About Intention Hill Sheep

The Animals
I began my flock in Amity Oregon with 3 ewes from Braeberry Farms (Cheryl Dutton) in Boring Oregon. I later obtained two more ewes and a ram, and later still, two additional ewes from Blacklocust Farm (Barb Lee). My flock grew quickly. I have pondered registering the flock, however I have not had buyers for whom this was important. Each year I sell sheep for breeding stock and meat.

Two llamas were purchased from All Mosta Ranch (rescue) last Spring due to a fox issue. They did defend the sheep from a cougar in late Spring, after which I purchased two livestock guardian dogs. The llamas have not worked out as planned, in that they will not travel through the swamp to the far pastures, however they do act as sentries, alerting the LGD to intrusions from the east side of the property. Additionally, there is often a split in the flock, as I maintain a small flock of wool sheep for my own purposes. The Blackbellies will often browse more freely and farther than the wool sheep, so the wool sheep will often be found staying home with the llamas, while the Blackbellies travel under the watch of Mary (LGD).

The dogs are from 5R Stockdogs in Billings, MT. Mary is a Great Pyrenees. She is untrusting of people, but a very hard worker, very dedicated to her flock.

Joseph is 3/4 Akbash, 1/4 Great Pyrenees. He is devoted to both person and flock, and prefers to guard the homestead area. He will travel with the flock to the far pastures, but sometimes returns home, unless a predator is in the area.

Due to heavy predation from bears year, I have no breeding ewes available for sale, only rams. Rams will be butchered beginning January or February. The predation also disabled my setup with the rams pulled from the flock, so 2012 ram lambs will all be castrated, as it’s time for a new ram.

Last year’s bottle lamb, Lambie, will be kept by Intention Hill, and either used at stud, or whethered as a pet.

The Blackbellies
My flock produces Blackbellies of good color, generally a rich mahogany in color, though I have a couple ewes that will throw some dark lambs.

Katy (on the right) with 2011 lambs. Ewe lamb on the left is deceased, broken leg.

I have one ewe, Katy, that is 1/2 Katahdin. She produces correct lambs when bred to correct rams. She is my best producer for meat stock, always throws twins which grow quickly, and has strong mothering instincts. She is long in the back which has brought some nice structure to some of her daughters.

Floppy, foundation ewe, 2011 (about 10-12 years old)

My other foundation ewes are Floppy, who is at least 10 years old this year, and has strong mothering instincts. Floppy usually drops single lambs. I also have Baby. Baby is very short backed, and usually produces single lambs of lovely color and size. However last year she twinned, and it didn’t go so well for her. She was the first Blackbelly I ever had to assist in lambing. She rejected the malpresented lamb, who is now known as Lambie, and I bottle raised him. My other foundation ewe is Middle. Middle is not social to people, but is a solid ewe, long in the back, produces twins or singles with good color, and occassionally dark in color.

The rest of my ewes are daughters of these foundation ewes. The two I got from Blacklocust were not a fit for me, with one taking ill after arriving, and the other not showing good mothering instincts. One of them did die of her illness, and the other has gone to live in Pendleton on a farm with a better set setup for monitoring ewes and lambs.

2011 Ram Lamb

It is always scary to bring in outside blood, but I will be looking for a new ram this year.

May 2012 bring abundance, prosperity, good health and great happiness.

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

About the A Litter (Basquelaine A of Intention Hill Litter)

The combined efforts of Basquelaine Belgians and Intention Hill bring you the A Litter. Kelley Hoffman of Basquelaine Belgians is the scientific and artistic mind behind the pedigree of this litter. Basquelaine Belgians has an elite record of performance, under the well researched and meticulously guided breeding program of Kelley Hoffman. Kelley selects dogs for breeding with painstaking attention to health records and the possibilities that unfold when combining the genes of two dogs. There is no breed of dog, nor family of dog, that is without some inherent health risks. It is the art and science that the breeder employs to ensure that every effort is made to produce healthy stock which may excel at their intended purpose.

The litter is sired by UKC Ch Matti Deabei and is out of SAR Cert Basquelaine Cat On The Scent “Savannah”

The litter was whelped at Intention Hill in Montana on June 19, 2011. Two of the puppies, Blue Boy (Amsterdam, aka “Vallon” and Alluring, aka “Lourdes”) went to Basquelaine Belgians to carry on the bloodline for Kelley. Aanandi and Abhithi will remain at Intention Hill to train in IPO, SAR, Agility and Herding. Abhithi may only be considered for a placement to a working or performance home.

The Aqua Boy (Amal, aka “Mulder) has gone to live as a companion on a ranch in Libby, MT.

