The Little Tiger...

If you have been keeping up with all that's going on here at the farm, you know we had 8 very cute little bundles of joy that arrived about two weeks ago, but that is not what this week’s story is about. 
Annie, also known as the “Little Tiger” is on guard this week watching and taking care of her pups.  Every one of the dogs thought things were the same and all of them have seen the clean unused whelping area in the family room but thought nothing about it…Until the pups were born and everything on the farm changed.  Clancy who is inside most every night trotted down the stairs like usual and turned into the family room and before he could set one foot into the room, Annie had turned into a 120 pound fighting dog with long two inch teeth and before he even knew what or who it was, he turned and ran up the stairs and Annie went back to caring for her baby’s, but in just a few minutes, he crept quietly back down the stairs and peaked into the room and everything became clear.  “Annie had babies and it’s time for me to pick my battles” he said and knew to stay clear, and this is not a battle he would choose.

It’s something we don’t understand, but all the dogs “know” something is different and will give her plenty of room, which they do.  I have noticed that Annie will allow the other dogs to approach the couch on the other side of the room but the dogs will turn their head toward the wall or couch and Annie will sit like a sphinx outside the puppy area, watching and the other dogs will turn their head away as they walk.  No one messes with Annie.

Dutchess made a very short visit to see the humans and seek out some food that might be laying around and Annie ran to her when Dutchess got too close to the pups.  Annie pushed Dutchess with her body and growled causing Dutchess to turn her head away and leave in a hurry, no questions asked.   Molly is the only one she will tolerate a little better but at least Molly can get near the pups and check on them and at least smell them but nothing more and it’s only for a second.

Just a few days ago, Clancy came from the other side of the room and wanted to sit in “his” spot on the couch and he thought he was fine but as border collies are, he wanted to try again.  Annie sprang from her pups and just watched him.  Clancy was so intimidated,  he jumped on the couch from the long end, over the arm and walked on the back of the couch and jumped off the other end and out the door and Annie went back to nursing…Funny how they remember some things.

When Annie is not near her pups and she is with us or the other dogs, she will play and run with all of them and everything is back to normal, even submitting to them, but when she walks back to care for her pups, she starts down the stairs as a 35 pound dog but when she turns the corner she arrives as a mother tiger…

As I have said before, it is amazing to watch the nature of what is involved with the dogs on so many levels.  Nature is wonderful and so is my Little Tiger…

We Grow Together...

Tonight, as I drift back to my first dog, I was five years old and there are many memories that I can see like it was yesterday and I remember when “Daisy” came home with my Dad because she needed a home and how happy I was.  She was an unkempt little dog with spots of black and gray and a front white paw and she even had a black tail and I was the happiest little boy in the whole town.  Daisy’s time was short and she didn’t make it too long on this earth, but the time we had together was lifelong.  We bonded and formed a pact and we had each other.  You see my sister was older and in her words I was a little “creep” and to tell the truth, I probably was but we loved each other like brother and sister.  Daisy and I were meant for each other and I loved her so, because she was mine, all mine.  Daisy passed away in just a short time because she was sick.  All I remember, I missed her and cried for days.  My best friend, my only friend was gone to dog heaven.  Little did I know the impact she would have on a five year old boy and how she would change my life, but life goes on and we grow up…
Today, Maddie Grace, my Granddaughter picked her first dog and of course it was a border collie...
This Saturday, they made the trip to the farm and saw all the pups for the first time.  After waiting and being on the “list” for many months, it was finally time to pick and I drifted back to how happy I was and I saw myself, just a little in Maddie.  I remember the excitement I had and saw the same excitement in Maddie and fast forwarded to tomorrow…Frisbee, ball playing and having a best friend to share dolls, under the table treats and sleepy time.  You see, Maddie Grace is no stranger to our dogs and this will be a great fit.
She and Clancy are best friends now and share some special times doing special things together.  What a life she will have and in her old age, she will remember this time, I know I do.  It’s in a special place that not too many have ever seen, and I have.
Daisy suddenly became sick and went with my Dad.  I stood at the window and watched them leave in my blue overalls and Mom was sad.  I just wanted Daisy to come home, but she never did and my heart ached and at times still does.  Dad did what was best for her and I never asked, nor did they ever tell me, even as an adult, but then I knew…
Maddie Grace will live her life with her new puppy, one that I never had until I started raising border collies.  I will tell her how wonderful a dog is and how much love they can give you and they will share so many fun times together, but I suppose she knows all that or will soon learn.  I am so proud that I can offer something she can, and will always have in her mind.  She will always fondly remember the first time she met her new puppy.
They will share some of the most monumental moments in a young life, but a secret that she will realize, is her cute wiggle little friend had grown up and shared the best time of their life, together.  I’m sure she will not see this until she matures or maybe not until “her” golden years of time, but on this Saturday, she spent time with Mom, Dad, Nana, Papaw and a basket full of furry bundles of love, but I will assure you, she will remember… I know I did…

