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!

First Post of the New Year

I feel like I have been Missing In Action the past month and a half. Poor Faith hasn’t had a blog post update since she was born. And weekly pictures? Phew, this poor darling hardly has any pictures taken of her.

But, we are all still here, just doing normal life. Mia healed very well from her c-section and is back to her happy, normal self. She will be getting about a year off before having another litter, but there isn’t any concern about her ability to carry and deliver more puppies naturally. Good news!

Dear Faith is growing like a weed. She’s already six weeks old! Weaning has been going slowly, but it can be that way with single pups. They don’t have the competition of other puppies for food, so they don’t really have much desire to try things other than mama’s milk. Otherwise, though, she’s doing very well! She’s active and is enjoying our puppy play dates with a litter of puppies from another breeder. She loves playing with our daughter, and our daughter is equally as delighted have a little buddy crawling around on the floor with her.

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As for our other dogs, we were hoping to have two litters this spring- one from Duchess and one from Jade. Duchess’s pregnancy is confirmed, and I was confident that Jade was pregnant, as well. However, she fooled us! An ultrasound showed no babies in there! She seems to be going through a bit of a false pregnancy, which is common with female dogs. They can show very convincing signs of pregnancy, even to the point of producing milk, but still not be pregnant. Typically, the hormones cycle through and everything goes back to normal all on its own. We’re still very excited for Duchess’s litter of Irish Setters, and we’ll try for some Mini Goldendoodle puppies from Jade again in the fall!

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Duchess, in the meantime, is eating up a storm! I’ve stopped counting how many cups of food I give her a day. She’s now approximately six weeks pregnant, which is the time that I begin free-feeding my mama’s. I let them eat as much food as they want, and I often supplement them with an egg or vitamin every day. Her belly is growing, and she’s slowing down a bit. She still runs, but she tires quickly. I should soon be able to feel the puppies moving when she is lying still. A few more weeks and then I’ll have some more sweet setter babies from these two gorgeous dogs!

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In other household news, my baby turned one this month! And she started walking! I suppose she is now my toddler and not so much my baby. That is a little hard for this mama to accept. She is my social, giggly little girl, and I thank God every day for allowing me to be her mother.

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Mmm, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic with the passing of the one year mark. Soak in the time with your loved ones this week. Life goes by much too quickly.

 

 

 

Faith

I now have something new to add to my list of dog breeding experiences. This one will go under the category of “Not as Bad as I Thought, But No Need to Repeat.”

We knew Mia was having a small litter this time around, because of her small belly and because I could only feel fetal movement on one side. I was hoping for at least two puppies, but I was suspicious Mia was having another singleton.

As we near every delivery, I begin to track my girls’ temperatures. About 24 hours before delivery, I can usually spot a sudden drop in temperature. This drop in temperature comes from the release of hormones that begin labor.

Mia’s temperature is usually 99-101 degrees. When her temperature drops, I often see readings as low as 98.2. The lowest I ever saw was 97.9. In the past, Mia has followed a very consistent pattern. I’ll see a temperature drop early in the morning. She will act fairly normal, but refuse to eat that day. As we near evening, she will begin nesting. Active labor usually starts around midnight, and her puppies are born very quickly and easily.

I saw a temperature of 98.8 on Wednesday morning, so I thought puppies were coming Wednesday night. Nothing happened.

Thursday morning her temperature was 98.2. I thought, “Ok! This time is the real deal!” I was sure puppies were coming Thursday night. Nothing happened.

Friday morning, again, her temperature was in the 98’s. So I took her to the vet to see what was going on. This was not normal for Mia. Although her temperature indicated something wasn’t right, Mia was not acting stressed or uncomfortable. She still wanted to play fetch and seemed to be her fine, happy self; but my instincts told me something was off!

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Mia waiting patiently at the vet’s office

A check up at our vet showed only one puppy! The puppy’s heart rate was normal, and Mia checked out perfectly. My vet didn’t want to rush into a c-section when everything seemed to be okay. But we discussed the fact that with only one puppy, there sometimes is not enough hormone to start contractions. However, from all outward appearances, there was no cause for concern… yet.

So we waited another night. Nothing happened.

By this point, I wasn’t surprised. After seeing three normal deliveries from Mia, I knew this one was not normal; and I was pretty sure that this puppy was not going to come naturally.

