Puppy Development Series 1- The Magic of the First Month

On July 15, 2015, Lancelot x Bridget had a litter of  borzoi puppies. The “Irish Airs” litter will be the subjects of a series of posts about early puppy development  here at Aria.  Watch them grow up and learn how you can use puppyhood experiences to help build confident, resourceful adult dogs that handle stressors well and are emotionally solid in a wide variety of situations.

The Magic of the First Month -Individualism

Little puppy Seamus has escaped the puppy pen and the mauling of his brothers and sisters, to enjoy a dignified nap with mom, Bridget.

Click HERE to see their video! “They’re starting to get interesting!”

Something magical starts happening around the first month of a puppy’s life –  Individualism!  Once their eyes are fully open and they’ve had a little practice moving around on purpose, suddenly, they start to realize that they are a unique entity and can affect the world around them.  This is the beginning of personality, and the seeds of the dog they will become.

They learn their first lessons about touch, texture, bite inhibition and so much more while they’re bumbling about at this age, simply being adorable.  It may not look like much to our eyes, but their little brains and bodies are working overtime to grow and learn.

It’s an exciting time to be a puppy! Yay for individualization!

Photo Flashbacks – Zen, A Lady in Waiting

On July 5, 2016,  Encore x Zen had a litter of  borzoi puppies here at Aria Borzoi, with Rita L.Rice. “Zen,”  the dam of the “Firesongs” litter is pictured below, heavily pregnant and just hours from delivery.  As part of our “Photo Flashback Fridays” we’ll be showing photos of the Firesongs litter at about the same age as the 2017 “Van Morrison” litter (Seamus x Melody) we’re featuring, just for fun and the sake of comparison.  Every litter is a little different and there can be a quite a range of “normal” for strong, healthy pups.  Over the next few weeks, we will  be doing a series of posts about early puppy development  here at Aria, using photos and examples from the current  2017 “Van Morrison” litter (Seamus x Melody), the 2016 “Fire Songs litter (Encore x Zen) and the 2015 “Irish Airs”  litter (Lancelot x Bridget).   

Poor Zen, full of puppies! Every so often she’d look at me like, “When will this be OVER?”


I kept thinking “Catch that nap while you can, Zen.  You’re on the hook for at least 8 more weeks….”

That’s one BIG belly for such a svelte little girl!


It’s Been A Week… Bring On The Photos Already!

2 week old borzoi puppy
2 week old borzoi puppy
He’s tired… and who could blame him, after all that’s been going on?

All right, so I talk a good game – the pups just had their two week birthday yesterday, and I promised scads and scads of photos and daily updates on their progress… and here I am, just trying to catch up.

For those of you just tuning in, this is Chelle “Chel” Griffith, reporting from The Puppy Room at Aria Borzoi, where I’m watching the Encore x Zen litter enjoy a nursing session with Zen. These little guys are making the cutest noises! Nothing in the world sounds like the chug-a-lug sound a bunch of nursing puppies make when they’re really hungry and chowing down. Zen is living up to her name this moment. She has this peaceful, half-lidded zoned-out look to her eyes.

This evening, I’m watching the little guys go about the serious business of eating, sleeping, pooping and growing while (impatiently) I wait for all the photos and video clips I’ve been taking to download into Dropbox so I can begin the great puppy photo share-a-palooza.

Sleep tight, everyone!  Just like the little guy above… isn’t he adorable?


