When Stephanie Uchtman and her family opened up their backyard to St. Michael neighbors Sept. 28, they didn’t think 100 people would show up just to see their 14 Labradoodle puppies.
“This is actually a really valuable thing,” Uchtman said. “They are only going to be puppies for such a short amount of time. I thought it would be fun to invite the community to come to meet them and hang out.”
Around 85 people RSVPd to the Facebook event and while the Uchtmans knew some who showed up to see the puppies, most were strangers that Uchtman had connected with through Facebook. They also put up signs on the front yard inviting people to come and pet the puppies.
“It was so great. It was so fun,” Uchtman said. “It’s fun, being known as the puppy lady.”
Uchtman thought it was so fun to watch so many people walk into a stranger’s yard without any worries except to see puppies.
“Social behavior went out the window,” she said of the four-hour event. “You’d never just walk into someone’s backyard. Everyone was connecting with each other and relating with each other and their own dog stories. It was so beautiful.”
People of all ages came and laid on blankets with the 6-week-old puppies and socialized.
“With all the crap in the world, we wanted to offer [people] peaceful, innocent, pure good times,” Uchtman said. “I think puppies represent goodness and comfort. No obligation – they could just come.”
The Uchtmans had never bred dogs before. Poppy, the puppies’ mother, was the family’s first dog. Stephanie is allergic to dogs and poodles are hypoallergenic. The size of the litter was a surprise..
“Having 14 puppies is super rare, six or eight is an average litter, so having twice that amount is nuts,” she said.
The family decided to breed Poppy with a neighbor lab down the street, as a fun project with their three kids, who are home-schooled.
“It was a really awesome experience and we learned a lot,” she said. “It was very nerve-racking, every stage to learn what do we have to do, how do we fix it, how do we accommodate them... I could have not done it without the kids. They’ve been super helpful and awesome.”
During the birthing experience, number 14 came out five hours after number 13. The last puppy was stuck in the birth canal and Uchtman had to pull it out with her hands.
“It was quite the story,” she said.
The Uchtmans have decided not to keep any of the puppies, but are happy to bring joy to others through the Facebook page Poppy’s Pups
“I posted a video of them and everyone just loved just watching them,” Uchtman said. “People were calling me saying it was so great just watching them.”
The Uchtmans don’t know if they will breed puppies again, but are thankful for the experience and to be able to share the puppies with others.
“It’s so healing for people to connect with nature and creation and enjoy it,” Uchtman said. “And there are so many of them we might as well share.”