Chapter One


Every Sweetbay litter begins with years of forethought. Breedings are carefully planned far in advance. Judi and Ellis have had their ideal Newfoundland as their goal since their very first breeding, and each litter is planned with those traits in mind.


A Sweetbay puppy’s life begins with a courtship. Once Judi and Ellis decide who the mating pair will be, the dogs take matters into their own hands. Breedings occur naturally whenever possible.




Early in her season, the girl is flirtatious. Playing hard-to-get spurs the boy’s ardor, and she knows it. But when the timing is right, she is all business.




When everything goes according to plan, the result is a contented, pregnant bitch.




Sweetbay dogs are very active, and that remains true even though the girl is pregnant. Judi and Ellis let her set her own activity level, and it invariably continues to be top-speed and flat-out. She won’t begin to slow down and take it easy until she gets quite close to whelping.




Gestation is sixty-three days. A few days before whelping, her behavior changes. She becomes quieter and more reflective, and she keeps close tabs on Judi and Ellis, wanting them in sight. Every Sweetbay girl picks out her preferred whelping spot. It’s always outdoors, in some inaccessible spot. That’s where she digs an impressive cave deep in the dirt, usually burrowing under the house foundation, and making a nice nest. The day before whelping, she begins pacing, whining, and panting: all signs that puppies are imminent. If given the opportunity, she would hole up in her cave, and that’s where her pups would be born. However, Judi and Ellis have another plan in mind. Fortunately, Sweetbay bitches are gracious even when thwarted – and all Sweetbay puppies are born in the house, in a cozy, clean whelping box.


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