Wednesday, September 7, 2011

K9 Hero of the Year!


I have been on emotional roller coaster ride!  Bravo winning the Soldier Hollow Sheepdog Classic 2011 K-9 Hero of the year was such an incredible experience! 

No matter what anyone thinks Bravo will always and evermore be MY hero…but it’s also nice to have other people recognize what an incredible dog he is!  Chesapeake Bay Retrievers often get a bad rap as being stubborn and sometimes mean!  They tend to walk to the beat of their own drummer.  They are not a breed for everyone or first timers in my opinion….but they are an AWESOME dog in the right hands!  A friend of mine summed it up nicely….”a stubborn hardheaded person with diabetes needs a stubborn hard headed dog to keep on them!”

I am RICHLY BLESSED in wonderful friends! Thank you to everyone who voted for him!  Thank you to the judges and all the wonderful folks at the Soldier Hollow Sheepdog Classic for making this happen!  Also, a huge thanks to the folks at Alpine Home Care and Hospice ( for sponsoring this event!
I do not know what I did to deserve such a wonderful dog but also a HUGE THANK YOU to Steve and Sharon Parker (Sunshine Kennels in McCammon, ID) for this 4-legged angel you gave me nearly 6 years ago.

What more can a person want in life.... an awesome dog...and AWESOME FRIENDS!

I did not enter this contest to win…I entered to raise awareness on diabetic alert dogs.  Considering how many times I passed out info cards this weekend I would say I achieved that goal!  I gave out between 500 and 1000 cards!  It seemed that everyone I talked to either had diabetes or knew of someone with diabetes!  I only hope that even a few of them actually contact me…to start that journey.
Bravo seems to have his very own fan club now!  Everyone wants a dog just like him….they don’t really…what they want is their own hero.  A hero to help them with their own journey of diabetes!  These dogs are not a cure all or an end all…they are another very helpful tool in the battle against diabetes!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bravo in the News

Bravo is up for K-9 of the year.  This is the piece KSL did on me and him!  I am so lucky to have such an angel in my life!

Bravo can run like lightning, jump sky-high and swim like a fish.

But the Chesapeake Bay retriever's amazing athleticism is actually overshadowed by a unique life-saving skill you'd never expect in a dog.

The K-9 Hero of the Year will get a $1,000 cash prize when the winner is announced opening day, Friday at 11 a.m.
Bravo and other incredible dogs will be showing off their talents this weekend at the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship and Festival in Heber City. The event will also feature several contests including K-9 Hero of the Year.

Bravo and his owner, KC Owens, make quite a team. Owens described Bravo as a very calm, very cool and very collected gentle giant. She said he's all business.

“He takes work very serious, whether it’s work or play,” she said. But this bond goes deeper than that.

“I don’t know how many times this dog has saved my life, literally,” she said.

Bravo is a diabetic alert dog. That means he actually senses when KC's blood glucose level is either dangerously high or low, and he alerts KC to take care of it. “He just keeps on me until I do something about it,” she said.

KC has Type I diabetes, but with Bravo's help, she is able to stay active with dog competitions, and that's the best reward for both of them.

Enlarge image
KC Owens hugs her service dog Bravo in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. Owens is a diabetic and her dog warns her when she needs insulin. Bravo is a K-9 Hero award finalist at Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship and Festival.
Credit: Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Bravo wasn’t trained to be a diabetic dog. He taught himself to alert KC, and he actually alerts her 15 to 45 minutes before the technology is designed to do that. “If that isn’t a hero, I don’t know what is,” she said.

The theory is that dogs like Bravo are reacting to a change in scent created by chemical changes in the body related to glucose imbalance. Owen said she was honored, awed, humbled and blessed to have a dog like Bravo.

"Are animals capable of that kind of love, I don't know," KC said. "I can't answer that for anybody else, but I'm telling you, when I've seen those alerts, it's like looking into the eyes of an angel."

Bravo also helps others ready themselves for their own diabetic alert dogs, and he alerts them if their blood glucose is off.

The K-9 Hero finalists also include registered therapy dogs Brooke and Scout from Spanish Fork. They visit hospitals and mental health facilities and have an uncanny ability to know when someone needs a little extra attention.

Another finalist is Uintah, a certified search and rescue dog with Rocky Mountain Rescue from Brigham City. She has been training with her handler for over five years. Uintah has pushed beyond her limitations and has sacrificed her own well-being while on searches.

Bravo will compete this weekend in field trials, hunt tests and dock jumping, and he's got serious credentials. But, he'll also keep an eye on KC, to make sure she stays healthy.

Contestants submitted their stories on the Soldier Hollow Classic's Facebook page.

The K-9 Hero of the Year will get a $1,000 cash prize when the winner is announced opening day, Friday at 11 a.m.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In my Inbox

I received this today....Promised to help get the word out!

I hope you like this. If you do, spread it around.
Joseph Galli
Hi Joseph
My DAD Bravo alerts up to 15 to 30 minutes ahead of my meter and up to 45 minutes ahead of my continuous blood glucose monitor.  I will take my dog over the electronic gadgets any day!  Bravo has saved my hide so many times that I have lost count! I love what these dogs can do and what they can be taught!

I recently had a litter of pups that I imprinted diabetic scent on before birth and as they grew.  I saw first hand real time alerts from 12 day old puppies!

This word NEEDS to get out there!  DADs are hard work but they are more than worth it!

Thank you for getting this out there!

