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Dog Behavior and Training, puppies, Responsible Breeding

How to socialize puppies – for three easy payments.


Sell toys. Sell whelping boxes. Sell your book. Sell your lectures. Do NOT claim that for a mere $69.99, a mysterious door will open and you are going to make us a better breeder than every other breeder – but you won’t tell us why or how… at least not until we give you our paypal. But once you HAVE the paypal, we can be SchmancyBreeders (TM) and SchmancyTrainers (R) that use InterestBoxes (TM) because InterestBoxes (TM) are so much better than a cardboard box and some empty water bottles.

Ian Dunbar has been giving this stuff away for years. Go read Dog Star Daily. Free yourself from (TM)s and (R)s. Introduce your puppies to at least fifty friendly strangers before they leave your house, and tell your buyers that they must meet fifty more before they’re twelve weeks old. STOP raising them in tiny bare x-pens. Make their world rich and interesting and include at least one new surface, challenge, smell, temperature, or other sense per day. Let them get away from their own feces, for pete’s sake. And get them the heck out of your house when they are puppies. Stop keeping half or the whole litter.

You do those things, and you are doing GREAT. If you want to pay a bunch of money to be in a club of people who discuss those things in greater depth, that is AWESOME. Go for it. But don’t think that a paywall makes you a better breeder, or $200 makes your puppies better puppies, than someone with an empty box, some water bottles, and a lap.


The Prohibition Litter at 6 weeks 5 days

Since I last posted, I’ve been busy every day of the week with these little monsters. Tragically, after I posted their intro pictures we lost Bessie, the little tri girl. It’s a long story that I can’t really tell without getting weepy, but the short version is that we tried very, very hard, and our vet tried even harder than we did, and lots of tears were shed when we couldn’t beat it in the end.

That’s a sad beginning, but what a very happy group we have now, at almost seven weeks. In order, these are Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Etta James.





















Announcing a really special litter


DSC00422 (2)

Once upon a time, we had a litter between two of our favorite dogs, Porter and Eva. And in that litter was a beautiful little girl puppy (above) with very angry eyebrows.

That little girl puppy went into a performance home, and started to do really well in agility and everything else she tried. She did so well, in fact, that we asked if she might be willing to have some babies before she started to work hard on her titles. She seemed OK with that, as did her owners, and when she had her health testing it looked absolutely perfect.

We looked long and hard for the right boy for Lilly, who is small and quick and silly. We wanted to make sure that the dog was moderate in size, with a pedigree that worked well with hers, and we wanted a beautiful temperament. We finally found Gryffin, Merrythought Gingher White Lightning, and we were over the moon.

Gryffin arrived (well, his genetic material did) in April in a white styrofoam box, and Lilly soon found herself in an embarrassing situation.

Lilly came to us in New Hampshire about a week before she was due. And, in short order, she presented us with four puppies, each more surprising than the last.


As you can see, they’ve got something to say about what kind of interesting colors Cardigans can come in.


The four of them: One tri girl,  one “funny” merle boy, one pretty weird merle girl, and one stunningly crazy merle boy.


Their colors are so unusual, in fact, that their DNA is going off to a lab to have their merle gene sequenced. The color geneticist that we are working with told me that their merle gene may be mutated, so instead of having silver between their black patches they have pure white. They also have big patches of a kind of badger-colored gray/brown, which is another feature of the mutation they may have.


Lilly is named after Lillian Gish, the silent film star. Since Gryffin is “White Lightning,” we decided to go with a speakeasy theme, and they are all named after important jazz artists.

This (and the picture above) are of CAB CALLOWAY. He’s a merle (harlequin/tweed/mutated) boy.


This is the normal tri girl, BESSIE SMITH.


Bessie again, with Percy the cat. Percy adores puppies and wants to rub against them and purringly stare at them all day long.



Bessie one more time.


Here is the big merle (harl/tweed/mutated) girl, ETTA JAMES. Her black patches have big swirls of badger color in them that get brighter by the day.



DSC_6443Etta’s beautiful head.


Last but by no means least came a boy who – when he was handed to me – made me gasp out loud. He is marked like a show-marked harlequin dane, and he’s the biggest reason we think we definitely have a mutated merle gene and not just “too much white” mismarking in this litter. His name is LOUIS ARMSTRONG, and he even has a registered name already, WHITE RAVEN HEEBIE JEEBIES.


Louis’ other side.


