I don't plan on another litter for at least 2 or 3 more years so please indulge me as I reminisce over what is also The Boy's final litter since he was neutered shortly after they were born. For me, although the litters are largely about the puppies, they are also very about the dam. It's her care and time and work that are the backbone to making the task of raising a litter a lot easier; if she is difficult, disinterested or sadly, as we have learned, not there, then the job is so much harder. Leeloo hated being pregnant, that much was clear, but she was an attentive mother who made sure everyone got what they needed.
But the puppies, the darling puppies who are the reason we are celebrating today, needed to do nothing but grow and be adorable. In the first three weeks of their lives they had a lot of milestones to meet - open their eyes, open their ears, learn to eat regular food, to walk, to interact with each other and to meet the rest of the family. Cora loved to check in the babies, once she realized they were dogs, and spent a lot of time nibbling and poking them. Sometimes she got a poke right back.
Each day this little group of babies got more and more adorable. As with any puppy, the more adorable they get the more naughty they get and it wasn't long before this mass of puppy goodness was wreaking havoc on their parents, Esme, and my house.
All puppies are cute, no matter the breed, but sometimes there is one puppy who stands out as exceptionally aw-worthy and my last litter had one of those. She was the smallest puppy born at half the weight of the rest, and stayed small for the whole time she was here, and ever after. Little Mini is, without a doubt, the cutest puppy I have ever raised. She gets special mention because so many people were rooting for her and I am happy to report she has matured into a lovely, kind, very sweet and correctly sized Ridgeback.
But then, they are all lovely and well loved by their respective homes and although they were a lot of work, it is always a pleasure to meet and enjoy coming to know the families and people who have taken the time to give my puppies wonderful homes. I know you discharge your responsibility with great care and today, on their first birthday, celebrate the companion that will never let you down. It's been a pleasure to watch them grow up and here's to many more years! Happy birthday to Kota, Emma, Zeke, Raylan, Vesper, Rue, Peggy, Kenzi, and Tezlin!