Upon taking up my new role as Matron of Ivy House, I was expecting lots of excitement, variety, scrapes, tears, laughs, care, etc.  However, I was not prepared to be told that I may have to be a canine midwife.  Honey, our house pooch, was expecting!  House parents, Mr & Mrs Crinion, casually mentioned that my predecessor (the amazing Mrs Bob), had birthed two litters with no fuss and sporting some fetching marigolds, so the pressure was on.

I had a little word with Honey, the sweetest and most accommodating Labrador ever and she duly went into labour on a Saturday morning at home with all the family in attendance.  My marigolds were redundant, phew.  The excitement built over the course of the morning as each new arrival was notched up on the board, until we had 3 boys and a girl!  Aero, Amber, Shugsy and Tiger were in residence. A really special moment for our girls to be part of and they have had a protective interest in the pups ever since.

Now for the really fun part.  I let Honey out a couple of times a day from the confines of the whelping box and was able to watch as these tiny little scraps became robust and quite round puppies.  They had full access to the milk bar and as a relatively small litter they grew swiftly, almost double the size of an average Labrador pup, with their adoring mother in 24 hour attendance.

Within a week, we had a constant trail of visitors through Ivy House, the whole family being very patient with the ever increasing circle of puppy insiders.  Pretty much every department from support staff to accounts, admissions, the Foundry and the whole staff room has had a cuddle or two.  Most of the Warminster community have been introduced and have laughed uproariously at the hair pulling, frolicking, shoe gnawing, and clumsy, endearing foursome. 

However, the most heart-warming part of this experience has been the ‘puppy therapy effect’.   Within seconds of exposure to these four naughty, funny, podgy, adorable canines, the smiles appear and the world becomes a lighter place. 

So we are about to lose these little marvels to some very lucky families, two are staying locally so we will be able to see them develop with great interest.  However, my days in Ivy will be quieter and the whole school will miss them mightily.  Thank goodness we have Honey and Prof Moriarty to plug the gap.

Mrs Saunders, Ivy House