I love deafening silence. The kind of silence that makes the whole world seem immensely vast and open. Silence that fills your lungs with crisp fresh air, untouched by any other creature, only for you. Like your standing barefoot on soft sand at the edge of an ocean with calm salt water stretched as far as you can see. You feel so small, so invisible, so free.

I see exciting changes in my crew lately! My baby Claire is cuddling up and snuggling, wanting her belly rubbed constantly. Her skin is darkening with the hormones flooding her system. Her coat is glowing with red highlights and is slightly coarser to the touch of my fingers. My sweet Georgia is cranky and snippy with the other dogs. She will sit on the back of the sofa and launch herself at anyone even thinking about jumping up to get comfortable. Charlie Brown is following Claire around, protecting her and standing guard over “his” possession. As the girls come into heat the boys start battling.

“Grandpa” Yoshi thinks he is the man and with no social skills he simply doesn’t know when to stop. He challenges Charlie consistently throughout the year. Charlie usually postures himself to disagree and then walks away shaking his head at the old man. When the girls are in heat, the dynamics change. Yoshi and Danika must be sequestered in the bedroom. Which suits “Gramma” Danika just fine. A quiet room away from the chaos and stupidity of battling “men”, arguing over an unseen and powerful, instinctual force.

I’ve got some amazing families waiting for new babies. They want dates. They want to start planning. Unlike other breeders, my dates are approximate. I believe in watching my dogs and letting them tell me when it’s time. Same as humans, we can run the numbers and try to control nature but in the end we have just wasted time, money, hope and faith. (In getting pregnant with my first son we tried for 6 months before we finally got the exciting news. 6 months of calculating, timing, planning…6 months of disappointment. With my second son, we waited another 8 months. It wasn’t until I stopped calculating that Joey was conceived.) Claire is much smarter than I am in these things anyway. She knows when it is time and her determination is unstoppable.

I understand why professional breeders cannot do this type of “calculating”. Their dogs are kenneled, with scheduled time in the yard like inmates on a daily exercise allowance. Unlike “Prison Break” on Netflix where we see the inmates in their little groups around picnic tables, playing team sports or collecting rocks, I’m sure real inmates get very little exercise and are forgotten in small cells to brood, releasing energy anyway they can. For professional breeders, this is a business, they calculate, plan, test, re-calculate and still they hope…the same as me. They pay vets to test hormones, inseminate, x-ray…and they still guess…the same as me.

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I believe strongly in nature, following her lead, learning from her, trusting her instincts. Following another’s lead is so freeing. No worry, no planning, calculating or manipulating. Free to concentrate on my hope and excitement, for them and with them. Free to love them wholly and without restraint, even when my dedication to them is seen as silly or ridiculous. Free to learn from them. Free.