MM Litter Diary

MM Litter Diary
Whelped 7/1/17: 2 sable males & 4 sable females

see  photos of pups on new puppy obstacle course: page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4 and page 5.  Pages 4 & 5 include the good-bye party the night before the pups began leaving..

see photos of pups in their new homes

see background information

Miss Green went to southern Colorado to be a farm dog (dairy goats and chickens) and therapy dog. Miss Gold went to Virginia to be a Search & Rescue dog (their 3rd SAR dog from me). Miss Pink went to Washington state for Schutzhund, obedience and tracking. Miss Red went to Ft. Collins, CO to be a family companion and do obedience & nosework competition (their second dog from me). Mr. Blue went to the Denver area to be a therapy dog and family companion for two busy boys. Mr. Yellow went to Cheyenne, WY to be a therapy dog (her second dog & second therapy dog from me).

Scroll way down to see previous days’ entries.

48 Days Old (8/18) Miss Gold’s right ear is up. And Mr. Yellow’s are finally up from the base.

When I took Berakah & Hesed out for their ball session, I could hear a strange noise that I couldn’t identify or locate. It wasn’t until we got way out in the exercise area that I could tell it was coming from the puppy yard. The puppies were carrying around an old half-gallon milk jug with pebbles inside. Miss Pink especially loves this toy and carries it around, shaking it violently and knocking it against her ribs as she moves her head from side to side, “killing it.” I couldn’t tell who had it, but could vaguely see them running around under the obstacle course in what looked like a keep away game. They were sure making noise!

When we went out for Spirit’s play session, forgot the timer and had to go back inside to grab it. I was met by Miss Green on the deck and Miss Red halfway up the steps. They are all regularly going up and down the steps – they think it’s great fun! – but so far have not figured out to go in the house. As I put on the puppy drag and headed out to the exercise area, I lucked out. Mr. Yellow and Mr. Blue followed her out. That meant I only had to deal with Miss Red and Miss Green on my shoes, and Miss Pink and Miss Gold on the gunnysack. Unfortunately, Mr. Yellow turned back and came and attacked a shoe so I still had to fight my way about half the distance to my chair.

Miss Pink grabbed Spirit’s ball as soon as she dropped it for me to throw the other, and carried it proudly, running flat out in huge circles with her head held high. She chased Spirit as Spirit came and went with her ball. I mean, that pup really ran for a long time. She finally tired and came to lie on the gunnysack besides my chair, rested a bit, then began making passes past the different pups, inviting a keep away game. Miss Green took up her invitation and, eventually, got it from her. Then they seemed to pass it around between each other, having it for a time then letting it roll to be pounced upon by another pup. Miss Pink zoned in on the Chuckit with the extra ball that had now become Spirit’s second ball and stared fixedly at it, watching every move I made with my hand, trying to climb up in my lap to get the ball, grabbing it if the Chuckit was low enough and trying to take the ball out of the holder. When Spirit dropped her ball and I threw the other, I had to reach down immediately and get the Chuckit on it before Miss Pink could grab it. I really worked this ball session! She never lost her intense focus or got tired of trying to get the ball. Miss Gold and Mr. Yellow tried to get the ball a few times but she was so on top of it that they couldn’t get close before I had it.

I again struggled back towards the house with the usual puppies attached to shoes and gunnysacks. When I stepped over the bottom gate into the puppy yard and tried to lift the shovel over, not only was Miss Pink attached to it with her front feet wrapped around the handle, Miss Red and Miss Green were also trying to get their bodies on it. After I finally won possession, they sat by the gate and complained loudly that they couldn’t play with it as I did poop detail.

While I was throwing Quasi’s ball, I sensed movement beside me and looked over to see Miss Pink intensely watching the ball throwing. When we were done, she followed us all the way along the fence to her gate and complained as we went outside. About 30 minutes later, during Cantor’s ball session, I again sensed movement. This time it was Miss Green watching us. She wiggled and wagged and got all excited when I spoke to her. Cantor noticed her and went over to lie beside the fence so they could touch noses and visit. When his playtime was done, Miss Green followed along the fence as we headed back. It was so interesting that neither girl talked or made any noise, just sat and watched until I noticed them.

Laurie came to help me load the pups to head to puppy playtime at the children’s library. They have the walk-to-car routine down pat and again Miss Red and Mr. Yellow were obnoxiously attached to our (mainly Laurie’s) feet. Brenda, Denise and Cathy O also helped. I had lined up lots of help to meet us at the library because the lawn where we have to potty the puppies before entering the library is surrounded by parking lots and, since the library is a very busy place, cars coming and going. I have a terrible time counting to be sure all the pups are safely on the lawn with us. Once they’ve pottied, everyone picks up a pup and we head indoors. The children’s library has a great room that is officially a theater, but works great for us as it has linoleum floors plus big broad steps for the puppies to climb. Miss Gold enjoyed exploring the steps and also got up on the stage to look around. The puppies played for about 45 minutes before all finally crashed. Some parents and kids stay the entire time; others come for a while, leave, and are replaced by new ones. We had about 20 kids all told. All the mayhem is GREAT socialization for the pups.

All the pups played very well with the kids. The pups had a great time and played very hard. Miss Pink first, and later Mr. Blue made us all laugh as they chased and barked at the Wiggly Giggly ball that makes a very weird noise as it rolls. They got their entire bodies on the ball, rolling it, biting at it as they tried to get the 6″ diameter ball in their mouths, and vocalizing heavily. After a while Miss Pink went on to other toys, but Mr. Blue stayed with the Wiggly Giggly ball forever, stopping every so often to catch his breath then attacking it again. He made so much noise growling and talking to it that he was scaring the toddlers, and he was wearing himself out so I finally had the ball put back in the toy bag out of sight. We had some good three-way and four-way tug battles. I got some great photos of gentle Mr. Yellow visiting with and kissing some young children. Miss Pink and Miss Red also stopped long enough to interact with the toddlers, but spent more time wildly playing.

Laurie’s grandchildren, Isabella and Noah, lay down on the floor and were promptly attacked by Miss Gold, Miss Green and Miss Pink, who were egged on by the giggles and were all over them, kissing and pressing their bodies against them. Mr. Blue not only kissed, but also tugged on Noah’s shoelaces and clothes. Miss Pink pulled some on Isabella’s hair. The pups lasted about 50 minutes and, when the last one (Miss Green) finally crashed, we loaded them up and took them home.

After they had about 45 minutes to nap, I headed out to mow. First I mowed the yard on the back-yard side of their pen and then the front yard. They were fine with the mower unless I had the blade engaged, then they moved to a far side of their yard even though I was talking to them and they were listening and watching me. Then it was time to feed the big dogs so they had a break to ponder things before I returned with Spirit, opened all the gates to the puppy yard so no one need feel cornered, and started the mower. Miss Red and Miss Green left off nursing Spirit nearby to go sniff at the mower, and I had to wait for them to return to her before I started it. When all were contentedly nursing, I started the mower and the pups split into two groups, three following Spirit ahead of me into the exercise area and the other three heading to the front like we’d been going to load into the car. The three with Spirit, who was of course carrying a ball and who loves it when I mow, ranged way out into the back area; I couldn’t see the other three until I finished and rode the mower to its place close to where I park the car. Spirit led the way and they came out of the front shelterbelt area as soon as I shut off the mower.

I then headed to the puppy yard with three new cardboard boxes from dogfood delivery, and piled them in the back, unwatered, area. I also grabbed the sack of treats and scattered a bunch in the old beat up, upside down kiddie pool. The puppies remembered that exercise from previously and headed en masse to the pool. Several went back later to check in case they’d missed something.

49 Days Old (8/19) Only one couple, Scott & Lisa, were able to come to today’s test. They met us at the house. Laurie came to help and we loaded the pups (who had been peeved at no playtime and took it out on Laurie’s and my feet) at 8:15 a.m. and headed to a friend’s shop for the police/narcotics temperament test. I put two pups in each of three crates instead of three each in the crates closest to me. We happened to put Mr. Yellow in the back crate. Mistake! He yelled at the top of his voice the entire way. Miss Pink had a bout of diarrhea which caused us to stop, clean her off, roll up the crate mat and substitute the one from the unused (fourth) crate. Who knows what she got into, but they had been all over new parts of my two acres last night as I mowed.

Suzan had a new toy, a braided rope on the end of a fishing pole, that was very popular with the pups. Miss Red and Miss Green liked the pole better than the rope at the end of it, but enthusiastically pursued the rope too. Suzan had a plastic tarp and two FitPaw cushions to test for the pups’ reaction to unstable surfaces. None of them had any problems; in fact Miss Pink stretched out fully on them while reaching for the rope toy. Miss Green worked at the edge of the tarp until she could get her mouth on it and was going to tug on it until Suzan distracted her with a toy. Mr. Blue was taken by the rubber sphere toy, carrying it proudly.

Light relief for the day was (naturally) was provided by Miss Pink, who attacked a cider vinegar jug, managed to get the lid off and took off with it, with Suzan in hasty pursuit. She had to pry Miss Pink’s mouth open to repossess it. Miss Pink went back to the jug to re-attack it and stuck her nose deep against its mouth, inhaling a hefty dose of cider vinegar that caused her to pull back and sneeze several times. Undeterred (and ignoring our laughter) she pursued the jug as Suzan pulled it. I commented that Suzan hadn’t washed out the jug and she replied that she gives it to her horses and this morning just grabbed an empty one; she wasn’t figuring that a pup could actually get the lid off. Suzan had to really work to pry open Miss Pink’s mouth and get the lid. Miss Gold liked the jug also and seemed more focused on the rope attached to it.

Miss Pink was clearly the star of the day. She was interested in all the toys and played HARD tug with each, full bite with lots of body on the toys as well as head shaking and loud growling. Mr. Blue was his independent, talkative self. He talked to the toys and hummed as he played with one – usually facing the other direction from Suzan as he possessed it. I had thought one or both of these might really take after Suzan’s electric train after yesterday’s wild pursuit of the Wiggly Giggly ball, but neither did. It does make a big difference when a pup is alone rather than with siblings. Miss Gold, Miss Red and Miss Pink had the best reaction to the train, which whistles and moves erratically. Miss Green retreated the least distance from the dropped can and the train but did not investigate afterwards as well as the others.

None of the pups would investigate the umbrella on their own; Mr. Blue and Miss Red were the only ones Suzan could encourage to go up to it, although Miss Gold did approach slightly. Miss Green, instead of investigating the umbrella, took hold of the fishing pole and drug it off, Suzan having used chasing its rope to get her to go to the umbrella area. Suzan did eventually get her to come back and check out the umbrella, but she was more interested in the pole.

All of the pups really resisted the submission test, flailing and squirming. Miss Green settled and gave some eye contact. Miss Pink had us laughing again as she fought being placed on her back then suddenly lay there quiescent, looking like she’d been hypnotized. Miss Red, Miss Gold, Mr. Blue and Miss Green retrieved the ball to Suzan, Miss Gold more often than the others.
Mr. Yellow again stressed but didn’t fall apart. He played some, pursued some, did a little tugging with head shaking, and stood his ground on the umbrella though he wouldn’t investigate much. He vocalized a little with the toys and carried one or two. His confidence increased as the test continued. He definitely is going to need someone who pushes him gently into a lot of new situations and makes him learn to cope.

Suzan’s additional comments on pups:
Mr. Blue: (none)
Miss Gold: Liked various objects. Bite minimal – front teeth.
Miss Green: Likes people, easily coaxed!
Miss Pink: Great bite! Likes all different objects.
Miss Red: Very people oriented – looks to handler for all.
Mr. Yellow: Stresses easily – looks to handler for assurance. Good looking at objects.

When we finished, I took the pups home, where Spirit greeted them and let them nurse while I got all the big dogs inside, then I put them in their yard and went to lunch with Scott and Lisa. When we returned, we brought them into the house so Lisa and Scott could play with them before they headed back home. I put down the puppy adventure box and also brought in a kiddie pool, into which I scattered treats. We then pottied them and brought them inside – all of them climbing the steps to come into the doggie door. They headed for the pool (undamaged and upright) and climbed in. As they searched for treats, I added some empty plastic NuVet supplement jars to make the search harder, alternately scattering treats, then more jars, until the pups had to push them aside in their quest for the treats. Mr. Blue was first to get tired of the game, though he went back a couple of times as other pups continued to search. Mr. Yellow was the most persistent of all, followed by Miss Gold and Miss Green.

Once the treats were gone, they played with the adventure box, ending up severing the cords holding four hanging objects by tugging and chewing. Some would play in the adventure box while others raced up and down the hallway and explored into my bedroom or flirted with the dogs crated in the living room and the bedroom, particularly Miss Gold followed by Miss Green. Miss Red and Mr. Blue pulled on the bedspread with which I cover Cantor’s crate when he’s being obnoxious with the other males, pulling it all the way off the dining room table where I had piled it, then trying to pull it down the hall. Several wrestling sessions ensued with Miss Pink, Mr. Blue, and Miss Red the most active participants. All pups explored the kitchen and laundry area then zoomed back when I called. Miss Pink, Miss Gold, and Mr. Yellow were the most actively social, checking in frequently. When two of them went out the doggie door onto the deck I decided everyone should go out to potty so we three humans forced all the pups to go outside (some were reluctant because they were having too much fun). When all had scampered down the ramp and pottied, we put them in the puppy yard and walked back so I could show Scott and Lisa the obstacle course. The pups were happy to demonstrate the swinging bridge and slide. Most adventurous were Miss Gold and Miss Red who used the slide several times. Mr. Yellow joined enthusiastically when he saw the fun his sisters were having. Then Lisa and Scott left and the pups settled down to a serious nap. It’s hot and muggy today so I set a sprinkler going on the yard to cool it off for them.