The Orange Boy (Anuraag, aka “Novak”) has gone to live in Quebec City with Sandra Lafontaine, to train in agility, obedience, skijor, and herding.

Pink Girl (Ashwini, aka “Pinkie”) is still available to the right home.

Yellow Girl “Aarti” may be available in a couple months. Four of the puppies contracted parvo, and overcame it quickly, except for Aarti who was hit hard. Pending her full recovery, I will make a decision about her placement. She is a serious puppy with intense work ethic, strong bite drive, and is therefore not in consideration for a companion only home.

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jack of All Trades vs. Specialist

Many dogs have their area of specialization, or excellence in potential. Other dogs seem to be able to do many things – a “jack of all trades.” Breeding and importing can be a crap shoot. Should we expect all dogs to be able to do it all, or do we accept that some are very gifted in just a couple areas. Are the gifted ones better at their craft because they specialize? You know the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

You make all the predictions and plans, and factor in your life events that impact both you and your dog(s) both in their upbringing, and daily life, and what you can accomplish at the present time; and then still sometimes all these plans are like throwing a dart into the darkness. You get what you get, for whatever reason.

This weekend was a time to ponder such things. When the A litter arrived, I was not in a place with the same social structure that Jai and Savannah had. I lived in a remote place, with few dog activities. In Summer, I learned from other area breeders, you could visit farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and other events, but in colder months, there was less to do. But there was not this same level of daily opportunity that Savannah and Jai had. How much should we weigh this upbringing in the outcome of the adult dog? It’s very easy to say “a LOT.” But consider a dog raised in precisely the same way, but who appears to thrive in all new experiences, regardless of this more remote upbringing. So let’s consider putting this factor of “upbringing” aside, and look at innate qualities in the dogs.

1) Gabbit arrived from Europe in a fairly shy state, along with his brother. He was socialized by visiting friends, going to the office, visiting Home Depot, going to handling class, and going to dog shows. He seemed okay in these settings, but he did not thrive. His innate quality was to prefer my attention only, and to thrive in drive. In other words, if the ball or frisbee is being thrown, he doesn’t care where we are. At shows, he’s agreeable, but not animated. So my hopes of IPO or SAR for him have not worked, nor did narcotics training. It’s not that he couldn’t learn these things with some creative and persistent planning. He could have visited friends/trainers for 1-2 weeks at a time, to break some of the momma’s boy focus, if he were not also a fence jumper. He could have some intense study in trailing for SAR, or kept working at narcotics. His issues with these things all lead to the same problem: working with others. He has no desire to work for others, only me. At disc dog trials, I can have other people throw for him, but he always returns the frisbee to me, so I must stand in the end zone. However, his focus at disc dog events is superior to that of my more social dogs. This translates to a stronger candidate for obedience, agility, and even herding, or any of the activities we can offer which require focus, and do not require interaction with another individual. So these will be Gabbit’s contributions. He clearly shows nervousness when he is not clear of the task at hand, but is extremely focused and competent, even pushy, at those he knows and understands.

2) Abhithi was born into my own hands, right in my house. She’s never shown a bad day anywhere, but for a couple occassions of clinginess in new social settings (dog show). But she’s been the same sorts of places, and enjoyed pets and treats from strangers consistently, been boating, swims anywhere, etc. Her early scent tests showed her to tend toward air scent, and so I considered her an air scent dog. She shows lots of desire to work sheep, and intense love and focus for retrieve and tug games with most any toy. When Gabbit showed that he would not be an easy candidate for SAR (I figured, but wanted to try), I decided to try Abhithi for trailing. I knew it wasn’t her natural tendency, but I figure I’ll try. First day, we did some runaway starts, since conditions didn’t support baited/hydrated imprints. She did okay. Second day, she didn’t do so well, although the setup was poor, but she also seemed to not want to play with everyone (odd for her), but LOVED all the back scratches. Well I saw it as a kind of social nervousness, perhaps based on not really knowing what was being asked of her. But for me, a person with a number of dogs, I don’t feel compelled to teach a dog to track, when I can use a dog who NATURALLY tracks. So we switched her to air scent, and she LOVED this game. Reminded me of her mother a bit. So we see what shakes out. She has been a fearless sort of dog, so the glimpse today of this social nervousness made me ponder… is she innately less secure with herself than I thought? And clearly she has some special gifts, in fact can do many things, but is not the all-arounder. She is a swimming/diving freak, and gives 120% of herself in those things at which she excels.

