We (I) decided on a pup.
The big question was whether or not our older lifestyle could handle raising a pup.
The last dog we bought was from a breeder located in PA, we brought her after seeing the litter for about an hour, and came home with probably the best dog we ever owned. Clearly we really lucked out on that one, because since that day, we know now, to really know what a dog is like it needs to be observed in many different situations, in many different days, so the right one get the right home fit. So to say we should have known better.. yeah, I get it.
Then came Ginny.
She was an ad off a Facebook page known as The English Shepherd Society List off FB.
Not that this is a bad thing, but a lot of people put litter 'announcements ' on there to get rid of puppies, so there was quite a bit of caution, when i inquired. Most people who advertise litters at 7-8 weeks generally are just putting puppies on the ground without actually having any interest from puppy buyers beforehand, (before the litters are conceived, born etc ) and are generally looking to score puppy buyers, sadly I fell into that pit.
I had been searching for another pup on and off for the past year and a half. Some really were lovely, some not so much. I knew of the person selling Ginny, and have/known and followed the pedigrees of her ancestors for quite sometime now. However I never had inquired about this particular breeder before.
Ginny' s photo was the usual puppy picture, looking like a cute and beautiful puppy with those soft puppy eyes, and beautiful markings. I inquired. The conversation was usual and not out of the ordinary for any breeder. A lot of time spent chatting back and forth. Then we spent a Sunday drive and took the 3 hour trip to go see the litter, and the dogs behind her.
There was nothing there that made me feel this pup was out of the ordinary, I Loved the male, and hoped like he'll she took after him, rather than her very reserved mother. The rest of the crew was happy in their own environment and while standoffish at first, welcoming when we did not pose a threat. Usual ES behavior.
As fate would have it, when we returned home this poor puppy was not very confident. She suffers from fear aggression and separation anxiety, to the point I didn't know how to deal with it. Sadly her condition with extensive social interaction and countless attempts off property to teach her the world and it's inhabitants aren't out to get her, are not being very successful, at least not as successful as I would like it to be, however she is getting better.
I've taken her to someone I trust and who is very good (amazing actually) about reading dogs and what is going on. My trainer has helped me understand Ginny more each day, and keeps reminding me that baby steps are what is going to take to get her better.
As for breeding this dog, um, no.
I know she's not even a year old yet, but everything about her is not what I want to put forth into an a pool of dogs that already seem to be faced with an ever growing social and health issues currently. I don't think her upbringing was bad, but it certainly would not get a seal of approval from more than half the breeders I know ( some ES some non-ES). I have my reservations about what more could have been done to help her, and her litter mates be more than they are now. (apparently a litter brother is similar but not as bad as Ginny) Based on how we did things with our litters, I would say her upbringing was adequate ...I think there is a lot that could have been done differently. Starting with the parents.
Raising a litter takes time. Raising a litter to be a useful members of society takes more time than most people will care to do. I can probably list those in the English Shepherd world on one hand who do this and probably should have put my name down on one of their long waiting lists....
...but I didn't, and I probably got exactly what I deserved.
That's okay, so far I'm up to the challenge to try and get Ginny to be the loving individual she shows in the comfort of her own home while outside of her realm. Its going to be a long road kids.
She's bright, happy , a clown sometimes, gets on well with her new extended pack, and really at this point that is all I ask of her right now. Agility work with a small controlled environment has helped. Whether or not all the work will be for nothing is something time will tell.
Right now she us just Ginny..... a work in progress. A happy dog on her own land, stranger 'amoungst the English'. Untrusting and scared .
I know somehow there is a reason why we have her and not someone else.
Friday, May 2, 2014
This week shows more activity in the pups. They play longer and are more exuberant and they are starting to become more assertive with each other. Dominance and social pack order has started. Lily is quite gruff with them now, as she is starting to wean them off her.
More confidence is starting to show and often they are venturing further away from the main playing area. There are some usual ones that like to investigate more than others, but often enough the group will all venture out at some point, some just take longer than others to do it.
The group will start to sleep in dog crates for the night as of this coming week.
The weather is still somewhat unseasonable, however I have taken them outside for potty breaks as a group after waking, so now everyone has managed to make it outside (with a few exceptions) to pee. I feed them all outside and they must be hand fed and by doing this I encourage them to follow me anywhere in the yard. I call them “hey puppy, puppy” and when they come to me I treat them, not only teaching them to become good English Shadows, I also am creating a recall that some of the puppies once did not have. So far everyone’s recalls have improved tremendously now that they have to actually earn it.
