On Saturday, May 12, Jubilee had her first litter of pups. There were 3 boys and a girl who made it--two very big puppies were stillborn after too long in the birth canal. She did a great job for her first time and has been an excellent mother, surprisingly relaxed considering how intense she generally is. I had 3 girl pups sold to working homes--2 to experienced Search & Rescue handlers and another to a woman who has done SAR and cancer detection with her previous dogs. Unfortunately, Jubilee had 3 boys and a girl, so I have some people who are a bit up in the air. I hate disappointing people, but I have to remember that this is one thing I just can't control.
Jubilee was very tired, but pleased with her babies.
Xita was *supposed* to be on a different heat schedule than Jubilee, but she came into heat 6 weeks early. I've had a lot of people looking forward to her litter, so I went ahead and bred her to Jubilee's litter brother Jedi, who is an active herding dog. I'm pretty excited about these pups--and I had so much interest, I had to stop taking deposits. And this past Saturday, May 19, Xita had her puppies--12 pups in 12 hours (7 boys, 5 girls). She kept me running all day. All the pups are strong and nursing well, but there's 12 pups and 8 nipples, I've been monitoring them closely. There's one boy who is growing more slowly than I would like, so I've been supplementing everypuppy with a bottle to help out a little bit.
Papa Jedi likes his sheeps...
My ADD has been off-the-wall bad this week--between my world going tiltawhirl with doggy hijinks and work and baby chickens and suddenly trying to plan 3 litters, which were supposed to be spread out over 8 or 9 months, into OMG... 5 months? They're trying to kill me I swear. I've been breeding GSDs for about 16 years now and the next will be my 15th litter. I haven't historically had that many litters... of course, I haven't, historically, worked from home and been able to devote 90% (+/-) of my time to my dogs. Still, it feels both weird and wonderful. I have put a lot into getting to this point. I forget that, sometimes, while being so obsessed. :)
I played with the macro setting on my zoom lens yesterday. Xita is a beautiful girl and was very good about holding her sit and looking at me as I made little chirping noises. The chicks were not as amenable.... it was odd to have the problem of "couldn't get enough distance" instead of "can't get close enough.
Dr. Bekoff apparently sent a copy of my post to Dr. Mech, who responded with the following: "A quick scan of the Kelley article reveals much misinformation attributed to me. This misinterpretation and total misinformation like Kelley's has plagued me for years now. I do not in any way reject the notion of dominance."
Since I consider myself a neo-Freudian dog trainer, and since young puppies do exhibit behaviors that could be viewed as dominant and submissive, behaviors that take place before the pup's brains are fully developed (meaning they're the products of unconscious urges, not rational thought processes), these labels may not be as anthropomorphic as I thought.
My first mistake was referring to the concept of dominance as a myth. That's a charged word, one that carries with it the implication that scientists who have dedicated their lives to understanding animal behavior are all operating under some kind of mass delusion. I deeply regret making that insinuation, however unintentionally. In recent years, it's become fairly common in the dog training world for some of us to talk about "the myth of dominance" in a somewhat cavalier way. What's generally meant by this is that the idea of dominating a dog, as the basis for a training system, isn't based on real science and can be harmful to the human-canine bond. [I certainly don't disagree with this!]
Other interesting links:
You can download one of David Mech's latest articles here: http://www.canadianfieldnaturalist.ca/
I was all OMG... YES.. No! Yes! Maybe??? Yes. WEll... maybe?
What's more, communication with the seller was weird. Until it came out that the person I was communicating with had had a huge falling out with the person who actually had the mother and puppies in her care....
At any rate, I was sent a few pictures and then a short video, and I made arrangements and drove to New York state in the aftermath of the October snowstorm and nearly got stuck in the Connecticut mountains when tree after tree came down blocking all the roads.... But, I *EVENTUALLY* got there and met my puppy and OMG, she was bold and sweet and did great on the 9 hour drive home--but she sat in my seat and HOWLED like a little wolf when I had to stop for a pee break.
