Thankfulness Litter- 7 Weeks Old

We are in a very busy season of puppyhood these days! Very busy and very adorable. 🙂 The puppies are now fully weaned, and they are enjoying their delicious Life’s Abundance Puppy Food. Since coming off momma’s milk, they have also started on NuVet Plus Immune System Supplement. This helps bolster their young immune systems which go through a very vulnerable stage after the effects of momma’s milk and colostrum wear off. As always, they are doing very well on their new diet! Lots of energy and no tummy or digestive upsets, which means all is well on the inside. They have bright eyes and beautiful coats, which means all is well on the outside, too!

They puppies have had their health exams, got their first vaccinations, and got to experience their first baths and ear cleanings! (They were less than enthusiastic about that last one.) It has definitely been an exciting few weeks.

The puppies are reaching the point where they have SO MUCH energy! Running, jumping, sniffing, and chewing are some of the most important things for these little guys. Watching them explore and experience new things is so much fun! I love to introduce my puppies to as many things as possible during the two months that they live here. The more they see, hear, and experience now will help them adjust more easily to new homes. They have gotten to hear normal household sounds- vacuum cleaner, children, doors, banging kettles, and music. They have gotten to see and hear normal outside things, as well- lawn mower, traffic, other dogs, chickens, etc. I’ll continue to broaden their small horizons as much as I can in this last week that they are here.

I briefly mentioned chewing… Puppies love to chew. Just like teething babies love something to gnaw on, chewing feels amazing to little puppies. This litter has been burning through my supply of Porky Puffs and Buffalo Bully Sticks. They absolutely LOVE them. (It’s either the treats or my toes. I’ve opted for the treats.) Doxa, as the biggest puppy, usually manages to get control of a Porky Puff by shoving her smaller siblings out of the way and then running away with it so she can chew it all by herself. (In these pictures, though, it’s Saba who got her own Porky Puff!)

When you bring home a new puppy or if you have an adult dog who still loves to chew, you will thank yourself for keeping good, healthy chews on hand! It keeps them occupied and busy, it keeps them from chewing or destroying things they shouldn’t, and it’s very good for their dental health. Chewing helps puppies to lose their baby teeth and work in the adult ones, and chewing is an excellent (and easy) way to keep adult teeth clean.

But I always give this suggestion with a word of warning. Not all dog chews are healthy- or safe! If you have an aggressive chewer, plastic or rubber chew toys can be questionable. (My Golden Retriever hasn’t yet found a toy she can’t rip apart and eat.) And not all “edible” chews are healthy. Many of them, especially raw hides, are very hard on the digestive system. Buy with caution. I suggest edible chews with healthy ingredients and no preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. My favorite Life’s Abundance products, hand-down, are their chewing treats- Porky Puffs, Buffalo Bully Sticks, and Buffalo Lungs. Safe, healthy, and AMAZING. The Buffalo Lungs are in a big bag (great value for the price!), but they are a slightly softer chew. The Porky Puffs and Bully Sticks are harder treats that will keep a puppy busy for a few days. You can see all the different treats and chews here.

Crate training is also a big deal at this age. I crate the puppies for short periods to help them get used to the idea of a crate and establish the habit of not going potty in the crate. Usually when I first put them in the crate, one of two of them will cry and whine piteously for a while. But a good dose of tough love wins out. Within half an hour or so, all of them give up and snuggle together to sleep. Relaxation and rest is what I like to see for crate time. The crate is supposed to be a place of peace and quiet, where a puppy (and older dog) can go to rest and take a break. In my opinion, crate training is the best way to work at house training a puppy.

Although, this is undoubtedly a very busy stage with puppies, it is probably my favorite. There is so much to teach and practice, and they are simply a lot of fun!

I hope you are all having a wonderful week! I’m going to head outside and enjoy some enthusiastic puppy kisses before the afternoon is spent!

The Thankfulness Litter- Almost 4 Weeks Old

It’s been one month with this litter already! And they are all doing fantastic! Doxa still leads the pack in weight. She’s over five pounds, while her three siblings are about four and a quarter to four and a half pounds.

Now is the time that the fun really begins. In the past week, the puppies have really begun changing and becoming aware of the world around them. They have gone from sleeping nearly all the time, to exploring their whelping box and playing with each other. They still sleep a lot, but they are certainly reaching a new and more active stage of puppyhood.

