The First Eight Weeks – The Life and Times of Bouncing, Biting, Baby Berners
By Mary-Ann Bowman, Ph.D.
Fig. 16: Puppy and New Owner
This is a bittersweet time for a breeder. The puppies are a great deal of work because they are so active and busy, and they are eating three to four meals a day, with the corresponding pooping! The puppies' mom has pretty well checked out, although she may still be nursing them and like to play with them. All the work - and it is a lot - falls to the breeder, and so this makes it a little easier to say 'farewell' to the little sweet lives that have been so tenderly nurtured for almost eight weeks. This is the week that formal temperament testing is traditionally done, adding yet another snapshot of the puppies.
Fig. 17: Puppy kisses new owner
Also, the structure of a puppy is more apparent now, and that aids in puppy placement decisions. The puppies are cognitively ready for more challenges, so it makes sense that it is at the end of this week, when the puppies are eight weeks old, that they typically move on to a new family and new opportunities.
It is not possible to overstate the effort and time it takes to raise a litter well. It is a labor of love – for the puppies, for the breed and for the new families that we have decided to trust with that small, fluffy piece of our heart. But it is also such a privilege to be present as a miracle unfolds – as a small helpless life enters the world and quickly transforms into a fluffy little land shark right before your eyes! It is eight weeks of constant change and wonder, hard work and little sleep, but to see the joy in the new owner's face – PRICELESS (See Fig. 16 & 17: Puppies with New Owners).
About the Author:
Dr. Mary-Ann Bowman breeds Berners under the kennel name, Kaibab. She chronicles her work as a Bernese Mountain Dog breeder in words (and pictures) as a popular Blog at http://www.kaibabbmd.blogspot.com).