“Nine on the ninth.” That’s how Cecilia Dove and her husband, Scott, refer to the nine puppies that GCh. Foxcliffe Hickory Wind had on October 9, 2011. A Scottish Deerhound whelping nine puppies isn’t unheard of, but it’s big news when the dam is the first of her breed to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
‘Hickory’ bested almost 2,500 other dogs in February 2011 to earn that honor; she’s also one of just a few Hounds to win at the Garden in the show’s 135-year history.
The 90-pound dog’s gestation went perfectly. Just before the puppies were born, she looked like she had “swallowed a small watermelon,” Dove says. “Their body style hides puppies very well.”
She and Scott, a veterinarian in Gainesville, VA, were not expecting nine puppies. “Eight and nine must have been tucked up there somewhere,” she says.
Like everything else Hickory does, she was immediately a great mother to her brood. About four hours after beginning to awaken from the anesthesia, she started licking the puppies, Cecilia says. “She was the best mom from the get-go. She adores her puppies.” She plays with the now 18-week-old, 30-plus pound youngsters every day. Each weighed about 18 ounces at birth.The Doves will keep “four to watch,” two boys and two girls. The other five will have homes with “Deerhound people,” Cecilia says, on the West Coast, in Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio and with a “Chicago man who’s been waiting for years for a Hickory girl.”
They will be shown, of course. With Hickory as their mother and Am. Can. Ch. Fernhill’s Huntly d’Lux as their father, that’s a given. “He’s a very handsome guy. They look very promising,” she says.
More importantly, though, she adds, each will be loved and “treasured” in its new home.
With Hickory in what might be the best shape since her campaign began with co-owner Sally Sweat and handler Angela Lloyd, the Doves hope the 6-year-old Westminster history-maker can have one more litter – later this year. “She’s in such fabulous condition. She’s probably even stronger now because she’s been here on the farm for a year. She’s very fit. I feel pretty good that we’ll try to mate her this year.” Deerhounds only have a season every nine or 10 months.
She’ll only have one more litter, though. “I want her to have nice, long stress-free life,” Cecilia says.In the meantime, Hickory made return trips to New York twice recently. First, she led the traditional parade of newly recognized AKC breeds across 7th Avenue to Madison Square Garden on February 1. On Saturday she did a meet and greet at Petco for Purina, the Westminster show’s new sponsor. A “CBS Sunday Morning” segment aired about her, and she made a brief appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. Everyone at the Garden had a chance to see her – post-motherhood – as well. She was at the show’s opening ceremony.
Now she’s back on the Doves’ farm in Flint Hill, VA, romping with her pups and her fellow Deerhounds, enjoying the happy, healthy life the couple wants for her.