We are now (finally) into 2017 and looking ahead to the spring for Ginger's next litter. Unless she totally goes off track in her timing, I think we are looking at puppies around the middle or end of August. We have tentatively settled on a sire (tentative only in that no contract has been signed yet) but more about that later.
I'm looking forward to having puppies around again. I had some experience with litters many years ago (one an oops and one planned) but this was the first time so much planning, research, work, thought and care had gone into it. There was a full year's worth of effort before we even got to breeding. Not to mention the actual work of raising a litter...we don't just stick them out in the barn and let them grow....as I am quite aware that some do. We are fully involved for the entire time they are with us....handling, recording, evaluating, teaching, keeping records, socializing, playing. For the weeks the pups are with us, they are part of the family.
There were few disappointments with this litter. The time and effort spent on placements was worth it. All are happy and healthy and thriving in their new homes. Losing Cody was hard. Hard on his new family and hard on me. It certainly brought home the fact that breeding dogs is not all puppy breath and kisses.
The other disappointment, for me, is that only half of this litter is registered with the English Shepherd Club Registry. Each pup went home with the proper paperwork for registration with both the United Kennel Club and the ESCR and some folks... particularly those with ES experience....sent theirs in right away. It's gratifying for me, as a breeder, to see those names listed under Progeny on Ginger's page, rather than "Unnamed Female Puppy".
I know that registration isn't a big deal to everyone. Many ES folks didn't/don't feel the need to have "papers" for their dog.....historically, from what I've read, farmers/ranchers were more concerned with the working worth of the animal...if it was a "good farm dog", that was enough. No reason to "go fancy".
However, when trying to preserve a rare breed like ours, there's nothing fancy about keeping track of data. I don't know the entire history...or politics....of the ESCR but I do know that about 12 years ago, a lot of effort was made by many people to find and record as much pedigree information about English Shepherds as possible...even to the extent of letters, oral history, interviews and hand written pedigrees, etc.
All this information is found in an incredible, interactive database at the registry website http://www.esc-registry.org/members/index.html. It's easy to use and contains more than just pedigrees....health info, progeny, sibling/littermates, pictures....if owners have sent it in. Not everyone is into pedigree research like I am (just for kicks, I traced Ginger back as far as 1941).... but, to me, having your English Shepherd included in this fount of information is important.
So much so that, with the next litter, registration will be different. I won't be disappointed again....I'll do it myself.