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Kingridge Kennels English Labrador Retrievers - Intelligent ~ Calm ~ Beautiful
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The Kingridge 2016 Winter Litter Has Arrived
Three Puppies Have Made Their Arrival
Annie is Starting Into Labor
Adopting Kingridge's Lovely Lily of the Valley
Our Life and New Life

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Homemade Organic Dog Treats
Puppies Out Exploring
Update on Life and Labs
An Overweight Labrador & Smile Challenge #6
Adopting Kingridge's Lovely Lily of the Valley


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Lab Tails of Kingridge

Live, Love, Labs!

Three Puppies Have Made Their Arrival

After a long slow start to labor, Annie has delivered 3 large healthy pups! She is resting in between contractions and doing a phenomenal job as a first time mama. She is so attentive and careful with her newborns. The pushing stage of labor started around 11:00, and the first pup made her arrival at 11:45. Since then, we have welcomed a new puppy approximately every 45 minutes to an hour. We are in for a very long sleepless night, and I am praying for extra strength and energy for both Annie and myself... Especially for Annie! 


Annie is Starting Into Labor

Annie's temperature dipped down to 98 degrees this afternoon, so we are anticipating the start of labor within the next 12-24 hours! Her desire to nest has set in big time... We are taking care of all of the last minute preparations and have been busy trying to keep her from digging her own nest.

She picked a cozy spot under a shrub in the backyard to prepare for her pups arrival. Much to my surprise, after a fresh bath last night and a little pampering before birth, she got covered in mud from the top of her nose to the tip of her tail while digging out her preferred nesting spot. We are now walking her out on the leash to prevent that from happening again ;-). 

Thankfully, she will deliver her puppies in the beautiful clean whelping pen that my husband built, rather than a dirty bed in our backyard. It reminds me that although they are so domesticated, dogs still carry such primal instincts form their ancestors. In this video of Annie you can still see evidence of her romp in the dirt on her nose. She is in very early labor, but her body is definitely getting ready to deliver her puppies.

We are praying that all will go smoothly, and we will be welcoming a litter of healthy precious puppies soon! I will keep you updated as the puppies make their arrival. New life is always such a miracle! 
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Annie Resting Before Labor
After digging outside to build her "own" whelping pen, we coaxed her to give up and use the nice clean one we have ready for her and the pups. Her body is actively preparing for the journey of birth!

Adopting Kingridge's Lovely Lily of the Valley

Sweet and Lovely 'LILY' of the Valley

Kingridge's Lovely Lily of the Valley

As a lover of Labradors and a breeder, some posts are so fun to write, and others are literally almost impossible to type. This is one of the most difficult ones I can imagine. At this point, I feel like my keyboard is covered in Molasses! Choosing to place a dog into a new forever family is always so hard for myself, and especially for my family, but as a breeder it is something that has to be done from time to time to move the breeding program forward.   

It is only after a great deal of  prayer and discussion, that we have decided to retire Lily from our breeding program here at Kingridge. Lily always was, and will continue to be, first and foremost, our family's very special and much loved pet. So, it is with a heavy heart that we have made this difficult decision. She has only had one successful pregnancy after multiple attempts, and as a result we feel it is ultimately best to find a new home for our special girl. 

We have raised Lily from the very start! I remember when she weighed just over a pound and fit in the palm of my hand. She was born out of the Precious Gems of Kingridge Litter. Her mother was our 'Shiloh' and her father 'Calypso' was the Best of Breed winner at both the Westminster and Eukanuba dog shows in 2011. Lily has always lived inside our home and been a very special part of our family. 

We are looking for a loving home with humans who will pamper Lily and show her as much affection as she is used to receiving from us. She is a healthy, happy, 4 1/2 year old yellow Lab, with a stellar pedigree. Lily is terrific with children (she absolutely loves kids) of all ages, cats, and other dogs. She is faithful and oh so gentle, and she loves walks and jogging next to me on the trail. She really is the epitome of the Labrador breed.

We know that another family is going to be thrilled with the addition of Lily into their family, and we are excited to get to talk with them. Lily is being adopted on a companion/pet registration only.  She will come into your home with all of her AKC papers, current on shots, and with a written agreement of  spaying by the new family's veterinarian. She is sure to bless another family as much as she has ours! It's just so hard to share the precious gem that we have found in living life with Lily. 

If you think your home may be a good fit for Lily, please email me directly at or call me at (724)561-9808 so that we can talk more and see if it seems like a wonderful fit for everyone. I think Lily will transition seamlessly into a happy new home, because to love with abundant affection is her nature. Our family, and especially all of my children, will always hold such a special place in our hearts for her. Lily really is a unique and beautiful gem.

Our Life and New Life

Baby Jonah loves life with our Labs.Although things have been rather quiet on the breeding front around here, our life has been anything but quiet. We celebrated a new addition born to our family, and we have been busy enjoying life with our Labs and our little boy. 

We also moved into a new home. We are still in Pittsburgh, but we are living in a suburb to the south of the city. Our home is now within a very short drive of my husband's work, and we had really wanted to lessen the distance of his commute for quite some time.

We are looking forward to all of the joy and wonder that a precious litter of puppies bring, so we do plan on breeding again soon. We just knew, that with all of the responsibility of an infant and moving, we had to take a pause in our breeding program, because we couldn't possibly give enough attention to everybody.

However, the time we have spent focused on our family, while trying to enjoy every little moment with our new baby, has been a tremendous blessing. They all pass by so quickly! We are snug and settled in our new home, and Little Jonah is already 10 months old. As spring bursts forth with new life all around, we too are so thankful for the beautiful gift of new life. 

Life is such a celebration! I hope you and I can take time this Easter to celebrate all of the blessings that have been made possible because of Jesus, and what He chose to do on the cross 2000 years ago. He died so that we might live and have the gift of life... Not just life... But, even more- an abundant life.

Puppies Out Exploring

Our chocolate boys are a little over 1 month old, and today they went outside exploring for the very first time. We were thankful for such a beautiful mild and sunny day to expose the puppies to all of the new sights, sounds, and smells that go along with the great outdoors. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy every second of their romp in the yard. 

I tried to capture their first moments on video which you can watch below, but I have to apologize for my thumb getting in the way... I was so busy watching the puppies, I didn't do a very good job paying attention to what I was filming on the screen. I hope you enjoy watching these sweet little guys as much as I did. 

I also hope you are all relishing in these beautiful summer days and that you too will get a chance to frolic freely in the great outdoors, taking in the sunshine and enjoying the loveliness of God's creation.
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Kingridge Summer Litter's First Outdoor Experience
Our little explorers, Lewis and Clark, have made it outside for the very first time. At a little over 4 weeks old, they are having a blast exploring all that this great big world has to offer for 2 cu...

Puppies Are 3 Weeks Old

Our summer litter has turned 3 weeks old, and they are growing in so many ways. They have been busy exploring this week, using their new found sense of hearing and sight. Although they are still always in the whelping pen close to Lily, they are walking more steadily on all fours, exploring the smells and sights of the 4 corners of the pen. 

This upcoming week will be an exciting one, because the pups will soon be experiencing their first solid meal. That also marks the start of potty-training on our end, and we will be busy keeping the whelping pen spotless in order to teach the pups that their is an appropriate place to potty. 

There is sure a lot to learn when you are a new puppy! It always amazes me how dogs instinctively know how to teach their pups. Within the next few weeks, Lily will begin to allow her puppies more and more independence, until finally they are out and about exploring this great big world on their own. However, for now, at the tender age of three weeks, the pups are still completely dependent on their mom for everything, and as always she is doing a fabulous job caring for her sons. 

The Explorers are Two Weeks Old

These two little brothers are growing so very quickly. Today they are two weeks old, and so much has changed since they first made their appearance into the world. Although they are still very wobbly, they are gaining strength in their legs, and are attempting to follow their Mama. In perfect Lab fashion, they love eating, and they would probably nurse 24 hours a day if Lily didn't jump out of the whelping pen to take some much needed "mommy breaks" every now and then... Trust me I understand Lily :-) 

Lily really is the best mom imaginable, and she has showered her puppies with love and attention. She has taken meticulous care of her litter and has been very patient with her boys. The pups are doing great with BioSensor therapy, and just today we experienced an exciting milestone that you can see in the picture below. Each of the puppies' eyes opened just a tiny bit, and although everything is still very blurry, soon they will be able to clearly see this great big wonderful world. They will be using those precious eyes to investigate so much in the upcoming weeks and for the rest of their long lives.