KC Owens

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Find a Diabetic Alert Dog

There have been lots of questions about how to get a diabetic alert dog.  The most frequent questions seem to be: “Do I purchase one or do I self train?”  Personally, I believe self training is the best way to go!  By self training you get to learn how your dog learns, how your dog thinks, and in general, WITH PROPER TRAINING, the bond happens much earlier!

Is it is easy?  ABSOLUTLY NOT!  It is not for the faint of heart!  It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources. The scent portion is probably the easiest part. It is the public access stuff that is very difficult!  Not just because of the hours and hours of obedience, but because YOU ARE ALWAYS IN THE PUBLIC EYE and YOU and YOUR DOG will be paving the way for other teams behind you. It is a daunting task!  Get help if you need it, but by doing the training yourself, you will create the trust and bonding that you need in order for your DAD to work with utmost joy and dedication to you.

What should you look for in acquiring a pup to train for this purpose?  First off, you want to ASK LOT OF QUESTIONS of the breeder.  Be cautious, when the breeder is hesitant to provide the answers you need!  You want to know the temperament of the parents.  You want to know the health history of the parents.  You want to know if they have met basic health clearances specific to the breed. For example, in Labrador retrievers, you want to ask about hip clearances (OFA or Penn Hip), eye clearances (CERF), EIC, and CNM.  Each breed has heath issues that are specific to that breed.  You want to ask if there are contracts and/or guarantees in writing.  Here is a copy of the contract I use:

 Puppy Health Guarantee

Fetch Express Kennels breeds their dogs in an effort to significantly reduce the possibility of genetic hip and eye problems; however, due to reasons beyond our control, these problems still occur.  If these health problems arise in a dog purchased from Fetch Express Kennels, the following puppy replacement agreement applies:

Hip Guarantee:

1.      The dog must be X-rayed for Hip Dysplasia after 24 months of age and before 26 months of age.  The X-rays must be submitted to the OFA for examination at that time.

2.      If the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, INC) finds the dog to be dysplastic, in order to qualify for a replacement the following must be fulfilled:

A.    KC Owens is to receive a copy of the hip x-ray and a copy of the OFA written report.

B     The dogs AKC registration number and the microchip or tattoo number must be reported  to OFA at the time test results are submitted for evaluation.  It is also recommended that these identification numbers be noted on the x-rays when they are submitted to OFA.

C.    If the dog is found to be dysplastic, the dog will be replaced after the return of the dog to KC Owens and the dogs registration papers are to be signed over to KC Owens.

D.    All freight charges are to be paid for by the owner, for both the replacement puppy as well as the dog that is returned.

     E.    The OFA shall be the sole judge regarding hip dysplasia.

F.    Purchaser agrees to provide proof that the dog has been spayed/neutered prior to replacing dog with another dog from like breeding.

3.       The replacement puppy will be from a breeding with a comparable pedigree and will be the same breed and sex.  The puppy will be replaced when one becomes available. The replacement puppy will be chosen by KC Owens.

This guarantee is void if the dog has an traumatic accident such as being hit by a vehicle, a large fall, or any injury resulting in a broken leg.

Eye Guarantee:

1.      The dog must be checked by a certified Canine Opthamologist.

2.       If the CERF(Canine Eye Registration Foundation) finds the dog to have bad eyes, in order to qualify for a replacement the following must be fulfilled:

A.    KC Owens is to receive a copy of the examination from the Opthamologist and a copy of the CERF report.

B.    If the dog is found to have a congentital defect before 26 months, the dog will be replaced after the return of the dog to KC Owens and the dogs registration papers are to be signed over to KC Owens.

C.    All freight charges are to be paid for by the owner, for both the replacement puppy as well as the dog that is returned.

     D.    The CERF shall be the sole judge regarding congential

       eye problems.

F.    Purchaser agrees to provide proof that the dog has been spayed/neutered prior to replacing dog with another dog from like breeding.

3.      The replacement puppy will be from a breeding with a comparable pedigree and will be the same breed and sex.  The puppy will be replaced when one becomes available. The replacement puppy will be chosen by KC Owens.

AKC Registration Number  ______________Date of Birth__________



Breed ____Labrador Retriever________________ Color ____ Sex  _____

Then both parties sign and receive copies!

You will want to ask questions about how the pups were raised.  Were the pups exposed to the Army Biosensor program?  Were the pups exposed to diabetic scent from a young age?  There is a big bonus if the pups were raised by a diabetic!  Can the breeder tell you the weight of the pups when they were born?  Can they give you more information than you really want to know about the parents and the health history of the entire litter?  Does the breeder quiz you about your life and your needs from this dog? 

Are the pups registered or can they be registered with a well known dog registry system like AKC or UKC?  Are they sold on a limited basis meaning you do not have breeding rights unless you meet certain requirements?  Can you live with those requirements?  Does the breeder make it well known that IF FOR ANY REASON you need to give the dog up that the dog comes back to them? Are the pups temperament tested and if so can you see the results?

I would recommend being very cautious if they say they are retaining the right to make you train in a certain way or if for any reason they can repossess the dog that you have paid for in full.  Dog training knowledge is not something that is owned by any one person.  It is attained through very hard work, but anyone that has common sense and is willing to try hard can attain it!  There are many ways to achieve success, but you have to buckle down and want it!  IF IT SOUNDS LIKE A MARKETING SCAM it probably is!  A good breeder is going to try to match the pups to the people!

Sounds daunting doesn’t it?  I warned you it is hard work!

