One frozen sperm makes 14 little miracles
THE RECORD breaking 14 greyhound pups at Goodna trainer Keiron Butler's place are all on song and in fine voice.
So they should be, as five of them are named after 14 of the greatest singers to have walked the earth…according to Butler at any rate.
"It is the record amount of pups to a bitch in Australia from frozen semen, from what we know," Butler tells the QT as his dogs lick us to death as usual.
"The four males - Dino, Frankie, Willie and Bing - are named after my four favourite singers Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson and Bing Crosby."
We'll get to the story behind the 10 bitches' names, one of whom is named after Doris Day, later.
The semen came from superstar greyhound Lochinvar Marlow, based at 'Cousin' Sam Cauchi's stud in Rocky Ridge Farm.
The mother is Butler's three-year-old gun bitch Eleazar, who has just retired after an outstanding career.
"Lochinvar Marlow is in the top 10 leading sires in Australia and 'Cousin' Sam is one of the leading stud masters in the world," Butler says."
"Sam takes the semen, freezes it and sends it to me."
Born on November 27 last year, the survival and good condition of the 14 pups is a tribute to the care of Butler and his many helpers.
"They are all healthy and travelling real good," Butler says. "With 14 pups, and only having the one bitch, the milk hadn't initially dropped down properly.
"We had a problem keeping them alive with no milk so we had to supplementary feed them for the first two or three weeks.
"We were with the pups 24 hours a day, so I had mates come over and we kept working on them.
"I slept with them all night and I'd alternate between the mother's milk and supplementary feeds to keep them going. Everyone said we'd struggle to keep all 14 alive but to our credit, and the credit of the bitch, they stayed alive and they are still strong and healthy.
"Because it was such a big litter (Redbank Plains vet) Gerry King delivered the 14 pups and within an hour I had them home.
"The mother is Eleazar and she is a top class staying bitch I raced in Sydney and Brisbane. She won six races in Sydney and was under leading trainer Dean Swain down there."
The female pups are named after the plethora of girlfriends Butler's had over the years, and other special ladies in his life.
Amy is named after 'a lady friend' of Butler's. Anna honours a family friend's mother who died. Cass was coined such for a friend who helps with the dogs. Doris is a tribute to Doris Day. Maws is named after Butler's sister Maureen. Mamie honours his mum.
"Molly is named after my beautiful auntie down in the Northern Rivers and Pam is after one of the girls who helps us swim the pups on a Sunday," Butler says.
"Sandy is named after a lady friend of mine, and Tia is named after a lady friend of mine too."
The pups are treated like royalty and tear up and down Butler's home-made running track with glee. They also love their regular swims.
"Their pool is heated 12 months of the year and works on eight currents, and they run against the flow of the current," Butler says.
"It is based on a pool that the Olympic swimmers brought out 20 years ago.
"I put them in there once a week, and they love it. They have got their own paddle pools they jump in. And they love running on the track with their mum Eleazar. She trains them herself and is a real natural."
Some of the pups are for sale and Butler has identified two with real talent.
"We've picked out Bing and Tia, because they are the goers," Butler grins.
The pups love music, and Butler was playing the famous piano piece 'Britannia Rag' by Winifred Atwell and Liverpool Football Club anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' in his outdoor piped music system when the QT turned up.
"They love all music, but in particular piano music," Butler grins.
"Floyd Cramer played piano for Elvis and I've got a whole rendition of his they really get excited about. "They love the 50s and 60s music and Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Willie Nelson.
"Their all-time favourite is 'Little 'Ole Wine Drinker Me' by Dean Martin…named after me. They get all excited."