Shep at 16 years old.
There was another dog who was not part of the pack. Spot was aloof with the other dogs and was his own pack. Spot was a Border Collie who was waaaay too smart. My furnace at the farm exploded and filled the house with soot, so I moved myself and all of the dogs to live in my studio above the antique shop. Spot escaped constantly. One day I got a call at school that he was loose and had been rescued by a neighbor's mother, who had been sitting with him in front of the store for hours. Several times, he broke through the antique doors in the store building, and took Blue with him out into the countryside. He took her a long distance and then would run off and leave her. One time, he left her in a frozen pond half a mile behind the store. Luckily, I found her in time. Another time, down at the farm, he took her more than twenty miles away. A distant neighbor and I tracked him all night. That time, she was only found because I had told another distant neighbor about the dogs and that neighbor had called her daughter. The daughter's neighbor had just told her about this lost dog who had turned up covered with ice on her porch. Spot was obviously trying to dispose of Blue.
When Blue was only ten months old, she surprised everyone by delivering a litter of six puppies. I had never noticed that she'd even had her first heat cycle. Later, we realized that both Ben and Spot had fathered the puppies.
When I was working downstairs in the antique shop, I didn't want to leave the puppies alone upstairs, so I started putting them in an antique beach baby cage - a big wooden and screened in box on wheels. On warm spring days, I rolled the cage outside and parked it in front of the store window. One such Saturday when the puppies were five or six weeks old, all of a sudden, customers started begging to buy the puppies - and I started selling them. Shady had been a mother three times years earlier, with a total of 36 puppies, which I mostly gave away to good homes, but selling these puppies was a pleasant surprise - a surprise which eventually led to George and Patches joining the household - I'll try to tell the rest of the story in my next post.