The last couple of weeks have been a flurry of activity around here. It’s time to get you caught up!

First of all, Mia’s puppies headed off to their new homes! My kids enjoyed getting a few final snuggles in.

Reese is a pro puppy handler by this age.
Reagan, meanwhile, still employs the occasional chokehold. But, I assure you, no puppies were harmed or frightened during this process. 🙂 This puppy, as uncomfortable as she may have been, was completely calm and relaxed while Reagan figured out how to hold her. One of the benefits of being raised around young children is that puppies become very tolerant of inexperienced hands.

It was a little bittersweet seeing Mia’s last litter leave. Mia was the best momma dog we could have ever asked for, and she has blessed so many families with her offspring. I’ll miss having her adorable fluffy babies around, but I am also looking forward to having Mia enjoy her lazy, golden years.

Next up is an update on Duchess’s puppies. These little ladies have brought some unexpected challenges. The puppies developed a dry, itchy fungus rash on their skin. I am not entirely sure where they picked it up, but fungus and yeast rashes are more common this time of year with the heat and humidity of summer. Thankfully, this type of thing in puppies is very temporary and doesn’t cause any problems. I simply need to treat it and give the skin time to heal. This usually takes 2-3 weeks, and then things go on as normal!

The unfortunate part is that it means I will not be releasing the Irish Setter puppies to their new homes at 8 weeks old, like I usually do. My goal as a breeder is to produce healthy puppies- physically, mentally, and socially. When I hand a family a puppy, it is a culmination of weeks, months, and years of intentional work. I have striven to make this puppy as perfect as possible. So when my puppies develop a problem, even one as minor as a skin rash, I see it as my responsibility to take care of that before I am able to send them to new homes. I don’t feel comfortable releasing a puppy from my care that is not in its best possible physical, mental, and social condition.

That’s why we have decided to keep Duchess’s puppies two additional weeks in order to make sure the rash is completely cleared up before we allow families to take them home. That way, I can hand off the puppies to their new families knowing that I have done everything necessary to provide them with a healthy and happy puppy.

So my children and I will be enjoying these sweet ladies for two more weeks. Two more weeks of soft, wiggly puppies? It certainly could be worse. 🙂 Besides having small spots of dry skin, which are now well on their way to healing, the puppies are growing and playing and developing as they should. They are very active, social, and delightful. There are still two available puppies from the litter. If you have interest in adding a spunky Irish Setter lady to your home and you don’t mind waiting two more weeks to bring her home, please get in touch with me.

The puppies continue with their normal training, which includes an introduction to crate training, sound desensitizing, and socialization. They are doing excellent on the potty training front, and they have handled the crate very well so far. July is proving to be an good month for sound training opportunities. The puppies have been exposed to many different sounds, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, lawn mowers, etc.

I hope to get some updated pictures of the girls this week, so you can all see how much they have grown. Until then, here is a candid shot of Liberty, sprawled in the grass on a hot afternoon.

And that’s it for the pups! We’ve got some other things happening behind the scenes here with our dogs, so you can expect some updates on them in the near future. For now, our attention is on our five little red ladies.

Have a blessed week!

Three & Four Weeks

Time continues ticking by, and all the puppies continue growing. Here’s a quick update on both litters!

Duchess’s Irish Setter puppies are now three weeks old. At this point, Duchess still fully cares for them, but I will be introducing solid foods in the next couple days. All five girls are doing well. There is one that is a bit smaller than the others, so I’m supplementing her to help her pack on a little more weight. She’s feisty and active, though, and otherwise has no trouble keeping up with her big sisters.

Duchess healed very well from her c-section. Her staples were removed last week, and her incision healed very well. She is now back to normal activity, and she was cleared by her surgeon to have a future litter. We are grateful for her quick and easy recovery!

Mia’s Mini Goldendoodle puppies are becoming much more fun and interactive. They have begun to show interest in a few toys that I added to their pen, and I hear all sorts of yips, whines, and play growls throughout the day. Mia is being a wonderful and attentive mother, and I couldn’t be happier with how they are all doing.

Remember the little male puppy I shared about previously? He was born very weak, and I supplemented him for several days to keep him alive. That extra love and effort has paid off! He is fully thriving, and he is now the biggest of the litter. Seeing him growing and thriving makes my momma’s heart happy!