I’ve incorporated daily chores into their routine and have tried to get them to follow me around while I do these errands. (barn, chickens, back and forth across our yard)
Car trips are still continuing, and off property on leash walk visits to various places. I do this in pairs or individually. One thing I have noticed is that all the puppies are happy confident leash walking creatures, until you get them into a building. This is where they seem to fall apart. They do recover, some better than others, but they all seem to not deal well with being in large noisy buildings.
They enjoy the comfort of the garage and know the phrase “come on now, were going in’ that indicate we are going in a warmer dry place. I try and keep them in the dog run during the warmer days to help acclimatize them. They are spending more time outside this week due to the warming trend. Everyone is living up to the true ES nature by ‘checking in’ during their play times.
|Caleb leaping onto Ryan|
This week was a planned trip to the local scrapbooking store with Brad, I took Eric to Dance Class (Mary’s) and Caleb will be going to the Post Office.
We had a visit to the kid’s track and field competition on Wednesday. (Rachel, Alison, Ryan, & Emma) At Track and Field, with over 200+ high school kids things were pretty interesting. The weather was cold and windy and hard blowing so the day was not the greatest for taking pups out.
On the car trips anywhere they now they are riding in dog crates, and not without a lot of complaining and crying.
One thing we have not yet been able to expose the litter much to is machinery noises (riding lawn mower) since the grass has not needed to be cut, and it is too wet to drive the tractor around the yard.
|Rachel & Eric discussing ownership of the stump!|
I have brought them to investigate the drive shed (our barn) with our chickens, so they saw the birds for the first time today. Most were very intrigued, and others found that chick poop is really excellent as a snack. Most were cautiously curious, sticking together as a group.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
There has been a large change in the past few days with all the pups. All the pups have gained quite a bit of confidence and we have been working on getting the litter to follow us in the yard to play in different areas.
|Jon & Emma|
We have just started to play and take the pups individually to places they have not been before and without the security of the litter. Car rides alone and in groups, visits in the house, (getting ready for school and dinner time) are on this week’s schedule.
|Alison loves boots|
I have started working on recalls now, and there are some individuals that have started to wander off by themselves to check out areas when we sit for a puppy social time.
|Alison studying the balloon|
We are going to start to feed them by hand making them all learn to sit for food. Nobody gets fed unless their butts are on the ground, and some of them have to learn to be patient as well since it is difficult to feed all seven at the same time. It really is an amazing sight when everything comes together. This is a really smart bunch of pups.
|Emma and I (she knows how to really relax)|
They are not allowed to jump and climb wildly when we take them out of the whelping box, Dog run, or any designated sleeping area in the mornings. They must sit quietly and wait to be lifted out. They picked this rule up pretty well.
|Eric chillin out.|
We have started to work on them not chewing on us, our clothes etc, as their teeth are needle sharp. Most play together well, we still get puppy play fights, and Lily is there to make sure everyone behaves. Some need more reprimand than others.
|Brad after falling off the rake|
They have been introduced to the Sand box, (a family favourite) by letting them knock over sand castles, and play with the sand toys. They also have an unstable board the can climb up.
|Caleb wants to know what I'm up to!|
We've taken them further into the yard but the wind is tremendously cold some days, so it is really a short time this happens.
|Rachel inviting a sibling to play|
They all seem to enjoy playing in known areas over new ones. They still are having trouble adjusting to the climate of the cold wind. They are better on cold days with no wind.
|Ryan having a good belly scratch.|
We had a few play sessions out in the rain – which went rather well, but were short, and wet.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Lily’s Pups have become more active this week. Still struggling to get a decent play session outside due to the cold weather, we have started to take the litter out of the house and feed and play out in the garage which is about 50 F without the wood stove running. I would like to get the litter outside by the end of the weekend, but this is dependant on the litter adjusting and the weather cooperating.
|Jon with Ryan|
Last weekend we were able to get them out in the puppy run and they all spent the entire day outside, and slept in the insulated dog house. However it was 21C degrees out so this wasn't much of an issue. Since Monday they have spent a good deal of time during feeding sessions playing in our garage, which has a raised portion so they are learning about climbing etc. Climbing skills are improving, as Jon came downstairs on Tuesday morning to find only 5 puppies in the whelping box! Usual offenders are Ryan and Eric and now Ailson.