3) Radha left her home in Norway, and arrived to my home in Montana after 3 flights and a car ride, and numerous people handling her. She was unfettered. Unhindered. She had maybe a single day of stress/insecurity, and was then just a cool customer. Her father is a highly accomplished SAR dog, and her mother comes from very accomplished FR/MR dogs. She herself does have a fair amount of prey drive, but is very soft. She is calm, but can be aroused to heightened states of prey/bite drive. She began her SAR training with great ease, starting with basic air scent training. She did not bark and leap in the air with enthusiasm when her subject ran off with her toy – you might even think she was bored. But she took off with lovely stride when released, and played with her subject with gusto. After just a couple sessions, I put some recall behavior on her, and she did this naturally. But a funny thing happened. You see with the A’s, I did scent tests with them, and I knew their innate tendencies to air scent or trail. I did not breed Radha, I chose her. Therefore I had not done these, but based on her easy, ground-covering strike, I liked her for area search. As we walked to our area to train today, she put her nose down and began tracking someone’s earlier footsteps in the snow. She did this with poetic magesty. It was gorgeous. So after Abhithi’s lackluster performance, I told the training director “I really want you to see this.” So later, the director and I walked down a trail, and selected a spot for her to leave the trail, and walk through fresh snow. I went back to get Radha from the truck, while the “subject” walked away into the forest. As I brought Radha down the trail, the first interesting thing was that she walked past the HR sources that had been set out for other dogs, and she tried to drag me to them. I had not worked her on HR, though it had been in the whelping box for the Beez (just scented fabrics). So she’s smelled it, but this was a strong and fresh source. Then I got to the place in the trail where my teammate had gone to the fresh snow. I stood only a moment before Radha put her nose down. I marked it with a “yes.” We proceeded down the trail, as though Radha had done this as a trained behavior. After a way, maybe 10 yards, she lifted her nose, and drifted to the side. I stopped moving and waited. She returned to the trail, and I marked it with “yes.” We proceeded this way, farther than I expected, as I didn’t realize how far my teammate had gone. But it was brilliant. It was gorgeous. It was natural. Here is a dog who aced her early air scent exercises, showed strong interest and detection of the HR, and had immense natural ability for trailing. So the decision was made. The Jack of All Trades, Radha, would begin her career as a trailing dog. Sure she showed us she could do all the disciplines. But as a person with multiple dogs, I choose to work several, and let each be a specialist. But with talent like hers, who is to day I won’t cross train her… and then there is her character – she’s a prime candidate for disaster work as well.

4) Savannah is a Jack of All Trades. Okay granted she doesn’t care for swimming or skijoring. So I guess that contradicts what I just said. Abhithi is a swimming freak, Savannah not. But Savannah pretty much can do it all, in terms of SAR, her love to play with anybody, anywhere, with any toy, and her ability to be in most situations with utter confidence, her high level of trainability… okay, except the water, and she really dislikes a harness for tracking or skijor. But I consider her a dog I can train for most any sport.

So that brought me to my contemplation.

Is the Jack of All Trades better than the Specialist? Is the Specialist better at their one (or few) gifts than the Jack of All Trades is at many gifts?

In breeding, do we choose one or the other? Do we accept that the Specialist brings value to the table? Or do we expect all dogs to be the same?

It’s an interesting question for me, and in interviewing puppy owners and friends, and breeders of OTHER breeds, I find that people are split across the board. It comes down to preference. The dog that is a specialist may seem uncomfortable, awkward, ungraceful, or nervous in the wrong setting, but be a star in another. And if a person has chosen a dog for that specialty, the dog will be perceived only as a star. But if a person wants to do everything, they will only be happy with the all around dog. It’s clear also that people have as much preference for one or the other, as there are dogs to fill that bill. The interesting thing becomes, what happens in choosing mating combinations. What other traits can we attribute to these?

For example, I have dogs that are more visually stimulated than others. I have dogs more tactile than others. More nose oriented, more bite/tug oriented, more fetch/retrieve oriented, more calm, more hectic. It would be so interesting to map out these traits, and have some magic formula for outcomes in mating.

But for now, I must enjoy the ride, and accept that not all my dogs are ALL I hoped they would be, however I find they are intensely gifted in certain areas, and it is my job to let them be stars in those areas.

Posted in Belgian Shepherds, Just Words | 1 Comment

Setting up “House” – the new farm

Moving house is always a chore. I’ve moved from one coast of the United States to the other, and from the north to the south on both coasts. I always seem to dispose of volumes of “trash” and various and sundry “things.” I seem to be a magnet for junk mail, “I don’t know where to put this” things, and I admit organization is not my strong suit. All that said, moving farm is monumentally more complex. And setting up house takes a back seat to setting up farm.