Saturday morning (now three days after I thought labor started), we went to the vet again to monitor the puppy. Mia was still acting normal, but the puppy’s heart rate had dropped, indicating it was in distress. It was not in proper position to be born, so, unfortunately, inducing labor wasn’t an option.

Sweet Mia had to have a c-section. All things considered, everything went as smoothly as possible. The surgery went well, and recovery has been progressing normally. Both mama and baby are doing great! Mia is definitely feeling more sore and uncomfortable than after a natural delivery, but she is still being an excellent mama.

The puppy, a female which we have named Faith, seems to be doing well. She even gained a bit of weight in the first 24 hours. She is totally red and weighed 7.7 ounces.

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We also came home with an arsenal of post-surgery medications! Mia’s not super impressed with her pills, but she doesn’t notice when I hide them in a hunk of sticky peanut butter. 😉

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The coming days will be filled with rest and recovery. Even though we had to do a c-section, we are counting our blessings that we have a healthy mama and puppy! Thanks for reading! 🙂

National Dog Day 2017

Happy National Dog Day! In honor of this special day, here is a mish-mash of pictures of my dogs from today.

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I just love that happy Golden smile and the distracted setter stare.

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Timber and Mia having a good chase.

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I finally got some decent pictures of this handsome boy. He’s always on the move, so it’s hard to catch him in a nice pose.

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There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a setter on point! (This isn’t a true point, but he’s alert and scenting something interesting.)

Of course, I can’t do a blog post without a puppy update! Duchess and her babies are doing very well! Duchess is back to her happy, lively self; and all the puppies are growing and active. In comparison to the first week, the last two weeks have been a BREEZE! I feel like we are back on track and back to normal. Praise God! The puppies’ eyes have opened, and they are on their unsteady little feet. We have added a potty area for them, and they are already beginning to use it and keep their bed a little cleaner. (These setters are going to be some sharp little pups!)

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This is my happy place.

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Magnum

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Enjoy this beautiful, sunny weekend! Post a picture of your dog on National Dog Day in the comments- I love seeing your furry friends!

 

 

Munchy Monday: Tasty Rewards

Happy Monday! Did you all enjoy the beginning of your week? Things are quite a bit quieter in my home this evening. Today, Stanley left for his new home, so all of Mia’s babies are now with their new families. (I forgot to get a picture of Stanley with his family, so, unfortunately, I can’t post a final picture of him.)

I’m often asked if it’s hard for me to see the puppies go. It’s a difficult question to answer. Part of me does miss them, and it’s bittersweet to see them leave. I have spent the last several months preparing for them to be born and caring for them as they grew. But in all honesty, I always take a big sigh of relief once they’re gone. As sad as it is to see them go, I know everyone is better off. Once the puppies hit eight weeks old, I simply can not give them the time and attention that they need! They need individual attention and training. They need more space and stimulation and new experiences. I can’t meet all of their needs, but I know that their new families can. I know that they will be so much happier in a home where they can get the individual love and attention they need.

With these things in mind, I’ll be taking a brief look at Life’s Abundance Tasty Rewards for my Munchy Monday post. I picked this particular treat this week, since I’m sure each of my puppies’ families is beginning training.

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Treats are a great motivator for most dogs when it comes to training. All of our dogs (except Timber) are very food-motivated. They can be on their worst behavior; and all I have to do is whip out some yummy treats, and I am suddenly surrounded by patient, eager angels.

When training, it’s best to have very small treats. Puppies especially will be consuming a fairly large number of treats with their training, so it’s important to watch that you don’t overfeed them with treats. It’s easy to allow puppies to get pudgy and overweight, so watching the calories consumed with treats is important.

Tasty Rewards are perfect for puppies. They are soft, making them very easy for puppies to eat. Also, this makes them easy to break apart into small pieces that are perfect for training.

The best part about these treats is the fact that they are healthy! Many other kinds of treats are simply empty calories, but Tasty Rewards are a yummy and nutritious snack! They’re loaded with proteins, minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids.

So to my puppies’ families, let the training begin! Happy treating!



