Carol Reiter: Christmas is a lousy time to have puppies

Carol Reiter

For some insane reason, about a month ago, when Jan came into heat, we decided to breed her.

I don't know what in the world possessed me, I hate puppies. I keep telling myself to remember how awful Peg was, and still is, but we still found a nice working dog to breed her to.

I'm not sure if she's bred, but either way is OK with me. If she is bred, she will be due about Christmas time. Ugh. What a horrid time to have puppies.

I have only had five litters of puppies in 30 years of owning dogs. Gwyn had three litters, Copper (Len's mom) had one, and Jan had one. Every single one of those litters was a pain in some way or another.

Gwyn's first litter was born when Gwyn was just two years old. She tried to convince me that she certainly didn't ask to be bred, those puppies were my problem, and she proceeded to eat her way through a door, twice, to hammer that point home.

By the time those puppies were about four weeks, Gwyn was through with them. If I put her in with them, she barked. And barked and barked and chewed on the door. She actually chewed through a bedroom door. Twice. The puppies from that litter, the litter that Ty came from, actually weren't bad puppies, it was their mother.

Did I learn my lesson after that litter? Nope. I bred Gwyn again, a couple of years later, and she had Meg and Hope's litter. She was a much better mother, but the puppies were horrid. Meg was climbing out of the puppy yard by the time she was 6 weeks old, and toddling her short little legs out to the sheep, convinced that she was big enough and strong enough to herd them.

Meanwhile, her sister Hope was content to stay in the yard, but she tattled on Meg every time Meg got out. Hope would bark her shrill, annoying bark and let me know that her evil sister was out. Those two puppies about drove me crazy. When they were older, they would head somewhere together, trotting side by side and totally ignoring my screaming at them to come back. It took about four years before either of those dogs was civilized enough to live with.

Gwyn's last litter of pups was actually not a bad litter. Gwyn was older, and she loved those puppies. Maybe she knew that this was her last hurrah, or maybe she was just old enough that she could finally be a great mom.

Then there was Copper's litter. She originally had seven puppies, but one died at one week of age of a heart problem. The remaining six were probably six of the most awful dogs I've ever been around.

The owners of the puppies from that litter will probably disagree with me. They love their dogs, and they should. The pups were well-bred, and they were certainly pretty dogs. But man, oh man, what a bunch of bad pups.

Let's just say that Len and Zeke came from that litter. We named one female puppy Turk, because she was the bossiest little puppy I had ever seen, like the monkey on the animated Tarzan movie. Her new owner changed her name to Sarah, but even her owner admits that Turk, er, Sarah, is still a bossy dog.

And the two ya-ya dogs, which is what I called Zeke and Len, almost drove me crazy. Zeke was bound and determined to chew up every possible thing in my bedroom that he could. I would wake up in the middle of the night with Zeke on the floor, sound asleep, with the edge of my comforter in his mouth, half chewed up.

I do not look fondly back on those days, believe me. I was glad when Zeke got sold, although I'm sure Len missed his gangbanger brother. But I have to admit, the years have mellowed Lenny a bit, to the point that I can almost stand him. Almost.

And then there was Jan's litter. Peg is a perfect example of what that litter was like. Quick, smart, lean, conniving little dogs with freckled faces and minds that are always thinking.

Peg is going to be 3 in February (I can't believe that much time has passed), and she still drives me crazy. So what do I do? I breed her mom again.

There's a pretty good chance that the breeding didn't take, and I'm not sure if I'll be happy or sad about that. I'll get back to you on that.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209)385-2486 or