This move took us from Montana to Washington. I admit, my first three years in Montana I truly hated. It wasn’t the climate, it was the people, and the community, or lack there of. Otherwise, Montana is a glorious place. It truly was a slow process to meet nice people, to find my core, to find my friends. But once doing so it was time to go. Not just for me, it seems I may have been the first, but those same friends are all leaving Montana also. So they say, birds of a feather… But I digress. My arrival to Washington found me meeting nice people immediately. Even people who would give up their time to help me set up farm. There was resetting all the fencing around the night pens. The livestock would have to be dry-lotted for a time, as the pasture space was not completely fenced, and this would require labor and money… most of which was being spent on the move itself.

Next was the day kennels for the dogs. I’m so grateful that this space has an insulated shop. They are protected from intrusion of the two and four legged kind, they are secure in their space, they have room to play and potty while I’m at work, and when I come home, they enjoy a very large yard acreage which they love. We take time to do some training on sheep and to go to a class to work on obedience or agility on a very small scale.

But this weekend was different. Finally I was in a position to set up the pasture fencing from a financial perspective. But the labor is intensive. But the Weed Control Board made things rather convenient in some ways. The acreages all around me are covered in knap weed. I never saw so much of it in my life. Acres and acres of knap weed. One neighbor has done nothing, but three of us have mowed, including myself. I lucked out, as I saw one neighbor with someone mowing, and hot-footed over to ask for my own fields to be mowed. I paid the man, and he mowed late into the night. Then the space around the creek was mine. I weed wacked a path for the Premier 1 Fencing I had finally purchase… huge investment, but so mobile. The process took much of one weekend of mowing… and then this weekend more mowing, and finally putting the fence up. The only real casualty occurred when I forgot that the electric was on, and went to connect some wire… oops.

Sheep on knapweed and wormwood

Premier Fence

There is still the main big pasture to mow, but Summer turned into Autumn, which has turned into Winter. The creek crossing becomes a raging river with each snow melt, so it will probably be Spring before that back pasture is finished. I’m still debating using just the Premier fencing instead of laboring over t-posts and wire again. The new place has many practicalities, though less acreage, and closer neighbors, than I would choose… but it feels as though this property takes good care of use, and so we are inclined to also take good care of it. The owner cares for the property, and I did not have to do much clean up from the previous tenant, as I did in the Montana place – that property had so much trash all over it, and the house was in such a sad state, it was depressing but for the beautiful land itself. It really it true that pride in ownership transfers to tenants. I look forward to next Spring, and the next garden, and putting in some roses.

Posted in The Farm | Leave a comment


From the archives – unplublished….

Mercy! Took five puppies out to the hay feeder to play. They raced around and had a blast. Aqua Boy busied himself exploring scents up higher in the feeder, perhaps the fragrant mixture of sheep poo and wool? :P

We got back to the house to find one Miss Red had awakened from her slumber. As the puppies had begun to bring me pieces of linoleum from their castle, I felt it necessary to take them back outside, and give Miss Red a stretch of time on the hay. So off we went.

All the puppies now go up and down the stairs. Benazir (the incomparable Miss Pink) is the wildest of the bunch, and the prankster. She likes to dive bomb everyone, and will play equally with the adults and the puppies. She bites hard, and loves pressure while on the bite.

After our walk out to the hay and play time, and the walk back, there are now six puppies passed out quietly in their castle. Said castle was freshly mucked out today, and given fresh hay and wood pellets. Long gone are the blankets that once made soft comfy beds. Just too much laundry to do when this group of puppies is so messy, and insists on peeing on blankets.

Posted in B Litter, Belgian Shepherds | Leave a comment

The Development of the Future Soul Mate

It seems everyone has a formula for the success of their puppies. There is the “Super Puppy Program” which hinges on early neuro-stimulation and stressors scientifically “proven” to increase your puppy’s ability to handle stress as an adult. There are “rules” for exposing puppies to X number of people in X number of days. There are “rules” for exposing puppies to X number of “new” things each day. These are not unfounded processes, as they are based on current understandings of cerebral development. However, there is also just common sense. I think parenting was more effective at times in our culture when we did not rely so much on the expertise of others. I think that when we rely solely on the instruction of others, and fail to honor our own inner voice and the voice of experienced mentors, then we fail our children, puppies, society, friends, etc.

The Busy Bumble Beez have received their “early neuro exercises” befitting of the “Super Puppy Program” and have met new persons in their life, though not 100 people in 10 days, dare I say. They have met chickens, sheep, big white dogs, a black dog, and climbed a manure pile.