In the last week, Mia’s puppies got to start two very fun things- solid food and potty training.

They got to start solid food last week, and the weaning process will continue slowly until about 7 weeks old. Right now they get two meals a day of softened Life’s Abundance Small/Medium Breed Puppy Food. The food that puppies (and adult dogs) eat has a HUGE impact on their health. Puppies have young digestive and immune systems that are just beginning to develop. The immune system, in particular, doesn’t fully mature in dogs until 18-24 months old. It’s very important for puppies to have a food that is gentle on their digestive system and full of essential nutrients. It’s also important that the nutrients come in forms that the puppies’ immature digestive system can absorb. Many cheap and low quality dog foods contain corn. While corn does have nutrients in it that fill in the boxes for the nutrition label, dogs can NOT digest corn. Whatever nutrients are there come straight out in their poop, completely useless to them. Low quality foods are harsh on the digestive system, leading to more bouts of diarrhea and a weaker immune system.

This is why I feed my puppies Life’s Abundance. Here’s a quick summary of the good things that are in the food and the bad things that you will never find in Life’s Abundance products.

• A proprietary blend of vitamins & minerals
High-quality, multi-source proteins for growing muscles & healthy development
• An antioxidant system with vitamins C & E
Prebiotic fiber & guaranteed probiotics
Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin & a shiny coat
• Enriched with DHA
Dietary fiber to help maintain a healthy digestive tract
NO artificial flavors
NO artificial colors
NO corn or corn glutens
NO wheat or wheat gluten

Life's Abundance Small/Medium Breed Puppy Food

Around the time I introduced food, I also started potty training. This is a later start than usual for potty training, but this litter is doing exceptionally well, despite the late start. I start the puppies on paper training, which teaches them the basic skill of recognizing a “potty area.” This foundational knowledge helps so much for later crate training and house training. What I teach them is that there is a specific place to do their business. They usually are quick to catch on to this concept, because dogs and even young puppies instinctively want to keep their sleeping area clean. In the next couple weeks once the puppies outgrow the indoor pen, they will get to move to our outdoor pen. Then they get to transfer this knowledge and learn to do all their pottying outside. I do all of this potty training work for two reasons. First, it’s so much easier for me to keep the puppies and their pen clean, neat, and sanitary. Second, it’s training I provide as a service to help puppies adjust more quickly once they head to their new homes. With this foundational knowledge, most families find that crate training and house training go much easier.

And that’s about it! Our weeks have been full of puppies and all sorts of other summertime things like picking strawberries, splashing in the sprinkler, and enjoying cookouts with our friends and families. Enjoy your upcoming week, and check back later this week for updated pictures of the Mini Goldendoodles!

Puppies, puppies!

Good afternoon, everyone! It’s time for an update on all the babies that have been showing up around here!

Many of you saw on social media that Mia had a litter of seven puppies on May 7th. They are now a week and a half old, and they are all doing so well! I’ve been having some trouble getting pictures on my website, but I hope to have a new computer set up by this weekend. So hang in there, and you’ll get to see the puppies soon!

Mia has a litter of six girls and one boy, and there is a beautiful variety of colors. There are several dark red puppies, a couple medium red/golden, and one or two apricot. The male puppy is the lightest and curliest of the litter, and for the first few days he struggled a bit. In the first hours after birth, he was dehydrated and sluggish.

After puppies are born and are cleaned off, they should do a fair bit of squirming and squeaking. They are constantly seeking the warmth and comfort of their mom. If she moves away, they start squeaking and moving around, searching for her. However, the male puppy did not do this. While all his siblings were moving about and making noise, he lay on his side and was quiet. If I helped him latch on, he would nurse. Then he would soon get pushed away by another puppy, and he was too weak to push his way back in. For the first few days, I supplemented him with 2-3 bottle feeds a day of fresh goat’s milk. This helped him stay hydrated, and he quickly got stronger and more vigorous. Now, his weight has passed up some of his sisters’ weights, and he is fully back to nursing from mom. Success!

Mia has been taking excellent care of her babies. I have been checking her temperature daily to watch for any signs of infection, and I’m on the lookout for other things like mastitis, etc. Mia is my oldest girl (she just turned seven in April), and with age, comes a higher chance of complications. Also, I’ve definitely been feeling more anxious just because what happened to Jade is on my mind. So I feel like I’m on double vigilance right now! But Mia has been easy on me, and she is doing very well.

