As we have relatively few litters, we relish our time with each and every group of pups we raise. Puppies at Flyway Farm are whelped in the bedroom so that we can keep close tabs on everyone. While puppies are handled while cleaning the box and to ensure everyone is doing well, we have found that excessive handling during this time can stress Mum and pups alike so we do our best to practice restraint. After everyone is well settled-in, Mum gets some time to herself on farm walks. We feel that providing Mum a balanced life helps ensure she's at her best for her puppies. As the pups begin sitting up and exploring the whelping box, quail, pigeon, and chuckar wings are introduced, and as the pups mature, larger duck, pheasant, and goose wings. In their last days in the whelping box, puppies are given their first meals of puppy gruel. At this time, a recall whistle is introduced whenever meals are presented to start the recall conditioning process. Pups are wormed starting at three weeks, and then every two weeks thereafter or depending on need. Pups nails are trimmed every 5 or so days.

When the pups begin planning their great whelping box escape between 3 and 4 weeks, they are moved to a larger indoor pen. A gate across the door allows Mum to go in and out of the puppy pen as she pleases. The pups sleep in plastic crates and on blankies by the door where they also eat their puppy gruel meals. Puppies quickly learn to keep their sleeping and eating area clean by pottying in the shavings at the opposite end of the puppy room. The sights and sounds of the puppy room changes daily to provide varied stimulation. During this time we also start some one-on-one handling time with the pups, and start getting them up on the grooming table. When the pups outgrow their indoor pen, they move to The Puppy Palace - an indoor / outdoor space designed for puppy fun and socialization. Puppy jungle gyms, flooring panels, plastic and metal grates, metal pans that bang when moved, tunnels, boards that wobble under foot, duck and goose decoys, tarp squares and flags that blow in the wind from a fan, mirrors, and a vast variety of toys are all cycled through the puppy pen. Puppies listen to sound desensitization CDs when not rocking out to their favorite radio stations. Visitors to the puppy pen are frequent and always welcomed by a swarm of puppies.

Once settled into The Puppy Palace, the pups begin their great adventures, starting in a large outdoor puppy pen that is moved to various locations around the farm. Puppies are then taken out a few at a time to explore the house and farm, romping through cover, playing in the puppy pool and creek, socializing with the ‘big dogs,’ and meeting the horses, alpacas, goats, pig, and chickens. The pups also enjoy car rides to acclimate them to travel. Once the pups are big enough, they enjoy individual play-time and short retrieves.

At seven weeks, the pups are temperament tested using the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test. They are also introduced to a live, shackled pigeon to assess their level of interest and determination on birds.  Around this time I also begin conformation assessments with experienced puppy evaluators. Based on the results of these assessments and countless hours of observation, I select pups for their new homes. In preparation for their next great adventure, pups are weaned between 6 and 7 weeks.  Close to their eighth week, pups visit the vet for a health check, microchipping, and DPv vaccine. It’s hard to say goodbye when the pups venture off to their new homes between 8 and 12 weeks, but knowing they will be well-loved and have many adventures ahead eases the heartache.