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) meeting the rooster

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) meeting the rooster

They have smelled human remains. They have perfected the art of movement on a Sit N Spin. They have learned about snow, sheep poo, moss, trees, toddlers, teenagers, men, women, music and television, pots and pans, blenders, food processors, telephones, brushes, Dremmels and X-Pens. They have ridden in a vehicle in a crate, and have had their first outing to a novel location. They have walked on unstable surfaces indoors and out, including the Sit N Spin and an inverted umbrella.

The object of the umbrella is to introduce something new and unstable to walk on. It is just one measure of their confidence with unstable footing. These puppies didn't care, and felt it was a better chew toy than wobble board.

The object of the umbrella is to introduce something new and unstable to walk on. It is just one measure of their confidence with unstable footing. These puppies didn’t care, and felt it was a better chew toy than wobble board.

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) tearing the umbrella

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) tearing the umbrella

Their fifth week did include new persons tending to their needs, whilst I flew out of town for the funeral of my beloved Grandmamma McEntire. I visited with family I had not seen in 25 years. The puppies had 3 caregivers to visit them. My neighbor Stephanie came throughout the day to rotate the adults through the backyard for extensive play and potty time. She fed the puppies and adults each morning. She brought her toddler and teenager to help and to visit. My friends Sharon (fine breeder of Red Royal Standard Poodles) and Kathleen (skilled manger and rearer of all things wild, including coyote, wolf and fox for a game farm) came each day to spend additional time with the puppies, and to offer their second feeding, and attend to any medication needs for adults.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

On my return, I continued their education outdoors, and added the human remains scent to their play pen. They just figured the scent tube was another chew toy. We also climbed the manure pile. It seemed like a nice mountain to climb for babies.

"Little Bit" (Bhanavi, a.k.a Yellow Girl) making her way down the manure pile

“Little Bit” (Bhanavi, a.k.a Yellow Girl) making her way down the manure pile

After playing, they got a wipe down with a damp cloth. They learned about the Dremmel and had their nails trimmed (it was too hard to see their nails to use clippers, so I switched to the Dremmel, which I use on the adults anyway).

Climbing the hill.

Climbing the hill.

Puppies at the top of a hill, which they found very easy to go up, but not so easy to come down.

Puppies at the top of a hill, which they found very easy to go up, but not so easy to come down.

A day after their 6-week birthday, the puppies began to climb the stairs on their own. And we ventured over to the forest edge, and they played on some tree stumps.

Puppies exploring the edge of the forest where many new scents await.

Puppies exploring the edge of the forest where many new scents await.

Benazir (Pink Girl) playing on a log.

Benazir (Pink Girl) playing on a log.

They also got their first brushing, which they all enjoyed. They also entered into their first “fear” period, which probably coincides more with the changing depth of field in their vision. Puppies are at first blind, then see shapes, then are very near-sited before this continued expansion gives them the eagle vision of a proper predator. When we’re outside, they can have trouble seeing me and Savannah if they don’t stay close. But on this day, they began to notice things above them, below them, and farther away from them. Some appeared a bit startled, others not. I remember in the A litter, the Purple Girl was dubbed the Purple Dragon. She was dominant and had a temper. The day her ears stood up, she became a princess. It’s so interesting how changes in their senses can change their behaviors. Pink Girl’s ears stood up, her vision changed, and so she was a bit startled by things coming toward her on this day, but much less so two days later.

Two days after their 6-week birthday was their first field trip. It was a fairly haphazard day, having had to travel a bit to fetch the last of hay I had purchased before this weekend’s snow set in. I also had to move a refuse pile from under the barn roof where the snow will pile as it avalanches off the roof. And I picked up the LGD’s bones from the field so that there won’t be sharp bones buried under the snow. Then I quickly loaded the six Beez into a crate in the back of the truck (which has a canopy) and off we went to Montana Earth Pottery, the business and passion of friend and fine breeder of Airedales, Judy Howell. Since it was cold, we carried the crate inside the shop. We probably both regret this maneuver as the puppies in the crate were screeching, waling, howling, and making all sorts of other profane remarks about not being allowed to explore en masse. We let one puppy out at a time to meet Judy and observe their explorations. They were fairly even except that Yellow Girl (Bhanavi) made more eye contact with her new friend, and was the most explorative (of course). She was also the loudest screecher when it was not her turn. Pink Girl (Benazir) also made reasonable eye contact, and was very independent. Aqua Boy took his customary moment to think on things, and then wanted to go about his independent way. Green Girl was her sweet social self and then explored. Orange Boy (Bashir) was also his sweet self, and seemed soft and pliable. Red Girl (Bhagavathi) was pliable and did explore but mostly wanted to be by the humans. When we first arrived, they were all a bit trembly or shivery, but otherwise, still explorative, confident and wagging their little Bee tails. Nobody really stood out in an extreme or dramatic way.

