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Pups for Fun part 4
Pups for Fun part 4
Story so far; Part 1: The year is 1969 and we are attempting to breed Airedale puppies hoping to make some spare cash also have some fun, We evade the local stud dogs in a hair raising car chase all clamouring anxiously to be the father of these pups
Part 2: Tom [stud dog] has done his duty and we now have much info on the birth and raising of pups.,But knowing and doing are not necessarily the same.
We were total beginners, but willing to learn.
Part 3: After a few sleepless nights and nine hours in labour, we have eight Airedale puppies. Now we have to rear them and find new owners.
Part 4…...Raising Pups
After Fracy’s great effort we had six dog pups and two bitches. We realised they were not an impressive litter by Kennel Club standards, but we loved them all. Two of the dogs were exceedingly small, smaller than the females.
On the second day we found one of the small dogs lying still and cold in the box. We tried several methods to revive him, but sadly no success.
I thought, maybe it could have been the pup that Fracy had rejected on the double delivery?
I believe some animals have senses we have yet to learn about.
We had a special funeral in the back garden, attended by the kids.
After two weeks we could differentiate between the pups, so we gave them all a name. The dogs we called: Brutus, Spartacus, Marcus, Barnabas and Nicholas. The two females, were Petra and Sheba.
Brutus was by far the biggest, and like his namesake he would push his smaller brothers and sisters out of the way at feeding time. Looking back over the Airedale moms we have had since,we realize now that Fracey was not top of the league in mothers. The first two weeks of a pups life are critical and the mother should feed them at least every two hours. Fracey did not feel this was necessary, so most times I had to make her lie down and feed them. She wanted to be doing other things, maybe she was bored with them.
Like humans, being female doesn’t necessarily make you a good mother.
If Brutus was pushy, then Nicholas the smallest, was the exact opposite. He was slow at getting to the milk bar and I spent considerable time pulling Brutus off the bottom nipple, where there was plenty of milk, to swap him with Nicholas on the top nipple, where there was hardly any milk at all.
Although still with unopened eyes and could only crawl, Brutus would fight his way back over the backs of the other pups to push Nicholas off.
As I sat on the floor to make sure Fracy didn’t get up too soon, I thought; this the law of the pack, survival of the fittest. Who was I to interfere with this process of life? But we humans want to see every life to have equal chance and we interfere, sometimes with good result, sometimes not.
I realise now, that if Fracy had spent a longer time feeding them, Brutus would have his fill, and fell asleep then Nicholas could climb in to feed at the stomach filling position at the milk bar.
We gave Nicholas extra milk with the eye drop filler, in the hope that one day he would catch up in size with his brothers. This milk was a powder called Lactol mixed with warm water for pups or kits. It was not as good as Fracy’s milk of course, but nevertheless we felt we had to help him. We need not have worried, because a year later when we visited him with his owner, he was the biggest Airedale we had ever seen!
At three weeks old they were climbing out of the box. The leader of these escapades was always Spartacus. He was named well. In the weeks to come if ever there was a fight, you can bet Spartacus was in it. Although Brutus had a weight advantage, he would back down from Spartacus.
Sheba the biggest female would take Spartacus on any time, whereas the rest would step aside from him.
We moved them from the yard shed in the daytime, to a wire fenced area down the garden. I built a shelter for them to escape the sun or rain.
At four weeks we were weaning them off Fracys milk, giving them mince (beef) from the butcher. Weetabix was another good food, we figured that as we reared our kids on this cereal, it was good stuff, so mixed with puppy milk and they wolfed it down.
At five weeks old, we decided it was time to start advertising them, to find new owners who were hopefully willing to pay twelve guineas ($16) for a dog and ten guineas for a bitch. It was the custom to charge less for the females, can’t remember why. Probably because it was the days before Women’s Lib and a female was considered to be worth less than a male.
A guinea represented one pound plus one shilling (£1.05p). It was a snobby class thing, only solicitors [lawyers],veterinarians and sometimes banks, charged in guineas. So asking for guineas, gave our back street pedigree dogs a bit of class, or so we thought.
