Ruger-Ruby Litter, Born May 31, 2014

Ruby || Ruger || Weight Chart


The sire of this litter was one of the top show dogs in the United States during his three-year career, with five all-breed Bests in Show and four Regional Specialty wins to his credit, as well as being BISS at the Canadian Rhodesian Ridgeback Club National Specialty. The dam is a retired champion.

The breeding was carried out by artificial insemenation using frozen semen on April 3, 2013. The puppies were born May 31, 2014. There are eight puppies.

Prospective Owners

My first priority in breeding is to produce a few outstanding puppies who have the potential to be validated by AKC championship and possibly contribute to the furtherment of the breed by being bred in a few years. If you are interested in a show-potential puppy, please contact Clayton Heathcock. For show-quality puppies, preference is given to individuals who are members of one of the recognized Rhodesian Ridgeback breed clubs (preferably the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States, RRCUS) and/or who have prior conformation experience.

All pet-quality puppies will be sold with limited AKC registration, meaning that they cannot be exhibited in AKC conformation events and, if bred, their offspring cannot be registered with the AKC. In addition, pet-quality puppies will be sold with a contract that requires neutering or spaying by the age of nine months.


May 31, 2014

After about 18 hours of labor, with the customary panting, licking and nesting, Ruby finally delivered the first puppy at 3:15 pm on Saturday, May 31. The 8th and apparently last puppy was delivered at 11:15. Most of the births were more-or-less routine, although Ruby had trouble getting several of the puppies completely through and out of the birth canal. The puppies include:

Three ridged males
One ridgeless male (this puppy was erronously reported to be a female in my first announcement)
Two ridged females
Two ridgeless females

June 2, 2014 The pups are all vigorous and seem to be able to scoot around the whelping box much faster than I would normally see for 2-day old puppies. Maybe a testimony to their father, who was an avid lure courser and general bundle of energy. I have the whelping box in the master bathroom, as usual, and am keeping the room quite warm. Ruby is panting a lot because what is comfortable for the puppies is probably warmer than she is accostomed to. I am taking her to see Dr. Cain this afternoon to have a general checkup.

June 3, 2004

Ruby had a thorough checkup by Dr. Cain yesterday and was found to be doing well although her calcium level is nearly at the bottom of the normal range. Dr. Cain recommended that I supplement her with Citracal Petites (500 mg Ca) in each meal, totalling 2000 mg per day, so I started her with the supplement yesterday evening. She is a very attentive mother and is being very careful where she puts her feet when standing and getting in and out of the whelping box.

The morning weighing showed that the pups are starting to gain weight, with an average gain since yesterday of 9.0%. However, the gain was disporportionately distributed, with three of the four boys accounting for most of the gain.

June 4, 2014

Ruby's milk is flowing well now and the puppies are gaining weight at the expected rapid rate--the average weight gain since yesterday morning was 1.7 ounces, and all of the puppies gained at least 1.2 ounces. They are really strong little puppies and I am suprised how fast they can scoot around the box. Ruby had a visitor yesterday, Barb Bridwell, who has had Ruby at her house for overnights many times since Ruby was a young pup. Ruby was thrilled to see her and seemed happy when Barb sat in the box with her and her little family for awhile.

June 5, 2014

I was up early today because we had an 8 am show at the Sonoma Fairgrounds in Vallejo. I had Bolt in Open Dog, Bette in 9-12 Bitch, and Hazel in 12-18 bitch. Successful day as Bolt was Winner's Dog for 2 points, giving him 12 out of the 15 points needed for his AKC championship. After we got back from the show at about 10 am I weighed the pups and changed their bedding. Puppy care is in that blissful "mother-does-it-all" phase. The pups are all thriving, and most are now over a pound in weight. They know their way around their little 16-square-foot world and I will probably be removing the safety bars in a few days because they are getting big enough that they will soon be getting stuck under them.

June 7, 2014

Yesterday's dog show was a success--our 2-year old male Bolt was Winner's Dog and Best of Winners from the Open Class and our 15-month old female Hazel was Winner's Bitch from the 12-18 Class, so both are two points closer to their AKC championships. The show was midday, so we didn't have to scramble to get there for the more usual 8 am ring time. Today's show is at 9 am so I will be leaving with Bolt and Hazel in about 15 minutes.

