My Cheasapeake Bay Retrievers
Buck & Jake
At age one day, Buck and Jake each weighed in at less than half a pound and fit into the palm of my hand. They were helpless and struggling to live. Ginger had become ill and was unable to feed them. Their requirements to be fed every couple of hours and loved, was something I could do. Buck and Jake were from a litter of ten. Their mother had mastitis. She had nursed them with this poison unbeknownst to me. The other puppies didn’t survive. Buck and Jake were the only puppies I was able to save. The vet had suggested I let nature take its course but I couldn’t let them die.
I bought special puppy formula, nursing bottles to feed them and made a special box with a towel for a lining along with a special heating pad to keep them warm. The feeding schedule was every two hours around the clock for the first two weeks. An exhausting schedule to be sure but well worth the time spent in saving these precious puppies.
Buck and Jake began to grow and I could see a difference in their activity. Two weeks old, with their blue eyes just open, they were trying their best to walk. I was then able to put them into a whelping box I had built for their mom for birthing in our bathroom. They still needed extra warmth. I used empty plastic drink bottles filled with hot water and wrapped in a towel. This not only gave them the feeling of another puppy or their mother with them but made them feel secure. The feeding schedule went to three times a day. Not having to worry about night feedings; I was able to sleep through the night. Caring for a puppy is almost like having a little baby in the house. The only difference is the time frame of three weeks before a puppy can eat by himself as opposed to a human baby’s development of nine months to a year.
Bottle feeding these puppies was something to behold. I would feed them their bottles and when finished, put them, one at a time, on my shoulder to burp. Buck, especially, would put his little paws around my neck and hold on and hug. How could I not love this puppy when he gave me such a hug?
When Jake and Buck were about three weeks old, I started them on puppy chow mush. I would bring them into the living room and set them down just within range of their mush and turn them loose. They stood on wobbly legs and then started toward the food dish. Buck and Jake and their food connected. Standing in the food dish, food on their paws and muzzle they probably had as much food on them as they did in them. It was a learning experience. I still fed them puppy formula with the bottle for a while longer. Watching them finding their food and then stepping in it to eat was cute funny. Of course, you could not be a neat freak while feeding these little guys. I had spread a big towel under the food dish just to catch the mess they were going to make. I sat on the floor as they ate and after they had eaten, cleaned them up. Buck and Jake then climbed into my lap to be petted.
Buck and Jake went everywhere with me. If there was shopping to do, they went with me. I built a second whelping box to fit into my car. I carried food and water just for them. Some stores allowed pets in so Buck and Jake would ride in the basket getting petted by lots of admirers. I continued this way of life for the puppies until they were old enough to fend for themselves.
After a while, the puppies were old enough to go out into the kennels with their mother, sister, and brothers. His sister and brothers were born in other litters from their mom. Each of my dogs has their own kennels. The kennel size for each is a ten by twenty foot area with at least a four by four wooden dog house built for them. Jake and Buck had their own kennel they shared that I had puppy proofed to keep them from getting into trouble.
Buck loves water so I put a small swimming pool into his kennel. While filling the pool with the hose, Buck would try to catch the stream of water coming from the hose. He would chase it back and forth as I moved the stream. I would throw a stick in the pool and he would jump in to get the stick. At first he would keep the stick. He learned if he would give it to me, I would throw it again.
Jake had a different personality. Although he loved the water also, he did not try to catch the water coming from the hose. He would get into the swimming pool but his attitude of what was fun was not the same as Buck’s.
When they were about four months old we sent Jake to live with a human family member who had expressed a desire to have him. We took him to the vet for a complete checkup, bought a large size travel kennel for him, bought him airline passage, and sent him to live in Montana. When Jake’s human went to serve his country in Iraq, he shipped Jake home for us to keep.
Buck has his own kennel now and a couple times a day they all take a run through the woods where we live. His running companions are his mother Ginger, his sister Tarra, his brother Toe. There are three other of his family members in the kennel but because some of my dogs are fixed and some are not they do not run together. The male dogs all think they are the Alpha dog and sometimes have words. The real Alpha dog in the kennel is Tarra but she is another story. To keep the peace, some run together and some run at separate times.
Buck, an AKC Chesapeake Bay Retriever, is now eight years old and weighs in at about ninety pounds. He hardly qualifies as a lap dog now but he is still a very loving friend.
We kept Jake with us even after his friend in Montana returned from his tour of duty. Jake recently passed away. He had been ill for a little over a year and on medication with many trips to the vet. His illness finally overtook him and he left us.