Louis still waiting for his eyes to open (in the two days since I took these, they have opened and it looks like his white side is going to be blue and the spotty eye will be blue or cracked).

When we announced this litter on Facebook, it caused quite a bit of (must be spoken in a fake poncy English accent) CONTROVERSY. I am thankful that most people were as excited to see them as we are, but there are more than a few of our fellow breeders who think that we should be anything BUT happy to have puppies arrive who are of an unusual shade. Instead of saying “Sadly, we had an entire litter of mismarks,” we said “Incredibly happily, we have an entire litter of something very interesting and we’re going to get their DNA studied and it’s going to be AWESOME.” This did not go over well.

Now that their eyes are open and we’re pretty sure they’re here to stay, I will be posting a LOT of these guys, and also keeping you updated on their testing (they will not only have the DNA done, they’ll have BAER and CERF testing). I honestly do think they are going to have a mutated merle gene; I’ve studied color genetics in dogs for twenty years now and they look exactly like the harlequin collies that already have the mutation established. However, it turns out that they don’t have interesting DNA and they’re in fact “just” mismarks, we will say “Incredibly happily, we have an entire litter of gorgeous mismarks and it’s going to be AWESOME.”

– Joanna (and Sarah, and Lilly’s wonderful owners, and Gryffin’s amazing owner)

PS: No, there are none available! Not right now, at least. After evaluations we’ll start the placement process. But the waiting list is like a mile long 🙂


Puppy party!


I’d love to tell you and show you more, but you know where my camera stayed the entire time? Yeah, on the kitchen counter. I was having far too good a time to even remember to grab it.

Those of you who were there snapping cell pictures, can you e-mail me any that came out? I don’t even have your babies’ eight-week portraits! Bad breeder!

I am still SUPER tired, but the upshot is that five puppies (Harold, who is now Malcolm; Despereaux, who is now Henry; Corduroy; Handsome George, who is now Winston; and Hugo) are now home with their families. Ramona leaves on Wednesday and Bianca the week after that; both are flying out. I get Monster until the beginning of May and then we’re down to just Milo.

(OK, boring breeder stuff): Sarah and Linda were derailed by an emergency c-section on Linda’s sweet Basset Marsha – thankfully, after a very harrowing time, Marsha and babies are OK – so we were down a couple of evaluators but we did our best with show/pet stuff. Monster was the unanimous pick, which I knew at least a week ago (that dog is SO PRETTY), but I was thankful that Milo wasn’t down at the bottom of the group. As expected, we had some really, really lovely long upper arms in this group – Monster has an upper arm that’s as long as some adults’ – and fronts on all nine are very pretty (which is a huge thing). Ribbing shape is better than I’ve had consistently before, and we were very happy with toplines and croups/tails across the board. Bone and feet were another strength. Heads were all very pleasant, and I am keeping the one who is furthest away from the head faults I have now in my dogs (I tend to keep really short, sharp heads, and need more width across the foreface and cushioning in the muzzle, which is why Milo’s little saint bernard-y face is going to be so good for me). The faults in the litter were as expected, nothing that was worrying soundness-wise, which was great, and I was glad to be told that I was seeing the faults correctly and analyzing puppies right. Now we wait for movement to settle in (they’re such babies still that it’s hard to tell) and for rears to appear. On the whole I am thrilled with this litter and am so grateful to everyone who made it happen.

Back to fun: The puppies loved the crowd. I didn’t see even a moment’s hesitation and they did all their funny tricks and played all their funny games and looked around for the applause. And oh my heavens, you should have SEEN how happy Daisy Poppy was. It was like a light turned on inside her when the twentieth person came in the door. She was the undisputed queen of the day and she knew it. She was fawned over for hours and hours and she just climbed from lap to lap. What a completely precious dog she is.

Also precious: Sammy and Godric, who were the only other of our dogs that I let be loose (since we had so many visitor dogs I didn’t want to overwhelm people with my Cardigans), and thought that God had sent them a vat full of presents. They are both completely stuffed with cheese and I think I saw Sammy holding her down and washing Monster’s mom’s face.

Now that things are quiet, the four remaining have responded the way they often do to half or more leaving, by getting super excited and playing like maniacs. I keep hearing them crash into things. They’ve also realized that noise gets results, so Ramona (who was the loudest, bounciest, and most insistent of them all at the party) has spent the entire evening looking at me going “Raawwr? Mmmm? Roo. ROOR. MMMMRRRRR.”