50 Days Old (8/20) Miss Gold’s other ear is up today! Miss Red was missing her collar. I found it way back by the obstacle course, definitely the worse for wear from being used as a tug toy.
Mr. Yellow immediately attached to my shoe when I let them out for playtime, but Miss Red, thankfully, was occupied with the gunnysack. Not so on the way back, when each of them took a shoe and bit hard. Annoyingly, they keep moving so they’re in front of me, pushing me back, so it’s very hard to walk.

Miss Pink has definitely figured out the Chuckit and keeps an eye on it most of the time, unless she manages to corral a ball. They didn’t do a lot of exploring today, instead contentedly lying under and around my chair – in the shade because it’s already heating up today – chewing on the gunnysacks. All that is, except Miss Gold, who was having a ball racing way out after Spirit as Spirit pursued the thrown ball, then back, then over to the sheep pool when Spirit jumped in – she wasn’t at all happy being splashed. I filled the pool yesterday with cool water so when a dog jumps in, water sloshes out over the side.

I thought I’d sneak inside and see if any of the pups have yet figured out the doggie door into the house. I barely made it inside when Miss Green came racing past, followed in a dead heat by Miss Gold and Miss Red. I quickly picked up the dog beds since puppies find them irresistible to pee on. The three pups immediately found one of the knuckle bones that I had given the big dogs yesterday to occupy them while we were gone doing the temperament test. I could hear someone crying outside but sat down to do this diary entry. They either will or will not find me. Spirit headed out to check on them anyway. Miss Pink made it in shortly afterward and the peaceful chewing changed into a wild chase game. It takes me a while to remember and type all my observations and before I was done Miss Pink and Miss Red were lying under the desk one on each side of my foot. Miss Green was in the living room making a lot of noise as she chewed and threw around the big bone, while Miss Gold found Spirit hiding by the doggie door. The boys never came in.

The garbage truck comes on Mondays so on Sundays I do poop detail on the entire 2+ acres, a little over half of which I don’t pick up daily. Lively (grandmother) has been wanting in with the pups anyway, and Chaos is great with babies, so I let them out of their crates and the girls followed us out for Chaos’ and Lively’s playtime We were joined by the boys. Everyone except Miss Pink collapsed in the shade under and around my chair, the grass nice and cool because I watered there last night. She, naturally, was fixated on the Chuckit and also tried to get Lively’s ball. A few times she managed it and I had to get it from her so I could throw it for Lively. Miss Gold, and later Miss Green, wandered over to where Chaos was lying in the shade (he’s getting old and doesn’t have me throw his Kong on a Rope many times). It was sweet to see them kissing his face and cuddling a little. He even let them investigate his Kong. Lively, very serious about her ball session, was grouchy with them but that’s good – they need to know all dogs won’t put up with them like their mom. Being a mom herself, she gave just enough correction that they gave her respect.

When her ball session was over I laid down the Chuckit and picked up the shovel and bucket to begin the outer area poop detail. Miss Pink pounced on the Chuckit and began “killing” it and I thought I was going to be able to sneak off with the shovel, but she noticed and came barreling to attach herself to it. I drag is with the front side up and she jumps on it, puts a front foot on either side of the handle, resting them on top of the blade and then holding her two feet together for a firm grip. For variety, she would regularly bite the shovel handle. She did this the entire route around the back area, at least 10 minutes worth since I couldn’t move fast. At first she also alternated growling and talking to it but as she grew out of breath she quit vocalizing, though she never let go. She would really vocalize when I stopped moving long enough to pick up Lively’s ball and throw it by hand. If I stopped to pick up a poop, she jumped off the shovel as I lifted it and raced to get in front of it to stop it. Thankfully all the poops were old and dry because I would have to bodily lift her up to get to the poop with the shovel. As she tired, she would occasionally let go of the shovel and walk alongside, tugging on the handle. She never gave up. When we got back to my chair, I had to physically remove her from the shovel so that I could lift it over the boundary fence of the raised garden so I could leave it and the bucket undisturbed. She then plopped under my chair but instead of letting her rest, I called all the pups and began heading for the house, to put them in their yard and exchange Lively & Chaos for the next dog needing a ball session (GloryToo). What an intense puppy!!!!
As I was throwing the ball for the last dog today (Lovely, since Cantor trained today), I heard a little noise. I looked over to the fence and there sat Miss Pink and Miss Green, watching me throw the ball.

Janet, the Search & Rescue tester, arrived about 5:30 p.m. We brought the pups into the house so she could do a preliminary evaluation of them as a group. I put down the puppy adventure box and, of course, the pool of plastic jars and treats. We then brought them in. The girls raced up the steps, through the doggie door and down the hall to the pool, jumped in and began searching for the treats. The boys took a little coaxing to go up the steps and, by the time they got to the pool, the girls had cleaned up most of the food. So typical! I dribbled in more pieces as the pups searched. Mr. Blue searched and then got out and began wandering, but Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold stayed in the pool, searching for a long time. The other girls had gone to the adventure box and racing up and down the kitchen hall. As pups reentered the poll to check for more, I’d dribble more treats. They made quite a noise shoving all those plastic jars around to get them out of the way. Once they tired of that, and were ready to potty from all the excitement, we took them outside and back to the obstacle course so Janet could see it and watch the puppies navigate it. They merrily cooperated, racing around ramps, across the swinging bridge, down the slide and back up. We had quite a laugh over their enthusiasm. Then we left them to rest up for their big day tomorrow and Janet and I went out for supper.

51 Days Old (8/21) Since we made sure Saturday’s yellers (Mr. Yellow and to a small extent Miss Gold) were in front crates in the car, we had an uneventful, very quiet journey to the test building. To give him a chance to test his best, we did Mr. Yellow first. We generally reversed Saturday’s order so the pups who had to sit in the car for two hours Saturday got to play and test early in the day. We wondered how the eclipse might affect the testing, but it was so minor we didn’t notice a thing. While I was photographing one puppy’s testing, I noticed the lights were dimming and looked up, thinking some had burned out. All were fine, so it dawned on me it must be the eclipse since it was about 11:30 a.m. I upped the iso setting on the camera and kept on photographing.

About that time Janet looked up and asked if it was clouding over to rain, then when I said it was the eclipse, everyone remembered and laughed. When we took that pup (Miss Pink) out to potty, we noticed a nice coolness. That was the extent of the eclipse, and we were supposed to get 97% of it. Not impressive from our point of view but we were glad it didn’t bother the pups. We put that pup up and grabbed the last pup (Miss Red), pottied her and headed back inside. By the time we finished her all was back to normal outside.

Janet set up some fun tests for the pups in addition to the usual ones. She found a huge brass wind chime and clanked it. She set up an agility jump (about 4″ high) and walked the pups past it to see if they’d jump it. All did! She, as usual, set up a stuffed rocking lamb (instead of rocking horse) and watched how the pups reacted to it. She also set up a little teeter like she did last year, plus unstable footing consisting of some planks covered by a tarp. She had me bring the puppy drag, which was good as the wheelbarrow was in use and she couldn’t use it like she did last time to give the puppy ride and also see if it would gracefully exit for an offer of food, so she used the drag. We also used the Bumble Ball, which reacted much differently to the carpeted shop than it had done at Daybreak. Here it would just sit after you turned it on for a bit, then begin vibrating, then go still, so one never knew just what it was going to do and it was a different experience for the pups. All of them rode the puppy drag as Janet pulled it in a circle around the room. We had interesting reactions on the umbrella, with none of them going up to investigate it. Janet had fun with some of the pups, lying flat on the ground to see what they did – Miss Pink and Miss Red climbed all over her, while Mr. Yellow climbed a little! All the pups did very well, with five testing as SAR prospects and only Mr. Yellow, rejected, not by how he did on today’s test (really well!) but when I told Janet he had several times stressed too much on various visits and new experiences.

We generally reversed the order of testing from Saturday so that no pup had to wait a long time in the car both days. This is what I remember and what I see on the photographs (still not edited, sigh), to supplement the test sheets from the tester. We did Mr. Yellow first, before he wore himself out yelling in the crate. He had some nice tugs with a good bite accompanied by eye contact and growls. He investigated the stuffed rocking lamb nicely but wouldn’t retrieve, chasing the ball but keeping it. He wasn’t sure at first about the big clanking chime but investigated it. He wouldn’t do the runaway in the building so they took him outside and did that exercise on the lawn.

Mr. Blue was next. He was his usual funny, independent self, taking the toys and running off with them, though he did retrieve a couple of times and Janet said he will retrieve. At this age all my pups have a lot of booty drive (desire to possess the boy) but little willingness to give the toy to someone. I was quite impressed when several of the pups did retrieve to Janet! He had us all laughing as Janet drug him around the room on the puppy drag; he couldn’t decide just where to attack the gunny sack and fell off several times as he “killed” it. He took on the rocking sheep, too. And really went after the Bumble Ball, eventually managing to pick it up and carry it off. He wasn’t very graceful with the little jump, typical in males this age. He didn’t like the chime and moved away when Janet picked it up, going over to attack the lamb again but totally ignoring the chimes as Janet dangled and clanked them all around him and the lamb. He did really well on the runaway, chasing Janet all the way around the room.

Next was Miss Green, who was one who retrieved nicely. She also retrieved the keys! She had really nice chase drive and did some great tugging but didn’t generally have a deep bite. Janet drug her on the puppy drag over to the chime and she pretty much kept on attacking the gunny sack despite the chime being clanked on top of and around her, though she checked it out before going back to the sack. Janet had fun with her on the umbrella test, actually putting it on top of her at the end; she kept on killing the toy and had us all laughing. She was another who did well on the run away, chasing Janet all over. She even detoured to jump over the jump on her pursuit!

Then it was Miss Gold’s turn. She had some great tug battles with Janet. She, too, retrieved well!! She didn’t ride on the tug as well as the others, preferring to chase the end of it. She really investigated the lamb and went toward the chimes as Janet picked them up and investigated them. She really got into the spirit of the runaway and also went over the jump in her efforts to get to Janet.

Next was Miss Pink, who provided a lot of entertainment. Janet was so taken by her spunk that she tried to find something that would faze her, to the point of putting the tarp over her duding the food search test and tucking it down. When Miss Pink backed out Janet laughed and said she’d finally found something to bother her, only to lift the tarp and find that Miss Pink had gotten the food before she extricated herself from Janet’s trap. They had wild tug sessions with every toy, with her having great bites and lots of growls and killing head shakes plus she looked Janet right in the eyes as she growled. Miss Pink was hilarious when Janet lay face down on the floor – she posed as if she had just subdued a trophy – like you see the photos of guys who have just shot some big bear. Miss Pink also conquered and picked up the Bumble Ball. On top of all that, she retrieved repeatedly! She didn’t ride the puppy drag so much as put her body on it to subdue it as she killed it while Janet drug it around. She also tried to climb on top of the lamb to subdue it. She went back and forth over the jump, having a great time, and also investigated the swinging chimes. She thought the runaway was great fun and pursued Janet all over the room. She was on fire!!!

Miss Red was last but by no means least. She had some spectacular pursuits of the toys and good tugs with great eye contact. She retrieved, too, balls as well as the keys!!!! And the little monster actually grabbed Janet’s pant legs and shoes and tugged away like she and Mr. Yellow do every day to me at home. That’s a first! Usually they aren’t so brave with the testers, by themselves in a strange place. She did let go of Janet to investigate the lamb. She moved away from the chimes when Janet got them out but went back to check them out. She also retrieved the hidden rope that Janet threw under the tarp. She thought the runaway was great and pursued Janet all over the room, including going over the jump.

We then brought all the pups inside for the food drag – a piece of jerky on a string that they can pursue by sight at first but then need to use noses to find. That was hilarious. Janet hung two pieces of jerky over the boundary on one side of our test area and then wondered why the pups weren’t picking up the scent. They had turned the other direction. We had forgotten that the open sack of treats used for the “dismount” from the puppy drag was still in place over there. The puppies picked up that scent and raced to the edge, trying to figure out how to get up to it. We had to remove and seal the treat bag before any of them would even look in another part of the area. They did eventually find the jerky. Miss Green found it first and was very intent on pursuit, eventually capturing it and biting off a large chunk, which she took away to eat. Mr. Yellow found it next, joined quickly by Miss Red and Mr. Blue, and then in zoomed Miss Green for another go at it. Soon all six were in hot pursuit. Mr. Yellow, Miss Red and Miss Green were the most intense. Then Miss Pink and Miss Gold got excited about it. All the pups had a great time and we were sore from laughing.

Janet had forgotten her cadaver scent, having left her pickup and camper at my house and ridden with another SAR person, Alyssa, who had driven down from Bozeman to watch the testing. The pups were pretty tired when we got home, so we put them in their yard and left to grab a quick sandwich. When we returned, she took the cadaver container into the puppy yard, cracked it open and put it against the fence and we watched all the pups’ reaction. Miss Greens’ was the strongest. She and Miss Gold tried to get into the container. Miss Red was less wild but was very interested. All three got the top score of 10. The others were less intense but very interested, all getting a score of 9. Mr. Blue had a slight aversion reaction to the scent but Janet says it makes no difference if they have a positive or negative reaction; the important thing is that they notice and investigate. I was very pleased that 5 of the 6 pups tested as SAR candidates!

Janet headed out at 2 p.m. and the pups had a nice break before their next excitement. Their “aunts” and uncle came at 6 to finish putting the newly-arrived matting on the obstacle course and to play with them and say goodbye since one leaves tomorrow. The pups played and played and played. At the end, when I went to take the riding mower and cart back to their usual place after using the cart to haul the obstacle course materials to the back, Miss Green left everyone and came to me. She stayed right by the mower even as I started it, so I scooped her up and gave her a ride. She wasn’t too sure at first but never tried to jump off, just watched as I drove. Everybody had a great time but there were tears in some eyes as they knew they wouldn’t see all the pups again.

