We're absolutely delighted with the puppies we've kept back for training this year - seven puppies, from three different bitches and three different dogs
We have seven completely different characters, but all with one thing in common which is, thankfully, they're all madly keen to work sheep.
Again, it's been looking back at the footage we're using for the new DVD that's really made us appreciate them. We're watching them grow up again, right before our eyes, and it's fascinating to see a clip of, for instance, Io, Carew and Ezra playing at 5 weeks of age and see that their characters were already pretty much formed even then. They're each behaving in just the ways we'd predict from what we know of them at 6 months - Ezra's the bully, Carew's the Party Animal, and Io keeps up the commentary!
Of the Mel/Eli litter we've kept a bitch, Carew, and two dogs, Ezra and Bradley.
From Rye and Dan's litter we have a dog and a bitch, Oscar and Fleck (the puppy who had a huge grass seed in her eye when she was 8-weeks old), both of whom have the longest legs we've ever seen on puppies! Smooth-coated and lithe, they're both showing tremendous power around sheep and we have to keep a careful watch that they don't dodge away from us to find sheep for themselves.
It's fortunate that both Oscar and Fleck have excellent recalls and will come back to us if we see them go (saves my legs and nerves).
Russell and Imogen are the puppies from Gwen and Bob's litter. Russell's a lovely boy; keen to work but with the most affectionate and accommodating nature away from sheep that he'll make a wonderful dog for a farming or smallholding family in time (if not more - we'll have to see). His sister Imogen was the last of the litter to be born; the only bitch, the only tri-colour and the smallest by some margin. As if that wasn't enough, she's also the only one with a blue eye. She's a real character but, more importantly (perhaps) shows great promise as a working dog.
Interestingly (to a parent, anyway) Russell (aka Rissole) and Immie are the two dogs who'll sell their souls cheap for a banana, whereas the other dogs much prefer pears and damsons. In fact, when we let the sheep into the orchard in the evening they can have quite a search to find windfallen fruit now that the dogs have developed a taste for at least five-a-day.
Of course, all these puppies, plus their mothers and Eli, will be stars in the new DVD. Three chapters completed and we know them off by heart already.