It’s finally happening

After 6 months of waiting and 2 years of maturity Babbette has officially come into season, or “heat”.  We are ready for our first pregnancy and prepping for puppies.

“Babbette” CKC registered Mazinblue Dreams of Wild Orchid

Since the pandemic has brought an influx of puppy buyers and sellers, it wasn’t something any of us could have predicted.  We had veterinarians in check but over the last year their hearts have changed.  After contacting a few veterinarians they have all said they will no longer be helping with breeders.  This is not unwarranted and I can accept their opinions.  Some are wondering why I choose to breed standard poodles especially at this time.  My short answer is because people need help.  As a person with disabilities of now 2 incurable diseases which are highly debilitating, dogs have always been my therapy as well as my assistants.  Babbette assists me with standing, sitting and even helps me off the floor should I fall or seize.  Tootsie would stay by my side and lay on the floor when I have seizures.  These are small duties I feel that humans don’t have patience for.

Since I was very young I have always observed the relationship between dogs and their humans.  Service and therapy dogs usually cause scrutiny not only from the non disabled but also from the disabled.  I never understood why we as a society make it so difficult for us to be more accepting regardless of our opinions.   I shake my head at tons of stories about dog discrimination knowing that only a couple hundred years ago we were all going into shops and markets with our canine companions pulling carts full our groceries home with us.  I see paintings of dogs and cats laying by the family fireplace.  I see dogs leading the blind and helping with opening doors and drawers.  Those scenarios are why I breed my dogs.

I’ve done my share of rescuing dogs from shelters and from other owners and one thing ran true through each rescue story I have heard. They had behavioural problems, separation anxiety, among more. I will take examples of my own personal experiences. I rescued. a stunningly beautiful large Doberman Pinscher named Judge. The Doberman, to me, is the Cadillac of all dogs, my dream dog.. I called the owner and made a trip an hour and a half away to get him. They were a young family with 1 preschool son and another baby on the way. Before anything I wanted to take him for a walk. Now picture this, I am 5’2″ so this dog was basically like a miniature horse to me. He ran right up to me and his owner said “Wow he really likes you”. I walked him up the street and he looked at me with the softest sweetest eyes and we fell in love so to speak. The owner had his mother and he said Judge’s mother wasn’t getting along with him in her old age. For $500, I got this magnificent animal, his crate and bowls. One may read this and think what a beautiful story, but there are kinks to this story. We opened his cage up because in my experience dogs enjoy having a “den”. My heart sank when I saw parts of his cage had bent bars about the size of his muzzle. He had pressure points on his elbows and one on his rib. This is usually from laying on a hard surface for a long time and him trying to get out probably due to seperation anxiety. He was slightly underweight, I figured more because of crappy dog food.

Naps are the best!

I changed his diet and closed the cage and he would never be inside that thing again. He had bad habits like counter surfing and any plate unattended would be fair game to him. BUT he helped me balance myself, we would go for walks and I can’t express it in words, he just knew what to do without me asking nor extra training. As soon as I put his service vest on he was WORKING. He was focused and proud. He sat by me after seizures and he helped me to stand. He was 11 years old when he left us for Rainbow Bridge. He spent half his life in a cage and the other half with my family who loved, cherished and still miss him to this day.

You will hear conversations about ethical and unethical dog breeding and the pet population problem and so on, but my thought is that if temperament was focused on rather than the breed’s cosmetic value there wouldn’t be AS MANY surrendered dogs. Now, there are some not so good purebred dog breeders and I again have experience with them too. I was starting my own training with protection dogs and I decided on a Boxer. Not great for bite work but I wanted a dog who could protect as well as get along easier with children. I named her Jasmine and she was, as some say, full of piss and vinegar. At her first show, she lost her first place ribbon because she decided randomly to sit in front of me to get a reaction. The judge loved her but sitting is not part of the show game. If you have ever known a Boxer puppy you know they act like they have springs in their feet. At 6 months I had to get this lil girl in shape. I trained her basic manners like not door crashing and basically not being annoying getting up in people’s faces. I taught her to only accept treats from me and she knew commands to watch people and keep them at a distance. Everything was going well until she had a seizure. My poor dog was diagnosed with epilepsy and was prescribed phenol barbitol taking a pill twice a day. She was only 3 years old when she died. This prompted me to do a full out investigation on the breed and breeder. A friend of mine bought her sister and she died of cancer at the age of 4. These are extraordinarily young dogs with such disheartening health issues. My friend did her research and told me that their breeder would drown any white puppies that were born. Like whoa! We were both shocked and pretty disgusted. What I learned through that whole experience is priceless. I learned to not be so naive.

