Random Puppy Photos No. 2

I was explaining to a friend about the grooming top I use to start training and took some photos for her. Keep in mind these were taken with a cell phone and the perspectives are a bit off. But only a bit. . . Fix does sort of look like he was put together by committee these days. I’m trying to take the advice of many who show dogs — if the puppy had good structure at 49 days, the adult will have good structure – you just need to close your eyes while the puppy is growing up. Another friend saw him a couple of days ago and said he looked like “someone had grabbed his nose and tail and pulled.” And of course, since he is teething, his ears do something different every day.


From a sit. . .

. . . to a stand . . .

. . . then a down.


Farm Dog 101: Teething and Chewing

The first puppy teeth to emerge are the canines, followed by the incisors and then premolars. Puppies have 28 deciduous (puppy) teeth which will be lost and replaced by 42 teeth in the adult dog starting at about 12 to 16 weeks. By 16 to 20 weeks, the deciduous premolars have been replaced and by 20 to 24 weeks, the permanent molars have started to erupt. What many people do not realize is that chewing actually increases (and becomes more destructive) from about six to twelve months, until the molars have completely erupted.

Fix, like many young puppies who have been raised with their litter to at least 8 weeks of age, has a soft mouth. His litter-mates (and the adult dogs in his household) taught him that biting down too hard during play was not acceptable. While some puppies “unlearn” this lesson after being removed from the litter (or if removed from the litter prior to 8 weeks, never learn this lesson), there are several good reasons why it is important to continue to teach bite inhibition as opposed to a prohibition on putting teeth on a person at all. IMO, it is critical that a young dog learn how much pressure to use with its mouth and how to regulate that pressure because if a pup does not learn this by 4 months of age, it cannot be taught. In those instances one has to simply rely upon teaching a “no teeth” rule and then hope that the dog is never put into a situation where it bites. The likelihood of a serious bite occurring if the dog has learned to inhibit its bite is much less than if the dog has simply been taught not to put teeth on a person.

Fix has been allowed to continue gentle mouthing while being taught bite inhibition. However, now that he is teething, that pressure has increased in an attempt to decrease the uncomfortable feeling. Given the needle sharpness of his puppy teeth, it is now time to start teaching him that teeth do not belong on human flesh.

In addition to teaching puppies bite inhibition, it is critical to also teach puppies what is, and is not, acceptable as a chew. Without the use of hands to manipulate objects, puppies use their mouths to investigate and learn about their world. All too often, owners provide lots and lots of toys and chews and then wonder why the pup is more inclined to chew on that table leg, wailing that the pup has plenty of toys to chew on. In reality, the more toys and chews laying about, the greater the likelihood that the puppy is actually learning that everything is his to chew on. It is far easier to teach a puppy what are appropriate chew items if the number of acceptable items is limited. I try to provide three different types of chews – something fabric, something of hard rubber (such as a Kong®) and a real (not processed) bone. If I notice that Fix seems to be attracted to a particular thing, I try to provide a suitable substitute made of a similar material.

Teething is one of the most trying stages in a young puppy’s development and requires considerable supervision and redirection. But by being consistent in how this stage is handled, both Fix and I will emerge without me losing anything of value and with Fix having learned to moderate the use of his mouth.

Random Puppy Photos

Chores – watching chickens

No real post – just some random photos of Fix this past week. Today he turns 12 weeks old and we start more formal training.

Chores – trying to play with bucklings

Visiting a Friend – who is that doggie in the . . .

Uncle Tuck won’t you play with me?

“This is not happening”

Introducing. . .

Brandywine Fix.

A friend of mine who raises the (very) occasional litter of English Shepherd puppies had a litter planned for March 2017. Both the sire and dam (a niece of my working dog, Brandywine Tuck) had health clearances and the dam is operational as a search and rescue dog as well as working on her owner’s small farm, so the expectation was for a physically and temperamentally sound litter with the genetics to work. I therefore put in an application for a puppy and started making plans to visit and fly home with a puppy.

As with Tuck’s litter, the pups in this litter were all very nice and had a good balance of pack, prey and defense drives so making a choice was not easy. After six days, in which I evaluated the entire litter, puppy sat for two full days while my friend and her husband were at a conference, and spent hours overall just playing with and observing the puppies, I had finally narrowed my selection down to two puppies: a seal/white little female and a black/white male. My friend had made an appointment for a health certificate with her vet on the day before I flew home, so that morning I finally decided to bring home the little male.

7 1/2 weeks
Resting up from gardening chores

After a long, unplanned delay at the connecting airport, the pup and I arrived back in New Mexico in the early hours of the morning. He started his job as an up and coming farm dog a few hours later as he accompanied me on the morning chores.

8 weeks and 3 days
Resting at the airport

I have a two-week period of time in which I allow the pup to choose his/her own name. I usually have a list of names I like and will call the pup at some point while he/she is distracted to see if the name elicits a response. Generally I run through the first list with no clear preference for a name and have to start compiling a second list before finally finding a name which I like and to which the pup also has a strong response. In this instance I had spent the first week running through my first list of names and had one name which the pup had at least acknowledged. This would be my fall back name if the pup didn’t pick a different one before the end of the two weeks. With the second week half gone, I suddenly remembered Friday night that Sidhe had selected her name from a fantasy book series I had been reading at the time: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files (if you are into fantasy, I would highly recommend this series about a wizard in Chicago – it is extremely well written as well as just a lot of fun.) So during Saturday morning’s chores as the pup was investigating something about ten feet from me, I stopped and called “Fix” – his head popped up and swiveled around to locate me and he came running, sliding into a sit in front of me. So the pup has chosen his name – “Fix” – the name of the knight of the faerie summer court.