Puppy's eyes are just opening!

Lily's Puppies Have Arrived

We have been eagerly waiting for our sweet Lily's first litter of puppies, and since it is very common for our girls to deliver on their actual due date, we all were preparing for a good nights sleep before labor would begin tomorrow. Well the puppies had other plans, and Lily surprised us all by introducing them to us 1 day ahead of schedule. 

We were also surprised to discover only 2 robust little guys in this litter. We had just found out through a detailed ultrasound that the litter was going to be small, but we are so happy to have the gift of these 2 boys. They are healthy, precious, and completely adorable. Birth is always such an exciting miracle! The 2 brothers are nursing successfully, and they were born only minutes apart from one another.

Lily labored like a champ and apart from a temperature drop, she gave us no signals that labor was beginning. It all happened very quickly, and she did wonderfully for a first time mama. She has been taking meticulous care to keep her new bundles of fur warm and well fed, and apart from momentary potty breaks, she hasn't left their side.

We will be posting pictures and more details in the days to follow. We will also be adding more pictures to Facebook, so if you haven't yet liked us on Facebook, it may be something you'd like to consider. It will be so wonderful to watch this duo grow together!

Remembering All Who Have Served

Happy Memorial Day! I want to share my gratefulness and appreciation to all of you who have served our great nation and protected our freedoms. It has been such a beautiful weekend here in Pittsburgh (which is very appreciated because it is quite rare). We are enjoying picnics, the sunny outdoors, wonderful food, and our loving family. All of these are gifts from the Lord that brave men have fought for, and are still fighting to protect in America. 

Some of you may have seen the article about the former marine who was reunited with the yellow Labrador he served with in Afghanistan. Here is the video capturing the precious reunion of the two, and it reminds me of the tender bond shared between all people, even soldiers, with their beloved canines. It is such a strong bond, and it amazes me that even in wartime, our faithful partners will stand with us until the end if necessary. What a beautiful sacrificial relationship! Thank you to all of those who have sacrificed it all for each of us.

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Marine Sergeant Reunited with Yellow Lab
A Marine Sergeant is reunited with a yellow lab. Even in war-torn areas, inseparable bonds can be formed.A Marine Sergeant from Wisconsin was recently reunited with a female yellow lab. The p...

Eden's Litter Is Three Weeks Old

Wow! It is so hard to believe that we have been busy enjoying Eden's puppies for 3 weeks now. This past week all of the puppies opened their eyes, and they also are able to hear the sounds around them for the very first time. The puppies are still completely dependent on their mama for all of their physical needs, but that will all be shifting soon. This week we will begin teaching the puppies to eliminate in a specific area of the whelping pen, and soon they will be experiencing their first meal of softened puppy food.
They sure have come a long way in just three short weeks! They are starting to crawl around the pen, and soon they will be investigating this great big world. For now however, they are still in the comfort of their whelping pen, close to the security of their mom. It is so exciting to witness the blossoming of each of their personalities, and we are eager to watch the development of the subtle differences that exist from pup to pup.
We will be having our first visitation for all of the families who are expecting a puppy from this litter on Saturday, November 9th. The first visit to meet the litter is always much anticipated and really enjoyable for everyone. These puppies are so sweet, not to mention absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait for their forever families to meet them. In the meantime, you can see other close up pictures of each of the puppies on the "Current Litter" page of our website.

Introducing Kingridge's Fall Litter

Praise God for a relatively easy delivery and the birth of 5 very healthy puppies! We would love to introduce you to the litter, so feel free to check out the Current Litter Pagewhere we have posted a formal litter announcement. We will include many more pictures within the next few days, but we wanted to share some of the details with regard to each puppy's weight, ribbon color and gender. We will be updating this website, our blog... Lab Tails, and Facebook. So, please join us in welcoming these new puppies into the world and into your hearts. We hope you enjoy celebrating the excitement of new life along with Eden and our family.
Eden's Garden

Eden's Successful Delivery

Everything went just beautifully with the delivery of Eden's litter. She whelped a total of 5 puppies. There are 4 girls and 1 boy who are all nursing well and seem to be doing great. Please continue to keep Eden and her pups in your prayers during these next few days, because these are the most critical ones as far as health is concerned for both her and the puppies.
I will be posting more details concerning the labor, and each puppy's birth, within the next few days. For now, we are helping Eden acclimate to life as a new mom, and watching each puppy with diligence. We are so thankful for a successful delivery and pray that each pup will grow stronger every day. Birth is such a miracle, and we feel privileged to have witnessed that miracle again today!
Puppies nursing on MamaLittle newborn lovable LabsEden did such a great job!Brand new and nursing already

Two More Puppies Born

Two girls have arrived and are happily nursing with Eden. According to the X-ray, we can expect at least 2 more puppies tonight. Everyone is doing great!

Eden's First Puppy is Born

We just welcomed Eden's first puppy into the world. He is a big, healthy, male and he was born at 6:14 pm. Eden is doing a phenomenal job as a first time mama, and the little guy that she delivered is beautiful. He is the largest puppy that we have ever delivered here at Kingridge, and I'm hoping he paved the way for the rest of his brothers and sisters who will soon follow!
I'll be updating, either here or on Facebook, throughout the labor to let you know the gender of the puppies that are born. We are praying for a successful easy whelp that results in beautiful pups!

Puppies Are Coming At Any Moment!

The puppies will be arriving soon.Eden is entering into a more active labor pattern, and we know that it will be just a matter of time before we will be welcoming her puppies. She is panting heavily, shivering a bit, and preparing her nest. Toward the end of labor, she will begin to arch her back in an attempt to push the puppies out. This is the next event that we will be waiting for with regard to labor. I am pretty sure this will be the day the puppies are born... We are all filled with such anticipation!

We Are Ready for Labor

Eden our sweet black Lab getting ready for labor.
Panting has begun, but only time will tell when the big event will occur.Waiting to meet her puppies.
We have been busy preparing for the arrival of Eden's litter with Miles from Sunnydaze Labradors. At the vet's office this past week, we discovered that she is carrying 5 sweet puppies. We have been monitoring her temperature over the past several days, and this morning we noticed that it has dropped. This temperature drop is a definite milestone that marks the onset of labor in canines!
So, this means that labor should begin with 24 hours. We are keeping a close eye on Eden and will post more details concerning labor as they unfold. For now, she is panting a bit more than usual, but she is showing no signs of being in active labor just yet. We are hoping for a safe natural labor for this first time mama and really appreciate all of your prayers for the health of her and the puppies. We are SO excited to meet each one of them!

Ultrasound Confirms Puppies

We are anticipating the arrival of not 1, but 2 litters of puppies! We confirmed the pregnancies using ultrasound this past week and are so excited about the arrival of these wonderful pups. They are already so loved by so many people and we just can't wait to meet them.
Our expectant females are both happy and healthy, although they are both showing the obvious signs of pregnancy. They are lazier than usual (which is pretty lazy), and eating like food is going out of style (which for a Lab is really not that uncommon). We are watching as their abdomens begin to swell and their mammary glands begin to fill out in preparation for all of the nursing they will be doing in the upcoming weeks.
Our lists for both litters are full at this point, but if we have any changes in the future we will be sure to post them. The puppies in these litters will be going to absolutely phenomenal homes! The Kingridge families who constitute our waiting list for these litters have been so patient, and they all have waited with graciousness for each and every one of these little much anticipated pups. Yay!!! The wait is almost over.
We will be announcing the number of puppies in each litter after we perform X-rays at the end of this month. As far as our family is concerned during the next few weeks, we will be preparing for the arrival of the litters while working extra hard to accomplish a great deal of home schooling. This will enable us to take off for as many days (or weeks) as we need in order to provide 100% of our attention on these special new little bundles of puppy love!
A laboring mama, and her resulting litter of pups, requires constant observation and assistance during the first few days after birth. Therefore, of course, 2 new litters will require twice as much work. I am so thankful for the flexibility of home education, because we will be able to adjust our schedule accordingly. As a family we are SO ready to meet these puppies, and we can't wait to pause from the routine of our school days to interact with the miracles of life! That is an education all in itself, one that can never be learned solely through the pages of a book.