First snowfall 2021

When anyone asks me if they should adopt or buy a purebred I ask them if they want a surprise or a predictable temperament. Research research research go to shelters, talk to breeders, go through kennel club standards. I was even pleasantly surprised that my dog breeder partner and friend gave me a temperament guarantee. She even accepted a 10 year old service dog back as the owner needed a younger dog for her needs. All pluses to me!

It all starts with day one of my dog’s cycle. I have high hopes that my puppies will bring joy, service and companionship to people who need them. Quality over quantity! My poodle gals are so smart my children say they are like humans in a dog suit…

…and they’re super cute too.

Stiletto

A Day to Forget

I let Babbette out for a quick break before bedtime and she came back in with a bee and an earwig stuck to her.  I saw her biting at something on her coat then she threw a dying bee on my floor.  I quickly covered it with a book and she kept trying to get to it.  She was mad! Lol I’ve never seen an angry poodle before but it was cute and concerning at the same time. It was as if she was insulted that it would dare sting her.  I threw it in the toilet because she wanted to get at it so badly and I did not want to risk a sting to her face.  I, then, spotted an earwig on the wall where she was standing.  I grabbed the same killer book and smashed it as hard as I could.  After 5 seconds I took the book off only to see it fall to the floor and come running at me.  Yes, I screamed and slammed the book on it again and successfully conquered the insect invasion.  Babbette paced from the bee to the earwig crime scenes with disdain, as if she had my back and was ready to save me from any more insects that dare cross the threshold.  She has been licking her belly so I’m pretty sure the bee won the battle before losing to the wrath of Babbette.

I had a really tough day, too.  It was a day full of problem solving and frustration.  I can relate to Babbette’s situation.  One minute you’re minding your business while doing your business and then someone stings you for no reason as another waits for a chance.  It’s unnecessary and extremely dramatic.  These little hitchhikers had ill intentions while causing discomfort.

Like my Bap, I too will get over this day. I’m annoyed and irritated now but I will have a better tomorrow. I don’t know if there’s a moral of the story to this day, but I am grateful and hope this day will fade for a better memory.

SS

Canine Exercise

Alright! The warmer weather is slowly creeping in and it’s time to physically condition my dogs. Dog shows in Canada are still in question however if you’re a dog lover like I am, putting my dogs in their top condition is a major goal. Showing dogs is not just about their coats it is about bringing out the best of the best out of the show prospect. Usually within the first few months to 2 years of my show prospect’s life, I have a better idea of what they can do in the ring and whether they will be part of my breeding program.

Structure is so unbelievably important to me so I tend to choose my puppies that are of show quality. To me, that means that the breeder has used their professional knowledge, time and effort to ensure they produce dogs that best represents the breed standard be it from the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kingdom Kennel Club (UKC) etc. Yes, the breed standard is up to interpretation, so make sure you find a good mentor in your breed club or your kennel clubs to help guide you. One thing to keep into perspective is what showing is about. As the names suggest “Canadian Kennel Club”, these are dog kennel clubs. As a member of these clubs I can openly admit that we are dog enthusiasts and most members are breeders. In my last post about dogs ( Purebred or Not ) I explained why I choose purebred dogs, so you can get a bit of my reasoning.

Watching a dog’s gait or the way the move while they walk is another way that I condition my dogs. Much like horses move or “gait” the same is true for dogs. No matter how big or small, the dogs are they should look effortless as the move around the ring. For a show dog, this can be the most important 5 minutes of the show day. I remember my first time in the ring, a total rookie but I did take handling classes ( a handler is the person that takes the dog in the ring and presents the dog to the judge, this can be the owner or a professional handler ). My adrenaline was pumping and it was only a practice show. My fellow students were just as nervous.

We all lined up, stacked our dogs ready for our once around the ring. All I kept thinking is “I hope I don’t fall on my face”. From application forms, show entries, different formation patterns the judge would request, it made all us students sweat as we were all preparing for a weekend show. At the time, I showed my female Boxer who was full of energy, but she turned it down a touch and I won third place. Several years down the road I showed a male Lhasa Apso. This guy was the easiest dog to show. He loved moving around the ring like he owned it. His flowing long hair made him look like he was floating. It was so much fun but a LOT of work. Taking him to different shows and getting his Championship at 9 months of age was a group effort but it was so exciting taking a Best Puppy in Show win! Yes it was a proud moment to know I ran around the ring with my dog and I working as a team. There’s something magical about the bond I have with my dogs an unspoken quiet understanding that we’ve got a job to do.

Babbette has been my sidekick and my shadow for 2 years throughout this pandemic. Babb let me cuddle her when I had a loss in the family I literally cried into her coat while she licked my hand, she helps me stabilize when I walk or when I stumble she’s so quiet and kind. Babbette and dogs like her are why I choose to show and breed the best dogs humans can bond with. Dogs have been bred to help us humans for more than a century and I see responsible dog owners now more than ever.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll see our human-dog team in a show one day. For now, I will be out and about bonding with my dogs and getting myself conditioned as well. Bring on that Spring weather!