Then we let them out in two groups of three, just to have a quick romp. I noted the two boys zeroed in on the tupper of food (with the lid on). They got in the scent cone and went right to it. Not that I expect any less than this but I note these things. Aqua Boy was the only one to venture to the kitty litter pan. He was not permitted to ingest Kitty Roca. I think at that time, our human ears wore out from the screeching. They are getting better about this at home. I try to reward silence with visitation and feeding.

We had a big snow this weekend, so I will have to ponder their future visits. We have a plan for a visit to do a small temperament test, and a visit to evaluate drives in a novel setting. Though I prefer to look at drives at 10-12 weeks, the timing of Christmas and travel makes placing the Beez in their new homes at 10 weeks more favorable. I will have to plan their early scent tests soon :P

The puppies learned about snow.

The puppies learned about snow.

Snow on the nose

Snow on the nose

Posted in B Litter, Belgian Shepherds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swarming Beez

The early morning began with a little escape from the puppies night time Hive. One Miss Pink Girl was exploring the bedroom, unimpeded, as her family watched on. After situating the adults and lone juvenile, I released the Beez from their Hive, and enjoyed the sound of 24 galloping Bee Paws across the house, while I prepared their breakfast. This was not accomplished without some difficulty, as the Beez began to hang onto my foot and leg with either teeth or paws.

This morning’s meal was much the same as other meals, raw goat milk, ground lamb, natural anthelmintics, and vitamin C. Though last night, they got minced deer, and other days they have had egg or cottage cheese.

After a washing from their mother and half sister Aarti, the Busy Beez have fallen into slumber… quiet descends on the house. Today’s agenda includes play time outside in the barn. There lies on the ground 4-5″ of freshly fallen snow. We’ll see which Beez choose to touch the snow.

The little ones are changing so much by the day now. As I describe them, I note each individual does not develop at the same rate as the next, so I don’t pass judgement so much at this point, but observe and take note.

Yellow Girl, 4 weeks

Yellow Girl, 4 weeks

On their romps in the house and out doors, Yellow Girl seems to be a global explorer, investigating independently, and confidently. She is very committed to her decisions, and focused. She will bark loudly when discontented. She is a very Busy Bee, and I see her needing plenty of stimulation and activities to keep her fulfilled.

Pink Girl, 4 weeks

Pink Girl, 4 weeks

Pink Girl is strong and full of fire. She is independent, acts alone in her her decisions to explore, where to sleep, etc. She is biting and tugging, and pushes back when pushed on. She is calm in neuro-stimulation exercises. She leaps into me to grab at my clothes, and today, barked and chased the broom. Yesterday, I played a gentle game of tug with her. Early tug games should be rewarding, but keep in mind the growth of the puppy so as not to cause injury to the jaw, neck, head, etc.

Green Girl, 4 weeks

Green Girl, 4 weeks

Green Girl is sometimes reactive in a “I’ll kick your butt!” sort of way, within the mix of puppy play and fights. Puppies learn about the power of their bite and how to engage appropriately through these early games, as well as through their mother. Savannah has had to deliver some reprimands for biting during nursing, and has also corrected some unfavorable play around her face. In Green Girl’s case, she will respond with the fire of a dragon when crossed by a siblings painful bite. She is also explorative, and investigative, though at present seems more a follower, or needy of the pack to choose exploration.

Red Girl, 4 weeks

Red Girl, 4 weeks

Red Girl is strong in that she will speak her mind through her voice or reprimand to a sibling, but seems to be more an observer of things at this stage. She has a beautiful sit as she watches the world around her. Like Green Girl, she prefers the company of her siblings to independent exploration.

Orange Boy, 4 weeks

Orange Boy, 4 weeks

Orange Boy is very similar to Red Girl. While both of them bite and engage in play, they seem a bit softer than the top dogs, and more of a follower. I say the were soft with a grain of caution, as none of the puppies seems particularly soft in the truest sense of the word. From the A’s, there was a clearly soft puppy in Pinkie, and I don’t see that in any of the Beez, nor would I expect a truly soft puppy from this combination. But of course, there will be degrees of dominance, hard/soft, drive, etc. in every litter.

