• Cindy Benson

2021 Sarika x Milan Litter - 9 wks - Big Field Transition

This is me, calling the pups home after our big adventure.

This field transition has a name. You can find blogs of this transition with several previous litters. In every other big field transition you will see at least four puppy handlers, positioned at the four corners of the field. In part, this is to ensure that a frightened pup can't suffer a sustained fear response. More people means someone would step up to that frightened pup and offer an emotional re-set.

Sarika's litter of pups was clearly ready for this level of adventure. We weren't worried about frightened pups because these guys almost never are. We were, though, worried about the deep creek banks that had developed over the winter. Kathy and I walked out and took a serious look at the situation previous to bringing the pups in. She outvoted me, in that she felt the pups had exhibited enough good sense thus far that they were likely to make good choices here. I, ever the overprotective "mother", worried that a pup or two might roll to the bottom and land in the water. We decided to go with Kathy's more practical wisdom, and that we would do our best to keep the pups out of that area in favor of exploration of the rest of the field.

What is it that they say about best laid plans?! Well. We let Sarika come with us. Meadow and Benson had shown good restraint in our safety line work with the pups, so we thought they might be helpful here in terms of spreading out with the pups across the field. And then Casey the tornado Border Collie was in the mix; my fault entirely.

Right at the start Meadow bounded up, with good will and exuberance, and put a big paw on a pup and flattened him, so out go Meadow and Benson. That took our eyes off the pups for a couple of minutes. And then there goes Casey, antagonizing the the adult Maremmas across the fence line. So, I went to get Casey and put her in the house. This was not easy or fast! Meanwhile, dear Kathy, has the full responsibility for the litter of pups. She headed south - and they went you know where. There is a hollowed out tree stump on the other side of this deep draw. Sarika headed off to investigate it, ALL the pups followed her, with Kathy right on their heels and me scrambling to get back there to help.

That there is video at all of this adventure is due to Kathy's ability to function well under pressure - she is a police detective, after all. She took several short videos while I scrambled around and prayed no pups would die. Said pups had the best time! They tried to follow Sarika across to the tree stump, then sought out their options of where to cross the creek, and then they barreled down the banks and into the creek, with gleeful abandon. Not one pup ever appeared frightened.

Kathy and I have a three second rule; if a pup is frightened for three seconds, and sometimes even less, we will rescue the pup, but we prefer to allow the pups to puzzle through their situations on their own because it builds their confidence in themselves. In the time that we were near this creek, which seemed like forever to me, the pups went up and down and in and out, over and over. Kathy plucked only one stuck puppy out of all of this. We had a scare though, because the pups are still small enough to fit though the squares of the fence. We did not know this! On the other side of the fence is a mule, and mules are prone to stomping on dogs. One pup showed up on the other side of the fence, happily oblivious to her potential peril. I, clumsily but quickly, retrieved her. We did finally manage to entice the pups to see other parts of the field. The pups went off and did a great perimeter check, all on their own.

I'm not sure what Kathy's take away from this adventure was. I have new grey hairs because of it. And we are NOT going back into this field until the pups are too big to squeeze through the fence. But, in truth, this was all human drama and worry because the pups had a wonderful time. This is an uncommonly bold group of pups! I don't know what that will mean for their futures but it does challenge us as to our training choices now. What fun!

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