Tuesday, March 27, 2012


We had to make a big decision here recently at Revelaire. You'll have to suffer through a story or two to hear what I've done.

When I bred my first litter, it was from my red tri girl Sky. I dreamt of a red tri boy that looked just like his mom. I could imagine gaiting him around the ring at shows, or picture him posing in the back yard. When the litter arrived, there he was! He was gorgeous- full white collar, great bone and structure. But he wasn't mine. As weeks passed it became obvious that the red merle male was obnoxiously begging to be mine. I felt no connection with the beautiful red tri male of my dreams. But a young lady on the waiting list, who had hoped for a red merle boy, was drawn to the red tri. Go figure. We all followed our hearts and it was a very happy ending. That red merle is my beloved Boom. The red tri boy went to the perfect home where he accomplished great things.

Fast forward several years to my Spencer x Glory litter. I was hoping for a black tri female. Good girl Glory gave us three black tri females to choose from! I spent the next several weeks looking over the three girls, dreaming of which one might be mine. I tired to ignore the pesky dark blue merle girl that was trying to get my attention. Guess who stayed here at Revelaire? Yep, that pesky blue merle is my Libby. I can't imagine life without that special girl.

I'm a breeder and once a year we have a litter of pups join our lives for 8 weeks. While I love each puppy we produce, I don't get attached to them. I get great joy of sending them off to their perfect homes. I love meeting up with them at shows or when they come to visit. They are happy to see me, but happier to go home with their loving owner, the person or family they were meant to be with. People ask if it's hard to let puppies go to their new homes. It's not really, they were never meant to be mine. I have no connection with these pups beyond that as their breeder, they have a destiny with someone else. When the right person is matched with the right pup, it's a beautiful thing!

And then there comes a time when you weren't even looking for a puppy, but one chooses you. Yes, it's time for the confession. A puppy picked me in this litter. I wasn't even keeping a pup. Emma was getting her first dog out of this litter, and the rest were to be sold. I've tried to ignore this puppy for the past 7 weeks. Every time I walk by their pen, he's staring at me. The others are wrestling and playing. When the puppies are out and about, he's between my feet, just to be near me. When visitors came to see the litter, he ignored them. I don't know why this is meant to be, but I'm sure it is.

I always have a hard time with big decisions. You should have seen what I went through with each decision to add a child to the family! I've stressed and worried and prayed over this. This isn't a child, we won't be sending him off to college or planning a wedding. Still, we are adding a new pup to our family. It's important. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart. I've learned that everything happens for a reason, and your gut feeling is usually God leading your life. In this case, God put a pup at my feet. It took a while for me to give in, but I did. I picked that pup up and let him into my heart.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Checking in on puppies..5 weeks old.

Time is flying by and the puppies are already 5 1/2 weeks old! They are now little dogs that run, tug, bark, and chew on your shoes. A lot has changed in the last three weeks, it's time to catch up!

The puppies don't need momma Ellie much any more. She checks on them and nurses them about three times a day. We're working towards getting them fully weaned in the next week or so. She doesn't sleep with them anymore. They still have a small x-pen in the laundry room, but spend their nights in a kennel in the dog room. With the weather so nice, they have been spending much of the day outside in a double x-pen.

They started on puppy mush around 4 weeks old, and are now on dry puppy food. They drink water from a dish just like the big dogs. They love to carry toys and the girls have even introduced some of them to walking on a leash. They play in a tunnel and climb up and down steps. We'll add more agility equipment soon.

Today the puppies got their first bath! It was interesting to observe their personalities with this new experience. Tailor and Jokey fussed, Hefty didn't make a sound or struggle a bit. They are listening to CDs of household sounds, farm animal noises, and dog show racket. At night they listen to country music like the rest of the dogs. We raise good down-home, country dogs here!

Around 7 weeks old they'll go for their CERF(eye) exams and we'll do an evaluation of each puppy. At that time, based on my observations of temperament and personality, we'll start making decisions. First we pick which puppy or puppies stay with us. We've done the breeding with the intent of continuing our bloodlines, and will pick the pup/s that have the strengths we are looking for. I say that like it's purely science, but must admit that often it's certain puppies tugging at my heartstrings.
I'll admit right now that there is a certain...*cough*...MALE puppy that is begging to be mine. I told him that I'm not looking for a new puppy right now, and he's the wrong sex anyway. But then Tim reminds me that's exactly what I said about Ryder, and look how that turned out!

When we're sitting out on the lawn I watch the puppies carefully. I'd love to focus on how cute they are and who is pulling on the ear of another puppy, but what I watch is how they move. I scan for the puppy that is moving at a gait (trot), away from me, towards me, or just gliding across the yard. I watch for stride and topline and neck. I watch to see if they are converging or flipping a foot. When they stop I look for angles and presence. I always keep in mind that they are only 5 weeks old and still have a lot of developing to do. But even at this age I already know who has show potential and who will probably do better in a performance-only home.

