Bella’s pups are five weeks old and enjoying what might well be some of the happiest days of their lives. Personalities are emerging, and although all the puplets are eating very well and lapping water, they still want to cuddle with mama from time to time.
Zelda’s a feisty little thing, but she does seek out the comfort of mum when she can. The pups don’t eat much at Bella’s generous table anymore – she certainly doesn’t encourage them – but have begun developing their very own patterns of eating.
I feed them four times a day, but notice that not all of them are interested in the late morning feed – what Ron calls “second breakfast” – as they grow. Zoe and Zelda often skip this meal which makes me wonder if it’s something to do with their different physiques – they’re smaller boned than the other three.
Zorba’s showing a very independent streak. He likes to rough and tumble with his siblings, but then he takes himself off for long naps. Alone. Maybe he’s channeling his inner Greta Garbo, but he’s given me a few anxious moments when I’ve had to go in search of him. Here he is earlier this morning – he was hard to spot until he moved.
He does enjoy his food, which he takes on his own schedule. I suppose because he’s bigger, he can eat enough to keep him happy for several hours.
Zeus plays hard and naps long. He sleeps through just about anything, does Zeus. Not even the jets roaring overhead will cause him to stir, much less his siblings clambering all over him.
Can’t a guy get some peace and quiet around here?
Zeus and Zorba are great pals and are identical in size. Will that change as they grow?
Zeus stood out from the others almost immediately, not only by virtue of his colouring, but because of his striking personality. He’s so distinctly the leader of the group that Zeus is a name truly befitting him. And it’s also somehow appropriate that he’s the biggest of the gang. At least, so far he is. He’s quite fearless, and very inquisitive. I foresee much mischief!
Zorba is the other male. He and Zeus are great pals, often together which doubtless means they’ll be partners in crime. They are similar in size and shape, very broad of shoulder and beam, with sturdy legs and thick tails. They almost certainly have the same dad – he must be quite big – but goodness only knows who he is and where he is. Bella was pregnant when she arrived at our house, and where she came from is also unknown. We are outside of the village, and there are no other dogs around us here, so I guess their dad might even have been some distance away.
Zorba’s a happy, happy little guy. He runs about all over the place, wanting to play with the others. But most of all he wants to be petted. He only has to hear my voice to come scampering along, wriggling between my feet, tail going like a little windmill. Scratch his back, behind his ears and he’s beside himself with delight. Put him down and he begs to be picked up again. He’ll be a most devoted pet. No question. They will all be, for each one is affectionate and contented.
Freddie came back today from Albania where he’d gone to spend Easter with the family. When he left, the puppies were six days old. To say Freddie was astonished at their growth is something of an understatement. Zorba ran straight up to him, and wanted to be friends. I think that’s amazing at only four weeks of age, and shows what a trusting and friendly doggie Zorba is.
Zoe, one of the three girls, seemed at first to be of the same father as Zeus and Zorba, but is smaller. Now as she grows, I’m not so sure for her tail is more slender than theirs, and her head not as square. She’s very fond of her brothers and makes a point of being around them. Zoe means life in Greek, and she’s certainly full of life. She’s a solid fawn colour with just a titch of white on the paws, and a little white bib. Some darker hair is beginning to appear on her back, so maybe she will change colour as she grows. It’s hard to tell. She’s as well adjusted as her brothers, though the girls are not quite as strong as they.
Zza Zza has a teensy tip of white on her ever-wagging tail. She’s very particular about where she’ll lie down, and very dainty when she eats. It’s quite funny to watch her. She doesn’t like to be spattered with food by the boys who are rather rambunctious in their eating habits, rushing from plate to plate as they do in their eagerness to stick their noses into everybody’s business.
Why did I call her Zza Zza? For some reason the late Zza Zza Gabor flashed into my mind as I watched the fastidious doggie trying to brush puppy food off her face. Miss Gabor was always immaculately groomed – and quite a character she was – so Bella’s little girl has been named for her.
Zelda is different. Freddie says she’s a hunting dog, whereas her siblings are mostly Greek sheepdog. Certainly Zelda has a different shape, a smaller head, a longer, thinner tail, and the brown markings typically seen on the hounds here on the Pelion. She’s the smallest of all the pups, leaner in build, and a little less adventurous, but is happy and thriving.
