For Your Viewing Pleasure

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

Take a deep breath and enjoy.

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

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

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Gauge chewing on a piece of rope.

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Dakota stealing a piece of bark.

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

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

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

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

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Brook practicing her downward dog pose.

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

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

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April and Brook chewing on a stick

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April playing with my towels hanging on the washline

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Robin & April

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Gauge & Dakota

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

 

Puppy Update!

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

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Here is a recap of the last two weeks.

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

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

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

 

Two Weeks Old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Duchess’s Puppies

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

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

So here’s how my day went.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. πŸ˜‰

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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! πŸ™‚

Nearing the End!

We are in the final stretch of raising Timber and Duchess’s puppies! Next week marks the time when they are ready to go to their new homes. It has been an exciting two months.

The last two weeks in our home brings a lot of changes for the puppies. The weaning process is completed, and they each receive a health exam, vaccinations, and a third round of de-wormer. We also begin crate training and some more intentional socialization.

For the crate training introduction, I put half of the puppies in a crate in our living room. The first time is usually met with some whining and crying (from the puppies, not me!). I dish out a dose of tough love, and simply let them cry. I make sure the room is quiet and calm; and usually after 15-20 minutes, even the most stubborn puppies quiet down and accept this new place. After all, they are snuggled in a warm place with their siblings, so it’s not a very scary experience. Once everyone has settled, I turn on some music or run the vacuum. This helps them get used to different noises. They usually watch the vacuum curiously but don’t give much other reaction.

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Watching Roomba vacuum

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Calm and snoozing a few minutes later

And let me mention food. A large litter of growing puppies eats a lot of food! I am feeding about 15 cups of food per day. The puppies eat three times day, with each of them getting approximately 1/2 cup at each meal; and they are growing beautifully! This is what the puppies are currently eating.

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As the puppies get older, it’s becoming much more difficult to let them in the yard to play. I now only let half the litter out at a time, because I can no longer keep track of ten setter puppies! They are so curious and have started to wander further and further as they explore their big, exciting world. They have an undeniable fascination with our chickens, but they are bird dogs, after all! They love leaves and anything they can chew on whether it’s toys, sticks, or my toes.

It’s been fun to note the differences between Irish Setter puppies and Mini Goldendoodle puppies. Irish Setter puppies are more independent, exploring farther away by themselves. This is very typical of the breed, which is known for it’s far quartering range while hunting. Some of them already have exhibited the point and stalk behaviors used in bird hunting. Seeing that makes me very happy! We chose to breed a working field line of setters, ones that are worth their salt as gun dogs. Field dogs are usually too small to use in the show ring, but they can out hunt your typical show setter (commonly referred to as “bench” setters). Both bench and field lines of Irish Setters make wonderful family companions; but since both my husband and I come from families that enjoy the outdoors and participate in various forms of hunting, the field dogs appealed more us.

This next week, I’ll be soaking in all the wiggly puppy snuggles that I can! As always, we are excited to see them go to their new homes, but we do miss them when they leave. I’m satisfied, though, knowing I am helping to add a loving companion to so many different families!

 

Puppy Update- 5 Weeks

It’s amazing how quickly puppies change from three weeks old to five weeks old. There is this sudden explosion of awareness and curiosity. It is such a fun stage!

In the past couple of weeks, the puppies have begun exploring more of their surroundings. They are learning to do their business outside, which is GREAT! They are puppies, and they don’t get it right all the time, but every puddle that ends up in the dirt rather than on their blanket is a success. πŸ™‚

The puppies are now eating three meals of solid food every day. They are still nursing from Duchess a few times a day, as well, but this will be slowly cut out over the next week and a half. The puppies are eating Life’s Abundance Small and Medium Breed Puppy food.

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I love feeding Life’s Abundance to our puppies! I know that I am giving them one of the very best foods on the market. It has all of the good stuff (animal based fats and protein, antioxidants, Omega- 3, Omega- 6, probiotics, and prebiotics) and none of the bad stuff (corn, wheat, corn gluten, wheat gluten, artificial flavors, and artificial colors). I know I am giving my puppies everything that their growing bodies need.