52 Days Old (8/22) Miss Green is full of it this morning! As I was throwing the ball for Berakah & Hesed, she wanted a closer look and raced up the ramp to one of the tall platforms on the obstacle course. That still wasn’t good enough, so she raced across the swinging bridge to the other tall platform. Then back to the first one as Berakah returned the ball, then over the bridge to the other one as Berakah raced after the newly thrown ball. This went on for several ball throws until Miss Green decided she’d had enough. When I finished poop detail in the back yard I turned on a sprinkler that water part of the puppy yard and part of the adjoining section of the back yard. I caught movement as I headed out of the back yard and there was Miss Green chasing the stream of water from the sprinkler around in the half circle it made in the puppy yard!!!

The pups played madly early this morning while it was really cool, and were not as wild as usual when I let them out for Spirit’s ball session. Mr. Blue and Miss Green took off adventuring but the other four were content to hang around my chair, chewing on the puppy drag, chasing Spirit’s ball when she dropped it (though not much) and visiting with me.

I wormed the pups after Spirit’s play session. Everyone except Mr. Blue and Miss Green raced into the house ahead of me as I got the baby scale and wormer to bring outside. They thundered out behind me and were relative easy to capture to weigh and worm. Weighing pups this age on the baby scale is an adventure for sure – just getting them to hold relatively still long enough for the needle to pause. I then began to look for the two wayward ones. I called and called and no puppies or even an answering noise so I knew where they were. Spirit came up and I asked her to please go get her pups. Eventually she returned with them, though she wasn’t enthusiastic about being around them – what a good mom! She hides from them most of the time when they’re out. I managed to get those last two pups weighed and wormed – Mr. Blue had trouble even fitting on the scale! Both were pretty wild so I had to swing them back and forth several times to get them slightly dizzy, just enough that they hesitated before moving and I could read the scale. Miss Green continues to be the lightest, weighing 11# 8 ounces, followed by Miss Red at 12# even. Then is Miss Pink at 12# 8 ounces, Mr. Yellow at 13# even, Miss Gold at 14# even and Mr. Blue at 15#.

I then did poop detail in the puppy pen and afterwards cleaned the puppy house. Five pups settled down in front of the door, waiting for me to let them in for a nap after their wild play. Mr. Blue was nowhere to be found so I had to go hunting him, finding him curled up underneath the bridal wreath bush, ready for a snooze.

Miss Green’s family was supposed to be here by noon but they had to drive a lot of extra miles because when they stopped to gas, no one had any because of all the eclipse watchers, so they had to go back 80 miles to the nearest town with gas. They weren’t here at 2:15 when I left for an appointment but did make it by the time I returned shortly after three. They left with her a little after 5, on their way to stay at a good friend’s house for the night. She was to meet a bunch of new dogs plus a horse. They have a dairy goat farm and sell milk, and chickens, so she’ll be busy helping with stock and will also be a therapy dog, visiting local nursing homes and other facilities. Now I have to remember to only look for 5 puppies, not 6.

53 Days (8/23) All the pups were at the gate when I opened it for playtime, but only Miss Pink and Miss Red came out to the exercise area with me; I don’t know where the others headed, perhaps inside my house. The three of us had a peaceful cuddle session as I threw Spirit’s ball, then suddenly there was Miss Gold ready for some attention, too. About that time Spirit couldn’t find her ball and was looking up in one of the spruce trees, so I got up to go help her look. The boys suddenly rushed up and Mr. Yellow attached to my shoe while Mr. Blue draped himself on the gunnysack. So much for an easy trip out to find the ball and then back to my chair.

Miss Pink is extremely intense on the ball. She has been keeping track of the ball in the Chuckit for several days and also grabs Spirit’s ball when she drops it. Now she has begun bringing the extra ball to me and giving it to me to throw for her. I’ll toss it a short distance and she races to get it before any of the pups and pushes through the crown trying to take it from her until she can return it to me, then races out after it when I throw it again. That’s pretty special in a seven week old pup in a group of pups!!!!!

When I finished and headed towards the house, the only one around was Miss Pink. She came with me and watched me climb over the half gate with the poop bucket and shovel and then went off the find the others. I didn’t see them again until I had finished both poop detail, cleaning puppy house and putting clean water in their big bucket and tub, and called them. Then all five came a’running, ready to go on the clean fleece for a little nap before Kelly, the SAR person who is getting a one of them, arrives.

Kelly arrived about 11 a.m. and played with the pups while I continued exercising dogs. When she had them worn out, she came out and visited with me as I threw the ball. I then fed the big dogs and the pups and Kelly and I left for lunch. By the time we returned, the pups were ready to come into the house and play. Kelly got a big kick out of the pool with jars and treats. As usual, Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold were the most intense food seekers and the ones who stayed in there looking long after the others.

When they played out, we put them in the puppy house and, shortly afterwards, Kelly came to my nosework class and enjoyed watching three of my dogs work.

54 Days (8/24) Kelly came this morning after I had thrown Spirit’s ball and exercised the pups. She had originally been adamant about wanting a male but, since in this litter the females tested better than the males, she spent time with each pup individually, noticing how they interacted with her, asking me questions about what I had observed in each one, studying the test sheets from both tests. She had to make a decision today so the vets could do the airline health form before they closed. The pups all did well wither her, especially Miss Gold who happily chased then retrieved the ball to her hand over and over and over!

She left and took a walk while the pups rested up for our trip to the nursing home. We took the top two she had determined as possible – Miss Pink and Miss Gold – on my regularly scheduled visit to Sheridan Manor instead of my usual big dog. I like to leash train pups on visits such as this because it’s logical to the pups to be guided down the hallways, into the rooms, up to people and so on. We introduced them to the leash when we got them out of the car and put them down on the front lawn; by the time we got to the entrance they were both doing extremely well. As usually, they were very popular with both residents and staff members. Both took all the attention and the new surroundings and smells, slick and carpeted floors, people in wheelchairs and with walkers, in stride. Miss Pink got bored the soonest – as expected – and began harassing Miss Gold, who did her best to ignore Miss Pink’s pounces and pay attention to me. We went down just one of the hallways and then into the enclosed Alzheimer’s unit. I had brought along a couple of soft toys and we sat on the floor and let the pups play tug and wrestle and generally entertain the residents. It makes a great break for them. We came out of a different door from the unit and down a relatively short hallway that led to the front door. Our visit was about 40 minutes long, which is really good for puppies to last. Both were asleep before we got home about 5 minutes later and were quite happy to head to the puppy house for a nap. Kelly then left for a while to make her decision. She called about an hour later and said she had decided to take Miss Gold, feeling that Miss Pink might be a little pushy for the group of SAR dogs that they usually let play with each other when taking breaks. I agreed wholeheartedly that that was the only downfall in Miss Pink as far as SAR went and that I felt she was a better Schutzhund candidate.

55 Days (8/25) Miss Gold left about 11:30 a.m. for the drive to catch the plane in Billings. I had a full day after that so the puppies had the rest of the day to rest and recoup, both from the loss of a sibling and from three days of intense socialization and testing.

56 Days (8/26) Mr. Yellow’s left ear is up!

Three pups left about 11 a.m.: Miss Pink going to Washington state for Schutzhund, obedience and tracking competition; Miss Red going to Ft. Collins CO for obedience and nosework competition (their second dog from me) and Mr. Blue going to the Denver area to be a therapy dog and companion for two busy young boys. That left Mr. Yellow, who was tired enough by all the activity that he was content to go take a nap in the puppy house for a couple of hours.

The three sets of people had come at 9 a.m., just after I’d done Spirit’s ball session. When they left I went back to the big dogs’ ball sessions. When Mr. Yellow awoke, I was just finishing Mercy’s session so he came into the house with us for her five-minute cooling off period and got acquainted with her face to face rather than through the fence. I like introducing pups to the big dogs during play sessions because they’re either busy or mellow afterwards and don’t tend to play hard with the baby.

Then I crated her and got Lovely out for her ball session, and Mr. Yellow came out with us, then back into the house for Lovely’s cooling off period. He took a little power nap while she cooled off and I wrote the diary entry, then it was Cantor’s turn for a ball session. Mr. Yellow went out with us and tried to steal Cantor’s ball when he dropped it for me to throw, so I got out the extra ball. He was happy with it and he and Cantor were able to peacefully meet. It’s always hilarious when the pups meet the other adult dogs at my house because they automatically head for the milk bar and are flabbergasted when it isn’t on the new dogs. And they are totally bewildered meeting the males and encountering totally different appendages. This is the first pup Cantor has met close up and he was a little leery about his private parts being investigated, but he was very good with the puppy.

When Cantor’s playtime was up, since he was the last dog to play today, I put up my chair and headed to the front and the garbage can with the poop bucket. Mr. Yellow had recovered from being “down” about being along well enough that he attached to my pant leg and I had to drag him as usual everywhere I went. That included getting out an old puppy crate and carrying it from the shed in front around to the back yard and washing it off, dragging puppy the whole way. He thought the hose was quite fascinating and kept sticking his head up close as I sprayed the crate. He wasn’t exactly sure he liked being sprayed but he did enjoy chasing the stream of water a little. I propped it up to dry so I can bring it later and introduce him to it since he’ll sleep in it tonight, and we came into the house. Since Cantor was the last dog exercised, I let out Lovely and Hesed so the three could play as he cooled off and popped a pizza into the oven so I could eat. Mr. Yellow happily hung out with all four of us, finding an old bone under my computer desk and happily chewing on it as I typed up this diary entry. All three dogs were good with him, so all was peaceful. Once I ate, I fixed Mr. Yellow’s lunch and put him in the puppy house, fed the dogs and, after all had eaten, took a nap with Berakah and Mercy. All three of us were SO glad to resume a normal schedule with some down time in the afternoon, tough by this time it was much later than usual, after 3, before we got to relax. It’s been a very busy week.

Mr. Yellow was content until he heard us stirring, so I let him out when I put Berakah and Mercy up and let Chaos, Lively and Lovely out. They mingled outside until I was sure he had pottied, then I came inside to resume editing puppy photos. Mr. Yellow was content to curl up under my desk and nap while I worked. When it was Quasi’s and GloryToo’s time out, I fed him in the puppy house and left him there since Quasi has zero patience with puppies. By that time it was 8 p.m., so all the big dogs went in their crates to eat supper while Mr. Yellow and I set up sprinklers. Then it was Cantor’s, Spirit’s and Mercy’s time to be out, and I left them out a whole hour so Mr. Yellow had plenty of time relaxing with mom and learning that our after supper routine is that I sit on the bed reading and the big dogs cuddle. Spirit doesn’t cuddle but prefers to roam my two acres, and he followed her, so we didn’t see much of him. When she finally came in, he thought he should be up on the bed, too, but when I refused he philosophically settled under the bed. Then it was time for 30 minutes with Chaos, Lively & Lovely. After that I brought in the crate, set it at the end of my bed, and put him in it to get used to it while Quasi and GloryToo had their thirty minute bedtime snuggles. Of course he yelled a lot but he eventually settled. When their time was up, I let out Berakah, Hesed and Lovely, whose turn it is to be out all night, took him out to potty then brought him in, put him in the crate and turned out the lights. He yelled for a few minutes and then crashed.

Kelly and Miss Gold had a terrible airplane trip, not getting home until late tonight instead of last night. Somehow Delta “lost” their reservation from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C. and they were stranded. After hours of phone calling by both Kelly and her husband back in Virginia, which was complicated by the mess Hurricane Harvey was making of the southern airport schedules, they got on an Alaskan Airlines plane to Seattle and then to Washington, DC, and arrived home about 24 hours later than planned. Kelly reported that Miss Gold handled everything like with aplomb and was totally housebroken, unmistakably signaling to her when she had to potty so that Kelly could get her somewhere. Pretty impressive for a pup who turned 8 weeks old today!!!

57 Days (8/27) Mr. Yellow slept about four hours. When he awoke we trooped out to get him to potty, then returned to bed. He only made it two hours before again awakening us and we repeated the process. Then he slept until it was time to get up. I don’t feel very rested at all but am comforted by the fact that he should do better tonight.

I rotate all the dog groups for thirty minutes each in the morning before we start ball sessions, usually working on the computer as they potty and play. He was thrilled that the first group included his mother and pursued Spirit all over the place trying to get her to stop and let him comfort nurse (she’s pretty much dried up now so he doesn’t get anything except comfort). They were outside for quite a while and when they came in, he just collapsed.

Because Cantor is such an obnoxious boy, he wears a collar with a tab hanging to give me a handle when I need to discipline him for being too rambunctious. I had to remove his collar this morning because it had a puppy attached, pulling for all he was worth. Cantor is being VERY good with the puppy and was just standing there letting him tug until I rescued him by removing the collar.

The next group was Lively, Chaos & Lovely, and he went out the front door with them to potty. I was going to bring him back inside with me, but Lively headed for the water bucket and he said, “Yes! That’s what I need” and raced after her. He then followed Chaos and Lively around the house so I came back inside, figuring if they got too rough I’d hear him yelp. All was quiet, though, and he eventually came in with them and settled down under my computer desk. When their time was up, I crated him with breakfast while Quasi and GloryToo were out. I usually sit on the bed and do morning prayers while the last group is out, so I was in the room and he soon quieted and took a nap.

For the first ball session (Berakah and Hesed), I changed routines a bit because of the puppy. We usually go out the back door, but I didn’t want to chance him needing to potty before we got there, so I brought my hat, gloves and shoes and put them on in the bedroom. I also brought the balls and Chuckit. I got him out of his crate and put him out the front door, then let the two big ones out, gave them their balls, and we headed out the front door and around the house to the exercise area. They thought I was crazy but he pottied outside, not inside.

Mr. Yellow had a ball chasing them as they chased their ball. When that’s finished, I do the front, side and back yard poop detail, and Berakah trades her ball for a Kong on a Rope. Uh oh! She is not used to a puppy grabbing hold of it. He did so several times, each time she got distracted sniffing a bush or looking for garter snakes, which abound here in my wildlife habitat. She wasn’t too happy at having a puppy attached, pulling for all he was worth and growling fiercely, but she’d either stand or pull back. Eventually she was able to get it away from him and he’d come back to attacking my pant leg, which he seems to prefer now that he has no competition from other pups. He was quite glad to take a nap under the computer desk while I wrote this and the girls cooled off.

