'Whistle Stop Litter'
Denmarella Follow The Sun JW ShCM x Kendaamber Shining Light at Amabea
5 girls & 4 boys
Born 17th July 2015
There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to repeat the mating between Bea and Lloydy. Sky has been an absolute joy and the promise of another girl to show, was too difficult to resist. I knew within 2 weeks that Bea was pregnant but we had a scan at 4 1/2 weeks to confirm. We carried on with normal activities as Bea has always been an active girl with boundless energy. Plenty of walks and lots of fuss and attention in the form of gentle tummy rubs became a daily routine. Bea started digging her 'nest' at the top of the garden and we gave her several small meals a day to support the growing crowd in her tummy. At the end of week 7 we put up the whelping box so she could get used to getting in and out, and here she continued to scrabble around in the bedding to make a safe place for her babies. It was an easy and peaceful pregnancy and Bea stayed serene and calm to the last day.
Our first puppy to be born presented feet first and wagged her little tail in anticipation. Four more born here then the rest of the litter at Chine House under the expert care of Con, the senior Vet. Weights and colours were,
Miss Lime b.4.22am w.14.65ozs
Mr Blue b.4.53 w. 1 Ib
Miss Pink b.5.58 w. 1 lb
Miss Lilac b.7.50 w.14.15 oz
Mr Red w. 1 lb. 2oz
Mr Green w. 1 Ib. 2oz
Mr Orange w. 1 Ib
Miss White w. 1 Ib. 3oz
Miss Yellow w. 1 Ib. 3oz
Bea has 9 babies after a labour begining at 2am. Four born here at home and five at the Vet practice by C-section. Despite the turn of events, Bea remains calm and contented throughout and as soon as she returns back home, gets stuck into the job in hand of feeding and caring for her brood. Once again we colour code the boys and girls and spend the next few days watching closely as the puppies crawl around the nest with remarkable ease. The smallest girl becomes our 'Little Bit' and the biggest boy 'Big George' and they look quite a sight when we catch them laying side by side. The colours are a good mix of dark and light, and we already wonder how on earth we will choose our little girl from all the sweetpeas in the litter. We weigh them daily to check they are all putting on even weights and start to cuddle them...but only a little bit, under Bea's watchful gaze. Once again I start sleeping downstairs next to the whelping box.
By the end of week 1, the puppies have doubled in weight and begin to look like chubby little piglets. They have their first nail trim and wee photo shoot but still spend all the time in the nest feeding and sleeping. Bea is eating 8 meals over 24 hours every day, and I find myself getting at least 2 hours sleep per night! Her menu is varied, ranging from her favorite mince/veg/offal mixes to chicken wings and raw goats milk. The puppies are feeding well so I am delighted that she has such an enormous appetite to cope with her need to produce more milk. The babies are still neither hearing nor seeing at this stage but do respond to our gentle strokes and kisses...and they get a great deal of those. Sky and Gem start to visit the puppy room and Bea seems particularly happy with that. I am amazed at Sky. She is very quiet, calm and respectful around Bea and watches closely how Bea cleans and feeds her babies.
This is the week when everything seems to happen at once. Eyes start to open, followed by ears that start hearing and all the time, the babies wobble around the whelping box bumping into each other. The babies are getting used to the nail trimming sessions and one or two of the more hungry babies get a little Esbilac 'top-up' after their feed. We are definately noticing small character traits in each baby and we start to match the kennel name we have chosen to the boy or girl depending on their personality. The pigment gets darker and appetites grow so we decide to start weaning at 21 days to give Bea a break from the 2 hourly feeds. This is the bit I like best of all, so it is completely lovely when we put the large bowl of raw goats milk down for them, to watch them tuck in with gusto then collapse with full tums into a long and contented sleep. Bea now enjoys her breaks, and takes nice long sleeps in the garden sunshine.
