All good intentions of keeping up with this blog went out the window when the puppies passed the two week mark. I knew that raising a litter of happy, healthy pups would be a lot of work...and I'm not afraid of work!...but I now have a new respect for how much time it takes to do it well. We have a week to go until they are all in their new homes and I will miss their little puppy faces and all those "wuffles"! They are all so sweet! And innocent looking!! Do these guys not look innocent? Ha!
They have lived in the kitchen (2 weeks), the sun porch (2 weeks), the garage (3 weeks) and will spend the last week outside in the big dog pen. They know about crates, dog houses, different flooring, gardens (they love the hosta "tunnel" they created), woodpiles, woods, car rides, collars, dead mice, live mice, big John Deere engines, sleeping all night, chewies, fans (puppy AC) and lots of kisses and cuddles. They know that Aunt Lacy will growl but not bite if they mistake her for their mother and they know that their mother is so over nursing. (Well, almost....she'll let them suckle but mostly for comfort because the milk bar is pretty much empty these days.)
The puppies have met their dad.......
.....who wasn't all that interested but he'd better get used to it because one of his sons is coming to live with him!
Five of the group will get to help with stock, ranging from chickens to cows, with sheep, ducks, pigs and goats in between and the other three will have other dogs, cats and kids to play with. Six are going to homes with other English Shepherds, some of whom are related to them. Four will stay in Maine, two will live in western NY, one in VT and one in NH, Two particularly special placements are with the owner/breeders of the litter's grandfather and grandmother. Both of these breeders were interested in this pairing from the beginning and will now have puppies from their own lines. This pleases me immensely.
One will be the fifth English Shepherd of the same name in the family, so she's going to have a 5 at the end of her name...and interestingly enough, their first ES, Nilla 1 (back in the 70s) and now this one, Nilla 5, came from Maine. This little girl has a big New England farm to help run.....one that's older than the country....one that was a King's Grant in 1752 and has been in the current family for five generations. (History Chris LOVES this fact!) The dogs and I visited Barrett Hill Farm in NH before the litter was born (Potential Puppy Home Visit!) and I'm so happy that one of our pups landed there.
Placing the litter provided the biggest amount of stress for me. (Well, actually, there was one morning when puppy poop provided a LOT of stress!) I worried early on about finding the best homes for each one of them but it turned out, as it usually does, that the more work you put into a project, the better the result. I spent a huge amount of time communicating with interested people...emails, phone calls, multiple visitors, reviewing applications....and really feel like these pups are going to the best homes for them.
People have asked, "Will you breed Ginger again?" Most likely but really, this isn't the right time to make a decision like that. (Kind of like the husband saying to the wife, "Honey, the new baby is great...do you want to have another.?" NOT the right time!) Ginger and I are going to take a break. She made beautiful puppies but she is so much more than a puppy mama to me. I'm looking forward to having her to myself again. We already have two senior level Barn Hunt practices scheduled and at least one trial coming up.
But she did make beautiful babies!!