Greetings! The following is a micro-blog to photo-journal the Summer 2020 Boulder x Stella as well as the King x Gracie puppies. The Stella litter is co-bred with Anne of Touchstone Weimaraners and the Gracie litter is co-bred with Erin of BaseCamp Weimaraners. Both litters will be raised at Kim’s house in Tehachapi, CA. There’s also a third litter, with King x Luna. While we are busy raising the Gracie and Stella litters, our friend Beth (Sporting Dogs B&B in Lancaster) has graciously offered to raise the Luna puppies, so we are keeping a separate blog of those kiddos. #ittakesavillage
Expectation. July 15th. Gracie and Stella Litters. After MONTHS of negative ultrasounds, we were beginning to think there was something in the water. Or maybe we pissed off the fertility gods. Or maybe it was just our “turn” to regress towards the statistical mean. Whatever it was, we took it as a sign to chill out. Netflix a few tearjerkers. Knock back a couple margaritas.
And then we went to work on a Plan B. And then a Plan C. And now that we’re on Plan W, or Plan X (depends on how you’re counting), we’re pleased to announce that we finally have some potatoes in the oven. !!!! They should be fully baked by August.
We’re beyond excited. But if we’re being honest, we’re also a tad freaked out. Will everyone be healthy? Will the temperaments align the way we need them to? Will puppies be able to hunt their way out of a paper bag? Will we get some good athletes in the mix? Do we have the proper homes lined up? Do they know what they’re signing up for?!?!?! Do they realize that puppies are jerks and that their entire lives are about to change? Are they dedicated and committed, regardless? (BECAUSE IRREGARDNESS IS NOT A WORD. !!! Sorry, English Majors here.)
Are we ready for another 56 days of doing daily puppy photos?!?!
Let the games begin…
Mandate. July 25th. Gracie Litter. GRACIE is confirmed via x-ray to be expecting four puppies within the next week. (Hey, that’s three more than what we thought we were going to have since the ultrasound only showed us one!!!!)
The interest list for Gracie’s puppies is 41% comprised of people who are familiar with crates and currently use it for their other dogs, and 59% of people who are not familiar with crates but are willing to learn.
Many, many applications (north of 50) were received from families who were opposed to crates. In general, these families also checked off, “I’m comfortable having my dogs loose in the house/yard.”
From just one question on our prospective owner questionnaire, we’ve learned two things: 1) There are lots of folks out there who don’t believe that dogs should spend time in crates, 2) This population shouldn’t have a puppy out of the upcoming Gracie litter. (This is also why 0% of this population is on the list for a Gracie puppy.) Click here to read WHY.
Patience. July 29th. Gracie Litter. One of the drawbacks to a good ‘ol fashioned live breeding is that we actually don’t know when Gracie is due. Based on the days she was bred, puppies were due as early as last Monday, but as late as this weekend. And since we don’t know, all we do is sit around the house and wait for Gracie to come into labor. For the record, she’s tired of us following her around the house asking, “Is it time, are you ready, how do you feel, can we get this started now???” #iflookscouldkill
Reward. July 31st. Gracie Litter Day 1. Erin and I are pleased to report that Gracie delivered two boys and two girls yesterday after a quick and uneventful labor. All four puppies are voracious little eaters. As expected, the kids are alert and active; in less than 24 hours we’ve already observed them moving quickly throughout the cabin. We’ve also landed on a litter theme: The Robin Hood Four. Puppies are identified as follows: Blue Collar Girl, Green Collar Boy, Black Collar Girl, and Brown Collar Boy.
Village. August 2nd. Stella Litter. Breeding isn’t done in a vaccuum. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll begin to see a pattern of breeders working together to produce the next generation of Weimaraners. [And you should also be alarmed if you don’t.] As for the upcoming Boulder x Stella litter, this is a collaboration that I’m really excited about for so many reasons. Behind these dogs on both sides are ladies (mah gurlz!!!) who are not only true stewards of the hunting Weimaraner, but are my close personal friends as well (a laYa-Ya Sisterhood). As a function of that, we are all guilty of spontaneously getting together for group chats and phone calls, and we may or may not also be culpable of traveling thousands of miles just to spend a few hours in the same room together. As a collective, we will know more about these future puppies than anyone will ever want to know. Got a nooker? It came from Pappa Boulder. Boobies slightly offset (yes, it’s actually a thing)? Probably Gramma Friday’s fault. Got one that worships you? Probably came from Grampa Judd. Incessant need to hang her chin on your lap? Blame it on Mamma Stella. And so on. Bottom line: be prepared for an adventure!
