Wednesday 31 July 2019

Ella's pups are 6 weeks old

Ella’s pups are 6 weeks old this Friday and their little characters are now starting to shine through

I am happy to report that mum and pups are all thriving and doing well. They are a very calm, confident, happy, playful litter and other than a little difficulty in getting them to switch from mums milk to puppy food at 3 weeks everything has gone very smoothly so far.

Meet the pups

FREYA - Silver collar

FLO - Yellow collar

FENDI – Bright green collar

FINNI – Pink collar

FLOYD – Blue collar

FREDDY- Red collar

FOZZIE – Purple collar

FLINT – Green collar

FRANKY – Orange collar

There is no doubt the girls are the lead players in everything they encounter. Particularly Flo, Fendi and Freya. Finni did worry me at one point because she was quite reserved and cautious but she has really developed and is now on a par with her 3 sisters.

Floyd, Flint and Franky are all like their dad PD Drake in the way they walk around like 3 little stocky pit bulls. Here are Floyd and Franky doing their impression of a couple of nightclub bouncers.

Freddy and Fozzie have both appeared somewhat vulnerable and quiet in comparison to the others but they have also really kicked on in the last week and are now more than holding their own.

What is very apparent from the visitors that we have had so far is that they all love people and being held and fussed as demonstrated here with Flint

They have been very advanced in terms of their eyes opening, their hearing and their teeth coming through. As I mentioned in my last blog Mum was finding their biting very painful during feeds and switching them from mum's milk to puppy food was not progressing as I wanted it to. 

So to make sure the pups continued to get their nutrition I continued letting mum feed 3 pups at a time on her bed.

I know there will be lots of breeders reading this who will disagree with interfering in this way but I know Ella and she was very relaxed and happy with this.

I like my pups to have their own bowls so that I don’t get a situation where the greedy pups eat too much to quickly and the slower eaters don’t get their fair share.

But for the first time in our 6 litters this didn’t work and so I continued to hand feed them mince beef individually and let them experiment with one large bowl of puppy food with beef mince which seemed to work.

I then introduced a second feeding pan because 9 pups around one pan was too crowded.

They adore their supper meal of Goats milk and so it was easy to introduce them to this individually.

There was one of the pups who tried to switch to someone else’s but that isn’t a problem because they all scoff their milk so quickly nobody misses out.

I’ve now started them back on individual feeds for all of their main meals and although initially they kept trying to swop bowls they are now getting the idea.

What they do is eat the mince beef on top of their own bowls then try to steal everyone else’s mince beef.

I will now continue with each pup having their own bowl, but if there are slower eaters I will put them in a separate feeding area. 

The pups all ventured out into the garden via the patio doors when they were just 4 weeks.   As always the first ones out were Fendi and Flo.

When you consider at 4 weeks their sight is still poor and they struggle to focus close up and the drop down onto a lower level I was really impressed with them.

Within 2 days they were all going in and out without any difficulty. Here is mum leading them out when I let them out first thing in the morning.

They currently have an enclosed area outside the patio doors and a small enclosed grass area to play in.

Ella has continual access to her pups and although she no longer feeds them she has a strong instinctual urge to check on them and so she can come and go as she pleases.

Here she is leading them out when I let them all out first thing in the morning.

As their eye sight becomes clearer they are becoming more and more playful.

Although they love playing in the grass area where their favourite game seems to be rolling down the bank they still like to be able to retreat to their Den area.

They are getting quite focused on biting people’s legs and shoelaces as my wife found out this week and realises now that Wellies are the order of the day.

The pups are now realising trying to grab a sneaky feed off mum is no longer on the agenda and as a result Ella can enjoy being in with her pups much more.

She has numerous places she can get in and out of the pups exercise area if she wants a quiet moment but still has contact with the pups.

There is obviously much more work involved in having a litter at home as opposed to a kennel environment but just seeing mum having such fun and empathy with her pups makes it all worthwhile.

Mum is also invaluable in giving off her calmness and super confidence which in turn transmits itself to the pups and shows them life is nothing to worry about. Here is Ella showing her total indifference to the hoover and the pups treat it just the same way.

The weather has been a real plus and is why having a litter at this time of year has so many benefits. Here they are having a nap out on the grass without having to go back inside.

I will leave you with Ella enjoying some down time with her pups.

In my next blog I will report on how the pups get on with their 7 week assessment to establish which of them will be retained for the puppy program.

Also I will report on TPD Ernie, TPD Nico and TPD Errol who successfully passed their final assessments last week and will now be allocated to their new handlers for the Sept 2019 Initial Police dog course.

From Ella and I see you next time.

Thursday 18 July 2019


Since my last blog all of the puppies are doing really well. They definitely seem more advanced than previous litters in terms of their mobility and behaviour but I didn’t expect them to climb over the front board out of their weaning box until the end of the 3rd week.

