THE BIRTH OF SONSTRID BORDER COLLIES
Wednesday Addams aka “Wensy” has been on Antinol from 8 weeks of age back in June 2019 and continued on it right throughout her pregnancy.
She recently became a mother for the first time and the five beautiful bundles of joy delivered have been a delight to follow as they are raised through the first critical 8 weeks.
This is their story!
Tell us who you are:
I’m Kealy and my partner Jesse and I are Sonstrid Border Collies. We are an extremely small scale breeder located in Logan QLD. Our goals breeding wise are to produce sound of mind and body puppies who can take on the world happily and cope with day to day life whether that involves sports, exploring or couch life. We’ve got 4 doggos. Our older boy Lincoln (cattle x border collie) who’s 5, Edison (Border Collie) who’s 3, Billy (Koolie) who’s 3 and Wednesday (Border Collie) who is 2.
Is this litter your first litter?
This is our first litter :). A long time in the making ahah.
How long have you been planning this litter?
I think both Jesse and I have always had a broad interest in all things animals, especially dogs. Having a litter one day was on the cards but there was a certain way it should be done, and we have both been extremely picky about it ahaha. I myself have probably been learning and planning what’s needed for a litter for 3+ years. Jesse went through university and learnt a fair bit about reproduction and I went to TAFE for vet nursing. So, having that general knowledge has helped too.
This litter however has been in the potential works for 12 months once Wednesday passed her health testing and then everything was finalised in December when she was 18 months, and we could look at her growth wise as best we could.
Are they ANKC registered?
Yes. The puppies are registered with the Australian National Kennel Club. We appreciate the ethics and guidelines that go into this community and what the majority strive to stand for and do for our puppies. It sets an overall standard to be achieved and from there the sky’s the limit.
What health testing do you have to do to ensure you have healthy puppies?
Both the dam and the sire have undergone a complete updated DNA panel for hereditary and preventable diseases. We have a new test for a disease called Early Adult Onset Deafness that I urge breeders to test for. As well as both having undergone Hip and Elbow X-rays and scoring to ensure that they themselves and their puppies have the best chance of not developing dysplasia diseases and being able to move well in whatever they do in life. The sire has also undergone an eye certification for drainage angles which was necessary before further testing was available and still has benefits today.
What considerations go into selecting two dogs to breed from?
When we started looking at Wednesday on a temperament and conformation level we knew her positives and we knew her faults. I think it’s sooo important to be able to look at your dog critically in the way they move so you can improve upon it and have each generation live life a little more effortlessly. These faults set a minimum bench mark for what would be a good match for her.
In Wensy there were a few things that I knew straight up I wanted to improve upon and that was her front end. She’s narrow through the chest and she lacks upper arm. So, when she jumps in agility the force of landing isn’t absorbed as easily as a dog with better angulation. Wens is also incredibly fine. She’s a small delicate girl but she builds muscle really well. I knew I wanted a bit more substance in my puppies. Otherwise a lot of the rest was cosmetic look wise. What I wanted my pups to look like. What I’d like head wise and coat wise to match the breed standard or my personal tastes.
More important than anything I knew I wanted a really good hearted, happy and confident match. My partner and I own a few dogs and we’ve met our fair share by now and we knew what we didn’t want to deal with. I wanted no tendency towards grumpiness, no reactivity, nothing too nervy. And I found that in the sire I used. He’s travelled the world home to home and he slotted right in at every single one and never had an issue. He’s fit in with families and their kids both skin and fur varieties. He has a heart of gold and he thinks the world is a beautiful place. And that’s come through in this litter. I’ve got 5 confident, happy, smiley puppies who are ready for anything and everything.
My last consideration was the drive level of these puppies. From the beginning we were up front about Wednesday being incredibly high drive on the toy and food front. I was thinking I’d have a variety of drive come through but still active munchkins being they are Border Collies. However, what I’ve ended up with is 3 high drive border collies and 2 medium drive who can still switch on the intensity. This worked out well for the homes I had lined up.
What kind of foods or supplements did you feed Wednesday prior to having her litter?
Wednesday’s whole world has been fresh food. Since the day she came home she continued the raw food life. We rotate foods between pre-mades (Proudi, Big Dog, Raw4Paws) and our homemade food and within that we rotate proteins.
Leading up to her being bred we paid more attention to the proteins and supplements in her diet. We did a round of probiotics using Evolution Animal Cares Inside Out just so we knew for sure everything was happy and healthy inside. From there we made her diet more focused on fattier proteins and left things like kangaroo, goat and horse for more occasional meals. Once pregnancy was confirmed we rotated through fattier proteins only 2-3 meals a day depending how she was feeling and what kind of day she was having.
Since the moment she came home and the whole way throughout her pregnancy and her feeding her litter she has been on 1x Antinol rapid tablet and I wouldn’t change a thing. It kept her happy, healthy and I genuinely think it has contributed to how well she’s bounced back.
Have you done any early neurological stimulation with your puppies?
My puppies underwent ENS (early neurological stimulation) as well as ESI (early scent indication) We started from day 3 of age and continued through to day 14.
How does this benefit them?
The processes are simple and put small amounts of stress on the puppies that allows them to build resilience and confidence from day 1.
ENS: Involves 5 simple steps
– Tactile stimulation (a cotton tip rubbing between their toes)
– Head held erect (holding them in your hands with their head held up)
– Head pointed down (rotating the puppy and holding it so it’s head is pointed down but still being supported)
– Supine position (holding the puppy on its back)
– Thermal Stimulation (placing the puppy on a cold surface)
Doing these 5 steps in order for 3seconds each sets switches on their little brains and gives them stronger hearts, adrenal glands, a better tolerance of stress and greater resistance to disease.