Interested in ordering?
 You can order from the Life’s Abundance site. When ordering through our page, you should see Kristen’s Happy Tails listed at the top of the page as the Field Rep. If I am not listed as your representative, please mention my ID number when you place your first order- 20552921. As your representative, I am able to help you determine what products are right for your pet and answer any questions you may have.

 

Home Sweet Home

Good morning! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I am absolutely loving summer right now- the humidity and everything. Last year at this time, I was spending a good chunk of my time on the couch sick with pregnancy. This year, however, I am feeling great and having a much more enjoyable summer! As an extra bonus, I have this adorable, pudgy little human to share it with. 🙂

I feel like my workload just got a lot lighter. Over the weekend, six of our seven puppies left for their new homes. It’s always so much fun to see them going home with their new families, and I know that each one is going to be very loved.

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Molly

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Calvin

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Hazel

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Harper

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Hamlet

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Huck

So now I am left with dear Stanley. I get to keep (and spoil) him for an extra week before his new family comes to pick him up.

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Ah, so now I get to enjoy about a four week break before Duchess has her puppies. During these weeks I hope to do some house cleaning and organizing. I see too many cobwebs in the corners, and my “catch-it-all” drawers and closets are so full they can’t really “catch” any more things.

For those of you following my Munchy Monday posts, I’ll be resuming my series next week.

Have a blessed and prosperous week!

 

Summertime Happenings

Believe it or not, I do have a life outside of my puppies. Some days, anyway. So here is some photographic evidence of my life all crammed haphazardly into one post.

Zach loves to garden, so each spring we plant a large garden. This year we planted strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, onions, green peppers, sugar peas, hull peas, corn, green beans, yellow beans, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and sunflowers. (The sunflowers are just for fun.) This is in addition to our apple trees, black raspberry patch, and concord grape arbor. Even though I didn’t grow up with a garden, I have learned to enjoy gardening. It’s so rewarding to pick the produce that we planted and maintained ourselves.

Summertime means a lot of time spent outdoors. It’s not unusual to find Zach, me, Reese, and all the dogs outside in the evenings. Sometimes we are working, and sometimes we are playing. Especially since having a baby, I have really begun to cherish the time we can spend together as a family, even if it’s just a few minutes after working outside.

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Life is a gift, you know. I’m thankful for every day that God gives me to spend with these two wonderful people.

Last weekend, we took Reese and Jade hiking on some trails near our home. It was a bit humid and sweaty, but the ice cream afterwards made up for it. Unfortunately, Reese and Jade missed out on the ice cream.

And this little girl is growing so quickly! At five months old, she is rolling like a pro, reaching for toys, giving slobbery kisses, and being the best and smiliest little human I could ask for.

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My days are busy, but my heart is full. And, it’s about to get fuller… because, guess what, MORE PUPPIES ARE COMING! (I try to tell myself I have a life outside of puppies, but these puppies are honestly trying to take control.)

My beautiful red fur baby is going to be a momma for the first time in a few weeks.

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She’s looking pretty good for halfway through pregnancy, don’t you think? Our vet confirmed her pregnancy today, and we are so excited to welcome our first litter of setters later this summer.

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This handsome boy here gets to be a daddy, although I question whether he’s emotionally mature enough for the job. What do you think?

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Hmmm, it’s a good thing mom does all of the work. 🙂

Well, that is a look at my normal summertime life in a very small nutshell. I hope you all are enjoying your summer and taking advantage of the time to spend outside and with your family! To close out this post, here are some pictures of the puppies playing this afternoon.

 

Puppy Update: (Almost) Six Weeks

Before I begin, I want to clarify that I do know my days of the week. 🙂 My last Munchy Monday post accidentally was posted Sunday. I’ll get it right next time.

This week the puppies will be six weeks old! It’s amazing how fast the time goes. In just two and a half short weeks, these little fur balls will be heading off to their new homes!

Right now, we are continuing the weaning process. Mia no longer stays with the puppies over night, and I am starting to limit her time with them during the day. My goal is to have them totally weaned from milk onto hard kibble by seven weeks. For now, their food is still softened, but I’m slowly softening it less and less to get them used to eating hard food.

The puppy potty training is also going well. The number of messes I have to clean up outside of the designated potty area has drastically decreased in the past week. They still have occasional accidents; but, overall, they are doing very well.