If puppyhood just isn’t for you and your family, find a REPUTABLE group to work with.  They are out there but you have to WORK HARD to find them.  Honestly, the demand is great and the resources to fill that demand are limited.  Many of the same questions and cautions apply!  A good group is going to have a very stringent application process.  They are not going to move you up because you have more money or greater need.  If they do, trust me you are soon going to be parted of some hard earned cash!  Do they bend over backwards to PROBLEM SOLVE ISSUES?  Do they think outside of the box?  What about health guarantees?  What about contracts?  Are they willing to try different things to help get you and the dog on the same page?  Can you train a dog like they do?  If they use a physical correction can you or your child use the same amount of correction?  Are you physically up to the task?  Do they work to come up with solutions that will work for you and your family? Do they teach in a style that you can learn?  Do they explain all the various training modalities that are out there?  Do they tell you that one style or another WONT WORK?  Trust me, there are successful dogs out there from EVERY modality there is!  There is NO RIGHT or WRONG way to train a dog.  You do what you have to do to explain it. Learn how your dog LEARNS BEST and the methods that work BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! Fairness is of utmost importance to a dog learning to be a DAD so that the bonding between dog and human is created and trust and respect is the underlying component. It is FAIR to tell a dog when he is wrong and it is FAIR to reward when a dog is right. 

 Once again if they say they can take the dog back without good reason and without your consent RUN TO THE NEAREST DOOR!  DO NOT BE IN A HURRY!  Just because your child is going off to college and you want the peace of mind a DAD may bring, it is not a good reason to accept the first available dog.  Any good group is going to have a very long waiting list.  Remember, very often GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT.  Also, if they try to tell you what they are doing is a SECRET and that you shouldn’t talk about it, if they try to strip you of your right to free speech or if they make you afraid, RUN! Be careful of organizations that want to withhold the ownership on the dog they send out with someone.  When you buy a dog IT SHOULD BE YOURS WITH ALL THE RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES, PRIVELDGES, and PROBLEMS that come with owning a dog.  Remember these dogs while a wonderful asset are ALWAYS and FOREVER going to be a dog first and foremost!

And, do not be afraid to ask for referrals from prior customers.  A good organization should be proud to offer referrals from happy customers.  Match what the referrals are saying to your own situation!

ABOVE ALL ELSE, trust that small voice inside of you that says SOMETHING IS OFF!   Do not try to over ride it!  This is WAY TOO IMPORTANT to get derailed for any reason!  Keep your nose to the grind stone and it will happen. The right doors will open and you will find yourself exactly where you are meant to be! 

I know this seems like a lot, just to get a dog.  While these dogs another wonder tool in the battle against the disease of diabetes….they are not a cure all.  They are not going to take away the disease…they are just going to be a good friend to go through it with you.  But all friendships require hard work!

Written by KC OWENS on July 25, 2011

Please feel free to copy and cross post this as necessary!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From the AKc Website Thanks Wayne

From Hunt Test Retriever to Diabetic Alert Dog, One Dog’s Story

By Wayne Bleazard, AKC Executive Field Representative

Recently while judging a Hunt Test for the Rogue Valley Retriever Club in Medford, Oregon, KC Owens, from Salt Lake City, was notified by the event secretary that her the dog, Fetchin’ Express Bravo Zula RN, SH, NAJ was "acting strangely" in his kennel about 150 yards away. KC offered her thanks, then checked her blood glucose level. Just as she suspected, her level was low, so she took her medication. Bravo settled down as soon as she got her glucose level back to normal, and KC proceeded with her judging assignment as if nothing was unusual.
About three years ago in 2009, Bravo began to act a little differently from normal. He kept indicating to his owner, KC Owens, that he had to go outside to air. When KC tried to let him out the door, he refused to go. So KC closed the door, resumed her work, and again Bravo indicated the need to go out. KC again went to the door with the same results. This happened about two other times, and finally this well-trained Chesapeake Bay retriever jumped up on KC and placed his feet on her shoulders, an action that Bravo knew was absolutely against the rules and that he would get in trouble for doing. As KC attempted to push Bravo’s huge paws off her shoulders, she recognized that her blood glucose was low, and she needed to get her diabetes medication right away.
KC dismissed the entire incident as completely circumstantial. However, the same scenario played out again sometime later and this time she recognized this didn’t appear to be a random occurrence. KC began documenting what was happening and recognized that Bravo had begun to NATURALLY alert her when her blood glucose levels were low. KC, who began training dogs 15 years ago, started researching Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs). This is a fairly new field, and she learned there wasn’t a lot of information available. She found a couple of organizations, Wildrose Diabetic Alert Dogs in Mississippi and Guardian Angel in California. Crystal Cockroft, director of Guardian Angel, took special interest in KC and Bravo, and KC is now on the board of directors and is helping to train more dogs for this special purpose.
Cheveyo , KC’s old Master Hunter, was recently bred with Bravo. When KC whelped the puppies, she immediately began training the little guys with scent from low glucose samples she kept for training purposes. She would put the scent under the puppies’ noses and lead them right to the mother’s nipples. This rigorous scent training was done often so the low glucose scent became associated with food. Five of the six puppies were placed in diabetic homes (KC kept the sixth puppy for herself). Each of the owners has reported much success with the young pups already alerting them to low glucose levels.
Recognizing Bravo’s ability to help her realize her glucose dropping before KC even realized it herself has created a tight-knit bond between the two. Bravo now travels everywhere with KC. He is a Certified Delta Airline therapy dog as well as a service dog and he travels in the cabin when KC flies. KC is an 8 point Hunt Test judge, and judges dock Jumping events throughout the country.
Diabetes is a very serious disease that can affect both young and old. KC is hoping to help victims of this disease with the new field of DADs. "I thank God everyday for Bravo! As much as he loves the dog sports (Hunt Tests, Field Trials, and Dock Jumping), he has stopped what he is doing and alerts me to my problem."
Bravo has been nominated twice for the AKC Ace Award. He is now up for this award again for 2011. We wish KC and Bravo luck in the competition. That would be a nice award to add to his already earned titles of RN (Rally Novice), SH (Senior Hunter), and NAJ (Novice Agility Jumper). He has received a JAM (Judges Award of Merit) in a field trial Qualifying stake, and has dock jumped 23’ 7" and 6’ 10" in extreme vertical jumping. He is truly an extraordinary dog with many talents.
Please see for more information.