To advertise, as there was no internet of course, we used the local papers and a newspaper called Exchange and Mart, a kind of Ebay of it’s day that covered a large Midlands area,. Like most people, we had no telephone but fortunately our friend, Avril, allowed us the use of her phone number to place in the advert.
Our very first customer was a man with the impressive title of ‘Major’ ……….
He lived in Derbyshire, probably in a house three times the size of ours and wanted to buy an Airedale for his daughter.
On the day of his arrival we made sure the puppy area was clean and we kept Fracy in the house as we were unsure what her reaction would be to people viewing the pups. Friends and their kids had always been welcomed by her, but we played it safe.
You’re not going to sell a pup to a person that’s being growled at, by the pups mother.
We had a rule that if any child was to hold a pup, the child must first sit down on the ground. Stories of pups being dropped accidentally and serious injuries were common.
The Major arrived in shiny new car that looked totally out of place on our street. He got out, walked erectly around to open the car door for his daughter to climb regally out. She was in her early twenties and looked around the street disdainfully, holding a lacy white handkerchief under her nose as if there was a bad smell somewhere
“Uh oh” I thought as I watched through the front window, “this is going to be tricky!”
The Major hammered importantly on the front door, but he had to wait as I walked round from the back to open the side gate.
“Is this where the dogs are?” he barked in a parade ground voice.
No handshake or introductions with this bloke (guy)
“Yeah” I replied directing him through our dilapidated wooden gate, down the side of the house to the back garden. His daughter (I presumed it was his daughter) followed reluctantly it seemed, in her summer Ascot type dress and high heels.
They stood at the wire fence of the pup run, looking at the seven pups who gathered enthusiastically on the other side.
“Oh Daddy, aren’t they dahlings” she bleated in a Buckingham Palace voice,
The word ‘cute’ wasn’t used much in those days, unless talking about Shirley Temple.
“Can I hold one Daddy?” she asked.
She did not speak or look at me at all, I seemed to have turned invisible?
I decided I didn’t want these people to have a pup.
“Certainly darling” cooed Daddy, reaching over the fence to the puppies.
“Hold it!” I said loudly, “I’ll do the picking up and putting down.”
I climbed over the low wire fence and picked up the fighting Spartacus.
“Have you ever held a baby?” I asked her, holding him out.
“Of course” she answered in a condescending voice.
“Well treat this the same.” I commanded.
Spartacus snuggled in to her arms and immediately latched on to her finger with his razor sharp teeth.
“Ooh Ow.” she squealed and then Spartacus peed down her beautiful white dress!
To give the woman her due, she didn’t drop him.
I reached over and pried open his jaws to release her finger.
“Are you okay, darling?” asked the Major concernedly.
“No, I’m not” she whined, wrapping her flimsy handkerchief around her painful digit.
“Where’s the mother of these dogs?” barked the Major, getting back to business. I whistled and Audrey opened the door to release Fracy, eager to investigate what was happening down the garden. She bounded down the steps to leap up with muddy front paws, the beautiful white dress to investigate the smell of pup pee.
The Majors’ daughter screamed and said,
“Oh Daddy, will they grow as big as this?”
My decision not to sell them a pup grew stronger in my mind every minute.
“We’ll take the biggest one.” stated the Major firmly, ignoring his daughters distress and pointing at Brutus.
“No you wont.” I replied. “They’re not old enough and I’ve only the small dog and the two bitches not sold.”
“How much will they be?” he asked.
I lied again, “Twenty guineas!”
I was sure he wouldn’t pay this exorbitant sum.
“Your advert said ten.” he said accusingly.
“ A newspaper misprint!” was my answer.
They left without another word.
Not a good start to our pup selling.
If he had been buying the dog for himself, I would maybe have sold him one, but for his daughter, I thought she’d be better off with a toy poodle or better still a kitten.
To be continued…………...