FAIRFIELD, Calif. - On an organic Fairfield farm lives what may be California’s largest litter of puppies ever.
The rare sheep-herding dogs called Maremma are typically found in Italy, but what is more impressive is the number of puppies mom Stella delivered--17.
John Costanzo, Stella's owner, wasn't planning to have a litter. In fact he tried to prevent it.
Once Stella went into heat, she was kept in the barn, but the father jumped over a 4½ foot fence and clawed through a tiny opening to get to her.
The puppies are about four weeks old and a handful for this already busy farmer. "It looks all cute and wonderful, but it's a lot of work, but we're really blessed," Costanzo said. "We're really thankful but it's constant, constant feedings, constant attention."
The puppies don't have names yet. "We don't name any of them because they're gonna be going to farms around California," Costanzo said.
The puppies will grow up to be just like mom and dad, which means for Costanzo that these dogs are more like business partners.
"We could never do this without the dogs. We would probably be missing an entire coop of chickens in one night if we didn't have the dogs here," he said.
All of the dogs came out healthy with no complications. Costanzo attributes the healthy litter to Stella's diet. "We gave our dog a soy-free, non-GMO feed and then we gave it raw organic chicken," he said.
As the puppies continue to grow, their only major job for now is to eat, sleep and play.
There are 10 farms already lined up to take home one of these puppies. Costanzo said they're likely to keep one.