I am really trying to soak in the joy of these puppies, since this is Mia’s last litter. She will be entering into a well-deserved retirement after this. If anyone is hoping to get one of my Mini Goldendoodles, definitely get in touch with me soon! There are some available puppies from her litter, and it will be a few years before we have any more Mini Goldendoodles.

While Mia is doing her best to go easy on me, Duchess is keeping me on my toes! I am beginning to think she enjoys doing that. 🙂 I had guessed that she would have a litter at the end of the summer, but she surprised me by coming into heat a week after Mia did. We knew this would mean having two litters at the same time, but we did it once before, so we decided we could do it again.

So here we are! I’d like to introduce you to our Summer 2021 Irish Setters!

Not only was Duchess ready to have puppies several months earlier than I expected, her delivery brought some challenges, as well. Her labor started Thursday morning, and she very quickly had three puppies born. Then there was a fourth puppy born that didn’t breathe and was unable to be revived. (This is always sad and unfortunate, but it’s simply something that happens at times. Nature isn’t always kind!)

At this point, when I felt Duchess’s belly, I could still feel some puppies. So I waited, fully expecting them to be born within an hour or so. But several hours passed with no more puppies being born. During this time, I was giving Duchess oral calcium paste, which is something that gives energy and helps the uterus to have strong, efficient contractions. Sometimes, low calcium levels can lead to slow, difficult labors because the uterus muscle is tired and weak. After four hours of waiting, what appeared to be a retained placenta was passed. (Usually a placenta is born with or right after a puppy. On occasion, it can be retained in the uterus, which is not a good scenario.)

I thought perhaps the retained placenta had been the reason for the stalled labor. At first I was encouraged, because I began to see more contractions. I was very hopeful that this meant the remaining puppies were finally on the way. I don’t usually get too worried about my dogs during labor. I’m always watchful, but the vast majority of the time, dogs can deliver puppies naturally on their own. They are truly amazing creatures. Even when complications arise, some quick intervention at home can often avoid the need for emergency veterinary care. Often, but not always.

Two more hours passed, and there were still no more puppies. I was able to feel at least two more puppies, and I decided I had tried everything I could and I had given nature as much time as I could. Now it was time to get to the vet and get those babies out. I was still hoping that Duchess simply needed a shot of oxytocin (a drug that starts contractions- very similar to pitocin that’s sometimes given to women in labor). When labor is stalled due to the uterus tiring out, oxytocin can help finish labor naturally.

Once at the vet, they did an x-ray to assess how many puppies were left and where they were positioned. The thing with oxytocin is, you can NOT give it if there is a stuck puppy. The x-ray showed three puppies. There were the two that I had felt at home, and there was a third one, hopelessly stuck (the vet describe it as “folded in half”) at the top of the birth canal. This meant the only option was a c-section. There was no way that this puppy could be born naturally. I made the guess that this puppy was likely already dead, but I hoped that the c-section would save the other two puppies.

I left Duchess at the vet and went home to wait. After a few hours, the vet called. Duchess had done great through surgery, and they were able to save two of the puppies. The stuck puppy was indeed dead already. I’m not sure if the puppy was dead because it got stuck or if it got stuck because it was dead. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, a puppy dies in utero. Those dead puppies are notorious for causing problems in labor, and they often get stuck. I don’t know if this was the case, but it’s very possible. It’s also possible that the puppy somehow entered the birth canal sideways and died as a result of being stuck for several hours.

Whatever the case, I was very grateful to be able to bring home a tired, but otherwise healthy mom and five sweet puppies. Losing two puppies is sad, and c-sections are no fun. But, like I said, nature isn’t always kind. All things considered, everything turned out as well as it could have.

On a rather funny note, Duchess’s puppies are all girls! So I have a litter of 6 girls and 1 boy from Mia, and 5 girls from Duchess. I’m not sure what’s in our water, but we are bursting at the seams with girls!

Thank you all for hanging in there and reading all of that! It has certainly been a busy and unpredictable week over here, but a week full of many of God’s blessings. I’m hoping my next week is a lot less eventful than this one, but we shall see!