Summertime Fun

It has been so warm here in Pittsburgh. Now, I know there are some kind of people who complain anytime the weather isn't 72 degrees with sunny skies, but I am not one of those kind of people. I love the variety of weather we get here in Pittsburgh, and it is one of the reasons why we choose to make this part of the world our home. Our family and Labs have lived here for our entire life, and I think we are all pretty spoiled.
Here in "the burgh" we get cold wonderful winter days filled with snow and ice, autumn days that are brisk and delightful with gorgeous changing foliage, and cool grey misty days that make us appreciate the days of bright sunshine and brilliant blue skies that come with summer. However, these last few days have been down right hot. The dogs are staying inside in the air conditioning, along with the kids and myself. We all enjoy a quick romp of play outside and then it's time to cool off indoors. Thanks God for air conditioning! We all have been enjoying the sprinkler and the pool. The dogs especially are delighted in the abundance of water during these scorching hot days.
As we have been enjoying our summer, we are also actively researching sires for the future breedings that will occur over the next several months. Our black female will be the first to enter into her heat cycle, and then we will breed an all chocolate litter a few months later. If you are currently a family that is on our waiting list, I have sent out a newsletter email highlighting our breeding plans. Please let me know if you did not receive that recent communication.
Everyone is so excited about having puppies in the house again, but we are lazily enjoying this warm summer with just our family and our Labs. I hope you and your families cherish this weather and the laid back pace that tends to accompany these long hot summer days. Take some time for what I plan to do for this afternoon... pour a big glass of lemonade and pick up a good book (one on dog training would be perfect) and just relax. Then, you can take some time to prepare for the arrival of your new Lab puppy, or appreciate the puppy, or full grown Labrador, that you already have in your life. Oh, how I do love summertime!
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Puppy Dove in Pool
Dove is now 15 weeks old, and is enjoying life here with our family. With these warm summer days, she has been playing in the kiddie pool with the kids.

Lily's Litter Update

Summer has begun. Oh, how we are all enjoying the start of this wonderful season! The fine chocolate litter that we had in our care was such a blessing to us all. We had such a memorable time raising each of those little puppies! They have all transitioned into their new homes, except for one stunning pup who we selected to add to our Kingridge family. I hope all of the families from that litter are having as much fun with their new arrivals as we are with our special little girl.
With the chocolate litter turning 10 weeks old today, we are now turning more of our attention to the arrival of Lily's litter. She is due on June 22nd, and we will be headed to the vet on Friday for an X-ray to determine the exact number of puppies anticipated in her litter. She has shown some emotional and physical changes of pregnancy, but the clearest way to see how many pups are in a litter is by X-ray. We will be posting the results as soon as we find out this Friday.
We are praying for a healthy litter of adorable little black and chocolate Lab pups. In the meantime, we will be enjoying the sunshine and beautiful warm weather of summer with our family and our precious new puppy. Likewise, we hope you are taking time to enjoy the beauty of this special time of year with all of those whom you love!
Sweet summertime!

First Water Experience

Today we took advantage of this beautiful Saturday, and took the puppies to Mingo Creek Park for their first water experience. The day was wonderful! Each of the puppies approached the water rather cautiously at first, but then they dove right in. After splashing around and playing on the rocks, they took the longest deepest nap that I have ever seen.
My children joined in playing with the puppies throughout the day, and they too were fast asleep in the car on the ride home. It was a very eventful and memorable day for us all! So, now it's my turn to go up to bed to rest like a tired tuckered out puppy.
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Puppies' First Water Experience 2013
We took the puppies to Mingo Creek Park today for their first experience in the water. They had such a fun day, swimming, chasing butterflies, and exploring in nature.

Six Weeks Old & Cute as Can Be

6 weeks old & 11.3 pounds
6 weeks old & 12.1 pounds
6 weeks old & 12.1 pounds
6 weeks old & 13.0 pounds
6 weeks old & 13.4 pounds
The litter is 6 weeks old! This begins a new stage in the puppies' development here at Kingridge. We take these next 2 weeks to work with the puppies on crate training and obedience training, and of course we continue the potty training that was begun when they were 3 weeks old. The puppies enjoyed a meal in their crates for the first time, and the experience seemed to be very positive for each of them. When it comes to Labs, any experience is good as long as food is involved :-) It really is a way to their heart! It is also excellent for training, and we make use of this natural love in all of the work that we do with the puppies.
With plenty of positive motivation we will teach the puppies to come when called, sit, and walk on lead. We also begin to tackle the concept of staying, rather than following every impulse to investigate the world around them. In the next weeks we work on whistle recognition, using a soft mouth for retrieving, bite inhibition, and keeping the puppy on all 4 paws to receive praise. That is quite a busy schedule for such little puppies! But, they are so eager to learn and get "treats" that they are very eager students. With a lot of patience and praise, the litter will make great strides this week in many areas of obedience. 
They are also continuing the socialization process during this week. Each puppy has eaten out of many different types of food bowls, in many locations, and have been around many unique types of individuals. We have exposed them to infants, elderly, people with handicaps, cats, hamsters, birds and other dogs. It is amazing how they approach a new situation with curiosity and gusto.
This sensitive time of socialization will never be repeated again, and it is absolutely imperative that they explore new situations in a safe environment that produces confidence in each new experience. So, we are diligently completing the 7 Steps of Socialization, and in the process they are learning so much about the great world around them. We have 5 very curious inquisitive little puppies in our home. They are growing and getting ready developmentally for that special day. The day when they will move away from their mom and start their journey with their new families. It is such an honor to train them and watch their confidence grow in preparation for that very important day.

Puppies Are Playing and Learning

Our sweet chocolate litter is adorable! The puppies are so inquisitive and are having a great time curiously exploring their ever expanding world. We are exposing the pups to many new and unique situations using the Seven Steps of Socialization. They are playing with new toys, encountering new smiling faces, and moving to new locations in our home and beyond.
They recently stepped out onto our deck for the first time, and within the next week we will allow them to go outside into the great big world of our backyard. We also have them interact with other pets, listen to noises that they may encounter as adults, and eat in unfamiliar environments out of different types of bowls. All of these social experiences are purposeful and intentional.
When a puppy is exposed to new stimuli in the first 7 weeks of his or her life, they become acclimated to the new experience and will respond with little fear or nervousness when they encounter the situation again as an adult. We make the most of these social weeks in the puppies' lives by exposing them to as many varied social experiences as we can, in a very controlled manner. We note the way in which each puppy responds to the new encounter, so that we are able to document the personality differences apparent in each pup. They are all enjoying this special period of exploration, and WE are having such a great time with this chocolate litter!
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Puppies Eating and Playing Together
Kingridge Kennel's fine chocolate puppies are enjoying a hearty romp after mealtime. The puppies started eating solids at 4 weeks and are having so much fun with their littermates. They are absolutely...

First Social Interactions & Visitation

The puppies in the "Fine Chocolate" litter turned 3 weeks old last tonight. All of the pups are exploring their surroundings and are becoming interested in interacting with one another. They are also just starting to focus on human interaction, and are responding to sounds and movement. This is a precious time in their development when they come out of their "shell" and learn how to interact with the world around them.
I know many of the families on our list are very excited to come and meet the sweet bundles of fur in this litter. So, I thought I'd let you know some of the details for the first litter visitation. Saturdays are our typical visitation days, but we always strive to accommodate families based on their schedules as well. We allow people to come visit the litter once the puppies have turned 4 weeks old. This means that Saturday, May 4th, is the special day when these pups will meet some of the families who will be taking them home forever.
In the meantime, I hope that you can enjoy the video of the litter and know that we are working tirelessly with these precious pups. We have recently begun potty training and are working on the 7 Steps of Socialization. This week of training coincides harmoniously with the natural development of the litter. They are just beginning the process of exploring, and we are giving them all kinds of new things to investigate. It is an exciting time here at Kingridge Kennels!
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First Interactions & Nursing
The puppies are almost 3 weeks old and are exploring their environment and one another.

