By DAVID LEAFE
Ruff and tumble: Milly with her litter of 16 pups - so many the kennel club told her owners they wanted a vet's confirmation they were all born to the same mother
As the July sun sets over a Shropshire smallholding, sheep graze quietly in the fields, horses doze contentedly in their stables, and hawks circle majestically in the skies above.
This rural scene is like something out of a painting by Turner or Constable, but suddenly it erupts into chaos more reminiscent of the Keystone Kops.
Around the corner of a barn appear 16 frisky dalmatian puppies, tumbling and scampering in every direction as they are pursued by their owner, 21-year-old Becky Elvins.
More than a handful: Becky Elvins carts the litter round her family's Shropshire smallholding in a wheelbarrow
As quickly as she can scoop them up and place them in their large wicker basket, they spill out again, darting between her legs, nipping at her wellingtons and endlessly disappearing and reappearing in a polka-dot whirl. I feel exhausted just watching the bedtime bedlam which has been part of Becky's routine for the past seven weeks.
As a trainee teacher, she spends her day handling classes of primary school children — but that's nothing compared to looking after this brood, born to her much-loved dalmatian Milly at the end of May.
Lots of spots: The dalmatian puppies jostle for space in their basket. The unusually large litter had to be born by caesarean section
Playpen: The tiny pups play in a pen made from bales of hay
Bundles of joy: At two weeks old the litter began to show their spots
Shift work: The pups had to be fed in turn, to make sure that all of them received enough milk to survive
Cruella De Vil: But the Elvinses are making sure that none of their litter are going to a real-life Hell Hall
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Forget 101 Dalmatians, 16 are driving me dotty! Meet the unruly brood and the human and canine mothers looking after them
By DAVID LEAFE