Friday, May 25, 2012

Puppy launching....

It is the final stage of my most difficult and important part when raising a litter of puppies....  letting them go on.  So many people have asked me "it must be so hard to let them go when you love them so much..." but I realize how needful and important it is by just one thing.  The right person ALWAYS comes for the puppy.  And when the pup and their forever human set eyes on one another it's never how you expect it to be, seldom the pairing you would predict, but it always feels absolutely and totally "right" when they do.  I watch them fall in love with one another for the very first time - no matter the age of the new owner, no matter how long the puppy has been with me, no matter if it's a whole family or just a single person looking to have one more small life to care for and make theirs complete, it is an inevitable as the rising of the sun and the falling of rain... a force of nature that tempers the sadness and loss I feel with the joy of knowing they go to the very best home...

Luke began to know his family early on in the game.  Little "A" came for regular visits with her mom to handle him, feed him his gruel, fold him in a blanket and tuck him into her arms... and now he has segued into his new life with very little difficulty....He is a private eater, preferring to "gnosh" on his crunchie kibble while the family is away at work and school, but he is a good little man, learning some fun puppy tricks, sleeping in the family bed (and he takes turns so that when "A" has family visits he still has an anchor to keep him secure.).  I truly hope he will help bring that lovely little girl with her heart full of sunshine out into the world and be a key to her having a great connection to fun things through him.... like training classes, agility classes, or even having him trained early on as a "visiting companion" for the hospitals and the hospices.  Or just go the park and play "fetch"!

Reba left in a whirlwind!  The whole family came to choose from the available pups, but when "B" held Reba it was that odd mix... the puppy I thought was the sweetest natured of the bunch was recognized for her loving temperament and calm demeanor...  and promptly feel asleep in her new girl's arms.  Lily was whisked home to Surrey and I lost my best "TV buddy"...

The next to leave was Garth.  A truly handsome fellow with great photogenic potential and a quirky and fun loving nature, Garth was scooped in the few minutes between me dressing for work and having to clock in...  He has been placed in the arms of a wonderful extended family to be a comfort to "T"'s Mom after illness, and also to give her a new love after the loss of her long term Shih Tzu companion last winter.  Mr. "Schnuffle" now shares his life with a family who reaches out to others, and he is much loved by all.

Willie was the "dark horse" of the group!  A wonderful family drove all the way from Whistler BC to make sure he was the "one", and left within the hour holding "Mambo" in their laps!  He was so happy to meet his very own boy but I was able to have a last, long goodbye hug from my "big" puppy.  His family includes a mini Schnauzer - aptly named "Schnauzie" - and since Mambo has the best "other dog" relations it is a perfect match!

Little Dolly had a couple of false starts, but finally "J" saw her picture and knew this was the puppy for her home.  "Daisy" has gone to live in Osoyoos near the Smitty's where she shares her family with Pepper the Shih Tzu.  Hopefully she will be able to join agility training with Pepper soon, so they will have years of running, jumping and fresh air together, and lots of love for their people as well.

And now, at last, Faith will be going home to Ladysmith.  She has gone from being one of a pack to "just one".  Her sweet little face and wagging tail will be sorely missed, but not so much by the other dogs.  Sheldon has acquired a real attachment to her, though - sharing the basket together on the bedroom floor has been a nightly occurrence for the last week. She can climb up and down the stairs, loves to jump and fetch, eats her dinner nicely, sleeps happily, and loves to cuddle and give puppy kisses... and tomorrow I have to say "goodbye".

I must admit I won't miss the "puppy paper" all over the place, nor the smell of the trash on garbage day!  I will miss the expectant little eyes at the top of the stairs, the silliness of "skiing" through the pack to open the back door for the big dogs after work, and sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor while a pack of "carpet sharks" tugs on my pant legs and shoe laces...  The playpen will be cleaned, sterilized and stored until (and if) another litter arrives in the future.  I will go back to regular life, cutting the lawn, scooping poop outside, getting the swimming pool ready for summer... and missing each individual, but I hope to have the occasional "visit" from one or two of them through the next year or so. 

To all the families who "adopted" these little treasures I give a heartfelt "Thank You!"...  They are truly full to the brim with love for you.  You are the right person for your puppy, and they are the perfect puppy for you!  I will keep spoiling their "Big Dog" family as long as they are with me... and if you need us, just call. 