Also there are puppies available from both litters. If you are interested, please get in touch with me!

Six & Seven Weeks Old

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. No matter how your holiday was spent, I hope you experienced joy and thankfulness for God’s many blessings, large and small.

For me, and probably many of you, as well, the holidays are a time of family. Of anything in my life, I am most thankful for the gift of my family- for my immediate family and for the heritage and blessing of extended family.

It’s humbling to look at my family and see the amazing blessings God has given me, especially knowing I don’t deserve them. I haven’t done anything worthy of God’s grace and goodness, yet His grace and goodness are evident every day. And while I am certainly very thankful for the “good things,” God’s goodness is also evident in the bad days, too. His blessings aren’t limited to peaceful, prosperous times. His blessings abound in all times and circumstances. And knowing God is present at all times is truly the greatest blessing of all.

And I’m also thankful for these ten bouncing balls of fur! Can you count all ten?

You guys, these puppies are adorable. Every one of them. They are each so different and so much fun. And it’s great knowing that there are going to be so many homes enjoying a new puppy this Christmas. I’m so excited to share these sweet pups with you!

Here’s what we have been up to! I don’t feel like there is too much to report. We’ve been practicing a lot of the same things as last week, but the puppies certainly have been learning and maturing.

Potty training: Woohoo! Potty training is going so well! I haven’t cleaned up any poop accidents in an entire week! You don’t realize how exciting that is until you have raised a litter of puppies. But when all the poop ends up in the proper place, wow, it’s AMAZING.

Crate training: Mia’s puppies are doing well in the crate. Duchess’s puppies still cry quite a bit, but this is very normal at this age. None of the puppies have had accidents in the crate, but not all of them enjoy being crated… yet. Some puppies immediately love the crate. It’s safe, secure, and quiet. But not all puppies like it at first. However, I think all puppies can be crate trained. And crate training is hands-down the BEST way to begin house training. If you don’t have a crate for your puppy yet- get one. It is absolutely worth it.

Weaning: Both litters are now eating unsoftened kibble. Mia’s puppies, now fully weaned, are also enjoying the NuVet Immune System Supplement. I start this after the puppies wean from momma’s milk, because their young immune systems take a dip. Having good immune system support goes a long way in keeping a puppy and young dog healthy. NuVet is made with human grade ingredients in an FDA registered facility, and it’s specifically formulated to boost the immune system. I use it for my puppies, young dogs (under 2 years), and my pregnant and nursing mommas.

Play: One of the most important things I can do with the puppies during these last couple of weeks is play with them. They love to interact, and getting lots of attention, love, and play is so good for them. So the children and I are doing our best to soak up the last days with these two litters! Having such mild weather recently has been great, as the puppies just love to play outside. I have a large play yard set up with lots of toys inside so that they can all play together on the nice afternoons.

Vets, vaccines, & deworming: The puppies get a vet check and their first puppy shot at 7 weeks old, and they also get one last round of dewormer. Once that is done, they are all set to go to their new homes! Mia’s puppies went to the vet this week, and Duchess’s will go next week. The time is really winding down fast.

Have a great weekend!

Five & Six Weeks

Oops, I told you weekly updates. You may have noticed the lack of an update last week. What can I say? 🙂 But here we are today. Better late than never, right?

Duchess’s Irish Setter puppies are now five weeks old, and Mia’s Mini Goldendoodle puppies are six weeks old. They are both fully interactive and playful, and we are having so much fun! Now that they have reached this age, they are almost developmentally the same. Mia’s puppies are just a bit closer to being fully weaned.

On the warmer days, the kids and I spend time outside in the yard playing with the puppies. Puppies just love romping in the grass! They are really enjoying some of the new toys in the play pen, and they never get tired of being snuggled. They have gotten to hear and see some new things- like a fire siren, traffic, my husband’s old tractor, etc. I’ve been focusing on outdoor noises this past week. Next week, I’m going to give them more experience with indoor sounds like vacuuming, TV, music, and other household noises. The more they hear and see now from the safety of a familiar place, the better they will handle frightening things in the future!

The two big things that we have been working on are weaning and potty training.

