On Tuesday, December 14th, a litter of pups was born to Dottie (Dorothea WW of Alika Cotons) and Rossy (Rossy of Crabapple Crossing Cotons)...


Actually, Dottie gave birth to five male pups between 5:20am and 6:30am. Four were normal-sized and weighed between 5.3-6.1 ounces. One, however, was far off the mark at just over 3 oz.! The little guy, who we dubbed Rudolf because of his reddish, premature-looking nose, could not nurse well, so we hand fed him around the clock every three-four hours. Despite all efforts, he succumbed in less than three days.

The other four, exquisite pups [shown above at three days old] thrived in Dottie's care and have grown well and uniformly as expected. There are two Tri-colors and two Black & White Cotons. In one week, they have achieved weights that range from 7.9 oz to 9.3 oz. They are very active and content, but will not, of course, be walking (at first, it's more staggering and stumbling than "walking") or seeing and hearing properly until they reach almost three weeks of age.

With every Alika Coton litter, we offer preliminary names to help everyone relate to the pups as individuals. While the new, forever owners may well change these names, they sometimes stick, and they're always fun. For this special holiday litter, I (RJR) go back thirty years to a Christmas I spent in Madagascar...

Christmas 1974 in Fort Dauphin

It was a rainy, hot, Austral Summer night in the southeastern rain forests near the sleepy port city of Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. I had just spent the better part of the early evening following mouse lemurs in the littoral (coastal) shrub land, when I emerged from the forest and walked by a small, rustic, candle-lit stone church. Emanating from within was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.

With wonder, I approached the door to the church and peered in. The roughly-assembled, lava rock building was packed. There were pews filled with women in elegant, colorful lambas (wrapped dresses characteristic of Malagasy finery). Men, too, were enrobed in their finest. Children were everywhere on the floor beneath the pews as well as running up and down the center and side isles. An enthusiastic choir at the front of the church filled the building and surrounding forest with Handel's Messiah -- complete with an all-Malagasy language libretto. I quickly and discretely started my field tape recorder and captured as much of the magnificent piece as possible. It was a breath-taking jungle experience that I have, from time to time, listened to and relived.

Madagascar Mouse Lemur

One of the most bizarre and interesting of life's juxtapositions was to experience a live performance of the Messiah in a jungle with the most primitive and smallest of our living relatives, the Mouse Lemur (Microcebus spp., above). Mouse lemurs closely resemble what human ancestors looked like 54 million years ago. I was listening to their high-pitched shrieks while hearing Antanosy tribes people sing the most advanced, beautiful and complex of human choruses.

The Malagasy are not necessarily Christian (they are mainly into ancestor worship; their principle god is largely a "deus ex machina"), but the Malagasy do love to attend a church service where they can sing. In a tradition that dates back more than a millennium, the Malagasy pride song and poetry above most other human accomplishments--and they are very, very good at what they love. So for this Holiday litter, we celebrate each pup by giving it the name of a Malagasy musical artist. The pup's father, after all, is named "Rossy" after Madagascar's former number one pop recording artist. So on the next web pages, Alika Cotons is proud to present Dottie's Malagasy Pop Star Puppies...


(c)2004 Alika Cotons