We had an unexpected surprise last week…Breeze came into heat a month early! Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind since then.
The first steps are watching your female dog like a hawk. Then being on pins and needles to see when she is actually ready. Knowing that I wanted to drive all the way to northern Washington, a friend came for a visit to help us make the trek, needing to do so in June instead of following the July plan.
We have a tradition of taking Breeze to her breeder’s home, Renee at Trailblazer English Shepherds,who has an intact male Connor (out of Breeze’s 1st litter with Rio), to see if they are interested in each other. Monday night there was nothing going on. Tuesday the male we were considering unexpectedly “went off his food”, so among other things, that led us to see if Rio was available, as they are neighbors.
We had been thinking about Rio since 2016 (check it out here or use the sidebar blog month of August 2016 as well as their litter page ), as those puppies were wonderful. Because Rio, a tri-color, and Breeze, with her Irish black and white, both have a recessive gene for clear (not shadowed with darker markings) sable and white, we had three colors in that litter, adding a little spice to the den.
By Wednesday morning we ran by Renee’s again, and this time it was perfectly obvious that Breeze was ready. Getting the teardrop and gear packed and truck hooked up, we set off to the Ferndale destination at the near-Canadian border.
The breeding between the dogs was clearly a union. If we would have stayed another day they may have mated again, as is sometimes done, but she looked complete. She has been a happy dog ever since, with a new found contentment. Her love of travel was such a blessing, making that long haul without batting an eye.
In April, I had purchased a puppy from Montana, Katie, to be Breeze’s runner-up when she is ready to retire in a couple of years. Breeze’s great mothering instincts made their relationship go along wonderfully, becoming a mother and big sister all in one. Suffice it to say, that when Breeze came home from the long trip, she began developing another level of relating with Katie, quite mildly asking for just a little more space, and preparing our household for a litter. It was a relief to me since she had been letting Katie have her way at every turn, so I wondered how and when things would shift a little…so naturally everything flowed easily into the next part of the river.
Katie began puppy preschool Monday June 29th, followed by good manner training, even though she is already 4 months old. There just wasn’t any earlier opportunities open during the quarantine. I hope to learn a great deal that will not only help me with Katie’s development, but also as a breeder, to offer even more great learning exposure to our litter of pups.
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from Renee that one would never find in a book or online, e.g. playing a movie with unexpected loud noises as they begin to discover something other-than-mother (week 4-8) to desensitize them to sounds a bit. And, also learned much from just the school of hard knocks, like why did I ever think that loading a wagon with a litter of puppies, multiple times a day, to get out to the puppy park was a good solution?
Its now an obvious no-brainer and I have the puppy den-pen right next to the back door! If my body didn’t complain I’d probably have continued doing it. I think it was the litter of 12 while really working to teach them all good outside potty habits, that brought me into full awareness of simpler solutions…but it was cute to see them riding in the wagon;*))
Rebecca Wingler from the English Shepherd Club, wrote an article about pregnancy and breeding on their websitehttp://www.englishshepherd.org/. I loved her comment that “one must always be prepared for the unexpected, because our dogs don’t read the same books we do”. That about sums it up! We are looking at day 63 (text book pregnancy) being August 27th for whelping, and then the puppies going to their new homes near the 22nd of October. Really a wonderful climate-window for having pups exploring the world.
Breeze and Rio showed a great deal of relaxation and a feeling of being very complete with only one tie. At the end of this video Rio then Breeze each take a turn doing the full-on happy tail wag (side to side and circle)…I think it took!
Please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions! As of this writing, there are 5 deposits on this upcoming litter, so if you, or someone you know, are interested in a puppy from a pairing of these great English Shepherd lines, both with really nice 5 generation pedigrees, and sweet temperaments, now is a good time to begin to discuss that option with Breeze and I. We start the process with a puppy application (sorry – it’s a bit like applying for a house loan ;*)) but after all, you are asking for a family member), and than an interview using Zoom or the phone. Of course, we can always talk by phone before that…just ring me up!