|Doug and Alison|
They still sleep a fair amount and only play for about 20 minutes at a time, some pups last longer than others and this is dependant on their growing times. However there are some regulars that just take a longer time to wind down the others.
|Lily enjoying a break|
Play now consists of growling and play fights erupting now. This is all part of the start of establishing a canine social status within the pack. Lily is staring to engage in play with her pups now, teaching them canine social manners, and Sandie was able to participate as well on Tuesday night under the watchful eye of Lily.
So far strange loud noises doesn’t seem to bother the litter - nobody is tuck tail and running. In fact it is more the opposite! I get barked at quite often when we come down stairs to take them outside for a feeding, starts with one, then the group join in.
They have been spending the day in our garage and brought in at night. Tonight (Friday) they sleep out in the garage. Today they are outside in the dog run. They find it cold, but the insulated dog house provides warmth along with a few siblings. I hope to get them out in the yard despite the rain.
|Yes- everyone in the box!|
I’m afraid this might be the ‘cream puff’ litter in terms of getting them used to the cold, so you will have to be careful for the first few weeks, I’m still trying hard to get them ‘hardened off’ for their indoor/outdoor homes. Some pups take to the cold better than others – some not at all, but they all will in their own time.
|Rachel and Emma|
Friday, April 11, 2014
Call us wimps, but they are still a bit too young to be out in the cold, or moved to the garage. (sadly) On Tuesday, Mary and I noticed that they are starting to get too hot in the sun with their new woolly coats, and were quite content to fall asleep on the cold cement on the front porch! I have hopes to take them out in the garage on the weekend. If it is nice the yard, however it is rather mucky here with the rain at the moment, and they get too cold quite soon.
They are starting to develop teeth buds, so I've started to include puppy gruel (mashed up puppy food) feeding times - Boy were they more than ready for that!
Emma especially dove right into the pie pan I had set up in the kitchen!
|Caleb and Eric with Emma chowing down!|
|Brad and Caleb pushing for food.|
Puppy food feeding is very messy, but very fun. The group has starting to play a lot more with each other, having little growl puppy fights, chewing on each other’s legs, and enjoying play sessions with us several times a day and still cuddle when time to sleep.
|Emma outside in the sunshine|
They are coming happily to the front of their whelping box regularly when we call them. They will all bark at sounds we make (to make them bark) so they all carry the guardian gene pretty well! Some are more willing to bark longer or investigate new sounds than others. They are acting more like little English Shepherds!
|Mary & Eric|
Most are turning to human comfort/ bonding to us now when Lily is absent.
|Smiling Ali! (with Rachel)|
|Eric & Alli|
They have been exposed to carpet, hard wood floor (kitchen&Living room) & cement. They have heard, kitchen morning noises, the sound of the vacuum, TV, and radio, other dogs barking, cats.
|Lily with Brad|
Some take longer to settle, some settle quickly, they all are finding the different surfaces and environments strange, but seem to accept it all in their own time.
|Rachel investigating living room|
|Ryan sleeping in the sun.|
Sunday, April 6, 2014
It just happened to be a sunny Sunday today - So we took advantage of the sun through the front room window and took the puppies upstairs for an 'outing' ! It was good for them to be in a different environment, and good for Lily too!
|Mary and Emma|
The pups are starting to move around a lot more now!
When we call them now, they all wake up and start to come to the sound!
|Ali (background) & Caleb (foreground) Rachel's butt!|
They are now starting to play more often after a feeding, but it rarely lasts longer than 5 minutes!
|Alison chewing Mary's nose!|
"milk teeth' are starting to come through on some, much to Lily's displeasure.
|Eric (middle), Brad, (front) & Caleb (background)|
Starting to walk around or Toddle much better now, but not so much on slippery floors!
|Brad (to left) and Emma?|
Some puppies enjoyed the living room visit, some did not!
It is good to expose them to different smells and locations.
In the end, they all slowly fell asleep....
With little yawns and sinking heads as sleep overtakes them...
as they slowly crawled together, and clumped up
|Eric (top) & Alison (bottom)|
to the warmth of their Mary.
|Mary and her brood.|