For the first few days of the weaning process, I soak the food in raw goat’s milk. This makes it soft and easy to eat, and the puppies LOVE the goat’s milk. After a few days, I start soaking the food in plain water. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I soften the kibble less and less. Around 7 weeks old, I like to have them crunching away on unsoftened kibble.

Now that the puppies are fully interactive, I am seeing their individual personalities begin to blossom. I have a couple of puppies that are my fun and spunky initiators- Winchester, Magnum, and Meadow. Then I have Benelli and Nova who are a bit more mild-mannered than some of the others. They are all so sweet and fun in their own way.

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Rain

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Winchester

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Winchester & Riley

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Riley

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Remington

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As a quick bunny trail, did you even wonder how I get such cute individual pictures of the puppies? It’s quite a feat, let me tell you. I find it best to perch them on some kind of box or basket. This puts them up off the ground in hopes that they will sit still for a second or two before leaping off to go play. But for every good picture like this…

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… I have a few dozen of these!

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Oh my, I really do love these little guys! πŸ™‚ Some of the puppies are still available! If you are interested in adding an Irish Setter to your life, get in contact with me! This is one of the most fun breeds of dogs you’ll ever meet. I promise, you’ll never have a day without a laugh with an Irish Setter in your home!

Have a blessed weekend!

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!

 

 

One Week Old

I don’t think the word “stressful” quite captures the emotions that we’ve experienced over the weekend. I didn’t really want to share this happening, but I decided it would be a good opportunity to celebrate God’s protection and grace.

On Thursday, I was feeling really optimistic. The puppies were doing very well, and even Nova was gaining weight and looking much healthier and filled out. Duchess was being a great mom and was recovering very well from pregnancy and delivery. I was still bottle feeding Nova around the clock, but she was definitely getting stronger and able to nurse on her own more. I was planning to lengthen the time in between her night time feedings on Thursday night, so I could get a decent night of rest.

Duchess was in the kitchen getting a special “mommy snack” before bed, when she noticed that the screen door was open just a few inches. Before I could stop her, she zipped outside, and I assumed she needed to go to the bathroom. She wasn’t wearing her collar for the underground fence. When I went outside a few minutes later to call her back inside, I didn’t realize she had already wandered across the road in front of our house. When she heard me calling, she began crossing the road to come back, but she got hit by a car before she made it across.

It was a very sickening feeling when I realized what happened. I was amazed when I found her still standing on the side of the road. We didn’t see any outward injuries, but we took her to closestΒ 24-hour emergency vet to have them check for internal damage. Miraculously, she has only minor injuries that don’t require any treatment besides time and rest.

We still don’t know what prompted her to cross the road. She has NEVER bothered with the road before. We still don’t know how she escaped with only a brush burn and some bruising. Actually, that statement is incorrect. I do know how that part happened. We serve an awesome God, one who created our vast animal kingdom. Although I believe human life is infinitely more valuable than that of an animal, I also know God has created every animal with a purpose. He cares for each and every one, just as He has asked us to do, as well. He cares enough to spare the life of one sweet mama dog.

Duchess was back at home and caring for her puppies again in less than three hours. We did some extra bottle feeding overnight to give her a break and allow her body some time to rest. The following days (and nights) were filled with nearly constant observation of Duchess and her puppies, but everyone is doing well. Again, this is nothing short of a miracle.

Our God is an awesome God.

I still haven’t posted individual pictures of the puppies, but I will try my absolute best to do that very soon. We currently don’t have any clean towels, our yard is morphing into a hay field, I’m not sure when my daughter last got a bath, and I could probably use a shower myself. Once those things are checked off my list, I’ll spend some time behind the camera.

Have a safe week, and take time to thank God for life. He holds all life in the palm of His hand, and nothing happens that is outside of His control. I’m grateful to place my trust in God who is so much bigger than I am.