If people send me pics I’ll post them – otherwise look for 8.5-week portraits of the four remaining if I can get them tomorrow, and please send hugs and kisses and good thoughts to those babies who are having their first nights away from home.


Puppies who are not mine, and puppies who are.

I don’t know if all breeders feel this way, but from pretty early on I know which puppies aren’t mine. It’s one of the (many) reasons I will never be a good show breeder, because I pick up puppies and say “You are the best in the litter. And you don’t belong to me.”

I just ADORE these puppies that are in my house right now. They’re the sweetest babies I’ve ever had. And as much as I will always love them, I know they’re not mine.

Clue is mine. She came off the plane from Arkansas as the kids’ puppy, and by the time we got home in the car she was absolutely mine. I have always worked overnights from home, and Clue’s growing-up years were spent on my feet as I typed. That was always her spot, until she got so mature that she switched to the couch in order to lord it over everyone.

My feet were cold for a while there, until Friday realized that I stayed up late. Friday is really Doug’s dog, always has been, but she’s a gossipy girl and she will curl up under my heels to talk to me at night. But it’s spring now, which means she’s got duties elsewhere involving all the farm-type jobs she’s given herself. She thinks she needs to watch the chickens sleep at night.

Juno can’t be bothered with feet or blankets or anything not involving a ball or something to chew or something to herd. She’s never been cuddly. Even asleep, she concentrates so hard she vibrates as she breathes.

Daisy Poppy is a bed dog. She’s got no use for me when she can be luxuriantly stretched out on a space-age mattress against a kid.

So here I am, with chilly toes. Until this evening when I went to check on puppies one last time and Milo would not leave me alone. Everywhere I walked, he walked next to me and would plant himself in front of me and stare at me. Finally I got the hint and brought him in the bedroom.

He spent many minutes sniffing all around everywhere, at all the dog beds and blankets, at the bed itself, he went over to give his mom a kiss… and then he left her and came over and flopped himself on my feet. When I move, he yawns and then pushes himself further onto me. My dog.

My extremely hairy dog.


The Daisy Poppy puppies are seven weeks old and impossible to get pictures of! So this is a short roundup of babies and destinations.

Milo – Staying here (yay!). Tri with very ashy points, long coated (like you couldn’t tell!)

Handsome George (now Winston): Local pet home. Tri with beautiful tan points, short coated.

Bianca: Going to be a Cali girl, which is good because she’s a beach princess if ever I met one. Black and white (tri with brindle points), coated.

Ramona: Going to Texas to be an agility star. Dark brindle, question mark on coat (I think she’s genetically short but is going to be glamorous, but she’s got some matte coat on her sides that may turn into longer furnishings).

Ramona again, practicing being aerodynamic.

Despereaux, now Henry: Wonderful local home. Black and white, coated (and wavy!).

Corduroy: Going to be a little girl’s best friend. Dark brindle, puffy right now but not excessive, and after getting longish it’s settling back down now – question mark on coat.

Harold: Sticking around for a couple of months because his family is house-hunting, so you’ll get to see updates for a while yet. Wonderful local family. Either extremely dark brindle or black and white, short-coated.

Hugo: Wonderful local family home. Brown brindle, short coated.

Monster. Great local home, but he gets to stick around another couple of weeks while his family has other obligations so you’ll get to see him a bit more. Red brindle, short coated.

So if you’ve been keeping track, that’s 4 definite short-coated, 3 definite long-coated, 2 question marks; 4 tris, 4 brindles, 1 Harold (seriously, I have looked him over in the sunlight about a dozen times and I can’t see a real red stripe anywhere, so beats me – as I told his owners, he’s always going to look black and white, whatever he turns out to be). Two babies leaving the nest and seven staying close. And nine amazingly wonderful people-oriented puppies of gorgeousness.


Update – Quincey! (who was Quince, Juno-Shade fluffy black boy)

From Megan, his owner:

“I know you have been getting some updates from Facebook but I saw that owners of Quincey’s siblings were looking for updates and figured I would put together a formal update and add in the stacked photo I am supposed to send you every 6 months.  I finally figured out how to get a decent confo photo by putting him on a low landscaping wall, putting some toys down a few feet away, and letting him stack himself when he reaches them. He gets along well with our cat and gets along really well with the dogs we share the yard with.  He passed obedience level 1 and now knows a wide variety of commands that he may actually do most of the time.

