Getting a puppy for Christmas is great.
Getting 14 puppies?
“It was my best Christmas present ever,” Sigga Sharp said.
Sharp, 12, participates in a 4-H program near her home in Mountain Ranch, Calif. For the past year, she’s been trying to breed her dog Hazel, an Anatolian Shepherd-Great Pyrenees mix.
“She had a false pregnancy, which is when she produced milk, acted like she was pregnant, but there were no puppies,” Sharp said, describing one early disappointment.
Sharp and her family thought the 4-year-old dog seemed to have actually gotten pregnant earlier this fall, but their neighborhood vet had other thoughts.
“She said if she were to bet on it, she’d bet that there weren’t going to be any puppies,” Sharp said.
It turns out the veterinarian simply couldn’t feel the individual puppies – there were too many of them.
“By midnight, there were ten puppies. So I said, ‘OK, I think we’re done,’” Sharp said.
But in the early hours of Dec. 23, Hazel surprised the family.
“It felt like ‘101 Dalmatians’ by the end. Thirteen puppies! Fourteen puppies! I didn’t know when she would stop at the end,” Shannon Sharp, Sigga’s mother, said.
One of the puppies unfortunately died early on, but the Sharps say the rest are thriving, as is their mother.
Sigga plans to sell the puppies as livestock guardian dogs once they’re older. Already, nearly half have been promised to neighboring ranchers. Already, it’s a successful 4-H program for Sigga – and a personal triumph.
“It makes me really excited and it gives me goosebumps, because my dog brought 14 little forms into the world. It just makes me really happy and tickled,” Sigga said.