Dusty Road Labradors

Shelby & Ole’s March 23, 2020 litter

I’m getting ready to start Shelby’s blog sharing the first 8 weeks of her puppies’ life.

If I write something and it just isn’t clear, please bring it to my attention

Please note that I write on top of the last entry. One must scroll to the bottom to read the blog. Enjoy these puppies growing up!

Tuesday, May 19:

The time has come to put the whelping supplies away. Everything has been cleaned and packed away for the next litter.

All of the puppies have gone to great homes with great people. Some went to homes with adults while some went to homes with children. Each and everyone of these new parents took home wonderful puppies to love.

As I put things away, I am truly thankful that God gave me my love of animals and the ability to ‘just do what needs done’.

No matter what I get on my hands, it will wash off. Whatever I get on my clothes, it will wash out. Whatever I get on my face will be washed off by the tears I shed.

I hope that Shelby, Mark, and I have done a great job preparing the puppies for their new homes.

Now it is YOUR turn. YOU must continue rearing these puppies providing lots of love and TLC plus all the tools these puppies need to grow into healthy, happy adult dogs.

Most important, ENJOY YOUR PUPPIES as they won’t be little long. I anticipate they will weigh about 50 pounds by 6 months.

Mark and I would like to thank you for trusting us to provide a puppy for you to love. It has been our pleasure meeting and getting to know each of you. We felt cheated that we could not have visitors to our kennels due to the Covid-19 virus.


Tuesday, May 19:

It’s always bitter sweet when the puppies go home. I’m asked often how I can let them go and do I cry with each puppy leaving. Mark and I have the mindset that we are caretakers preparing the puppies to go to wonderful homes. When we lose puppies like we did with this litter, that absolutely breaks my heart. We know when the mom is bred that we are in for the long haul.

I would like to thank Ole and his human Jeff for Ole’s contribution to the litter. Ole’s wonderful gentle personality plus his traditional English lab build was passed to the puppies. Jeff made a visit from Colfax, IA, with Ole and Lena to check out his ‘grandpups’. Ellen and Ben were able to meet Jeff, Ole, and Lena while they were picking their puppy. Jeff has visited every litter since he got Ole. He climbs right in play area and snuggles with the puppies. We have discussed a repeat breeding as we are all so impressed with this litter of puppies. Thank you, Jeff!

My favorite picture of Ole!!
Ole, Jeff, and Lena

Monday, May 18:

This past weekend was the going home weekend of all the puppies. On Thursday, Nicole picked up Pink. We distanced ourselves — no handshakes or hugs. Nicole sent a few pictures for the blog. Nicole and hubby have 4 beautiful kids, an old lab, a 1/2 basset/1/2 lab, and a young kitten. I think she is one busy mom! Enjoy her pictures:

Nicole with Sally (Pink)

On Friday, we had two puppies picked up. First was Yellow who now lives with Ellen and Ben. Second was Green now Marta. Marta lives with Jan and Don. Both of these puppies will reside in Omaha and will go to Dr. Kaliff/Dr. Nelson. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of Ellen and Ben. I will contact them. The blog isn’t complete without them!!

Don, Jan, and Marta
Marta after morning bath…she fell asleep!

Saturday was a 2-puppy pickup also. First was Skylar, Krisa, and their toddler Hank who was really excited about Blue. They are from the Ankeny, IA, area. Second was Red who joined the Scott, Mindi, Max, and ‘Hank” family. “Hank” is their black lab who they bought from Dusty Road Labradors.

Krisa holding Blue, Hank, and Skylar
Max, Red. and Scott

Sunday, May 10:

Happy Mother’s Day! We had my Mom out for lunch. Zoomed my siblings so Mom could talk to them. It’s tough doing this isolation but we know it will pay in the long run. Stay safe – stay home – stay positive!!

Going home time is quickly approaching. We plan to do everything to make the transition from the nursery to your home as stressless on the puppies and you as we can. We will have a packet for you. It contains lots of information that you might find helpful. Remember to call if you need anything.

We took some pictures of the three yellow girls together as well as other pictures.

Blue, Yellow, and Green
Blue, Yellow, and Green taking a nap
Blue, Yellow, and Green

Thursday, May 7:

The puppies had their vet appointment on Tuesday for an exam and first set of vaccinations by Dr. Melody Kaliff. Everyone passed their exams with flying color. The weights were: Yellow 10.1; Blue 10.0; Green 10.1; Red 10.8 (wow); and Pink 8.4. Pink is just smaller than the other 4. In fact, our puppies are usually around 8-9 pounds. We anticipate Pink will be about the size of Shelby and the other 4 will be like Ole.