Record. August 5th. Gracie Litter Day 6. In Gracie’s litter of four puppies, three of them were born “extra large” and one of them was born “small.” It turns out that tonight’s biggest porkchop is Black Collar Girl, who now holds our heavyweight record for coming in at a whopping TWO POUNDS at six days of age. Seriously, in the three generations we’ve been doing this, we’ve never had a double-pounder at less than a week. !!! Not only is she hefty, but this girl is also a squawker. I have to place her onto the scale’s container upside down because if i don’t, she’ll whine and climb right out before the numbers are locked. If I were a betting person, I’d put $100 down on “she’s a keeper.” But let’s see.
Inundation. August 7th. Stella Litter. While we’re excited about the impending arrivals, we’re even more stoked for the new families. For some of them, this is their first time buying a puppy from a breeder, so for the next eight weeks, we’re going to inundate everyone with so much information you’ll all know more than you ever want to know… about Weimaraners, about raising puppies, about what to expect, what to work on. We’ll give you the good, the bad, and the ugly. We hope that folks out there will learn about what goes into producing a litter of puppies, what goes into their upbringing, and perhaps most importantly, what is needed to make them the best dogs ever.
Joy and Disappointment. August 13th. Stella Litter Day 01. We are so incredibly excited to announce that the Boulder x Stella puppies are finally here!!! Anne helped Stella whelped all six puppies in the morning (while Kim was sick in bed), and Stella took to motherhood like a duck to water.
We’re also utterly disappointed at having to spend the last day notifying families that because it was a smaller litter than we were expecting, we weren’t confident that everyone on the list would be getting a puppy. We HATE this part about breeding and wish it weren’t so. To the families who have to wait, we are so, so sorry, and hope that we’ll be able to get you another puppy from another Touchstone and/or Barrett litter, SOON.
Team Thunder Thighs. August 14th. Stella Litter Day 02. The breed standard is a “recipe” for what a dog should look like. It’s what separates Weimaraners from Chihuahuas and Afghans from Ridgebacks. Think of all the purebred dogs as all the different types of soups in the world. And let’s say for now that Weimaraners are chili.
Ask ten different Weimaraner breeders to give you their recipe for chili, and we promise you that you’ll get ten different write-ups. Some are hand-me-downs from tried and true resources, and others are made up from scratch, refined as the breeder goes.
One breeder may insist on putting beans in their chili. Another will tell you that beans are an abomination. A third will insist on adding chorizo. And yet another will swear by chuck.
Breeding works the same way.
We all have a basic recipe that we must follow (medium-sized gray dog), but the finer elements are seasoned to taste.
If you know me (Kim) well, you’ll know I have “a thing” for thunder thighs. I can’t help myself; I love a good rear engine, even if “broad thighs” are not mentioned anywhere in the Weimaraner breed standard. It’s what propels my dogs forward and gives them the power to do their jobs.
Boulder has a nice pair. And so does Stella. So it should come as no surprise that when Anne showed me Pink Girl (who had been whelped right before I entered the room), my first reaction was OMG I LOVE HER THIGHS!!!!!
Nerd Alert: Are there really things a breeder can see the day a puppy is born? Yes.
Can you see it?!?!
Family. August 15th. Friday. Today is Gramma Friday’s 12th Birthday (Friday is Boulder and Gracie’s mom).
Friday came to me via Anne/Touchstone Weimaraners back in 2011. The initial plan was for me and Barry to just “babysit her.” (Does this sound familiar to anyone?!?! Erin? Brent? Holly? Stacy?) Nine years later, we haven’t given her back.
In the early months, all we did was go hiking together. This FB page was actually started as a way for me to document all the dog-friendly trails Friday and I had been on together. Hence, Trailing Friday.
Little by little, Weimaraner folks started encouraging us to participate in sporting events: both dog shows and field trials. Supposedly, it was a great way to bond with your dog? Little by little, we trudged along, learning as much as we could.
Fast-forward to 2020. Friday is 12. Her son Boulder is seven. Her daughter Gracie is six. Gracie’s youngest kids are ten days old, and Boulder’s youngest kids are three days old. How in the world did we get here?!?!
Never in a million years did I ever think that buying a gray dog as a personal companion would lead me to where I am today. But here we are and I am forever grateful.
How fitting then, that Friday is now behind the litter that Anne and I have on the ground, together?
Happiest of Birthdays to you, FriFri. You are loved beyond measure and we are excited about your newest grand babies.
You also look incredible for 12. Bitch.
Happy Sunday. August 16th. Stella Litter Day 04.
Weimarized. August 17th. Stella Litter Day 05. A few times a year, we get inquiries from well-meaning folks who want to know if we could please leave their puppy’s tail and dewclaws intact. Some feel so strongly about this subject that they’ve offered to pre-pay for their puppy.