The Puppies Eyes are Open

One puppy with his eyes newly openedThe puppies have turned two weeks old, and as of today, all of their eyes are open. Although their vision is blurry, they can begin to see the world for the very first time. The two week mark is such an exciting developmental milestone for the litter, and the upcoming week is one that is full of exciting social and developmental changes.
One little chocolate puppy being weighed
We finished performing BioSensor Therapy yesterday. The early developmental period has just flown by! Each of the chocolate puppies in the litter is gaining terrific weight, and they can now walk about in the whelping pen with a bit more purpose and efficiency. They still sleep for a majority of the day, and nurse for the rest of their waking hours. However, this heavy need for sleep will begin to diminish during the next week as the puppies begin to spend more time exploring and socializing.
At two weeks they are just embarking on an exciting transitional period in their development that will occur during this upcoming week. It's a time of rapid change when each puppy begins to show some of the traits that they will retain into adulthood. They start to display their first social signals, like wagging their tail, barking, growling and play fighting with the litter.
The litter is growing and changing with each passing dayThis week is one that is full of anticipation, as we look forward to watching the puppies open up to the world around them! I will be sure to capture some videos of their first interactions... Those first social moments are absolutely adorable!

First Five Days

5 Day Old Chocolate Lab Puppy
We have really been enjoying the first five days with this new precious litter. Time has passed like a whirlwind since Easter, and we are slowly returning to a bit of a routine. This is a time of explosive growth and development in each of the pup's lives. The puppies began BioSensor Therapy on Wednesday and will continue the program twice a day until they are 16 days old.
As we interact with the puppies during BioSensor Therapy we record their responses to the stimuli during each session. This information will be added to the journal that we present to each family on the day of puppy pickup. Already we are starting to observe slight nuances relating to the puppies behaviors, although we will not have any concrete indications until the litter is approximately 5 weeks old. However, observation and documentation at this point in the puppies' development help us to collect valuable insights that confirm what we will see later.
Each of the pups is growing stronger and larger everyday. We have had to replace their ribbons twice already because of their expanding neck circumferences. Some of the puppies are already able to walk feebly, but diligently, all the way across the whelping pen to get to their mother for a nursing session. They nurse just about every hour, and when they are not feeding they are sleeping. Of course, their eyes are not yet open, but I will let you know as soon as that monumental occasion occurs. I have added some new pictures of each of the puppies to the "Current Litter" page of the website and will continue to document all of the anticipated milestones as they unfold.

Announcing the Spring "Chocolate" Litter

We are so proud to announce the 5 chocolate puppies in our spring litter. Three males and two females were born late last night on April 1st via c-section. They ranged in weight from 13 ounces to 1 pound. Although they are not yet 24 hours old, they are all already gaining weight! That is a terrific sign, and it is a direct result of an absolutely wonderful caring mother.
Shiloh is still slightly groggy from the anesthesia and quit sore from surgery, but she is very attentive and has instantly fallen in love with her new puppies. We will be posting pictures of each of the pups, and revealing their names by the end of the day today at:

Labor Has Begun... and I'm Not Fooling!

Puppies will be whelped any time nowWe are anticipating the birth of puppies at any moment. Shiloh's labor started late on Easter night with mild contractions. We brought Shiloh along to our Easter festivities and enjoyed a magnificent day!
Shiloh's contractions strengthened throughout the night, and she is now in active labor. We are ready to assist with the birth (thanks to a generous amount of coffee), and we will be keeping you current on developments as they occur. We are praying for a healthy natural whelping that is easy for both, Mom and pups.  
Easter blessings like sweet puppies

Number of Puppies & Labor Plans

Shiloh coming home from the vet.
Shiloh and I were just at the vet for her pregnancy X-rays. She is drawing close to the end of this pregnancy, and her puppies may be here as early as Easter day! Along with the X-ray we also went over the whelping procedures and got some Oxytocin to help with any issues that may arise with unusual labor patterns. Our visit today helps us anticipate how many puppies will be whelped, so that we can be well prepared for the big event.
The X-rays confirmed pregnancy, and we saw at least 6 puppies.
Shiloh and Joy on the way home from the vets.Our vet counted 5 spines in the picture and mentioned that due to Shiloh's pregnancy "bulge" there may be a few more hiding. I definitely saw 6 spines, so there may indeed be even more. We will have to wait and see just how many! In a previous litter, 3 pups were whelped who were missed and considered hiding from view in the X-ray image. So, I can confidently count on the passage of 6 little puppies, but during labor we will be waiting and watching for signs that there are more. We are planning on visiting with family this Easter, so Shiloh will be journeying with us for our celebrations just in case these puppies decide they want to be born on the early side of the spectrum.
We will begin taking Shiloh's temperature twice a day, looking for the low temperature drop that signals labor is imminent. We also will observe her behavior for indications that she is "nesting." Quite literally a dog will display these nesting tendencies as labor draws near. They will dig at their bedding, seek out dark areas away from the hustle and bustle of life, and prepare a nest in which to deliver their pups. We, of course, will ultimately have Shiloh deliver in her whelping box, but she still enjoys hunkering down underneath the children's beds, digging through a pile of laundry to find a cozy spot, and using our baby's blankets as possible safe havens for her new puppies. It is quite a thoughtful and amazing event to witness!
Easter puppies and eggsSo, all that is left for now on our end, is to prepare for the birth and wait! The preparation is easy, but the patience to wait for the delivery of a litter is always SO difficult! I have never been one to deal well with waiting, and these last few days feel like pure torture... the suspense.... the excitement! It is like Christmas morning around here - or I suppose at this time of year more like Easter morning. We are watching, excitedly waiting, and praying for a healthy delivery of some very precious little chocolate puppies. I will be updating this blog, and Facebook as the events of labor unfold. I hope you will enjoy the twists and turns of this passage of new life... It is always quite a journey! 

Ultrasound Confirms Pregnancy

Puppies are on the wayWe just returned from Ohio after visiting Animal Clinic Northview. We had Shiloh's ultrasound appointment and confirmed that puppies are indeed on the way. Now we can officially announce that the breeding was successful, and Shiloh is expecting! We will follow this up with an x-ray to determine a more precise estimate as to the size of the litter. 
An x-ray done about a week before delivery is the best indicator to let us know exactly how many puppies we can anticipate this April. So, Shiloh's tiredness isn't just a result of the winter blahs, but a true sign of early pregnancy. Oh, how I remember that exhausted feeling myself in early pregnancy. I'm sure many of you with precious little ones can totally relate :-)
Well, it's been a long day of traveling and just the act of reflecting back over those moments of utter exhaustion has taken it's toll.... Shiloh and I are both ready for a good night's sleep. Zzzzzzz.............