Dr. Kaliff has seen us thru some rough patches and has celebrated all of the beautiful puppies with us. She has very instrumental in our day-to-day operations. She is part of our team and her input is always welcome. We hope each of you can find a vet you trust with your precious puppy.

Tonight we let the puppies play in the play yard. We were concerned about the cold concrete floor so we ran the heat all day. Do you think they are a bit spoiled??? This year we laid some papers in the corner. When we put each of them in the play yard, we put them on the papers. We had only one potty not on the papers.

Pups with wobble board
Pink was the first to go thru tunnel

Saturday, May 2:

Yesterday was May Day. For those of you too young to know what this is, I’ll tell you. When I was a little girl, the custom was to gather flowers, usually violets which most of our yards had, and give them secretly to someone. Another ‘holiday’ that we no longer celebrate. 🙁

I’m so excited to tell you how well the puppies are all doing. Since they were weaned, they haven’t missed a beat not having their Mom there. Shelby has also not given any indication that she misses the puppies.

As most of you know, Mark and I love to visit with our puppy buyers about our puppies. This litter will be a new experience for us. We usually encourage those working to pick up on Friday so you could have Saturday and Sunday. I’ve heard from a few of you on when you would like to pickup your puppy. It will help us schedule pickups if you all let us know what will work for you.

The puppies had their 3rd worming this week plus their nails trimmed. They all want held and cuddled.

We are anxiously waiting for our vet appointment on Tuesday but it will also be different. Our typical 6-week visit is like a party celebrating more “O”Connor puppies”. The puppies are held by the staff as Dr. Kaliff is giving each a very complete physical exam. They will receive their vaccination and another nail trim. Sadly, this year we will call when we get to the vet. They will come out and get the puppies. While we are sitting in the car, we hope the staff will love on the puppies!!!

As I mentioned earlier that the nursery pen had three sections and we were using two. We are now using all three sections. These puppies are soooo smart that they followed the potty area. We have had no accidents in their play, eat, and sleep areas several days.

We have never put a towel in the nursery because they left it alone for a couple of days and then it got dragged thru the potty area. We got kinda smart. We have some clamps that we were able to fix the towel the wire and there is no moving this time.

Another thing that I haven’t been able to do due to having winter litters, is take the puppies outside in the grass. We set a number of ex-pen panels and they had enough room to run and roll down the hill. It was lots of fun but it was hard to not roll down the hill myself. Next time we are finding a flat area!!

The puppies will start showing their personalities. We will keep an eye on them so we can help you select the puppy that is right for your home.

Using all three sections.
The blanket
Puppy with new toys
Puppies waiting for breakfast…this is the best!
Puppies outside with me
The puppies were outside for 25 minutes…they are zonked!!

Saturday, April 25:

On Tuesday we moved the puppies to the nursery in the barn. We spent Monday taking up all the necessities from the house – the scale, CD’s, newspapers, to name a few. We also made sure the nursery was warm especially on the floor for the puppies.

The area the puppies are in has three sections for separation. We are using the first two sections. The first section is where they eat and sleep. The second section is lined with papers.

We worked with the puppies after their meals to go in the papered areas to poop and pee. This is usually mastered in a day or two. This litter has done great at determining where to potty.

They are eating about 2 cups of wet food four times a day. I am putting probiotics in one meal each day. They are drinking a good amount of fresh water each day. Totally weaned from Mom.

The puppies are starting to play more. They have found ‘each other’s’ tails. Now we hear cries when someone is biting a bit too hard. We will be setting up the play yard this week also.

Next week we are doing the third worming. We have scheduled their 6-week vet appointment for Tuesday, May 5, at 11:00 am.

Oh, by the way we have lots of puppy breath!!!

Saturday, April 18:

The puppies have had a big week! Mom has all but quit nursing. She jumps into the whelping box to clean up after them but never lays down. The puppies are stretching to reach a nipple before she jumps out of the whelping box.

Yesterday we took the pigtail as well as the infrared heater out of the whelping box. We put a cover over the whelping box to keep the puppies warm. It has been almost taken down. We are holding off a few more days just in case we get another cold spell with 6″ of snow.

