Monday, December 29, 2008

Confidence in Baby Steps

As you can see from the photos, the puppies enjoyed (sort of) some time outside yesterday. It was interesting to watch their reactions -- a few were quite unsure about that cold white stuff and the new place. When I let Cadi out to join them, all were instantly fine. It reminded me how confidence starts from the outside -- if a puppy or child does not get chances to be competent and experience new things in a safe, secure way then s/he learns to be fearful. But if we support them and their efforts to step out on their own, then they learn to be confident and sure of themselves.

That said, it is also true that people and puppies arrive with a temperament. The idea that babies and puppies are blank slates that we can mold and shape into what we want is not really true -- they have hard wiring that we must learn to work with. Part of what I love about training dogs is that each one presents unique intellectual and creative challenges to me because they are so different, even though they are related and have been raised together.

Zoey and Faith, from the F Litter, are good examples. Faith is bomb proof and loves everyone and everything. She is sweet and friendly and just a love. Zoey, who was the wild and bold puppy in that litter, sometimes takes just a minute to warm up to new people and places. You can see her brain working as she sizes things up and makes a determination about what to do. I recognize Zoey's temperament because it is familiar -- Asia (her full sister, age 17 mos) was like that. And so I know what to do to help Zoey grow in her confidence, and I also know not to worry about it -- she will be fine. In fact, she will be more than fine -- Asia is my easiest and most devoted dog, and Zoey appears to be following in her pawprints.

Cadi's temperament is like Faith -- bombproof. She was born with confidence and it only grew. You could see her spark from the time she was a tiny puppy. Nothing bothers Cadi -- except elephants. She had an elephant encounter on one of our walks -- the zoo is close and the elephant fence is right by the sidewalk. Cadi and the elephant surprised each other, and ever since that happened she has not liked elephants or even the zoo. Luckily, we rarely encounter elephants!

Cadi does have more energy than is really safe for one berner to possess. Her tail is known as a dangerous weapon and she also likes to fling herself at the feet of everyone and anyone. When someone comes over or comes home, she grabs something to carry and runs around happily carrying whatever it is in her mouth. She loves everyone and is just a very happy dog. And Cadi is brilliant in a very clever way. When she was a puppy she figured out that putting her stuffed kong in a hole would help her get at the filling better -- it was like she was using a tool! She still does this, and really does amaze me at what she can puzzle out.

I am feeling very positive about the temperaments in this litter. The Glitterati are more vocal than the F Litter -- I am not sure what this means yet. They are curious and engaging. This morning I put a box in their pen and watched as they climbed on it (and fell off). Zoey and I went in to sit with them -- they love to play with Zoey. Sutton was barking and play bowing, and all took turns with Zoey and also sitting in my lap. They are better at mouth-eye coordination and can now grab my hair -- ouch.

We are starting to be able to tell some things about structure. As we expected, we have lovely rears and so far the toplines look great. Cadi and Jed both have nice heads and the puppies take after their parents. The eyes are darkening up well -- Cadi had black eyes as a puppy and I think we will have no light eyes in this litter. They are very fluffy -- this is one thing we were looking for by breeding to Jed -- Cadi does not have enough coat so I am pleased to see puppies with tons of it. They are still cobby little puppies, and this is also what we were looking for. No puppy is freaky or spooky, and I am very happy about that. I love how interactive and friendly they are, and of course, I have to say that they are even more adorable than yesterday.

It is time that I have to get serious about puppy placements -- my least favorite part of breeding. I have sent away a couple of people recently who wrote or called and basically said, "got pups?" I probably should be more understanding but I find those inquiries offensive. We put so much into breeding these dogs well and there is so much info out there on the dogs and their families that when people ignore all of that and want a puppy -- any puppy -- it just bugs me. I know we all have to learn sometime and I do direct them to resources so hopefully they will learn the ropes and how to make a better first impression, but I guess I want smarter puppy owners -- ones who do their homework and appreciate what we are trying to accomplish.

I am excited about the homes that will be getting a Glitterati puppy -- I have committed most but not all puppies. I will ask the new families to provide an introduction so that you can all get to know them.

I have dogs to walk so let me get to the pictures. The first one is Whitby attempting the steps -- he is doing pretty well, don't you think? Sydney found a nice place to curl up and chew things, and that is her with the hose and football. Galen had taken a puppy in and I was counting heads and getting six -- not good. I counted three times, double checked that Galen had just one and went off looking for the stray. I found her in a large hole the big dogs have dug over the years -- that little adventurer was Jamaica and she was nonplussed at her predicament.

The two puppies together are Sydney and Jamaica, and there are two pictures of Ireland -- a lovely profile of her standing and then one of her sitting. Hudson is in the photo coming towards the camera and the group shot is a test! Can you name all the puppies in that picture?

I hope you have a wonderful day doing things you are good at doing, and growing in your confidence as a result. Thanks for your visit and also your fun comments.


  1. Three comments:

    1. - I must be following your litters with too much attention. As soon as you mentioned Zoey's thoughtful approach to new things, I thought of Asia!

    2 - please see if you can find a hand-spinner's home for at least one of the fluffy puppies. Berner fur makes such lovely yarn!

    3 - Even as someone 'on the margins' I can empathize with your feelings about the 'got pups?' syndrome. Yes, I was certainly ignorant when I got my first dog, but at least I know I would have said something about how much I wanted a Berner...

    Please give out a lot of kisses today!

    Susan and Djinn

  2. Mary-Ann,

    You are wonderful with a camera! This is my favorite set of pictures so far. The puppies look like such little individuals! Hudson looks like such a 'big dog' with places to go.

  3. Whitby, " a Well-Bred BMD, This is What I do ~ Climb Mountains."

    Hudson, "I'm In Charge Here ~ ANY Questions??"

    Sydney & Jamaica, "Girls Just Wanta' Have Fun...You go First.."

    Ireland sitting, "Well That's a Different Feeling...or is it No Feeling on my Bumm??"

    Ireland standing, "Where'd Everybody Go? Wait...My Back Legs Are Stiff.."

    Darling Photos Once Again :D
    Thank You!