Aqua Boy, 4 weeks

Aqua Boy, 4 weeks

Aqua Boy is an interesting combination of traits. Being larger than the others, he has natural advantages. He is very strong, and will act independently and then other times prefer company. He can instigate puppy fights, and can often cause quite a few of them. But it seems more that he doesn’t know his strength yet, and so he instills some insults. He will cry when a sibling bites his ear too hard, but recovers quickly. He has been, early on, the one with the most corrections for biting, from his mother. What I predict in him, is a boy that is a bit slower to mature, but whom is cocky, somewhat arrogant, and perhaps a little foolhardy. He reminds me of his father, more than his mother. With him, I can almost hear the wheels turning in his head. I am fascinated by him really, as I can’t wait to see what he does next. He’ll sit for a moment, as though plotting some plan, and then pounce into action, usually to attack a sibling.

I will be sure and take photos today of their new experiences.

Posted in B Litter, Belgian Shepherds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing up a Bee.

The “Beez” are growing so beautiful. They are playful, and vocal, and each has so much personality. Red Girl and Aqua Boy have developed the most beautiful watchful sits when they just want to observe something. Often I will be sitting with the puppies, and all of them in my lap, but then those two will sit back, as though waiting politely for their own opportunity for private attention.

Each day I try to bring something new to their lives, either a new toy, a new scent, new sound, new person or dog, or new environment to explore. They went outside for the first time on their 4 week birthday, and met Joseph, one of my Livestock Guardian Dogs.

belgian sheepdog puppy with LGD

Pink Girl of the B litter meets Joseph (LGD), on her 4 week birthday

They went outside then again two days later, and met a toddler and his father.

Each morning, the puppies go to a playpen in the living room, which is where the crates are for the adults. The adults are only in crates for meal time, times when I’m away from home, or times when I want to give them some privacy to chew on a bone, or I need to clean house or something. It’s also the room with the dog yard access, so it is here that the puppies witness the most activity of the house. At night, the puppies return to the whelping “den” so that we are all sleeping in the same room. At first, I carried the puppies in their green basket.

puppies carry basket

The “Beez” are carried in this basket when going outside.

This morning, the puppies said they wanted to follow me to their playpen, instead of being carried. It’s probably what I started yesterday when we were outside. It took very little effort to call the puppies, as one would expect. So this morning when I had two puppies in my arms and was headed to the playpen, one popped over the barrier to follow. So I put the two in hand on the ground, opened the barrier, and off we went as a family, me, Savannah and six little beez.

It’s so nice to have two places for them, so one can be cleaned and set up with surprises while the other is occupied. Today they got an empty toilet paper roll. Yes this is a magical thing. The puppies have many toys, including wool balls, rubber balls, Tuffy balls, Tuffy animals, teddy bears, rubber Dynomite. But their favorite things today are their plastic water bottle which crunches loudly, their new cardboard, and their plastic infant bumble bee that is strapped to the side of the xpen. The bee has a hard plastic body, but soft head, and the wings are fabric with krinkle inside. The puppies pull on the wings and it makes the bee body flash a red light. They of course love their My Pal Scout also.

After arriving to their play pen, they enjoyed some raw goat milk with ground lamb and natural anthelmintic (DE, Rascal and GSE) and vitamin C, followed by some play time and a washing by their sister Aarti. Aarti has taken Nanny duty very seriously. She bathes them, “nurses” them (no milk) and is very concerned for their constant supervision. Last night I had to take her out to her crate because Savannah wasn’t going in to nurse them. It’s lovely to see natural mothering skills in any bitch like that. Savannah allows all the girls to visit the puppies now, but doesn’t want the boys to even look at them yet. With their great love and need to chew on things, due to teething, they were given a nice elk bone to rip some flesh from. They needed no instruction, and set to the work of tearing at it.

puppy with bone

The puppies are wanting to chew on things so much, they got to tear up a meaty elk bone.

The puppies are showing beautiful social temperaments, all of them are biting very hard, are coming towards all sorts of sounds, demanding interaction with the adult dogs and loving all their human interactions equally.

Posted in B Litter, Belgian Shepherds | Leave a comment

The Gifts of Autumn

As I watch the radiant hues of Autumn spring forth over the land, the trees beaming with change, and carpeting the pastures and hillsides with golden leaves, I consider the immense anticipation this time of year brings. It is a season of preparation for Winter, a time when our energies draw in to reflective spaces. It is also a time when I consider our Winter skijor and sledding activities. This year brings a special excitement also with the arrival of the “B of Intention Hill” Litter, affectionately referred to as the “Beez.”

