A Dog's Life at Deep Run Farm
by Dr Phyllis Giroux, DVM
Welcome to Deep Run Farm Canine Health Care

We consider our pups start their lives at the moment of conception. So, from the very first instant, we want them to have the very best of everything that we can provide. Our moms eat only premium dog foods with the best supplements money can buy. We give Missing Link and Canine Plus to all our expecting moms. Girls that are competitive dogs continue their training throughout pregnancy to maintain their peak mental and physical condition. Research has shown that mothers that are mentally challenged during pregnancy have offspring with larger brain weights than those that are allowed to "vegetate". So we continue training during this time to enhance the brainpower of our pups. They continue regular exercise, retrieving, and swim time until the day the pups are due.

Each Deep Run mom is attended during her whelping. All pups are born in our home, in a clean and disinfected children’s wading pool padded with clean towels and fleeces. A heat lamp is placed over the mom to maintain the temperature at about 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, the ideal temperature for newborns. As pups are most often born at night, usually Phyllis ( Dr. Giroux) sits up to offer reassurance and support during birthing, and is right there should any trouble develop. Each pup is rubbed briskly within seconds after birth to acquaint her or him with the smell and touch of human hands as well as their dam’s tongue. As soon as the newborn pup is dried off, it is put on the nipple to nurse, as this early colostrum is essential to protect the pup from disease until the immune system matures at 12-18 weeks of age. After each couple of pups, all the towels and fleeces are taken out and replaced with fresh, mom is taken out for a walk and a drink of water. So it goes, reassuring mom that she is doing a great job, helping her to relax, ensuring each pup is nursing, until all the pups are born. Every two to three hours the pups are checked on, picked up and handled to be sure that all is well, and to continue the pup's contact with humans. We talk to the pups, and tell them how beautiful they are, how smart, and talented. We reassure the dam that she is doing a great job, and that her babies are wonderful. The sheets, towels and/or fleeces in with the pup are changed while mom goes out for a potty break. Mom's diet during this time continues to be the very best, supplemented with milk formula, vitamins with anti-oxidants, Missing Link, and Glycoflex. Puppies are constantly kept on surfaces with good traction, so they don't slip and slide. This helps to develop good muscle tone and prevents damage to their joints. (Some experts claim that hip problems can start soon after birth if the pups are kept on slippery surfaces.) The pups are kept in the center of our household, and exposed to all the noises of normal life: the telephone ringing, the dishwasher, the disposal, the microwave, dropped pots and pans. As all this occurs while pups are in the litter and with mom, nothing is scary, everything can be accepted as "normal" or at least non-threatening. Pups are often set down on a carpet or furniture during this time, to have them experience different surfaces, different textures, different heights, and different smells. They learn that different is not "bad", there are no adverse circumstances associated with change.

In litters with more than eight pups, we supplement starting on day 3 to insure that each pup is getting an equal opportunity to eat and grow. Each life is important and every pup is treated and cherished as an individual. Each puppy has dewclaws removed at 4 days of age. The dewclaw is the "thumb", that extra toe that is subject to tearing and injury in active sporting dogs. The incision is sutured, and the suture will be removed in a few days. The pups will continue to be nurtured and monitored until they are about three to three and a half weeks old. We will probably have moved their "crib" to several locations in the house by now, again to acquaint them with different environments while they are still safe in the "nest".

At approximately 25 days of age, the pups start to be quite a bit more mobile. Their eyes and ears opened at 14 days, and now they are ready to take on the world, starting with their littermates. They will growl and bark at each other, walk around in their pool, and begin to play with one another. At this time, we start to place plush and fleece toys in with the pups, so they can learn to crawl over them, mouth them, and pick them up, or play tug of war. At this time, we also place mobiles over the pups' heads, to encourage them to look up, and experience the environment above them, in preparation for looking in the sky (for game birds) later on. Soon, they are navigating quite well, and we introduce blocks and stools for the pups to climb on, jump on, and hide under. During all this time, we are continuing frequent interaction with the pups, picking them up, holding them, carrying them, talking to them, hugging them and kissing them!