She’ll sit quietly in the kennel, watching and pondering, and then, after much consideration, she’ll join in all the fun; it seems she’s of a philosophical bent. Why Zelda? Zelda Fitzgerald was the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby. She was a complicated person, greatly talented and very high spirited – different, one could say. So yes, I’ve called Bella’s smallest pup Zelda, but that’s not to imply that she’ll have the tragic life Zelda Fitzgerald did, but rather that she marches to a different drum.
Never a dull moment here!
And who was perhaps the most delighted of all to welcome Freddie back?
Yesterday we drove to Larissa and took the old highway for a portion of the trip. Now there’s a new highway linking Athens and Thessaloniki, part of the E75.
The old road is more interesting – we passed here through some of the fertile farmlands of the Thessalian plain – but the new road is faster and more convenient, and a great deal more expensive what with all the tolls that are springing up more swiftly, it seems, than the poppies.
Alexander the Great must surely have seen mile upon mile upon mile of these bold blooms when he marched his men through Thessaly, astride his horse, Bucephalus, bred on Thessaly’s great plains.
It thrills me to drive along a route that Alexander himself was familiar with, though he’d not recognize it now. But then again, he surely would, for the mountains still rise as they did between Macedonia and Thessaly.
And Olympus, its snow-capped peak often draped in a cape of cloud, would have been given particular attention by him, for Alexander revered Zeus and the rest of the Olympian gods. They must have followed his progress far below their legendary home, as they lay about sipping the wine Dionysus took such great care of.
Enough of the history lessons! Feast your eyes on the poppies whose ancestors flourished unseen for aeons before Man ever came to Thessaly.
Bella’s pups are growing and maturing so fast that people are finding it hard to believe that they aren’t yet four weeks old. I think they’re going to be bigger than she is, and as we have no idea who papa (or papas were) we can only wait and see how they develop.
This past Wednesday, when they were just exactly three weeks old, led by the obvious leader of the pack – I’m calling him Zeus – they clambered over the rocks keeping their door ajar and out into The Great Unknown. Actually, it wasn’t quite so unknown as we’ve carried them outside before several times and placed them on the ground, but on this occasion it was under their own steam.
It was funny watching them. They were a bit bewildered at first, not too sure of themselves. There was quite a bit of high-pitched squealing, and snuffling around, and several attempts to get back inside to the safety of the familiar, but once inside again, they climbed directly back out. Ron opened the door wide for them to make it easier, and then the game was on.
Bella, however, was totally disinterested. This rather surprised me. Did she not care, or was she letting them find their feet, as it were, in the Great Big World? She wasn’t far away, but she made no effort to approach them, no matter how much they squeaked and wailed. Ron and I were greatly amused watching them, and I suppose Bella was well aware that her puddle of pups were in no danger. Interestingly enough, as each one tired, he or she waddled on shaky little legs back to the snuggly comfort of their bedding and dropped off to sleep very quickly.
Again, I was a bit taken aback that Bella didn’t join them. I guess I’m more accustomed to mother cats who are far more solicitous – at least in my experience – of their babies. The pups’ little bellies must have been full though, for they slept quietly for a long time. Or maybe they were simply exhausted by their adventure.
It definitely hasn’t been dull around here in this quiet little part of Kalamos.
Bella has moved right up in the world, and well she deserves it. When she got what I’m calling her sunlounger, she surely thought that’s as good as it could possibly get.
I was certainly not prepared for how fast her offspring would grow, and soon it became clear that it was getting a bit crowded in Sophia’s kennel, big though it is.
Several years ago we turned the large space under the front steps into a dog house for Sophia to use during the day if we were away; Costa would put her into the house at night. We had the cement floor tiled, installed a heater for winter, and ordered a dog door over the internet. It certainly is very comfortable, but Sophia preferred to use the kennel on the porch if she wasn’t inside the house with us.
Over the last few years we put a large pallet inside the understairs space and placed several olive crates with blankets on it. In there the many and varied cats who seek refuge here, and which we provide food for, could get shelter from the miserable winter weather. (We have seven much-loved pet cats who sleep inside the main house).