When they are playing, I watch for temperament. I observe how they react when Macy picks one up or Drew goes running by like a banshee. Do they startle when a ball lands near them or the cat jumps in the pen with them? How far do they wander from the rest of the litter or from people? How quickly do they respond when they see people, or when we call 'puppy puppy' for them? How pushy are they when I open the gate, set down their food, or when they want attention, or down from being held. Honestly, we don't have any bullies in this litter. I have some that are more out-spoken or adventurous, but nobody is too dominant. None of the puppies are skittish or shy, although we've already seen them go through minor fear periods. Those tend to come and go extremely quickly as they grow.

Soon it will be time to make decisions. I love that many buyers rely on my input when choosing a pup. I always try to steer them towards the pup I feel is best for them, but still want them to have options. Obviously that depends on the waiting list and number of available puppies to the buyer. My favorite thing is to watch how puppies react to the buyers. Often I've watched puppies pick their person, only to get ignored as the person looks at another puppy. In the end, the puppy usually gets his/her way, once the buyer feels the same bond that the puppy already felt.

I know our time with this litter is drawing to an end. It's been wonderful (and confusing!) sharing our time with these seven blue merle babies. I'll be sad to see them go, but excited for each of them as they are paired up with a new owner. There is nothing better than sending a pup out the door knowing they have a great life ahead, and knowing that a special partnership has only just begun.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Snapshot In Time

One of my motivations of blogging was to capture memories, a diary of sorts. My life is flying by and I don't want to forget one precious moment. Four of my most precious treasures are asleep upstairs right now. They give me joy and inspiration in every day. There is no better topic that I need to capture, as we all know their youth is fleeting. So now I'll snap this one moment in time to remember them as they are today.

My darling Madison recently turned 10. She's officially a pre-teen, or a 'tween', somewhere between a child and the young lady that she will soon become. She's still my little girl at heart. She's outgoing and bold, motivated and a bit bossy. Unlike her younger siblings, there isn't a shy bone in her. She's a born leader, with an opinion and a bit of a selfish nature. She loves competition and loves to succeed. She does very well in school and enjoys the 4th grade. Her friends are very important to her. She's not really into boys yet, but I can tell she's becoming more aware of them. She likes projects and goals. She's very sensitive to my emotions, always checking on me if I seem stressed or tired. I've always had a very strong connection with this little girl, my first born. Her best buddy is her dog, Ellie. They have a very special bond. While I'm proud of the young lady that she is becoming, part of me wants to hold on tight to her and keep her to myself.

My sweet Emma is 7 and in 2nd grade. She's such an honest and simple little girl. She likes pretty clothes and wants her hair to look nice, but can climb a tree like a monkey and wears dirt like a tom-boy. She is gentle and a bit shy. She's a follower. She does well at school and loves to please her teacher. She has friends but doesn't work to please them. She likes salad and sweets, but no pizza. What she sometimes lacks in confidence, she makes up for in natural ability. Athletics and academics come easily. She's laid-back, and sometimes stuck in slow speed. She always wants to do the right thing. She's always been in a rush to keep up with Madie, walking and talking at a young age. Sometimes we forget that she is 2 1/2 years younger than her sister, and needs to be treated like the little girl that she is.

My buddy Drew is 3. He's in preschool and loves socializing with friends. He's all about dirt and cars and climbing things. He's very active and loves to talk and sing. He likes Barney, the big purple dinosaur. He hates thunderstorms. He wants to be just like his dad, snuggle with his mom, and never be too far from his stuffed elephant 'Blue'. His partner in crime is our youngest miniature schnauzer, Kira. He plays with trains and dinosaurs, and loves to take a bath. He adores his little sister and while they can fight like cats and dogs, he carefully watches over her to the point of pampering her. He has a kind heart and never means to get into trouble. He can walk into the room and have a conversation with a dog like any friend. He lives to help others, and to keep everyone happy.

My baby Macy is 21 months today. She's a doll. She's a grumpy little man in the body of a toddler. She can scowl one moment, and grin the next. She is a talker! I have no idea how big her vocabulary is, but it must be several hundred words. I stopped writing her list of words when it hit 100, and that was several months ago. She speaks in four and five word sentences. She sings her ABCs and counts to 10. She loves to sing songs, most are ones that Drew has taught her, so not all of the words are right. She has a rainbow-colored stuffed animal named 'Bear' that she wants to carry everywhere. We have to hide Bear away during the day because when Macy has her, she pops her fingers into her mouth. Without Bear, no fingers. Macy is a lightweight, but she's tall. She is a picky eater that seems to exist on fruit, bread, and meat. She won't touch pasta, has never even tried it! She's a good sleeper and loves to snuggle when she's sleepy. She's my last baby and I may hold her just a little tighter.

And now I'll sneak off to watch them sleep, a tear in my eye. I watch them grow each day and know they are slowly slipping away, each destined to be something bigger and greater than just my child. Someday they will make their mark on this world. But tonight they are all mine, and this day has been documented and locked away in my heart.