Run Free Daisy…Your life was so short but made such a huge impact on a five year old that is remembered to this very day…Until again...Ken

What A Week...

It always happens here on the farm when we have pups, it’s late at night, usually on a Friday or Saturday when the Vet’s office is closed and I have to go through the answering service when something comes up or I feel there is a problem and I will tell you, I am particular about my dogs and their wellbeing.  I probably worry too much but I am a dad, and these are my kids.  I remember when my oldest son was a toddler, it was me that called the nurse for advice and she even knew me my voice and always answered my question and solved my problems, but I was concerned.  This was a trying time, but then again, they all are when and hoping everything is falling into place.  I know dogs have giving birth for thousands of years, but not my dogs and I want everything to work like clockwork.
We knew Annie was close when we had her x-rayed last Monday.  She was carrying 8 pups and they looked full grown so I knew we were on track for this week but Mother Nature always throws a few kinks into the mix.

This next statement in not to discourage anyone, but if you think it is a piece of cake to have pups, you’re very mistaken…Here is the short list of the events this week.
Starting 3 weeks ago, Annie did not want to eat and we all know that it is essential that they get good nutrition and exercise so I had to make special food for her every meal because she needed to eat.  Plenty of exercise in the below zero outdoors and doing it frequently and carefully because of the cargo she is carrying.
Vet trip on Monday for the x-ray to measure and count pups and to make sure everything is in place and ready to go. 
Dogs usually give birth in 63 days…but there are exceptions every time, such as, when did she ovulate and when did they breed and hopefully you can come up with a date, but not always…
On Wednesday, she seemed antsy so I slept with her and had an open eye all night.  Thursday…the same thing…nothing yet.  Friday she went into 1st stage labor and her temperature dropped to 97.4 and a normal temperature is 101. – 102…so birth is within 24 hours or less.  Friday night came and went and I watched TV or read all night with no sleep…nothing.  At 10:30 pm I called the Vet and we discussed options, but he felt sure things would move by morning.  At 7:30 am, I re-called the Vet and discussed the now very limited options.  There was discussions that action needed to take place by 11:30 am to protect the pups and mother.  It was now snowing outside and the last thing I wanted or needed was a C-section on my Annie and driving her in the snow makes it worse.  
Searches was made on the internet and I found an article written be a Vet in Canada that had great suggestions and options for this, but because I had more questions, I started to search for the Vet, via Google.  In ten minutes, I had her on the phone and we discussed the options, but it was getting slim if I wanted total protection for the pups and Annie and then I called my good friend and the Vet that I once worked for and he gave me the best advise…”Don’t jump too fast” 
It is a one hour drive to the Vet's surgery center where they would do the operation and we would need to leave before 10:30, but at 10 am, Annie got more determined to “nest” and at 10:10, she delivered her first pup and 7 more pups by 4 pm. 
And just think, this is just the beginning of at least 8 weeks of due diligence for the little pups to make them the best they can be for the new owner. 
I guess the moral of this story is there is never an ending to the things that can, and do happen.  So as I write this blog on Saturday night after having nearly 3 hours of sleep in 72 hours, I ask myself is it worth it?  
Yes, it is, because you share their love and let someone get as much as you do and especially looking at Annie fast asleep tonight and hearing the little squeaks and peeps from the little ones nursing.  Until next week…
Nothing great comes without great work...Ken  

Note:  Gabby did not become pregnant when she and Doc ran through the woods, but Annie did slip into the grasp of Doc in a very brief moment...which is another story

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What's In A Lick?