Next was Cantor, since now we can get back to our every-other-day agility training during his ball time. I am amazed at how good Bad Boy Cantor, who bullies the other big dogs, is with the puppy. He played a few games of keep away with the pup between bringing me the ball to throw, and even one time let the pup take the ball out of his mouth and keep it for a while. The puppy yelled at the gate to the agility field as Cantor and I did a few weaves and contact practices, then the boys were rejoined and played a little more before Cantor’s time was up.

Spirit was relieved that the edge had been worn off Mr. Yellow’s energy when she came out for her ball session. She actually got to chase her ball in nearly total peace. As she cooed off in the house she finally let him nurse a little. Then I put her up and got Chaos and Lively out for their ball session. He was pretty content to lie by my chair and watch Lively go back and forth, tough he made a few half-hearted passes at the ball when she dropped it. Today being Sunday, the day I do poop detail on the entire two acres, I headed out with bucket and shovel for the back part of the exercise area. Mr. Yellow came along, and attacked the shovel as I drug it, complete with growls and attempts to shake it. I could tell he was getting very tired but no way was he going to quit. These pups have so much heart that they’ll never quit on their own, so as soon as we finished I fixed him lunch and put him with it in the puppy house and Lively and Chaos and I quietly snuck into the house so he wouldn’t come out.

All was quiet when I came out with GloryToo for her ball session and the second half of the outer area poop detail. She is the only one who wants to be with him who hasn’t and I had hoped he’d get to tag along, but I wasn’t going to disturb him. He’ll get another chance to hang out with her; I’ll make sure she’s out without Quasi, her usual partner, so she can mother Mr. Yellow like she wants to. She always barks happily as we head out to play but he didn’t wake. We finished her session and poop detail, and Quasi’s ball session, before he awoke. Quasi and I headed into the house and could hear Mr. Yellow yelling at the gate. I’ll let him out when I go out with Mercy for her playtime, but not with Quasi at all.

58 Days (8/28) Mr. Yellow (whose owner will be here Saturday) is learning his new name, “Grizzly,” at least when I remember to call him that. He only got me up once during the night and would have slept in a little except Cantor has an idea that 4:15 a.m. is time to get up. Why, I don’t know, because it’s still dark outside, but if he’s crated he starts talking about then and wakes all of us up. It took several minutes of noise (during which I tried to ignore Cantor in the hopes he’d get the idea – I do this every morning but so far he is impervious to the rest of us beaming thought that is isn’t time to stir) before Grizzly woke up, but by 4:45 I was up and taking him out to potty.

Grizzly went out with Group 1 (Berakah & Hesed) for their ball session and then poop detail and ran and ran the entire 40 minutes, rested during their five-minute cooling off time, and was ready to run with Spirit during her 15 minute ball session. Next, after her cooling off period, was Group 3 (Chaos & Lively) for 15 minutes play and then five minutes cool off, then he finally got to meet GloryToo as she had her play session. Next was Quasi, who hates puppies, so I put Grizzly in the puppy yard, thinking he’d nap after all that running and excitement. No such luck. He came to the fence next to my chair and screamed the entire 15 minutes, biting at the fence and generally throwing a wall eyed fit. When Quasi and I went inside for his cooling off session I could hear Grizzly still yelling at the gate. I then came out with Mercy and let him out for her session/cooling off period, and he made a big deal about being SO tired, the little idiot. Then it was Lovely’s time for exercise and finally Cantor’s. When we came in and I began fixing some lunch for me, Grizzly finally crashed. He awoke long enough to eat a bit of lunch and then snoozed about an hour until I had to leave for a meeting. I put him in the puppy yard and hope he rested since nothing was going on while I was gone – the big dogs were out were very happy to stretch out in the air conditioned house.

When I returned and got out of the car I could hear him yelling, but I’m hoping he didn’t start until the big dogs came barking and bouncing to the fence to greet me. I had just over an hour before a scheduled trip with Grizzly, and it was Quasi’s and GloryToo’s turn to be out of their crates so he had to be in his, but he never made a complaint. He just entered his crate stretched out, and was out like a light. He’s learning it’s nice and cool in his crate and going in it voluntarily when I open the door. I sat on the bed and read so I was in the room, but I don’t think he noticed. He was one tired little boy.

Mr. Yellow went on his first individual socialization trip tonight. I took him to Marlene’s and Bob’s house to meet their dog, Shiloh, the first non-GSD he’s ever seen. Shiloh is a great dog, very gentle and good with puppies, so it was a super experience for him. Shiloh and I have a history. In April 2014, maybe a week after I retired from being Executive Director of the Dog & Cat Shelter, they called and begged me to foster a very pregnant, scared pit bull who had just been surrendered. Poor Shiloh had had a terrible life and her only desire was to survive. It took her a while to realize that she would be treated here with gentleness and that she need not hit the ground every time I moved suddenly or raised my hand above waist level. I helped her whelp and raise the litter, then pups and mom went back to the Shelter to be adopted. Bob and Marlene adopted her and her life since then has been fantastic. I didn’t know them well until we were in nosework classes together and have really gotten to know and treasure them since they joined my nosework training group. Shiloh never forgot me and always greeted me enthusiastically when we had class together. The day we were putting together the obstacle course, Shiloh sat in their pickup with all the windows totally down and never moved unless Marlene got her out to potty. That is, until we finished the obstacle course and she heard me bringing the puppies to introduce it, and my “Puppy, Puppy, Puppy” call that I use with all litters – and used with her litter when she was here. She flew out of the pickup and came to the puppy yard fence and pressed her whole body against it, responding both to the babies AND to my voice which reminded her of the first safety she had ever had. Marlene was at first horrified because she goes everywhere and never once had offered to leave the pickup, until we realized why she had jumped out. Then we were in tears as we compared that petrified dog of three years ago to the glowing, beloved dog of today.

So when I brought Grizzly to Shiloh’s house she was very glad to see me and accepted the puppy as well. They enjoyed searching for treats together – a new game for Shiloh but one I do with puppies to keep them busy if they get obnoxious – and even played some together. I took the Charlee Bear liver treats I use on Therapy Dog visits because they’re only 3 calories each and the dogs can have lots without upsetting diets. Grizzly soon realized I kept the treats in my left pocket and first tried to get into my pocket, then when I discouraged that, kept an eye on my pocket every time he or I changed positions. The big dogs swallow them whole but Grizzly has to chew them so they are great diversions. He was quite the tired puppy when he got home! Denise came with her camera and took pictures. Grizzly and I go to Denise’s house on Wednesday afternoon to meet her Sheltie, Hayden.

Grizzly is finally figuring out that he can go around the house and in through the doggie door rather than stand at the front door and yell. He loves to go out with each group of dogs as I rotate him, and I have quit going out to be sure he potties because he takes forever since he must visit with everyone. I just go out with him when I figure it’s time during the rotations to be sure he doesn’t need to potty.

59 Days (8/29) Grizzly only got me up in last night, about 3 a.m. We went out, he pottied immediately, we came back in and he went back to sleep. It was Cantor’s night out so we actually got to sleep in until about 5:30 a.m. and awoke peacefully rather than to barking from either Cantor or Grizzly. Hurrah!

He has, thankfully, transferred his attentions to the shovel from my shoes or pants, but now I have to drag him around as I do poop detail in all the yards after Berakah’s and Hesed’s ball session. He’s doing the same thing Miss Pink did – clasping the top of the shovel blade with both front feet and putting his body on the blade. His hind feet are still on the ground but he’s still heavy. Berakah figured out that he can be diverted to the shovel when he is tugging on the end of her Kong-on-a-Rope and has begun dragging him to me and then taking off when he drops the rope and heads for the shovel. Thanks a lot, Berakah!

Today was Cantor’s training day so he was next. He seems to really like the puppy, perhaps because now there’s someone younger than himself here. He’s amazingly gentle (he’s normally a run-over-you, body slamming bully) with Grizzly. When we went into the agility yard, Grizzly yelled and raced up and down the fence. It provided a good distraction for Cantor as I asked him to “find your spot” (the contact area on the A-frame, which is right by the fence). At first he couldn’t decide whether to go to the fence to check on the yeller or to listen to me, so we had a good lesson in attention, something he struggles with as he really thinks he should be in charge. He ran roughshod over his first two homes and was five months old, hormonal and set in bad habits when he came here. He just turned 18 months old and I’m hoping by the time he turns two that he may have learned to listen before acting. It’s been a rough and long 13 months of constantly setting limits, insisting he adhere to them and working to get him to use his brain instead of shutting down the brain and just reacting to get ANY attention (negative is just fine!) as he did at first.

During Spirit’s ball session I noticed that Grizzly is no longer fascinated by the extra ChuckIt ball but is now zeroing in on the Chuckit itself, wanting to jump up to grab it and play tug. So I dug out some puppy toys I have to use outside, some soft toys and some small Kong Rope toys, all of course with squeakers, and took a new one out with each big dog session. Lively was thrilled that she didn’t have to dodge him to bring her ball as he was busy playing with his toy. After their ball session I do poop detail on the exercise yard and a short distance out in to the back, where they normally poop during the ball sessions. Grizzly followed us, carrying his toy, until Chaos dropped his Kong-on-a-Rope as he investigated a scent. In a flash Grizzly had dropped his “coon”, grabbed the Kong, and ran to catch up with me, holding his head as high as he could to try to keep from stepping on the rope. When he caught up, he dropped it up to attack the shovel and Chaos eased up and took it back. Then I had to walk all the way back to retrieve the coon rope toy.

When we got back inside, I turned on the air conditioning, earlier than usual, so the house would be cool when we came in after GloryToo’s ball session. I’m going to crate Grizzly while Quasi has his sessions and wanted to be sure all was cool so perhaps Grizzly would go to sleep. And of course, with the house shut up, I don’t have to listen to him yell if he does.

GloryToo and I thought we were going to sneak out of the house without him, as he was stretched beneath my desk, but just as I closed the door he slipped through and joined us. He wasn’t as interested in the second toy and didn’t chase her much, so I could tell he was getting really tired. Mostly he curled up beside the soft toy and rested his chin on it for a pillow. When we came in, I put him in his crate with food and could hear him crunching as Quasi and I headed outside. When we got back inside, all was quiet. In fact, when I opened Grizzly’s crate to let him out to join in Mercy’s ball session I thought for a minute he wasn’t going to come. He did, though, and was pretty quiet. The nervous energy that has been fueling him is dissipating and he’s becoming used to the routine and not worrying so much about being left alone.

We went to Westview this afternoon. For some reason they didn’t have people gathered in the activity room as usual, so we walked the halls and visited people in the hallway and in their rooms. He was a little distracted at first, wanting to follow everyone who walked by us, but soon figured out to keep an eye on me and anyone who approached him. All the staff members and most of the residents wanted to pet the puppy and most wanted to give him treats. He got to meet the maintenance man’s miniature Australian Shepherd and found all that long hair very interesting. He remembered the treat pocket and paid so much attention to it that a lot of people noticed and got a good laugh when I explained that’s where the treats were. We made it through all the hallways and visited tons of people and he didn’t crash until we got outside, then he just wanted to roll in the grass.

I had a short appointment with my foot doctor so we headed there. I had warned them if it was hot I’d have a puppy with me. Staff members came to greet us as I carried him in and all wanted to give him treats. He’s even starting to sit when he gets to a person. They quickly took us back to the exam room, where he slid under a couch and crashed, not waking until I got my shoes on and stood up. He was pretty groggy so I carried him to the front desk and put him on the counter as we set my next appointment, then carried him to the car. He perked up when we got home and he saw Spirit waiting for him at the gate, but once he comfort-nursed a few minutes was very happy to crash on the cool floor. He’s now nicely leash trained.

60 Days (8/30) Grizzly slept all night!!! It was idiot eighteen-month-old Cantor who woke us at 4:30 a.m. I put Quasi & GloryToo in their crates, let Spirit, Grizzly, Mercy & Cantor out, turned off the light and went back to bed. No sleep, of course, because all the big dogs had to come on the bed and cuddle and visit (several times, ugh!). Grizzly settled down beside the bed and slept until we got up for good about 45 minutes later.

He is now going into his crate willingly when I open the door. He’s figured out that that’s where his food will be. It works out well, as about every fourth hour it’s time for Quasi & GloryToo to be out, and he can’t be around Quasi, so he goes into his crate, eats and naps. When I went to nosework class tonight I put him in his crate rather than in the puppy yard because it was very hot and muggy and thunderstorms were forecast. When I got home, I had to wake him up to come out.

Today I mowed, so our schedule was different. Berakah & Hesed got their ball session, then I did poop detail on all the yards and the close part of the exercise area. Grizzly thought that was fantastic fun because he got to chase the shovel a lot more than usual. Then Spirit came out with her ball but just carried it around as I used the self-propelled mower to mow inside the fence where the raised veggie beds are and around the flower bed fences that keep the dogs out. That took about an hour, and we returned to the house to find Grizzly asleep on one of the dog beds. He had followed us from the shed, around the house, then decided that was enough of that and headed inside. With the next group, Chaos and Lively, I started the riding mower. Grizzly “helped” by standing on the mower attachment as I started it, followed us around the house, then left for inside when I started the mower blades. He did the same thing with all the groups, though he stayed with me longer when it was Cantor’s and Mercy’s turn because they were playing keep away with their balls and he enjoyed chasing them as they chased each other. I also let Spirit out again since that’s her normal group other than ball times, so he chased her around, too, trying to nurse or just get her ball away. When they slowed down a bit, he left us and went inside.