Ruby is at the stage where she doesn't stay in the whelping box with the puppies 24/7, but comes out into the house from time to time. Last night she visited me in my bed about 4 am and she is routinely having her meals in the kennel with the rest of the dogs. The pups are doing well and put on another 10% weight gain yesterdsy (see weight chart). The largest, the ridgeless male named Machu and the ridged male named Inca, are about 1 1/2 pounds now, and the smallest, the ridgelss girl named Alejandra, is one pound exactly. With regard to the puppy names, they were selected from places and people we visited or met when Louise and I travelled in Peru a few weeks ago.

One of the maddening things is that mothers have this instinct to burrow and make a comfy den, so they always scratch up the betting in the whelping box. These three photos show the process; first thing in the morning I change the bedding and put in a clean pad. Then mom gets in and nurses the puppies. Then when I come back an hour later, this is what I find.

Why does it matter, you might ask. The reason I don't like the bedding all heaped up is that a puppy could crawl under it and the mother might unknowingly lie on it and smother the puppy. In a few more days they will be big enough and strong enough that this won't be such a concern, and then she can heap it up as much as she wants.

June 9, 2014

We are at that in-between time when the pups are moving around well, can stay pretty much out of trouble, and Ruby doesn't stay in the box 24/7. I took the protective bumpers out of the box because the pups are big enough that they were getting stuck under them. Here is a little video that shows the general neighborhood of the whelping box.

June 10, 2014

The rapid growth continues at a pace of about 10% gain per day. It always amazes me what DNA and mother's milk can accomplish in such a short time frame. They are up on their legs a little although the eyes and ears won't open for a few more days. I am liking the heads, which appear to be developing with nice wide muzzles. A couple of the puppies nap with their tongues sticking out and I am hoping this isn't an early indicator of overbites, as it sometimes seems to be.

June 11, 2014

The pups had visitors yesterday, Angela Carstens and her son Vinny, who are in line to be owners of one of the pups. Ruby has been very good about visitors, even people she has not known before. The pups are lurching around pretty well now but their eyes and ears are still closed. I will be going to Orcas Island tomorrow for a few days--my granddaughter's high school graduation--and Louise will be staying here to take care of the puppies and the rest of the pack. When I clean the whelping box bedding every morning I put the eight pups in a cardboard box, and if you have been following the blog you have seen photos of the pups in the same box. Now that the average weight is approaching two pounds, the box looks much fuller than before.

June 19, 2014

I apologize to my loyal followers for my neglect of the blog the last week. First there was my visit to Orcas Island for Emily's graduation and then I got caught up in one of my volunteer projects--raising money to pay for trophies for the upcoming RRCUS National Specialty. Just when that was under control I had some work arrive for my consulting, and work always goes to the head of the line since it pays the bills.

The pups had several visitors this week and are getting used to being held, which is an important part of their early socialization. They are getting big enough that I may have to get a larger box for when I change the box bedding. Weights are continuing to increase at a normal rate and the biggest boys are well over three pounds. They have also become very proficient at walking around the box and are starting to run to the side when someone comes to the box and calls them.

June 24, 2014

Ruby is eating a huge amount of food--about three times her normal amount, and she still looks like she has just excaped from Auschwitz. The pups are growing well but nevertheless, I decided today that it is time to start giving them some pan food. So I whipped up a batch of my goat's milk puppy milk formula and gave them their first experience with food in a pan. My idea was that they wouldn't really eat much but it would give them the idea of how to go about it. So I gave them 1 1/2 cups of the formula with enough Gerber's rice cereal to make the consistency like runny oatmeal, which brought the total volume to 2 cups, which comes to 2 ounces per puppy. Well, I was wrong about them needing to learn how to go about it--as shown by the following photo. There is a 9-inch pie pan somewhere under that pile of puppies.

Weights are continuing to increase in an almost linear way and the average is now about 3 1/4 pounds. The largest boys, Machu and Inca, are at four pounds and the girls range from about 2 3/4 to 3 pounds. This week the muzzles are growing out and the heads are starting to look like dogs rather than bears. I am sweating out the bites on Dante and Inca. One of the frustrating things for a breeder is that when corresponding parts like the upper and lower jaw bones grow out they don't always do it in concert. It is not uncommon for puppies to be overshot for a couple of weeks and then even out to a scissors bite by 8 weeks. We just have to wait and see.

