Once upon a time, we had a litter between two of our favorite dogs, Porter and Eva. And in that litter was a beautiful little girl puppy (above) with very angry eyebrows.
That little girl puppy went into a performance home, and started to do really well in agility and everything else she tried. She did so well, in fact, that we asked if she might be willing to have some babies before she started to work hard on her titles. She seemed OK with that, as did her owners, and when she had her health testing it looked absolutely perfect.
We looked long and hard for the right boy for Lilly, who is small and quick and silly. We wanted to make sure that the dog was moderate in size, with a pedigree that worked well with hers, and we wanted a beautiful temperament. We finally found Gryffin, Merrythought Gingher White Lightning, and we were over the moon.
Gryffin arrived (well, his genetic material did) in April in a white styrofoam box, and Lilly soon found herself in an embarrassing situation.
Lilly came to us in New Hampshire about a week before she was due. And, in short order, she presented us with four puppies, each more surprising than the last.
As you can see, they’ve got something to say about what kind of interesting colors Cardigans can come in.
The four of them: One tri girl, one “funny” merle boy, one pretty weird merle girl, and one stunningly crazy merle boy.
Their colors are so unusual, in fact, that their DNA is going off to a lab to have their merle gene sequenced. The color geneticist that we are working with told me that their merle gene may be mutated, so instead of having silver between their black patches they have pure white. They also have big patches of a kind of badger-colored gray/brown, which is another feature of the mutation they may have.
Lilly is named after Lillian Gish, the silent film star. Since Gryffin is “White Lightning,” we decided to go with a speakeasy theme, and they are all named after important jazz artists.
This (and the picture above) are of CAB CALLOWAY. He’s a merle (harlequin/tweed/mutated) boy.
This is the normal tri girl, BESSIE SMITH.
Bessie again, with Percy the cat. Percy adores puppies and wants to rub against them and purringly stare at them all day long.
Bessie one more time.
Here is the big merle (harl/tweed/mutated) girl, ETTA JAMES. Her black patches have big swirls of badger color in them that get brighter by the day.
Last but by no means least came a boy who – when he was handed to me – made me gasp out loud. He is marked like a show-marked harlequin dane, and he’s the biggest reason we think we definitely have a mutated merle gene and not just “too much white” mismarking in this litter. His name is LOUIS ARMSTRONG, and he even has a registered name already, WHITE RAVEN HEEBIE JEEBIES.
Louis’ other side.
Louis still waiting for his eyes to open (in the two days since I took these, they have opened and it looks like his white side is going to be blue and the spotty eye will be blue or cracked).
When we announced this litter on Facebook, it caused quite a bit of (must be spoken in a fake poncy English accent) CONTROVERSY. I am thankful that most people were as excited to see them as we are, but there are more than a few of our fellow breeders who think that we should be anything BUT happy to have puppies arrive who are of an unusual shade. Instead of saying “Sadly, we had an entire litter of mismarks,” we said “Incredibly happily, we have an entire litter of something very interesting and we’re going to get their DNA studied and it’s going to be AWESOME.” This did not go over well.
Now that their eyes are open and we’re pretty sure they’re here to stay, I will be posting a LOT of these guys, and also keeping you updated on their testing (they will not only have the DNA done, they’ll have BAER and CERF testing). I honestly do think they are going to have a mutated merle gene; I’ve studied color genetics in dogs for twenty years now and they look exactly like the harlequin collies that already have the mutation established. However, it turns out that they don’t have interesting DNA and they’re in fact “just” mismarks, we will say “Incredibly happily, we have an entire litter of gorgeous mismarks and it’s going to be AWESOME.”
– Joanna (and Sarah, and Lilly’s wonderful owners, and Gryffin’s amazing owner)
PS: No, there are none available! Not right now, at least. After evaluations we’ll start the placement process. But the waiting list is like a mile long 🙂