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!


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.



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. 😉


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.


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



Timber and Mia having a good chase.





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.


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!)







This is my happy place.




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.


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.













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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.






The puppies love the baby!


Harley checking out my wash basket




They are becoming more coordinated and agile. (Stanley)


Huck and Harper playing with a branch of dead leaves


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.


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.


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.


Harley, Huck, and Harper all snuggled on my lap


Harper getting up close and personal with the camera!


Hamlet sniffing the breeze


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.


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.


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

A Glimpse into the Whelping Process

We are praising God for a beautiful, healthy litter! Mia safely (and rather quickly!) delivered seven puppies last night. We have four boys and three girls. I love seeing them all snuggled together like this!

Some of you may be happy to stop reading right here. Others of you may wish to continue on. I thought perhaps some of you may be interested in a more detailed description of what it’s like caring for a pregnant dog and helping her deliver her puppies. If you don’t want details, feel free to stop reading and carry on with your day. 🙂

Caring for puppies begins long before the due date. Rewind back to March. We did some testing on Mia to help determine her ovulation and most fertile breeding period. We were fairly certain we bred her too early on her previous two litters, because of the very small litter sizes and suspiciously late whelping (delivery). The late whelping dates hinted that she was ovulating later than we thought. This time around, though, we seem to have done it right!

During her pregnancy, Mia remained mostly herself- around people anyway. However, she became very moody around our other dogs, especially poor Jade. Mia is usually a very willing playmate for Jade; but while she was pregnant, Mia wanted nothing to do with Jade. Jade found this baffling and tried repeatedly to engage Mia in her playful antics. Mia usually sassed her with a warning growl that simply meant, “GO AWAY. I DO NOT WANT TO PLAY.” Jade usually left her alone after that, until the next day anyway.

About halfway into the pregnancy (which lasts nine weeks), we did an ultrasound to see if Mia was indeed pregnant and get an estimate on the litter size. We were told to expect 4-5 puppies, so we got a few extra blessings this time around!

Around that time, I slowly started to increase Mia’s food intake, and I began giving her a scrambled egg each day to boost her protein. She tends to be a picky eater while pregnant, so I basically free fed her, allowing her to eat little snacks whenever she wanted.

When she was seven weeks pregnant, I wormed her using fenbendazole. When pregnant, it’s very common for females to contract worms. Their immune system isn’t functioning as well as normal, so they are more susceptible to parasites and other infections. In order to keep momma healthy and to prevent the spread of parasites to the puppies after birth, I like to worm the mother approximately two weeks prior to birth.

In the last three weeks of pregnancy, we could definitely see Mia’s belly getting bigger and lower. I was expecting four puppies, because I didn’t think she looked that large, but Zach was guessing six or seven.

As we came closer to her due date, I began taking her temperature twice daily- morning and evening. A dog’s normal temperature is 100 to 102, slightly higher than a humans. Approximately 24 hours prior to delivery, a female’s temperature will take a sudden drop, usually hitting 98 degrees. By tracking her temperatures, I was able to pin point the night she would have her puppies. (Dogs like to deliver at night, so it’s important to have a good idea of when the time is coming.) Yesterday morning, Mia’s temperature dropped, so I knew the puppies were coming that night.

I made sure I had all my whelping supplies on hand. Dental floss to tie off cords if necessary, clamps, suction bulbs, scale, blankets, gloves, lubricant, liquid calcium, and my computer spreadsheet to record birth weights.

That evening, Mia kept sneaking off upstairs into the dark corners she could find up there. I finally had to close the door at the bottom of the stairs and encourage her to lie in her whelping box.

Zach stayed up with Mia until close to midnight while I got a little rest. Then I took over the puppy watch. Mia was very restless. She kept waiting at the door to the stairs, but I gently guided her back to her box each time. Eventually, she settled in there. Around 1:30, I saw the first puppy. Before the first puppy and its placenta were totally born, the second puppy came. Within half an hour, Mia had four puppies born.

I was planning to record the weights of each puppy and put some kind of identifying mark on each one. I was also wanting to give Mia small amounts of liquid calcium in between each puppy to give her uterine muscles a boost to effectively continue labor. However, the puppies were born so quickly, I eventually gave up. I simply tried to keep track of how many males and females were born! She had seven puppies in less than 90 minutes. She only got one dose of calcium during labor, which I’m sure she wouldn’t have needed anyway based on how quickly her labor went.

Bunny trail: I am grateful that Mia is able to free-whelp. I like to be close by to help if needed, but she has always been able to deliver and care for her puppies herself. Even though she has free-whelped in the past, I do not allow her to deliver unsupervised. Why? Because there are so many things that can go wrong. If someone is there to assist, many of these problems can be corrected. If nobody is there, these correctable problems can very quickly claim the life of a puppy, an entire litter, or even, in some cases, the mom herself. Sometimes a puppy is born breech. This is normal; but when a puppy is breech, it needs to be born quickly. If the mom is tiring out and the birth takes longer, the puppy can drown before it’s born. Some human assistance can prevent this and revive a non-responsive puppy. A puppy could get stuck. Sometimes with some calcium to strengthen contractions and a little lubrication, the puppy can be safely delivered. Other times, an emergency trip to the vet is needed. The sooner the problem is addressed, the better than chance of saving the stuck puppy and all remaining unborn puppies. It’s also pertinent to count placentas. On occasion, a placenta may be retained in the uterus. This will lead to an infection that will result in the mother’s death in a matter of days if it’s not caught in time. So I approach each delivery prepared for situations like these. Thankfully, things have always gone smoothly for Mia, but it’s still in everyone’s best interest to be prepared.

