My wife and I were brought up in families with dogs. In her case, Corgis with the unfortunate name of Haggis. In my case, Welsh Terriers with the more prosaic name of Taffy. When we married we still wanted dogs, but what sort? The first was a mongrel named Lemon Curd. The second a Dalmatian named Miffy.
By now we had moved to a house in 8 acres and had 3 young children. We had chickens, ducks and goats and hit on the idea of breeding Airedales. As much as anything to give our children an insight into nature’s cycle of life. Our aim was not to make money but to have fun.
My wife bought Troubadour a young male from one breeder and Misty, a young bitch, from another. Both were the offspring of Champions with no evidence of in-breeding. We set about training them, going for walks, playing with them and generally having a great time. My wife had read that it was best not to breed in the first season as this gave the bitch time to develop and mature. So as the second season approached we began our preparations.
After the pair had mated I built a large pen with foot high sides in the utility room. This was to keep the puppies contained but allow Misty to get in and out at will. Lots of newspaper was laid as bedding and we awaited events. The births were all straight forward and Misty had presented us with nine jet-black puppies. We were all excited, especially the children. All the puppies thrived, the Vet came to inoculate and dock them all and before we knew it they were ready to be weaned. Also they were developing their different characters and their coats started to turn brown. Organising the feeding of nine puppies was a challenge and we have many photographs. One very funny one is of a line of nine puppies all with heads down in their bowls and tails in the air.
At about six weeks Misty had had enough and we put them up for sale from 8 weeks. People came to view and that was interesting too. Pretty well all wanted to buy and by 10 weeks they were all gone. We were tired, relieved and also sad. The 8 weeks had simply flown by.
Trouby sired and Misty bore us another two litters with a seasons rest between each. Each litter was of 9 puppies in each. The cycle of events was the same each time and we thought we were becoming experts in the field. Unfortunately Misty was then hit by a car and killed. We did not have the heart to buy another bitch and Trouby enjoyed a long and peaceful widower hood. When he eventually died of old age, the house seemed very empty.
Imagine my surprise when six months later my wife said she had been very naughty and presented me with two young puppies. She named them after two favourite maiden aunts, Bess and Nell and 12 years later, we still have them.
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