That I am insane.
Okay, so not a big reveal! I’m known to be a bit, ahem, eccentric? And other people have different terms for it. Especially when it comes to Labradors.
So folks who aren’t show breeders don’t understand why we have a litter every year. And it doesn’t make much sense—I admit!—to people not in the hobby. I mean, it’s a lot of work.
“And you already have how many dogs?” invariably gets asked.
A gaggle. And the way it gets counted is, well, a formula non-breeders don’t get.
“Under my very roof?” I ask, as this is actually a pertinent question. I mean, I co-own fur kids who live in other homes. And of course I have older pups here (and now Murphey, who’s staying from this last litter!), who don’t actually figure in the count. I’m running them on, you see, and they have miles to go (clearances, etc.) before we know if they stay.
So they don’t officially count. It’s a vague distinction for non-breeders!
But many of my lessons learned in life have come from Labradors. Mostly the big dogs, but the litters teach me every time! Often important life lessons I’ve forgotten. Good thing it’s a yearly reminder then, huh 🙂
1). You can’t control Mother Nature.
I know, that seems a no-brainer, right? But boy, do we wish we could! With all the stops we pull out for a litter, the mama’s come into season when they do, they ovulate when they do, and although we count from there, they whelp when they do.
This always gives me a great gift—that no matter what I do, I can’t control things. And letting go of that control when it comes to my mama girl is pretty much terrifying, and a precious lesson at the same time.
2). Eat and Sleep when You Need to.
Not that I get much of that the first few days! But I love how the babies fall on and off the milk spigots, then back to sleep they go. Sometimes while still holding onto their spigots. Or any variety of poses that make them look like contortionists with heads over legs and on their backs, fat bellies up.
Of course, Mama Bear stimulates them often, so it’s not entirely their choice either! But Mama knows best, and keeps ‘em fed, peed, pooped, and fed again.
Nobody in this scenario has insomnia. And mine is forced!
3). Don’t forget to play.
I know, we all as adults can fall into the trap of work, work, work. And forget playtime. But puppies have no such compunction. They wake up, they pee, they play. Hard!
Nothing is more fun than that first day in the yard, with so much to terrorize! Wild sticks and grass and if a leaf falls, man! The playground is open! Don’t forget to take the time to eat the daisies.
Puppies teach so many funny life lessons. Like when someone attacks you, yelp! And then when you stop rolling across the grass, attack them back. Oh, wait—there goes a butterfly . . .
4). Be ecstatic when you see someone you love. Or, that human anyway.
“There she is! We’re so excited for you to play with us! We just can’t hide it! We wag and jump and fall over to get up and wag and lick again.”
And bite. But that’s a different issue!
Bright-eyed and bouncy though, their joy comes shining through.
Funny thing too, you’ve seen that very joyousness from someone who loves you, who’s so happy to see you. Eyes shining and big smile and unabashed in their joy. Don’t you just love that? Hopefully sans the biting.
5). Puppy Amnesia is a Real Malady.
Yes, it’s an actual condition, for which I am convinced there is no cure. Especially when things go badly during whelp, every breeder I know has said, “Never again.” The heartache can be devastating. The lack of sleep, debilitating. All the stress can just knock you in the head. And then some.
This last whelp was tough, tough. So many angels. Poor Siren, as I carried those away.
My friend Jinny (thank God for you!) was helping me, and a day or two later said, “I don’t see how you can do this, over and over and over again.”
I do think at that point I replied, “Never again!”
But a funny thing happens. Just as human mothers tell me they experience, the trauma of childbirth fades with that bundle of joy growing up. In a year or two, they have another.
As traumatic as whelping can be, and as much work as goes into raising a litter, it’s amazing any breeder does this again.
But we do. Because playing with those to-die-for cute babies is so much fun! And then here’s Murphey running around at 14 weeks old, getting with the potty training, cute to the bone, and, well, the trauma fades. And I begin to think, you know, a year from now it’s going to be Glinda’s turn and who is perfect for her, and . . . the obsession begins again.
Yep, Puppy Amnesia has already hit, full bore.
Let go. Take care of you. Be joyful. Love your people. Focus on the positive.
Yep, pretty good life lessons for me.
What has your dog taught you?