Now it's back to regular chores, what looks like a sunny summer at last, and the peace of my garden.... somehow I don't think I need a caffe mocha vodka valium latte to go at the moment, but there is always one when I need it... ah.....  mission accomplished.....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Drunken sailors....

Once again I have the playpen set up in the living room and once again I have a small furry pile of puppies to love.  Dear little Penny gave birth early on a Monday morning - about two hours after I came home from work - and presented me with six hamster sized babies to love for a while.  I had been waiting for them rather unsure what to expect, but like the other two times before she had an uncomplicated delivery in the kennel next to my bed, watched over once more by her best friend, Sheldon the cat. 

I had been joking that I was going to name this bunch for "fast cars" and was bantering names like Ferrari, Bugatti, Fiat, Isuzu... but what popped out looked more like little black and white cows or brown and white horses!  "They look too 'Country' to be cars" I thought....   and asked a group of friends for the names of their favorite Country Music stars instead.  I have two black and white boys - Luke (Bryan) and Willie (Nelson), one brown and white boy - Garth (Brooks), two brown and white girls - Reba (McIntyre) and Dolly (Parton) - and of course the little black and white girl is Faith (Hill). I have spent nearly a month now coddling my littlest "Stars" and thoroughly enjoying the process!

There are lots to do when you have small puppies... mostly lots of laundry!  I have worn out nearly every towel I own, as well as a number of blankets and face cloths, but the pups are past the first helpless weeks and on into the next phases... the "drunken sailor" phase where their little round bodies are too big for their tiny legs and they stagger and roll, playing with one another while chirping like Tribbles.  I hear their tiny mock growls and it makes me laugh because Penny used to do the same when she was tiny.  One tiny paw lifts.. and the whole puppy falls over!  Daisy has been attempting to sneak into the pen and lap up the puppy gruel, and Penny will leap over the side to snarf it down if I don't stand (or in my case, crouch) beside the pen while spoon-feeding the little ones.  They know my voice, recognize that my hands will rub all the spots that need it, gum with their little toothless mouths on the edge of their dinner plate; they lie passive and comfortable in my open hands, their little faces looking up at me while I giggle and smile at them; they enjoy their warm baths in the sink, wrapped afterwards in a soft washcloth and rolled like a "puppy sausage roll" to lay on the heated bedding afterwards.  I am in awe of the way of nature, that even before they can hear or stand they will struggle out of their bedding to pee on the newspaper I have surrounding their warm nest.

Even though they are less than a month old I have been spoon-feeding them since their eyes opened to give Penny a healthier time, and I am proud to say it was worth it!  She is still keeping them clean, feeding them throughout the day, but she comes to sleep with me on the bed at night, tired out and ready for a break from "Mommydom".  On Sunday afternoon I will dress her in the first "weaning shirt", move the little pack into the kitchen with a water dish and lots of newspaper, and photograph each pup.  Although I already have homes for two - Faith will go live in Ladysmith where she will become a spoiled little "boat dog" to a family who was "prescreened" and Luke will be keeping part of his name and going  to be best friends to a little girl with big blue eyes, a shy smile, and a heart as sweet as summertime.

I am doing my best to give them a healthy life; they are clean, fed, socialized with their Mom, Uncle Folly, Aunty Daisy and their big Sister, Molly from next door.  Sheldon the cat will still stroll through and check them over, but is mostly uninterested for the moment as they are too boring to be fun for a big cat like him, and Xena... well, she's just Xena...  They are learning to play with toys, explore their environment, try new things, they are handled throughout the day, and I have had friends over to handle them so they are used to people, especially kids! I hope for good weather soon so they can come outside in their "puppy pen" and learn about grass, toddle in the yard, and charge up their little "solar batteries" in a patch of sunshine while I putter in the garden.  And I know that soon they will go to their "forever" homes, with their only purpose in life to be companions... small dogs with a big job!

When they do leave it will be too soon for me, but their new families deserve to enjoy some of their "toddler time" and fall in love.  They will be taking a piece of my heart with each of them, full to the brim with love for their new families... and I will miss them.  I hope their new families keep in touch...  but for now it's sunny days on the patio bricks, puppy paper in every room of the house, toys and freshly washed blankets in all the corners... and I'll have a cafe mocha vodka valium latte... to go.....  ah... spring....