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.


Watching Roomba vacuum


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.


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!


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!

Off She Goes!

Whew, it amazes me how fast time goes! The flurry of activity surrounding planning and caring for a litter is over again until next time. Part of me is a little sad, especially after having just a single puppy to bond with. I had so much fun spoiling little Noel while she was here! But there is another part of me that is breathing a sigh of relief. Puppies are a lot of work! Once they get to eight weeks old, they need more time, training, and attention than I can give them, especially this time around with Christmas coming and a baby on the way. I feel happy to pass my puppies on to a new family where I know they will get all of that time and attention they need.

Giving Noel to her new family was extra special this time, because Zach and I got to take part in a Christmas surprise! Noel went to a beautiful family and was a surprise Christmas gift for the children. It makes me very happy to know she will get plenty of love and snuggles from her new family. 🙂


Here is Zach getting his final cuddles with Noel.


And here is a sweet picture of Noel from her new home!


Now that the puppy work is over, I am shifting my focus on getting ready for my own little one! We have less than six weeks to go until my due date, so it’s time to get things ready. My wonderful husband is busy refinishing some furniture and painting the nursery, and this mama is looking at her piles of baby things that need to be organized and is wondering where to start. The next few months will bring some big changes to our home. Ready or not, here we go!


Have a very merry and blessed Christmas!


Six and Seven Weeks

Due to Thanksgiving, I skipped my weekly puppy blog post last week; so today I’ll try to give you a brief summary of our last two weeks.

This is the point of time where puppies become the most fun! They are playful and responsive, and you can begin to see their temperaments and personalities.

It has been a little bit different raising a singleton puppy versus the usual multi-puppy litter. There are definitely pros and cons to each. Here are the observations I have made.


  1. We have a very affectionate, people-oriented puppy! Since this little munchkin doesn’t have litter mates to play with, we have become her play mates. She is very affectionate and much more in tune with us than other puppies at such a young age.
  2. She is content to sleep alone. This is, in my selfish opinion, the best thing about a singleton puppy. I was afraid once we started separating Noel and Mia overnight, that we would have to deal with all of the crying and whining that usually comes with lonely puppies. But not this time. Noel was more than happy to sleep alone, since Mia had been slowly spending less and less time with her anyway at night. Sometimes I can hear Noel growling and yipping as she plays with her toys after we go to bed, but she her crying and complaining is very minimal.
  3. I can give her a lot more freedom in our house. With a normal litter of puppies, it’s impossible to give them freedom of the whole house. You’ll end up with chewed shoes, puddles, and general chaos. With only one puppy, she gets to spend a good bit of time with free access to most of the house. I can monitor the potty situation more closely; and therefore, she can spend a good bit of time roaming and playing as she wishes.


  1. Singletons aren’t as well socialized with dogs as most puppies. Puppies teach each other tolerance. All of the play biting and wrestling and such makes a puppy generally used to not always getting his own way. He is used to sharing his food and his toys, and he is generally not overly surprised when his sibling jumps on his head during a nap or wakes him up with a chomp on the ear. Singletons don’t get nearly as much of that socialization. I have had to be much more intentional about socializing Noel with other dogs. I can still tell a difference, though. She gets overwhelmed more quickly by other puppies. She likes them and wants to play, but her comfort level is fairly low. It quickly becomes too rough for her. She actually does much better with older dogs. She loves Duchess and Jade. These dogs are much bigger, but they aren’t like puppies. They are calmer and more gentle. They follow the doggie rules of good manners. Noel doesn’t get overwhelmed when playing with them. They are sometimes pretty rough with her simply because of the sheer size difference, but Noel can sense they are “safer” and more “mannerly” than other puppies.
  2. Singletons are harder to wean. This little lady is spoiled. Without the competition of other puppies for food, she didn’t take much of an interest in eating solid kibble. She would nibble at it, play with it, and then scamper off and play with her toys instead. Usually, puppies are greedy and immediately devour whatever food is given to them. Instead, I found myself hand feeding this little miss and coaxing her eat. She wasn’t in a hurry at all. She knew she would get enough to eat, and there was no reason to fully devote her attention to eating. It took some extra time and new methods of teaching Noel that meal time is for eating! I also had to be much more strict in separating Mia from Noel. With only one puppy, Mia wasn’t helping the weaning process at all. She was very tolerant and was still allowing Noel to nurse as much as she wanted. Despite the extra hurdles, though, Noel is successfully weaned! She is eating unsoftened kibble, and she eats most of it from her bowl (no more hand feeding! Yay!). She sometimes prefers to eat it directly off of the floor instead of from her bowl, but we are conquering one habit at a time. 🙂 I’m satisfied at the moment that she doesn’t need to eat from my hand any more.

With the extra work of weaning and such the past two weeks, I realized I have done a terrible job at taking pictures! Here are just a couple.


Here is a fun video of Noel and Jade playing. Jade is an awesome dog. She is so big, yet she is so gentle! (Although, Noel doesn’t think she is gentle when Jade accidentally rolls on top of her.) Noel thinks she is such big stuff when she gets to play outside with the big dogs! (If you are viewing this from an automatically sent email, you may not be able to watch the video. Click the URL at the bottom of the email, and view it directly from my website.)

Have a good week!

Three Weeks Old

The fun has begun! Look at this precious face!


Big stuff has been happening in the last week. First off, Noel is walking! With that, comes the potty training. Our goal is to teach Noel to use a designated “potty area” and to discourage her from pottying in her bed. Here is evidence of one of her first successes. She even did this one all by herself. She woke up, tottered out to the newspaper, pottied, and went back to her bed. Good job, Noel!

She certainly isn’t perfect. Most of the time, she doesn’t potty on her bed, but she doesn’t always hit the desired “potty area.” However, for 3 weeks old, I am impressed!

Along with potty training comes food. I’m very slowly beginning the weaning process. Right now, I am just giving her a little bit of warm goat’s milk to get her interested in eating from a bowl. As you can see, we haven’t had a lot of success yet.


How does that saying go? It’s no use crying over spilled milk?


Nothing mama can’t clean up.


Here are some other fun pictures from the week. Since Noel doesn’t have litter mates, it’s especially important for her to become familiar with other puppies and children. We had our first play date this week. (A huge thank you to BJ’s Farm for allowing us to use their Boxer puppies as Noel’s “foster siblings”!)


With the puppies being so young, the play date was pretty uneventful. It was more of a sleepover, but it was good. It’s better to get her accustomed to it now before she is old enough to have much of a reaction. Then, in a few weeks, she should be very happy and comfortable playing with these little guys. They won’t seem so new and scary if she has been visiting since she was three weeks old. I decided if she was relaxed enough to sleep, then the visit was a success!

She has also had some visits from my nephews and from a family in my neighborhood. The same theology goes for children. The younger the puppies are exposed to children, the better. If they are used to being handled by children at a young age, they tolerate them much better as they get older. Noel didn’t seem at all perturbed by the rough little hands and shrill little voices.

She was even giving some kisses! (It’s possible that she was just very hungry, but we’ll call it showing affection.)


Overall, this past week was busy but very good! There has been a lot of growing and changes, and we are now entering the fun puppy stage! Have a good weekend, and enjoy that extra hour of sleep!