Research using (and life with) Newfoundland dogs

Let me give you a little perspective on our dogs. Consie and I have owned and bred Newfoundland dogs for over 30 years. Our dogs are house dogs and do the things we do. Consequently, we can not have large numbers of dogs. Right now we have 2 girls, Mikinaak (pic), who is 3 going on 4, and her daughter Kaministiquia (pic), who has just turned 1. We got our first newf, Kaloosit, when we lived in Upper Peninsula Michigan and I was doing field research for my PhD on the ecology and behavior of fishers (pic). That dog, Kaloosit, hauled gear for me in winter and kept me company in the field all summer. Since then, we have harness trained all of our dogs (pic) and we swim with them in summer (pic). They are all excellent canoe dogs (pic) Although we do not show our dogs, we breed to the standard and to produce the best newfs possible. We regularly interact with many other breeders and people active in the newf fancy. I have spent 8 years on the Board of Directors of the Newfoundland Club of America and we are very familiar with the needs of the breed. We believe that we breed dogs that adhere to the standard as well as or better than most, that have the wonderful newf temperament, and that are good dogs ready to join people’s lives. What guides our breeding? We breed when we have the time to do everything right, to live with puppies in the whelping box in the dining room and then in the kitchen when they get older. We breed when we are excited about having puppies and can give them the socialization they need. We breed when we do not have to rush visits to the vet for healthy checks but can make certain that we understand the health of each puppy and are certain that that health is good. We do not breed often. In 30+ years, we have bred about a dozen litters. We anticipate breeding again during Summer or early Autumn 2005, if Mikinaak comes in season on schedule, and to have pups during Autumn to early Winter. Consie and I have busy lives and the dogs are only part of those busy lives. Having puppies is a lot of fun and very rewarding but it is also a lot of work. We breed on a schedule that allows us to produce absolutely the best dogs we can. The puppies our girls have produced have joined diverse families and join their families in all sorts of activities, from being lumps around the house to extensive hiking and camping, showing and testing, whatever. (pics?) Mikinaak has cleared all her health checks: hips, elbows, heart, cystinuria, thyroid, etc. We bred her in 2003 and she produced a litter of 8 gorgeous pups. Kaministiquia and her siblings are too young for many health checks but so far all have passed the checks they have had. Our goal is to produce sound, healthy puppies who can be contributing members of families. We wish to produce dogs whose health does not cause their owners concern, dogs who can do whatever their families want them to do. Sterling temperament is always the top on the list. We can only do so much, however, to produce the dogs that people wish to bring into their families. Once our puppies go to their new homes, their owners must be responsible and give them the proper care and training that they need. We stack the health-cards as much in favor of our puppies as we can. The puppies’ owners must build on that. Newfies have several health problems that are genetic at least in part. For only 1, cystinuria, do we have a DNA test to show for certain whether a dog has the disease or not. For all the rest of the health problems, we must check dogs we might breed to learn whether they appear to be clear or genetic diseases (x-ray hips and elbows, sonogram hearts, do blood tests for thyroid, etc.). These tests of parents can not guarantee, unfortunately, that puppies will be clear of all genetic health problems. We do the best we can to produce good, healthy puppies and we send our pups to their new homes with the best start we can give them. From then on, their new owners must continue the work by being responsible dog owners. We do stand behind our puppies and guarantee that puppy buyers will get functional dogs of good temperament who can be their companions for years. No matter what its age, one of our “puppies” is always welcome back to our home if a new home is needed.