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!

IMG_0090

Phoenix

IMG_0108

Penny

IMG_0168

Sibling rough housing

IMG_0157

They love chasing after Reese!

IMG_0114

Penny

IMG_0176

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!

IMG_9955

IMG_0014

 

More Babies!

Yesterday two new little fur babies joined our family!

IMG_9779

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!

img_3220

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!

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Need a mid-week boost? I’ve got your fix right here- a whole blog post of adorable puppies, complete with oversized paws and disproportionately huge, floppy ears.

Take a deep breath and enjoy.

IMG_7746

Now that the weather has been relatively reasonable, the puppies have moved to our outdoor pen, and they are LOVING it! We have two puppy pens- one in our house and one outside at our shed. All of our litters are born in the house and spend their first bit inside. Then, depending on the size of the litter and the time of year, they sometimes get moved outside for the last few weeks. This litter outgrew the pen in our house, and they have been thoroughly enjoying the extra space outside. Our outdoor pen gives them access to a large wood chipped play area, as well as a cozy indoor section in our shed. The inside part of their pen has their bed and is kept at a cozy 70 degrees. It’s perfect for larger litters like this! The puppies still get to come inside our house on a regular basis while we work on socializing and crate training.

I tried to get a snapshot of each of the puppies while we played in the yard this afternoon. Some were better photo subjects than others.

IMG_7778

Gauge chewing on a piece of rope.

IMG_7775

Dakota stealing a piece of bark.

IMG_7791

Scout and Reese playing on our dirt pile. What is it with kids and puppies and dirt?

IMG_7725

Flush checking out the chickens. (Maggie the chicken is clearly plotting his demise.)

IMG_7800

April trying to figure out how to get in to the chickens.

IMG_7810

Robin. Unfortunately I was a couple of seconds too late to catch a chicken pecking her on the nose. It obviously didn’t phase her, though.

IMG_7857

Brook practicing her downward dog pose.

The best part of this puppy stage is their EARS! I mean, who doesn’t just love these huge, floppy ears?

IMG_7759

IMG_7767

IMG_7821

IMG_7809

IMG_7817

 

The puppies are so playful now, and they never seem to get done wrestling, chewing, and running. It’s a good thing they are soon heading off to their new homes. All the energy drives me crazy, and I lose a little bit more of my sanity every day. But, I also fall just a little bit more in love with them every day. If they stay too much longer, I’ll decide to keep every single one of them no matter how crazy they make me. 🙂

IMG_7838

April and Brook chewing on a stick

IMG_7852

April playing with my towels hanging on the washline

IMG_7828

Robin & April

IMG_7751

Gauge & Dakota

I hope all the adorableness in this post helped cheer up your Wednesday.  Have a great rest of the week!

 

Puppy Update!

I’m pretty sure each litter we have grows faster than the previous one. Our sweet setter pups are already nearing five weeks old! These sweet red babies are becoming so energetic and fun! They still sleep a lot, but they are slowly demanding more and more attention and interaction. It’s such a fun time!

IMG_7546

Here is a recap of the last two weeks.