Late this afternoon we went to visit Denise and her sheltie, Hayden. When we walked in the door they started to play, and were racing around so wildly that, even though it was miserably hot, we took them into the yard. At least Denise has lots of shade so it wasn’t too bad, and I was glad to see they’d take frequent breaks to cool off. Hayden loves to play chase, with her being the chase, and she immediately initiated one with him. She’s very fast and can turn quickly, and he looked like a short tank trying to keep up with her. He was trying to bark as he chased her but it only came out as strangled noisy gasps because he was running so hard. We laughed and laughed. We tried to introduce him to Hayden’s little kiddie pool that has maybe 3″ of water in it but he would have nothing to do with it, jumping out and disgustedly shaking his feet free of the water. When she jumped into it as they played he’d stand at the edge and wait to grab her as she jumped back out.

Speaking of grab, he was fascinated by her long hair and full tail. He kept grabbing a mouthful, and she’s correct him, so he got a really good lesson in respect. And another. And another. It took quite a while before he could control his urges. He was a very tired puppy and quite glad to go into his crate when we got home, so I could let Quasi and GloryToo out, cut up training treats, load dogs in the car and go to nosework class.

He’s beginning to understand what “Go potty” means and is much better now at pottying quickly when I take him out. Unseasonably hot weather and air conditioning inside has really helped motivate him to do his job and so he could come back in where it’s nicely cool.

61 Days (8/31) He slept all night until about 4:30 a.m., then needed to go out and potty. We then went back to bed until about 6 because I was tired after being on the phone very late with my sister in Beaumont, checking on my mother whom they finally convinced to leave her flooded house and come to theirs.

This is a super smart little guy. He has figured out that I often put him in his crate so every time I go into the bedroom, he’s now rushing to the crate and looking at me to see if I want him to go in. If I do, he’s quiet and goes to sleep. Otherwise, he happily follows me and tries to “help” with whatever I’m doing.

62 Days (9/1) I took Grizzly with us tonight when our nosework group trained. He got a good lesson in “it does you no good to yell in your crate because no one pays any attention to you.” We were working at the cancer center just west of the hospital, a great place to teach being quiet in the car without disturbing folks. The only ones who made training tonight were his “aunts” Laurie, Denise and Marlene, and when he was quiet one would often go visit with him when they weren’t running a dog.

When we finished training, I got him out on leash for more attention and to meet Laurie’s dogs: two Dobermans and Jamboree, Mercy’s sister whom she co-owns with me. Jamboree was very pleased to meet him, wagging her tail and sniffing him, letting him sniff her and interacting very sweetly. We thought Domina liked pups but she evidently doesn’t as she snapped at him when he touched noses, so he got a good lesson in “We don’t shut off our minds and do reactive barking when a dog doesn’t like us.” One time I reached down and gave him a little shake, another time I gave a little leash pop. Both times he immediately transferred his attention to me, which I praised, and then came and sat in front of me for his treat. We then walked them in the same direction, side by side, to give Domina a chance to think about the correction she got, and tried again to introduce them. She again didn’t want him around her but this time he immediately turned away from her and to me, sitting and giving eye contact for praise and a treat.

We then introduced him to Hilda, who totally ignored him. This was slightly deflating to his ego but another good lesson in learning how other dogs will respond to him. When I put him in the crate he crashed and I had to wake him up when we got home. He’d had 2.5 hours of all kinds of lessons and his brain was fried. As soon as he was awake and all had had supper, he played ad played with the other dogs. He has begun doing “zoomies” when he’s happy, racing in circles with his body tucked, running as fast as he can, full of the joy of life. He’s a fun pup!!

63 Days (9/2) Grizzly’s mom arrived about 3 p.m. and had a great introductory visit with him until I had to go to an appointment at 4. She met me at the house and we did paperwork and then played with him until he was tuckered out.

64 Days (9/3) Grizzly left on his great adventure this morning.

Previous Diary Entries:

Whelping (7/1)   I let Spirit out to potty this afternoon and for the first time noticed her checking out the dog houses and nesting a bit in each. She seemed intense, not frantic but on the agitated side, so I called her into the house and put her in her crate, deciding to sit on the bed and read so I could observe her closely. All the others quickly settled in for a snooze, enjoying the air conditioning, but Spirit remained agitated and wouldn’t settle. About 3 pm I decided to move her to the whelping room.

For whelping, I pull the whelping bed out into the middle of the room so that I can access all of it, have plenty of light and put out a small heater to warm the area so the pups don’t chill when they’re wet from just being born. She gladly got into the bed and at 3:30 had a contraction. Her first pup, a sable female, was born at 4:25 pm after about an hour’s labor. That’s very speedy for a first time mom! I put a pink collar on her and weighed her; she was only 14 ounces. They usually average 16 ounces. Spirit’s milk had thankfully come in on time, and Miss Pink was soon nursing strongly, although it seemed like every time she found and attached to a nipple, Spirit would move or else lick her and dislodge her. It took a while for both of them to figure things out. Miss Pink is a gorgeous golden red girl. I can hardly wait to see what she looks like at maturity because even at birth she glows richly. Sables are light at birth and get darker and darker up until about age two, and it happens in stages. Note the darker stripe along her back. They start with a black triangle about halfway down the tail, which becomes a stripe down the back, which gradually widens until the body is a shade darker. Then they’ll begin another tail triangle then stripe, and another and another.

A sable male followed at 5:10. Mr. Blue looked black as he was born and it was only as we cleaned him up and he started to dry that I could tell that he was a sable. He, too, will be fascinating to watch change colors as he matures. He weighed 16 ounces and joined in the yelling. He was followed at 6:03 by an eleven ounce sable male, Mr. Yellow, who is the more usual shade of sable, midway between the other two.

Spirit, thank goodness, now took a short break to rest with her three pups so I could go potty, check on the big dogs and take a deep breath. It was good that I had that break, because when I returned everything got wild. The next pup was born at 6:55, a sable female weighing 14 ounces, upon whom I put a red rickrack collar. I didn’t even have a chance to pick up the camera before she was quickly followed at 7:01 by a sable female, Miss Green, who weighed 13 ounces. And at 7:50, a fourteen ounce sable male, whom I labeled Mr. Purple, appeared.
It is perfectly normal for bitches to take up to two hours between pups. I’ll sit by the whelping bed and read a book, frequently checking mom as she peacefully nurses her pups. After about an hour, though, Spirit began having some weak contractions. What worried me was that she’d push for a bit, then quit and relax to care for the pups, have a few more contractions, then quit. That puppy in the birth canal could suffocate if it didn’t come out relatively soon after detaching from the uterus. When Spirit showed no signs of resuming labor, fearing her uterus might be too tired to deliver the last one or two pups, I gave her a shot of oxytocin, a hormone that will induce contractions.

At 8:45 she had a fifteen-ounce sable female, but things quickly became complicated. Spirit had delivered Miss Gold while she was standing up, and as the pup came out she whirled and began consuming the afterbirth and chewing the umbilical cord. In her hurry she chewed it very close to the abdomen and Miss Gold began bleeding profusely from the umbilical cord. Bleeding does happen occasionally when the mothers cut through the cord before they have compressed it with their jaws, so I have a couple of hemostats which I sterilize and have ready to clamp on and stop the bleeding. Usually a couple of seconds does the trick, which is helpful as I’m fending off a mom who wants to clean off the pup as I hold the hemostat flat against the pup’s belly. This time the bleeding wouldn’t stop, and it got Spirit upset so she was trying even harder to care for her pup, who was yelling by that time. I’d take off the hemostat and the bleeding would begin again, so I’d reposition it and leave it on longer. The third time I took it off I could see that the bleeding was coming from very close to the abdomen so I positioned the hemostat as close as possible, clamped it down as tight as I could and also put direct pressure with my finger and thumb on the cord below the hemostat. I finally got Spirit to go back to her other pups and held the hand pressure and hemostat for a good minute. When I released it, the bleeding had stopped. I put the pup down so Spirit could clean her, watching closely for any renewed bleeding, but I had managed to close off the blood vessel. Whew! That was scary!

All of us took a rest break at that point. I doubted there was another pup but waited about an hour in case she’d begin labor again. When she didn’t, I gave her another oxytocin shot to either begin contractions if there was still a pup inside, or to cleanse her of any retained placentas, waiting another thirty minutes to see what would happen.  Then I placed the pups on a blanket by the heater so I could clean the whelping bed. I removed all the shredded newspaper, scrubbed the whelping bed, let it dry and then put layers of newspapers under an absorbent fleece bedding that will wick moisture away from the pups plus give them good traction. Once Spirit was satisfied that I had set up her den properly, she consented to go out and potty, then happily joined her family for a good rest. After taking a few photos, I pushed the bed under the table to create the draft-free, private den for them, added a big bowl of cool water for Spirit, and left to care for all the other dogs, whom I had rotated and fed on schedule during short breaks between puppies. Worried about Miss Gold possibly beginning to bleed again, I decided to sleep again by the whelping bed. It was just after 11 p.m. All was well, though I didn’t get much sleep as the pups seemed to be trying out their lungs, each at a different time, usually because the pup had rolled away from mom and got lost. When in doubt, yell, seems to be their motto. I’d turn on the flashlight and check to be sure Spirit hadn’t laid on anyone, and if the pup was a distance away from her I’d put it back against a nipple, and wearily try to get back to sleep. Eventually they figured things out and Spirit relaxed – their yelling having upset her as she tried to be everywhere for everyone. Peace descended and all of us slept for a bit.

1 Day (7/2)   This morning all were doing well, so after I pottied and fed Spirit, I began my other dogs’ daily exercise sessions. Spirit’s session is the second. Spirit was thrilled to be able to run again at her morning ball session. She hardly paused to get her breath, she was so anxious to play and run again!
I checked the pups again when I put Spirit back in the room after her play session, and all was well. It’s not unusual to lose pups at birth or in the week after birth, when things that go wrong in development come to light after the pup is no longer nourished through the placenta but is breathing and eliminating. I haven’t had any dead ones for years, but it does happen, and I keep close watch over them during that first critical week, weighing them each day to be sure that they were nursing properly and getting enough milk to grow.
I left the family alone today, letting all of them rest, just going in frequently to check that no pup was lost, cold or stressed. With the AC running in the house, even though I’ve closed the vent in the puppy room, I still have to frequently monitor the little heater in the bed. It’s very hard to get it adjusted so they’re warm enough but not too warm and mom isn’t too hot. The pups have figured out how to find mom when she changes position or moves to her water bowl in one corner of the bed for a drink, so all is quiet each time.

Each night I pull their rug out on the floor and let them nurse while I change newspapers and put in new bedding. That way I can check that all are nursing well. I often put the smallest pups on the mom and observe them nursing as I change papers and bedding. They may just be smaller boned and will grow to be smaller adults but I’ll give them extra attention just in case they should be the same size as the others but were crowed in the uterus and didn’t get enough nutrients. The whelping bed has a hinged side that I let down to form a ramp when I change bedding. Once the pups begin moving around, I keep it down so they have an easy way out into the room and back to the bed as I begin helping them to learn to potty away from “home”.
The moms often lie down on the “old” pad and nurse the pups as I work, although generally what happens is that they wander around and wake all the puppies, who squirm and try to move towards her and roll off the pad onto the linoleum floor. All of this makes them mad. I eventually return all of them to the pad but I believe that a little stress from early in life makes for a stronger, more resilient adult dog, so I don’t hurry to rescue them.

I have noticed the moms in my female line – Spirit is 5th generation of that line starting with Glory (Roche Juane’s Triumph of Celhaus; the current GloryToo is named after her great-great-grandmother) – don’t rush to rescue them either. They’re there, they’re watching, they check on the pups, but they allow them to exercise their lungs and feet a bit. The very first mom in that line, the original Glory, was fascinating to watch. She would lie to the side of the whelping box and make them find her. As they matured, she’d go to the edge of the whelping room and make them track her across the newspaper-covered floor. When they moved outside, she’d make them work even harder. When she returned to the puppy yard, she’d go to them and touch them, check on them wake them up, the go lie down and watch them acting like a disturbed ant bed, yelling their displeasure before finally putting their noses to the ground and searching for her. First to come got the best teats (the back ones produce more milk more easily/faster than the front teats); latecomers might not get their fill but they’d sure be faster off the mark the next time. She taught me a lot and since then I’ve never interfered with the moms as they begin teaching, from the first week, the pups to be go getters.

After I changed the bedding, I weighed the pups as I put them back into the bed. Miss Pink, Miss Green, Mr. Purple & Miss Gold had each gained two ounces. Mr. Blue, Mr. Yellow & Miss Red had each gained 3 ounces. Sometimes they’ll drop an ounce or two after the stress of birth–and my old baby scale will give varied weights depending upon just where the pup is on the “lid” or whether it’s moving around a lot and causing me to guess. As long as they’re quiet and close to mom, I don’t worry. When they’re warm and happy, they’ll coo a bit under their breath. I love to hear that cooing because it tells me all is well with the world. If one is keening weakly or is way away from the others, I get worried and sit down to give it a nursing session alone, so I can tell if it just got a little chilled from getting away from Spirit. Sometimes the mothers know there’s something wrong with one and push it away, but these pups are doing great.

I keep meaning to try some of the early neurological stimulation on my litters but usually forget until it’s too late. (You’re supposed to start at day 3.) Amazingly, I remembered to get the article. I was pleased to see that the introduction mentioned my practice of stressing them a little each night as I change their bed:

Man for centuries has tried various methods to improve performance. Some of the Methods have stood the test of time, others have not. Those who first conducted research on this topic believed that the period of early age was a most important time for stimulation because of its rapid growth and development. Today, we know that early life is a time when the physical immaturity of an organism is susceptible and responsive to a restricted but important class of stimuli. Because of its importance many studies have focused their efforts on the first few months of life.

Newborn pups are uniquely different from adults in several respects. When born, their eyes are closed and their digestive system has a limited capacity requiring periodic stimulation by their dam who routinely licks them in order to promote digestion. At this age they are only able to smell, suck, and crawl. Body temperature is maintained by snuggling close to their mother or by crawling into piles with other littermates. During these first few weeks of immobility, researchers noted that these immature and under-developed canines are sensitive to a restricted class of stimuli which includes thermal and tactile stimulation, motion and locomotion.  