The Love Between a Child & Dog

The love of LabsWe all know that children and animals can have a very special relationship. I know in our home this is the case between our Labs and our kids! Dogs usually form an amazing attachment to their children, and likewise, children bond strongly to their family's special pet. However, the benefits of a family pet go far beyond the formations of simply a strong loving relationship. In the following article by Daniel Goleman, Children and Their Pets: Unexpected Psychological Benefits, one can begin to grasp the amazing effect a dog has on a child's development.
In new research into the bonds between humans and animals, therapists are discovering that pets provide unexpected psychological benefits for children beyond the obvious. And many of the same qualities that make pets beneficial to children make them useful in psychotherapy, from building rapport with difficult-to-reach patients to bolstering the self-esteem of traumatized children.''People have always loved their pets, but now we're discovering specific ways to harness the benefits of being with an animal in psychotherapy,'' said Dr. Samuel B. Ross, executive director of Green Chimneys Children's Services in Brewster, N.Y., where animals are used in treating emotionally disturbed children.For children, a close relationship with a pet has proved of benefit in study after study. For instance, in research with preschool children, psychologists at Oregon State University found that teaching children to care for a puppy enhanced their social skills.
More Cooperative and Sharing
"It made the children more cooperative and sharing,'' said Dr. Sue Doescher, a psychologist involved in the study. ''Having a pet improves children's role-taking skills because they have to put themselves in the pet's position and try to feel how the pet feels. And that transfers to how other kids feel.''
Dogs benefit children in so many ways.Children who were regularly given the opportunity to care for a puppy at their preschool, as well as those with pets at home were found more socially competent. They were more popular, felt better about themselves and were better able to understand other children's feelings.The study was reported by Cindee Bailey, a psychologist at Pacific Lutheran University in Portland, Ore., at a meeting in November of the Delta Society, which promotes research on human-animal links. Conferences of the society have emerged as a main forum for new findings in the field. Just how a pet affects the emotional development of a child depends in part on the quality of home life. A study of 309 fifth graders found that for children who had close, supportive relationships with their parents, pets bolstered self-esteem; the effect was stronger the closer the children were to their parents.
Buffer Against Loneliness
But for children who sufferedfrom emotional neglect, the pets took on another role: confidant and buffer against loneliness. In a sense, the pets became substitute mothers, said Dr. Yolande Michaels, a psychologist in Venice, Calif. Dr. Michaels said that for neglected children, treating their pets as friends in whom they could confide helped the children soothe themselves when upset.The ability of pets to make disturbed children feel better has made animals increasingly common in therapy with children.
In one study of children with severe emotional handicaps, half received normal care, attending standard activity groups. The other half were allowed to play with a dog during therapy sessions. Those who had the therapy with a pet improved on key areas of measurement like the ability to control their impulses and understand others, while those who received normal therapy got worse. The study was done by Barbara Wood, a clinical social worker at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
My Conclusion
These studies suggest that dogs, by there very nature, help children in ways that are unique and important to their emotional, social, and psychological development. Dogs truly are mans' best friend! This Valentine's Day, lets be thankful for the devotion that out pets show to us, along with the pure love and loyalty that they give so generously. The relationship we develop with our pets is a true gift and leads to so many rewards. Some of the benefits of owning a dog are tangible and obvious; while other benefits are harder to see but are of extreme importance. Thanks to our pets, we can experience all of these blessings and enjoy a rich rewarding relationship with a loyal companion by our side.
Dogs and children are gifts to one another

Headed to Westminster

The 2012 Westminster Best in Show WinnerThe biggest dog show of the year is just around the corner. The 137th Westminster Dog Show... It is actually the largest dog show in the world and is the second longest continuously held sporting event in the United States, just one year behind the Kentucky Derby! In a few days we will be traveling to New York to attend. We are thrilled to be able to go to Madison Square Garden on Monday, February 11th and Tuesday, February 12th to witness the top dogs in the American Kennel Club competing for Best in Show. On Monday morning the Labradors will be judged, and of course that will be the best part of all :-) That judging is usually left out of the televised schedule, but it is the shining moment for Lab lovers- like myself. Although Labrador Retrievers are the most represented breed in the AKC, one has never won Best in Show. Westminster has a fascinating  history.

The Westminster Kennel Club has this to say about this iconic event in American history...
"Established in 1877, The Westminster Kennel Club is America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. There is only one Westminster, and in its long and prestigious existence, just about every superlative imaginable has been used to describe the club, the show and its impact on the world of purebred dogs. The Westminster Kennel Club "has had great effect in improving the quality of the dogs owned for use or companionship. Of this there can be no doubt ..." wrote one reporter. True then, true today.

Simply put, Westminster has become the symbol of the purebred dog, in show rings as well as in millions of television homes across America. The elegance, beauty and grace of the canine athletes combine with the excitement of the competition in the world's most famous sporting arena before a live national television audience. The result is an event that is the dog show world's version of the Super Bowl and Academy Awards. But even greater, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a celebration of the wonderful canine spirit, reflecting our emotional and spiritual attachment to our dogs.

It all began in 1877 when The Westminster Kennel Club was officially formed " increase the interest in dogs, and thus improve the breeds, and to hold an Annual Dog Show in the city of New York ..." (from Westminster By-Laws). By all accounts, that objective was accomplished from the very beginning.

From Forest and Stream magazine in 1877: "To say that the dog show held in the city last week was a success would but poorly convey an idea of what the result really was. It was a magnificent triumph for the dogs and for the projectors of the show. We question if on any previous occasion has there ever assembled in this city such a number of people at one time, and representing as much of the culture, wealth and fashion of the town. That such a collection of dogs was ever gotten together before in any country we very much doubt ..."

It is still the greatest collection of dogs assembled each year in the same place at the same time. From the opening moments when the 2,500-plus champions begin to compete in 162 different breed and variety rings, to the final crowning of the Best In Show dog, it is the great sport of dogs at its very best.
Westminster pre-dates the invention of the light bulb and the automobile, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Washington Monument, the invention of basketball and the establishment of the World Series. This makes me realize just how special our time will be as we attend this magnificent event! It means so much to those of us who love and adore dogs...

The Stunning Sire of the Spring Litter

AM/CAN CH CEDARWOODS SIGNATURE BROWNING COPIED JHWe are so happy to announce the sire for our upcoming spring litter... After much research, contemplation and prayer for direction, we decided upon AM/CAN CH CEDARWOODS SIGNATURE BROWNING COPIED JH or "Siggy" as he is called. We couldn't be more thrilled with this fine stud. He is truly an amazing Labrador Retriever! He has been producing excellent puppies and is an exceptionally beautiful dog. To read more about Siggy's accomplishments and see some fantastic pictures of both him and his past offspring, please check out the Cedarwood Labrador Retrievers website.
Siggy's owner Diann Sullivan has been writing for the Labrador Quarterly since 1990. Additionally, her dogs at Cedarwood which had its' beginnings back in 1978, are "serving as service dogs for the handicapped, companion hunting dogs, border patrol dogs, and foundation dogs for breeding programs worldwide, and most important of all, loving pets". She is an extraordinary Labrador expert and is a wonderful person as well. We will be performing the artificial insemination this week and are expectantly looking forward to some stunning Labrador pups.
I am in awe of how everything has come together in God's perfect timing. It's amazing how He is concerned with even the smallest details of our lives. We have been testing Shiloh's progesterone levels for over a week, and are aware that timing is extremely crucial when it comes to breeding. One of our concerns was that the winter weather has been rather unpredictable here in Pittsburgh, and we didn't want to have drive to the vet in the midst of a huge snowstorm. At this moment it is an unseasonable 62 degrees here in PA!
That is just one small example of an answer to prayer :-) We continue to pray for a successful AI this week, and a healthy litter of puppies for all of the families on our list. I will keep you posted as all of the miraculous events unfold.  

Amazing Health Benefits of Dogs for Babies

A dog can actually help your family remain healthy!I hope you are all healthy and well this winter. Our family has been fortunate to remain rather healthy in the midst of the nationwide flu outbreak. With 6 children, including our new little guy, we are extra concerned about contracting simple colds and viruses. If one member of our family gets sick, the illness seems to spread quickly from person to person- even with diligent hand washing. So one person with the flu can lead to our whole family being under the weather for weeks.
It seems studies are suggesting that we can attribute some of our good health this winter to our wonderful Labradors. I'm sure you already know how much dogs add to the richness of their owners' lives, but this article mentions some added health benefits that I had never considered for our family. Oh, yet another reason why I love our Labs!!!
According to the Huffington Post,... dogs and cats may not just provide your family with love and constant companionship -- they could also have a powerful effect on the health of children early in life, according to a small new study. New research in the journal Pediatrics shows that children who live in a home with a pet during their first year of life are also more likely to be healthier, compared with kids who don't live in a pet-owning household. "It's more support in a growing body of evidence that exposure to pets early in life can stimulate the immune system to do a better job of fighting off infection," Dr. Danielle Fisher, of St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.,told the Los Angeles Times.
Specifically, kids who had a dog during their first year of life had 31 percent fewer respiratory tract infections than kids who didn't live with a dog, researchers found. Kids from dog-owning homes also had fewer ear infections -- 44 percent fewer than kids from non dog-owning homes -- and needed fewer antibiotics, researchers found. Cats also seemed to have a beneficial effect on kids' health, but not as strong as dogs, the researchers said. "Our findings support the theory that during the first year of life, animal contacts are important, possibly leading to better resistance to infectious respiratory illnesses during childhood," the European researchers wrote. The study included 397 kids in Finland, who were followed by researchers from the time they were born until they reached age 1. The families reported how much contact they had with a dog or a cat on a weekly basis. ABC News also reported on the relationship between the amount of time the pet spent indoors, and the beneficial effect on the kids:
Children who live in houses where dogs are inside less than six hours a day are at lowest risk for respiratory problems. The authors believe it could be because dogs that are inside track less dirt. More exposure to dirt leads to more exposure to different types of bacteria, which can help strengthen the immune system.

