Welcome to the ATB blog "J & A's Brittanys" where we love to write about, share stories, post videos and pictures featuring our beautiful, well bred Brittany family bird dogs. With their established and recognized hunting heritage our dogs also measure up to the breed standard regarding health, appearance, movement, and temperament. Enjoy the stories of whelping puppies, tips on field training, bragging rights on accomplishments, sharing joys and sorrow, announcements and as the name implies - ALL THINGS BRITTANY! With a love of God, family, friends, and dog we welcome you.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

J&A's Brittanys: The "Autumn's Treasures" Puppies

No comments:

OLY - "Son-of-A-Gunn JH"
HOLLY BETH - "J&A's Carry the Dream of Acton JH, NA 110 Prize 1


Monday, September 14, 2020

J&A's Brittanys: Welcome to the World Beautiful Puppies!

No comments:

Yesterday, on September 13 from 9 a.m. to about 2.30 p.m.  John and I had the joy of helping Holly Beth welcome 11 beautiful puppies into the world! She and her puppies are doing very well. She’s one incredible girl our Holly Beth. True to form, she did deliver several pups outdoors during a typical outing to go pee but never fear, this time I was well prepared. She wasn’t going to catch me off guard! Prayers for a fairly uneventful delivery were definitely answered.  11 healthy thriving puppies in 5 1/2 hours.

Most pups were whelped within just a short time of each other.  They began nursing all on their own shortly after birth and Holly went right to work keeping them and their 'nest' clean. 

There are 3 boys (1 is orange and white, 2 are white and liver and 8 girls (3 are orange and white, 5 are liver and white).  Today, they are all laying with Holly in the ATB family cradle (whelping box) that was the first home of other precious puppies, including Holly and probably her grandmother and great grandmother.   

In our eyes the first 72 hours or so are very critical.  The pups and Holly will be closely monitored.  There’s a huge demand on her body right now and at first her appetite is iffy to say the least.  We entice her with all manner of food at this point and bring her food to her as she will not leave the pups readily.  During whelping we gave her nursing mother’s pudding, yogurt, and cottage cheese to provide the necessary calcium to keep her contractions strong and consistent. The longest whelping pause was 1 hour and during that time we offered her a calcium supplement.  The puppies are kept warm under a heat light safely suspended and secured above them. During the first week or so the average temperature needs to be about 90.  We have an infrared thermometer to point at the area to make sure it’s just right. We will continue to feed Holly all of the high calcium and high fat dairy products that she wants.  I need to make another batch of nursing mother's pudding.

We take nothing for granted in the lives of Holly and Oly’s puppies nor in Holly herself.  We will schedule the removal of dewclaws and tail docking soon. While John and I both know how to perform this task we prefer to bring them all to our vets. This way Holly will get checked out as well as each puppy. The sooner the better these procedures are done the better for the well being of them all. The argument against going to the vets is for health reasons and the expense. This isn't an issue as our repro vet has a private, separate area that is constantly cleaned and disinfected reserved for puppies and mom only.

During these 72 hours the puppies will be weighed frequently to be sure they are gaining.  There are a couple of smaller babies who we will make sure are nursing well and are not pushed aside from the larger littermates. 

I have set the Roku tv to the Pandora station which is playing soothing instrumental music. Right now we are listening to Dan Gibson’s Solitudes.  It is perfect.  Since yesterday, Holly has lapped up almost two bottles of Pedialyte, helping to keep her hydrated. That was followed by some special chicken that John prepared for her mixed in with her food.  Giving her just a small amount at first because I wasn’t sure she’d take to it, she ended up having 3 dishes full!  Yay!   She goes outside to stretch her legs and relieve herself as needed but wants to run right back to her puppies.  

Thank you for your prayers so much. Please don't stop! Take care and God bless,

John, Ann, Holly and puppies, and the rest of the crew!


Saturday, September 12, 2020

J&A's Brittanys - Holly Beth Getting Closer

No comments:

The passage of time is relentlessly undeniable. Long before Autumn actually arrives the determination of this season is felt and seen. It brings to us joyful anticipation as we enjoy our pumpkin spice coffees, apple pies, crisp weather and nights around a campfire. For those in New England who dread winter autumn also reminds us of the inevitable.  The cordwood is all dried and stacked and soon will be used to keep a home warm and cozy. Hunkering down for the long winter months will be here soon enough.  But here, we are looking foward to a different kind of hunkering down.

Hunker down actually means to stay in one place for a period of time.  For Holly, hunkering down will soon begin with the primal instinct of preparing a nest or a den for her soon to arrive puppies. Shortly before giving birth in the wild a wolf seeks out a suitable spot for her den. It is instinctual to prepare her den in a sheltered area, such as a cleft between rocks, an old hollow log, or a space under an upturned tree.  (Years ago when Molly Rose had pups she was certain she would make a den among some tangled roots of an old pine tree!) In addition to Holly's actual anticipated temperature drop she will begin to exhibit her own nesting behavior.  Digging, scratching, hiding, seeking out dark and tight spaces are some of the things we'll expect. We often provide newspaper for tearing apart in the whelping box. We will keep the lights down low.  At night when she has to relieve herself she will be on a leash and I will carry a flashlight and a towel. You never know because Holly, her mother, and grandmother have never had problem plopping a puppy in the most unexpected places!

I have been charting Holly's temperature for just about a full week. While her behavior will certainly indicate approaching labor the temperature drop will help pinpoint the timing. Her temperature has been fairly consistent with a couple of insignificant drops. Holly and I spend a couple of hours together each night in the puppy cave. I keep the lights low and play calming music. With a multiple dog household this is a welcome break for our girl. As I write this afternoon Holly prefers to be in her crate on the other side of the house.  When she goes outdoors she often disappears from sight. When I call her she is apt to come out from behind the horse trailer, the johnny house, the woodpile or from the back of the garage.

The puppies are so active! I can feel their strong movements when I gently lay my hand on her tummy.  She has milk already. Holly's appetite is up and down.  Some days she is a chow hound and other days she turns her nose up and walks away.  This is not the time to let a dog call the shots as far as eating goes. She MUST eat and if that means cooking a prime rib just for her so be it!  I am trying to feed her several small meals a day in order to help ease abdominal discomfort. 

Yesterday Holly's Adaptil collar arrived. At the advice of our reproductive team we started to use this collar several years ago.  This collar safely releases the pheromone of a nursing mother. It actually helps as whelping approaches for the momma dog to feel safe and reduces her anxiety.  

As I have experienced before when puppies are due here all of our other dogs seem to understand.  They are quite the jubilant crew on any given day but when around Holly Beth each one is very respectful.  HB's signals are also very clear when it comes to communicating "Leave me alone, grasshoppper!" 

We have come up with a list of nicknames to choose from when the pups are born. We are working on a name for the litter itself.   John and I each make a list with a specific number of names on it.  Then we exchange the list and circle the ones we like and cross out the ones we don't.  Very diplomatic!

Today, on a scale of 1-10, the weather here in Southern Maine is definitely a 10!  The humidity has left and the temperature is a comfortable 70 something.  We've been out to one of the local orchards to pick some sweet and juicy peaches. We live close to many orchards and the next trip will be for apples! In the meantime, I hope that you and yours enjoy this gorgeous weather. These truly are challenging and crazy times that we live in but we do need to all live our life outwardly and fully.  As always thank you for your interest in All Things Brittany, take care and God bless!  John, Ann, and our canine crew.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

J&As Brittanys - Holly Beth Week 8

No comments:

Today I began to chart Holly's temperature.  This is something that I will do daily as we enter her final week of pregnancy. Later this week I'll be taking it at least twice a day. A dog's normal temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102.5 and I will be looking for 'the drop'. The temperature may fluctuate at first, although not always. When it does drop to 100 (or lower) and remains there that usually means labor and delivery will take place in about 24 hours and STAGE ONE begins.  During this time Holly will exhibit any number of signs such as digging, nesting, hiding and an increased desire to go outside and relieve herself.  Remember - last year I let her out to go pee, she squatted and had a puppy right there on the front lawn!   

She and I are spending a few hours each day in the puppy cave, otherwise known as 'The Treasure House'. A special sort of space named after Holly's mother Treasure who was the first to have puppies there. The whelping box is just about ready.  We will put new linoleum and carpet in. I have all of the whelping supplies ready. UPS has been busy dropping off the necessary items that needed to be replaced.  Two new tubes of Calsorb were delivered this week and next I am anticipating the Adaptil Collar. Holly's grocery shopping was done this week and we are stocked up on cottage cheese, yogurt, liver, pedialyte, puppy pads etc.  I cooked off several chicken breasts, took the meat off the bone, shredded and froze it. Next I will making my "Nursing Mother's Pudding". 

My roll away cot has been set up as either John and/or I will remain constantly at her side during labor and for a week or so following the pup's birth.  I believe that the first 8 weeks of a puppy's life is so important and have no problem with my own life going on hold. Holly is a 'daddy's girl' and that is obvious to anyone who knows her.  Just tonight we were sitting out by the firepit with the whole crew and she was invited up into his lap for snuggles. A little later however it was clear she wanted to be by herself so she, Pippin, and I spent some time away from the others relaxing.  Holly Beth received lots of gentle belly rubs and the movement of her puppies can be felt. Not much longer sweet Holly Beth, not much longer. 

That's my update for now!  We are in countdown mode. Stay tuned and as always take care, God bless and we thank you for your interest in All Things Brittany - John, Ann, and crew

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Changes, Puppies, and a Butterfly

No comments:

Welcome September!
Let's wake up every morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen

September is usually a wonderful month in it's own right!  Our daughter was not only born in September but she also was married this month.  In fact, there are two estimated due dates for Holly Beth and each one of them is on one of her special days! My lifelong friend who I have known since playpen days (no kidding) has her birthday this month too.  There's also a significant change taking place in our life this week as our son and his entire family (including our little great-grandchildren) are all moving. They are heading South, about 15 hours away.  So yeah, I am having a very hard time with this as is John. Please pray for us both. And pray for their family as they travel and settle into whatever new life God has purposed for them. 

We celebrated our great-granddaughter's first birthday this past weekend with a very special birthday party. I made her a Raggedy Ann doll, a true labor of love.  Then last week we met our great-grandson for the first time when we had our granddaughter and her husband for a very nice dinner.  He is going on 3 weeks old already! What a cute little boy he is.  I'm going to miss them all terribly. 

Thankfully our daughter and family are not going anywhere at this point in time and we do enjoy our time with them so much. Recently our youngest grandson found a caterpillar when at the field with grampa.  He brought it home after grampa made a house for it including the milkweed leaves it was found on.  Every day or so I'd get a text message with the most recent picture of the caterpillar and it wasn't long before it started to spin its cocoon.  I enjoyed tracking the entire metamorphosis including when it turned black.  And just as suddenly as it was black, the cocoon began to be transparent and the wings could be seen.  Then the message that a monarch butterfly has emerged!  Today I received a video of our grandson opening the container, gently lifting the beautiful butterfly out and placing it on the branch of a Rose of Sharon tree.  As I watched the butterfly spread it's wing open wide, I was reminded that change is a part of life. 

Speaking of changes, Holly Beth's photo clearly shows the physical changes that her body is undergoing.  She is clearly uncomfortable. She's a chow hound which is good for her and her puppies.  I'm gathering all of our whelping supplies and the transition of my grooming studio to puppy room is well under way.  She is now 7 weeks along and pups are due in just about 2 weeks! I'll use our stethescope to see if I can hear their heartbeats.  John and I both have felt the puppies move which is always so wonderful to experience.  We have an appointment for x-rays a few days before her due date.  This will be very helpful as she whelps her puppies.  We will know how many to expect. The hair on Holly's belly has started to come out.  This will continue and eventually her tummy will be bare.  She loves gentle belly and back rubs right now. Holly is still energetic and active of course but we have to really supervise that activity.  She reminds me a lot of her mother Treasure right now.  We both miss her a lot and I do believe Holly especially is feeling her absence.  Treasure stayed near Holly Beth when puppies were on the way and it seemed to comfort her. They were always close. Holly is stuck with John and me and the rest of her canine family.

I have ordered Calsorb for Holly and will also be stocking up on ice cream, yogurt, and making 'nursing mother's pudding'.  Calcium plays an important role when whelping starts and pups begin to arrive. A little bit is given to the mother once the first pup arrives and in between each one.  It helps with the contractions and to me it is safer than giving oxytocin which causes contractions. That can be dangerous if there is a poorly positioned puppy or other issue.  A natural form of oxytocin is released when a newborn puppy begins to nurse on it's mother. Holly has very strong natural maternal instincts and I've seen her push a puppy up to nurse with the umbilical cord still attached! 

Okay dear ones, I am wiped out emotionally tonight. And if I'm going to be any help to Holly in these remaining days leading up to the puppies being born I need to get my act together! Stay tuned!

Take care and God bless, and as always thank you for your interest in All Things Brittany!
John, Ann, & our canine crew

Thursday, August 20, 2020

J&A's Brittanys - Holly Beth Week 5

No comments:
Holly Beth is now in her 5th week of pregnancy already.  Waiting to confirm her pregnancy seemed like an endless wait.  I was very hopeful based on how she was behaving.  This included her preference to crate herself away from the busy-ness of our multiple dog family as well as being extra super cuddly and snuggly. 

There are several local veterinarian services where we are faithful to utilize regularly.  For our canine reproductive needs we do rely on Broadview Animal Hospital. Recently, they opened a brand new facility dedicated to reproductive services in Dover, NH.  A week ago we brought Holly there on Day 28 for her utlrasound. With the Covid19 rules in place, we pulled up into the designated curbsite service site and notified staff we were there.  Within a few minutes  someone came out to the truck to escort John and Holly Beth into the building. I waited in the car with two of our grandsons. John went in while the ultrasound took place.  Here's the actual video!
Holly's Ultrasound Confirming Puppies!

When John came out with Holly, he held up two fingers to tell me how many pups were seen on the ultrasound.  I was simply happy to confirm that she was pregnant. My mind quickly accepted the small number because past experience has shown there's usually more pups than are seen on the ultrasound anyway.  As John climbed into the truck he said there were 2 x 5 puppies.  I gasped - 10?!!   He said at least 10.  By now I was trying to wrap my head around that number.  I've never heard of 10 embryos being clear enough to decipher at 28 days.  Then, when the official report was issued to us it indicated there were 11 embryos with 11 heartbeats. It's still very early, obviously.  But we're going to remain hopeful and confident and trust God for an uneventful pregnancy resulting in a safe and healthy delivery for Holly and for her puppies. 

Holly has always had her mother Treasure in her life, they were so very close.  When Holly was pregnant before, it seemed that the mother/daughter bond was especially notable. I wonder if that is why Holly withdrew more that usual during the first two weeks. We had no morning sickness this time. For me, that's always been a sure sign when it occurred right at 3 weeks. But physically there were several signs that would support the notion she was pregnant.

We just waited with great joy through 9 months for the arrival of our great grandson and consequently observed our beautiful granddaughter go through each trimester of her pregnancy. He's already a week old and cute as cute can be!  Read all about it here: 

The first stage of canine gestation (embryogenesis) is when the embryo itself is formed and developed. It is considered to be a very delicate stage of development. This stage ends about 35 days and then the second stage takes place which is called the fetal stage.  The organs are now starting to form and the embryo is referred to as an actual fetus. Although there is less risk of developmental issues during this second stage, John and I will continue to remain cautious as far as rough play and strenuous exercise with Holly goes.

Once we learned last week that Holly is pregnant, we immediately switched her dog food.  Last week we started to feed her Purina Pro Plan FOCUS puppy food.  This is the same food that her pups will be weaned with and what we advise feeding at least for the few months in their new home. Holly's appetite was clearly 'off' for a few weeks and we enticed her for the time being with cooked chicken, boiled hamburg, and occasional steak and white rice. Now that Holly is eating the puppy food, her appetite has improved.  Typically we feed our dogs once in the morning and once in the evening.  As Holly's pregnancy advances she will be offered 5 small meals a day.

Holly has started to look pregnant.  Her ribs are well sprung right now.  Soon her abdomen will also reflect the ever growing puppies. In the weeks to come she will loose most if not all of the hair on her tummy.  We will be able to feel the movement of the puppies. 

Right now my "puppy cave" contains a rack holding John's saddles, totes from spring cleaning our closets, and a bunch of extra stuff.  My roll away bed is still there.  The ROKU t.v., air conditioner, small refridgerator, bathroom, sink and running water all will make the transition for me easier as well as for Holly.  Our family cradle (the whelping box) will be set up again soon.  I look forward to the weeks ahead. 

Based on the actual measurement of the Holly and Oly's puppies, the due date is September 14. Based on when she was bred the due date is September 18. I will block out that entire week on the calendar and begin to take her temperature about September 4. That way I can establish a base temperature which makes it easier to better detect approaching labor. Last year Holly's temperature dropped in the morning and within a few hours she had her first pup right out on the front lawn!  I had let her out to pee and imagine my surprise when she decided to begin whelping.  

On the family front, my sister underwent major surgery lasting over 7 hours yesterday. The surgery included putting a stent in to repair/fix an aneurism located within her abdomen.  I have heard from my niece she is recovering well from the surgery and we're taking that one day at a time. I am overwhelmed lately with family stuff. Some of it is is wonderful and other parts not so much, I continue to covet your prayers. 

Stay tuned!  

Thank you for your ongoing interest.  I'll try to keep this updated in the weeks ahead so you can follow along with Holly's pregnancy.  Don't forget to read or re-read the Monk's of New Skete "Art of Raising a Puppy".  While I don't agree with every training technique especially the alpha roll it is still fun to use it as a guide to follow along as pups themselves develop.  

Remember, deposits are all due right now and the entire litter is spoken for!

Take care and God bless,  John and Ann, Holly, and All Things Brittany

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Joy of Becoming a Great-Grandmother Again!

No comments:

Clearly updates about puppies and life here at ATB are frequently the subject and focus of my little blog here. Even so, the recent results of Holly's ultrasound as shared on Facebook absolutely pales in comparison with a much more significant announcement!

You may remember that a year ago we became great-grandparents for the first time when our oldest granddaughter gave birth to her beautiful daughter! In a couple of weeks, we will all be celebrating her first birthday. It is unbelievable how quickly the time has passed.  She is beautiful, smart, and brings so much joy and smiles to all of us who love her.  My granddaughter and her husband truly are loving, caring, and responsible parents. It blesses my heart to simply watch and observe the three of them together. I'm currently working on a very special birthday gift for the 'baby' soon to be toddler. 

I have shared that as surely as I can remember the joy of becoming a parent when our son was born, then our daughter's birth, and then in time the joy of holding our very first grandchild and each one that followed, to become a great grandmother has brought an even deeper awareness of God's faithfulness from one generation to the next to the next and to the next. And now the blessing continues. That is more than words. 

Just a few days ago I received a text from my (next to the oldest) granddaughter who became an auntie last year at this time.  Her text said "I'm on my way to the hospital, I love you grammy." 

She was in the early stages of labor! I asked her what hospital she was going to. It ended up we were in the same town so I inquired if she and her husband needed anything.  They were all set and promised to stay in touch with us. My promise in return was that I would keep them in my prayers and told them how much I loved them. 

From that point on over the next day and a half, John and I kept a close watch on our text messages.  I don't usually keep the sound on for my notification settings but turned them up high!  It wasn't that the momma to be was a high risk pregnancy, but she had been in a serious car crash early in her pregnancy so that was on most of our minds throughout the following months. Indeed, God was faithful to watch over and protect her and her baby for she walked away from an overturned vehicle. 

If ever anyone glowed throughout their pregnancy, this momma to be did. Because I respect their privacy there will be no pictures shown here. But for friends and family on Facebook, you surely agree already.

Throughout the night and into the next morning personal text messages kept us informed. This was so appreciated.  I had joked with my granddaughter I didn't want Facebook to tell me that my great grandson had been born! It's different being a great-grandparent. It is an entirely wonderful new season. You're sort of on the outside looking in at times simply because there is the immediate family, the grandparents, and then the greats. This is not a bad thing! If you are familiar with the first 8 verses in the Book of Eccliastes and/or the classic song "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds the wisdom experienced through the many seasons of life becomes clear. 

I am one who absolutely hates to intrude on personal space, I never want to be a pest or a nuisance.  Perhaps sometimes this is to my own detriment; perhaps there are times I am too sensitive to this.  I practiced the art of being patient when our great granddaughter was born last year and did my best to do the same this time!  John, our daughter, and I were so excited knowing this precious little BOY was on the way! 

On Wednesday morning the text arrived from the proud new dad that "HE IS HERE!" Then, God love him, he sent me two pictures of his beautiful new family! One picture that the new dad sent me was of my granddaughter holding their brand new just born baby boy close, and the second picture was of the three of them. The baby was just minutes old and although we couldn't physically be there, we were sharing in that moment with them with so much joy and love in our hearts. And yes, the tears did fall.

Soon afterwards our granddaughter sent a text and photographs too and I was just so happy and yes, relieved to hear from her! In the photos she sent me it appeared that her sweet little son was actually smiling!  The love between the three of them could easily be seen as the little family bonded together in these precious and private first moments of, indeed, the first day of the rest of their lives! And imagine our joy early the next morning when she sent a new photo of our new great grandson  captioned  "good morning'! 

I want to say too, it has been a joy to observe our son become a grandfather.  He is known as "Papa".  My daughter in law is "Nannie" and she too has obviously enjoyed this new season of being a grandmother. In retrospect, John and I were just about their age when we became grandparents for the first time.  

A baby, says Carl Sandberg, is God's opinion that the world will go on!  Congratulations to our granddaughter and her husband, and their precious, precious baby boy.  May God faithfully watch over and protect you all as He has done from generation to generation.

Take care and God bless - John, Ann, and All Things Brittany

On another note... August seems to be a very popular month for birthdays in our family, including my own.  And now, as I begin yet another year around the sun my heart is just so very full!  Yet, even in the fullness of joy in gratefulness for so many of God's blessings, I find my heart is being stretched. I have often counseled women of various ages to always be mindful not only of which season of life they are living in, but where they happen to be in that particular season. Is it beginning? Are they in the middle? Or is there one coming to an end with signs of the inevitable transition into the next.  Personally, I am on the threshold of the latter.  Dear ones who know me best, as often as I share unspoken prayer requests, I ask for you to carry me on the wings of your own prayers. Sometimes, silence is golden.


Monday, July 27, 2020

J&A's All Things Puppy Blankets

No comments:

Aunt Julie's New Puppy Blanket

Pippin and her mother Chrissy 
Do you have a favorite blanket that you enjoy wrapping yourself up in? Perhaps it is special because of the person who gave it to you. Maybe it just makes you feel warm, cozy, and secure. It is familiar and it is yours. Blankets are especially important to toddlers and young children because of the very real comfort it brings. Blankets are special. Some children hold onto just a corner of their blanket well past their toddler years!  And moms, like me, often tuck their own children's baby blankets safely away.  My own is hidden away in a trunk making it a true antique. Think on these things as I share this little story.

I am blessed to have a dear friend who has devoted hours, days, weeks, and even months at a time crocheting blankets.  If you are part of the 'ATB family' you already are familiar with her blankets.  You brought one home with your puppy on the first day of the rest of it's life. In all likelihood still have it. 

Julie crocheting with Sassy's help.
In July 2006 a very special Brittany named J&A's Sassafras Rose Harris was born to our Molly Rose. (Sassy passed away last September at the age of 13, breaking the hearts of all who loved her although we know she had a wonderful life.  Sassy belonged to Julie (and Jim) Harris. She was my Treasure's half sister.)  In between the time Sassy was born and the day she went home, Julie crocheted a beautiful full sized blanket for John and I as a gift. (We did share this with Molly and Rosie on the couch.) At the same time Julie also crocheted an identical one, puppy size, just for Sassy. Shortly after this, Julie crocheted a beautiful jewel toned blanket for Treasure who was just a month older than Sassy.  

Yes, our primary focus as breeders is on a close working gundog.  The genetics are there. Even so the single most important thing that I personally can do to assure a puppy gets the best start possible are the first 8 weeks of life spent here with John and I.  Everything we do leads up to the day when we take the puppy leash and hand it over to their new owners with the goal to make the transition for each puppy as comforting, secure, and trouble free as possible.  Thus the importance of Julie's crocheted puppy blankets. Sassy loved the blanket Julie had made her!  We also enjoyed ours with Molly and Rosie.  I did try in the beginning to keep it special just for humans but that was an epic fail.  Molly especially loved the blanket and in fact, when Molly passed in 2017, she was laid to rest with it. 

It wasn't long before Julie decided to crochet puppy blankets for an entire litter of puppies.  She understood as I understood the importance of the pups needing something familiar to them in their new homes, to ease the transition. The rest as they say, is history!

Mail from Aunt Julie!
If Julie suspects that we may be thinking about breeding again, she thinks about making blankets again.  Suddenly a text message arrives from Julie that says "I've started on blankets!" My response usually is to say "We don't expect you to do this, you know you don't have to! We know you are very busy."  Then she says "shut-up I love you".  And that's the end of the conversation.

One by one blankets either arrive in the mail or she quickly hands me a bag and says "there's another blanket I finished!"  Each blanket is absolutely beautiful and unique.  Julie is creative in her color choices and very particular about the yarn she uses and how a blanket comes together.  I have known her to rip out rows and rows if she doesn't like the way the blanket is coming out.  Julie crochets with a precise tightness and guaging of each stitch to result in a perfectly dense blanket that is safe for a puppy. 

Puppy blanket repair!
Sometimes, if Julie knows ahead of time who a particular puppy is going to, she will actually ask if they have a color preference. She keeps track of every color combination ever used and in every group of blankets crocheted by Julie, are the identical colors and patterns of the dam's puppy blanket, sire as well if she made one for him! She even offers to repair blankets if needed.

I have pictures of Julie at dog shows, field trials, visiting us here and other places where she is sitting with a near finished puppy blanket in her lap. People say they could never find time to do this. Julie works full time and often on the weekends. She is probably the busiest person I have ever known in my life! Still she makes time. Julie has struggled at times with not only arthritic fingers but even a broken finger!  With great affection and love I say "stubbornness is an independent woman of Scottish descent." I can't tell you how many times I have tried to discourage her but it never works. (Last year Julie showed another friend of ours, Christine Longley, how she made the puppy blankets.  Chris soon caught on and her own pups also went home with special blankets.  Chris blessed me by including a beautiful blanket she had made in with those that Julie sent us.) In addition to all that Julie does concerning the puppy blankets there is also a very special method of quality control involved.  Her Brittanys all test each blanket for comfort and coziness as Julie crochets with blanket and Brittany in her lap.  
Jack x Holly Puppy Blankets

Moms are introduced to the puppy blankets well in advance. Once pups arrive and are old enough, we place them one at a time on a blanket to get them use to a different surface and smell.  It's part of their development. We often take pictures with the pups on a blanket. I don't leave a blanket with the pups until they are older but daily they have a chance to crawl on or take naps on them.  When we introduce each young puppy to a crate before going home, there is a blanket in it.  When the pups are getting use to sleeping at night in an open crate I always make sure there are blankets inside. Sometimes the blankets need to be washed of course! When the first day of the rest of their life arrives, each puppy goes home with a gently loved blanket with the familiar scent of littermates and momma. 
Ready for the first day of the rest of their life!

I am convinced that the love that is poured into each and every one of Aunt Julie's beautiful hand crocheted puppy blanket helps reduce anxiety and stress that may be associated with a pup's homecoming.  I am confident that the familiar scent of littermates and mom influences the well being a puppy not just for those first few days home, but possibly for the rest of their life. Even now, my adult dogs favor their puppy blankets! 

These blankets are like a tapestry of love, threads woven together that are strong and resilient. I end with this quote: "And we became stronger, together.  A tapestry of friendship, woven with grace, knotted with mercy and made beautiful through imperfections."

We love you Julie Harris and thank God for the incredible gift of our friendship that began and continues all for the love of the dog, both given and received. Saying thank you just never seems like enough.

. Quincy & Julie, apr├Ęs dog show. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

J&A's The Story Behind the Story

No comments:
The American Kennel Club's "Breeder of Merit" program began in October 2010.  In May 2011 John and I became enrolled as a result of meeting the current qualifications. This included:

  • A history of at least 5 years involvement with AKC events
  • Having bred a minimum of 4 dogs from AKC litters that had earned AKC Conformation, Performance, or Companion event titles in our Breed.
  • A member in good standing of an AKC club.
  • Certifying that applicable health screens are performed on animals that we breed as recommended by the American Brittany Club
  • Demonstrating a commitment to ensure 100% of our puppies are individually AKC registered. 
Recently, we were very proud to discover we qualified for the AKC BRONZE Breeder of Merit, an advanced level of achievement and recognition. The additional requirements we have met for the BRONZE level include:
  • Currently enrolled as a Breeder of Merit
  • Provide PROOF of American Brittany Club's required health testing on sires/dams of litters
  • Met our commitment of ensuring ALL puppies get registered
  • Have had a minimum of 10 dogs earning titles with at least 5 of the titled dogs earning a prefix title (champion in all venues) and suffix titles in conformation, companion, and performance events. 
We've always been breeders of close working gundogs.  It's not a catchy phrase to promote our program.  It's who we are, who we have always been. Our preference was to simply stay in the woods and the fields with our Brittanys. We never had a desire to do much more than 'hunt em up'! Until a good friend said to me, if we wanted to be taken seriously as breeders, we should get involved.  

What did get involved mean?  Well, we discovered it meant meeting other Brittany owners and breeders, join the Brittany club, and support it's events. Then we had others say to us, "your dogs are beautiful, did you ever think about showing?" Well no, I absolute had not and had no desire to do so.  I was encouraged to give it a try although at that point in time I couldn't understand the importance of it.  

I jumped in feet first, without any experience or understanding of showing. Oh the stories I could tell of how I felt like a court jester when showing my dog!  And for years (and I mean YEARS!) when I showed, it was basically 'point fodder' for others.  But that is another story and that's okay! I was the one that the judge said he'd never seen anyone so excited to earn a second place red ribbon!  Hey, I earned a ribbon and I didn't care what color it was. 

So you get the picture.  Eventually my dear friend Julie Harris came into my life and between the two of us, we were determined to show to the best of our ability.  I can't tell you how much money and time we invested before achieving much more than a placement. (In time, we made a decision to enlist the assistance of a most amazing professional dog handler, J.M. Coccia.  Joyce finished Julie's BulletMan and shortly after that, finished our Pippin!) Julie and I improved our handling skills and our grit and determination grew stronger. It's a long story, a road full of twists and turns involving a lot of really super wonderful people. If they are reading this, I'm confident they know I'm talking about them.  And those who were not so 'really super wonderful' I bet they know who they are too! 

I am not a fan of showing dogs. But I believe in the purpose of showing my hunting dogs. Having said that, some of the best times with my dogs have been 'dog show weekends'. And now I really miss them. 

While there surely are many other breeders who have achieved far greater and grander accomplishments than the Bronze Breeder of Merit recognition, for me personally this is very humbling, significant and deeply meaningful.  In just 6 years, from 2012 to 2018 seven hunting dogs that we bred finished their AKC Championship, including one incredible girl who finished as a Grand Champion.

Last summer I showed Revere at the age of 12 months.  We only had 3 dog show weekends together. In that time he won Best in Sweepstakes, Best of Breed, Best Bred By Exhibitor, Group 4 Bred by Exhibitor and a 3 point major! And then, I fell in the ring and tore my hamstring. I went to physical therapy until everything shut down. But the story's not over.  It's just on hold. 

John will continue to title and finish hunting dogs. And we even hope to have a field champion someday - with my ultimate dream of a Dual Champion (both field and show). 

Thank you to everyone in our extended ATB Family who has jumped in feet first just like I did and finished your Brittany in any number of purebred dog sports! You found out it was fun to do something with your dog, that you could indeed compete and finish what you started!  YOU are the reason we are Breeders of Merit (Bronze Level) because you believe in our program, you get us, and understand what we're about.  No, we've never forced anyone but it's always ALWAYS been such a joy to see the determination you demonstrate. We have ENJOYED and will continue to enjoy guiding and encouraging others to step into a world beyond bird hunting! We are blessed. And we truly love you all. 

Our 7 champions and 1 grand champion that John and I bred are highlighted in the column over to the right. Someday I'm going to list ALL of our titled hunting dogs. Some really deserve a shout out for going above and beyond.