June 26, 2014

The pups have settled into their new chow routine. About noon each day I have been giving them a feeding of the goat's milk--rice cereal while I change the bedding in their box. They are still pretty messy so they get cleaned up with a warm wet washrag after lunch. They fill like little ticks, about to pop. After eating they pile up on one corner of the box to digest their food. Sometimes they shiver because the increased blood circulation around the intestine, carrying away all the new fuel, causes them to be cold on the outside. When they all get in a pile and shiver I cover them up with a towel and that seems to handle the problem.

Here is a photo of Picchu sitting in weighing box today. And another of them retiring to their shocking pink bed, a trophy that Bolt won at the Western Hound Show in April.

June 27, 2014

The pups are getting pretty good at the pan feeding. Mostly they don't walk in it anymore although they do smear their faces on the backs of their siblings so I still have to give a quick sponge bath with a warm washrag before they go back in the box. I shot a little video that can be seen here.

June 28, 2014

We had visitors this morning; Angela Carstens and her son Vinny who have visited before but this time Angela brought her husband Chris and daughter Corinna. Corinna sat in the whelping box with the puppies. Al usual they tried to hit her up to be sure she wasn't just a different looking milk truck.

Two pan meals a day is having a noticeable effect on puppy size. The average weight is now over 4 pounds with Machu on top at 5 pounds!

June 30, 2014

The pups moved out to their room in the kennel on Sunday and spent their first night there last night. They are very precocious and immediatly begen using the dog door to go out and explore the kennel run. First out of the door was Inca. Here are photos of their room as furnished and of the pups having one of their pan meals in the main kennel room. Also a photo of Mary LaCombe-Yep who drove over from Auburn with her husband Skip. Mary and Skip have a 12-year old Ridgeback named Whiskey and two of their children, who live in other cities, have Ridgebacks.

July 5, 2014

It has been a busy few days for the puppies. They are living in one of my indoor-outdoor kennels. There little room is 5x8 and the outside run is 5x35. The have learned to go out in the yard on the grass and have now spent several hours out there visiting with people who come to meet them. The following photos give a little sample of what life in the fast lane is like.

I haven't weighed for a few days and today started a new scale--as they are over the capacity for my kitchen balance. The scale I am using now is a postage scale that I can use up to 20 pounds if need be. The weight chart shows that some of the puppies, particularly the two biggest boys, have leveled off. This is partly because that there is plenty of food to go around nw since they don't have the advantage of a NFL offensive lineman in crowing up to the milk bar. Also, the average weight gain appears to be much less than for the first month. This is mainly due to the fact they are adaptino to a new kind of eating and partly due to the fact they are gettng a lot more exercise now. In fact, they look like little dogs now.

Today Ken Petersen took photos while I tried my hand at stacking. Usually the 5-week audition photos are pretty useless because the pups are so hard to keep still. You can see the photos here. My general impression was that it was much easier to stack this bunch than is usual for five weeks. The photos show some good features for this age, nice strong toplines, good length of neck, flowing smoothly into the topline. The loins are not overly long. As usual for this age, they tended to be a little hocky in the rear because they have a pretty big bend of stifle and haven't developed the muscles to hold a properly extended pose. For some reason the photos make them look much more grizzled than they do in person. The do not have apparent black in the coat, although these photos make it look that way.

July 9, 2014

It has been a busy few days around here. We had puppy open house Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. My granddaughter Emily is staying for a week. The pups have settled into their kennel lifestyle and are spending some time out in the patio and inner yard every day. The following photo is their daytime siesta bed and a closeup of Lima, who is a Ruby clone.

Yesterday granddaughters Emily and Camille helped me give full spa to the puppies; weigh-in, nail clipping and first bath.

July 14, 2014

I have been busy the last few days with my older dogs. Shows in Carmel, CA and we took three show dogs, Bolt, Coco and Hazel, and 4-year old Salsa to reduce the population at home. My granddaughter Emily Jackson went with me to help with the dogs and bond with grandpa. Louise stayed home to care for all the other adults and the eight puppies. The shows went pretty well for us; Hazel won her class both days and was Winner's Bitch for 2 championship points on Saturday; Bolt won the Open Dog class and was Reserve Winner's Dog both days; Coco was 3rd and 4th in the Bred By Exhibitor Bitch Class. She has a hard time being competitive because she is smaller than all the other bitches. Even though she weighs 69 pounds (the Standard says the ideal bitch weight is 65 pounds), she is always the smallest bitch in her class.

Louise and I took audition photos today. The pups were harder to stack than a week ago, and all have a tendency to roach the back at this point. They also have very large rear angulation and in this set of photos a lot of them look like Pointers. However, they are still changing almost daily and for sure the 7-week stacks next weekend will look different.