Finding Just the Right Stud

Our Lab puppies are a result of countless hours of careful research and planningWe have been busy investigating studs to sire this spring's litter. Choosing a stud to compliment the female dog that we are breeding with, is perhaps the most important decision regarding the litter. As you can imagine, nothing is more critical than who the two Labradors are that are chosen to reproduce, merge their DNA, and create their own unique offspring. We devote countless hours to this decision, and we take it very seriously. However, it is also a time of immense anticipation as we look toward the future.
To compliment the female one must search for a mate who has traits that will flatter her in structure and personality. We typically choose to use a stud who is an AKC champion and whose personality is in line with our vision and goals here at Kingridge Kennels. We also want to be sure they have the desire to please and retrieve, which is what makes a Labrador such a wonderful addition to the world of dogs. 
In addition we want our puppies to be gentle, calm, loving companions who have all of the inherent Labrador traits that make them ideal pets for families. We need to be absolutely certain that the candidates we explore are in the care of reputable breeders and have met all of the health testing that we uphold. This helps to ensure that the puppies will be healthy in both, body and mind.
Here at Kingridge Kennels we are dedicated to producing outstanding Labrador puppies who will mature into healthy and sound specimens of the breed. We understand what an enormous responsibility it is to create life though our direct planning. Life that will last for 15 years or more. It all begins with the choices made at the very beginning in breeding! It is exciting to realize that along with all of the effort and responsibility of breeding wisely, we can anticipate the fruit of all of those decisions. This will happen when we witness the miracle of life that will soon unfold!

Contributing this Christmas through Canines

We've all heard the old adage, "It's better to give than to receive". We readily teach our children this point, yet sometimes as adults we fail to comprehend this truth for ourselves. Well, sacrificial giving is what Christmas is all about... God gave us His Son on that very first Christmas so many years ago. Christmas is, by its very nature, a time for giving with a joyful heart.
In these days that are leading up to the biggest holiday of the year, many people feel moved to share their blessings with others. There are so many ways that we can impact this world around us with our kindness and generosity! The Wall Street Journal just published an article entitled Service Dogs Pick Up Scent of Diabetes Danger this December about the impact Diabetic Alert Dogs (D.A.D.'s for short) are having on the children that they serve. These dogs are being used in amazing ways that are changing the way children with Diabetes are able to live. We have raised Diabetic Alert Dogs puppies in the past and believe strongly in supporting organizations that promote these life-saving dogs to families who are in need.
You may find it in your heart to support an organization that will help supply a special child with a D.A.D. this Christmas, or possibly you will choose a charity of your choice to help those who are in desperate need. We are fortunate enough to be living in a time of bounty in the greatest country the world has ever known. I hope that this Christmas will find many people contributing out of their plenty to change the world's needy. Then they will know that...
  is truly far better to give rather than to receive!

Introducing Our New Baby to the Pack

-Christian Ray-
A sweet new baby joins our family
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above..." -James 1:17
We are so thankful to the Lord for the newest addition to our family. Our son Christian was born only 2 weeks ago, and is healthy and happy. He weighed a whopping 10 pounds and is our biggest baby yet! All of his brothers and sisters are thrilled to have a new little brother to cherish. 
Our Labs have been so wonderful in adjusting to this new precious presence in our home. They are very delicate around the baby, and we are so fortunate to rest assured - knowing that our dogs are gentle giants. It's amazing how our English Labradors instinctively know to be calm around children and require very little time to acclimate to the vulnerability of an infant.
We do take time to introduce them to the scent of the new baby before their first actual introduction. Here is a link to an excellent article from "Fit Pregnancy" to educate new parents on the best way to promote a healthy start in the relationship between canine and infant. The picture below shows the first meeting between our 3 Labradors and our 3 day old son.
With many other breeds we would not feel so confident in our children's security, but we are so comfortable when it comes to the disposition of our Labs here at Kingridge. Of course, we use common sense and do not allow our dogs time alone unsupervised with the baby. But our dogs fit in perfectly with a growing family, and we feel truly blessed indeed!
Introducing the new baby to our Labradors for the first time

Update on Life and Labs

It's about time I posted some current information about our life and Labs! We are continually amazed at how quickly time passes. Our family is expecting a new little blessing any day now, and because of all of the wonder that is involved in welcoming a baby into the world, we have taken a short time off of breeding. This will enable us to concentrate fully on enjoying life with our new precious baby. We are planning to wait until spring of 2013 for our next litter of puppies. That way we can enjoy the first few months with our new little one, and then devote our full attention the needs and training of the puppies when the arrive.
We had quite an eventful summer! The very next day after the spring litter left to go to their new homes, I was running very "pregnantly" through our yard and tripped over a root. How embarrassing! I ended up breaking my foot, and spent 6 weeks in a walking cast. This was difficult to say the least. Then, with family vacations, the start of our homeschooling year, and progressing further along in pregnancy, things only intensified with regard to busyness and exhaustion. So needless to say, I am so thankful that we decided to take a short hiatus from puppy rearing and training!
We are anticipating the birth of our son at literally any moment now... My due date was officially on the 7th of October. We are so excited to be welcoming a new life into this world and into our family! We are also looking forward to the future when we will again be experiencing the miracle of life with a new litter of puppies in the spring!

The Puppies First Water Experience

Our Lab puppy River outside enjoying the sunshineWe have been having such a wonderful time with this litter! The puppies are growing by leaps and bounds. We have enjoyed training the puppies outside with such beautiful weather here in Pittsburgh. Recently, there have been very few rainy days and tons of warm sunshine. I am entering my 3rd trimester for this pregnancy, and I have had a ton of energy... Praise God! As a result, our days have been very full.
Over the weekend we visited Mingo Creek County Park to  allow the puppies to experience the thrill of the water. They took to it like a... well, like a Lab to the water! It was love at first sight. Each of them romped and splashed until they were so exhausted that they fell fast asleep in the playpen that we brought to the park. After all of the that play, they had the longest stretch of sleep that we have witnessed since they were tiny little pups. We tried to take a lot of pictures and video to document all of the fun that you can watch below.
Children LOVE Labradors! This is our guy Clay with one of his many fans.The training has been going smoothly, and this litter seems to follow in typical Labrador fashion, because they are extremely smart and eager to please. They have been enjoying a wide variety of social experiences as well. We have introduced them to cats, other dogs, rabbits, babies, the elderly, and just about every child living within a 1 mile radius. They are the hit of summer break with the kids in our neighborhood. I am confident that these puppies have been loved on, cuddled, and adored by children more than any other group of pups in the entire world.
These puppies are such a blessing to us, and I know that they will be an indescribable gift in the lives of their new families as well. It is hard to imagine that we will only have them in our care for 1 final week. For us, things are drawing to an end with our time together, and yet for the puppies this is just the start of a fabulous lifelong journey with loving humans, companions, and friends. They are just about ready to begin that amazing adventure with their new families!
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Kingridge Kennels Puppies Exploring the Creek
Our Labrador puppies have many opportunities to explore the world around them. This litter visited the creek for the first time today and had a wonderful time experiencing the water. Allowing the pups...

Outside for the First Time

The puppies went outside for the first time today and thoroughly enjoyed their experience. They took their time exploring the sites, sounds, and smells of the great outdoors. They will be 6 weeks old tomorrow and are growing and developing so quickly.
We will begin obedience training tomorrow and are anxious to work with each puppy as they learn new skills. This is a wonderful week in the development of the puppies! They are very curious, and their personalities are blossoming. We are keeping a watchful eye on each one, so that we can recognize the characteristics and traits that determine each pup's individual personality. This upcoming week will be an important time to observe this litter.
It is definitely a joy to witness the subtle nuances that make each puppy special and unique!
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Puppies Playing Together

Over the last few days, the puppies have became increasingly aware of one another. It is quite entertaining to witness these early first social interactions. They clumsily pounce, scratch, bite, and chase each other all around the pen. Over the next few days they will mature in their interactions and fine tune all of their motions. At this early stage, it is fun to just sit and watch the interaction of the litter. 
We will also be watching for the personality development of each puppy. Since they are now able to explore their surroundings and interact with their littermates, we will also see a sudden explosion of each puppy's future personality. It is during these next 3 weeks (until the Personality Obedience Test that occurs at 7 weeks) that we make many observations with regard to the interaction of the litter which help us accurately predict future adult behavior. We watch the puppies with great fervor to see the nuances of each developing personality.
Although at this stage, some of the puppies are not fully engaged with one another, they will be within the next few days. The following video shows one of the very first play sessions that we observed. Keep in mind that the relationships seen on this video are just a small reflection of the behaviors that we see throughout the day. Therefore, it is important to remember that this short clip only demonstrates each pup's antics for a few moments. In other words, don't read to much into the social interaction of each puppy because of this short observation alone.
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Kingridge Kennels First Social Interaction of the Earth Day Litter
These Kingridge Kennel puppies are 4 and 1/2 weeks old. They are engaging in social play for the first time as a litter. During these next few weeks their personalities will blossom as they become mor...