The puppies have also been introduced to gruel. Gruel is a mixture of large breed puppy food, water, and powdered puppy milk. The puppies are being fed 4 times a day. I let the mixture soak to soften the dry puppy food. Then I use our Ninja to mix everything together. I am also adding a probiotic to the morning meal. The puppies now have a water bowl in the whelping box.

I was asked to take pictures of each puppy and add the weight. It’s hard to get ‘cute’ pictures when you are trying to get cute pictures. It is very hard to photograph black puppies/dogs. They do have eyes even though the camera doesn’t show them. Also, I wiped breakfast off all the puppies. I see in the pictures that there is dried gruel on some of the puppies. Here goes…


Tuesday, April 14:

Wow, these puppies are getting around like pros!! They are all walking and investigating every inch of their 4’x4′ whelping box. I am changing the whelping pad twice a day…these little guys are pottying a lot!

The puppies had their 2nd worming and their nails trimmed. Snipping off the sharp end of each nail makes nursing more comfortable for Shelby. We waited to trim nails until they were walking. The long nails help them get up by digging into the whelping pad.

Enjoy these new pictures!

Precious puppies

Shelby taking a nap
Shelby is such a good mom
Good morning!

Sunday, April 12:

Mark and I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter!!

Thursday, April 9:

I looked at the puppies today and I don’t see infants….I see toddlers! They have their eyes open, they are walking, and they have found their voices!! They have started ‘playing’ which is so fun to watch.

PINK is almost 3 pounds and the other four are 4 pounds plus.

Throughout the blog I will add our thoughts that will help you as you prepare for a new puppy. We hope you will find the suggestions helpful if you are a new puppy owner or a seasoned puppy owner.

Choosing a vet for your puppy. Many of you are first time puppy owners. You will need to find a good vet now. We encourage you to take your puppy to your vet for an exam and you will need to take your puppy to the vet at 10 weeks for their second vaccinations.
How do you find a vet? The best way is to ask your friends who they use and why they would recommend them. If they sound like someone you would like to build a relationship with, give them a call. Many vets will spend a few minutes with you if you call and explain that you would like to meet them and see their office before you get your puppy.
Visit with the staff. Ask them about wait time when you arrive. Ask them how quickly they can get you in when your puppy needs seen right away.
Is the office calm or a ‘hot mess’? I like an office that is calm and welcoming. Professionalism is important to me as well as organization. These things tell me this is a good vet clinic.
Look at the office. Is it clean? Does it smell good? Is the waiting room big enough that you aren’t right beside another dog or cat? Is it a modern facility or does it need upgrading of it’s x-ray machines?
Ask about their fees. We have found that most vets charge about the same for vaccinations. The office visit fee will vary greatly so make sure you know that. Hopefully, you will only need to see the vet for the second and third set of vaccinations, fecal exams, Rabies shot, and spaying or neutering. 

grew out of basket – don’t think this will last much longer
Up on all fours’ and nursing upside down
RED walking
With all the extra time I have after taking care of the puppies (ha, ha), I have been baking. This is my first try at a cheesecake. I found a recipe in Dear Abby and thought it sounded easy enough for me to make. Would Dear Abby take me astray? The kitchen was a mess! Finally it is in the oven and it smells wonderful. Took it out of the oven and it fell in the center. I’m glad I had cherries to put on top. To my surprise, it looks pretty good if I say so myself. After it cooled, we cut into it. Somewhere there was a crust but I can’t find it. Oh it’s in the bottom of the spring pan. Now to taste the cheesecake. To my surprise, it doesn’t taste like any cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. Definitely not Cheesecake Factory quality. I immediately thru Dear Abby in the trash!!!

Monday, April 6:

First, I want to tell you that Mark and I are self-isolating. Today is our 21st day and we know how hard it is to stay away from loved ones. My Mom is 92 and alone in an apartment in Council Blufs. Mark picks up groceries for her and that is all we can do. We pray that the virus will go away with our hot summers. Stay safe — stay positive — stay home!

The puppies are 2 weeks old today!!! The first two weeks are relatively easy for us. Mom nurses and cleans up after them. This is when WE get more work. They are piddling more so we are changing the whelping maps twice a day. Soon we will switch to newspapers and scrubbing the whelping box. About 4 weeks old, we will go to the nursery in the dog barn.

The puppies were wormed for the first time.

Mom is spending more time out of the whelping box. Sometimes she hangs out in the kitchen leaving the puppies to themselves. The largest puppy is 4-1, then 3-15, then two 3-10 and 2-7. With the puppies eating more, we are feeding Mom more. Shelby is eating 4 meals a day of 2 cups each. Two meals are garnished with scrambled eggs or cottage cheese plus a probiotic daily.

