Life with the pack and the puppies

16 Border collies relaxing in the orchard

[Some months ago I made a solemn pact with myself that I'd update the blog at least once a week. Since then, it seems I've begun every blog entry with "It's been a while since I last updated the blog, but the last week/s/months have just flown by." So, being a creature of habit…]

Dodging the rain and the puppies!

16 Border collies relaxing in the orchard
Surely this isn't ALL of us - who's missing?

It's been a while since I last updated the blog, but the last few weeks have just flown by. We've been making a concerted effort to get at least an hour of training footage every day, whether that means dodging rain or the worst of the heat. An hour of filming doesn't sound like much of a commitment, but with setting up and planning it represents about 3 hours work for both of us. For a three hour DVD it would be nice to think that three good days, or even a week, would see the thing "put to bed", but we reckon an hour's footage gives us, on average, between one and three minutes of DVD time. We're a way off a three hour DVD as yet.

Hormones galore!

On top of that, we've had one of those spells where synchronised bitches (not in an Olympic sense, you understand) are coming into season for the first time, so the yard is seething with hormones. Fortunately, the first season in a bitch's life tends not to be too intense so it's a fairly subdued affair, but it still means segregated exercise sessions. I feel awful leaving any dogs behind, they look so disappointed and bemused, but Sue Osgood recently commented on Facebook that when she came to collect her puppy, Tally, some years ago we had four litters running around the place. Ah yes, I can remember that year. I think it was the first time we'd had several bitches long enough for them to synchronise, and it took us by surprise. As I remember, only one litter was actually planned. Puppies are lovely, of course, but for a few months I was quite relieved to get back to the office on Monday mornings!

Experience is that thing you have just after you needed it - we try to be more watchful now.

Nine week old tricolour Border collie bitch puppy
"You know what, Gill? I think your hands must be shrinking; it's feeling quite precarious up here!"

Prudence is now a 9 week old puppy, and already a part of the pack who won't tolerate being left out of any fun. I didn't get around to buying any other puppies as company for her, but by 7 weeks she'd proved that she's happy to play with anyone, and most of the dogs seem perfectly happy to give her a few minutes of their time. There are one or two exceptions, such as Pip, who really can't spare any time for anything that distracts her, whether she's concentrating on a flock or a frisbee.

In Alfie's case, it isn't so much that he won't spend time with her, more that what he does with that time probably isn't educational for Pru (unless she ever needs to swear in fluent Chihuahua in later life).

Watching the adult dogs with a puppy is fascinating, as they don't always react how we'd have predicted. When Roy arrived here a couple of months ago, he was always getting into trouble with the other dogs because, at a year old, he didn't seem to read their messages very well and was too rough when he tried to play.

Chihuahua meets Border collie puppy
"OK kid; show me where they hide your puppy food, and you won't get hurt - so much."

The rest of the pack has knocked him into shape and he's far more careful now, but nothing like as careful as he is when he plays with Pru (or Cotton, Norman and Cabbage). Roy falls in an exaggerated, dramatic fashion if they jump at him, giving the impression that they're really strong and ferocious, and then they take the opportunity to pin him down and bite him; it's so sweet.

In common with most of the adult sheepdogs around here, Roy always lets the puppies win.

Most, but not all, eh Alfie?

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