We’ve declined every single one of those requests.
Here’s the thing:
Decades upon decades of really hard work by a lot of really passionate people have gone into developing and then preserving the Weimaraner as we know it today. Our roles as modern breeders is simply to carry the torch.
If you close your eyes and have someone read for you the current (American) Weimaraner breed standard, a very clear picture will form in your head. Primarily, it will be of a medium-sized gray dog with fine aristocratic features. His coat will be short, smooth and sleek. In his silhouette you’ll see a moderately long neck, well developed chest, straight strong back, firmly held abdomen, well-angulated stifles, and finally:
A docked tail.
To put it plainly, the docked tail is a big part of our breed’s type, and to change that signature silhouette, to un-do all that work, now, just seems a little… rogue.
Early Neurological Stimulation. August 18th. Stella Litter Day 06. The textbooks say that conducting early neurological stimulation on puppies makes them better dogs. (Further reading at www.breedingbetterdogs.com) Do we know for sure it works? Meh. Have we done our own research to confirm the same findings? No…
A Midsummer’s Eve. August 19th. Stella Litter Day 07. It’s been really warm this week, even for us Tehachapi mountain folk. With mom’s help, the puppies have adjusted by finding bare spots in the box to take their naps. This one seems to be smiling in his sleep. Life is good.
Puppy Culture. August 20th. Stella Litter Day 08.
Kim’s going out of town for the weekend so Anne is in charge until Sunday. Task # 1: Learning by osmosis. Task # 2: “Scratch ‘n sniff” your workbook. Task #3: Nap in pinwheel formation.
Dad’s Night Out. August 21st. Stella Litter Day 9. Exactly seven years ago today, my friend Garret and I were traveling together in Boulder, Utah, for the first time. It was my first time visiting Southern Utah, and it left such an impression on me that my life was never the same after that.
I came home to Orange County, CA a few days later to a still un-named ten week old keeper puppy out of Friday’s first litter.
He was immediately named “Boulder.”
Tonight, Barry and I found ourselves back in Boulder, Utah. We now own ten acres here, and while we enjoyed a couple of beers before sunset, Boulder (the dog) wandered about exploring the mesa, eventually tucking himself under a tree to gnaw on a fresh deer leg.
For those of you who are about to bring home a Boulder kid, know that this guy is really special to us. I knew at four weeks of age we were keeping him, and he’s been a joy to know. I have no doubt his get will be just as lovely.
Boulder is always down for a road trip. He’s great in the car and doesn’t get carsick. Solid on his recall, he’s easy to keep a handle on when we’re out and about hiking off leash. Away from home, he doesn’t go off his food or gets picky about where he’s having his meal. Strangers are greeted with a tail wag and a kiss. (However, bushes with swaying branches in the dark must be presumed dangerous.) In a hotel room, he’s a perfect gentleman and will curl up in the tiniest little ball until morning… until he changes his mind and smacks you in the face with a stray paw.
Really though, lucky are the peeps who will be bringing home a mini-Bo in form of Blue Boy, Green Boy, or Black Boy in a few weeks.
Dare to be Different. August 22nd. Stella Litter Day 10.
On Sundays We Rest. August 23rd. Stella Litter Day 11.
Hi Hi from Black Boy. August 24th. Stella Litter Day 12.
“Sup, yo? ” – Black Boy
Checking in from BaseCamp. August 25th. Gracie Litter Day 26.
Everyone is growing so fast. We can see! We can hear! We can walk… kinda. We actually waddle because we like to EAT!
One Big Happy Family. August 25th. Stella Litter Day 13. Gracie Litter Day 26.
Tonight’s post celebrates all the grown-up doggies who live here.
Photo # 1. THE MOMS. Top dog is Stella. Bottom dog is Gracie. They each have their litters to raise (Stella’s is upstairs and Gracie’s is downstairs), but throughout the day, they wander the halls together and sleep in front of the AC unit together. They probably also trade motherhood tips together when the rest of us aren’t looking.
Photo # 2. THE HALL MONITOR. Britta (our first Weimaraner) wanders the house, going between litters to check in on the puppies. All. Day. Long. For a dog that has never had puppies of her own, she sure goes out of her way to be a second mom to them. Somewhere in the archives is a photo of Britta licking one of Stella’s puppies, as Stella nurses the others.
Photo # 3. THE UNCLE/DAD. Boulder plays the role of absentee dad really, really well. The Stella puppies are his kids, but he’s never bothered to go upstairs to say hi to them (even though he can). The Gracie puppies are his nieces and nephews, and he’s never showed any interest in them, either. If Boulder isn’t outside digging for gophers, one can usually find him lounging on the sofa.