Babbette’s favourite frisbee is a Kong Flying Disc from RenPets. I am currently using a soft rope slip collar similar to this one on Amazon, I do not recommend this type for smaller dogs or puppies. Happy canine exercising!

A Dog Story: Purebred or not?

While trotting through the internet I read articles about rescuing versus purebred dogs something that I’ve been asked many times before. To be clear, I have experience with training and raising both rescued and purebreds.

So let’s start with some common ground. If you’re a dog lover you get me. I have loved dogs since I was a child. My aunt owned this great big beautiful mixed bred dog, named Nina, she and my uncle rescued her from the shelter when she was just a pup. I couldn’t wait to visit her and play with her. She was the size of a German Shepard with hair as white as a Samoyed and a beautiful face like some kind of terrier. She also must have had Collie in her too as she loved to herd my brother and I to protect us from Geronimo, the young German Shepherd who lived in the neighbour’s house. He was her nemesis after he let us ride him like a horse and she had to watch from behind the sliding glass door. She lived to the age of 18 and passed away peacefully in her sleep.

I rescued and adopted many dogs over the years and I can’t picture my life without one. I have had successes in Shutzhund (protection & security) training 2 Boxers, 1 I bought from a breeder and the other a rescue who was found deep in the northern bush close to an oil well.

My first time at a dog show I instantly fell in love. Every breed of dog you can think of under one roof. Handlers magically making their dogs look like they are gliding through the air. I entered my first dog show with my Boxer. I took a handling class and there was so much to learn. Long story short she loved working security way more than dog shows and she let everyone know by jumping around trying to get me to play. However, even though I looked foolish it was too late, I was already hooked with training a dog how to show.

I’m sure by now you’re still asking “ok so you’ve had different dogs, why purebreds?”

It comes to this.. my children. I need dogs that are temperamentally sound in my home. Being “sound” means a better chance of predicting their personality. I’ve had show dogs in my home I have done extensive research of breeds, breeders and clubs. I have picked out dogs from breeders who have many years of experience. Their litters are deliberate and my relationship with the breeders I choose is already established way before the pups are born, in some occasions.

I left the show ring a few years ago due to medical and family issues. I’ve missed it ever since and was getting back into it right before the pandemic hit. I am still conditioning myself and my dogs in hopes to get in the ring again.

I agree with ethical breeding, training and rescuing dogs. Maybe you could call me a walking contradiction, but I consider myself a dog enthusiast. Rescue or not I don’t regret any of the dogs who have shared their lives with me. Mixed or purebred dog, I’m taking a page out of my furry babies’ life lessons and live in the present.

My current indoor wolf pack consists of a one-eared hairless Chinese Crested dog who doesn’t know he’s supposed to have 2 ears and 2 poodles who think they’re human. Ahh, it’s a beautiful life.

Let’s Shave A Poodle 101 Dog Grooming – Pre-Bath

I did a live video stream about how I groom my dogs. The pandemic has us packed away for safety so how do you get your dogs groomed? Many of us miss taking our furbabies to get groomed where they come out looking perfect… Those were the days, but for now, your dog needs your help.

I’ve had my share of grooming, showing and training dogs and I, too, had to learn a lot about them. We bring our dogs into our homes with all love but we have to remind ourselves that this is a responsibility. When people tell you to do your research before you get a dog, I get it. I’m from the old school before the internet where actual books were your only source of information. Looking for breed specific books was an errand on the list with other shopping needs. Although the internet has solved that issue, sometimes the info highway can get convoluted depending on what you read. Well, this is not that kind of post.

This post is made to help you start grooming your own dogs and develop a new bonding experience. So let’s begin with tools.

Fine and wide tooth comb

If you have a dog that requires regular grooming, you will need a few things. A metal comb made specifically for dogs and yes, there was a time when I used a plastic human comb… Short story, it broke in my Lhasa Apso’s coat and he looked at me with disdain while I spent 5 mins picking broken plastic teeth out of his hair.

Pin brush and slicker brush

Long and double coated dogs need to be brushed everyday. That cute fluffy puppy grows coat by the minute so before you bring him/her home make sure you invest in quality brushes. As puppies, my poodles were brushed, combed and daily checked for any knots that tend to form in sensitive areas.

Small, medium and large brushes

Make sure you buy size appropriate brushes for your puppy. It can be intimidating to see this great big thing with a bunch of teeth coming at you so speak softly and encourage your pup by letting him/her smell all your tools before you use them. This is telling your pup to trust you because this tool is an extension of your hand.