At any rate, she's 5 months now, and I'm thoroughly puppywhipped. I am smitten. She's a really neat pup and I'm having a blast raising her -- doing all the things I've learned over the last 10 years and maybe, finally, getting it almost right. :)
I can think of a few stories to share, though, so I'll try to make some more updates this week.
In the meantime, some very happy Xita....
Yep, that's an Invisible Fence collar on Flint. I installed IF this spring for the terriers because Ruffian was getting creative about going for adventures--leaving for long solo walks at 1 in the morning! They have about 4 acres--so lots of room for them, but no more wandering and I feel like they are much safer--and I'm much happier that they are staying home.
Coal thinks this is just another day hard at work, same ol' same ol.
.... though he wishes I'd get him another futon sofadogbed since the current futon chair in the office doesn't let him get really comfy.
This is the obedience routine of the winning pair. I love the precision and evident relationship between dog and handler. The handler also does an exquisitely controlled job of handling the dog throughout the routine--she knows exactly what she is going to do, what the dog is going to do, what is allowed, and what is needed by and for her dog. Beautiful training, beautiful performance.
Oh, and Jubilee passed the 2nd leg of her JHD! I'll post the video of that soon. :)
They are rather relaxed and hot in this video, but it's a nice capture of the happy chaos that follows this lot. Little red-collar girl goes to her new home today, yellow girl will be here for another week, and the boy is here a little longer, too. And the sable girl is still looking for her person -- so I will get to enjoy three of them a bit longer. We have started meals in crates and will be working on name recognition (for them what have names!) and puppy recalls and sits and downs for hotdogs.
Little sable girl has turned into a unique individual. She is warm and affectionate with a strong sense of self that often has her marching to her own drumbeat. She doesn't feel any need to follow her bicolor siblings around and I will often find her off doing her own thing while the bicolors rough and tumble together. But this isn't to say that she's a loner--she will often follow at my heels while the bicolors are off romping somewhere and she is quick to seek and give gentle affection.
Red-collar girl's mission in life is to steal my shoes--the ones I am wearing, preferably, and she will bite my ankles until I yelp and give over. Meanwhile, little yellow is probably off conquering her image in the mirror or wrestling some far-larger toy into submission. Mr. Qi (chi), the boy's new name) is amazingly suave--relaxed and confident as he surveys the chaos around him.
So, here's the video of a hot (about 95!) summer afternoon with the Q puppies...
* * *
I started reading something yesterday that was so beautiful written and so astonishingly creative and world-crafted that I have consciously thought "how does she think of these things." And I've begun to wonder where my creativity has gone. Where is my imagination?
For many years of my life, I was deeply involved in writing creatively and in drawing and painting. And at some point in the past 16 years, that has all drained out of me and into the practical, the grammatical, the commas and the parens and the clauses, the cya and the getting to work on time, and feeding the dogs and paying the bills and getting dishes washed and laundry folded and taking care of those around me. And while an awful lot of creative energy goes into working and training the dogs, that is more crafting more than creating. Raising puppies is, quite literally, about creating, but it's not about imagination in the sense of creating anew. Blogging is writing and it uses my word skills, but it isn't about imagination and creating--not as I have used it of late, at least.
So much of what I create or plan or plot nowadays has to do with arranging things in my life -- furniture, things, dogs, cats, chickens, planting a garden or flowers or putting up fencing to create a more attractive sight-line. It seems to be all tied into working toward a goal, being clever for the sake of problem solving. And while this takes up a lot of thought time and creative/plotting energy, it isn't really imagination based.
I think this lurking beast of creativity comes out and hunts me in my dreams, as they are often long and complex and plot-filled and only very little about myself or my actual day-to-day life. They often drag me in because I get involved in the story and I want to see what happens next.
So I am going to think about ways to be creative that involve crafting or building something just for the sake of itself--written or visual.*. You know, like.... art--creating for the sake of creating, for the sake of stretching the muscles of imagination and seeing what else I can hold in this head.
* not aural b/c I have the aural aesthetics of a Cape buffalo--that is, I like really obvious, thumpy things.