On October 2nd between 9:05am and 11:20am, Savannah delivered her six puppies, four girls and two boys. The puppies are lovely reds and fawns, fairly consistent in appearance, but having a split in sizes much like the A Litter. Their arrival felt surprising, as I was counting on 2-3 more days, and noting that Savannah’s milk wasn’t running as it had with her first litter. In fact I was preparing to head to the veterinary clinic for her xray when she was frantically in first stage labor. I’d missed her temperature drop, though might have caught the tail end of it. I came home Tuesday to see she’d had a rough day, and the next morning, she began labor in earnest. But I was still surprised. A couple weeks later a friend’s litter also came in four days before expected, and was the earliest whelp she’d had in her many years of breeding. We decided it was the moon. In any case, the Beez arrived in fine form. They are a vocal bunch, creating a chorus of trills, yips, yaps, puppy barks and howls.

This year’s whelping area is the same as for the A’s, in that it’s the walk-in closet space. The space has a linoleum floor, but no door, making it an easy place to observe them and visit them, yet protect them from most drafts. It provides enough shelter to keep it warm in the chilly Autumn of Montana. They have a heat lamp and the primary room space has a radiator. I didn’t use the wood whelping box sides this time. I put primary colored anti-fatigue mats down, creating a nursery style look, and created pig rails with 4″ PVC. This box has less bedding than the A’s because with no sides to keep the blankets down, Savannah creates mountains of bedding for puppies to get buried in. It’s worked fantastic, is easy to keep clean, and is nicely roomy.

As the puppies emerged, I found myself noting the similarities and differences between them and the A’s. Choosing their ribbon colors was like matching crayons to auras. It was easy. It’s amazing that even a newborn baby exudes a radiant aura… they emerge from the womb fully alive with the potential of their entire life, just as a seed carries the potential of an entire tree.

Red Girl is fairly independent and strong. She can frequently be seen touring the whelping den, and yipping, as though trying to see if each section of the whelping box will sound precisely the same as the next. She is not particularly needy, though not overtly independent. She’s a nice sized puppy, and should be a nice deep fawn or mahogany.

Pink Girl is fairly a mystery to me. While Pink is clearly the color she expresses to me, she is not the same kind of Pink that came through in the A Litter. This Pink Girl is as much as beautiful devi as Pinkie (A’s), but she is also fierce. She is Kali. She also is very vocal. She was born with considerable white on her paws and chest, but this is filling in with fawn. She’ll still have white on her chest. She is the first that I observed in a puppy “tantrum.” I went to pick her up and she wrinkled her little face up in a complete tyrade and let out a screech that only a cat could admire. Of course she settled in to appreciate back scratches and tummy rubs. She is a lovely puppy, very expressive, loves to cuddle, but is also a strong presence. I expect great things from her.

Green Girl was initially a very strong presence in the whelping den. At first she seemed the clear alpha of the girls, but her early lead has tapered as Pink Girl and Red Girl have exceeded her size in weight and attitude. We’ll see what Green Girl brings as her flowers blossom. I predict a strong and intelligent thinker, like her big sister Abhithi (A’s).

Yellow Girl is a flower. I cannot say it in any better way. She is a fascinating golden nugget amid a sea of red puppies. She is beautifully feminine, and quiet. She snuggles comfortably under the puppy pile, or in my lap. She is no pushover however, and as the puppies begin to play, she engages equally with her somewhat larger siblings. I predict a sweet and very loyal girl with plenty of drive and highly biddable. I also predict she will be a nice compact little pocket rocket, like her mother Savannah.

Orange Boy was an early and clear choice for the famous “Orange Boy Genre.” He has been highly active, frequently touring the whelping box, and showed a clear advantage in scent development over his siblings. This is not to say that all things won’t be equal with this skill, just that he had earlier development. Orange Boy is vocal, strong, and confident. While he can seem very independent, he will always be found sleeping in the puppy heap, and also likes to snuggle. He was the first to venture outside the whelping box, the first to investigate new toys in the whelping box and I predict a very agile boy with great problem solving skills. I also predict he will be into everything and will demand and occupation.

Aqua Boy… what to say about “Boris.” He’s huge. He has grown more per day than his siblings, and on this day is nearly a full pound heavier than the others. He is arrogant and independent. He has no need for anybody, yet enjoys company. He is happy to sleep alone or to spread himself over top of his siblings for warmth and cushion. He was first to splash his way into the milk pan for their first puppy meal at 3 weeks (goat milk). He can be strong in his resistance to early neuro-stimulation, and on one day that I trimmed his nails, he held onto my knuckle the entire time, with his toothless mouth. I love his strong presence, and clear leadership. I believe he will be very much like his father Gabbit, strong, and a real work horse, with a strong desire to please.

Please visit the puppies on their Facebook page (click here) to see their photos and videos.

Posted in B Litter, Belgian Shepherds | 2 Comments