Riddick & Shep Growing Up... The First Year
We always planned to keep one male from the litter, and we knew by the time they were three weeks old that Riddick was that male. He showed the protective characteristics, courage and alertness we were looking for, not to mention he was rapidly becoming the largest of the litter. At just four weeks old I was in the run with them and the neighbor showed up in our yard unexpectedly and little Riddick put himself between me and the neighbor and barked and growled until I showed him it was okay. He also naturally tried to mimic mama Lumen and papa Dexter. So, it was a no brainer for us that we were keeping him.
As people came to see the puppies they often had set ideas about what they were looking for, male vs female, etc. or they had picked out the puppy they wanted based on the pictures. It was eerie that when they showed up a specific puppy would break away from the pack and just come walking up, as if to say, "Hey, I've been waiting for you and wondering when you would show up!" It was as if each pup seemed to choose the family they wanted to go home with. This was true for eight of the pups. In fact, one couple came, planning on a male, and ended up going home with two females because one girl picked the wife and another girl picked the husband.
All except for Shep. When people came to see the puppies and visit, Shep always hung back. He would let them pick him up and pet him and he just seemed so indifferent to it, which was strange to me, because he was always seeking me out for attention and cuddles. A family in California and a family in Montana both showed lots of interest and we were negotiating the details and trying to firm up the plans for a road trip, either south or east, when Shep came up to me, put his head in my lap and stared up at me with his gorgeous brown eyes, and it was like he was telling me, "Hey, lady, I pick you." I couldn't resist, or maybe I just didn't want to. And, since our plan is to move to the Kootenai National Forest, it was an easy selling point to say, well, one more dog can't hurt. So, hubby got Riddick and I got Shep, and our beautiful pack went from three to five. It has been an amazing, challenging, sometimes insane adventure, but I wouldn't change it for anything.
At 8 months old, on September 25th, Riddick weighed in at exactly 100 pounds and Shep, who is taller, weighed in at 98 pounds. Both boys are almost equal in height to Lumen and Dexter, but are on track to exceed them in height and weight. They are doing amazing at learning to patrol the property and are working at guarding all of their wards on the farm.
UPDATE ON RIDDICK AND SHEP (May, 2020):
A hard lesson we have learned is that you should not plan to have more than one intact male (or female). In April of 2020, when Riddick and Shep were almost 15 months old and starting to go through puberty, Dexter went to correct the boys and a fight broke out. The intensity and severity of the battle between Riddick and Dexter has led us to make the decision to re-home both boys. We cannot safely keep all three males on our farm the way it is set up. We miss them terribly, but we had to make the decision that kept everyone safe and fulfilled. (We were advised to wait until the boys were at least 18 months to neuter them, which may have helped minimize the dominance issues between the males, but we couldn't safely keep everyone separated until they reached that age.)