Last week we took all the cat beds out – the hanger-on cats are not sleeping there now as it’s warm – and arranged bedding for Bella, who was not made aware of the new accommodations. We went to Volos for the day, intending to introduce her to the new home when we returned. The kennel was empty when we got back and I panicked for a moment, but would you believe – Bella and family were stretched out in there! How she got them in I have no idea. They are far too big for her to pick up, so we can only assume she pushed them out of the kennel, and then rolled them into the new apartment. She loves it in there. That dog is not stupid, that’s for sure.
Ron was anxious about not having a kennel for the ‘wild’ cats to use if they wanted to, so while we were in Volos, he bought another kennel of the same brand, but smaller. These are made of cedar wood, stand on legs and are wind and water tight; very nicely constructed.
Well, no sooner had he assembled it and placed it on the porch than Bella took her ease in it.
Got to hand it to that dog – she knows a good thing when she sees it. When she’s not feeding her pups she has a choice of three spots to relax in, and she all but grins.
The pups are walking about in their house-under-the stairs – not that they’re awake very much – and it can only be a day or two before they’ll get out into the yard. We’re having to give some thought to containing them. It’s certainly going to get very lively around here, and I will literally have to watch my step.
The flycatchers were having a serious squabble yesterday morning outside my study window. The migrant birds have arrived, and this nesting spot which has been empty through the winter, has suddenly become much sought after real estate. I’m not sure if the original occupants have come back to their summer home, or if squatters are trying to take over.
You may recall this entry, Bye-Bye-Birdies, where I pointed out how the birds seem to like using my knitting and sewing trimmings. Yesterday’s argument involved pulling out the previous bedding arrangements – presumably in preparation for a fresh new look – and the dwelling was left in what realtors might term “move-in ready condition,” or des res, as in “desirable residence.”
But today all is quiet. No sign of eager tenants. There are plenty of flycatchers darting about the grounds, and many have nested at the side of the house, but this particular residence appears to be no longer desirable.
I think it’s a fine spot to raise a family. It’s sheltered, the views are fabulous, the air is fresh, and there’s an abundance of organic food for the offspring.
Bella’s devoted to her silky little puppies, but they’re already taking a toll on her. The black one with the wide white collar – rather like a nun’s wimple – is particularly demanding, and sets up a noisy protest as soon as ma’s not doing his or her bidding. Does this mean it’s the leader of the pack? Maybe it’s just convinced of its own importance. Whatever, it’s certainly not going unnoticed, and its strong character’s sure to make it a lovely pet one day. A red collar’s going to set off that white neck fur very nicely.
We placed Sophia’s dog bed just outside the kennel, and Bella took to it right away. She’s spending a fair bit of time in it, escaping the fatly fed pups when they fall into a contented cuddle as they drop off her into puppy dreamland. Can’t say I blame her. They’re a great deal of work, and I cannot even begin to imagine how she’d have coped alone in the wilds. How do these unfortunate animals find food? I’m not going to go there because I get overwhelmed at the thought of the endless misery in the world.
To happier thoughts then. Bella’s one lucky dog, and one whose pups will surely have good lives. I’m certainly going to do my best for them all. They will be strong and fit, completely used to people, not terrified – a very good start for them indeed. Bella’s got a very sweet personality, and given her happy circumstances I’m sure her babies will be delightful dogs too.
PAWS is very supportive of our efforts. You can see Bella and her cuties here on PAWS Facebook page. PAWS does the most amazing work here on the Pelion Peninsula, under very difficult circumstances, and with very limited means.
We put the puppies into the dog bed for a little while yesterday; gave us a chance to freshen the bedding.
Bella took advantage of the opportunity to wander off through the grounds for a bit. It’s quite humbling how much she trusts us with her babies. She sat calmly watching us as we put them back into the kennel, then followed them inside.
Bella’s relaxing in her sunlounger as I write this morning. It’s quite funny really, rather like a mum’s day out for her, or perhaps spa time.
Her ear looks a lot worse than it is, and is responding well to treatment.
I’ll keep you updated as the pups grow. It’s certainly getting even more hectic around here!