  1. The puppies are beginning the weaning process. Yay! At this point, the care of the puppies slowly shifts from Mama Duchess to me. In the last weeks, I have been caring for Duchess, providing clean bedding, and monitoring the puppies’ growth. Other than that, Duchess has done the rest. As the puppies begin to wean and become more independent, I’ll take over a lot of the care- feeding, cleaning, training, socializing, etc. This is where my work truly begins! I always start the puppies off with raw goat milk with a little bit of softened and mashed kibble. Goat milk is a really amazing thing! I’ve heard it called the “universal milk replacer.” Many kinds of animals are able to digest and live off goat milk. It’s much gentler on the digestive system than cow milk. When bottle feeding a puppy, I chose to use raw goat milk over store bought puppy formula, because it’s easy to digest and it contains good bacteria that a store-bought formula would not have. To help puppies learn to eat solid food, I soak kibble in goat milk for the first while. They love the taste, and the liquid is easy for them to lap up while they practice chewing the harder kibble. This insures that the even the puppies that are a bit slower at picking up the chewing part are getting plenty of fat, protein, and nutrients. It also helps keep them hydrated as they transition off of mama’s milk.
  2. Socializing also starts at this age. I am trying something new with this litter. I found a playlist of videos on YouTube specifically for desensitizing dogs to noises. Each video focuses on certain sounds, like rain and thunder, cars and trucks, vacuums and household noises, fireworks, crying babies, and other noises that dogs may find frightening. The idea is that if you play these kinds of sounds at a low volume it helps to get them used to it, making it less likely for them to startle or be frightened when they experience these sounds in real life. So for an hour or two a day, I am playing some of these sounds tracks to help get the puppies used to a variety of different noises.
  3. We are working hard on potty training. Right now, the puppies do excellent with not peeing on their bed, but they still often pee anywhere in their play area. I’m trying to get them to use a certain area for bathroom needs, so that the play area stays dry and clean. That’s going to take a few more days of messy work, but we will get there!
  4. The puppies got the chance to venture into the great outdoors for the first time this week. They were THRILLED! However, the weather has turned cold and snowy again, so it will be a few days until the puppies are able to go outside again.img_1345img_1334img_1354img_1360
  5. Remember the little sweetheart with the torn ear? That was April. This is what her ear looks like now.

IMG-1273

If you look closely, you can tell her ear is not quite perfect. The stitches only stayed in a day or two, but the glue the vet also put on held fairly well. The end result is an ear that is MUCH better than it was right after birth, but not totally perfect. The back of her ear has a slightly uneven edge. However, as the feathering comes in on her ear, I don’t think it will be very visible (if at all) as an adult. Even now, if you didn’t know anything was wrong, you would never notice. At any rate, I am very pleased with how her ear healed.

Other than that, we have just been playing with the puppies and enjoying the brief time we get to spend with them! Five of the seven puppies have homes, which is so exciting! We still have two boys that are available. I hope you all have a wonderful day, and I hope all of my north-eastern friends are enjoying the snow!

 

Two Weeks Old

Happy Monday, everyone! Duchess’s puppies hit the two week milestone over the weekend. It always feels so good to reach this point, because the puppies are much bigger and stronger. I feel really good about how they are all doing!

img_1204

After seeing this litter of puppies from Duchess and Timber, it makes me realize how incredible it was that her first litter survived! Her first litter was 11 puppies, with one puppy that had died in utero. That dead puppy prompted labor to begin several days early, so those puppies were much smaller. It’s really amazing that they all survived.

This time around, the puppies were all large at birth and have steadily gained since then. I have one puppy that is a bit smaller than the others, but I certainly wouldn’t call him a runt.

Duchess, also, has been doing very well! Irish Setters are thin, lean dogs to begin with, and nursing mothers can sometimes become more thin than usual as their bodies put extra effort into making milk. However, Duchess is looking great! She was a bit thin the days directly following birth, which is very normal; but she has filled out beautifully since then. She makes caring for seven babies look like a breeze! She is soaking in some extra snuggles from us and enjoying getting some eggs as her “mommy snacks.” This momma is very spoiled! I’m pretty sure she thinks she really is a royal duchess!

Over the weekend, I expanded the puppies’ pen to give them a space to go to the bathroom. It amazes me how much sooner our Irish Setter puppies are ready for potty training in comparison to our Mini Goldendoodles. As soon as our setter puppies have their eyes open, they are on the MOVE. They are ready for more space and ready to begin potty training almost a whole week earlier than Mia’s puppies. It’s so interesting to see these differences in breed temperaments even in puppies so young! In another week or so, we will add on a large play area for them, as well.

I hope you all have a great week! Enjoy these sweet faces as you finish out your Monday!