Bravo in the Agility Jumping Event

KC and Bravo

Waiting to board the plane in the airport

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rest In Peace Corky ....13 wonderful days!

March 17, 2011

Today is one of the hardest days that a breeder can have. My heart is breaking. When I got up this morning Corky was worse…I dropped everything and took him to the vet. His lil belly was so distended. He moaned the whole way there. We pulled 12 Mil of fluid from his abdomen and they were still not sure what was wrong. Ran several tests and looked at various things that could be wrong. We wormed him and started antibiotics. We decided to wait and see as we really didn’t know what was wrong. I brought him home and hand fed him about 1 oz of milk. I placed him with his litter mates then went to work. Came back in about 2 hours and tried to feed him again. He wouldn’t eat and was very lethargic. I left him again with his litter mates and returned in about an hour. He had not moved at all and he just laid and made sounds that normal puppies do not make. I called the vet and told them my observations and thoughts. I really don’t want to see him suffer. I would bring him in and if they agreed with what I was seeing then we would put him down. By the time I got there he was having trouble breathing…so we made the decision. Because I HAVE TO KNOW WHYYYYYYYY…..I ask that they examine him to find the cause. CAUSE: One kidney was malformed and was leaking blood and urine into his abdominal cavity. He was born that way.

I HATE days like this one….I have been sick with worry all day. Did I do something wrong? Did Whitey step on him when I wasn’t looking? I have prayed and cried. I can handle losing them at birth…not easy but somehow not really knowing them at birth it makes it easier. Spend 2 weeks monitoring nearly every moment you see their personality. They become a part of you. You have hopes and dreams for them! You start molding them to reach their full potential. You become very paranoid….every sneeze, every cough, every lost ounce. …you panick!

My heart lost a small piece today…………..REST IN PEACE CORKY! Guess God needed a new hunting dog and decided that you were it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Puppy Update

March 15, 2011

Puppy Number 1 35.4 oz Male

Puppy Number 2 46.3 oz Female

Puppy Number 3 39.4 oz Male

Puppy Number 4 41.5 oz Female

Puppy Number 5 49.7 oz Female

Puppy Number 6 47.6 oz Male

Puppy Number 7 47.0 oz Male
Had something very interesting happen today…when I took Bravo and the puppy to the vet something REALLY cool happened! I woke yesterday at 96...normally my dawn phenomenon kicks in... but yesterday it just gradually dropped all am. Not a steep drop just inching down. When I got to the staff meeting I was 90...went to work was 87 got home at 10:45 grabbed b and pup and headed to vet B had been alerting but the puppy was wrapped in a blanket and shoved inside of my coat. Puppy kept crawling up and sucking on my neck, sucking on my ear...I would pull it down and it would repeat the crawl up and suck. Oh the pup is just hungry.......I get to vet take pup in vet loves and looks at him and I hand one of the techs the pup and go get B. We do the stuff on B....and I go back to the tech. Pup is lying on her lap upside down totally asleep. I get the drugs for B and then grab pup and head home. I check again my BG was I treat. Pup again starts the crawl up my neck suck on ear thing. About 10 minutes pass...I am driving home and pup all the sudden settles down and goes to sleep.
The pups were 11 DAYS old!! I was thinking about this. I am thinking that is as PURE of an alert as you can get from an animal that age. 11 days! Last night the 4 pups that didn’t have much weight gain from the night before were SPOT ON with the scent...waking up from sleep to follow it. The 3 tubbies that had packed weight on yesterday were not as interested but they were in a deep sated sleep.

I talked to several people who have worked with the alert dogs….all agree that the pup was alerting in the only way it knows how…suck on something.

This sends shivers up my spine….what can be taught to animals!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 2 of Puppies

March 5, 2011

Puppy Number 1 17.5 oz Male

Puppy Number 2 21.5 oz Female

Puppy Number 3 21.7 oz Male

Puppy Number 4 19.7 oz Female

Puppy Number 5 18.4 oz Female

Puppy Number 6 20.2 oz Male

Puppy Number 7 23.4 oz Male

Everyone is doing well! Today was just a quiet relaxing day. Most of it spent listening to the grunts, groans, moans, and squeals of new born puppies. Everyone is kind of settling into a routine!

We did scent work twice today by putting their little snouts in the scent bottle and placing on mother’s nipple. All the puppies did extremely well. Puppies 1,3,4,5 all tried to suck on the scent this am and this afternoon all puppies except 1 tried to suck on the tube. Number 1 just fell asleep with his head in the container!

They have a big day tomorrow as they start the Super Dog Program and then in the afternoon they go to vet for a well puppy check and to get their dew claws removed!

This is an overview of what the Superdog Program is.


by Dr. Carmen L Battaglia

Originally published as "Early Neurological Stimulation"

Surprising as it may seem, it isn't capacity that explains the differences that exist between individuals because most seem to have far more capacity than they will ever use. The differences that exist between individuals seem to be related to something else. The ones who achieve and out perform others seem to have within themselves the ability to use hidden resources. In other words, it's what they are able to do with what they have that makes the difference.

