We Raise a Litter, and Then Each Puppy’s Story Begins

We are thinking about doing a breeding. The dog and bitch are good phenotypic representatives of their breed. They have compatible and complementary pedigrees. They have their health clearances, and there are some good people who hope they will be on the short list for a Schipperke puppy from this breeding.

In due time, she comes in season, and he is so “in love”…they mate every other day until she says, “Nope, I am not doing that anymore!”

So now we mark our calendar for the probable range of due dates. We give her our usual good food, and we supplement with a brewer’s yeast tablet (an excellent source of B vitamins). We watch, and yes, all the signs are there. The coat on her abdomen starts disappearing, and before long we can feel little bumps moving sometimes. She starts spending more time near the whelping box, which we have put in our bedroom.

And then the day she has chosen arrives. We have gathered the supplies: clean, dry towels; a scale; and a tablet for recording sex, birth weights, and the color of each “collar” they will have, so we can tell who is who (not a problem if there is only one of a sex, but necessary if there are two or more). Our wonderful veterinarian is on standby just in case.

And here is the first—a girl! Wonderful!

Mother tends to her new baby diligently. And in about thirty minutes, she produces a boy. Great!

We are all happy to have one of each. And in two more hours, she is done. We have two boys and two girls. Healthy, sturdy puppies, and she does a wonderful job with them.

We have made a preliminary commitment to the people who hope to get one of these puppies; we share photos and reports with Facebook friends.

Now, we watch and enjoy the puppies’ progress. We delight in the puppy breath, the first time they “taste” us, the little noises they make as they find out who they are, the first puppy slop. We love the wonderful little puppies they are.

And now the story of their lives begins. All-breed conformation shows. Developing their inherent potential for all the performance events available. Watching as they mature, and taking great delight as we see that they are becoming everything we hoped for when we chose to do this breeding.

We receive in the measure that we give—welcoming novices, patiently helping them learn (just as others helped us), and congratulating the winners as we compete with others of our breed. It is about giving … just to give. Because you see, all the classic, trite phrases are true. We get what we give. And for these precious new puppies, the rest is still unwritten.

Bonnie Lou Baker, Schipperke Club of America; June 2015 AKC Gazette