9 1/2 weeks
Hard Day at the Office

New Beginnings

Several friends of mine took care of the farm for two weeks recently so I could travel out-of-state to pick up my next farm dog. I spent those two weeks back east – a week in Vermont and a second week in Pennsylvania. The shades of green in both places were truly beautiful and very different from home. However, things (mostly weeds of course) greened up here while I was gone and while the green may not be as vibrant it is nonetheless a very welcome change from the winter browns.

Before I left I had given considerable thought to where I wanted – and needed – to be with the farm to achieve my original goal of the farm being self-supporting. While I was willing to pay for fencing, maintenance, etc. I wanted the livestock to be profitable enough that expenses for hay and other items directly related to maintaining the livestock were not coming out of my pocket. After several years raising lambs, I finally acknowledged that the lambs were simply not paying for themselves and that my pocketbook was being steadily drained; hence the decision to sell off the sheep. At the current time, it hasn’t been determined whether or not the hogs will pay for themselves once I start selling hogs, although I suspect that the hogs, too, will be a money drain. The chickens are seasonal producers but because I really like fresh eggs, I’ll maintain a small flock of chickens.

In recent years, the only livestock pulling their weight have been the Nigerian Dwarfs. I am also addicted to their milk, another reason to keep goats. As I had started drying off my does prior to leaving on vacation, and expected my does to be dry when I returned, I made arrangements to buy a doe in milk on my return. The difficulties in finding a buck with an excellent milk pedigree whose owner was willing to let me health test and lease him resulted in me deciding to purchase a buckling. After considering the matter I decided to buy two bucklings, from different breeders and with different pedigrees but both out of excellent milking lines.

A well-known Nigerian Breeder was retiring and selling all of her breeding stock so, in addition to the doe in milk, when the puppy and I traveled to Tulerosa to pick up the doe in milk, I ended up buying the last two available does . Both does have been exposed to bucks for fall kiddings.

At the present time the three new does are housed in quarantine, and the two bucklings are also in separate quarters, all awaiting health test results. More information and photographs of the new additions will be forthcoming.

I am currently contemplating different arrangements for new pens which will give me more flexibility in separating dry does from those in milk, weaned kids and so on.

The new puppy has been home for just over a week now and has settled in very nicely. He is accompanying me on chores twice a day and learning the routine. He has also finally managed to get one of the older dogs to play with him a little.

If I just keep bugging her, maybe she’ll play . ..

Chase Games

When the Unlikely Occurs

My chickens are free to roam the property and over the years my chicken population has waxed and waned depending upon the predators in the area. A couple of summers ago I finally finished the last of the perimeter fencing and my coyote sightings fell significantly (as did my chicken losses). However, a short while ago I started losing chickens again. The occasional loss is something I accept as a consequence of my choice to let my chickens range, but when I lost four chickens in one day it was apparent I had a serious problem with predators again.

A few days ago I had finished morning chores and was back in the house for another cup of coffee. I was sitting at the computer in the breakfast room which has windows to the east, south and west. The south view is of the horse corral and sheep and goat pens. Lately the chickens have taken to congregating under a tree between the greenhouse and the animal pens. The chickens suddenly started squawking and the dogs went ballistic. All of the animals, horse, sheep and goats. were bunched up in the center of their respective corral/pens which was unusual behavior. I jumped up and opened the door and Tuck and Kip went tearing out, along the side deck, and to the chicken coop behind the house. Unfortunately, the problem was actually straight ahead — as a large animal ran past and disappeared into the wooded area to the east. I only got a glimpse but my thought was that it was the biggest coyote I had seen to date and was in exceptional condition.

Later that same day, the sequence played out again. Only this time the animal ran from the south past the windows to the east so I got a much better look as it went by. My impression was that it was not a coyote but a wolf based on the size and the shape of the head and ears. I have not had a wolf (that I’m aware of) on my property since the very first year I was here but evidently some of the Mexican Grey Wolves which were re-introduced into New Mexico in 1998 have wandered to the very edges of their range. While I was trying to convince myself I had been wrong and it was just a very large, well fed coyote, based upon the local newspaper there have been four confirmed sightings of Mexican Grey Wolves between San Antonio and Sevilleta and I am about halfway between those two locations, so I am now reasonably sure it was indeed a wolf.

While this comparison doesn’t show it, there is a substantial size difference between the two and my unwanted visitor was much larger than the coyotes in my area which are generally in the 35-40 lb range.

The chickens have been cooped for the past few days and while the dogs have let me know the wolf has scoped out the chicken coop I haven’t seen it again myself. I am hopeful it will continue its journey on now that the ‘diner’ has been closed.

White Christmas – a day late

Christmas Day was warm enough to do chores without a jacket. However, the winds were ferocious. The weather forecast was for a winter storm over the weekend and Socorro County was predicted to receive 8-12 inches of snow while parts of Eastern New Mexico were expected to receive up to a couple of feet. So this morning when I let the dogs out and saw a flake of snow here and there on the deck I laughed. However, the skies were gray and gloomy so I did take the precaution of making sure I was home by noon. As I was driving home from the feed store a flake of snow hit my windshield. Pretty soon it was snowing in earnest and it kept on snowing throughout the afternoon. It stopped for about 10 minutes in late afternoon but was snowing again when I went out to feed this evening. Roughly four inches on the ground now. Currently I’m housebound until the snow starts to melt as I have learned from experience that my car can’t navigate the driveway when I get more than three inches of snow.

Behind the house

Behind the house





The old dog still likes to play in the snow

The old dog still likes to play in the snow

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Towards the Barn

Towards the Barn