Happy 11th Birthday to Oscar, this boy is a pleasure to live with, don't know where the last 11 years have gone (he still has no grey hairs)!!
At Richmond Championship Show Rosko (Quilesta So Treasured) was awarded the RCC under breed specialist judge Lynn O'Connell, well done Jan and Caz!!
At East of England Championship Show, Rosko was award the RCC under breed specialised Christine Ogle, well done Jan and Caz!!
I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be less than 6” high and let loose in a ‘wilderness’ of grass and flowers; daunting forests of shrubs; wooden benches as high as the tallest sky-scraper and plies of logs as imposing as Mount Kilimanjaro. Was anyone phased? No. Turns out that these small puppies are extremely adventurous and, at this point in time, have no real fear. This, for us humans, is both good and bad. I’m glad that they are adventurous, seeking out new experiences, absorbing life and knowledge like sponges, however… it does mean that you need eyes in the back of your head—sides too would be useful—in order not to loose anyone!
We took them out in groups, not sure that we could cope with monitoring all 10 at the same time. How right we were! After acclimatising, which took less than a minute, they were off… and like a gaggle of small children they all went in different directions! I remember taking Finn to the zoo when he was about 3. He had never seen elephants before and was totally enthralled. As an adult it is difficult to recapture that initial sense of enchantment: the delight of something unexpected and new, something totally beyond your imagination. I wonder if it was like for the puppies?
Our garden is quite large, with flowerbeds, a vegetable patch, a woodpile, overgrown areas for the wildlife and lots of nettles! I foolishly hoped that the pups would stay, more-or-less, in the centre of the neatly mown grass area—no such luck! They particularly liked the overgrown brambly bits: for human arms a killer combination of scratchy long grass, brambles and nettles, for puppies—a breeze! It’s quite something watching a small puppy disappear head first into the undergrowth, white bum and tail left waving in the air. And boy can they move if the mood takes them, sprinting across what to them must seem like acres of open plain. I guess that could explain their preference for the overgrown areas—safety. Out on the savannah grasslands of mowed lawn they are vulnerable to passing birds of prey and larger carnivores; hidden in the nettles and the brambles they are safe!
What stories they had to tell when they returned to the sanctuary of the kitchen. And when they slept what dreams they had, their small bodies twitching, excited, legs running as they relived their adventures. And tomorrow, tomorrow is another day, with more adventures, more firsts, and more life to be lived, but perhaps nothing will ever be quite as special as that first sojourn into the garden.
Everyone, large and small, has been fed and watered, and are now lying fast asleep: replete and content. There is jazz playing in the background and I am drinking a glass of cold white wine—a small oasis of calm in what has become an unbelievably busy, and somewhat manic, life. Would I change anything? No. Tired as I am, chaotic as my life has become, watching these 10 new lives as they grow and develop is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. Characters are beginning to emerge: there is the diva, the explorer, the chilled out one, the escape artist. They captivate and beguile; and I will miss them when they go.
Last week they moved into the kitchen. I added a run to the whelping box, so they now have twice the space. In so doing I discovered that I possess 22 drill bits… hmmm… let’s just say that I am equipped to drill any size hole in almost any medium! The pups love their new accommodation. Being in the kitchen means that they are at the ‘heart of the home’, with all the domestic comings and goings, and all the associated noises and chaos of family life. Hopefully, by the time they leave with their new families they will be well versed in the washing machine, the hoover, the clanking of pans, the radio, music, etc, etc.
I started weaning them last week. My Mother was a herbalist and I am following her ‘natural rearing’ method. The pups are started on raw meat: a pulp/paste of chicken meat and bone. I love weaning puppies—encouraging them to taste, watching them engage, enjoy and devourer their new food. Seeing how quickly they develop once they start on this meat diet reminded me of papers I read when studying for my Masters: papers about the relationship between the cooking of meat—the use of fire—and the development of the human brain. I’m not sure what precisely the connection is, but it seems that protein is a ‘force for the good’ and that in order to evolve the human brain required cooked meat. As well as meat the pups are, initially, given milk, honey, tree bark food and oatbran porridge. Over the weeks I will introduce different meats, offal, bone, vegetables and fruit. Dora would, I think, be happy to be fruitarian. I have never known a dog to be so fond of fruit! She loves, blueberries, raspberries, mango, strawberries—in fact any fruit you can think of, except apples! Why she doesn’t like apples I do not know. Our Dora is a bit of an enigma. It will be interesting to see if any of these pups love fruit as much as she does.
Tomorrow Mandy is coming over and we plan to take the pups out into the garden—their first taste of the outside world—now that could be fun!
We are coming to the end of yet another day and the beginning of another week. The puppies are 18 days old. We have just finishing weighing them—I have weighed them every day, at about the same time, since they were born. The daily weights are put onto a spread sheet and in my ‘spare’ time I play around with the figures, looking at % increases, who weighs the most, who the least, how it has changed since they were born—they are a remarkable even and consistent litter—Dora is doing an excellent job! Soon they will be too big for the kitchen scales. Although the photo of Octavia suggests that they lie neatly curled up while being weighed, this is a fallacy; mostly they wriggle like mad, try to escape and generally make it very difficult, if not impossible, to get a steady reading. So, although I carefully log all the results, who know what they really weigh because I doubt it what I am recording!
Wednesday (day 14) was worming day. They will be wormed every two weeks until they leave for their new homes. Everyone warned me about the bright pink worming paste and how it got everywhere. I must admit to being somewhat sceptical about that one—2-week-old puppies, a syringe and some worming liquid, how can it be THAT messy? Well… turns out it can! And, I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s only going to get worse. It’s the shaking of the head that does most damage—minute droplets of slightly foamy, fondant pink liquid dispersing into the atmosphere, landing on anything and everything. Needless to say next time I will not be wearing clean clothes! The worming liquid was the first ‘alien’ substance they had encountered, their expressions were priceless—ranging from sheer horror to disgust to disbelief.
The other ‘job’ that seems never ending is the trimming of nails; I keep them short to prevent them scratching and tearing Dora as the pups ‘prime the pump’. With 10 puppies there are a lot of nails to trim. Some don’t mind too much, others protest loudly and wriggle a lot. The first time I did it the pups were so small and wriggly that I was worried I would cut into the quick. Now they are bigger it is a little easier—though it has become a 2-person job: one to hold the ‘victim’ down and one to cut. I guess getting them used to nail trimming, worming and generally being handled is all part of their ‘education’; not skills that they will learn from their Mother or siblings, but rather human constructs that will, hopefully, equip them to be good canine members of our society.
On re-reading this blog entry I feel I ought it be headed— Ways to Torture a Puppy. So I hasten to add that they also get lots of love and cuddles!