Puppies are becoming really active now so we move them out of the dog room and create a cosy den and safe area in the study. From here the puppies can begin exploring the kitchen and interact with the whole family while we cook, clean and generally get on with everyday activities. This bunch of babies are very sweet with lovely chilled personalities and they love bedtime, so when they have had a little play, they cry to go back in the pen. It is quite endearing to see them scamper to their 'nest' and cuddle up to each other. Personalities are appearing and we are getting a few visitors for cuddles though it will a while before puppies are matched to owners. Raw venison mince is added to the goats milk, though the main meal is still Mum and tummies are getting plumper by the day. It is a joy to watch Sky now with her brothers and sisters and we all enjoy seeing her flip the babies to clean them in exactly the same way as her mum Bea.
Bea has been at full milk production for a while now, but as we start week 4 we decide to slowly begin the weaning process. Feeds begin to space out a bit more and the night time snacks reduce to 1 or 2 depending on how sleepy the puppies are. During the day I start to introduce 4 little meals for the babies, followed by a feed from Bea afterwards. This whole process is a bit hit and miss to begin with while we develop a routine...or at least try to. Sometimes the puppies sleep for a few hours during the night and sometimes they have a huge afternoon nap of 3-4 hours. They are loving the minces though and get very excited when we rattle the bowls.
Warm raw goats milk with cooked gluten free oats and a weeny bit of honey.
Warm raw goats milk for lunch after Bea feed.
Venison mince mixed with warm goats milk to make a 'slurry'. Tiny pinch Vit C powder.
Venison mince mixed with warm goats milk to make a 'slurry'.
(Mid-way through the week I mix in some Natural Instinct weaning paste in place of the milk and also try a little minced chicken wing)
I am amazed at how much Bea is eating during the day and night. A very athletic girl who pretty much eats to live, she would much rather do a 5 mile hike than settle down with a hearty meal in front of the fire. This menu reflects therefore Bea's dedication to her litter. She wolfs down her meals with gusto, then frequently asks for nibbles inbetween...what a girl. Still quite lean and fit, no wonder her babies are contented and happy after each feed. Just looking after Bea and her food is a full time job and it helps to have everything ready for the early hours of the morning when she is the most peckish. It is not easy to whip up a recipe at 1am stumbling around in the kitchen! The following is a typical day's menu for Bea.
1 pint of goats milk, 2 egg yolks and 1/4 pint vanilla custard mixed together
! lb mince with either liver or heart. Egg shell mix, grated steamed vegetables, supplements.
500g green or beef tripe.
6 chicken wings or 1 lamb ribs.
1 mug biscuits.
Large bowl pasta and fish.
1/2 boiled chicken shredded.
Toast and butter treats.
Tiny Tots Tea Time Menu
Bad news this week for all the puppy families...we have been burgled by the naughty fairies and all the sweet little puppies have been replaced with mischievous monkeys. Lucky for us though at this stage, they behave like a swarm of bees and chase towards us when we whistle and call 'puppies'; getting them outside while I clean the pen is therefore made much easier. We now move the crowd outside into a large play area on the decking and also create a smaller grass area too for them to experience. The whole of our small downstairs and back garden looks like some chaotic Heath Robinson sketch but at least the puppies can enjoy the great outdoors and listen to planes and lawnmowers, all good for their development. Now we can really see the different personalities developing but there is one solid core running through the whole of this litter and that is the temperament. All the babies are loving, cuddly and playful...even when they turn into little cookie monsters at rough and tumble time. Meal times become a bit more organised now. We have two goats milk recipes and two meat meals per day and so far they have tasted and enjoyed pureed steamed butternut squash, carrots and broccoli, natural yoghurt with manuka honey, grated apple and oats and of course the staple of their diet, raw mince. I also introduce them at this stage to minced whole chicken wings in preparation for next week's biggest treat, their first try at a whole wing. Always great to see such young babies acting like mini dogs. A great event now is watching them scurry outside at potty time and also use their outside toilet box, with the occasional accident of course...some puppies like to be more private so doing your business in the play tube becomes quite the proper thing to do! As we head towards week 5, we prepare to pay special attention to the first real fear phase. Following Puppy Culture recommendations we decide to keep visits to a minimum and concentrate on plans for improving their emotional resiliency. It is always fabulous to learn new things, and this stage for us is one of them. Every experience from now on will be monitered carefully so we look forward in anticipation to the week ahead with this precious funny little bunch.
