Today's a sad day for us in one way, but a happy one in another. One of our favourite dogs, was collected by her new owners this morning.
Jill's been a faithful servant for years and she's been a wonderful mother to some of the best pups we've had the good fortune to breed, but the time has come for her to retire.
We have to be practical about these things. There are a lot of dogs here, and an older dog spending its days surrounded by a lot of very keen youngsters can get quite stressed, so we feel it's better to let the older dogs go to new homes where they will get much more human attention, and luxury before they get too old to really enjoy it.
A year ago last October, our 'pack leader' Pearl went to an excellent retirement home in the south of England. She is now one of the most pampered dogs we know of - and she's completely devoted to her new owners.
Pearl's new family have had their eye on Jill for some time, so we were in no doubt that Jill would be well cared for, and good company for Pearl. This morning, we saw Pearl for the first time in fourteen months, and she seemed more than happy to mix with Jill again. Of course, she may be a little less happy when she gets back onto what is now her own territory, but knowing Pearl of old, she will very quickly get over that.
Rita (left) is one of five puppies we have kept from Jill's final litter. Her father is our Eli, another of the dogs we are proud to own. The other four pups are called Ronnie, Nina, Flight and Snip. All five are showing the excellent potential we have come to expect from Eli / Jill puppies.
We intend to train them all as sheepdogs and hopefully, we can decide along the way which ones will become part of our permanent team.
All of the pups happily come out for walks with the adult dogs, and have been for a couple of weeks now. They don't seem to mind the rough and tumble and it's a wonderful sight to see them scampering after the big dogs as fast as their little legs will carry them. Of course, we're careful not to over-tire the pups. When they come with us, we walk a circular route in the fields immediately surrounding the buildings, so that a puppy can easily come home if it gets tired, or it's not too far to carry them back if we suspect they're flagging a little.
Since I began writing this, we have heard that Jill has now arrived in her new home and is walking around the house with her tail wagging - always a good sign. How she's going to adapt to living in a beautiful house after several years living in an outdoor kennel, remains to be seen, but Pearl certainly seems to have adapted to it extremely well.
We love to see our dogs again after they have left us for new homes, and often when we do, the dogs are excited to see us and all their old friends, even if it's been a couple of years since they left. Not Pearl. She only had eyes for her new owner. She would politely come to us if asked to, but soon found a reason to go back to 'Mum'.
Let's hope Jill settles in happily with her new family too.