It always happens here on the farm, as I get ready to relax and get into the hot tub, the dogs seem to know where I'm going, maybe it’s because I have very little on and I am going outside.  Everyone runs for their spot around the tub and Abbie always jumps on the corner of it and sit’s pretty.  It’s usually uneventful except when the guest dog wanted to get in, and did… and you know, he liked it…
As I sit, I have always thought about “Why do the dogs want to lick me” because they were doing it even as I was sitting in the warm water, Doc had jumped up behind my back putting his paws on the side and licks my ear.  Not wanting to be out done, when I changed positions, both Abbie and Dutchess were licking my face, Dutchess on one side of my brow and Abbie on the other and I can tell you, Abbie is soft and Dutchess will lick your eyebrows off, but why do they do this.  I always thought they wanted water or the salt if you’re sweating, but I have found out that’s not always the case…
According to a known source…Why is the dog licking?  Right from birth that is how the mother communicates with her new puppies, how she stimulates them to start breathing and how she cleans them when they are born, so it's very important to the survival of puppies.  In the wild and in domestic dogs, you'll find they will lick around the mother's mouth as newborns and puppies still retain that instinct.  It's also sort of a submissive gesture — the more subordinate members of a pack will lick the more dominant members and that's important in maintaining pack harmony. 
I can say for sure that this is true.  With the pups that have been born here, it always a lick fest.  Even to this day, Annie and Meggie will lick Molly wanting her attention and will submit to her while they are doing the licking and yes, Molly is the dominate female. 
From about six weeks of age, some pups lick their mom's face and lips when they want her to regurgitate food for them. This behavior is a remnant of their wild ancestry—it was easier for the mother to carry food in her stomach rather than dragging it back to the den in her mouth.  As puppies grow older, they lick to groom themselves and their pack mates. It also becomes a way of welcoming others back into the pack and increasing the bonds between pack members.  Adult dogs lick as a sign of deference or submissiveness to a dominant pack member. The dog doing the licking usually lowers its body to make itself smaller, and looks up, adding to the effect of subordinate behavior. The dog receiving the face licks shows its dominance by standing tall to accept the gesture, but doesn't return the favor.
As I think about this, I remember a time when I thought it was a horrible thing.  I remember seeing a dog lick a person hand and I thought it was gross and I was reminded of this statement as Clancy was licking my leg once while I was wearing shorts.  I only remember it felt so good and I was disappointed when he quit and how things have changed.
When your dog’s tries to lick your face, you might have a better idea of what he's trying to communicate.  He may simply be letting you know that he's glad to see you.  Or he may be hungry and asking for a snack.
But can his enthusiastic licks also represent a sign of affection?  Here's one way to look at it.  A dog's behavior can be encouraged with positive reinforcement.  So if a dog licks his owner's face—either out of instinct, anxiety, or just because his owner's face tastes salty—and that action is greeted with positive attention, such as hugs and human kisses, he'll want to repeat the behavior. While it's probably not a "kiss," you can bet it's a sign that your dog thinks you're pretty great.  Once I was working of the farm and was hit on the leg with a large piece of wood and while holding up a heavy board, Clancy started licking the wound and I just knew it would hurt, but when he got to the injury, it felt better and cleaner.  Now, I don't advocate this and might not allow it again, but is there more here?

So what is a lick…?

Or all the above.  I can’t think of any other animal that leads itself to another person or animal with a cold nose and a wet tongue flopping from side to side ready to clean out your ears, nose or heal your wound…and, I wouldn’t have it any other way…   

And just think, we thought it was just a lick…Ken