It doesn't matter how many dogs we own, or for how long, they just never cease to surprise us.
The weather's been really warm this week, far too warm to close the bedroom windows at night. That means we can hear every disturbance or disagreement between the dogs in the yard, and sometimes they keep us awake. On Wednesday night, Mel decided it was time to have a bit of a clear out, and we were awoken by the sound of furious scratching. We explained to her that, really and truly, it was a job best left until the morning, and she stopped. Next day we cleared her bedroom of bedding, which we assumed was annoying her in the heat, and on Thursday night we went to bed with the windows open, again. And again, we were woken up by Mel's determined scratching. Andy explained, with some emphasis, that this really wasn't a job for the night time but, rather than stopping, it sounded as if Mel had decided on complete demolition.
The result was Mel being unceremoniously bundled out of her pen, and into another - cooler, we thought, but more importantly, further away from us. Not long after we were woken again by a cacophony of barking in the yard as all the dogs, it seemed, woke up at once and were horrified by whatever greeted them. When we looked, of course, there was nothing there (that we could see, anyway) and after a comprehensive and all-encompassing cursing we tried to go back to sleep. ("Tried" in that way you try when you've no real expectation of success, lots of heavy sighing and tutting, and roughly re-arranging the pillows.)
Next morning, when I went into the yard to let the dogs out for the morning run I was greeted by the usual enthusiasm from the young dogs, and an imperious "woof" from Mel that I told her, in no uncertain terms, was unwelcome, under the circumstances. Then I heard something else. That tiny, grumbling squeak that only a very new puppy can make. Mel hadn't actually been looking for ways to annoy us, she'd been trying to make a nest! In the pen with Mel was a single, tiny black puppy; warm and dry and with a full tummy, just complaining that its Mum had deserted it to greet those awful people who'd consigned her to such an unwelcoming pen in the small hours.
When Mel had her final litter last year, there'd been a very black bitch puppy that I immediately claimed as my own. Sadly, the little bitch died very soon afterwards and although it was no-one's fault, I have sometimes suggested to Mel that she and Eli still owe me a black bitch puppy. When I inspected the new "bonus" puppy, of course, it's a bitch. A very black Mel and Eli bitch; just what I wanted.
I've always been the first to claim that Mel can be the most infuriating dog but, right now, I can't imagine why!
Now we're wondering how we overlooked the signs (we can see them all - with hindsight). We'd taken all the usual precautions when Mel was last in season and, according to our record keeping, we've calculated that May 15th was the latest date she could have produced a puppy. Just shows how much we know (or don't know) about older dogs; we have so much to learn.
I'm looking around for a litter of puppies of the same age, so we can introduce a playmate at the earliest opportunity. I don't want "as yet un-named pup" to be an only child. Any excuse...