We have been spending some time working on potty training now that the puppies are able to get around. I gave them access to a small area outside their nest filled with shredded newspaper. This gives them a place to do their business away from the sleeping area, which is a natural instinct puppies have. I try to harness this natural desire to leave the nest to pee and poop and teach them the habit of going in a particular place. By doing this, I give them some foundational crate training skills, and it helps to keep their sleeping area much cleaner. In another week or so, I will give the puppies access to a large play area. I will wait until I feel like they have a good grasp of the potty area, so that they will continue to use the designated potty area and keep the new play area clean, as well. It’s always a work in progress; but the more they learn now, the easier crate training and house training will be for their new families!

Here you can see the puppies exploring the whole pen. I labeled each section of the pen, if you can read my chicken scratch. Also note the wet newspaper in the potty area- that’s a mark of success!

Next week begins a very fun part of raising puppies- weaning! The puppies will be ready to begin eating solid food. As always, my puppies get nothing but the best food. Nutrition plays a HUGE role in puppies’ health! My adults and my puppies very rarely get sick, and I attribute that to excellent nutrition and healthy activity levels.

These cute little guys will be starting on Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed Puppy food.

A few of the things I love the most about this particular kind of food (and I have tried several brands in my years as a breeder) are:

*It contains only high quality proteins. Protein is essential for all bodily functions (brain, heart, muscles, skin, coat, bones, etc), and not all protein is created equally. Life’s Abundance has quality controlled protein sources of chicken meal (which is more nutrient dense than whole chicken) and eggs.

*It is enriched with DHA and contains guarantee probiotics, prebiotic fiber, antioxidants, and a complete array of essential vitamins and minerals.

*It hasn’t been sitting on a store shelf for months! Life’s Abundance makes their food in small, weekly batches. This means when I order food, I know it is as fresh as possible, and fresh food is more nutrient rich.

*It has all of the good stuff and none of the bad! No artificial flavors or colors. No corn or wheat or corn/wheat glutens. None. Ever. Corn and wheat are very difficult for dogs to digest, meaning they can irritate the digestive system and provide very little nutritional benefit.

This isn’t just “puppy food.” This is a top-of-the-line, nutritious diet. I have seen the positive effects of good nutrition, and I simply cannot overstate the importance.

The other fun part of this age is that my daughter finally gets to play with the puppies. She has been able to hold them briefly, but now the puppies are able to interact a little bit. This also means, I hear her pleading, toddler voice ask me about a million times every day, “Mommy, let’s go play with the puppies!” And thus begins the puppies’ socialization with children. 🙂 The rough little hands, unpredictably loud and shrill voices, and the fast movements of children are excellent experiences for puppies! Not only do they learn to tolerate it, but they grow to love it, too! Eventually, my job changes from protecting the puppies’ from my daughter’s excited play to protecting my daughter from the puppies’ excited play. 🙂

I hope you all have a good weekend, and remember to be thankful for each new day!

The Thankfulness Litter- 1 Week Old

On Monday, Duchess’s litter turned one week old! The first two weeks with a new litter of puppies is either the easiest period or the hardest. If the puppies are healthy and growing, and momma is taking good care of them, then there is very little that I need to do. But if mom or babies are struggling, then I have round the clock care to give.

And this litter is certainly falling into the EASY category. All four of the puppies are strong, healthy, and growing very well. This is Duchess’s fourth litter, so she is a veteran mom. That leaves me with a low-key job. 🙂 Right now, the puppies only eat, sleep, and grow. My job consists mainly of monitoring the puppies’ growth and keeping their bedding clean.

Every day, when I weigh each puppy, I am also doing an Early Neurological Stimulation program with them. I briefly hold them in various positions (nose up, nose down, and on their back), touch between their toes, and place them on a cool surface. This gives them several different stimuli from position, pressure, and temperature. It’s all very brief and gentle, and it gets them used to be handled. During the first two weeks of life, a puppy’s brain is learning and growing at the fastest rate that it ever will. Receiving this early handling helps cultivate a calmer and more confident temperament, so that the puppies are less likely to be fearful, anxious, or reactive as they get older. (Of course, this program does not guarantee a good temperament, but it is one of many building blocks that goes into the foundation of a well-mannered dog.)

I am calling this my “thankfulness litter,” because of the names that I chose for them. These pups will be ready for their new homes the week of Thanksgiving, so I tried to pick names that reflected thankfulness. Each of the names comes from a biblical Greek or Hebrew word. (*Disclaimer* I did take a little bit of creative liberty in the spelling and pronunciation of some of the names.)

