Welcome to Rain Mountain
What's a Chinook --
Meet the Family --
Getting Your Chinook & Our Breeding Program --
Chinook Health --
For More Information --
As much as I try to have my breeding program planned out and written down, Mother Nature is in charge. Next comes a very picky Chinook girl. I'm more their servant and chauffeur than anything else.
If the litters here aren't going to meet your requirements for any reason, the section For More Information has links to other kennels that I'm familiar with. You can also get a list of Chinook breeders on the COA website at www.chinook.org/breeders.html. Breeders that are not on my personal list are still good breeders, just people who I don't know as close personal friends and whose homes I haven't visited. Rest assured that every Chinook breeder has dogs first and foremost as pets, because they like dogs. All of them raise their litters right in the middle of their homes, whether a kitchen, spare room, or garage. We all put emphasis on socializing our pups so they will be ready to join your family too. There are no Chinook puppy mills or commercial breeders and you cannot get a Chinook in a pet store. That's a good thing but it also means that you can't just walk out a buy a Chinook pup today. You'll probably have to talk to a couple breeders and wait a month or two before there is a pup ready for you.Upcoming Litters
My girls tend to go into season every six to seven months roughly, though if one has a litter that can throw the whole system out of whack for a cycle or two. It really does work like a sorority house where they will most tend to go into season one after another or even at the same time. I tend to update the Rain Mountain Facebook page with the latest news about upcoming litters and I always update the main page of the website with the current availability of pups and young adult dogs. It's not quite fair to bury the news all the way back here and make you search for it. As for what's coming down the road, it's best that you email me so we can talk about it. I've recently retired both Lolo and Salishan and discovered that Castiel and Quileute won't pass my requirements for breeding; Elizabeth still needs to pass one more health screening before she's a sure thing. But I do have several males at stud and a few females that I co-own who are having litters so I still am placing several pups and even the occasional whole litter.
Breeding and raising a litter is like baking a cake that cooks quite slowly. First the female goes into season, which lasts about three to four weeks. However, during that time she is only going to be fertile for a few days. Often we'll use progesterone testing to make sure we don't miss that window of opportunity, especially the first time a girl is bred. Though the text books will tell you that females are ready on Days 7 through 10, my experience is that they are more likely to be ready on Days 10 through 25! Or Day 3. You just don't know since each is different just like every human female. So the first step is to get them bred at the right time.
After they are bred, it's about four weeks until we can determine if she is really pregnant. About Days 26 to 30 of her pregnancy (pregnancy is usually 63 days) she'll visit Dr. Dan who can tell by palpating her if there are babies in there or not. Up until then I'm watching for other signs: Is she acting sleepy? Does she have some "morning sickness" during the third week? Is she a bit clingy? Again, each dog is different. Most don't show and real physical signs until late in the pregnancy. About Week 7 I can see their belly filling out and they may start showing signs of milk coming in during Weeks 8 and 9. This is when I get a new coat of paint on the whelping box and washing up all the old towels. They are born somewhere about Day 60 to 63 from the time they were bred.
Once here, the babies have a lot of growing and learning to do. The first two weeks are the "potato" stage. They simply sleep and eat, occasionally wiggling around the box. It's the honeymoon phase for the breeder if you have a good mom dog since she takes care of the babies 100% and all we humans need to do is keep her supplied with plenty of high calorie food and lots of liquids. But about Day 12 to 15, eyes will start to open, then ears, and they will begin to get their feet underneath their fat bellies. Their first efforts to walk are quite amusing, what with falls coming about every other step. They are still 100% dependent on their mom. During this time I don't have visitors since I like my moms to have a calm environment. I figure that if they don't want the other dogs in the household to visit, they probably don't want people they don't know to visit. Also, up through this time the pups are still in a fragile state. Mother Nature gives dogs large litters of pups because they are subject to a high mortality rate. Most of the time any problems will happen in the first 24 hours after birth but there are still some problems that can crop up through about Day 21. I've been through the sadness of losing a whole litter to a virus when they were two weeks old and I hope to never repeat that.
When the pups are three weeks old, they will start venturing out of their whelping box, exploring the house. It is quite a scary world at first. First meals happen as soon as they have their feet under them and can see and hear. These first ones are really just practice; the pups need to learn to lap up gruel rather than nursing. The first meal is always fun to watch. I literally set the pups right into the pan sometimes so that they will catch on. Other times, I've already caught them nibbling on their mom's food so teaching them to eat is a non-issue.
By four weeks old they start exploring outside. This is easy in the summer but in the North Wet Monsoon Season I still put the pups outside any time it isn't raining. Cold is fine as long as they aren't wet too. Going outside is quite scary and the first day or two they hide under the front porch while the adult dogs try to coax them out. But soon they are scampering around the the yard and meadow and even venturing into the dens the dogs have dug under the big stump. By six weeks I start having them follow me on walks around the trails so they begin to understand that the pack always stays together. This is the basis for their learning to run with a sled team, to stay close on hikes, and just to relate to their future humans in general. By the time they head out to their new homes at about nine weeks old, they can follow me around the whole perimeter trail, which is about 3/10ths of a mile.
Lolo relaxing in the late afternoon shade of the
big stump. She's on the west side here; there
are dens dug on the north and east sides that are easily big
enough for one or two dogs or a whole litter of pups.
Deciding Who Goes Where
Before going off to new home I have to go through the excruciating process of deciding which pup goes to which home. This is done not just by my personal feelings and observations but also by a series of evaluations by other impartial but knowledgeable people. The pups will go through a temperament evaluation so we can pinpoint who might be the more bold compared to who may be the more reserved. There are also at least two or more evaluations of the structure since we are always placing at least one male and one female with other breeders or keeping one or the other myself. These evaluations focus on the pups' structure, gait, and attitude. The question we're asking is this: If we had to pick a Chinook to carry on the breed, which male and which female would we choose? The differences come down to minuscule details -- one having a slightly broader chest than the others, a spot of color in the wrong place, too big an angle here and too small an angle there.
Sure, I probably have my favorites but I also have kennel blindness. (After all, don't you think that your children are the smartest and most perfect there are?) It is amazing what other people can see that I don't. So I focus on first getting the evaluations and testing done then taking the information from all of them and matching them up to the people that I know want puppies.
That's a bit different than what most people are used to where they visit the breeder and pick the pup they want. But trust me, after spending nearly 24/7 with the pups for over two months, I know more about them than you will be able to figure out in an hour long visit. That's why I have you fill out a Prospective Owner Questionnaire. This is a document where you tell me about your family and home, what you're looking for in a dog, and what your experience is. I use this info to match you with the best possible pup that will fit your lifestyle. Are you active hikers, on the go every weekend? Or are you more relaxed, spending more time around home while your children grow up, spending your weekends at soccer games? One home will need a more active pup while the other will want a more laid back character.
Copyright © Ginger Corley, Rain Mountain Chinooks, 1988 to present. No material may be reproduced without permission, though permission is usually granted. Logo by Susan Fletcher, Frontier Chinooks, used here with permission and much appreciation of her great talent.