From Yellow to Zippy to Jack: A puppy grows up

December 8, 2009 at 3:51 am Leave a comment

Faith, a/k/a FayBee, is looking so grown-up on her 8-month birthday that if she and her mother weren’t wearing color-coded collars (thanks, Patti!) I would have a hard time telling them apart at a glance.  I can hardly believe this is the little pup who was the miracle of the lot, the last one born after her birth was blocked by her stillborn sister. She was the only one born at the veterinarian’s, and he was the one to give her her name. (”Have faith!” he said, when I figured she wouldn’t be born alive, and now, I do have Faith. Forever.)

jack2Faith was the last puppy born, but  Jack (right) was the first. He was also a bit of a miracle — or at least a surprise — since the puppies weren’t expected for a couple more days when he was born. McKenzie hadn’t been showing signs of labor, but suddenly I noticed she had disappeared. I found her in the bedroom, in her whelping box. I praised her for checking out the box, when I realized she was actually using it — there was a newborn puppy next to her and she was delivering another.

Most flat-coated retriever puppies are solid black, so breeders have to mark them in some way to track their progress, record their weights and make sure they’re progressing well enough. Some breeders shave fur — right shoulder, left flank– others mark the puppies with White-Out. I think most use color-coded collars made of rick-rack, and that was the option I chose.

I’d drawn colors randomly before McKenzie went into labor, assigning colors to the babies in the same order the packages came out of the bag. I will never forget the order: Yellow, Green, Blaze Orange, Pink, Purple and Red.  (Three puppies didn’t make it the first 24 hours — one was stillborn, one euthanized with an unfixable birth defect and the third, a tiny, tiny little boy, died a few hours after birth — and little slips of their ribbons are still on my refrigerator in their memory.)

The Yellow puppy set himself apart right away by not gaining as quickly as the others who made it past the first day, which gained him a trip to the ER vet on Easter morning. I was probably over-reacting — the vet was kind not to say so — but after that trip the little puppy started to catch up. He soon set himself apart in a new way, with the appearance of a strip of reverse fur dead-on down the center of his nose. It’s called a “zipper,” and he was the only one of the six to have one.

As they grew more, he set himself apart in a third way, by being the first puppy to figure out how to get out of any enclosure, first to always best his siblings in wrestling, and first to vocalize — growl, bark, whine and yip.

His traits soon earned him a nickname: Zippy the Pinhead.

This morning his forever family updated me on his development and sent new pictures. They live in New Jersey, and they’re besotted with him. (A trait he shares with his siblings, who are scattered coast to coast but all in homes where they are much adored.)

His family named him Jack (The Zipper), and I think he’s darned cute. That zipper is really remarkable!

Below are the three boys  at six weeks of age.  Blaze Orange is now Dooley and lives in Iowa. Green is Parker and lives with his dad in Minnesota.

I’ll write about the girls another day. Want to talk about thankful? I give thanks for the wonderful people who are rising “my” puppies with so much love.


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