Other mammals such as mice and rats are also born with limitations, and they also have been found to demonstrate a similar sensitivity to the effects of early stimulation.   Studies show that removing them from their nest for three minutes each day during the first five to ten days of life causes body temperatures to fall below normal. This mild form of stress is sufficient to stimulate hormonal, adrenal and pituitary systems. When tested later as adults, these same animals were better able to withstand stress than littermates who were not exposed to the same early stress exercises. As adults, they responded to stress in “a graded” fashion, while their non-stressed littermates responded in an “all or nothing way.”

Data involving laboratory mice and rats also shows that stress in small amounts can produce adults who respond maximally.
                      from “Early Neurological Stimulation, Introduction” by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia

2 Days (7/3)  She was back to normal at morning ball time, running a lot but taking time every few throws to catch her breath. For summertime litters, another stress on the pups is when mom returns to the whelping bed damp from jumping into the sheep pool to cool off as she retrieves. I have four sheep pools, round 4′ diameter, 2′ high galvanized tubs, in different areas of my two acres and of course one is in the exercise area.

I checked the pups frequently throughout the day. All was peaceful. Spirit is keeping everyone happy. What a good mom!!! Of course I expect that since one of the things that I love about my female line is that they’re excellent mothers. Spirit is the 5th generation of my line. 

I changed bedding and weighed the pups tonight. Miss Green and Mr. Yellow each gained an ounce. Miss Gold & Miss Pink gained two ounces, while Miss Red gained three ounces. Mr. Blue and Mr. Purple stayed the same weight as yesterday. 

I began putting a bowl of kibble in the whelping room to help encourage Spirit to eat more than just the raw meat diet. I was pleased that, as I was cleaning the whelping bed, she went to the bowl and ate nearly all of the 2 cups I’d put in it.

I’m debating the best time of day to do the neurological stimulations. It will probably have to be during the afternoon, since mornings are busy rotating all the dogs that were crated for the night before beginning their individual ball sessions. Those take until noon, then I eat and feed dogs. Some days, like tomorrow, I have a scheduled therapy dog visit or other commitments at either 1 or 1:30, so sometime between 4 and 5 will consistently work. I don’t want to do it in the evening because of the bed changing. Here’s what the stimulations involve:

Methods of Stimulation

The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called “Bio Sensor” was developed. Later, it became known to the public as the “Super Dog” Program. Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual.

The “Bio Sensor” program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)
Holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.

2. Head held erect
Using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.

3. Head pointed down
Holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds

4. Supine position
Hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

5. Thermal stimulation
Use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. Do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

These five exercises will produce neurological stimulations, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises,
others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered to those who plan to use them.

These exercises impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected, the result being an increased capacity that later will help to make
the difference in its performance. Those who play with their pups and routinely handle them should continue to do so because the neurological exercises are not substitutions for routine
handling, play socialization or bonding.

Benefits of Stimulation
Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises. The benefits noted were:

1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
2. Stronger heart beats,
3. Stronger adrenal glands,
4. More tolerance to stress, and
5. Greater resistance to disease.

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.
Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great
deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were more calm in
the test environment, made fewer errors and gave only an occasional distress sound when stressed.
            from “Early Neurological Stimulation, Methods of Stimulation” by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia

3 Days (7/4) I’m really dragging this morning. First night back in my comfortable bed did not help me catch up on sleep lost the last two nights because idiot neighbors had to set off what seemed like millions of fireworks until late. The pups were happy and cooing when I drug my body out of bed and checked on them.

Spirit enjoyed her ball session this morning and was back to her more sensible routine of catching her breath after every couple of full-speed pursuits.

I did the first day’s stimulation tests this afternoon. I didn’t do them in alphabetical order but just picked up the closest ones first. Mr. Purple nearly slept through all the tests, while Mr. Blue yelled nearly the whole time. The others were in between. Most protested being picked up and tickled with the Q-tip, but it seemed to be a response to being picked up and held away from the others. It will be interesting to see if any pups consistently respond to a test in the same way, so I made a chart:

Neurological Stimulation Day 1, Pups 3 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
     Relaxed:  Mr. Purple
     Struggled Mildly:  Mr. Yellow
     Struggled Vigorously:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Red
     Squirmed:  Miss Pink
     Verbalized a lot:  Blue

2. Head held erect 
     Slept or Went to Sleep:  Miss Pink
     Relaxed:  Mr. Purple
     Struggled Vigorously:  Mr. Blue
     Struggled then settled:  Miss Gold, Miss Green
     Squirmed:  Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Mr. Blue

3. Head pointed down 
     Relaxed:  Miss Gold, Miss Green, Mr. Purple
     Struggled Vigorously:  Mr. Blue, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Squirmed:  Miss Pink
     Verbalized a lot:  Mr. Blue, Miss Red

4. Supine position 
     Slept or Went to Sleep:  Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Purple
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Mr. Purple
     Struggled then settled:  Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

5. Thermal stimulation 
     Relaxed:  Mr. Purple
     Squirmed:  Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Mr. Blue
     Moved off towel:  Mr. Blue

Beginning with lunch, I started putting the raw meat cubes on top of Spirit’s bowl of kibble. After the neurological stimulations, she ate the whole bowl of kibble, so when I took her supper in, I put more kibble in the bowl before dishing out the raw meat cubes on top.

All but one pup continue to thrive.  Mr. Yellow, Miss Red, Miss Green & Miss Gold gained 4 ounces, while Mr. Blue and Miss Pink gained three.  Mr. Purple lost an ounce, which concerns me coupled with him not being as strong and squirmy as the others are when I handle them! They are always moving (unless they’re asleep), shakily trying to lift their heads and move around. I gave him some private nursing time to be sure he’s getting enough milk though he was not extremely interested.  It wasn’t until I was in bed, with the house shaking from the huge firecrackers going off, that I connected Mr. Purple’s lack of weight gain with his passive response to the neurological stimulation. Tomorrow I’m going to be very proactive in getting him out by himself to nurse.

4 Days (7/5) I gave Mr. Purple an individual nursing session as soon as I got up this morning. He nursed, but if Spirit moved and he lost the teat, he wasn’t very anxious to find it again. I kept putting him back against her side to nurse more, but after 10 minutes of intermittent nursing he said he was done. He seems to be breathing a little heavily and I can’t tell if he was already full or is weak so I called the vets for an appointment.

I gave him a chance to nurse after Spirit had her exercise session, about 9 a.m, and he was much more interested. He enthusiastically worked on three teats for a total of 20 minutes. At another session at 2:30, he again nursed strongly but for only about 10 minutes.

When I took him in, the vet said he has a heart murmur but whether it is a defect or simply something the pup will outgrow as it develops is uncertain. She agreed that he’s breathing heavily. We decided to supplement him with Nutrical to keep his energy up and for me to continue the private nursing sessions. When I said he nursed but his tummy didn’t seem to get full, she wondered if he’s not actually getting any milk, something that happens sometimes with calves and colts and can possibly happen with puppies. We gave him a dose of Nutrical before I left the clinic.
After I did the neurological stimulation at 4:30, I let him nurse again. He sure acts like he’s getting something, head energetically bobbing in and out, front feet working the nipple, but I could see no milk on his lips or in his mouth directly after the twenty-minute session. Neither did I see any milk at the 7 p.m and 10 p.m. sessions. Each time I gave him a small blob of the Nutrical.

He was more active during the neurological stimulation so I’m hoping that’s a good sign. I’m thinking the pups’ reaction to the stimulations has more to do with what they were doing when I pick them up – asleep, nursing, awake – than the actual actions, but it will be interesting to see if those who protest more vigorously and/or verbalize will actually end up being stronger personalities.

They particularly love to be held on their back in my hand (supine position); most of the time they look like they’re smiling.

Neurological Stimulation Day 2, Pups 4 days old

1. Tactical stimulation 
     Relaxed:  Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Purple
     Struggled Vigorously:  Miss Red
     Struggled then settled:  Mr. Yellow
     Squirmed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss Pink
     Verbalized a lot:  Miss Red

2. Head held erect 
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Purple
     Struggled Vigorously:    Miss Red
     Squirmed:  Miss Green, Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Miss Red

3. Head pointed down 
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Purple
     Struggled Mildly:  Miss Green
     Struggled Vigorously:  Miss Rd, Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Miss Red, Mr.  Yellow

4. Supine position 
     Slept or Went to Sleep:  Miss Pink
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold
     Struggled then settled:  Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Squirmed:  Mr. Purple  

5. Thermal stimulation 
     Squirmed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Purple, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Mr. Yellow
     Moved off towel:  Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red

When I weighed Mr. Purple tonight he had lost two more ounces, so he’s now below his birth weight. The rest of the pups are fat as ticks! Miss Red, Mr. Blue, Mr. Yellow & Miss Green gained 2 ounces, while Miss Pink gained three ounces and Miss Gold gained 1 ounce. The whelping bed has a hinged side that I let down – it forms a ramp – when I change bedding. I pull the rug out on the floor and watch the pups while I change newspapers and put in a clean fleece pad. Once the pups open their eyes and begin moving around, I keep the ramp down so they have an easy way out into the room and back to the bed as I begin helping them to learn to potty away from “home”.

The bed has to be kept pretty warm for the babies since they cannot regulate their own temperature. I have to make sure the heater for the whelping bed doesn’t make it too hot for Spirit, so I’m checking the room frequently, monitoring temperature, turning on the heater for a little bit to make sure the pups are warm enough, then turning it down so Spirit doesn’t overheat.
Mr. Purple nursed strongly just before bedtime but I still see no evidence that he’s actually consuming milk. My heart is heavy as I’m sure something is drastically wrong. Spirit, meanwhile, has decided she likes this peaceful time with me since I pet her and talk to her (mainly to get her to hold still) as he nurses. She isn’t much for holding still so this is good for her.

5 Days (7/6) My vet had asked that I bring another sibling with Mr. Purple so she could compare heart functions. We both noted that he was much stronger this morning; it took her a while to get him to lie still long enough for her to listen for a while. We were, however, both struck and saddened by the size difference between him and Miss Green, who weighed an ounce less than he at birth but now is nearly twice his size. He didn’t have a murmur, but his breathing was still too heavy so she x-rayed him. He had no diaphragm so his intestines were in the upper cavity around the lungs and heart. His liver was totally out of sight. No wonder he breathed hard and I couldn’t see his tummy getting round with milk. He couldn’t have surgery at this age and would have starved to death before he was old enough to attempt it, so we euthanized him. I hate when I lose one, and it doesn’t happen often (it’s been years), but the first week is when defects show up, and we think this is just a developmental defect. People forget how very complicated and fragile life is until something like this goes wrong. I brought him home, put him in the whelping box and let her sniff him thoroughly so she wouldn’t be looking for him, which they do. I’ve seen them counting as they check on their pups. She’s wanted more attention from me since, so I think in her own way she’s grieving her son.

The pups are much more efficient nursers, nursing strongly, starting to stand up on their legs and push with the hind legs to get a better grip on a nipple and to pull and push to stimulate the milk to flow, then gulping audibly as they drink. Tonight when I weighed them Miss Pink & Mr. Blue had gained three ounces. Miss Red, Miss Green & Miss Gold had gained two ounces, and Mr. Yellow had gained an ounce. Mr. Yellow and Miss Red have doubled their birth weights!!!

Neurological Stimulation  Day 3, Pups 5 days old

1. Tactical stimulation 
     Slept or Went to Sleep:  Mr. Yellow
     Relaxed:  Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
     Struggled Mildly:  Mr. Blue
     Squirmed:  Miss Gold, Miss Red

2. Head held erect 
     Slept or Went to Sleep:  Mr. Yellow
     Relaxed:  Miss Green, Miss Pink
     Struggled Mildly:  Mr. Blue, Miss Red
     Squirmed:  Miss Gold
     Verbalized a lot:  Miss Red

3. Head pointed down 
     Struggled Mildly:  Mr. Blue, Miss Red
     Squirmed:  Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Mr. Blue, Miss Red

4. Supine position 
     Slept or Went to Sleep:  Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold
     Struggled Mildly:  Miss Red
     Squirmed:  Miss Green

5. Thermal stimulation 
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue
     Squirmed:  Miss Gold, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Moved off towel:  Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss Pink

6 Days (7/7) Spirit obviously considers that the pups are doing fine, as she’s beginning to spend a little time out of the room socializing with me and just hanging out. This morning when we got up she actually lay on a rug and chewed for a while on an old knuckle bone–though it was not long before she walked down the hall to check on her family. This is possible because the pups are now more efficient nursers and get their fill much more quickly, then fall asleep so that she can leave them after all have had a chance to nurse. She’s eating well, four meals a day consisting of both kibble and a raw meat diet, and has kibble available all the time.

Denise came this afternoon to take photos of the neurological stimulation exercises. She had asked if sometime she could come take photos and I thought people might enjoy seeing what I’m talking about as I describe the neurological exercises. We had fun chuckling at the varied responses and she got lots of great photos. She stayed and also photographed me trimming their toenails, always an effort with all the struggles. Spirit thought we were having too much fun and, instead of her usual wandering off, kept getting in the way trying to visit with Denise.