Puppies First Meal & Potty Training

Wow!... the puppies loved their first real meal of soft puppy food. They knew exactly what to do and needed no direction from me at all. They were 3 and 1/2 weeks old, and although they will be eating solids now everyday, they will also continue to nurse from Shiloh for at least the next week.
We also started potty training over the last few days. You can see the absorbent papers that we keep in the pen to contain the liquids. At this point we have to be very diligent in keeping the side of the pen that we want the puppies to live in extremely clean. The other half of the pen becomes the potty area, and there we leave some soiled paper so that the pups can easily recognize its purpose.
It takes a few weeks, but eventually the puppies will become increasingly aware that they are expected to potty in a designated area, and not in their sleeping and playing area. There is some variation in the length of time that this takes, and while the entire litter is learning it takes a lot of patience. There are frequent accidents! It also takes MANY changes of  paper throughout the day to keep the box clean.
It is well worth it though, because when the puppies do finally "get it" they will continue to potty where we want and on our terms. This is essential when you want house training to go smoothly in the future. It is amazing what an influence the early environment has on each puppy and how, as a result, we can capitalize on these critical periods during the litter's first weeks of life.
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Earth Day Litter - First Meal at Kingridge Kennels
At 3 and 1/2 weeks the puppies in the litter are enjoying their first meal of solid foods.

Puppies are 3 Weeks Old

The litter was 3 weeks old yesterday! They are growing up right in front of our very eyes. We truly can see a difference in their size and aptitudes on a daily basis. We will be introducing solid foods this week, but we captured this nursing session to share the imprinting that occurs with early scent training.
Each puppy is exposed to the scent of low blood sugar levels. This not only conditions the pups in the litter who will continue with this life-saving work in their new homes, but it also aids in the litter's overall development, while sharpening the senses of the other puppies who will not need this expertise in their future lives as pets.
We are honored to be training two of the puppies in this litter to assist their new families as Diabetic Alert Dogs. Each puppy is so special, and they each will fill a unique roll within their new family that will love them forever!
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Scent Imprinting & Diabetic Alert Dog Early Training
All of the puppies' eyes are open and their learning journey has just begun! Two of the pups in this litter will be trained as future Diabetic Alert Dogs.

Dog Food Recall & Salmonella Outbreak

There is a recall from the manufacturer Diamond pet foodsI wanted to include some information pertaining to the Salmonella outbreak that has led to a recall of certain brands of dog food. When something like this occurs in the dog community there is sometimes a tendency to overreact to the situation and become fearful. The purpose of this post is to help educate you, so that you can take the appropriate steps necessary in order to have a healthy family and furry friend. The manufacturer that is recalling the pet food is Diamond Pet Foods. They are expanding a recall of several brands of dry pet food that have been linked to a multi-state Salmonella outbreak, according to the CDC.
According to the company’s Web site, Diamond Pet Foods has voluntarily recalled some brands of dry dog and cat food that it manufactured in its Gaston, S.C. facility between Dec. 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012 due to potential Salmonella contamination." The brands that were recalled on May 4 have not tested positive for Salmonella. The company is recalling certain batches of these brands, however, as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of customers and their pets.
Information from the CDC Web site states that:
  • A total of 14 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis have been reported from 9 states.
  • The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Connecticut (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (3), North Carolina (3), New Jersey (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (1), and Virginia (1).
  • Among the 9 patients with available information, 5 (56%) were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
  • Multiple brands of dry pet food produced by Diamond Pet Foods at a single manufacturing facility in South Carolina have been linked to some of the human Salmonella infections.
  • Consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food products and discard them promptly. People who think they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten dry pet food should consult their health care providers.
Diamond Pet Food RecallTo learn whether or not the brand of dog food you use is included in the recall, please click on the link below. This will take you to the specific dog food's website to discover the production codes and best-before dates on the bags of recalled food. If you have been using food, or have a new bag of food, that matches the information found from the manufacturer you should immediately call your vet and discontinue feeding it to your dog.
I hope that this information will spread quickly and that very few dogs and owners will have ill health as a result of this outbreak. Many of the foods included in this list are high quality dog foods, so it is important to remember that even among excellent products, events can occur that may compromise our pets' health. Please be sure to share this information with others who may have a pet that could be in jeopardy.

Sensational Senses are Developing

The last 2 weeks have flown by! The pups are all gaining weight so quickly, and are staying awake for longer periods of time. They still sleep for a majority of the day, but their awake and alert stretches are lasting longer. We gave the puppies their first dose of worming medicine today to ensure that parasites do not steal any of their nutrients. Worms are a very common part of raising puppies, and one must administer medicine at regular intervals to protect the pups from those nasty creatures. They will be wormed again several more times in their care with us.
Black puppy with newly opened eyesYellow pup with eyes opened for the first timeTonight the last of the pups opened his eyes, and now each of them can see the great big world around them. The unfolding and gradual opening of the puppies' eyes happened over the last 48 hours. Although their vision will be blurry for quite some time, they are experiencing many new sensations with the opening of their eyes and ears. Naturally, they become increasingly curious as their senses of sight and hearing develop. Soon they will be crawling around the whelping box exploring their surroundings with ease.
The BioSensor Therapy has been going well, and each puppy has been responding with more intensity when exposed to the various stimuli. Of course, their reaction is also determined by other influences, and the same puppy who may show almost no reaction to therapy on one morning, can be squirming and whining for the evening session. It is precious to witness the changes in their countenance, and their growing confidence as they mature together as a litter. Oh how fun!

Growing Day by Day

All of the pups are so very adorable. They are gaining weight quickly and are growing larger day by day. We have all started to fall into our normal routine with the puppies, and the sleep deprivation of this past week is turning into a distant memory. Although, as I just held back a yawn while typing, I suppose it still may linger just a bit. Welcoming a new litter of puppies into the world is very similar to the experience of bringing a new baby home from the hospital. There are so many joys all in the midst of dirty laundry, sleepless nights, and sweet anticipation of the future.
Shiloh has recovered fully from her fever, and it seems a touch of mastitis may have been the cause. She most definitely has a more than ample milk supply for these little pups. That may account for the wonderful weight gain we have seen in the litter. It has been less than a week, and there has been such a transformation in the puppies. The yellows - Clay and Flora - are starting to gain their dark pigment that will soon fill in around their muzzles, pads of paws, noses, and eye rims. You can clearly see the splotches, especially evident on the pads of the paws.
The black puppies will not change in pigment... What you see is what you get.Pigment is starting to come in on the yellows.
It is miraculous to witness the gradual transformation. Oh, sometimes the simple pleasures of life are the very best! We seem to strive after all kinds of things that we hope will provide us with lasting satisfaction; when enjoying the pure, simple blessings along the journey are oftentimes the real treasures. Puppies are some of those precious blessings. When these little ones are 4 weeks old, we welcome all of you future puppy parents to visit, and witness what I am talking about for yourselves. I could watch them for hours, and I know you will enjoy them too :) 

