I have been quite remiss in keeping this blog up to date over the past two weeks. The puppies have been running me off my feet, and keeping me far from my computer! But it’s all good, and everyone is doing marvellously well. Nevertheless, it’s high time for an update!
As I will describe in a separate post, at 7.5 weeks the puppies had their temperaments tested and their structure evaluated. With this information, in addition to my own evaluations, I started to make formal decisions around which pup should go where and sent out my offers.
As it turned out, I didn’t have the right puppy for every home on my pre-approved list, and so I still have two left to place. Which two? I’m not sure yet. Given how much the puppies have changed just in the last week, I am holding off making any more decisions about placing the remaining pups until they are 10 weeks.
Some things – like structure and basic temperament – won’t change. But as I work with each pup and as they mature and become more confident, they show me more about their potential. As their confidence builds you get to see more of their personality. I think this is why Griff has always been such a draw to people. He has been a more confident pup right from the start, and seems to almost have been born more mature than the others. So his personality has always been quite clear: happy, easy going, clownish.
Now that the others are catching up, I’m starting to really see who each one is. And I am loving getting to know them individually as we work on foundation training: ‘It’s Yer Choice’ and other shaping games, crate games, recalls, and getting used to a collar (and eventually leash). Plus I’m taking them individually for car rides or to hang out with me in other parts of the house.
Raising a litter with this level of attention and intensity is relatively new for me, and it continues to be a tremendous learning experience. The big Week 8 lesson is: what you see at 7 weeks is not necessarily what you will see at 8 weeks, or as an adult, so cool your heels and don’t make any decisions at this age.
Here is the Week 8 Round Up, presented (as always) in birth order.
First, there’s Griffon:
True to his nature from the start, Griff continues to be very much his own little force of nature. But now that the others have caught up in energy and confidence, the gap between him and the rest is not nearly as pronounced. He continues to be the biggest puppy, and is still confident, outgoing, and happy. He marches out into the world with tail high, looking for adventure. But he is good natured and loves his cuddles, and no longer more energetic than the others. In fact, he seems to be almost a little less so these days! What an interesting shift.
Griff is going to need a home that has the skills to manage his confidence and enthusiasm using positive reinforcement techniques, and also to keep him mentally stimulated and focused. Otherwise he will find himself a job! And become quite focused on it. Like herding me by latching his needle teeth onto my ankles, despite the fun craziness of the other puppies running around and playing. His focus on the job will make him an excellent worker, but he is going to need to be employed!
Next we have no-longer-so-wee Raven! I call her the dark horse of the litter. Quiet and unassuming, Rave is showing herself to be quite brilliant. She reminds me of the nerdy little kid who sits on the sidelines, watching the other kids, and then blows everyone away by not just learning what they are doing through observation, but applying it in action at a whole new level.
This little girl has the structure, smarts, and temperament to do anything that is asked of her. Her quietness is all confidence. I am excited to watch her bloom.
Next we have Lark, the only tricoloured pup of the litter and a sweet-as-pie little fluff ball. As with Rave, Week 8 is seeing Lark really coming into her own. At 6 weeks she had been quite cautious about the world, which inspired me to carefully work on building her confidence in new environments. With just a little work – getting her out and about, exploring and having fun in new environments in ways that let her feel safe – today she is so much more confident that I hardly see any of that reluctance left!
Lark is the perfect example of how just a little individualized work at this young age can make a lifetime of difference. Her future family will need to carry on the confidence building fun and games that we have started, but she is well on her way already.
Built more for herding than agility, this little girl is very people focused and has a tremendous desire to please. She is going to be very easy to train as a result. Furthermore, she was the first to show serious interest in stock, and boldness with them to boot! And her sweet personality wins everyone over. This puppy is going to be some lucky person’s heart dog.
Puppy number four is Cooper, now S.N.A.P. Snap was, as his name suggests, snapped up! First puppy to be selected, his wonderful new home has been visiting daily, working individually with him while waiting as patiently as possible for him to be ready to fly the coop. Gentle in nature like Lark, with a strong desire to please and show ring quality structure, Snap is going to have an exciting career in agility!
This sweet boy will be the first to leave, heading home when he turns 9 weeks. This is a little sooner than I generally would let a puppy go, but his home is local to me (yay!) and so he can come back and play with his littermates to continue building his dog socialization skills. As at this age individual attention is critical, and Snap will be getting the best of both worlds. Plus this frees up time for me to spend with the others. So an all-round win-win. Still, I am going to miss this little fuzz ball! Fortunately I still have a couple of days left to enjoy his puppy antics.
Last, but certainly not least, Wren! This little Jumping Bean is quite the crackerjack. Equally toy and food motivated, Wren is a blast to train. She is very much my style of dog to work with: intense, drivey, and keen to interact. She is job-oriented like Griff, but higher drive and (thank goodness, given her drive) more handler focused.
With her structure, Bean will excel at any activity. Given how easily aroused she is (she has the most trouble of the litter remembering to Mand, or holding her sit), she may be a challenge to keep under threshold so she can be thoughtful and learn. In the right hands, she will go far.
And so, gentle reader, there you have it. Oh, wait! Which puppy will I be keeping, you ask? I’ve made my decision but am not ready to announce it. So you will have to be patient for just a little while longer… Stay tuned!