'Was that ghost there yesterday?' Puppy Culture by Jane Killion.
The above DVD has been a fabulous learning tool for the rearing of this litter. Keeping all visitors to an absolute minimum, we decided that any new experience should be calm and controlled during week 5. The vacuum, cooker and rattling cutlery (all previously ignored) became monsters to our babies and we witnessed their first real fear spike, more pronounced in some of the puppies than others. We introduced crinkly bags and objects previously seen and ignored, like an umberella or their bouncy 'Joggle Bopper' and carefully handled their reactions, not forcing puppies to face this fear, but rather coax them into experiencing it. Places to hide and have 'time out' became important. Our low table and den in the garden very useful and used like a base in a game of Tig. To begin our week my 'mentor and guide' Josie Lees visited with her Prince of Princes Lloydy, the Dad of this stunning litter. As ever, a gentle, calm and sensational addition to our gathering he topped off his stay by proudly carrying a whole Rye loaf around the garden that he had accidentally discovered on the kitchen side. What an amazing character! All this and of course that most important of experiences this week...the chicken wing. Sucked and gummed, licked and nibbled, ready for next weeks big munch.
Any one who knows me, understands how training a puppy to beg for a biscuit, or give its paw for a sausage fills me with dread and sadness. That some of my happiest memories, remembered still with a flush of embarassment involve grown puppies blasting through picnics stealing fairy cakes, or running through caravans creating screams of havoc. I am all about the whole holistic dog, mind and body, in other words dog-centered learning, reading a dog by understanding body language and questions in eyes. Having said that, all of our babies in week 6-7 are learning slowly using soft training methods that if they sit as a crowd, with feet on the ground they get a biscuit. That slowly slowly, the outside is where toileting happens with heaps of squeaky verbal praise to follow. That hands are precious and not for chewing. No shouting, no loud voices, no tones of anger except an 'ouch' following a nip. All the usual common sense tips for raising a happy puppy. So what can I tell you about our puppies then as we move towards week 7, forgetting the routines, the cleaning, feeding, sleepless nights and boring endless tidying away of toys. Miss Lilac, our button mushroom, found an envelope in the stationary file in the corner of the kitchen. She played with it until it became a game of tug with other puppies. That every time she is let in the kitchen she runs to the same spot. I leave a folded up piece of paper for her to 'find' so she can be proud and happy. Mr Orange is our Tribal boy. He barks and dances around his poo to celebrate and has now decided that all the puppies deserve this ceremony. He is going to have his work cut out when he lives with his big brother Boo soon. Miss Yellow sits her pretty little self in front of me as puppies are play fighting for her quiet cuddle time. So I scoop her up and give her secret little biscuits while no one is looking. She is Sky's best friend and gentle playmate and the two of them hunt each other out for a soft and friendly wrestle. Mr Blue, our 'Big George' has feet too big for his body right now. He bumbles about happily then trips and bumps his head- usually on the crate, frequently waking up his brothers and sisters and we say 'Georgie Georgie' and laugh at his clumsiness. Miss Pink is the Lady of the group. She rolls onto her back and 'whoo whoo whoos' just like her Mum. Soon she will be raising her head to the sky like Bea and pursing her lips to make her family smile. Miss Lime is busy busy busy. She is like a character from a Winnie-the-Poo story. 'What you doing?...Why I'm being busy of course'...Busy doing what?...'Being busy thats all'. Mr Red is our all rounder. Can do a bit of this and a bit of that. He has an appetite like a Shire horse. He likes to eat and eat a bit more and he makes happy little honking goose noises as he chews. He is steady like a rock, dependable and good and a great friend to Mr Green. Mr Green is like a little old man. If he were staying here with us we would call him Bert. He has been here before. He is gentle and kind and plays nicely and fair and loves his soft strokes and cuddles. And finally Miss White is our ear biter extraordinaire. When we hear a puppy let out a loud 'ouch' we know that she will be there giggling with delight at her latest naughty nip. She makes us laugh out loud at dinner time as she wrinkles her nose at the food when her tummy is full. As we head into week 7-8 these precious puppies become more and more their own 'persons' and we get more and more teary at them leaving. Trying to choose the little girl to keep here becomes more and more difficult. For now though we are going to look forward to the approaching week 8 and it's scary fear period with the knowledge that they are safely embraced within the framework of a big secure happy family.