Back to the story. After five puppies, I thought we were done based on the vet’s prediction. So I took a picture of them. But I noticed Mia wasn’t quite relaxed yet.

Then, to my delight, another puppy was born, followed by the seventh a little before 3am. After that, Mia visibly relaxed. She began to very thoroughly clean the puppies. She stretched out comfortably and rested. I knew she was finished then. I waited up another hour just to be sure. During that time, I made sure each puppy was able to nurse. Then I went to bed for a few hours of rest.

This morning, I recorded the weights of each puppy and put a colored string around their necks to easily identify them. That lasted all of two minutes before Mia tore one off and ate it. I have now been forced to find other ways to tell them apart. They each have some white markings on their chest or feet. I did my best to find distinguishing features for each one. One puppy has a white spot on his back left paw. One puppy has a white spot on her chest shaped like a right angle. One has a spot on her chest that can best be described as shaped like a palm tree. This puppy here is Huckleberry (Huck for short). He has the biggest white marking on his chest and neck.

Today I haven’t done much with the puppies, besides dab the umbilical area with rubbing alcohol to help prevent infection. Mia has been taking excellent care of them. I will be monitoring them to make sure each of them is nursing; but otherwise, I will simply allow Mia to do her thing. I weigh each puppy twice a day. This is to monitor growth and also get them accustomed to being handled. However, I try not to handle them too much during the first week or so, because it clearly stresses Mia to have her babies removed from the nest.

And here are some pictures of everyone nursing and resting comfortably. Check back later for the individual pictures of the puppies!



You’d think some day I would say enough is enough. At some point surely I won’t have enough love and energy for any more furry friends.

Well, I haven’t reached that point yet.

Meet Timber. 🙂


We had been planning to get our own stud at some point, but we weren’t in a rush. We were more so leaning towards a mini poodle, since both Mia’s and Jade’s litters will be sired by a mini poodle. Yet, we also liked the idea of having a male setter. (Setters are such fun!) Then Timber kind of fell into our lap, and we couldn’t say no!

Timber comes from the Celtic Irish Setter line. It’s a bloodline I have been envious of since we got Duchess. This line is known for excellent field dogs, and they have also been used in therapy and agility. The Celtic setters are a great combination of gorgeous form, excellent hunting instincts, and jovial personality. We had inquired about using their studs for Duchess to bring some of their bloodline into our own setter puppies.

However, we were also checking around with some other people who have Irish Setters studs. And that brings us to Timber. His owner bought him from the Celtic breeder as a puppy. His owner also had another Irish Setter stud which fell more into the “show” line of setters rather than the “field” setters. (Show setters are larger with much longer hair. We prefer the field setter which are smaller, leaner, and have stronger hunting instincts.) Timber’s owner, however, liked the show setters, and rarely used Timber as a stud. He was actually considering selling Timber. This proved to be a great opportunity for us. This is the bloodline we like, and Timber is a full-grown, proven male. So we brought him home!

And let me tell you what an adventure that has been!

Timber has the sweetest, happiest personality. Nothing fazes him, frightens him, or upsets him. He assumes everything and everyone in the world is good.


See that happy, smiling face? That is Timber 100% of the time. You really can’t help but love him. The only unfortunate thing about him is a general lack of training. For anyone with a dog, especially a hunting breed, you can understand the difficulties that can come with an untrained, adult dog. The only command he knows is “sit.” We are working on teaching him “come,” but he’s so independent and energetic it’s difficult to catch and maintain his attention.

This problem is compounded by the fact that he is a real Houdini! It took us several weeks to modify his pen in order to keep him contained. In fact, we have had him nearly two months, and just this week he contrived a new method of escape. This has given rise to a new phrase around our house- “Timber-proof.” We are still Timber-proofing his pen!

I’m ready for the day we can just let this happy boy run! We have an underground fence on our property, and we love it. Our dogs can spend the whole day running and playing together as they please. All except poor Timber. He’s not totally trustworthy with the underground fence, and he doesn’t respond consistently to the command “come,” so he’s been a on a figuratively short leash. I always keep one eye on the yard when I am in the house to make sure Timber is still in his pen; and when I’m outside with him, I can’t let him out of sight. We’ve made a lot of progress, but he still has a ways to go until he can be given free range of the property.

Here is one more picture of this handsome guy.


And here are some recent pictures of our girls! Jade is getting prettier every day.


Not quite as recent of a picture, but Duchess is as goofy and energetic as usual!


And sweet Mia is starting to get a little swelly belly with her puppies that are due in May, although it’s not noticeable yet in these pictures. She is still eager to play fetch, though, whenever someone is willing to throw her ball!


Have a great week!