The next big thing for the puppies is their first round of puppy vaccines. This happens around six and a half weeks old. After they have been vaccinated, I introduce them to our other dogs. They will probably only get to play with Jade, because she is the most gentle. Duchess and Timber can get a little too rough with their play for the puppies. Then at seven weeks old, each puppy receives a wellness exam by our veterinarian. So the next couple of weeks will be busy ones as we try to get everyone ready to go to their new homes!

Each day, I try to take the puppies outside to play. This helps them get used to outdoor noises, like the lawn mower, cars, etc. Here are some pictures from playing outside yesterday evening.

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Harper

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Hazel

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The puppies love the baby!

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Harley checking out my wash basket

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Molly

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They are becoming more coordinated and agile. (Stanley)

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Huck and Harper playing with a branch of dead leaves

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The puppies checking out the stones to see if they are safe to walk on

Have a wonderful week!

Puppy Update: Four Weeks

Oh dear. Right at this very moment, I have laundry that needs to be put in the dryer, I should be making supper, and our garden needs some desperate attention. Yet, I spent my afternoon playing with my baby and my puppies; and, let me assure you, it was an afternoon well spent. 🙂 I took some updated pictures which you can see on the Available Puppies page. Then we just played! By now, the puppies are fully mobile. They are learning to play and chew, and they have found their little voices! It is such a fun time! They are learning so much, and it’s so much fun to watch their personalities blossom.

This week was the first that the puppies got to sample real food. I soaked and mashed Life’s Abundance Small & Medium Breed Puppy Food in raw goat milk. (Goat milk is an excellent milk replacer for puppies who need to be bottle fed, and it also wonderful to use when weaning puppies. It’s gentle on their tummies, and they LOVE it!) Here’s a picture of their first meal.

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Yum, right? 🙂 The puppies certainly thought so. They didn’t any encouragement when it came to eating it! It was devoured in just a few minutes.

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Also around this time, we are working very hard at potty training. While I have the puppies, I teach them the very basics of potty training. Right now, their pen consists of two sections- a bed area and a potty area. I am teaching the puppies to do their business in the potty area and keep their bed area clean. In the next couple of days, we will add a large play area for them, as well. Essentially, this teaches them that there is a specific place to sleep, play, and do their bathroom business. Then, once they head off to their new homes, they are ready to be crate trained and house trained. The will have a basic knowledge and will be ready to learn that their crate is for sleeping and outside is for peeing. I started them a week ago on potty training, and I feel like they have really begun to get it in the past couple of days. They definitely aren’t fully trained, but most of the mess gets where it’s supposed to go.

And just for your pleasure, here are a few snapshots from our photo shoot this afternoon.

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Harley, Huck, and Harper all snuggled on my lap

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Harper getting up close and personal with the camera!

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Hamlet sniffing the breeze

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And this little girl is going to grow up to be just like her momma! She already loves puppies! This picture makes my heart so happy. 🙂

Life around here is busy right now, but it’s so good! I wouldn’t have it any other way. Have a blessed weekend!

 

 

Puppy Update- Two Weeks

We are two weeks in and everyone is doing well! I am so grateful for how smoothly things have gone. Mia is an excellent mother, as usual. Her babies stay clean and very well fed. They have grown quite a bit since birth. The pigment has come into their noses and paw pads, their eyes have opened, and they are just beginning to walk. They used to propel themselves in a swimming motion to get around, but they are now figuring out how to get those little legs underneath them. In the past couple days, I have begun to see them interact and play with each other. It’s very cute to see their uncoordinated play and adorable puppy growls.

The next two weeks will bring about a huge increase in their awareness of the world around them. We will begin paper training in order to get them ready for crate training when they go to their new homes. As soon as they are confident on their feet, we will provide a “potty area” outside of their nest to teach them that they don’t potty where they sleep.

I am very excited for the next weeks as I get to observe their individual personalities emerge. It’s always such a fun time!

Below is a picture of the puppies in order from darkest to lightest. Herby, Harper, and Huck are the three darkest puppies. Hamlet, Harley, Happy, and Hazel are the lighter puppies, with Hazel (far right) being the lightest.

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Harley is my big boy, weighing nearly a pound more than Harper, who is the smallest of the bunch. Here you can clearly see the stark difference in size.

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That’s all I have for tonight. I hope you all have a relaxing Sunday!