Neurological Stimulation  Day 4, Pups 6 days old

1. Tactical stimulation 
    Relaxed:  Mr. Blue
    Squirmed:  Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow  

2. Head held erect 
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Pink, Miss Red
     Squirmed:  Miss Gold, Miss Green, Mr. Yellow

3. Head pointed down 
     Relaxed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Pink
     Struggled Vigorously:  Miss Gold
     Squirmed:  Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Miss Green, Mr. Yellow

4. Supine position 
     Slept or Went to Sleep:  Mr. Blue, Miss Pink, Miss Red
     Relaxed:  Miss Gold, Miss Green
     Struggled then settled:  Miss Green
     Squirmed:  Mr. Yellow
     Verbalized a lot:  Mr. Yellow

5. Thermal stimulation 
     Squirmed:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
     Moved off towel:  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold

The pups are growing so fast I had to give them larger collars. They’re more active and stronger too, which was obvious as I picked them up to put them on the scale to weigh. They’re thrashing around, which makes it hard to get an accurate weight. It also made it extremely hard to change collars! Are the pups ever forceful at their nursing! They place a foot on either side of the teat and push hard while at the same time pull back and push in with their head to get the milk flowing as fast as possible. The gulps as they swallow are quite audible. Then as they begin to get full, all the activity calms and they just drink contentedly. When I weighed them, Miss Pink had gained an ounce; Mr. Blue & Miss Gold had gained 2 ounces; Miss Red and Miss Green had gained 3 ounces; and Mr. Yellow had gained 4.

7 Days (7/8) These guys are vigorous, happy and fat. They’re beginning to pee and poop on their own, rather than needing Spirit to lick them to stimulate them to eliminate. Soon I’m going to start changing the fleece pad (and underlying newspapers) twice a day so that the bed stays nice and clean and smells clean.
Tonight I again weighed the pups before I changed the bedding. They have all doubled their birth weight! Mr. Blue, Miss Pink and Miss Red gained 3 ounces; Miss Gold, Miss Green & Mr. Yellow gained 2 ounces.

Neurological Stimulation Day 5, Pups 7 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: Miss Green, Miss Red
Struggled Mildly: Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Mr. Blue

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss Red
Struggled Mildly: Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow

3. Head pointed down
Relaxed: Miss Green
Struggled Mildly: Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Mr. Blue, Miss Red

4. Supine position
Slept or Went to Sleep: Miss Green, Miss Pink
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Red
Struggled then settled: Mr. Yellow
Verbalized a lot: Mr. Yellow
5. Thermal stimulation
Squirmed: All

8 Days (7/9) These pups are so fat they have rolls on their necks!!!! Miss Green and Miss Red gained two ounces; Mr. Yellow gained 3 ounces; Miss Gold and Miss Pink gained 4 ounces. Since they’re past the critical first week, I’ll now weigh them only every two or three days.  Since so many people are interested in the neurological stimulation exercises, I’m going to update this diary daily rather than once a week.

Neurological Stimulation Day 6, Pups 8 days old
1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Miss Red
Struggled then settled: Miss Green, Mr. Yellow

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Pink
Struggled Mildly: Miss Green, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Red

3. Head pointed down
Struggled Mildly: Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Red
Verbalized a lot: Mr. Blue, Mr. Yellow

4. Supine position
Slept or Went to Sleep: Miss Gold, Miss Pink
Relaxed: Mr. Blue
Struggled then settled: Miss Red
Squirmed: Miss Green, Mr. Yellow
Verbalized a lot: Miss Green

5. Thermal stimulation
Squirmed: All
Moved off towel: Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red


9 Days (7/10) A really peaceful day for the pups, which was illustrated by their responses to the neurological stimulation. They pretty much said, “Do whatever you like; just don’t disturb me.”

Neurological Stimulation Day 7, Pups 9 days old    Explanation of the exercises can be found on Day 1 & Day 2 of the diary (way down below).  

1. Tactical stimulation
Slept or Went to Sleep: Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red
Relaxed: Miss Gold, Mr. Yellow

2. Head held erect
Slept or Went to Sleep: Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss Pink
Relaxed: Miss Gold, Mr. Yellow
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red

3. Head pointed down
Slept or Went to Sleep: Miss Green, Miss Pink
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold
Struggled Vigorously: Miss Red
Squirmed: Mr. Yellow
Verbalized a lot: Miss Red

4. Supine position
Slept or Went to Sleep: Mr. Blue, Miss Green, Miss Pink
Relaxed: Miss Gold, Miss Red
Squirmed: Mr. Yellow

5. Thermal stimulation
Slept or Went to Sleep: Miss Green
Relaxed: Mr. Blue
Squirmed: Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Moved off towel: Miss Gold
10 Days (7/11) Eyes are beginning to open! Most are mere slits that just admit a little light, but Mr. Yellow’s were half open. I don’t know if his are open more, or if they opened more than the others’ because he was peeved during the neurological stimulation exercises and was protesting, so they opened blearily at me. As soon as they’re open, I’ll take more photos. It will be hard to take them, because the pups will be much more active plus they won’t like the flash at all.

I love to see their ears at this age, which were flat against their skull at birth, now sticking out like handles on a sugar bowl.

Neurological Stimulation Day 8, Pups 10 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Pink
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Gold, Miss Green

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Pink
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Gold, Miss Green

3. Head pointed down
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Pink
Struggled Vigorously: Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Gold, Miss Green
Verbalized a lot: Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

4. Supine position
Slept or Went to Sleep: Mr. Blue, Miss Pink
Relaxed: Miss Gold, Miss Green
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow
Verbalized a lot: Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

5. Thermal stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Red
11 Days (7/12) When I checked on the pups at noon I found Miss Pink sprawled on her back, sleeping in utter abandon. This is the first time I’ve seen any pup sleeping other than on its side, either flat or curled.

Spirit is beginning to spend more time away from the pups. I noticed her lounging in the whelping potty yard this morning while it was still cool. That reminded me that she is a dog who spends a lot more tie outside than the others, enjoying just being out. So I got out one of the Coolaroo Elevated Pet beds that I use in the house when I have girls in heat (all my regular beds have unwashable insides so I have to pack them away while the girls are bleeding) and put it in the potty yard, which is mostly protected by the big metal roof over my mobile home and thus stays shaded and dry most of the time. The beds are a pain to assemble and then disassemble for storage, but the dogs love them; they’re kind of like a hammock. They’re are designed to be put together by two people and it’s a battle to assemble the frame around the fabric, especially having to do it outside in the heat because they’re big enough to be a pain to carry through the house and outside. Even though it’s much cooler today than it has been, it was still hot enough that I felt I needed a shower by the time I got it set up. Anything to keep the mother dog happy…

When I did the Neurological Stimulation this afternoon, I noticed that all of the pups were responding to the tickle of the Q tip (tactile stimulation) by curling their toes down and then stretching them out as they brought the foot up. They also objected much more than usual to the “head pointed down” exercise. I wonder if it’s because they can now see a little. Most of their eyes are open much more than just a slit as yesterday, though it’s been hard to tell because every time I pick them up they yawn and continue sleeping. I could only see the eyes more open on the ones who were still protesting the “had down” exercise when I rolled them onto their backs; I got a glare then before they relaxed and closed their eyes. Mr. Yellow continued to protest throughout the supine exercise so I saw his eyes are nearly totally open. Miss Gold looked like she was having a bad hair day, with her fur pushed forward on top of her head from having moved a little as she slept against the side of the whelping bed. It was funny! I chuckled before I smoothed it back down in place when we finished the exercises. They’ve all been sleeping spread out, often lengthwise against the cool sides of the bed, so I’ve lowered the setting on the little heater in the bed. I keep checking during the day when the air conditioning is on, because even with the vent in the puppy room closed off, cool air does seep into the room from the hallway.

Neurological Stimulation Day 9, Pups 11 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

3. Head pointed down
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Blue
Struggled Vigorously: Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Gold
Verbalized a lot: Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

4. Supine position
Slept or Went to Sleep: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow
Verbalized a lot: Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

5. Thermal stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Red
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow
Moved off towel: Miss Green, Miss Pink

Today was cooler only up to 82, so I mowed tonight since the next few days are supposed to be back up in the mid 90’s. Hate these heat waves. Spirit was thrilled to get a turn following the mower, showing me her ball, playing with Berakah as I worked. Before I mowed the big puppy yard, I tore up the old rotten puppy “jungle gym”. It started twenty or so years ago with a picnic table with a couple of freestanding benches and a sheet of plywood for a ramp, to start the puppies early on what they’d see in agility training and competition (in this case the A-frame) and to help them learn where their hind feet were and how to use their bodies, to prepare them for Search & Rescue training. Then I added another piece of plywood on the side for another ramp, and found some old 12” planks and built a section lower than the picnic table but parallel (to prepare them for the dog walk), with a ramp going from the table to the plank to make things even more interesting. And so on. It ended up being about 25’ long. I would like something similar for the new one but made with a frame of treated 2×4’s instead of a picnic table and probably 4’ x 8’ so we could use a sheet of plywood for one height. I have a kiddie slide that’s 26” high that I’d like to come off one level. I dream of a little swinging bridge, too, but have never been able to find any plans for one that won’t traverse a gorge. I have about a month until the puppies will be ready to use it.

I weighed the pups as I changed their bed. Mr. Blue and Miss Green have gained 9 ounces in three days!! Miss Pink gained 7, Miss Red gained 6, and Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold gained 5. Mr. Yellow is the smallest, at 2# 4 ounces, while Mr. Blue is largest, 2# 11 ounces. Miss Pink and Miss Red are at 2# 10 ounces while Miss Gold and Miss Green weighed in at 2# 8 ounces.
12 Days (7/13) Eyes on Mr. Blue and Mr. Yellow are almost totally open; everyone else’s eyes are at least half open. I noticed today for the first time that when I pick them up they are sniffing me quite intensely.

Neurological Stimulation Day 10, Pups 12 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Struggled Mildly: Miss Green, Miss Pink

2. Head held erect
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Struggled Vigorously: Miss Green

3. Head pointed down
Relaxed: Mr. Blue
Struggled Mildly: Miss Pink
Struggled Vigorously: Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

4. Supine position
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Red
Struggled Mildly: Miss Green, Miss Pink
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow
Verbalized a lot: Mr. Yellow

5. Thermal stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue
Squirmed: Miss Pink
Moved off towel: Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
13 Days (7/14) All eyes are now open and they seem to be trying to figure out their world. They’re also often lying more like real dogs do, on their chests rather than flat on their sides. And they’re beginning to get up on their legs in a primitive walk when they want to move a distance, rather than a crawl.
When I did the neurological stimulation I noticed that all but Mr. Yellow looked at me as I did the tactical stimulation and supping positions (Mr. Yellow was too busy protesting). Mr. Blue, Miss Gold and Mr. Yellow sniffed intensely on the wet towel and the fleece it was on during the thermal stimulation. Miss Red and Miss Green got up onto to their feet and walked like real dogs off the towel.

I trimmed toenails tonight and, boy, were they squirmy. They’re strong little buggers. Took me forever. Miss Green was by far the worst.

Neurological Stimulation Day 11, Pups 13 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Yellow

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Blue, Gold, Green, Pink
Struggled Mildly: Miss Red
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow

3. Head pointed down
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow

4. Supine position
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red
Struggled Vigorously: Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Pink

5. Thermal stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Pink
Moved off towel: Miss Green, Miss Red
14 Days (7/15) When I checked on the pups first thing this morning, Miss Red was up on her feet and walking around the whelping box. This was probably because Spirit had jumped up when she heard me coming down the hall, ready to get out, wander around and have breakfast. It’s time now to take down the pig rail, since they can see, are mobile and are big enough that Spirit won’t lie on top of them or, if she does, strong enough to yell and move out from under her. Amazing how much room removing that 4″ rail on all four sides of the box gives them!
The pups had company this afternoon: Marlene, one of my nosework training group whom Spirit knows and loves, and Hannah, her adult daughter from out of town. I usually don’t allow anyone whom the mom doesn’t know see the pups until they’re three weeks old, but Spirit greeted them enthusiastically and had no qualms about them handling the pups–any friend of Marlene’s is a friend of hers, I guess. Our little nosework group tries to meet in a new place, a couple of times a week, and we support each other and their dogs, having a party when one finds the hide. All my dogs love this group because the experience is so positive, so I wasn’t really surprised by Spirit’s response, just pleased. Of course, it might have helped that they brought her a pig ear. She took it out into her private yard and didn’t come back until it was gone; then she kissed both of them, checked her pups, and went out into the big yard to check out her world. They were here for over an hour and Spirit would come in to give kisses and be petted, count pups, then leave again. What a good mom! When I put down the ramp so Marlene & Hannah could see the pups and we could reach them to bring them out, Miss Red marched down the ramp towards us as if to say, “Hurrah! More room!” While they were holding the pups, I exchanged the rick rack collars for some Velcro collars – all except Miss Gold, there not being a gold collar in the bunch. She just got a shiny new rickrack collar.

I gave them a little over an hour to nap and then went in to do the neurological stimulations. When I put down the side of the whelping box, Miss Green noticed me and came out of the bed to me, followed by Mr. Blue, then Miss Pink (the others slumbered peacefully). They “helped” me get set up and the other two hung out while I started Miss Gold’s exercises. Thankfully they went back in the bed before the thermal stimulation, so Miss Gold could experience the cool, damp towel in peace. While we did the supine position, Miss Gold and Mr. Yellow peacefully held eye contact with me. During the tactile stimulation Miss Gold and Mr. Blue turned their heads sideways to look at me as I held them. In the thermal exercise, both Miss Pink and Mr. Yellow left the towel and came to me rather than heading towards the whelping bed as usual. Tonight all of them, once awake, are walking with purpose, nicely up on their legs which are much, much stronger than even yesterday.

They had another good hour to sleep before Denise came to take photos. Spirit again greeted Denise joyfully, even though I didn’t open either of the packages of training treats that she brought as gifts. I placed a sheet, covered by an afghan, on the floor of the whelping room to provide them traction as well as a new tactile and odor experience. They definitely checked out the afghan! I took one out at a time for photos and then weighed them before putting them back into the whelping bed. They weren’t too happy with the camera flashes but took the experience in their stride, first sniffing, then walking, though often times doing more circling than moving in a certain direction. Several caught my scent as I knelt off to the side, with Miss Pink and Miss Green actually coming to find me and Miss Red coming close. Mr. Yellow headed directly to Denise with purpose. His photos showed some real power. All sniffed the afghan a lot, with Miss Green doing so more intensely and for a longer duration, but then she happened to be the last one photographed so by then it had lots of scent from the rest of the pups on it.