A very quiet week here with the puppies. We take every opportunity to get outside for some fresh air and playtime and all the babies love to see the toys we have waiting for them, the tube and all the little balls that slowly but surely are being pierced and squashed by sharp teeth. All of a sudden it seems we have distinct personalities but one characteristic is staying true, their lovely friendly disposition. It is so nice to sit with them and have them scamper to our knees for a cuddle and every single puppy likes their own special cuddle time. We are now starting week 8-9, so are preparing ourselves for the big goodbyes. There will be last toe-nail trims, the first bath time and a gentle comb, though puppies are used to this weekly and are wriggling less and less to get away from this annoying intrusion into their busy lives. We are also getting ready for some individual photos for the puppy folder. One week to go, countdown to the next big adventure.
So...we are now officially on our last legs here at Amabea...but what an amazing litter this has been. Incredibly loving, cuddly and kind and a real privilege to care for. As we approach the end of week 8 to the start of week 9 we really get the sense that these babies are now ready for meeting their new families and all the new exciting experiences waiting for them. I certainly believe they have benefited from staying here with Mum throughout this last week, even though it has been really exhausting keeping them entertained. To start the week we had our Vet and nurse visit to do the health check and micro-chip. All calm and normal for them to experience this scary situation in the comfort of their home. We were so proud of them for coping with this and Con was so impressed with how quiet and settled thet were. We then had a bit of sunny weather so got the paddling pool out, Miss Pink diving straight in for a paddle, then transferring this excitement to the water bowl in the house later. Puppies now start trying a few new foods, duck necks being a smash hit with them all, especially our goosie boy Mr Red and we squeeze custard into their open mouths from a syringe to get them used to taking medicine if ever they need it in the future. A highlight of our day to feed them like they are baby birds in a nest. Our first puppy leaves too, leaving a massive whole in the litter. Mr Orange my poo spotting genius joins his big brother Boo from my last litter and his new mummy Anne. I now have to poo check myself outside without my little friend to help me. As planned all the puppies get their final nail trim which they tolerate beautifully and we notice a richness in the coat and a shine that shows us that this natural diet is paying dividends. No smelly puppies. Just soft and glistening babies. Our bedtime routine settles too. Asleep by 11pm, the first potty happens at 1am, followed if we are lucky by a sleep-in untill 5-6am. I am still in the room next door though and the slightest of movement wakes me and I flick a torch around in the dark so as not to disturb them. We are quiet though now at the prospect of them going and terribly sad about the weekend ahead. We pick our little girl...an ordeal shared by my lovely friend Josie and wait for the weekend when one by one they leave us ready to make their new families happy...and laugh and also bleary from lack of sleep...happy days.
Puppies with their new families
At the end of week 9 we finally have to overcome the inevitable...the big 'goodbyes'. Ever had a lump in your throat that extends to your heart? However, the farewells are made so much easier by knowing absolutely that the right families walked through our door and the right puppy went with them on the last day. Bea has done us proud. Each puppy gets its last milk feed and clean and apart from the odd travel sickness incident on the journey home, each puppy has settled happily with his/her new family. All the puppies in new home photos can be seen in the gallery link on the website. I would really like to thank each family now for their dedication to their new baby. Travelling many miles several times. Doing research at home ready for the diet. Actually embracing the philosophy of natural rearing and exceeding my expectations regarding future homes for Bea's puppies. This will be her 2nd and last litter so these babies are more than special and we know that all of them will be treasured and loved. Even better, we have now got some lovely new friends and an even bigger and happier family of Amabea Golden Retrievers.
Miss Pink and Miss White (Idgie & Essie) are staying here with us. Idgie will hopefully be strutting her stuff in the show ring as soon as she is old enough. First things first though, getting to know the big dogs properly and learning their place in the pack. Fun times ahead.