Willow, Poppy, Smudge, Stu and I went out for an icy walk on the Racecourse, Northampton, for Willow’s first birthday with my friend Trudy and her puppy, Suki. Suki is a Border Collie/ Staffie cross and she is bright, very friendly and adorable. Here’s our photos of them playing in the snow! It’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by- happy birthday to Willow, Leia, Bella, Rosie, Ivy, Lily, Barnaby and Monty!
It’s a year since we were woken by the cries of a newborn and our lives- and our house- was turned upside down. We were lucky, the 8 little darlings were very similar in size, all healthy and strong- they were hardly discernible from one another so we had to put tiny collars on them. Some were chocolate, which helped, their shading, pinky noses and eye rims helped us tell one half of the littler from the other. We organised day and night shifts, even though we had a pig rail, we had to be on constant watch for any pup who strayed away from mum and got distressed. Poppy was brilliant- so conscientious- when she saw a puppy heading in the wrong direction she’d give us a pleading look and maybe a little quiet woof to let us know she wanted help.
Their little characters came out incredibly early- Willow was first at everything and ran around laughing with Rosie, a very sociable pup, creating havoc. Lily sat and watched then did everything perfectly straight after. Barnaby (aka Chewie for his funny Wookie noises) was always in the thick of things, and when very young we had to watch him carefully as he’d knock his siblings asunder to get to the best milk. Monty cuddled into his mum’s front paws and later would find little hidey holes to nap in. Ivy loved her chicken and often won tugs of wars, Bella and Leia especially loved their cuddles.
We got really attached to each little character, giggling at their initially clumsy attempts then later laughing out loud at their antics. I counted to 8 so often I could look at the room and say “There’s only 7” and a panicky moment later would find Monty crawling off to sleep in the corner, surrounding himself with toys. It was also hard work- a relentless routine of cleaning and safety checks.
Then socialisation began. Our home was a virtual tourist attraction as we encouraged as many people as possible to visit and handle the pups. Potential owners came to visit and placed deposits. We were pleased to hear that they asked many questions about their welfare and everyone seemed to recognise and approve of our hard work. Some came to visit several times, which helped with their bonding and the socialisation of the others. One by one they left, families with faces like children at Christmas took them home to their new lives.
Our beautiful girl Smudgester Laughing Willow lives up to her name, she is a funny character who enjoys making people laugh. All our dogs seem the same, if they hear someone clapping or laughing they rush to join in. Poppy’s laugh is a Father Christmas “ho ho ho”, Willow’s is more like Smudge, “Ha ha ha”. I understand that they now pllay tapes of dogs laughing in some shelters as it can calm anxious dogs down. Willow grew and grew and now she’s practically the size of Poppy. She learns quickly, like her mum and, of course, she is best friends with Smudge. Willow adores a game and loves her fuss.