ESI: This is something fun I decided to do to get their noses working younger but also to introduce them to smells they’ll come into contact with and see what they enjoy and dislike. These have been handy in raising them because I know what kind of scents they’re likely to track down and what kind of scents might make them more inclined to feel calm and safe. Each day for 14 days I held a scent in front of them to see their reaction. Scent work is known for calming dogs minds so teaching them how to use their noses so young could only be an advantage to them in life.
How do you go about selecting the right homes?
I don’t waitlist for owners. It’s not fair for me to ask people to wait till I breed what they’re looking for when I just cannot ever guarantee that I’ll have it. Instead I allow people to place expressions of interest once I’ve announced I’m having a litter. That way the expressions for the most part will correspond with what I’m putting out into the world.
I’m a big believer that you need to wait to set your puppies up for success. Nobody knows what a puppy’s personality is like the second they pop out the womb. My puppies were “matched” at 7-8 weeks of age. At that point I knew what made them tick, what their reactions were to stimulus, what they’d be likely to struggle with in life, what they loved in life, how much energy they had and how much attention they’d need too. It also gives me time to evaluate them structurally to see who I might want to continue on or who might have positives to contribute back to the breed.
So around 7-8 weeks I sat down and looked at the people who had reached out to me and what they were looking for in a companion. And then I look at my puppies and what they really need to succeed in life and my priority is them. And then I work through the list and offer the puppy or puppies that I feel would be a good match for each potential family and it’s totally their choice if they feel the connection and want to move forwards. And if not then I’m always happy to help point them in the direction of other awesome breeders who might have what they’re after.
What do you wean the pups to?
Once the puppies are ready for solids I start with a mixture that is majority raw goats milk blended up with some raw 4 paws chicken or beef. The mixture is like a chunky milkshake. From there I slowly increase the meat percentage and lessen the milk. Once they’re on majority meat mixture and they’ve got teeth I introduce bones twice a week. My bones are always softer at this age and always bigger than the size of their head. At 3 weeks chicken necks were good. Currently at 8 weeks they’re having things like duck necks, beef necks, turkey necks or duck wings.
Every now and then I’ll chuck something a bit different into their food. Whether it be a sardine or some tripe. Maybe some blueberries that have been blended up. Or some carrots. Just little things from the kitchen and allow them to try those out. I monitor what comes out as to how they took it and for the most part everything always stays nice and solid.
The puppies have all started receiving Antinol every second day and they’ll be sent home with some as well to set them up from the get go to be the very best they can.
Is there any other training that you have done whilst their puppies are in their critical period?
I have done a loooot of fun things with the tribe. I am following Puppy Culture which is awesome for starting them off on activities to cope with barrier frustration, resource guarding and recall. We continued building resilience and startle recovery throughout ever since they could hear. It’s so important if something happens they can go straight back to what they were doing without going to pieces. But a huge part of it all is setting the pups up for their adult lives. What kind of things will they undergo. We have put a big emphasis on crate training. Formal sessions and informal sessions where they’ll enjoy some enrichment like a Kong or a bone. We play a lot of it’s your choice and do a fair bit of one on one tug work and shaping and just building play and food drive.
I have a good friend who’s a vet nurse who I’ve been very lucky to be able to take the pups into her work and just have them exposed to life in a clinic as a positive place with treats and being weighed and poked.
All my puppies are off to sporting homes so they tag along to training for sports as well as competitions. They need to be exposed to that kind of atmosphere whilst they’re in a period where they can absorb it. The energy, noise and the crowds are all something a lot of puppies won’t ever know exists. They’ve also seen physios, chiros and Emmett therapists because it’s very likely in their time they’ll be handled this way and they need to know it will happen now. That way when the time comes if they aren’t feeling awesome it’s not a shock to their system.
I have one pup who’s off to the best home but she’ll be going on a plane. Not a worry for me because I know I have set her up for success from the get go. The crate training and being comfortable in that space means she’ll settle straight away. I have an airline crate that I use for her in particular as they are different to the everyday metal crates. I’ll spray in some Adaptil 15 minutes before hand and then I’ll load her in and we take a trip to the airport. Purely to expose her to it before it happens. I’ll get to the airport and I’ll load the crate onto a trolley and I’ll wheel her around the area listening to the planes and noises of the place. Because that means when the time comes she’ll have no worries and it’ll cause minimal stress.
Why are you choosing to send the pups home at 10 weeks instead of 8?
I think a lot of people don’t realise that around 8 weeks puppies hit their second fear phase. Removing them from all they know and starting again would be extremely frightening during this time. Waiting that bit longer allows them to sail through the second fear phase in a safe place and maintain their confidence. Which means when they do go to their new homes at 10 weeks they’ll be happy and ready to adjust to their new homes. And all of this means the owners win because they don’t have to have such a hard time whilst getting to know and love their new fur baby.
Anything else you want to add:
Don’t be afraid to play the waiting game and ask questions! If you’re looking for a puppy set a standard. Do research. Be prepared to wait. It’s my first litter and it’s been a journey. The hard work is exhausting but incredibly rewarding and having seen my puppies and who they are I’m hopeful that others will do the same because the positive difference in these puppies compared to the dogs I’ve purchased over the years is huge. Puppies deserve the best. And so do the people who purchase them.
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