Thursday 22 August 2019

In this blog an Ella and pup update

All of Ella’s nine pups pass their suitability to be police dog assessments.

The pups get to meet their dad PD Drake before going to their new puppy walkers on the next stage of their journey as trainee police dogs.

Pictured above are Ella’s 9 pups at the start of their 8th and final week with us. It was now time for them to undergo their puppy assessments to establish which pups would be going on to our puppy development program.

The assessments were  carried out in Plymouth at the home of Graham Mabbutt a retired Devon and
Cornwall Police dog Instructor with over 50 years’ experience of assessing puppies. The girls had their assessments on the Monday and the boys on Tuesday.

Here are the girls all bright eyed and bushy tailed about to set off on their 50 mile journey with me.

Having watched them develop over the last 8 weeks I was extremely confident that they would all do well.

On our arrival at Graham’s house without so much as a squeak from any of the pups on the journey the pups were given a run on the lawn to spend a penny and a chance to stretch their legs.

They weren’t at all fazed by the ducks or the noisy river which runs alongside their beautiful property.

Here is Finni recalling happily and confidently to Graham as did all of the pups.

The pups were then assessed individually by Graham in the house in a room they had never been before. The tests are designed to assess confidence, playfulness, determination, willingness, reaction to new situations and the ability to deal with stress.

Probably the most important test for me is the first one where the pup is placed in a room it has never been before and we assess the puppies initial reaction and recovery.

Here is Finni giving me everything I am looking for ie calmness, confidence and showing no sign of stress whatsoever.

Through play the assessor will look at the puppy’s playfulness, determination, reaction to different noises, reaction to constriction, reaction to unusual circumstances such as being placed on a rickety table or being taken by surprise by a small umbrella opening suddenly.

Here is Flint on entering the room with a raised tail confidently exploring the room with a real swagger.

There is a lot of divided opinion on the value of puppy assessing to try and predict adult character. I certainly don’t use it as a pass or fail but rather as additional information to complement the breeders observations having raised the puppy and research into the character and genetics of the parents.

Here is Floyd showing real determination to win a game of tug of war with the assessor.

I use Graham as my assessor because of his experience and ability to recognise any signs of stress in a puppy and to immediately remove any pressure through play if he needs to.

As Graham says any fool can frighten a puppy, the skill is assessing a puppy’s strengths and weaknesses without causing it unnecessary suffering.

Here is Fozzy showing incredible determination and concentration for a 7 week old pup to recover a toy thrown in amongst various obstacles.

Here is Franky showing confidence and enthusiasm recalling to the assessor as if he was his best friend.

Here is Flo on her assessment taking everything in her stride showing all the instincts of a potential future Police dog ie willingness, calmness, concentration, determination, playfulness and boldness.

I cannot remember seeing a litter where every single puppy in the litter was so confident and playful. Judge for yourself here is Freya showing all the traits you could ever want in a young puppy.

You have to pinch yourself that these pups are only just over 7 weeks old here on this assessment.
Here is Fozzy responding to a whistle where he works out exactly where the source of the sound is coming from.

I don’t think Graham could quite believe just how exceptional the 4 girls were on the assessment. Here they are when we got back home from Plymouth with mum Ella waiting to greet them.

The boys were just as impressive the following day and here is mum waiting to meet them on their return.

I was extremely proud of them all but their exceptional performance gave me a dilemma. We only  need 6 pups for our September 2020 Police dog course.

I decided to keep all 9 pups because in my opinion it would be extremely difficult to find better pups than these and we could always keep several for our January 2021 course.

On the Friday our vet Clive and Veterinary assistant Charlette came to our house to give all of the pups a full health check, their first vaccination and their microchips.

They all very calmly accepted being held for their examination and showed no sign of distress with their injections. Here is Fozzy taking it all in his stride.

It was a huge bonus to discover that was none of the males had Cryptorchidism ie where one or both testicles are not in the scrotum ( or sac) which is a common problem in the breed.

I must confess I did fear the worst when Clive was examining Freddy because he searched for quite a long time before eventually declaring there were two testicles. Freddy didn’t seem to worry too much about the process and just calmly sniffed the bottle of disinfectant.

But you’ve got to hand it to Flint how many blokes would calmly accept someone searching around to see if he had two descended testicles while the nurse is waiting alongside with a needle which is obviously also coming his way.

With only 2 days to go before the pups were due to go to their puppy walkers it was clear that the time was right for the pups to leave us because some of the puppy fights and chasing games were becoming too intense and I feared injuries were just around the corner.

They certainly knew when it was food time because they could smell it in the kitchen.

Also as quickly as I filled or covered the holes that they were digging another one would appear.

The one constant feature throughout has been Ella who has enjoyed every minute of the 8 weeks and 2 days she has been with her pups.

Every opportunity she gets she is with them.

It has been a privilege to see the interaction and relationship she had had with her pups and it is something that I will never forget.

Finally on Sunday 18th of August and 8 weeks 2 days after they were born the pups had a light breakfast and a good run in the garden. I then put the pups back into their Den to await the arrival of their puppy walkers.

Before they arrived I arranged for the father of the pups PD Drake and handler Mark to come over early to be reunited with Ella. Just as I expected PD Drake was very happy and enthusiastic being reunited with Ella.

PD Drake lived with us and Ella for 8 months before being allocated to Mark.

We then introduced Drake to the pups and just as I thought would be the case PD Drake calmly said hello to the pups without any aggression or raised hackles and I knew there and then I had definitely used the right dog as our stud dog.

We then put PD Drake, Ella and the pups away until the puppy walkers had arrived and been given their briefing before they met their pups.

After suffering the trauma of having listening to me for over half an hour the puppy walkers were finally were introduced to their pups.

Then it was time for a group photo as a memento of what was a very emotional day for my wife and I.

We took an individual photo of each puppy and their puppy walkers.

Before we knew it everyone had left and the last 8 plus weeks had gone by in a flash.

I then took Ella for her favourite walk and just like the special girl she is even the rainbow joined her.
I will be visiting all of the F litter pups over the next 5 days to make sure everyone has settled in. 
I am looking forward to watching the F litter develop and will be posting photos and videos sent into me by all of our puppy walkers and of our development sessions which will shared on twitter and my blog. 

My thanks to John at the dog school for all of his help.

My thanks also to Colin who made the feeding station, to Chris Highton for the supply of papers, to

Chris Walter for the papers and helping with the photographs, to Mary for looking after Flo, to everyone else who helped out and most of all to my wife Di.

From Ella and me bye for now.

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