Twelve-week-old Northwoods Diana (RU-CH Northwoods Nirvana x Northwoods Carbon, 2017) exhibits remarkable poise, style and intensity while pointing a bobwhite quail.
Even though much of raising puppies is simply playing with them and enjoying their antics, Betsy and I do have a set schedule of things to introduce and what training to start. Bird introduction, which we begin at about 12 weeks, is probably the most fun and interesting. At this age, it’s all instinct; but for us as breeders, it’s really exciting to see what genetic tendencies and qualities we recognize.
This spring, two litters were whelped within 10 days of each other–Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Nickel and Northwoods Nirvana x Northwoods Carbon. Betsy and I kept four puppies from the first litter and two from the second.
We eagerly look forward to our puppy training sessions at the end of the day. Using either bobwhite quail or chukars flushed from their houses, we walk the puppies through the area where the birds flew. Watching them discover bird scent, follow, point (maybe hold for a bit), back (maybe) and then chase the birds is a highlight of our day.
The eight puppies out of Northwoods Bismuth by Northwoods Grits are now seven weeks old and have grown into little dogs.
Very considerate on the part of Northwoods Carbon, Jerry and I thought, that she whelped a litter of eight during the afternoon on May 12. No bleary-eyed, middle-of -the-night vigils this time. All eight are tri-color and look like miniature versions of their dark-headed parents. The sire of this litter is Northwoods Nirvana.
Northwoods Carbon whelped seven females (!) and one male on May 12. Here on Day 4, they are still tiny but healthy with round, full tummies.
This brings our total number of puppies in the kennel to 23. That’s not a record…but darn close. Within 10 days of each other in 2015, dams Northwoods Carly Simon, Vixen and Chablis whelped 24 puppies.
Joining Carbon this year are Northwoods Bismuth and Nickel. Bismuth’s litter by Northwoods Grits is now seven weeks old. Completely independent of Bismuth now, they have their own kennel run, eat real food and lap water out of a bucket.
The seven puppies out of Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Nickel at two weeks of age just about fill up their heated nest. Too, they weight an average of two pounds…more than doubling their weight .
Also sired by Grits, Nickel whelped her litter of four males and three females on May 1. With the exception of one male that is orange and white (Grandsires Shadow Oak Bo and Northwoods Blue Ox are both orange), all are tricolor.
By two weeks of age, eyes have opened. A Grits x Nickel female give me a sleepy stare.
It seems miraculous that within eight short weeks, tiny creatures that start out totally helpless and weighing less than one pound grow into 10-pound, independent beings that look like little dogs.
With the NCAA championship basketball game streaming from my laptop in the background, Northwoods Bismuth whelped her litter of eight puppies by Northwoods Grits on Monday, April 3. In less time than the game took, Bismuth easily delivered four males and four females. All are tri-color.
The litter is now almost three weeks old. They have grown from tiny creatures to vigorous, plump, easily distinguishable puppies. They crawl out of the nest to relieve themselves but still spend most of their time either nursing or sleeping in an ever-changing pile.
Bismuth was whelped in 2014—the year Jerry and I chose the elements as our puppy naming theme. It was a very good year! Among others whelped that we still own are Carbon, Nickel and Platinum while two other outstanding dogs, Mercury and Gold, were sold.
On a spectacular, late afternoon workout, Northwoods Blitzen (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2016) found and pointed six grouse and one woodcock. As Bob Wehle might have said, “This is my brag dog!”
Wild bird contacts are essential when developing our puppies. I’m exposing them as much as possible to wild birds so their hunting instincts, natural abilities, style and poise can be fostered. All are key considerations when selecting future breeding dogs.
Showing impressive style and poise for a 13-week-old puppy, Northwoods Hercules (RU-CH Erin’s Prometheus x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2016) points a single bobwhite in native wiregrass.
As soon as the Georgia quail season ends in late February, dog trainers on most plantations focus on working their puppies. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to know several of them and so I spend most mornings in March bracing our young dogs with theirs.
During a morning training run on a beautifully maintained private quail plantation, setter Northwoods Mica (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Nortwoods Carbon, 2016) and pointer Northwoods Blitzen (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2016) share point.
When back in Minnesota, I can’t wait to get our puppies in the woods on grouse and woodcock. Amazingly, the transition is usually easy for them.
In a scene reminiscent of a Bev Doolittle painting, Northwoods Gabbro (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016) sticks a woodcock.
By the time nesting begins and training season ends, I have a good idea of the abilities of each pup. And yeah, it’s a lot of fun, too!
Northwoods Slate (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016) stopped in mid-stride, ear flipped back, when he caught scent of a quail.