IMG_7479IMG_7513IMG_7491IMG_7454

 

 

Duchess’s Puppies

What an exciting day! We are excited to announce the arrival of seven beautiful Irish Setter puppies! It’s a smaller litter than she had last time, but the puppies are significantly larger. In fact, the smallest puppy from this litter is the same size as the biggest puppy from the last litter. And the biggest puppy from this litter weighs over a pound! That’s a big puppy! (Mia’s puppies usually weigh around half a pound. Duchess puppies averaged 9-10 ounces last litter.)

img_1077

Duchess was very kind to me and decided to have her puppies during the day, which was GREAT! With another delivery under my belt, I gained a few new experiences. With each litter, I seem to pick up valuable nuggets of information and experience. Sometimes those nuggets come from good experiences and some not so good. Every litter is different and presents its own unique challenges.

So here’s how my day went.

Yesterday (Thursday), I charted a temperature drop for Duchess, so I knew we would see puppies sometime in the next 24 hours. I checked on her a few times during the night, but she was pretty calm and relaxed.

Morning came, and with it, some encouraging signs. As the morning progressed, Duchess became more and more restless. Pacing, panting, digging, nesting, and frequent bathroom trips.

Her first puppy was born shortly before 11am. She quickly and steadily birthed five more by 12:30. Then things paused for a bit, which isn’t unusual. I was fairly certain she wasn’t finished, though.

Around 1:00 she began pushing. Typically, I see her push for just a few minutes and then a sac presents. Once I see can see the puppy, it’s usually out within seconds. Duchess doesn’t waste time. However, this time, Duchess kept pushing for almost half an hour with no signs of a puppy. (Thirty minutes is the textbook time frame for delivering a puppy. After thirty minutes of pushing, it’s time to call your vet.) I had given her a few doses of liquid calcium in the last two hours, which helps for strong contractions; but she was still struggling. She started to get very agitated. She left her puppies and began pacing and whining.

I was getting very nervous. I called my sister, who breeds Miniature Schnauzers, because I knew she has had some similar experiences. While on the phone, I saw back feet. The puppy was no longer in it’s sack. Both of these things are normal. Puppies are frequently born back feet first, and it’s not unusual for the sack to break before a puppy is totally born. But when those two things are combined, you need to be watchful. If a puppy is breech with a broken sack, it may drown before it’s born. Those puppies should be delivered quickly.

But this puppy, for some reason, was stuck. Duchess kept pushing, but the puppy wouldn’t budge. So far in this entire delivery, I had not done anything except watch. But this little pup was stuck, and mama was clearly distressed. The puppy was out almost up to its hips. I grabbed the legs and gently pulled during the next couple contractions. And just like that, the pup was out.

But Duchess was too agitated to care for her, and she was more concerned about getting back to her other puppies. This little one wasn’t breathing, which wasn’t a surprise considering her prolonged birth. I spent the next few minutes vigorously rubbing her with a towel and suctioning her airways clear of fluid. She began moving almost right away, and soon started some weak gasps. After a couple minutes, she began squealing- LOUDLY. She wanted to let the world know that she did not appreciate her traumatic arrival. I was so happy to hear those angry squeals.

Would have this puppy died without my intervention? Maybe not, but my help certainly increased her odds of survival. Sometimes, healthy puppies are lost in whelping, because of small problems like this. Duchess almost certainly would have eventually gotten this puppy out by herself, but it may not have been soon enough for the puppy. That’s just how nature works sometimes. But, fortunately, I was able to lend nature a hand. With just a little bit of extra help, this little pup seems to be doing well.

Things quieted down after that, and Duchess has been contentedly caring for her babies since.

img_1070

We did have one more little blip, though. Once Duchess was calm and settled after whelping, I began weighing and identifying each of the puppies. As I did that, I noticed one of them had a torn, bloody ear!

img_1065

The picture isn’t very clear, but she had a deep tear at the base of her ear. It was bad enough, I was afraid it may tear off completely if I just let it go. (Birth is tough for these little guys!) So off to the vet we went for a couple of stitches and a little glue. I’m hoping Duchess doesn’t bother the stitches! As long as the stitches stay in, the ear should heal nicely.

img_1075

All in all, it was a good day, and we are praising God for our seven beautiful puppies! Have a good weekend, everyone!

img_1078img_1079img_1080