In many animal-breeding programs the entire process of selection and management is founded on the belief that performance is inherited. Attempts to analyze the genetics of performance in a systematic way have involved some distinguished names such as Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. But it has only been in recent decades that good estimates of heritability of performance have been based on adequate data. Cunningham (1991) in his study of horses found that only by using Timeform data, and measuring groups of half brothers and half sisters could good estimates of performance be determined. His data shows that performance for speed is about 35% heritable. In other words only about 35% of all the variation that is observed in track performance is controlled by heritable factors, the remaining 65% are attributable to other influences, such as training, management and nutrition. Cunningham's work while limited to horses provides a good basis for understanding how much breeders can attribute to the genetics and the pedigrees.

Researchers have studied this phenomena and have looked for new ways to stimulate individuals in order to improve their natural abilities. Some of the methods discovered have produced life long lasting effects. Today, many of the differences between individuals can now be explained by the use of early stimulation methods.


Man for centuries has tried various methods to improve performance. Some of the methods have stood the test of time, others have not. Those who first conducted research on this topic believed that the period of early age was a most important time for stimulation because of its rapid growth and development. Today, we know that early life is a time when the physical immaturity of an organism is susceptible and responsive to a restricted but important class of stimuli. Because of its importance many studies have focused their efforts on the first few months of life.

Newborn pups are uniquely different than adults in several respects. When born their eyes are closed and their digestive system has a limited capacity requiring periodic stimulation by their dam who routinely licks them in order to promote digestion. At this age they are only able to smell, suck, and crawl. Body temperature is maintained by snuggling close to their mother or by crawling into piles with other littermates. During these first few weeks of immobility researchers noted that these immature and under-developed canines are sensitive to a restricted class of stimuli which includes thermal, and tactile stimulation, motion and locomotion.

Other mammals such as mice and rats are also born with limitations and they also have been found to demonstrate a similar sensitivity to the effects of early stimulation. Studies show that removing them from their nest for three minutes each day during the first five to ten days of life causes body temperatures to fall below normal. This mild form of stress is sufficient to stimulate hormonal, adrenal and pituitary systems. When tested later as adults, these same animals were better able to withstand stress than littermates who were not exposed to the same early stress exercises. As adults, they responded to stress in "a graded" fashion, while their non-stressed littermates responded in an "all or nothing way."

Data involving laboratory mice and rats also shows that stress in small amounts can produce adults who respond maximally. On the other hand, the results gathered from non-stressed littermate show that they become easily exhausted and would near death if exposed to intense prolonged stress. When tied down so they were unable to move for twenty-four hours, rats developed severe stomach ulcers, but litter mates exposed to early stress handling were found to be more resistant to stress tests and did not show evidence of ulcers. A secondary affect was also noticed.

Sexual maturity was attained sooner in the littermates given early stress exercises. When tested for differences in health and disease, the stressed animals were found to be more resistant to certain forms of cancer and infectious diseases and could withstand terminal starvation and exposure to cold for longer periods than their non-stressed littermates. Other studies involving early stimulation exercises have been successfully performed on both cats and dogs. In these studies, the Electrical Encephalogram (EEG) was found to be ideal for measuring the electrical activity in the brain because of its extreme sensitivity to changes in excitement, emotional stress, muscle tension, changes in oxygen and breathing. EEG measures show that pups and kittens when given early stimulation exercises mature at faster rates and perform better in certain problem solving tests than non-stimulated mates. In the higher level animals the effect of early stimulation exercises have also been studied. The use of surrogate mothers and familiar objects were tested by both of the Kelloggs' and Dr. Yearkes using young chimpanzees. Their pioneer research shows that the more primates were deprived of stimulation and interaction during early development, the less able they were to cope, adjust and later adapt to situations as adults.

While experiments have not yet produced specific information about the optimal amounts of stress needed to make young animals psychologically or physiologically superior, researches agree that stress has value. What also is known is that a certain amount of stress for one may be too intense for another, and that too much stress can retard development. The results show that early stimulation exercises can have positive results but must be used with caution. In other words, too much stress can cause pathological adversities rather than physical or psychological superiority.

Methods of Stimulation

The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called "Bio Sensor" was developed. Later, it became known to the public as the "Super Dog" Program. Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual.

The "Bio Sensor" program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)

2. Head held erect

3. Head pointed down

4. Supine position

5. Thermal stimulation.

1. Tactile stimulation

Holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds.

(Figure 1)

Figure 1

Figure 2 2. Head held erect

Using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds (Figure 2).

3. Head pointed down

Holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 4 4. Supine position

Hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep struggle. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds. (Figure 4)

5. Thermal stimulation

Use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. Do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds. (Figure 5)

Figure 5

These five exercises will produce neurological stimulations, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises, others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered to those who plan to use them. Do not repeat them more than once per day and do not extend the time beyond that recommended for each exercise. Over stimulation of the neurological system can have adverse and detrimental results. These exercises impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected. The result being an increased capacity that later will help to make the difference in its performance. Those who play with their pups and routinely handle them should continue to do so because the neurological exercises are not substitutions for routine handling, play socialization or bonding.

Benefits of Stimulation

Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises. The benefits noted were:

1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)

2. Stronger heart beats

3. Stronger adrenal glands

4. More tolerance to stress and

5. Greater resistance to disease.

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations. Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, wined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress when stressed.


