Now I lay me down to rest

Nobody wants to think about the day their pet will no longer be here. I can tell you from experience it’s horrible.

But I have some heartening news for you. There is a place where caring people are championing the natural process of death for pets, as an extension of the resurgence in natural funerals for people.

Take a look:

I had the most beautiful experience with my beloved Splash at Okanagan Pet Cremation. I spent hundreds on keepsakes and am so glad I did. I have her ashes in my vehicle and my home, and her pawprint on my desk.


Me with Splash, age 16. She lost an eye to injury.  

Me with Splash, age 16. She lost an eye to injury.  

Japan has their first litter of Tollers!

In 2011, an Italian kennel purchased a puppy named Alice from me. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with friends internationally. When Alice grew up, she had a litter of pups. One of the daughters came back to Daintree (Allegra) and one went to Japan (Sila.)

In Japan this year, that Daintree granddaughter gave birth to Japan's first litter of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.  

Welcome to the world, Faith, Hope and Charity.


Spending time with our buyers during their adoption

When a person buys a puppy from Daintree, they are entitled to a compassionate hand off. In addition to the months of education, relationship-building and photo/video updates, I also spend time with puppy and owner to ease the transition and help to start the building of the bond. Whether this is with the Gotcha Weekend event hosted at the kennel for all families able to attend or grabbing a takeout picnic lunch and sitting in a park together, I encourage a relaxed, supportive environment for both pup and humans.

Yesterday, Jody flew in for the day from Calgary and I met her in Kelowna, 3.5 hours from home. She and I and Gwen (and a couple of the adults) spent the afternoon together in Kelowna to meet, visit, fill in paperwork, and for the new pals to get acquainted while I was still around because until now I have been the puppy's main human. Here is Jody meeting Gwen for the first time.

Then we see Lady Gwen/Copper in her carrier bag en route to Calgary via air, Copper in the bed (always recommended) and the final photo is with her other new owner, Kylee after a dip in the puppy pool today.

This is the beginning of Copper's happily ever after, and similar to all of the new beginnings for the puppies born at Daintree.


Puppy 101- Being calm while alone is an acquired skill

Feedback from brand new Daintree owners often includes big stress around leaving the puppy alone. Tollers can scream and howl and make a major fuss about being solo without siblings, me, mom, and their dog friends here. Nothing is familiar to them yet in their new homes. Parental guilt (and headaches) kick in. A panicky text, call or email comes my way.

I work on many things with them as it is and am working on ways to improve their self soothing abilities in preparation for being at home alone in the future. However the environment I offer is familiar, the scent of their mom is everywhere. In my household, they are also never completely alone so I cannot easily replicate a new environment for them here.

Firstly, it is very unnatural for a dog to be alone, let alone a puppy. Forgive the pun. Dogs are social and gather together in packs such as wolves when left to their own devices.  Housepets must acquire the skill of being solitary with your help and most are fine once they do. The transition to being good at being alone can either be quick and minorly uncomfortable or prolonged and painful.

Factors involved-

Puppy's age

Environmental elements (sound, light, room temperature, type and size of containment being used)

Physical comfort

Level of boredom

Energy level at the time of being left alone

I do not recommend leaving the puppy completely alone for any significant period of time in the first few days, and up to a couple of weeks is ideal. There are already so many changes going on for a baby dog to adapt to: a brand new home, new scents, new foods, having to start all over with relationships to complete strangers in the form of humans, possibly other dogs or cats, etc.

Go easy on your puppy. If you make this transition as supportive as possible, the rewards will be lifelong.


Take time off work

Replicate the Daintree enclosure setup. Create a comfortable environment with adequate passive enrichment, light, and climate control.  

Leave on sound such as white noise, faint TV sounds, low music or talk radio. 

Hire a professional sitter to drop in while you work.

Ask trusted friends, neighbors or family to occupy the puppy for you when you can't be there.

Sleep with your puppy.

Bring your puppy to the bathroom while you shower. I'm not joking- in a couple of weeks time it won't be necessary.

Play peekaboo games. Tire the puppy somewhat before trying this, with play, moderate exercise or training games. Provide a nice chew (knuckle bone, filled hoof, dehydrated duck foot) and leave the room for 2-3 seconds, then reappear with a tasty treat like a bit of cheese or meat. Repeat. Every couple of returns, offer no treat, just a pet or praise. Prolong the time away. If puppy starts to despair, come back and sit with her, cage between you and comfort from outside. Release or pick up only when she is quiet, or you will reinforce a crying puppy and it will get worse.

Give your puppy time. Within a couple of weeks, they are usually completely comfortable in their new environments and mom, siblings, me and the kennel are a distant memory. The problem is solved. Just be sure to nurture them along until this happens.


Baby Penny after her bath on Gotcha Day.