Monday, January 31, 2011

The Beginning...

We were just a horse ranch. Then Annie came into our lives.

She was the result of an accidental breeding -her parents duped me. I had faithfully kept the two dogs separated for just about 3 weeks. Finally I thought Selena was "out" and let her outside with "Bryce". She growled at him when he came running over to sniff her privates. Ahh...great...she's done. No more having to play revolving doors with the hall door, let dog in. Open front door let dog out...

An hour later, I looked out my office window and arggh...what did I see? My two dogs doing the dastardly deed! I was aghast. Not only was this not planned it was also not desired -these two dogs are both very strong willed, both merles (for those that don't know merle colored dogs should not be bred with each other - a puppy that inherits two merle genes "a homozygous merle" is genetically predisposed to a slew of defects such as blindness, deafness etc) and to boot not even registered in the same registries!
I discussed the breeding with some breeder friends and hummed and hawed. If Selena was pregnant should I abort or should I let her have the pups. Abortion would have it's own complication-she could contract pyrometritis which could be fatal. Loving my dogs as I do taking any risk wasn't worth it to me. So after a few weeks I had her checked and sure enough she was pregnant. Wonderful.

Puppy day came and I braced myself. I still hadn't reached a solid conclusion on what to do if she had homozygous merle puppies -I certainly didn't want to bring into this world pups with disabilities. It's recommended to put these pups down at birth -but I knew I couldn't personally do it. I held my breath as Selena went into labor. Her first pup was a black-tri male, just a little guy. Then came a beautiful blue merle far so good...she then slowed down and seemed to struggle with the next one. When I saw her it was no wonder -a huge red merle girl....phew so far so good. It seemed that perhaps she was done and I began to relax. It then became apparent that there was perhaps one more. I prayed that this wouldn't be the homozygous merle....up and down she went, pacing around the room, stopping to lick her puppies...and then she had Annie, the black-tri girl my daughter had been hoping for (she'd already decided that's the one she was keeping and even talked to her before she was born through Selena's tummy). Annie lay there, very still. To my horror I realized she was hardly breathing. Often puppies get fluid in their respiratory systems before birth-and it must be removed or else they will suffocate. Casey, my friend quickly grabbed her, cradled her in her palm, and swung her up and down. The pup came to life, sucking in air to her little lungs. Selena settled down to licking and cleaning her puppies (and herself)...labor was done and I had four healthy, stunning puppies.

Normally when breeders have puppies they'll evaluate them for desired traits and pick the puppy that expresses the most desired qualities. I was not afforded such opportunity. My 5 year old daughter had picked her puppy before she was born, the black-tri girl, Annie was not going anywhere.
Annie proved to be an odd character. She's extremely affectionate - a true cuddle bug, always touching me, yet so easily distracted. It's so hard to get her to focus on the job at hand. I had to quit my first agility lessons as she kept trying to fence run with a neighbors dog. At home in the morning she took to jumping our chain-look fence to go bark and fuss at the horses. I enrolled her in obedience lessons to get a handle on my wild child, and it helped but still she LOOKS for distractions.

Annie will be 6 this year and I have gained a degree of control evidenced by several agility titles, her CD certificate and a rally title but I also have concluded that Annie needs a job.

A little over a year ago I took her to a "Meet the Sheep" seminar. She got to track a flock of sheep. I saw my dog change before my eyes...I had never seen such desire in her before. You see, despite her unruly fence jumping behavior Annie is not a very motivated dog. I've spent hours trying to teach her to play, to interact with me and not just be a couch potato. Just seeing the sheep brought Annie to life. When her turn was done, she had to practically be dragged out, and then she turned to face the next dog to work and barked at it as if saying "hey quit, those are my sheep". I had found something Annie really wanted to do.

It was almost 8 months before I could get some stock lessons arranged. Annie proved to be just as enthusiastic but I realized very quickly -she's over the top -too enthusiastic. At $35.00 a lesson how long would it take to get her just to relax? I decided we needed some sheep.

And herein begins the rest of the are horse farm has quickly become home to various other lovely animals. Join us as each day we awake to some new wonder or adventure.

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