It was a bit of a shock coming into the room at 6am when they were only 2 weeks and 2 days to find florescent green collar out of the box lying next to Ella on her bed.

I have no idea how long she had been there but she seemed quite happy and so did mum. At first I thought maybe she had been feeding on one of mums teats in the whelping box with the others when mum got up and left the box with Florescent green collar still attached.

It was the next day while watching them in the box that I watched her showing a lot of interest over the top of the board.

 Then to my amazement she promptly climbed out of the box in front of me.

I had 2 options either put up another board which makes it more difficult for mum getting in and out or remove the front board and extend the box out into a small enclosed exercise area. I went for the second option.

It was quite amusing watching them working out that the board had gone and very tentatively making their way down the ramp for the first time.

Unfortunately I didn’t film the first two down the ramp which were silver collar and florescent green.

They went down very quickly and confidently.

The two pups who you always see together are two of the girls yellow collar and florescent green.

Out of the boys the only who really sticks out is purple collar and that is because he spends most of his time asleep.

The day after the front board was removed any caution that any of them had shown certainly didn’t last for long.

There is no doubt that mum Ella was much happier with the new arrangement of the extra room to manoeuvre and being able to get in and out at two locations.

As we approached the end of week 3 it became apparent that Ella was finding it much harder feeding all 9 pups because they were much larger and aggressive and so she tended to feed for much shorter periods.

When they were smaller she would feed for an hour at a time and so the most determined 5 or 6 had their fill then dropped off and fell asleep then the others would get to feed and everyone was happy.

As they grew larger going into week 3 Ella was feeding for shorter periods because it was uncomfortable for her. This became a problem because the less determined were not getting enough feed and she would leave the box before everyone got their share.

So to counter that we conducted a separate feed for the ones who missed out which was usually Red collar and Florescent green collar.

I also decided to start the weaning process to help mum out by getting them on solid food. I start this by getting them to nibble on a small ball of fresh mince beef which they find easy to digest

I do this for 2 days then I make up some blended puppy food with some mince beef scattered on top.

I do feed each pup individually during this process which I know most breeders feel is unnecessary. I do this so that from a very early age they see human hands in and around their food as a positive thing and I can establish who the slower eaters are.

Also I know they are all getting exactly what they need.

I have seen lots of litters being born but I still find it magical the way that mum instinctively knows what to do when the pups arrive and how to look after them.

Equally fascinating is watching 2 week old pups who can barely see going onto the newspaper to do their toileting to keep their bed clean.

With the excellent warm weather we took the pups outside when they were exactly 3 weeks old with mum.

This litter do seem very calm and relaxed and were quite happy being carried in a plastic box and placed in an outside exercise run for the first time.

Ella can come and go as she pleases while the pups are out in the run and she likes to run around outside the pen with her toy just keeping an eye on proceedings.

The pups enjoyed a feed with mum in the exercise pen but you can see Ella has started blocking their feeding because the sharp teeth and claws are now very unpleasant for her. Also you can see how much bigger they are now to what they were 2 weeks ago.

They are 4 weeks old this Friday and we have noticed this week that she has dropped off feeding and is reluctant to go into the pups other than to clean them. She is clearly finding it uncomfortable.

She still keeps checking on them and cleaning up after them but because she wasn’t feeding them the pups were getting very restless and vocal.

We haven’t yet got the pups to eat enough solid food to stop them having to rely on mum. So to make things more comfortable for her we have reduced feeds with just 3 pups at a time on her own bed.

She is much happier with this and is now feeding them in comfort. We are getting Ella to do 3 feeds a day with three pups at each  feed and in addition we are giving them small  amounts of solid food which seems to be working well.

They are just starting to drink water from the water bowl without banging into it or misjudging where the water level is and accidently submerging their head completely.

They seem oblivious to the hoover next door to their living quarters and that is just as well because that will now be a daily feature along with me clumsily and accidently kicking the side of the metal walls as I climb in and out.

I am really pleased with these lovely pups and I am so proud of Ella for the amazing job she has done. It’s now down to my wife and I to take over the feeding and cleaning and to allow Ella some well-earned down time to rebuild all of her reserves.

She will still have continual access to her pups until they leave us and will no doubt still provide the occasional feed and be around to maintain discipline and order. Here they are relaxing after a feed.

This week I have been doing some training with the January 2020 pups which included a boldness test with the infamous spooky man jumping out of a bush routine.

All the pups dealt with it very well and I will report on that in my next blog.

From Ella and I see bye for now.

Monday 8 July 2019

In this blog: - Ella's Pups, TPD and PD Updates, One home found another need.




