miss this for anything.

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