Why Rescue Groups Should Support Efforts to Reform Dog Breeding

When a dog breeder is failing to take proper care of his or her dogs and isn’t willing to accept help from peers, rescue groups are often the ones who step in. Depending on the size of the breeding operation and the condition of the dogs, rescue volunteers can face some daunting issues.
We would like to see a world in which all breeding dogs and puppies are treated humanely and shown kindness so that large surrenders become much less frequent.
At the National Association for Dog Breeding Reform, we believe that many breeders do an excellent job and their work that has preserved many of the dog breeds we love. We don’t want to end dog breeding by the many dedicated people who do it the right way.
It’s easy to look at the world and see what rescue and breeders don’t have in common, to look at them as competitors arguing for different approaches to finding the perfect companion animal.
The truth is there isn’t one right way to find a dog to love. People are different. Some go right to a rescue. Some people won’t get a dog unless it comes from a breeder they know and trust. Others head right to the local shelter.
I think about what rescue and good breeders have in common. Imagine how many fewer surrenders there would be if every breeder met the standards that the best ones do. Imagine how much better it would be for breeding dogs if there were validated standards for breeders and enough resources to do the needed inspections and enforce the standards fairly. Imagine how much better it would be for responsible breeders if those who lack the compassion to do breeding the right way were incented to do something else.
Ethical breeders are providing a service that meets a need. Some Americans want a puppy that has been bred with care, a puppy with a known history, and a puppy that comes with access to advice from a genuine expert on the breed.
There are many ways to work together to improve the lives of puppies and parents. We think that rescue, responsible breeders, veterinarians, and dog owners all have a stake in making breeding better for the dogs.
Visit our site and register to get updates, or sign up to volunteer to help our nonprofit at http://nationalalliancefordogbreedingreform.com/. Please share our posts!

Ode to Sparta

Sparta loved children and was the best dog he knew how to be.
Sparta loved children and was the best dog he knew how to be.

I killed Sparta today.  He was old, he’s been sick, and 140 pounds of Great Pyrenees creates all sorts of issues when it comes to elderly care.  After two years with us (he was a rescue that somehow found his permanent way into our lives), he actually looked a LOT better than when I first succumbed to him.  He was never “cute,” he didn’t like people, he hated other dogs, he sometimes guarded our own home against us.  He was never a candidate for a “cute” ad.  He stank, he had nasty oily hair, he farted, he bit, he barked randomly at all hours, he never grew hair on his back or tail (horrible staph infection and flea infestation when we got him), he thought that nail trims were a matter of life or death (his life, my death).

He was, in his own Sparta-like way, a very happy dog during the two years he was with us.  He loved children, chew bones, his bed in the cave that is my stepson’s room, and sometimes he even loved us.

Chances are, we could have kept him around a lot longer.  I’ve known many owners who do; some keep them for too long.

But here’s a sad irony.  As a breeder who spends a fair bit of time in the public eye, every dog I own seems to be a target for people who are anti-breeder.  My hounds and I are held to a much higher standard than your neighbor with the 20 year old blind and deaf poodle.  Because I’m a breeder, the dog who is just plain old and tired becomes “neglected and abused” in the eyes of those who are anti-breeder.   Because I’m a breeder, the elderly dog with fatty tumors, male pattern baldness, and nails that drag the floor is a cause for headlines. Because I’m a breeder, no one stops to consider that the dog might be impossible to load in the car and considers biting the vet to be the highlight of his day.

Because I’m a breeder, compassion is not available for me, or even considered to be a trait I might possess.

Now, we know that’s not true, because we know me, right?

As our beloved dogs age, it’s easy to see them as they were, rather than as they are.  We see what we want to see, and believe what we want to believe.  Any vet can tell you of the old dogs they see on a daily basis, their deplorable condition, and the difficulty their owners have making that final decision.

Old animals are hard.  They become increasingly frail, and there becomes a point where medical expenses exceed the budget for your next car – with no purpose or end in sight.

When our neighbor chooses to let his old dog shuffle from day to day, not happy and whole but not at last prayers, we empathize with him.  When a breeder undergoing inspection has several old dogs in the same condition, it’s “neglect” – we lose our compassion and somehow ascribe the existence of those dogs to greed.  Realistically, nothing could be farther from the truth – it’s much less expensive to let old dogs go, than to spend the time and money to keep them on.

I never argue about that last, best, most difficult choice we must all make for our dogs.  Each of us has to come to terms with our choices, and nearly all of those make those choices out of love.  Each of us has our opinion on when it’s “time,” but I believe we owe it to each other to support our friends as they make those choices, and not argue or criticize them – isn’t it hard enough as it is?

Compassion.  For the hounds, for each other, and for Sparta.  He was the best dog he knew how to be.