Dual spray bottle with water and a small spray bottle with diluted conditioner.

Misting and conditioning the coat is also an awesome maintenance tip. My breeder friend taught me this tip years ago. I was preparing my dog’s coat, I had it brushed and combed out perfectly, but he decided that rolling in the grass and playing with my other dog was fun. I called my friend exhausted and totally whining. After he laughed at me, he told me to mix my concentrated conditioner and dilute it at a 1:1 ratio and lightly mist his coat while I combed through it again. Wow did I ever breathe sigh of relief. 4 hours of grooming was saved and he went on to get his Championship! This tip can greatly change your world and shave some time off their daily groom. Now don’t get crazy and douse your dog with conditioner their skin needs to breathe and dried conditioner on their skin can be problematic.

I left a couple of links to the brushes I use and a live stream where I’m prepping my dog, Babbette’s coat for her bath. Don’t stress about getting a brush, wash and final groom done in one day. A little progress everyday is a win for you and your furbaby!

Let’s Shave A Poodle 101 Dog Grooming – Pre-Bath

Medium Brush

Large Brush

Dog Nail Maintenance for Beginners

While the world is on pause I decided to share some tips on doing some 101 minimum puppy care for your new furbaby.

I have been grooming, training and showing dogs for over 25 years. Of course, I am a sucker for those little fluffy puppies but they are definitely a lot of work. Dog sales have sky rocketed over the last year, so fast that I have seen some frustration and confusion on basic puppy care.

Whatever the reason you have about bringing a puppy into your home; he/she is now staring right back at you while you’re trying to figure out your next move. There are some basic equipment that I’m sure you already have in place. Namely you will have: a food and water bowl; crate/kennel; bones & toys; blanket; leash & collar; brush and/or comb. Along with those listed, you will need a Veterinarian, a Groomer and contact information of your breeder. I know, it may seem like a lot but these are the secrets of owning a new puppy.

Once upon a time, there wasn’t a pandemic and we could easily book grooming and veterinarian appointments. Now, we are encouraged to independently take care of the beings within our home. For me, that includes haircuts for humans and dogs. Regardless of breed, our pups of all ages need their nails clipped. The clip clop of the nails on the hard surface floors is a sign that your dog needs a nail trim.

I use a scissor type pet nail clipper to take off extra length. I take off at least 3-5mm off of each nail. I found a clipper and nail file combination on Amazon. I especially like the guard it has that can limit the amount of nail to trim. When trimming puppy nails it can be a challenge. They squirm and sometimes cry. Stay calm and even if you get one nail done, call it a win for the day and try again the next day. I recommend tapping the clipper on each nail to desensitize your pup.

The product that most prompted me to do this post is a nail grinder I found also on Amazon. A nail grinder is an electric corded or cordless rotary tool. This grinder is cordless and rechargeable which makes it easier to get around each foot. It is very quiet and dogs of all ages in my household don’t argue with me at all. I felt it was important to share these tools because those long nails can cause hip and spine problems with your dog in the long term. I have been using this grinder for over a year without any problems. Using a combo of both the clippers and the grinder should make your nail trimming day a lot easier. I would also recommend grinding your dogs nails on a regular basis of once or more a week.

If anything doing the bare minimum of keeping your dog’s nails trimmed can lead to a stronger bond with them. A trust like that can also lead to having the courage to giving them a haircut…. but that will be another post. ☺️

Family Time

The summer continues with some very unsettling weather but I’m taking advantage of every moment of the bright warm sun. With 2 poodle puppies, socialization has been challenging. Luckily, we discovered a park with a pond! We walked around and I’ve never been so grateful that I added 2 standard poodles to our family. They have brought a lot of comfort to every member of our family. The smiles on the faces of my children playing fetch in the water with Tootsie has been such a blessing.

1 year old Tootsie showing her water retrieval skills

I’ve spent time learning more about the history, as well as how much this breed of dog, the Standard Poodle, has contributed to the many breeds of dogs on the world today. Getting 2 standard poodles at around the same time I see so many differences between them. It’s so interesting to own the same breed of dog yet they are so different in their own way.

I decided to train my 2 dogs in the best way they’re suited to. So far, I’ve observed Tootsie’s drive for a job and natural love of water. Babbette has already helped me as a service dog so I will be training her differently as well.

I’ve been so inspired by my children and the dogs. They all stay in the moment and to them less is not only more, it’s way better.

Here’s the kind of fun we had on our first outing to the pond. My goal is to walk the dogs there and back regularly. 🤞🏽🤞🏽 (Weather permitting) With all my renewed energy I want to do as much as I can to get to my goals.

Cheers for summer inspiration

SS

Babbette ready to jump in the water

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