For the first weeks, momma’s milk gives puppies all the nutrients they need. After that, they begin a slow transition off milk onto solid foods. As puppies come off of momma’s milk, they are no longer receiving her antibodies. They still have some of her immunity, but it fades quickly in the coming weeks, making it much easier for them to pick up parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc. That’s why a quality diet is so important. It makes all the difference in a puppy’s immediate health and ability to ward off illnesses, and it makes a long term difference, because good nutrition helps their bodies to grow and develop well. (Of course, good nutrition does not prevent every disease. But there are a lot of health problems, some major and some minor that really can be prevented by good nutrition and exercise. No different than humans, really!)

I’ll post links to the food and supplements I use at the end of the post!

I feed our dogs and puppies Life’s Abundance dog food. High quality ingredients, especially the proteins, and no questionable ingredients. Dog foods made with lower quality ingredients are very telling in a dog’s health- dull fur, more poop (since the lower quality ingredients aren’t as easily absorbed), more cases of vomiting, diarrhea, and food allergies. Excellent quality dog food may be more expensive, but it prevents so many other things, that’s it’s fully worth the cost!

I also give the puppies NuVet Plus, which is an immune system supplement. I like to begin this once the puppies have been weaned from mom’s milk, because of that loss of immunities. I use supplements as they are needed for my dogs. I use it when they are young ( I recommend from weaning until 2 years old), and during pregnancy and nursing. Those are the times when a dog has the highest nutritional, immune system support needs.

The puppies are LOVING their food, especially the Irish Setters. It’s funny watching them eat. The Mini Goldendoodles carefully chew their food and it takes them several minutes to finish a meal. Meanwhile, the Irish Setters devour their food in blink. I’m sure they barely chew!

Along with weaning, comes deworming, which is done at 3, 5, and 7 weeks old. Both litters have been dewormed twice, and they will receive one more round prior to going home. Keeping on top of parasite control in puppies is so important! Their young immune systems aren’t ready to ward off parasites, so they need regular dewormings for the first few months of their lives.

And for the not so fun part of raising puppies… potty training! I’ll be honest, puppies are messy sometimes! But that’s why I work so hard to get these guys started on potty training and crate training. The better I can get them trained, the less messy poo clean-up I have to do! The Mini Goldendoodles are doing very well. They certainly aren’t perfect, but they have been keeping their bed very clean, and the majority of their pottying has been going outside where it belongs. (Yay!) The Irish Setters are coming along nicely, but they need some more practice. (This is one area where I can see the age difference. In another week, the Irish Setters will have learned a lot more in the potty training arena.)

Next up for the puppies will be vet checks and vaccinations. I’ll do my best to keep my promise of a weekly update for next week. 🙂

Here are the links to the food and supplements that I give the puppies.

Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed Puppy Food: https://lifesabundance.com/Category/DogFood.aspx?realname=20552921&cat=0&hdr=&Ath=False&crt=0

NuVet Plus: https://www.nuvetlabs.com/order_new2/nuvet-plus-wafers.asp

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Three & Four Weeks

Good afternoon!

All of the puppies continue to grow, and they are all doing very well. Here’s what we are up to this week!

Mia’s puppies are now four weeks old. The one month mark means that we begin the weaning process! This is probably one of the periods of puppy raising that takes the most work. I begin by soaking small amounts of food and giving the puppies one meal a day. Then, I gradually increase to three meals, and then I begin feeding them larger amounts at each meal.

During that time, I also begin allowing momma to be away from her puppies for longer periods of time. Up to this point, momma has been allowed to eat as much as she wants, but I will soon begin to measure and limit her calorie intake. This will encourage her body to slow its milk production. Over-production of milk during weaning can lead to mastitis, so I take a proactive approach in helping mom’s milk supply to dry up in a slow and comfortable way.

The puppies, of course, will be eating Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed Puppy Food. The quality ingredients and excellent nutrition works to keep them healthy from the inside out! I have been feeding my dogs and puppies Life’s Abundance for about four years, and I love it! My puppies and adults have always done so well on it, and I was so impressed with the changes I saw in my dogs when we switched to feeding Life’s Abundance several years ago. Seriously, it’s one of the best dog foods you will find.

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, Omega-3 fatty acids, 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. A healthy momma and healthy puppies begin with a good nutrition. Their bodies’ simply cannot grow and function well if they are not given the high quality nutrients they need.