As each animal grows and develops three kinds of stimulation have been identified that impact and influence how it will develop and be shaped as an individual. The first stage is called early neurological stimulation, and the second stage is called socialization. The first two (early neurological stimulation and socialization) have in common a window of limited time. When Lorenz, (1935) first wrote about the importance of the stimulation process he wrote about imprinting during early life and its influence on the later development of the individual. He states that it was different from conditioning in that it occurred early in life and took place very rapidly producing results which seemed to be permanent. One of the first and perhaps the most noted research efforts involving the larger animals was achieved by Kellogg & Kellogg (1933). As a student of Dr. Kellogg's I found him and his wife to have an uncanny interest in children and young animals and the changes and the differences that occurred during early development. Their history making study involved raising their own new born child with a new born primate. Both infants were raised together as if they were twins. This study like others that would follow attempted to demonstrate that among the mammals there are great differences in their speed of physical and mental development. Some are born relatively mature and quickly capable of motion and locomotion, while others are very immature, immobile and slow to develop. For example, the Rhesus monkey shows rapid and precocious development at birth, while the chimpanzee and the other "great apes" take much longer. Last and slowest is the human infant.

One of the earliest efforts to investigate and look for the existence of socialization in canines was undertaken by Scott-Fuller (1965). In their early studies they were able to demonstrate that the basic technique for testing the existence of socialization was to show how readily adult animals would foster young animals, or accept one from another species. They observed that with the higher level animals it is easiest done by hand rearing. When the foster animal transfers its social relationships to the new species, researchers conclude that socialization has taken place. Most researchers agree that among all species, a lack of adequate socialization generally results in unacceptable behavior and often times produces undesirable aggression, excessiveness, fearfulness, sexual inadequacy, and indifference toward partners.

Socialization studies confirm that the critical periods for humans (infant) to be stimulated are generally between three weeks and twelve months of age. For canines the period is shorter, between the fourth and sixteenth week of age. During these critical time periods two things can go wrong. First, insufficient social contact can interfere with proper emotional development which can adversely affected the development of the human bond. The lack of adequate social stimulation, such as handling, mothering and contact with others, adversely affects social and psychological development.

Second, over mothering can prevent sufficient exposure to other individuals, and situations that have an important influence on growth and development. The literature shows that humans and animals respond in similar ways when denied minimal amounts of stimulation. In humans, the absence of love and cuddling increases the risk of an aloof, distant, asocial or sociopathic individual. Over mothering can also have its detrimental effects. It occurs when a patient insulates the child from outside contacts, or keeps the apron strings tight, thus limiting opportunities to explore and interact. In the end, over mothering generally produces a dependent, socially maladjusted and sometimes emotionally disturbed individual.

The absence of outside social interactions for both children and pups usually results in a lack of adequate learning and social adjustment. Protected youngsters who grow up in an insulated environment often times become sickly, despondent, lacking in flexibility and unable to make simple social adjustments. Generally, they are unable to function productively or to interact successfully then they become adults.

Owners who have busy life styles with long and tiring work and social schedules often times cause pets to be neglected. Left to themselves with only an occasional trip out of the house or off of the property they seldom see other canines or strangers and generally suffer from poor stimulation and socialization. For many, the side effects of loneliness and boredom set-in. The resulting behavior manifests itself in the form of chewing, digging, and hard to control behavior (Battaglia).

It seems clear that small amounts of stress followed by early socialization can produce beneficial results. The danger seems to be in not knowing where the thresholds are for over and under stimulation. Many improperly socialized youngsters develop into older individuals unprepared for adult life, unable to cope with its challenges, and interactions. Attempts to re-socialize them when adults have only produced small gains. These failures confirm the notion that the window of time open for early neurological and social stimulation only comes once. After it passes, little or nothing can be done to overcome the negative effects of too much or too little stimulation.

The third and final stage in the process of growth and development is called enrichment. Unlike the first two stages it has no time limit and by comparison covers a very long period of time. Enrichment is a term which has come to mean the positive sum of experiences, which have a cumulative effect upon the individual. Enrichment experiences typically involve exposure to a wide variety of interesting, novel, and exciting experiences with regular opportunities to freely investigate, manipulate, and interact with them. When measured in later life, the results show that those reared in an enriched environment tend to be more inquisitive and are more able to perform difficult tasks. The educational TV program called Sesame Street is perhaps the best known example of a children's enrichment program. The results show that when tested, children who regularly watched this program performed better than playmates who did not. Follow up studies show that those who regularly watched Sesame tend to seek a college education and when enrolled, performed better than playmates who were not regular watchers of the Sesame Street Program.

There are numerous children studies that show the benefits of enrichment techniques and programs. Most focus on improving self-esteem and self-talk. Follow up studies show that the enriched Sesame Street students when later tested were brighter and scored above average and most often were found to be the products of environments that contributed to their superior test scores. On the other hand, those whose test scores were generally below average, (labeled as dull) and the products of underprivileged or non- enriched environments often times had little or only small amounts of stimulation during early childhood and only minimal amounts of enrichment during their developmental and formative years. Many were characterized as children who grew up with little interaction with others, poor parenting, few toys, no books and a steady diet of TV soap operas.

