Puppies are the future of a breeding program and the future of the breed.
Breeders carry a huge responsibility not only to the dams they breed and the puppies they produce, but also to the breed to insure that they preserve the innate nature of the breed and stay true to the standard. What a breeder presents to the judges should be the best representation of their breeding program and a good interpretation of the breed standard as is possible, always reaching to improve with each generation.
Every time a bitch is breed, there are risks to her health – including death. So no breeding should be taken lightly. Although the dam is 50% of the genes given to a litter of puppies, they spend more time with the puppies than the sire who may never even see his offspring. So their contribution in socializing and nurturing their puppies contributes a lot to the well-being of the puppies getting a good start.
My philosophy in breeding puppies is to only breed when it makes sense to do so, then only breed the best to the best. A breeding should only be done when you want to preserve a very good gene pool, need to improve the line of a kennel, or to replace older show animals with dogs that will be a good representative of the breed in general.
Each generation of puppies produced should be better than the generation before. Sometimes it is hard to watch puppies beat their elders in the ring, especially when the older dog has had a very illustrious career, but that is how it is supposed to be. If not, then I take that to mean I need to re evaluate my breeding goals.
Puppies should also be healthy in body and mind. They should carry the conformation that would transfer to the work the breed was intended to do. That is a big responsibility for the breeder – to never forget the roots of the breed and continue to preserve the instinct the dogs were intended to carry.
All my puppies are whelped in a whelping box next to my bed. There I allow them the time to be nurtured by their dams and introduced to human touch and interaction at an early age. I conduct puppy sensation exercises that simulate the puppies senses. They are also introduced to new sounds and scents while still with their dam. They get the fun of playing with my grandson and his friends too – that is a treat for both kids and puppies!
Once they are old enough that they are climbing out of the whelping box, they move to a puppy pen in my family room. Now their exposure to the world grows rapidly. They are now exposed to all sorts of sounds, people and other dogs. It is also at this time that they get to go explore outside and travel in the car. They always LOVE their freedom – especially outside! They learn steps, about the barn and the horses, about the woods and hiking, and all about water. They are also introduced to sleeping and traveling in a crate so that they become crate trained. If it is appropriate, they begin to travel to dog shows and learn the sights and sounds of a very big world. They also continue their exposure to children.
Once they begin to tear down the puppy pen, I move them to their puppy house and kennel. They have the ability to go outside at will through a doggy door and have exposure to a covered play area outside and also to a grass area next to the horse pasture, so they get to talk to the horses during the day. At this point, most of the puppies have moved or are moving to their new families, except for those that I keep to evaluate and or the ones I have chosen to keep for the breeding program. They then go on to show before being bred.
So enjoy my puppies, they represent a lot of thought, hard work, love and hope for the future of the American Black & Tan Coonhound and the Coonhounds of Windbourne.