The traditional way of rearing puppies in Greenland is to have them out all the time, running loose in public with the dam, dodging snowmobiles and getting up to goodness-knows-what until they reach six months old. I worry too much so choose to rear my puppies in a pen, that way they remain safe close to home. Later on a pen creates a secure environment where I oversee the weaning process and early stages of puppy training development the way I want it. With plenty of attention my puppies are happy, confident and healthy before venturing out of the pen after their first vaccine injections. After walks and runs the pen becomes a haven they know as home.
Utilising pens in the Arctic is not an easy option. Our winters are nine months long and it takes a lot of graft to keep a puppy pen relatively empty of snow. When the pen behind my house is empty of puppies it still has to be cleared because Girly will be in heat soon and Stunner will have her first, probably before she’s nine months old. The pen enables me to isolate and protect bitches in heat from un-chaperoned suitors.
So, what happens when puppies reach six months of age? At six months old all puppies into adulthood must be chained when not working. That is Greenlandic law.
My puppies are now six months old. Blimey weighed in at 33.3 kg, Max 31.3 kg, Proper 28.8 kg and Stunner 24.3 kg. It is now time for change in their lives. Blimey and Max were the first to experience the stakeout chain on the riverbank. I gave the puppies seal bones to occupy and distract before clipping on Stunner and Proper.
This first stakeout experience lasted half-an-hour before I put the puppies back into the pen. The following day I repeated the process but lengthened the time. Tails were down for a while but they soon flipped back up to their scythe-like curl that I love so much. With each litter I take about 10 days build-up before making the transition from pen to chain final. This method of tethering dogs safely is also the one used to secure them overnight during journeys or hunting forays.
In the film you can see my adult dogs below on the frozen river. Before going out on conditioning runs with my adult dogs I let all the puppies loose. At that they rush down, weave, nuzzle and play with the adults. All family. Only next winter will these puppies be put in harness for the first time. For now they run loose ahead, behind and in between my adults out on runs.
For more information about Gary and his dogs go to http://www.garyrolfe.com/