Saturdays he goes to the beach generally where he does not like to swim in the waves but happily plays with other dogs, digs in the sand, and splashes in any puddles he can find while following along as we hike along the beach.  Thankfully the sand does not really stick to his coat so most of it falls off by the time we get to the car.

Sundays we found a corgi play group that has around 10-20 corgi’s at a local dog park.  There is a Pembroke fluff there that is only 2 weeks younger than him and is about the same size (I saw her dad and he is HUGE although maybe the bigger size is popular as he did show at Westminster this year) and the two of them have a lot of fun playing when they are not part of the corgi pack trying to chase down any non corgi’s that come in.  This is where the muddy pictures come from as the footing is bark chips but he always manages to dig under them around where the waterer is and then has a dirt/mud party.

And then one morning a week he and I go to herding class.  I found a trainer who has worked with corgi’s in the past and has had a pembroke finish his herding championship.  The trainer there really likes how he is put together and said that he moves really well and is good at extending his stride out which the trainer said some of the Cardi’s he sees either can’t or won’t.  He has encouraged us to trial him when he gets older as he says it would be a shame not too.  So if Quincey continues to think herding is amazingly fun he can hopefully get some letters at the end of his name.   We are keeping Quincey’s runs very short to about two, 5 minute long runs and keeping the concepts very basic while working in a small paddock with a few trees.  He will naturally gather the sheep and bring them over to me but is very excited about the whole thing and works too fast so we are working along the fenceline to help give a natural set of brakes.  The last lesson we were very successful in getting him to slow down a bit and then magically he was in control of the sheep and got the flock through the HT course.  Since he is still young though the main point is to always make sure he enjoys the work and he comes out of the lessons acting like he is in charge of the world.

As he matures he is becoming less of a cuddly puppy and more of a confident, outgoing dog.  He wants to be near you all the time and loves being petted still but now he will position himself so he can keep an eye on the rest of the world at the same time.  On walks he will stand between me and anything suspicious until I say it’s ok. (Or if it is a person until they say anything involving the word cute and then he is falling all over himself to be petted and sitting on their feet.)  He is amazingly friendly and people love him wherever we go.  I thank you again for doing such a good job at picking his parents and for doing an amazing job at socializing him.  He has been an incredibly easy puppy to raise and we could not love him more.”

From Joanna: First, for everyone – this is EXACTLY what I am asking for when I say stacked eye-level pictures. I don’t expect them in show leads or anything, but I can see so much of his condition and conformation from this – and can tell that his feet are looking good, nails are short, weight looks good, coat is wonderful – all of the things that give me invaluable clues about health.

For Megan – he’s gorgeous. Seriously. He looks a ton like his mom in the face, but he’s got better bone and better feet and his dad’s longer body and lovely rear angles. I am SO pleased to know that he stayed beautifully proportional; you may remember that we put him in a pet home because he was so short-legged and we worried he would get lower than we wanted. But that hasn’t happened, and that lets me make better decisions the next time I’m facing the same choice.

Also, he makes the fifth (?) of his siblings to be tested and showed to be herding talented. That makes me SO DANG PROUD as a breeder I could just burst. Seriously. Hearing that a puppy of mine should be trialed is like handing me a best in show ribbon. I am so incredibly thankful to you for doing such a great job with him and for being such a fantastic, perfect home.

To Quince: Ickle baby woodoo smoochie!


Hey, look who it is!


Every time I look at our little Ramona in this current litter, I see Moth. They are going to have the same face, and same naughty-brilliant expression.

We got to have Moth for a couple of weeks earlier this winter, and she is exactly as funny and smart as she looks. But the last time I saw her she was a lot more of a baby – this set of pictures surprised me too! She really grew some ears since she was here, wow. Thanks, Dave – she looks amazing.

Mystery puppies, puppies

Call-out for a global Clue/Juno puppy update!

Corra (who was Hedwig)’s mom asked for a big roundup update on the previous puppies, and I think it’s about that time!

I know many of you have sent me updates personally, but I always hate to post your stuff without permission. So if you would like the big crowd of people who adored them as puppies to see how your baby (or grown dog) is doing, please leave it in the comments!

I’ll start off with Corra – isn’t she gorgeous?

And here’s Irie (Peaseblossom):

So how is your big girl or boy doing? Everyone’s dying to know 🙂