Ella’s pups were 2 weeks old on Friday and I am happy to report that mum and pups are all thriving.
I placed coloured collars onto the pups after a few days to enable me to identify them and thus be able to monitor all of their weights.
The boys are green, red, orange, blue and purple, the girls are yellow, pink, light blue and florescent green.

All the pups have steadily gained weight and they all seem very strong and robust.

The only one who didn’t seem to be keeping pace with the rest was Red collar but I think that was more relative to his size being slightly smaller.

This litter are very vigorous in their feeding but because Ella is such an incredible mum she makes sure everyone gets what they need. When the big hitters have had their fill the others all get their chance.
We had a scare at the end of the first week last Friday when I noticed that Ella didn’t have her usual sparkle. She didn’t eat her breakfast and so I whipped her off to the vets.

Sure enough she had a temperature of 104.4 and our vet Nick suspected that she was suffering with the early stages of Mastitis.  A course of medication had her back to normal within 2 days and a potentially serious situation had been averted.

People probably get bored hearing me go on endlessly about the incredible qualities that Ella possesses but she is a special girl. She has a calmness and mental toughness about her that I rarely see in a female with the extreme working drives that she possesses.

My one regret is that I didn’t have her when I was a Police dog handler because I have no doubt that as a Police dog she would have achieved legendary status regardless of who was handling her.

Hopefully she will pass this on to these young pups.

We have been lucky with all the females we have raised litters from ie Ruby, Molly, Sasha and now Ella because they have all had marvellous temperaments and were all quite happy with people visiting and being around their pups.

With the warm temperatures that we have been experiencing Ella likes nothing more than lying under the apple tree in the garden relaxing but always alert to any noises from the pups in the conservatory which she can easily hear from that location.

When she is not with her pups she is like my constant shadow following me around hoping for a game of tug or playing with a ball. For that reason I tend to do a lot of my admin on the laptop under that tree to make sure can keep cool.

We are lucky to have such a large garden in which Ella can get plenty of exercise while at the same time she has the freedom to be able to pop into the conservatory to check on her pups when she needs to. I have prepared a short video so that you can see the set up that we have.

Within the next week I will attach a large run to the whelping box to give them more room to explore in the conservatory.  By yesterday all of the pups had opened their eyes and they are becoming a lot more vocal and lively.

I have introduced a small pen alongside the whelping box to put the pups inside while I clean and change the bedding and paper. They were not impressed to start with but didn’t take long to get used to it.

I have had a lot of enquiries asking how Red collar is getting on. No need to worry he is doing fine mum makes sure about that. He is probably one of the more vigorous pups in the group.

Well that just about brings you all up to date. A good sign that all is well is the pups are quiet. That has been the case so far.  From a quiet contented happy bunch of pups bye for now.



On the 30th of May 2019 PC Jenna Bushby who recently joined the Dorset dog section travelled to meet TPD Echo and her family at their home address.

Jenna has been allocated TPD Echo for the forthcoming Initial Police dog course which commences on the 9th of September 2019.

Since collecting TPD Echo Jenna has been getting to know Echo and building that all important bond. They have been doing some basic training work with local trainer Chris Burridge and general socialisation in preparation for their course.

Unfortunately last week she had a setback in that she was most unhappy going onto several shiny floor surfaces in one of their local buildings. You may remember we had a similar problem on the last course with TPD Sydney.

Up until this point Sydney and puppy walker Phil had previously been on this floor in Debenhams without any issues. TPD Echo is the same she has never had issues with any floor surfaces. I discuss this strange phenomenon in blog 2 of 2019.

Instructor Chris Burridge will be carrying out further evaluation of this issue with Jenna and TPD

Echo next week. Hopefully it is just a blip but if it is not sadly she will not be able to continue in the program.  




Last week I did some evening training up at Exeter racecourse with the other 3 dogs earmarked for the September 2019 Initial Police dog course TPD Ernie, TPD Errol and TPD Nico and their puppy walkers.

I specifically concentrated on their tracking work. TPD Errol and TPD Ernie are 4 months older than TPD Nico and are therefore more advanced. They are both able to successfully tackle a 15 minute old track with several directional changes.

Here is TPD Errol and puppy walker Andy easily completing a 3 leg track.

Even at 7.30 pm up on the racecourse it was still quite warm and so TPD Errol was grateful to puppy walker Olivia for a well-earned drink between tracks.

Although TPD Nico is a little behind the others he is still at a good level for the start of the course.

All 3 teams are well advanced in their Criminal work, searching and tracking work. They are now  waiting to be allocated to  handlers for the start of their course.


PD Brock ( Previously Quest) is pictured here with his new Police dog handler Marcus Surridge from West Mercia dog section after successfully completing a 3 month General Purpose Initial Police dog course under the Instruction of West Mercia trainer Ash Oliver.