A similar analogy can be found among canines. All the time they are growing they are learning because their nervous systems are developing and storing information that may be of inestimable use at a later date. Studies by Scott and Fuller confirm that non-enriched pups when given free choice preferred to stay in their kennels. Other litter mates who were given only small amounts of outside stimulation between five and eight weeks of age were found to be very inquisitive and very active. When kennel doors were left open, the enriched pups would come bounding out while littermates who were not exposed to enrichment would remain behind. The non-stimulated pups would typically be fearful of unfamiliar objects and generally preferred to withdraw rather than investigate. Even well bred pups of superior pedigrees would not explore or leave their kennels and many were found difficult to train as adults. These pups in many respects were similar to the deprived children. They acted as if they had become institutionalized, preferring the routine and safe environment of their kennel to the stimulating world outside their immediate place of residence.

Regular trips to the park, shopping centers and obedience and agility classes serve as good examples of enrichment activities. Chasing and retrieving a ball on the surface seems to be enriching because it provides exercise and includes rewards. While repeated attempts to retrieve a ball provide much physical activity, it should not be confused with enrichment exercises. Such playful activities should be used for exercise and play or as a reward after returning from a trip or training session. Road work and chasing balls are not substitutes for trips to the shopping mall, outings or obedience classes most of which provide many opportunities for interaction and investigation.

Finally it seems clear that stress early in life can produce beneficial results. The danger seems to be in not knowing where the thresholds are for over and under stimulation. However, the absence or the lack of adequate amounts of stimulation generally will produce negative and undesirable results. Based on the above it is fair to say that the performance of most individuals can be improved including the techniques described above. Each contributes in a cumulative way and supports the next stage of development.


Breeders can now take advantage of the information available to improve and enhance performance. Generally, genetics account of about 35% of the performance but the remaining 65% (management, training, nutrition) can make the difference. In the management category it has been shown that breeders should be guided by the rule that it is generally considered prudent to guard against under and over stimulation. Short of ignoring pups during their first two months of life, a conservative approach would be to expose them to children, people, toys and other animals on a regular basis. Handling and touching all parts of their anatomy is also necessary to learn as early as the third day of life. Pups that are handled early and on a regular basis, generally do not become hand shy as adults.

Because of the risks involved in under stimulation a conservative approach to using the benefits of the three stages has been suggested based primarily on the works of Arskeusky, Kellogg, Yearkes and the "Bio Sensor" program (later known as the "Super Dog Program").

Both experience and research have dominated the beneficial effects that can be achieved via early neurological stimulation, socialization and enrichment experiences. Each has been used to improve performance and to explain the differences that occur between individuals, their trainability, health and potential. The cumulative effects of the three stages have been well documented. They best serve the interests of owners who seek high levels of performance when properly used. Each has a cumulative effect and contributes to the development and the potential for individual performance.


1. Battaglia, C.L., "Loneliness and Boredom" Doberman Quarterly, 1982.

2. Kellogg, W.N. & Kellogg, The Ape and the Child, New York: McGraw Hill.

3. Scott & Fuller, (1965) Dog Behavior -The Genetic Basics, University Chicago Press

4. Scott, J.P., Ross, S., A.E. and King D.K. (1959) The Effects of Early Enforced Weaning on Stickling Behavior of Puppies, J. Genetics Psychologist, p5: 261-81.


Carmen L Battaglia holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree from Florida State University. As an AKC judge, researcher and writer, he has been a leader in promotion of breeding better dogs and has written many articles and several books.Dr. Battaglia is also a popular TV and radio talk show speaker. His seminars on breeding dogs, selecting sires and choosing puppies have been well received by the breed clubs all over the country. Those interested in learning more about his articles and seminars should visit the website


Jensen Canine Pregnancy Calander

Pregnancy Calendar for Dogs

Date: Sat 26 Feb 2011

Sire: Cheveyo

Dam: Whitey

Breeder: KC Owens

Thu 30 Dec 2010 • First day of mating.

• 48 hours after the first mating the bitch should be mated again. Subsequent matings occurring over a period of time enhance the chances of fertilaziton taking place.

• The spermatozoa migrate up through the cervix.

Fri 31 Dec 2010 • Sperm travel searching for a mature ripened eggs.

Fri 31 Dec 2010 -

Sat 1 Jan 2011 • Spermatozoa reach the eggs in the oviducts.

Sat 1 Jan 2011 -

Sun 2 Jan 2011 • Fertilisation occurs in the oviducts which lead from the ovaries to the uterus.

Sun 2 Jan 2011 -

Tue 4 Jan 2011 • Fertilised eggs migrate down the oviducts and into the uterine horns.

• The migration continue to enable even spacing of the embryos.

• During this migration the eggs will grow into a blastocystes.

Mon 10 Jan 2011 -

Wed 12 Jan 2011 • The blastocystes implant in the wall of the uterus.

Mon 10 Jan 2011 -

Mon 24 Jan 2011 • The blastocystes will grow into an embryos.

• During the next two weeks the important organs will develop.

Thu 13 Jan 2011 -

Thu 20 Jan 2011 • Dams nipples begin to pink enlarge.

• The fur on the dams belly and around the nipples may become thinner.

Wed 19 Jan 2011 -

Wed 26 Jan 2011 • Morning sickness might occur due to hormonal changes or stretching and distension of the uterus. Dam may appear a bit apathetic. She may be off her feed for a while and vomit from time to time.

• Feeding the dam several meals spaced throughout the day might help.

• Your veterinarian may want to prescribe a drug to relax the uterus.

Mon 24 Jan 2011 -

Fri 28 Jan 2011 • An experienced person (a breeder or a veterinarian) can tell by careful palpation whether the dam is pregnant.

• It's now the best time to do this because the embryos are walnut-sized now and easy to count.

Thu 27 Jan 2011 • Start to increase the dams food ration.

• Don't overfeed, excessive weight gain should be avoided.