Here is a picture of Mia’s puppies enjoying one of their first Life’s Abundance meals. Getting them to eat took no encouragement! It was warm and sunny this afternoon, so the puppies got to spend time out in the yard.

Ollie after his snack

And now for Duchess’s puppies! They are three weeks old, and they are quite the lively bunch. I had to move Duchess’s food bowl up on a stool, because her puppies were eating it! They don’t have teeth yet, but they were getting into her bowl and gumming her hard kibble.

The puppies are now getting fairly steady on their feet, and I am beginning to see some tail wagging and hear some little yips and barks. They still sleep a lot, but they are definitely interested in the big world around them!

Today, Duchess and her puppies moved to our outdoor pen. It was time for them to have some more space. The small temporary pen off my kitchen wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Most times, my puppies spend their first 3-5 weeks inside where I can keep a close eye on them. Then, I often move them outside where they have much more space. Our outdoor pen gives them inside and outside access at all times, which greatly helps with potty training! It’s warmly heated in the winter, and cool and ventilated in the summer. (And just for my peace of mine, we have a camera on them all the time, so I can peek in on them during the night or when we are away from home.)

The puppies will still be spending a good bit of time in our house, though, to continue their training. I bring them inside to practice crate training, and to continue their exposure to sounds like vacuum cleaners, children, TV, etc.

Next week, Duchess’s puppies will begin weaning, and Mia’s puppies will be old enough for the waiting families to begin choosing their puppies. Check back then for another update!

Two & Three Weeks

Hello, all! Today Mia’s puppies turn three weeks old, and Duchess’s puppies turn two weeks old. The past weeks have been full of newborn puppy squeaks, puppy naps, snuggles, and lots of growing.

Since this is the first time I have had to balance caring for two litters at the same time, I decided I need to have a schedule for posting pictures and updates. Here’s what I have decided to do:

I will do a weekly blog post with updates about the puppies on Tuesday or Wednesday. When the update is posted, you can also look for updated pictures! However, since taking individual puppy pictures is surprisingly time consuming, I decided to alternate which litter gets updated pictures each week. This will help balance my workload a little better. 🙂 This week, Mia’s puppies get new pictures; and next week, Duchess’s puppies will, and so on. So you can look for a blog post and new pictures on Tuesday or Wednesday each week until the puppies head off to their new homes!

You can see the puppy pictures on the Available Puppies page.

So here we go!

Mia’s puppies have had their eyes open for almost a week now, and they are beginning to test out their unsteady little legs. Their lives have so far been very uneventful- mostly sleeping and eating- but they are spending more time awake and are slowly becoming aware of the sights and sounds around them. I have started playing music near their pen for a couple hours each day. This background noise helps get them acquainted with a variety of different sounds. For now, it’s gentle, quiet music. When they are older, we will practice with some more intense sounds like thunder and fireworks. By exposing the puppies to these potentially frightening sounds at a low volume when the puppies are very young, it gets them more comfortable with the sounds. This will help give them more confidence and less fear when they encounter the sounds in real life.

In the next week, we will begin potty training and weaning, so the busy work will be starting soon! Thus far, I have been changing the bedding, weighing the puppies, and taking care of momma. And, momma, of course, has been fantastic. Mia really is the best mom to her babies!

My children were very excited when the puppies’ eyes finally opened, because that meant they could finally hold them! My daughter does very well with holding them gently, but my little guy needs quite a bit of guidance! But his enthusiasm is bursting at the seams!

Duchess’s puppies have been doing excellent! All six Irish Setter puppies are growing well, and they look beautiful! Their eyes have just peeked open in the last couple of days. It’s interesting to compare the two litters. Although Mia’s puppies are older and have had their eyes open longer, Duchess’s puppies are more active. Even though they are a week younger, they are already walking/crawling/moving as much as the Mini Goldendoodle puppies. This is very normal, since larger breed puppies tend to grow and mature faster, but it’s so interesting to observe side by side.

Since Mia’s puppies are in the specially built whelping box in the basement, Duchess and her puppies are living in a temporary set up right outside my kitchen. It’s been working well, and they are already used to hearing the normal clanging and banging that happens in home with two young children!

And that’s a wrap for this week’s update. Check back next week for new pictures of the Irish Setters and an explanation of the weaning and potty training processes!

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!