I've decided we're a little slow on the uptake sometimes. Last month I wrote that we'd just realised our farm dog Pip was in a delicate condition (due to us not realising that a dog we inherited from another farm wasn't as neutered as we thought — ie, not neutered at all).

Our youngest son, Angus, was thrilled about impending puppies and rushed out every morning to check Pip. One morning he forgot his daily check and it was about 9am before he remembered. He came stampeding back in, shouting, "She's had them! She's had them!" Both our sons love playing tricks on us (shouting "Here they aren't!" when we're expecting visitors never gets old. I blame Bruce) so we didn't take him seriously because although Pip's tummy was starting to bulge, I thought we had another couple of weeks up our sleeve at least.

Bruce looked at him closely. "He's got tears in his eyes, he might just be telling the truth."
By this time Angus was just about on his knees begging us to come and see. Sure enough, when we investigated, there Pip was in her kennel with a mound of tiny wriggling puppies, looking slightly horrified. Despite the fact it was her first delivery, she'd done the job all by herself, neatly and tidily, almost as though a stork had dropped them off overnight.

The puppies are hugely entertaining, and a great draw for visitors. We bring them (the puppies, not the visitors) inside for cuddles and over the past four weeks they have developed from squeaky jelly beans into proper fighting, rollicking, chewing pups with distinct personalities.


Pip looked as though she was over motherhood by week two and runs after Bruce on the motorbike whenever she gets the chance, boobs flapping wildly. Makes me wince every time. Right from the start when we went to inspect her babies, she would nudge one towards us with her nose as if to say: "Here you go, take it away and give me a break." She seems to resent visitors giving her babies any attention, shoving her nose in their face and begging for pats.

Bex, our other farm dog, adores having Bruce all to herself but is unmoved by puppies. I showed her one and suggested she be called Aunty Bex, but she growled which I took as a no.

Milo the chocolate lab hasn't embraced his role as Uncle Milo, either. He sniffed them enthusiastically, but I think he was just checking whether they were edible. Now he's jealous of the attention they get and detests them chewing on his ears. At 11 years old, he's allowed to be a grumpy senior. He forgot his crankiness long enough to enjoy the benefits of Pip living at the house, sniffing out her expensive dog food that Bruce kept up high on a shelf.

Somehow, despite a recent skin cancer operation, a steel plate in his back and arthritic hips, he climbed up and ate the entire roll, including most of the plastic wrapping (his guilty face and a few shreds of plastic were the only clues as to the roll's fate).

A recent visitor reminded us we need to keep an eye on Pip — maybe canine baby-brain is a real issue. Working in Australia as a rep for a farm support business, he visited a farmer in the outback and they both left the property afterwards at the same time.

The farmer drove off in his ute, his lactating mama dog ran after him, and the rep followed in his vehicle. The dog raced along the road as the farmer sped off — then unexpectedly turned and ran in front of the rep. He didn't even have a chance to touch the brakes — felt the bump, stopped and got out and found the poor dog dead.

He tried calling the farmer and didn't get an answer, took the dog back to the house and laid it on the front doorstep in the sun with a note of explanation and apology and headed off. He rang later to further apologise and the farmer greeted him cheerily. "I was just ringing to say sorry about your dog," he said. The farmer was puzzled. "What about my dog?" The rep, slightly disconcerted, asked if they'd seen his note. "Oh, yeah, we saw your card there but didn't read it."

The rep then explained what had happened, how he'd accidentally run over the dog and taken it back to the house. "Ohhhh," said the farmer. "She's dead? We thought she was just asleep and we've been stepping over her all afternoon."