Welcome to the World Little Puppies

We have been so busy here with the whelping and care of newborn puppies over the last 24 hours. The birth was exciting and precious. It was an emotional roller coaster filled with laughter, stress, peace, beauty, dismay and tears.
2 of the puppies that were born were stillborns. I did everything in my power to resuscitate them, with attempts to clear their lungs, perform CPR and even mouth to mouth, but in the end... the breath of life was just not in them. We are however, so very thankful for the 6 healthy pups that were whelped. Birth is always an adventure, but the most difficult part is when we experience the loss of life.
It sure does make us appreciate the health and vitality of the 6 precious puppies that remain. They are very full of life and are nursing like champs. Shiloh is caring for them with great love and attention. Each of the puppies is dependent on their mama for everything. They rely on her for warmth, food, and their daily grooming and care. These first few days of life are very critical for the puppies, and we are praying that each remains healthy and grows strong. Birth and life are so miraculous and we are in awe of God who is the author of life!
I have included some pictures and video that document the labor, birth, and first few hours of the puppies life. I sadly miss the 2 puppies that are no longer a part of this litter, but our family is rejoicing at the beautiful gift of life that we were able to witness once again.
Early labor
Early labor
Mama Shiloh is just starting to show obvious signs of contractions and is still in early labor.
Laboring hard
Shiloh is panting and grunting a bit with each contraction at this piont, and we know it just a matter of moments before the first puppy will arrive.
Laboring hard
Ready for puppies
Ready for puppies
This is where the pups go after they are cleaned and have nursed for the first time with Shiloh. This incubator keeps them safe during the birth of subsequent pups.
The whelping pen
Here it is all clean and ready for the first puppy to be born. These absorbtive pads had to be changed frequently during the whelping. Birth is a messy busy! We also use plenty of cozy blankets and towels.
The whelping pen
Pushing stage
Pushing stage
Shiloh's cervix is now dialated and soon she will be ready to push.
First puppy born
A black male was the first little guy in line to present himself to the world. We are thrilled!
First puppy born
Sweet introductions
Sweet introductions
With each pup's arrival, Shiloh helps to clean and stimulate them for a pleasant welcome into the dog world. I helped out too, but tried to allow nature to work in the beautiful way that it is intended.
First Meal
After the pup is cleaned, the cord is tied, and notes are taken, we encourage them to nurse promptly.
First Meal
Little miracle
Little miracle
Each puppy knows exactly what to do. They appear quite content as they experience their first taste of milk.
Supportive onlookers
Here our littlest child looks on as she witnesses the puppies nursing snuggly beside their mama. All of our children visited the whelping throughout the evening.
Supportive onlookers
Another puppy
Another puppy
Here is a gorgeous little boy that was born about an hour after his brother.
Whelper helper
Here is my sister who provided a lot of help during the birth. Because there is so much to do during whelping it is a good idea to have many hands on deck.
Whelper helper
Pups in the incubator
Pups in the incubator
The red tint cast on the puppies is from the heat lamp that warms the puppies to approximately 95 degrees. It is very important that they do not become chilled.
More puppies
While I was working with the other pups we kept the puppies who were already born in the incubator. As you can see they each have their ribbon so that we can tell them apart.
More puppies
Our little princess
Our little princess
This is the only surviving girl in the litter. She is also the smallest and already she has claimed the hearts of all of my children.
Handsome guy
The boys sure outnumber the girls. We now have 4 black boys, 1 yellow boy, and 1 yellow girl.
Handsome guy
Happily nursing
Happily nursing
All of the puppies are enjoying nursing with Shiloh. The mother has a rich supply of cholostrum that is amazingly beneficial to each puppy for the remainder of their life.
Nurse... nurse... nurse
We encourage the puppies to nurse often and for long periods of time. At this point all the puppies do is nurse, sleep, and nurse some more :)
Nurse... nurse... nurse
One content mama
One content mama
Shiloh is relaxing after all of the hard work. She had a very long and demanding labor, and is enjoying some much needed rest. She will rest along with the puppies for the next few days as she recovers and tends to their needs.

Is Labor Right Around the Corner?

The week of Shiloh's due date is upon us, and it looks as though puppies may arrive toward the earlier end of our projected window. My husband and I had just returned from a homeschool convention late last night, and although Shiloh's temperature was higher when it was taken during the morning it had dropped significantly to 99.8 degrees by 10:00 at night.
We had left our children and dogs here at home in the care of grandparents with all kinds of ridiculous instructions for both species. We are so grateful for our parents! Monitoring a dog's temperature is a very practical way to predict if labor will be expected within the next 24 hours. So, although Shiloh's temperature hadn't gone below 100 degrees, while my husband and I were traveling, we were just a phone call away in case we got the news that the big drop had occurred. 99 degrees is the magic number that alerts us a dog will be laboring within the next 24 hours.
Well, this morning we anxiously took Shiloh's temperature, and it is in fact exactly 99 degrees. The very significant news is that in addition to the temperature drop, Shiloh also refused her morning meal. These two markers together is a concrete sign that pups are in the very near future. It seems as though Shiloh will be delivering these puppies earlier than her other litters, although well within the healthy acceptable range.
We are all over-joyed and are making last minute preparations for the labor process. It can take many hours for labor to start, and we are planning on making the best use of this calm before the labor storm. We will have someone in the family post on this blog to let you know when the official labor begins (even if I'm busy whelping pups), and we will try to take lots of pictures to document this wonderful miracle! We are praying for a healthy happy delivery of precious puppies.   

Happy Easter from our Family to Yours

We hope you all are enjoying a wonderful Easter Day with your family and friends. May the love of Christ fill your hearts and your minds with His goodness today and throughout the coming year. Our family just saw this animated video clip at church this morning and thought it was something worth sharing. May you treasure the hope of the cross. Happy Easter... Christ is risen indeed!

Puppies Confirmed!

Sneak peak at Shiloh's spring litter
We are so excited to announce that it looks as though the spring breeding has been a great success! We visited Animal Clinic Northview today for Shiloh's ultrasound. The ultrasound is a diagnostic tool used to confirm pregnancy and provide an estimate as to the number of puppies one can anticipate. We were delighted this afternoon when  we learned that there are approximately 9 puppies growing peacefully in Shiloh's womb. Unfortunately, when a litter is on the larger side, ultrasound is not as accurate for determining an exact number as when the litter is small.
We will perform an x-ray the week of April 16th that will give us a much more definitive number for the litter, so we will know more accurately how many puppies will be whelped. Currently, the puppies are each only about 1 centimeter long, and it is difficult to imagine just how much growing they will do within these next 4 weeks. We are really looking forward to this litter's arrival and are reminded how all of life is a precious miracle indeed!
precious puppy pawprints

Healthy Puppies Have Healthy Parents

We are counting the days until our litter of puppies arrives
We are getting very close to breeding for our spring litter. Shiloh has been visiting the vet regularly to have her progesterone levels tested. We anticipate that the procedure will occur within the next 3 days. All of the progesterone testing that we have been doing enable us to perform the mating at just the right time which is the best way to ensure a successful breeding. There are many factors that contribute to an exemplary breeding, with timing being one of the most critical components. 
However, long before the actual breeding takes place is when the majority of decisions are made that will determine the outcome of each litter. The decison of which sire to father the litter is critical, and the process of finding just the right Sire takes a great deal of detective work. The goal is that the offspring of the two parent dogs will surpass each individual parent, and will lead to improvments in the Labrador breed. Every ethical breeder wants to better the breed that they adore and with each litter that comes into the world, they have the opportunity to do just that!
Bettering the Labrador breed, requires excellent combinations with exceptional parent dogs that are healthy and have been genetically tested to weed out possible genetic conditions that may afflict the breed. Today, as I was reading the Sunday paper, I happened to come across an article by Lawrence Gerson, V.M.D. in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, that mentioned this very topic. The article entitled, "Detecting Hip Dysplasia Early Can Be Critical for Dog Breeders" expounds upon the notion that breeders are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the breeding stock they are mating are healthy and genetically sound.
This is absolutely central to our breeding philosophy here at Kingridge Kennels. We understand that each puppy that we raise and train will go on to become a loved and cherished member of a special family. We would be heart-broken if one of those puppies was not able to lead a full happy life because of a genetic condition that could have been prevented. That is why we require tests for genetic conditions known in the Labrador breed. These include: x-rays for OFA hip and elbow certification, along with OFA screening for congenital cardiac disease, CERF eye exams, blood tests for Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and genetic testing through cheek swabs for Exercise Induced Collapse. We hope that by screening our breeding stock thoroughly, we will produce puppies that will remain healthy and happy throughout their life!