PD Brock had already successfully completed an Initial Police dog course in Devon and Cornwall in

December 2018 with his then handler Mark Stevens. He had been inconsistent on his tracking during the course but he had been outstanding on every other exercise.

Although successfully completing his end of course tracking tests there was a concern that once he began operational deployment his inconsistency might make it difficult for him to make the transition from training to operational work.

Despite his handler Mark’s best effort that is exactly what happened. It soon became apparent that a significant period of tracking training would be required to correct this problem.
Instructor Graham Attwood who had instructed Mark and PD Brock on their course knew from his time on the course that PD Brock could track and believed that PD Brock had it in him to succeed.

Graham took him to live with his family while he undertook several months remedial tracking work with him. 

Because there was no guarantee that Instructor Graham Attwood could rectify the situation with PD Brock his handler Mark had to start another course with a new dog PD Drake.

Mark was obviously devastated to lose PD Brock not least because he was very much part of the family but also because he had worked so hard to make it a success.

I imported PD Brock ( Formerly Quest ) with his sister Queni from their breeder Walther Verbruggen Belgium in October 2017 aged 15 weeks.

Here is PD Brock ( Formerly Quest) being collected by his puppy walkers Mitzi, Colin and their son
Luke to start his journey.

Instructor Graham Attwood made good progress with PD Brock and so when West Mercia Police dog section were looking for a dog for their Initial Police dog course arrangements were made for PD Brock to be allocated to Marcus a first time handler starting on their section.

I went to see him 2 weeks ago when PD Brock had completed 11 weeks of his Initial course to see how he was getting on. I saw Marcus do a very good track with him.

His Instructor Ash Oliver told me that when they first started with PD Brock he was still inconsistent regularly overshooting changes of direction but that they went back to basics for quite some time and eventually the penny dropped.

Instructor Ash told me it had been hard work but they were now really pleased with him. They took the same view as our force that he was so promising in all the other areas of his work that he was worth persevering with.

Marcus told me that he and his family adore him. Marcus told me that he had always wanted to be a dog handler and that he couldn’t be more pleased starting out with a dog like PD Brock.

My thanks go to Graham Attwood for persevering with PD Brock. I am also grateful to Instructor Ash Oliver and handler Marcus of West Mercia for giving him this opportunity. I am also grateful to Mark Stevens who couldn’t have done any more than he did to try and make it work with PD Brock.

It must have been very stressful for Mark and his family but thankfully he is now working successfully with PD Drake and so it would appear everything has turned out well for all concerned.

I am especially pleased for PD Brock’s puppy walkers Mitzi and Colin who raised PD Brock and like all puppy walkers just wanted the best outcome for their dog. They are obviously delighted that he has been given this chance.


In February this year PD Bill went to PC Lee Schofield in South Yorkshire Police dog section to start an Initial Police dog course. PD Bill had originally started a course in our own force in January this year but his handler didn’t complete the course and unfortunately there wasn’t another handler available to continue with PD Bill’s training.

I am happy to report that PD Bill passed with flying colours and is now an operational Police dog with Lee and his other specialist search dogs.

Lee describes him as a superb tracking dog and a bit of a handful which is just what is required for some of the individuals that he will be required to deal with in that part of the country. Lee tells me that he certainly will not be found wanting in that department.

We wish them the best of luck and as always my thanks to the most important people involved the puppy walkers Chris and his son Jake who raised him.

There are further pictures of PD Bill and his puppy walkers in Blog 1 of 2019.


Pictured above are brothers Nero, TPD Nico and sister Nicki  who we acquired from Kazzardsway German shepherds in August 2018.

They have been going great guns in their training but sadly Nero and Nicki both failed their hip x rays and could not be passed as fit to work as operational Police dogs. They were due to start our September 2019 Initial Police dog course and so they have had to be released from the puppy program.

We launched a public appeal for anyone willing to provide them with a loving home and received an incredible 200 plus responses.

Both were placed in new homes within a week. Nicki has gone to a lovely home in Horrabridge with Geoff and Lorraine.

She has settled in very well and they are delighted with her. Nicki only just failed her hip x rays and it is very frustrating because she would have made a super Police dog.
Unfortunately Nero’s experience wasn’t so good as he placed within a home who already had a springer spaniel. The spaniel attacked Nero and so we are now looking for another home for Nero.
I am devastated for Nero’s puppy walkers Chris & Lindsey and Nicki’s puppy walker Margaret who have put so much time and effort into developing them both.


Dino had a great time on holiday with his temporary puppy walkers Eamon and Karen and is now safely back home with them without once ending up in the canal.

I hope to put out a short weekly blog giving an update on the progress of Ella’s litter.

We are still short of 2 puppy walkers and an appeal will be going out this week. It will be a pity if we do not get the required number of puppy walkers because this litter could be really quite special.

From me, Ella and her pups bye for now.