In our last blog, we introduced Jane Martin and all her beautiful Border Collies and how they have been preparing for their first homegrown litter. Now the litter has arrived and Jane has kindly agreed to update us with a weekly blog as the little ones grow:
Having your first homegrown litter is amazingly wonderful I have found out.
It has taken me 15 years to get into a position of bringing a litter into the world. It has taken a lot of thought, realism and disappointment at times, but it has all been worth it in the end. As I write this to my left is Bunty, one of my five Border Collies, and 8 pups, 4 girls and 4 boys, in her whelping box feeding contently. My typing is to the soundtrack of sniffles, happy squeaks and then there is silence with full bellies, one by one, they fall asleep for a couple of hours.
Why 15 years? Well, for me there were lots of checks to be made first. Both mum and dad, who I also own, are DNA checked for all the inherited problems that Border Collies can have. Through the years I have done these checks for a number of my dogs, I also own grandad, two aunts and a cousin sadly no longer with us. This means I have a very good background in my pups heritage. I also knew great grandad and great, great grandad, plus grandma and so on. This means that not only do I have DNA heritage, but I also have information such as general health, temperament and working ability. Knowledge is power they say, and personally I believe this is correct. No breeder wants to bring unhealthy pups into the world.
Then there is timing, and personally I thought I had got this wrong, who knew on the day that the mating occurred that just three weeks later our world would turn itself upside down. Notwithstanding the horrible loss of life at this time, working from home has shown me that I was being a bit unrealistic to think I could take a couple of weeks holiday, even though I am part-time.
Modern communication tools have been wonderful and the waiting list for pups are getting to see them most days via video calls, which is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if they were coming to the house in person. I am also overwhelmed by the positive comments I am getting via social channels, with friends saying it is so lovely to see some good news. Of course, most of my friends are dog lovers, and quite frankly who doesn’t love to see a litter of puppies, but it is still lovely of them to say such nice things. I agree with them, we all need to have good stuff in our life at the moment.
The other thing to think of is the breeder’s commitment to the litter. My personal thoughts are that I will keep the pups until they are old enough to go to new homes and that means waiting for the lockdown to be lifted also. With that in mind, I am getting together a programme of socialisation for the pups, in case I have them for longer than normal, whilst still abiding by lockdown rules. I also will have contracts with their new owners to have them back if anything happens in the future. This really is a lifetime commitment for me.
So, what happened, I hear you say? Well, Bunty went into labour on 3 May, which was exactly 63 days after the mating, textbook gestation period, the first pup, a boy, arrived at 8pm, the 8th pup arrived a few minutes before midnight. As I said we ended up with 4 of each, all I think will be tricolour, black, white and brown.
Monday we were all a bit worse for wear, but Bunty, a first-time mum, took to motherhood extremely well. She is attentive, fastidious about cleanliness and feeding them well. She isn’t keen from being away from them, and she too has fallen into the pattern of sleeping when the pups are. We weigh the pups every day at the same time, this is the only way you can have an accurate idea of whether they are getting their fair share of the milk bar and that they are healthy and growing. Originally, they weighed an average of 10oz each, Tuesday the biggest was up to 14oz. I feel more relaxed that things are progressing well.
Mums are protective of their young, so dad and the others have yet to see them. They can hear them through the baby gate I have up at the door. So that joy is yet to come, Mr Darcy (Dad) adores puppies, I am really hoping that he loves his offspring as much as other people’s pups. I think that will be one of the things I am looking forward to over the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, I am going back to puppy watching, what a great way to spend the day!