Denver - November 19, 2013
We are pretty excited around here this week. Oslo, who was raised here in Denver by Linda and Dave, was selected to be a breeder girl for Canine Companions and she delivered her first litter on Sunday! Five boys, three girls, all yellow. *Happy Sigh*
But it got me thinking about the life of a CCI breeder girl. I figured that Oslo was probably too busy to talk to me right now, so Marianne suggested I talk to her friend Cath’s breeder girl, Ghita. Here’s our chat:
JEB: Hi, Ghita! Let’s start with the basic information about the life of a Canine Companions breeder girl.
GHITA: Hi, Jeb! I am very flattered to be interviewed by you; you are famous. OK, basic information: We live with our Breeder Caretakers full time. When we come into season, we are taken to the CCI NW campus in Santa Rosa, CA for our “date” with the breeder boy they pick for us. Then once we are out of season, we go back home to live with our BC’s again. Our puppies are born in our BC’s home (a very exciting event!) and live there for eight weeks. Then my puppies go back to CCI NW, get their first vaccinations, health check, and tattoos. Then they are shipped out to their puppy raisers all over the United States!
JEB: Do you know how CCI decides which puppies go to which region?
GHITA: No, I am sorry I don’t know that….and neither does Cath, though she has tried forever to figure out how they distribute pups. I think it is a magical CCI thing.
JEB: Yeah, I think CCI is kind of magical in many ways. Do you like being a mom?
GHITA: I LOVE being a mom! I have such a great life with Cath & Jim!
JEB: How many litters have you had?
GHITA: I have had 3 litters so far and am currently pregnant and expecting my 4th litter on December 11th.
JEB: Do you know where your kids are? Have any of them graduated or is it too soon?
GHITA: I know where most of my kids are and I am so proud of them. Four of them graduated in August, and the next bunch turn in in February! I got to go to graduation and was so proud of my kids!
JEB: Who’s the dad of this litter?
GHITA: I had a very fun date with Zorba, an “oh so handsome” Golden boy!
JEB: Marianne says she thinks these might be FLUFFY puppies and if so, she wants one. I find that insulting.
GHITA: Don’t be insulted……everyone seems to like fluffy pups over us smooth-coated beauties! Their loss.
JEB: No joke. Hey, do you get morning sickness? Marianne says you get extra food – are you able to eat it? Honestly, I get a touch queasy just thinking of little puppies squirming around inside you. *shudder*
GHITA: I never get morning sickness, and love getting all the extra food. This week I get my regular food amount plus an additional cup a day. Next week, I get my regular food amount plus 1 1/2 additional cups a day and that will go up to my regular food amount plus additional 2 cups a day! Life is good! Once my babies are born I will gets LOTS more food, depending on how many puppies I have.
JEB: Any idea how many puppies you’ll have?
GHITA: On my ultrasound that was done last Thursday, my wonderful vet (I love this guy! He rubs my tummy and gives me treats and tells me I am beautiful!) saw 5-6 puppies but we will confirm how many I am having on Dec 3rd when I have an X-ray done. Don’t worry, the X-ray is safe for me and my puppies.
JEB: What can you tell me about your human family?
GHITA: Oh yeah, it might be nice for me to tell you about Cath and Jim! I am their 6th CCI breeder girl. They have had Nadia, Jolin, Corette, Makia, Breezey and now me. They started being BC’s in 1992 and have whelped 23 litters and about 200 puppies.
JEB: Whoa! TWO HUNDRED PUPPIES. That’s amazing.
GHITA: That’s not all - they have also raised 30 puppies!
JEB: Unbelievable. Talk about a serious commitment to CCI. Wow. Are they going to raise one of your pups?
GHITA: They aren’t sure if they will raise a pup from this litter yet; it might depend on how one of their older dogs is doing health-wise.
JEB: Do you live with other animals?
GHITA: I have lots of other critters to play with around here, tortoises (that look like BIG walking rocks!), a horse that we rescued named Gulliver, (who traveled around a bit before finding us!) an elderly Burro named Bartholomule (mom adopted him from the BLM Grand Canyon program), a couple of Pygmy Goats with names like Goatie Hawn, San Diegoat, and Professor Mcgonagoat (like Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter!) and a very elderly bunny named Chocolate Bunny, and of course our other dogs, Breezy and Makia, which are retired CCI breeders. I love having so many friends around.
JEB: Those "punny" names are hilarious! What kinds of things do you lie to do?
GHITA: When I am not pregnant I get to go to the CCI puppy classes that Cath teaches. Best of all, I get to do agility! I LOVE agility! I am very fast and love jumping and running through tunnels and doing those weave pole things.
JEB: Marianne says that if I decide that I don't want to be a working dog that i should do agility because I also love to leap and spin and run really fast. Maybe Cath would adopt me! You didn't mention the parrot, Jitterbug. Is he still with you? Any funny stories you’d like to share?
GHITA: Yep, our African Grey Parrot, Jitterbug, is still around. He is 21 years old now and though he is a bit screechier as he gets older, he still makes Cath and Jim laugh all the time with the things he says. You should do an interview with him sometime! He knows all the dog’s names, and knows all the CCI commands, and praises and corrects appropriately. We (me and Breezey and Makia) tend to ignore him cause he talks all the time.
JEB: Is there anything else I should know?
GHITA: I am attaching two photos. One was taken just a few weeks ago and is my Christmas photo taken by Ken Sergi and the other is me doing agility going through our tire jump. We have a whole agility course on our “ranch!" I am a lucky dog!
Ghita said I could check in with her again after the puppies arrive, so stay tuned for an update in a couple months!
Chow for Now!
Looking for a fun little gift for the holidays? Check out "Let the Dogs Speak! Puppies in Training Tell the Story of Canine Companions for Independence" by Marianne McKiernan. It's available in paperback and eBook formats on http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com. All of Marianne's royalties are donated to CCI, so you help us pups when you buy it!