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(second of a three-part series)


"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." 
~ Bern Williams

Charlie Schultz and Bern Williams have obviously had puppies!

When we first looked at the breeder's website we found the information about Casey's litter on a page where all the pups have already been spoken for (owners chosen, deposits paid). Pictures of the puppies are posted periodically so the prospective new owners can watch them grow. For various health and socialization reasons they are not allowed to leave the farm until they are at least eight weeks of age.

I looked at that page but figured we wouldn't be able to get one of those pups because they already had prospective owners waiting for them.

Litters with puppies still available, even those that haven't been born yet, are easier to find on the website's main puppy page. That's where we initially looked to see whether any puppies from all-English litters were available, and when.

These puppies are from a different litter born in early October (the litter we originally
inquired about); the sire is the same as Casey's litter but the dam is different.
These cuties are about three weeks old.   (breeder's photo)

We filled out the required puppy adoption questionnaire and e-mailed it to the breeder, then followed up with phone calls. We specified all of our criteria and living/recreational circumstances, including lots of hiking and extensive RV travel resuming next year, so the breeder could determine which puppy would be most suitable for us.

Unlike many breeders who let buyers choose from among their available puppies on a first-come, first-served basis, this one does the choosing based on her observations of the pups as they are growing and what characteristics/uses the owner wants.

She appears to do a good job "vetting" prospective owners, too. She genuinely wants her puppies to go to good homes and she makes it clear that not everyone who wants one of her pups, gets one of her pups.

We knew the drill before we made our first phone call to the breeder. It didn't bother us that we didn't see any of the other six puppies in Casey's litter (Siskel-Easy litter) when we picked her up. A couple pups had already gone to show homes, the breeder planned to keep one or two more herself for potential showing/breeding, and we trusted her motives and expertise that the puppy we'd get would be a good match for us.

Casey or a sister at five or six weeks of age; how could
anyone resist that face??  (breeder's photo)

The first time we talked with her about another all-American litter with yellow pups born in early October she indicated that three prospective buyers for Casey's litter, which was born in mid-August, had changed their minds. She preferred that the pups go to show homes because of their exemplary pedigree, but said we could have one of the two available yellow females if she didn't find such buyers by the time Casey was ready to go to a new home. (There was also a black female puppy in the litter that she hoped would go to folks who would show her.)

That was somewhat discouraging so we were surprised when we got a call from one of her staff members about a week later. Were we still interested in one of the puppies from the Siskel-Easy litter or did we want to wait until early December for the ones that were more recently born?

Talk about excited! It took all of two seconds to make that decision.

For several reasons we wanted a puppy sooner rather than later and this litter sounded even better than the ones in the week-old litter. We said yes, when can we come to get her??

Breeder's photo of Casey at eight weeks old

We made an appointment to get Casey early the next afternoon (a Friday), made another appointment for a check-up with our own vet on Monday, scurried around in the basement looking for puppy-sized collars, leashes, and food bowls from our previous dogs, cleaned and assembled the plastic crate (kennel) that Cody used when he was a puppy, and got totally psyched up looking at website photos of Casey's litter at various stages.

There were five yellow females and two black females in the litter and every one of them was beyond adorable in the website pictures. To increase our excitement the breeder e-mailed us a current photo of Casey that evening.

We got up early the next morning for the very long but very beautiful drive to the breeder's large farm in northern Virginia:

We were totally impressed with the place and with all the information and materials we were given about the puppy's upbringing, personality, health record, nutrition, AKC registration, chip activation (all of their puppies come with little rice-sized ID chips already implanted in their shoulders so we don't have that expense at our vet's office like we did with Cody), training tips, and other useful information.

The breeder also provided a bright green collar and leash, a stuffed toy, a 5-pound bag of puppy food, two weeks' worth of the supplements she must take for her guarantee to be good, and her first dose of heartworm medication -- the most stuff we've ever gotten from a breeder.

Casey got a clean bill of health from our vet, Jesse Webster, who also owns Labs. 
(10-15-12, almost 9 weeks old and up to 15+ pounds)

We received even more goodies when we took Casey to our vet in Roanoke a few days later -- more free heartworm medication, a dose of Frontline Plus for ticks and fleas, another 5-pound bag of food, coupons for pup-related items, and a big stack of additional puppy information -- again, the most complete package of supplies, training tips, and other useful information we've ever gotten from a veterinarian.

Yes, some of it is free manufacturers' samples but some of it also cost Dr. Webster money and staff time, like all the copies of articles and assembling the whole package of goodies.

Casey was so relaxed at the vet's office that she fell asleep on the
cool examination table while he was out of the room briefly.

It took us a while to plow through all the information but we were grateful for it because it's been over nine years since we had a puppy.

It was especially helpful to re-read the training information emphasizing positive reinforcement. Labs are among the easiest breeds of dogs to train because they are so eager to please their humans -- and so motivated by edible treats!


It's a good thing we asked the breeder about bringing Cody with us when we got the puppy. He's a good boy but we try not to assume he's welcomed everywhere.

Tater was with us when we got Cody and on the long drive home to Montana from Oregon. That worked fine so we thought taking Cody would be good company for Casey on this rather long drive home right after being separated from her littermates, mother, and other resident canines at the farm.

Any other time Cody would have been welcomed at the breeder's farm. Although there are visiting dogs around all the time for boarding and training, the breeder said it would be best to let Casey and Cody meet on neutral territory like a park. She advised against bringing Cody with us -- or even letting Casey initially meet him in our house or yard.