• The foetuses are now and are fully developed miniature dogs.

Wed 2 Feb 2011 • The Dams abdomen starts to get larger.

Sat 12 Feb 2011 • It's very easy now to feel the puppies, counting them might be a bit more difficult.

Tue 15 Feb 2011 -

Wed 23 Feb 2011 • Dam begins to spend a lot more time in self-grooming.

• Her breasts become even more swollen.

• She may become a bit restlessness and begin to search for a suitable place to have her puppies.

Thu 17 Feb 2011 • The dam might lose her appetite during this period. Her abdomen can be crowded with puppies.

• It is better to feed several smaller meals spaced throughout the day.

• You can easily detect abdominal movement now.

Thu 17 Feb 2011 -

Fri 4 Mar 2011 • Nipples and vulva should be gently cleaned with warm water, you might want to trim the hairs surrounding the nipples, to allow easier access for the puppies to suck.

Sun 27 Feb 2011 -

Wed 2 Mar 2011 • Milky fluid may be expressed from the nipples.

Mon 28 Feb 2011 • You might want to start taking the dams rectal temperature each morning and evening.

Thu 3 Mar 2011 • Twelve to 24 hours before she is due to deliver, the dams rectal temperature may drop from 101 to 98 degrees.

• Clear discharge from the vulva might occur.

Fri 4 Mar 2011 • Expected date of whelp. Of course this is just an average. Whelping may take place from the 59th to the 65th day. Puppies born before the 58th day will probably be too young to survive.

This javascript was originally designed by Suzan van Prooijen at the Cattery El Sham's Pregnancy Calendar version 1.8

rewritten for a canine by Debra L Jensen Copyright © 1996&1997 Suzan van Prooijen, Cattery El Sham - The Netherlands

Feb 20, 2011

I started Whitey on diabetic scent training. My thoughts are that if human babies can recognize scent at birth…why can’t a dog? I also am making sure that the mom is exposed to lots of loud noises…vacuum, dish washer, washing machine, dryer, gun fire, whistles, to name a few. Whiteys bladder is about the size of a walnut right now.

Feb 25, 2011

I took Whitey in to the vet to have an xray. The xrays did not turn out well but we THINK we counted 9 puppies and I am guessing there are A LOT more. My guess is 9 to 13! She is 37 inches around at the widest place! My guess is we are at least 5 days away from puppies!

March 2, 2011

Still no puppies! Her temperature dropped this afternoon but nothing at the time of this writing. She is restless and rearranging her whelping box. There is no piece of paper bigger than an inch!

March 3, 2011

I have been checking on her about every 2 hours. Her temperature has remained 99.4, 99.6 area. About 4:30 her temperature dropped to 98.7 then rose back up. I am thinking we are getting REALLY close! You know “watched dogs NEVER whelp”. I couldn’t get lucky enough to have a dog whelp during the day!

March 4, 2011

Today is the day we have ALL been waiting for! She started giving birth around 1:30 am.

Here is the list of puppies, birth time, and weight.

Puppy Number 1 1:31 AM 15.9oz Male

Puppy Number 2 2:55 AM 18.1oz Female

Puppy Number 3 3:17 AM 17.3oz Male

Puppy Number 4 3:51 AM 15.7oz Female

Puppy Number 5 4:09 AM 15oz Female

Puppy Number 6 5:10 AM 16oz Male

Puppy Number 7 8:45 AM 19.7oz Male

Two more of the puppies did not make it. Their birth times was 6:25am and 9:45am. The first one just looked like it was not full term…it was missing hair and in general was not fully formed. The last one I am guessing that puppy number 7 was kind of caught and she was just trapped for too long. I did EVERYTHING I know how to do to revive her…including mouth to mouth CPR. It broke my heart as she was a very sweet little angel , but sometimes it happens. Puppy number 7 was joking dubbed “Corky”! He is the biggest puppy I have ever had born! This is a very nice healthy litter!

Whelping puppies is HARD WORK….for everyone involved. When you lose a pup there is EXTREME sadness and when a pup takes that first gasp of air there is EXTREME joy and relief! Poor Kim every time a pup was born would screw up her face and put her fingers in her ears so she didn’t have to listen to all the mucous sounds. She would then remove her fingers look at me and say “Is it ok?”. When I replied “yes” she would smile wildly! When I said no she would crawl in the whelping pen and gently stroke Whitey and cry with her. Kim’s tears and gentleness serve to remind me of the cycle of life. We both took the last one EXTREMELY hard! With the 2 losses I showed them to Whitey, let her lick on them and when she disengaged from them I would substitute a living puppy and quickly remove the dead one. Then I would go outside and do my crying!

The puppies were introduced to scent today. I took a scent tube and gave each one a good snoot full and placed them on momma’s nipple.

I am off to bed! I am exhausted!

March 4, 2011

Puppy Number 1 15.9oz Male

Puppy Number 2 19.1oz Female

Puppy Number 3 19.7oz Male

Puppy Number 4 16.8oz Female

Puppy Number 5 16.6oz Female

Puppy Number 6 18.2oz Male

Puppy Number 7 20.9oz Male

Everyone is doing well! Again puppies did scent work. They all got their little heads in the scent bottle and placed on mother’s nipple. Puppies 2 and 4 tried to suck on the scent! Off to bed again…been a long day!

Kim has been INVALUABLE during this process! She has been there through it all. Thick and then…wading into all the chores that must be done. I don’t know how I can ever thank her enough! Good friend……….what more can I say! I hope that each of these pups have that same opportunity!