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Anatomy of A Litter, Part Two

In last month’s column, we reviewed how my wife and I decided to breed our female German shorthaired pointer, the process of artificial insemination and selecting buyers for our litter.  We finished the column explaining that, as litter owners, we had first pick.  I promised that I would reveal, in this column, the puppy we chose to keep.

As mentioned in last month’s column, we loved all eight of our puppies.  Choosing which puppy to keep would be very difficult.  There were no bullies and no wall-flowers in the litter.  All appeared to be bold and ready to learn.  In the end, we chose to keep the runt of the litter.  She was the very first puppy to lick my face.  Also, she was cooperative always in everything we attempted to do…like trimming her nails.  She’s a sweetheart, and we feel she has great potential in the field.  Her litter nickname was Hearts; however, we now call her Cordie.

At eight and one-half weeks, all the other puppies went to their new owners.  This was a very sad day for the Fuller household.  We said goodbye to pups that we handled and nurtured every day.  As mentioned last month, we found seven buyers we’re very comfortable with.  We hear from four of the buyers two or three times per week; that’s comforting.

Now the fun begins.  We have a fresh student that wants to learn.  However, we don’t want to go too fast.  Cordie needs to have puppy fun or we’ll have a puppy that loses its puppy time and will be difficult in the future.

At eleven weeks, here is what we’re working on.  We start the day with a run at approximately 6:30 am.  The early hour is due to the warm weather.  Little Cordie is running with our ten-year-old Dillon and Cordie’s mother, Dena.  The run is for about 45 to 60 minutes.  We alternate between woods and fields since we hunt the prairies in the early fall and the woods during October and November.  We avoid paths as much as possible since we want to develop a dog that hunts cover and not take the easy way…paths.  Also, we make sure the puppy has chest protection.  Both of our senior dogs ripped open their chests as puppies while running through the woods.  We want to avoid that issue with Cordie.  Also, during our morning walk, we attempt to walk in a shoelace pattern.  The reason for doing this is to develop a back and forth search pattern that covers the most ground.  Dogs that run in a straight line will find very few birds.  In addition, we put a small Christmas bell on Cordie’s collar.  We want to introduce her to noise while she’s running.  This will help introduce bells and beepers in the future.

In addition to field work at eleven weeks, we work on neck control…having a lead attached to a collar.  We do this almost daily.  We want a good citizen puppy that is under control at all times.  And, to provide even more training, we’re including the “whoa” command while we work with the lead.

And, of course, we can’t forget water.  The puppies were first exposed to water when we put a water bowl in the weaning box.  They would stumble into the bowl almost every day.  Once we started taking them outdoors, we put a child’s swimming pool in their run.  The entire litter would often be found in the pool.  Early-on, we put two to three inches of water in the pool…today we fill it with six inches of water.

That concludes Anatomy of A Litter through eleven weeks.  We’ll keep you posted in future columns on Cordie’s progress.

Paul Fuller is a lifelong sportsman.  He’s been an outdoor writer since 1971. He’s the host and producer of the award winning Bird Dogs Afield TV show (www.birddogsafield.com) and produced the epic video Grouse, Guns & Dogs. Paul shot over his first German short-haired pointer in 1961.

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