I have Jirah, Saba, Hiko, and Doxa.

Jirah comes from the phrase Jehovah Jireh, which means the Lord will provide. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for many blessings we have, and I chose the name Jirah to acknowledge that it is the Lord who provides each and every blessing in our lives. And not only has He provided many good things, but He can be counted on to continue to provide for all of our needs.

Saba means abundance. Not only does the Lord provide for our needs, but He provides abundantly! Jesus said in the book of John, “I am come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Hiko comes from a word meaning sufficient. In all honestly, sometimes life doesn’t feel “abundant.” But the Lord promises, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is make perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).” “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed (2 Corinthians 9:8).”

Doxa means praise. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to our Creator! It’s about praising Him not only for what He has done but for who He is- a loving Father who cares for us.

Here they are, my thankfulness litter, from left to right- Jirah (pink), Doxa (blue), Hiko (brown), and Saba (red). They are four beautiful blessings!

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Surprise Announcement!

We have a brand new litter of Irish Setters! I had not announced that this litter was on its way for a couple of reason. Number one- for the first time in several years, I do not have any reservations on my Irish Setter Waiting List. And second- I’ve been keeping a low profile on my Kristen’s Happy Tails social media accounts this summer. My sweet baby boy was born in April, and I am still learning the fine art of raising two kiddos, four dogs, and my precious puppies. With all those sweet beings looking for my care and love every day, I allowed my social media presence to take a back seat for a few months.

So, here we are! We are praising God for a healthy new litter! Timber and Duchess have blessed us with four new little ones- three girls and one boy. It was a fairly uneventful pregnancy and delivery (those are my favorite kind!). Mom and babies are doing well, and I am again in love with the freshness and “newness” of newborn puppies. They are so delicate and precious, and I just can’t get enough of them!

Like I said, there are no reservations for this litter, so if you have been thinking about getting an Irish Setter, now is your chance! These puppies will be ready for new homes at the end of November- just in time for the holidays! I’ll be posting individual pictures and more litter information later this week.

The Golden Irish

I am SO EXCITED! Finally, on our third try, our beautiful Jade is expecting puppies! It is not the Mini Goldendoodle puppies we had originally planned, but it is Golden Irish puppies from our very own Timber! We are so excited to be pursuing this new avenue, but let me explain how we got here.

Our original plan for Jade was to breed her with a Miniature Poodle. Then we would have F1 Mini Goldendoodles from her and F1b Mini Goldendoodles from Mia. However, we tried twice for Mini Goldendoodle puppies, but Jade did not get pregnant either time. We were very disappointed! Sometimes it can be difficult to get a successful litter from the pairing of a large female and a very small male.

After two failed attempts, we decided that we need to try something else. For the best chance, we decided to do a natural breeding (instead of the artificial that is often needed for Mini Goldendoodles) with a male dog close to Jade’s size. We also noticed that Jade tends to get stressed when she is boarded away from home, and stress can also negatively effect breeding. So we knew we didn’t want to have to board her at another breeder.

We had heard of the Golden Irish cross before, but we hadn’t really considered doing it because we really like Mini Goldendoodles. However, considering Jade’s history, we gave the idea a second look. By using our own male dog we had the most flexibility with the timing of the breeding, which is very important! It also eliminated the stress on Jade of going to another breeder. And the more we looked into the Golden Irish cross, the more we liked what we saw!

Before breeding, we did some testing to make sure there weren’t any other issues interfering with fertility. All of the tests came back clear, and our vet also helped us determine Jade’s peak breeding days by tracking her progesterone levels. And after that we had to wait four long weeks before doing an ultrasound to see if we were successful.

And I am so happy to report that Jade and Timber have some babies on the way! While Golden Irish puppies weren’t in our original plans, we are excited about this litter. The Golden Irish is a beautiful dog, combining the traits of the gentle Golden Retriever and the exuberantly friendly Irish Setter. They have long silky fur with can be varying shades of golden and red. Their temperaments are very friendly, intelligent, and easy to train. We are expecting the size to be around 55 pounds, although it really could be anywhere from 45-65.

Irish Setter dog

We are expecting the puppies to be born during the last week of May, and we are accepting deposits for the upcoming puppies! So keep watch in the next months for pictures of Jade’s first puppies. 🙂

Big News!

It’s been a busy season at our home the past few weeks. 🙂 So here is a brief update on all that’s been happening!