Photo # 4. THE RETIRED GRAMMA. “What puppies? I don’t see puppies. I don’t hear puppies. Where’s my dinner?”
Really though, we’re blessed to have two nursing moms under one roof, and everyone getting along peacefully.
Editor’s Note: We cannot guarantee future puppy owners the same kind of “harmony” when you bring your little piranha home.
Puppy Raising I Don’t Know What Day It Is Anymore. August 26th. Gracie Litter Day 27.
I woke up this morning to Gracie licking my face and then rushed out the door for work where I pushed up a covey of quail out on the main road and thought hey I should work my dogs on these sometime which led me to the fact that I miss my white dog and then 24 phone calls later I realized that I needed to send Barry to the “goat milk lady” before 3 pm or else we’re out of luck and at some point I was in my boss’s office talking about buying a winery and we all thought it would be a fun side hustle and then I get a phone call from Barry who was stranded on the side of the 14 Hwy somewhere in the desert south of Rosamond Avenue with a pregnant dog because the WEIMBUS that we JUST got out of the shop (for a $2K catalytic converter) went bust again and AAA didn’t want to give him a ride home during times of COVID which led me to think geez so much for customer service because I MEAN HOW CAN YOU LEAVE A PREGNANT DOG ON THE SHOULDER OF A FREEWAY (and Barry too) but thankfully everyone made it home in the German car and now that it’s dark the dogs are hungry and I’m ready for a Hendricks ‘n tonic (extra ice) but first I have to get ONE picture of the first puppy I can reach in the pen because it’s National Dog Day or something like that so cheers and g’nite!
Supplementation. August 27th. Gracie Litter Day 28.
Late night research. An anonymous text. Then another. Appointment. Confirmation.
Across the Mojave desert, Barry unloads a cooler, rings the doorbell, and hands over a couple of Jacksons. In exchange, a woman hands over eight glass Ball jars. Full of goat milk. Raw. Un-pasteurized. Fresh. Free of antibiotics, hormones, and diseases. White as snow.
Nubian, Alpine, Saanen and Nigerian Dwarf goats are fed with alfalfa and organic grain. Milked daily. Machinery is stainless steel. Filtered. And filtered again.
Back at the compound, the puppies are starving. They’re getting bigger by the minute and Gracie’s getting beat. So we put down a bowl full of milk. Puppies are initiated, and then they’re hooked. It’s crack. They have to lick off the floor, off themselves, off one another. Within minutes, the bowl is empty.
And just like that, the weaning process has begun.
Supplementation. August 28th. Gracie Litter Day 29.
Brown Boy learned last night (during his intro to goat milk session) that there was a world out there that was bigger than his puppy pen. Around 9:00 pm when his littermates were asleep, he put up his front feet on the enclosure and whined to get out.
Before I could say, “don’t give in!” Barry had picked him up and put him on the living room floor. For the next 20 minutes the little puppy explored the house with curiosity and inquisition. When he got tired, he curled up in a little ball and fell asleep on the ground.
This afternoon, he wanted out again.
So we let him explore. He used the coffee table as an obstacle to conquer, uncle Boulder’s crate to sniff and experience, and then somehow landed in my lap for an afternoon siesta.
The next four weeks is gonna be fun!!!!!!
Potty Training. Crate Training. August 29th. Gracie Litter Day 30.
The puppy pen sits in our dining room (right next to the sliding glass door) and is roughly 4’ x 6’ with two levels; The back half includes a 4” platform that we keep covered in bedding and front half has potty pads laid over linoleum.
The set-up encourages puppies to sleep in the back half and potty on the front half. As a bonus, they’re also learning to “potty where the pads are,” a skill that will be useful as potty training progresses.
As of today, an intermediate Ruffland crate (without doors) has also been placed where the puppy bed used to be. For now, the crate is an obstacle course to play with, and then pass out in. Gracie doesn’t really fit, but she likes it too.
In another week or so, we’ll put in a crate door. And then the other crate door. And then we’ll start closing it periodically. And then overnight.
There’s also a bucket of fresh water in the corner. The bucket is clipped to the pen so it can’t tip over.
Your puppy will go home after eight weeks of age sleeping all night in a crate. DO NOT MESS WITH THIS ROUTINE.
WE REPEAT. DO NOT MESS WITH THIS ROUTINE. Doing so may cause side effects of asshole puppy shenanigans, including but not limited to running over your life and routine, keeping you up all night, peeing on your bed, jumping on your chest, otherwise testing your patience, and negatively impacting your every existence.