With Each Litter, Joy and Responsibility

With the planning and excitement of breeding a litter comes the responsibility to raise the puppies right and carefully place them into loving, suitable homes.

I have decided to breed a litter of puppies. I have scoured the country for just the right male to take my bitch to. The male is a big winner, and the combined pedigree will have some dogs in common. Not too close, and not too distant. Both the male and female are typey and sound. The puppies should have both good type and structure. I can hardly contain myself!

The bitch is in whelp—there are only a few more days to go. The puppies are coming, the puppies are coming, the puppies are coming! …

Yahoo, they are here! Momma dog presented me with 10 wiggly bundles of joy. I just love puppy breath! I love to hold them and stroke their muzzles, and their bellies are so soft. It is hard to resist just holding them for hours on end. All are nursing well, and momma is doing a fine job of keeping them clean. I am giving momma lots of fresh water, extra vitamins, and plenty of food so she will keep her weight up. No need to have her look skinny just because she has 10 piranhas attached to her nipples.

This litter is just as expected: beautiful. Now how do I choose which one to keep? I like Junior here because he looks a lot like his dam. No, wait, look at little Missy … she looks just like her sire. Oh, Lord, help me decide! They are all so nice. Such a dilemma. I think I should wait until they are 8 weeks old to see. By then one should stand out as the pick.

Finally they are 8 weeks old—and yes, there is the one. A really typey and sound little girl puppy. I will keep her. I have visions of the show ring already: lots of lovely wins, with ribbons to match.

Now to find loving homes for the other puppies. One of the most important things is to be sure the babies will still be wanted after the newness wears off. I do not want my puppies to end up in rescue—or worse, the shelter. I have not worried and worked so hard just to have them discarded after they’re grown and the newness has worn off.

It is a big responsibility to produce a litter. Be a responsible pet owner and breeder, and make sure all of your puppies and adult dogs are in the right home. All of my non-show puppies are sold on a spay/neuter contract, and I hold the registration papers until the new owners present proof of sterilization. —Anna May Fleischli Brown, Saint Bernard Club of America