Duck dogs share a secret on Casey's third day in our house.  (10-14-12, age 8 weeks)

We didn't get back to our house until early evening. Luckily it was a warm, sunny day so we let the dogs meet at a grassy place near our house but not at it.

Cody was a bit stand-offish at first, more interested in sniffing new smells on the ground than sniffing or playing with Casey. He acted more indifferent than anything, not realizing she would soon be his new best friend. He figured this pup was just one more brief acquaintance on one of his walks.

Casey was definitely interested in Cody, however. She's used to being around other dogs more than he is. He also looks a lot like Cody's dam, a sleek black Lab about Cody's size, so the puppy may have associated the two. She apparently never saw her sire, a large, handsome yellow Lab, until we met him at the farm when we picked up Casey:

Siskel, Casey's sire, was more interested in sniffing another kennel staff member's pants than posing
for a picture for me but he was very friendly. I showed a better picture of him earlier.  (10-12-12)

At home that evening we let Cody and Casey play with each other in the family room for a few minutes at a time, carefully monitoring their activity. There was a lot of tentative sniffing, then an increasing amount of play that sometimes escalated to rough-housing.

Little Casey was the aggressive one, not Cody!

In less than 24 hours they were playing like they'd been together forever. I took this series of pictures three days after we got Casey:

We have been totally pleased with Cody's reaction to the little interloper. He's been our only dog for over four years. We didn't think he'd hurt Casey intentionally out of jealousy or anger but we didn't expect the total acceptance he's shown since she entered his life.

He willingly shares toys with her (his old ones, and the new ones we've bought), invites her to play with him when she's preoccupied with something else (if it moves or she hasn't noticed it before, she's interested!), wants to play with her longer than we allow (after a while Casey becomes a Wild Child, which isn't permitted in the house), and has been remarkably gentle with her.

In fact, Cody makes a great puppy-sitter. As one of our friends said, he's "taking one for the team." Good analogy, especially when Casey pounces on his tail and starts chewing on it:

If Cody would stop wagging his tail, Casey wouldn't be so interested in pouncing on it! 
He has to constantly "guard his rear" during playtime.  (10-14-12, age 8 weeks)

Like all two-month-old pups, Casey has razor-sharp baby teeth and wants to put everything in her mouth that will fit (or not). In her litter I'm sure she learned just how rough she could be with her sisters. She had to learn that all over again with Cody, Jim, and me.

Cody is incredibly tolerant of her biting and other antics, more tolerant than we are. In the first day or two after meeting Casey he had to snarl and nip at her only a couple times when she bit him too hard before she got the message and began using a softer mouth. (Labs learn to have a "soft mouth" so they don't mangle dead birds they're retrieving.)

Casey quickly learned what Cody's various growls mean (e.g., that hurts vs. let's play). She's also mostly stopped trying to gnaw on Jim and me and licks us more than bites.

Cody's been transformed back to the lively dog he was when Tater was still his companion. Casey  has definitely brought out the puppy in him, just as he did when he was a puppy and came into Tater's life.

Casey loves being with Cody. He's her favorite "toy" to play with. She follows him everywhere, inside and out, like he's the Pied Piper. She can also play quietly by herself (but only for a little while) when he's in a different part of the house or outside, and we take her on walks by herself. She has to learn that Jim and I are the alpha dogs in this pack, not Cody.

Casey has definitely brought more laughter into our house. We are greatly amused by her antics and watching the two dogs play. She gets into some goofy poses, like this one:

Silly pup!  (10-22-12, almost 10 weeks old)

She only looks innocent. The next picture in that series shows her on her feet, lunging at Cody with her little teeth bared!

Casey is as much of a character as Cody was when he was a pup, a little bundle of non-stop, quick-thinking energy when she's awake. She likes to crouch down or hide behind a piece of furniture, then pounce on Cody. He's not stupid, just slower because he's more than five times her weight. He's pretty fast on his feet for an older dog. We let them chase each other outside in the grass and woods but limit the rough stuff inside the house.

One of Casey's favorite places to stage a pounce is under the camper while it's parked in our back yard:

Cody can get under there very easily but he usually just waits for her to come out. Smart dog.

Cody and Casey are both sneaky with their toys. Each will try to outwit the other and grab a toy they're sharing, carrying it a few feet away and daring the other to come get it. Cody also likes to grab toys from Casey's crates and tease her with them. It's fun to watch these interactions.

They both love to play tug with all the stuffed, chew, and pull toys, including a long thick rope that Cody and Tater used to play with. It's filthy by now, which makes it even more enticing to a dog. It's one of Cody's favorite toys because he gets to pull hard and interact with us or another dog. We do have to watch that neither he nor the pup pulls on that rope or their other toys so vigorously that Casey loses her baby teeth!

Playing tug with the long-legged stuffed cow  (10-18-12, age 9 weeks)

It's going to be real interesting to see if Cody can hold his own as Casey grows to about his size and strength. He's very strong but Casey-pup is already a tough little cookie at only twenty pounds (she's gained six or seven pounds pounds since we got her)

Another way the dogs entertain themselves is with several hard Kong toys with hollow centers in which we can insert some food kibbles or other edible treats. If the dogs roll them around enough, the little pieces gradually spill out. Sometimes they go after the same Kong and sometimes they each have one to roll around the floor.

Casey enjoys this game as much as Cody always has, so it's one way we bribe her to walk into her day crate willingly after a meal and play session:

Sleepy girl --naptime in the big wire crate, with several toys to
play with when she's awake   (11-1-12, age 11 weeks)

Next entry our first three weeks living with a busy puppy, including crate training

Happy trails (and tails!),

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-Pup

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2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil