Let me just say that four puppies is much less than twelve. And a 30 pound dog is much easier than a 60 pound dog. Sure, those are generalizations, but I do feel a bit like a marathoner who is running a 5K.
Estelle is a rockstar mom. The puppies are fat and shiny and eleven days old, but Estelle already seems restless. I think in human terms she’s one of those moms who has a hundred Pinterest boards and writes three blogs, while making all homemade baby food and teaching step aerobics.
She hops in the box, does a quick clean up and lays down to let the pups nurse. And then she hops right back out of the box and takes a tour of the tiny room she’s trapped in, checking under the grow light table and in the buckets under the mudsink. When I toss toys in for her to play with, she inspects them and then carries them into the box and nestles them beside her pups. Then she stands guard by the gate, growling at strangers (which include my children) and barking at her reflection in the front door glass pane or the cats moving around on the porch. Each time Gracie barks (which is often as Gracie is paranoid and possesses a remarkable imagination), Estelle echoes her efforts, warning off the garbage trucks at the bottom of the hill, the neighbor’s chain saw, the horses rattling the gate, and those pesky birds chattering in the pine trees. Nothing escapes her notice. Estelle is on top of it.
She remains devoted to me. If I walk past the mudroom door, she leaps out of the box, leaving her puppies scattered and mewling and wondering where the milk bar went. She is always ready to follow me. I bring her to my office for short breaks, where she checks every crevice before lying down next to me, only to get up a few moments later to place a paw on my leg, gently requesting my attention. Then she repeats this routine two or three more times before taking her place in front of the door, glancing back at me expectantly—her way of letting me know it’s time to go check on the kids. I can already tell that weaning this bunch will not be the torturous task it was with Edith or Schuyler. Estelle has places to go and people to see.
The biggest difference with this litter and the last few is that Estelle is not the sharing kind. Maybe it’s because Schuyler and Edith had such large litters, but Estelle is not ready for anyone to handle her babies besides me, and then only under her close supervision. I’ve been torturing people with pictures of these gorgeous pups on Instagram and Facebook, but so far, all anyone can do is look (from a distance) but not touch.
Every mom is different and I’m respecting Estelle’s wishes. She’s happy to greet new friends when we are outside walking, wagging her tail and rushing to meet all the people we encounter, her happy in full force wag mode, but don’t even think about approaching her puppy box. She’ll snarl you down in moments, protecting her huge babes from every danger, imagined or real.
Like I said, Estelle is a rock star mom.
And for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of my favorite pics from this week –
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