The puppies are starting to get up on all 4 legs. They kinda weave back and forth as if to thrust themselves into a walk. After all that, they sit down and take a little nap!!

The puppies are making sounds like barking. They crawl over each other and sometimes fall asleep on each other.

I have changed ribbons. GREEN is a light green ribbon, same with BLUE and YELLOW, plus PINK instead of Hot Pink.

Most of the paw pad pigment has come in.

Pigment on Paw Pads
RED with PINK (without ribbon)
BLUE with ball

Thursday, April 2:

The puppies continue to thrive. Their eyes are starting to open. Their ears will open soon. They are starting to walk instead of scooting. Their coats are glistening. We are weighing just once a day now. They are all nearing 3 pounds.

Their body temperature is normal so we are not having to keep the mud room and the whelping box quite so warm. Temps have gone from 80 degrees to 72 degrees.

The yellow puppies are born with no pigment in their nose, around their eyes, and their paw pads. It is slowly filling in. Black puppies are born with all their pigment at birth.

As things are going to be different from the past, we will have to make new ways to accommodate the corona virus. We have always had an open kennel once the puppies are 6 weeks old. We always worried about the puppies getting some of our ‘human’ illnesses like strep. Now we are worried about our buyers and Mark and me. Hopefully, by the time the puppies are 6 weeks old things will be better.

See the ball by Shelby’s head

Thursday, March 26:

The puppies and Shelby are settling in. We have 3 yellow girls and 2 black girls. All are strong and thriving. Shelby seems to be getting hungrier so I added a bedtime meal. We also are giving her cottage cheese and lots of treats.

The puppies are starting to fill out and look like puppies

Wednesday, March 25:

This day started out with cleaning the whelping box, weighing the puppies, and Mark and I taking a short nap. When we got up, PINK had passed. Losing a puppy never gets easy for Mark and me. Shelby settled down after the puppy passed. When this happens, we realize that mom knows what is going on no matter how hard we try to fix things.

Tuesday, March 24:

The puppies are just over 24 hours old. Sometimes the puppies wiggle just a bit too far from mom. Puppies cry when they are cold, hot, and hungry. There is lots of crying and fussing in the first few days of their life. I am staying up taking the night shift and napping in the daytime while Mark watches the baby/puppy monitor. What a wonderful tool to help us keep sight of the puppies!

At this time, we are weighing the puppies twice a day. The black puppies weight at birth plus color ribbons are HOT PINK 8.5 ounces; PINK (passed away) 8.0 ounces; and RED 12.5 ounces. The yellow puppies weight at birth plus color ribbons are BLUE 12.5 ounces; GREEN 13.5 ounces; and YELLOW 15.0.

We are still concerned about Shelby taking care of the puppies. We are making sure each of the puppies have latched onto a nipple and got colostrum.

24 hours old
Note the orange ball

Before Shelby had her puppies, she brought this orange ball into the whelping box. I tried to take it out but was met with Shelby getting up from nursing. Shelby must think this is a puppy. It became stuck under the pig rail and Shelby had a melt down. I saw her in the corner with her orange ball just watching these little puppies and wondering what to do.

Monday, March 23:

Shelby’s due date was March 23, 2020. She had her first puppy at 12:45 am and the last at 5:30 am. We had an X-ray taken earlier in the month that showed 7 or 8 puppies. Shelby had 7 puppies in record time. Some moms have taken near 24 hours to whelp so we were thrilled but still exhausted.

This entire litter are girls. We have never had an all boy or girl litter in our 12 years of breeding.

That first day was filled with wonder and anxiety. I love the miracle of birth and am always filled with wonder. Unfortunately, Shelby was filled with confusion and anxiety. This was Shelby’s first litter and she had to figure out where did these puppies come from and what do I do with them.

We were very concerned about Shelby’s mothering instincts when she wouldn’t clean the puppies. She had adopted an orange ball that she kept in the whelping box. I saw her sitting in the corner with her orange ball just looking at the puppies. I was not ready to start hand-rearing these puppies so we made the whelping box quiet and warm. Within a few hours, she was cleaning the puppies.

While Mark and I snuck a much needed nap, sadly Shelby laid on a puppy. This is very common in first time moms.

All the puppies are nursing and sleeping. They each have a color ribbon and that is what we will refer to each puppy.

Puppies just hours old
Puppies about 12 hours old