Saturday, January 31st, 2015

It’s all in the Breeding


Storm 18 Jan DSC_2228 Happy Birthday Rach IMG_0506 Cleo 7 Jan Lola 3mths

The Hawkshead Way

The first thing I ask when I get the phone call is – why do you want a Hawkshead Labrador?…I realise you want a good Labrador, but why do you want one of mine? It all starts from here.

I wear two hats – a breeder’s hat securing approved homes for my pups and a carer’s hat after the pups are born until they are homed.  Once the pups are born they do not belong to me, they belong to you and it is a huge responsibility caring for someone else’s pup!

Nature and temperament are paramount in my breeding and I choose my sires wisely.  I have a good relationship with their owners and it’s often the case that I know the dog before I use him.  I accept the risk by having him certified to meet the criteria I need as a registered breeder with the New Zealand Kennel Association and this is certainly one of the biggest investments in my breeding programme, apart from my own bitches.

Mothering – Feeding – Playing – Routine – Discipline – all these start with mum. I allow my bitches to do what comes naturally to them – they will not all whelp and mother their pups the same so it is very much a learning curve. In this instance, Amber did it her way and I loved the way she mothered her pups.  I wouldn’t say bringing her pups to her for feeds every 3 hours for 4 weeks was great for me, but right from birth they were never fed on demand and learned to ‘wait’ for their mum – and we ALL slept in between feeds!!

I raise my pups to be strong and healthy and good eaters.  I like them to roam free using their legs to climb – in the whelping box there is a ledge and the pups begin to use this as a climber once they find their legs and their eyes begin to open at 2 weeks old.  I also try to ensure that the last lick from their ‘donut’ feeding bowl has gone before mum gets to it!….especially as mum is being fed 6 times a day!

Playtime is basically the more the merrier!  Every opportunity the pups have to be handled the more they like it and the socialising habits kick in. I want a pup to lay quietly in the palm of my hand at 8 weeks old – if they twitch, I’ve not done my job !

The pups have their nails clipped every week from one week old mainly to prevent mum from getting scratched when they feed from her and as they get older, keeping their nails short and removing that puppy hook prevents the pups wounding each other. From the minute they are born, my pups are spoken for to approved homes throughout New Zealand.  I vet my clients but even more important is that I am vetted by my clients – and am happy to be, because that tells me what kind of a family want to have one of my pups.  At the end of the day, I am responsible for these pups for their lifetime, not just during their puppyhood.

I love what I do – am passionate about what I do – and very proud of my proven success over a number of years with what I do. The routines, the responsibilities, the outgoings, the anxieties, the tears, the joy, the pride, will never be measured as long as I can deliver your soul mate.



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