The most exciting is the birth of our son Reagan on April 11! He has been doing very well, and we are enjoying snuggling our newest family member. His big sister enjoys holding him, and Mia has assumed the roll of baby’s guard dog.

And Penny and Phoenix are now six weeks old and growing like weeds! They are both so playful and affectionate! They are almost fully weaned onto unsoftened kibble. I’m still soaking their food for a few minutes to make it easier to chew, but I will stop that within the next week. This week the puppies are also starting on NuVet Plus, which is an immune system supplement. As puppies wean off of their mom’s milk, their young immune systems become more susceptible to illnesses. A good supplement can help protect them from viruses and bacteria, and it can also help them give a better immune system response to their puppy vaccines.

We will soon be starting crate training, and the puppies are slowly being introduced to more and more new sights and sounds. The more variety of things they get to experience here at my home, the more easily they will adjust to their new homes.

And here are some pictures! These sweet pups have been enjoying the beautiful spring weather. It’s so much fun to watch them run and explore their big new world!

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Phoenix

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Penny

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Sibling rough housing

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They love chasing after Reese!

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Penny

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Have a wonderful rest of your week!

 

Two Weeks Old

Duchess’s puppies are now two weeks old, and, wow! These pudgy pups are the cutest things! They are the strongest and chunkiest puppies I have ever had. Both puppies are weighing right around four pounds already, which is definitely a record breaking size at this house! They have also been the lowest maintenance litter I think I’ve ever had. Because of their solid birth weights, they have been strong nursers and are thriving and gaining weight exceptionally well during these first two weeks. 

Currently, things are still pretty quiet. They both have open eyes, but they aren’t very mobile yet. They are beginning to test out their unsteady little legs, especially Penny, but they really haven’t begun to play or explore yet. However, that will change very, very soon! Meanwhile, Duchess is a fantastic mother, and she is already back to her active, agile self.

So all in all, this no-stress litter is such a blessing. It is just what I needed during this time, and I am very much looking forward to watching them grow and develop in the coming weeks! They are such a welcome distraction from my own baby countdown (13 days, give or take).

And here they are! The first picture is Phoenix, and the second one is Penny. Have a wonderful rest of your week; and, local folks, soak up this beautiful sunshine!

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More Babies!

Yesterday two new little fur babies joined our family!

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Duchess welcomed two fat and healthy puppies- one boy and one girl. It was probably the most difficult labor I have assisted with, but momma and babies are all doing well! Due to the small litter size, these puppies grew extra large in utero- 1.25 pounds! This made the delivery take a bit more effort. But with a lot of patience, a little bit of worry, and a smear of vaseline, all was well!

While I am surprised by such a small litter (her last litters were 10 and 7), I really do believe God knows what He’s doing. While I would have loved to have enough puppies for all the families on my waiting list, there is something I am very grateful for. I am now just four short weeks away from my due date. I have plenty of help arranged for when the baby decides to come, but I knew there would still be a lot of extra work with having a litter of puppies at the same time.

But two puppies? Two puppies looks like a MUCH more manageable work load than seven or more. I can wrangle this litter in just one armload! The next two months look a lot less overwhelming, and I think God knew just how much I’d be able to handle.

I am grateful and blessed.

I’ll be posting individual pictures of the puppies who I have named Phoenix and Penny later this week!

 

 

Christmas and New Year’s with Our Crew

Now that Christmas is over, I am finally taking some time to sit down and breathe again. I love the holidays, but they are definitely a busy time! It makes me appreciate the calm and quiet that comes in January.

Except, I’m not sure how much “calm and quiet” I will be getting this January. The year ahead is going to be a fun and exciting year! (I’m pretty sure I say that every year.) We’re starting 2019 off with a bang, hoping for Mia’s next litter of puppies to be born in the beginning of the month. Then, we will have Reese’s second birthday. I can’t believe she’s almost two!

Then, around the time Mia’s litter is heading to new homes, we are crossing our fingers that a litter of Irish Setters will arrive.

AND THEN! In the midst of all that crazy puppy fun, we are anticipating the arrival of our own sweet baby boy!

Of course, life doesn’t always go according to my schedule, but this is what we are planning for the coming months. To be honest, it looks a bit overwhelming to be caring for two litters of puppies during the last months of pregnancy and over the time that Baby will be born. But at the same time, I will feel very grateful if the Lord blesses us with two litters of puppies. I think the distraction and busyness of puppies will help the last months of pregnancy to fly by, and I certainly won’t complain about that!