July 19, 2014

Pups are 7 weeks old today and have begun to explore the far reaches of our fenced yard. Yesterday they went to Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center for their wellness exam, performed by Dr. Lisel Pedersen, the vet who has done all our puppy exams the last few years. The vet techs love it when I bring puppies because they get to come out to the car and help me carry them all into the exam room. There they set up a little exercise pen with an absorbent "Pee pad" in one corner. I had not seen these before; they apparently are scented with a pheromone that stimulates the puppies. Sure enough, in the first few minutes we were there almost every puppy went over and peed on the pad, mostly in the same exact spot!

July 21, 2014

We had puppy open house yesterday--about three hours with about 15 visitors playing with the pups and mom in the back yard. All eight puppies are now linked up with their new families and will begin shipping out in about a week from now. This morning Louise helped me stack the puppies so I could take the 7-week audition photos.

July 25, 2014

It has been a busy few days. First, the Albon treatment did deal with the coccidiosis infection, but our vet did not allow for weight gain when prescribing the amount of Albon so a few days after the soft poops disappeared, they reappeared for a few of the puppies. So now they are taking a larger dose of Albon for 10 days and some of them will be going home with enough pills to complete the course. Albon is one of those antibacterials that is not absorbed much by the body but does deal with bacterial overbloom in the gut. It is considered a very safe drug, so the fact that some of the puppies may not actually need it isn't a concern.

In our wellness exam last week Dr. Petersen found that two of the puppies (Inca and Survivor Girl) had "barely audible" heart murmurs, which would be Grade I on a scale of I-VI. So Louise took those two back to be examined by Dr. Janice Cain yesterday. Dr. Cain and another veterinarian who is doing an internship at Bishop Ranch both agreed that they could no longer hear the murmurs. This isn't unusual; sometimes puppies manifest mild murmurs due to nervousness and as they get a little older (even one week older, as in this case), the murmurs disappear.

However, Dr. Cain recommended that we have the lower canines extracted from Inca and Dante, the two puppies who have overbites. The puppy canines are actually poking into the upper palate and there is some thought that this might actually retard growth of the lower jaw. I really doubt that but the procedure is simple and not at all risky so we had this done this morning. The pups were dropped off at Bishop Ranch at 9 am and Louise picked them up at 12:30. They are all back together with the rest of the pack now, none the worse for wear.

Today was Graduation Day for Picchu and Cusco. We spent a delightful hour with their new owners and it was bittersweet to bid adieu after becoming so attached to them for the last two months. However, both will be back for 2nd and 3rd vaccination clinic in two and five weeks time, and both are due to have show careers so we will have plenty of opportunity to keep in touch with them. Following are phowos of Picchu (whose new name will be Oakley) with Vinnie Carstens and of Cusco (new name not yet determined) with Stevi Michner.

July 26, 2014

Graduation days continue. Today it was Dante, whose new name will be Dempsey (after the US Soccer star). He will live in Mill Valley with Brian and Karen Berson and family. We had a nice afternoon with the Bersons, playing with all the puppies and just generally making friends.

July 29, 2014

The last two days we have had two more graduations, first Survivor Girl (now Ryley), who is going to live in Auburn with Mary Lacombe-Yep, and then Inca (now Leo), whose new family is Paul and Lisa Patterson and their daughter Roxie, who live in Castro Valley.

July 30, 2014

Graduation day for Lima, who will now be Zimba. She is shown here with her new family, Ryan, Michelle and Nicholas Baker of Danville. We hope to see Zimba in the show ring next year.

July 31, 2014

This afternoon Machu was out in the yard, coming through the bars in the wrought iron fence when all of a sudden we heard a cry. I went out to see what was up and he was hobbling on three feet, holding his right rear leg up in a clinched position. It seemed more than the normal battle wound that we see with puppies in rough play. So Louise and I drove him to Bishop Ranch where Dr. Miller confirmed by x-ray that he has a hairline fracture of his tibia. Fortunately, the bone did not separate and the fibula is unbroken. Dr. Miller splinted the leg and Machu will have to be restrained from vigorous activity for three weeks.

August 2, 2014

Graduation day for Allejandra, now "Maude", with her new owner, Hanna Doerr. So now we are down to just one puppy, Mr. Machu with his big green bandage. Below is a photo of Machu and Allejandra spooning for one last time before separating.