In a picturesque setting of broom sedge, Northwoods Chalcedony (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2016) points a covey of bobwhite quail.
During the evening of January 9 and lasting into the early morning of the 10th, Northwoods Chablis whelped five puppies—four males and one female. This litter, by Blue Riptide, is her last.
On both top and bottom, this litter represents the origins and core of our setter breeding program. On the top, Riptide is out of Blue Chief, one of our most prepotent sires, while his dam Blue Blossom through CH Blue Streak goes back to our first setter litter in 1995.
Chablis is out of one of our favorite nicks, Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice. She carries the best of CH Houston’s Belle, CH First Rate, CH Blue Streak and CH Blue Smoke, which again, goes back to our first litter.
Chablis’ puppies are now five weeks old. On a warm, sunny winter day in Georgia, Jerry and I carried them onto the grass and brought along play toys and a bowl of water.
The puppies romped and scampered until they could no more and then curled up for naps.
Five of the eight puppies out of Northwoods Carly Simon by RU-CH Erin’s Promethus are now with their new families. Three males flew to Minnesota, another male flew to Virginia and one female puppy landed in Wisconsin.
That leaves three with Jerry and me. We kept two puppies for ourselves and the male chosen by the owner of Prometheus, John Mathys, will live with us until spring.
The reports so far are very good. Not much is more fun or more heartwarming than pupppies but they do require attention, care and diligence, especially at the beginning.
Ben and Maureen sent photos, too.
Just so you know, we really love this puppy!!! He is a bit of work but tons of fun. We have ice fished 5 days and he seems to like it as much as I do. ~ Maureen & Ben, Minnesota
This little man has taken Richmond by storm. Eeryone loves him, especially us. As you’re well aware, he’s a feisty one. We love that (although not sure my 9-year-old Lab would agree). Thanks so much. ~ Beth & Vance, Virginia
We just wanted to send you a note that we are so in love with our puppy already. He is such a good boy and is so fun to be around! He is learning very quickly and we are so impressed. Our other older dog is thrilled to have a playmate and they have been enjoying each other’s company. ~ Annie & Dan, Minnesota
He is doing great!! Very few accidents in the house!! We go for walks, just short ones. Everybody absolutely loves him where ever we take him!! ~ Teresa & Kevin, Minnesota
There’s nothing better than a bird dog puppy at Christmas.
The litter out of Northwoods Carly Simon by Erin’s Prometheus is now four weeks old. Suddenly, they seem so grown up.
And with good reason. Jerry and I think some of the biggest changes occur between two and four weeks. At first, puppies are totally dependent on their dam for everything—food, elimination, protection and grooming. Their only senses are smell and touch. They spend their entire time nestled together, nursing or sleeping.
From those tiny, practically interchangeable creatures, individual puppies emerge. They gain two more senses—sight and hearing—and teeth appear. We begin feeding them dog food softened with warm water. Paws first, they dive in and gobble it up until muzzles and front legs are covered.
Puppies have no fear at this age. Socialization increases with both Carly and their littermates but this is also when Jerry and I spend time with them so they become accustomed to people.
A major change is their mobility. Little legs are gaining enough strength to support their rear ends and they waste no time testing them out. They leave their heated nest and stagger around the dog house to eliminate and investigate. We then removed the barrier between their house and kennel run and they quickly scrambled out the door.
We also think much of the success of a litter depends on the nature of the dam. Carly is amazingly patient and gentle. I’ll never forget one quiet afternoon when Carly was stretched out on her side. A big male puppy crawled over the pile of his littermates towards Carly’s head. When he got as far as he wanted, he crawled up and fell asleep sprawled across her neck. Carly didn’t budge.
Although there is some biological basis to the timing of when a dam whelps, Jerry and I haven’t figured it out. In fact, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for us and our dams. We take their temperatures; we watch their appetites; we listen for scratching and other signs of nest preparation. And in our 21 years of breeding and subsequent crowding around whelping nests, dams have whelped at all hours of the day and night…sometimes even stretching across 24 hours.
So we were grateful to Northwoods Carly Simon on the morning of Saturday, November 26. She began at about 7:00 and in a couple spurts and then a final female, she was done and resting by 12:30 p.m.
Carly whelped eight puppies. Two are tri-color females and six are males. Of the males, two are tri-color and four are black-and-white. Although this is Carly’s fourth litter, it’s her first by RU-CH Erin’s Prometheus.
One might think after countless litters and many bleary-eyed vigils that Jerry and I are now blasé about whelping puppies. Not at all. We still consider the whole thing miraculous. We’re still amazed at the sight of a tiny sac, resembling a bubble when it first appears, and we’re still in awe when the dam’s instincts kick in and we watch her careful, thorough ministrations to her newborn.