By the time the pups are four and a half weeks old, we have moved them out of their wading pool into a larger area that has a sleeping area, a potty area, and a play area. Even at this young age, the pups can start to learn to be clean in their personal habits, and that there are acceptable places to eliminate, and other areas for eating, playing and sleeping. This is when they start on solid food, and they will get two meals a day, during the day, when they are separated from their mother. Mom still gets night duty, though, and the pups will nurse and sleep with mom for another week yet. Pups are now much more active, and they get plenty of toys to play with. Squeaky toys, flush toys, toys that rattle, that roll, some hang from the air above. They have many different kinds of surfaces to run and play on, stools, ladders, children's furniture, and boxes.

At five and a half weeks, pups go to three meals a day, a say good bye to mom. It is time for them to be on their own. They will be fed only the best large breed puppy food, supplemented with Glycoflex, to build strong joints, and Missing Link, to provided fresh vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. This last week and a half with us is a busy time for them, and could be stressful, so we continue to spend lots and lots of time with the pups, letting them know how special they are, how handsome, smart, and talented. Weather permitting, the pups will spend most days outside in a portable exercise pen, that will be in a different spot each day. The pups will be exposed to all the activities of daily life here at Deep Run….human and canine visitors coming and going, cars driving in and out, and the sounding of hunting and training in the fields on the Farm. They can hear gunshots and duck calls, geese flying overhead all fall and winter, roosters crowing, cows mooing, and occasionally, dogs barking. At this age, all pups are introduced to wing clipped pigeons, first as a group (safety in numbers!), later as individuals. Each day one of our dedicated puppy raisers: Kristi, Elizabeth, Jessica, Jean or Janet will take the pups for a walk somewhere, first around the yard, then farther and farther, through the fields, in the woods, to the ponds. They learn to follow, and investigate, and feel comfortable with this exciting big world! The pups are encouraged to try to negotiate the obstacles they come to by climbing or jumping over, crawling under, or going around, but working out the problem on their own. Weather permitting, someone will go swimming with the pups, teaching them that water is great fun and they can really swim on their own! Pups are introduced to the collar and leash, and taught the concept of walking along to keep pace with a person. We sit pups up on a carpeted table, and show them how to sit, giving them a treat for doing this well. We have soft fuzzy bumpers for them to chase, and retrieve, and then birds, either pigeons or small ducks. Pups are introduced to the crate, first in groups of two (for security), then on their own. Small groups are placed in crates and driven around the farm, to get used to going in a vehicle, then let out for a fun romp in the woods or at the pond. So much to learn! The world is a great adventure, not scary at all. Each pup is encouraged to think and act as an individual, and each is given special time. By the time they are seven weeks, each pup should walk on a leash from place to place, come when called, retrieve a bumper and a bird, go happily into a crate, and ride in a car. So, when your pup is ready for your home, the only new thing will be you! Everything else will be "old hat", nothing the pup hasn't seen, heard, or experienced before. People tell us we can put a pup on an airplane, ship him or her across the country, and when the crate the door is opened, your Deep Run pup will bounce out and say "Here I am! I'm special!"
The activity and attitude of each pup is recorded daily during this time, so we have extensive notes on each pup's personality and aptitude. These notes help us to determine which pup is right for you and your household. It is very important to us here at Deep Run that your new pup is exactly what you are looking for in terms of temperament and activity level. If you are an avid trainer, have had field pups before, and plan to campaign your pup in trials, you need a different kind of puppy than if you are a mother of three small children who is getting a pup as a friend and companion for the kids. It is our job to sort this out for you, so your new pup will fill your needs, and be loved and cherished as a new member of the household.

When you come to pick up your pup, we have an extensive information packet for you that will explain what your is eating, and how often, what supplements he is on, and why we recommend that you continue these at home. We will explain what health care your puppy has had, and what we suggest for the future. We will talk to you about heartworm preventative, flea and tick control, treats, toys, and training. We will continue to answer questions for you throughout your puppy's life. We are happy to board your dog for you, and train your dog, if you would like. Your Deep Run pup is always welcome back at Deep Run, for whatever reason.


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Deep Run Farm
13727 Blackwells Mill Road
Goldvein, VA 22720

(540) 752-4710/4888     FAX (540) 752-4775     deeprunfarm@deeprunretrievers.com

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