There are a few verses that come to mind as I prepare to tackle the exciting, stressful, overwhelming, and amazing months ahead. After all, it will be by God’s grace and strength alone that I will be able to cheerfully and gracefully navigate the next big changes of life.

“And He said unto me ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas time, and we wish you the Lord’s blessing in the new year!

Reese posing with Mommy…

and Daddy!

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Zach, Reese, and Mia when we cut our Christmas tree

Jade striking the most beautiful pose

Timber living his best life- happy and always on the move

Duchess working on getting the treats from her new Wobble Ball treat dispenser

Gun Dogs, Summertime, and Rodents

Things have been pretty quiet around here for the last few months. We are enjoying a break from puppies for a few months, and life has just been going on as normal!

Normal for us anyway. We have four bird dogs (3.5 maybe). Raising and training gun dogs changes your perception of a normal day.

For example, I finish my morning coffee, slip on my battered flip-flops, and head out to feed the dogs and let them out of their pens for the day. As I walk through the dewy grass, enjoying the warm summer morning, I am greeted by an exuberant Timber. He is prancing about with his tail wagging wildly. In his mouth, he is daintily carrying a dead bird, and he is SO excited to show me.

Mmmm, who doesn’t just love disposing of a dead bird first thing after their morning coffee?

Then later that same week, we repeat this same story, except Timber has a dead mouse.

Then we repeat the story again, and he has a OPPOSUM.

Mind you, each of these creatures was caught by Timber while he was in his pen over night. This dog is a hunting ninja.

What’s very interesting about each of these incidents, is the demonstration of a bird dog’s “soft mouth.” Every time I have found Timber or one of the other dogs carrying a dead bird or rodent, the animal is physically undamaged. Bird dogs have an instinct to catch, hold, and retrieve birds without damaging their feathers. They do not have the instinct to bite or shred. The times that bird dogs do kill their hunted prey, they do it pretty much by playing with them. Which I will illustrate with this story.

We were enjoying a pleasant evening outside, sitting on our lawn chairs when we saw the dogs furiously digging. Then suddenly they all started a mad scramble in random directions. A very unwise mother rabbit had built a nest in our yard. She had managed to raise her babies partway to adulthood before our dogs found them. The dogs unearthed five baby rabbits. One hopped away to safety in our neighbor’s yard, and the other four were each scooped up by one of our dogs. Again, we saw the soft mouths in action. The dogs simply raced around the yard, carrying these live baby rabbits in their mouths. They would drop them in the grass, let them hop a few feet, pounce on them, and then pick them up again. Timber dropped his and rolled on it. Feeling sorry for the rabbits, we chased after the dogs. Unfortunately, two people chasing four dogs isn’t very successful. Of the four baby rabbits, only one was dead by the time we were able to round them up, and I think that was the one Timber rolled on multiple times.

This last summer tale is probably the one that makes me the most proud. 🙂 We bought a batch of pheasant chicks this spring to raise for field training our Irish Setters. We kept them at our place for the first few weeks, and then we moved them to my parent’s place. (Otherwise, our setters would go crazy with a bunch of pheasants around!) When the chicks were almost big enough to move out, a couple escaped their pen when I opened the door to feed them. I was able to catch one of them, but the second one eluded me. He scampered about for several days, hiding in the bushes along the front of the house where the dogs can’t go. Pheasants like to hide in thick brush and bushes, and they can run FAST! They do fly, but they often try to outrun predators before taking to the air.

One afternoon, I found him pecking around the pen where the rest of the pheasants were. I tried to catch him, but he dashed into my tea patch. It was too thick for me to see where he was. Mia was out with me, and she saw the bird run into the tea patch. She flushed him out; and with surprising agility, she caught him! I was amazed! I had never seen Mia do something like that. She held him down with her paws- one paw over his head and the other over his body. When I tried to pick him up, he got away again, running at full speed with his wings flapping. I thought he was gone for good, but Mia raced after him, made a wild pounce, and caught him again! My heart nearly burst with pride.

It was so much fun to see those hunting instincts in my sweet, little Mia. Those inborn instincts to catch and hold are strong and can come out at the most unexpected times, even in dogs that have never been specifically trained to hunt.

That’s just a sampling of the fun and crazy things my dogs are doing this summer. If you have a good story of your hunting (or non-hunting) dog catching sometime crazy, I’d love to hear it!