The reason behind Nell’s recent rise in status within the pack, in her own eyes at least, became clear.
Four weeks ago Nell gave birth to 5 tiny, but perfectly formed, puppies. That girl’s full of surprises.
I’m fairly sure that the sire is young Remus.
The evening before I discovered Nell to be, as I thought, “coming into season”, was dark, wet and windy (one that stands out in a winter of dark, wet and windy evenings) but Nell and Remus refused to come back to the yard with everyone else.
I could see them cavorting and chasing about in the gloom and thought how nice, if inconvenient, that Nell had finally found a playmate. I’d have put money against Remus being a likely candidate, but there’s no accounting for taste and Remus does love to play.
How could I have been so naive?
It reminds me of this lovely photo of Andy’s. It shows three children (including his daughter Ruth on the right) in an idyllic setting. They’re away down a hay field, sitting amongst the daisies and buttercups, looking the very essence of sylvan innocence. There's even some dilapidated old farm machinery in evidence to add to the atmosphere.
Some years later it was revealed, by one of the children involved, that at the time they were almost certainly being taught how to smoke. I digress, but I’m sure you can see my point..
Nell produced her first puppy, cleaned it up, and then sat, looking mournfully at it, with an air of, “Oh dear, now what?” (Though, to be honest, her natural expression is something akin to Eeyore’s at the best of times.)
Once all five puppies were safely delivered, Nell was looking far happier and in control of things. In fact, you’d have been forgiven for thinking the puppies had been delivered by a stork; I’ve never seen such a clean, dry and tidy maternity unit so soon after whelping.
Nell’s proved to be an excellent mother; still keen to come out and run with everyone else (she rather stands out at the front of the pack in the top photo), but prepared to abandon the fun to return to the family when she feels she’s been away for long enough.
In view of Nell's nervousness, as a precaution I’m making a point of handling the puppies more than I normally would at this age, but I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn out.
I’m not worried that the puppies will inherit Nell’s anxiety; their early lives will be very different from their mother’s, and they’ll be brought up (more like dragged up) by a variety of half-brothers and -sisters, grand parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and interested by-standers (canine and human).
I can’t register the litter with the ISDS because I can’t be certain that Remus is the sire, but health-wise I’ve no concerns. Nell’s eye tested Normal, and whichever dog is the father at least we’ve kept it in the family. All the candidates (Eli, Ezra and Remus) are CEA Normal, evidenced either by their own DNA results or those of their parents.
It's hard to believe that Mel and Eli are almost certainly great-grandparents, but harder still to think of Ezra and Kay as grandparents!
The Nell Quintet are now spending their days in the garden. Will all April sheepdog training course members please make a point of saying "Hello"?