Their faces are growing. I love their little Roman noses! They’re really noticeable from a side view. Their ears are growing in preparation for opening on the 21st day. They’re losing the “teacup handle look” and beginning to fold over. They won’t begin standing up like real German Shepherd ears until they’re at least 5 weeks old. After all were photographed, we took photos of them in the bed and then put all of them back on the afghan and let Spirit in. We had to laugh at Mr. Blue, who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to chew on the afghan, taking it in his mouth and tasting it, or his mother. He spent a lot of time chewing on her hind leg. Another pup took a brief taste of mom’s leg – I think it was Miss Pink – but had nothing of the sustained interest as did Mr. Blue. Several of the others were examining each other and their mother, exploring the whole different view of the world that comes with eyes opening. Of course they won’t see clearly for several more weeks, now only seeing shades and masses, but they’re definitely more interested in each other. We even saw several very short but decided interactions between a couple of pups, grabbing a bit of skin and giving the sibling a tiny shake. We even managed to catch some of the almost sitting like real dog! They still scrunch down a little but having their eyes open helps balance immensely and probably in a day or two they’ll sit nice and straight. Both Denise and I kept commenting on how strong these puppies are, especially their hind legs as they stand so as to better knead the breast as they nurse. They are incredibly more efficient at nursing, soon getting full and settling to cuddle. When all were satisfied we put them in the whelping bed and left them to recover from a very exciting day.

They are definitely growing. Mr. Blue and Miss Pink gained 10 ounces in three days, while Miss Green, Miss Red and Mr. Yellow gained 8 ounces. Miss Gold only gained 6 ounces this time. Mr. Blue is still the largest, as 3# 5 ounces, pursued closely by Miss Pink at 3# 4 ounces and Miss Gold and Miss Red who were 3# 2 ounces. Miss Green weighed 3# even, while Mr. Yellow continues to be the smallest, weighing in tonight at 2# 12 ounces. He’s consistently the smallest so he may be going to be lighter boned than the others.

Neurological Stimulation Day 12, Pups 14 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Yellow

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green
Struggled Mildly: Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

3. Head pointed down
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
Struggled Vigorously: Miss Red

4. Supine position
Relaxed: All

5. Thermal stimulation
Moved off towel: All

They had another good hour to sleep before Denise came to take photos. Spirit again greeted Denise joyfully, even though I didn’t open either of the packages of training treats that she brought as gifts. I placed a sheet, covered by an afghan, on the floor of the whelping room to provide them traction as well as a new tactile and odor experience. They definitely checked out the afghan! I took one out at a time for photos and then weighed them before putting them back into the whelping bed. They weren’t too happy with the camera flashes but took the experience in their stride, first sniffing, then walking, though often times doing more circling than moving in a certain direction. Several caught my scent as I knelt off to the side, with Miss Pink and Miss Green actually coming to find me and Miss Red coming close. After all were photographed, we took photos of them in the bed and then put all of them back on the afghan and let Spirit in. We had to laugh at Mr. Blue, who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to chew on the afghan, taking it in him mouth and tasting it, or his mother. He spent a lot of time chewing on her hind leg. Another pup took a brief taste of mom’s leg – I think it was Miss Pink – but had nothing of the sustained interest as did Mr. Blue. Several of the others were examining each other and their mother, exploring the whole different view of the world that comes with eyes opening. Of course they won’t see clearly for several more weeks, now only seeing shades and masses, but they’re definitely more interested in each other. We even saw several very short but decided interactions between a couple of pups, grabbing a bit of skin and giving the sibling a tiny shake. Both Denise and I kept commenting on how strong these puppies are, especially their hind legs as they stand so as to better knead the breast as they nurse. They are incredibly more efficient at nursing, soon getting full and settling to cuddle. When all were satisfied we put them in the whelping bed and left them to recover from a very exciting day.

They are definitely growing. Mr. Blue and Miss Pink gained 10 ounces in three days, while Miss Green, Miss Red and Mr. Yellow gained 8 ounces. Miss Gold only gained 6 ounces this time. Mr. Blue is still the largest, as 3# 5 ounces, pursued closely by Miss Pink at 3# 4 ounces and Miss Gold and Miss Red who were 3# 2 ounces. Miss Green weighed 3# even, while Mr. Yellow continues to be the smallest, weighing in tonight at 2# 12 ounces. He’s consistently the smallest so he may be going to be lighter boned than the others.

15 Days (7/16) When I changed their bedding this morning, I noticed that the wet papers were along the edges of the bed rather than all over. That means that the pups are beginning to move away from the sleeping area to pee, trying to keep the main area clean. The fleece wicks the moisture down to the papers so that the actual fleece stays dry.
I was busy editing photos and lost track of time so I didn’t do the neurological stimulations until after I got home from Mass. Spirit did not help any at all by deciding to come into the bed to nurse the puppies during the exercises. And of course she faced away from me so I had an awful time looking over her into the dark bed to find a pup I hadn’t done, then pull it off the teat (with a big pop!) and expect it to cooperate with the exercises. They did very well, considering. All the pups maintained eye contact during the supine position; in fact, if I hadn’t known their ears were not yet open I would have thought they were listening to me count 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005 as I timed the exercise.   Miss Green was the only one who turned to look at me during the tactile stimulation. She was also the only one who was relaxed through all five exercises. Mr. Blue stood up on the towel and I thought he was going to move off it but instead he pooped. Darn! Had to throw it into the washer with the fleece. I only have one more day of these exercises so I’ll have to wash it again tomorrow. Oh, well, puppies will be puppies. He was FAST!

I decided to go ahead and change their bedding while I was at it, but I had to convince Spirit to get up first. I thought she’d just wait until I pulled the fleece out onto the floor and lie back down to nurse them, but she said, nope, I’m out of here while you do that. The pups were NOT pleased, and they reminded me of a disturbed ant hill as they frantically searched for her, weaving their heads back and forth as they tried to catch her scent or see her. They were very vocal about their displeasure, too. I had the newspapers changed and clean fleece in the bed before they settled down. They muttered as I lifted them one at a time back into the now-clean bed and were still muttering as I left and turned out the light.

Today Spirit has been content to spend extended time – 30 minutes or so – away from her pups.

Neurological Stimulation Day 13, Pups 15 days old

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: All

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Struggled Mildly: Miss Pink

3. Head pointed down
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Green
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Yellow
Struggled Vigorously: Miss Gold, Miss Pink, Miss Red

4. Supine position
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Struggled Mildly: Miss Pink

5. Thermal stimulation
Relaxed: Miss Gold, Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow
Moved off towel: Mr. Blue, Miss Red
16 Days (7/17) My friend, Laurie (also in our little nosework training group so Spirit knows her well), came to see the pups and brought her twelve-year-old granddaughter, Isabella. The stayed for an hour, holding and cuddling pups. At one point Laurie had three pups snuggling against her legs and Isabella had the other three. It was a very peaceful time, at least until Miss Pink sat, raised her snout into the air, and gave a big hoot All of us jumped – and then roared with laughter. Spirit was thrilled with more company. I had to push Laurie and Isabella out the door so I could get ready for Cantor’s CGC (Canine Good Citizen) class. We placed the six sleeping pups in the whelping bed and left.
When I returned from Lovely’s class, all was peaceful in the whelping room. I did the last of the daily neurological stimulations. All the pups again watched me with great interest as I held them in the supine position. All but Miss Pink were extremely interested in the newly washed towel, sniffing deeply at it. Blue, Red and Yellow even bit at it, tasting. Blue and Gold were so interested that they never moved off the towel but spent their whole five seconds mesmerized. Last night after I washed it, while it was still damp, I put it in the refrigerator but didn’t put it in a plastic bag as before, just placing it on a shelf. I don’t know if it absorbed some scents from the fridge or they were just investigating a lingering smell from the Tide Free I washed it with. Very interesting. Miss Pink, the only who didn’t notice, had immediately marched off the towel back to the bed.

I then set to work to enlarge their living area. I put up a 12″ high board from the corner of the whelping box to the end of the room. That defines a nice open space for the pups to begin to explore; they can’t get lost by turning a corner. I’ll leave that up a day or two until they’re comfortable negotiating the slight incline that the wall of the whelping box makes to the floor, then give them the entire room. By that time they’ll be able to negotiate around the corner of the whelping bed to go back inside. I put down newspapers and, over them, some old sheets that give nice traction. I put a 2′ x 4′ piece of the fleece bedding by the door to help hold newspapers/sheets steady as Spirit jumps in and out over the puppy barrier, and another by the doggie door, again to hold papers steady as she goes in and out. The pups tend to hang out with Spirit by the door, often nursing there, so they’ll be happy to have a piece of their thick bed there now. The pups were oblivious to all this activity; sound asleep after the photo session. Spirit checked out the new accommodations and stepped over the board into her area, obviously wanting to let sleeping dogs lie. I checked on them about an hour later and Mr. Blue and Mr. Green were exploring their new digs.

I checked once more before bedtime, to make sure the heater was keeping the whelping bed warm but not heating the room too much. The pups won’t be able to regulate their body temperature until at least Saturday so on these first few days in a larger area I’m monitoring the room frequently. After adding another 8″ tall board on the old entry side of the bed, I had to move the heater up higher so it blows into the whelping bed. The higher board discourages Spirit from entering and exiting the old way and also acts as a better draft protector as she goes I and out of the doggie door since the pups will be spending time in the cooler room area and need a warm place to go if they chill. All the pups were in the whelping bed, asleep.

Neurological Stimulation Day 14, Pups 16 days old (last one)

1. Tactical stimulation
Relaxed: All

2. Head held erect
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
Squirmed: Miss Green

3. Head pointed down
Relaxed: Miss Gold, Miss Green
Struggled Mildly: Mr. Blue, Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow

4. Supine position
Relaxed: All

5. Thermal stimulation
Relaxed: Mr. Blue, Miss Gold, Miss Green
Moved off towel: Miss Pink, Miss Red, Mr. Yellow
17 Days (7/18) When I checked on the pups first thing this morning, Mr. Blue, Miss Gold and Miss Green were on the fleece by the gate, awake but quiet, while the others slumbered in the whelping bed. The three awake ones greeted me peacefully so I figure they had just been sleeping beside Spirit. No “disturbed ant bed” this morning so none had been interrupted while nursing. I placed the three sleeping ones with the here active ones on the fleece strip while I changed the bed. Then I moved all six to the now-clean bed so I could change the sheets and newspapers in the room area. Since the pups will be more active today, exploring their larger area, I replaced the sheets with some heavier cloths that give better traction and won’t move much as spirit comes and goes during her exercise time and rotated times away from the pups.

Once they begin moving out of the whelping bed into the room, the cleaning begins!!! I swear the puppies choose to pee or poop so that they mess up a part of four different newspapers where they join! And pick the spot that will soil at least two of the blankets on top of the papers to give them traction for walking. Now I have two wash loads of puppy things twice daily! The washing machine will go practically non-stop until they’re old enough to move outdoors to the puppy house and puppy yard.

When I checked them an hour later, all six were nursing contentedly while Spirit lay on the strip of fleece by the gate. In fact, every time I checked them throughout the day, all were lounging by the gate.  When I checked the puppies for the last time, Miss Pink and Miss Red were awake and at the gate while the others sprawled a bit further away. Miss Pink noticed me walk in and moved towards me with her tail wagging. Miss Red also came to me but without any tail wag at all. That’s the first tail wag I’ve noticed. That’s always a BIG joy for me. Now we’ll begin building relationships.

They see movement and notice each other, and today I saw a lot more attempts to play.

18 Days (7/19) This morning when I went in, six were on the fleece rug where Spirit jumps into their area. Miss Green and Mr. Blue awoke when I stepped in and moved towards me, tails wagging. The others didn’t stir. When I went back a few minutes later to change their bedding, all were asleep. I stealthily removed the big fleece pad and took it to the washer, then quietly returned to change the bed papers and put down the clean fleece. Then I quietly lifted the pups into the clean bed so I could change the floor bedding and papers. Miss Red and Mr. Blue woke up, however, and came out to “help” me. Miss Red in particular hung around me, visiting (though still no tail wag), while Mr. Blue made a circuit of the boundaries, looking for Spirit. He then came and visited, tail wagging, while I tried to change newspapers around the two of them. Eventually both tired and went back to the bed and I was able to finish. Miss Gold noticed I was there and watched for a little bit until her eyes grew too heavy and she went back to sleep.

Friends from out of town dropped by to say hi. They used to live here and David and his now-fourteen-year-old daughter, Bella, would help me take the puppies to the nursing homes. They came, along with two younger boys, Cillian (5) and Declan (6). Their timing was perfect: I was just finishing Spirit’s ball session so she got to visit with them a bit outside – David even throwing the ball for her a few times which made him just fine in her book – so I invited them to take a peek at the pups. These were the first total strangers to see the pups, but Sprit didn’t care. She was SO proud of her babies and loved showing them off in between showering the two boys with kisses – and Bella and David whenever they bent down. She was so content with their visit that even the boys were able to hold a pup.

The pups really put on a show for their company! They crowded to the gate to visit – Miss Pink, Mr. Blue, Miss Green and Mr. Yellow wagging their tails madly. Even when they moved away to potty or got distracted playing with another pup, they’d go back to the gate to visit with the boys, who were kneeling there. And play they did! They were doing some elementary wrestling, taking a BIG bite of another one’s leg or loose skin and shaking, and even giving some little growls. Miss Pink sat in the center of the rug, raised her snout into the air, and gave a hoot and then some trills–just like she did Monday when Laurie and Isabella visited. All three kids were entranced. Bella used to come play with each litter from birth so this was old hat to her, but the boys had never been around puppies and were ecstatic. They stayed until puppies gradually began collapsing. Miss Pink was the fourth to give up, but she didn’t go quietly; she had to give another hoot before she settled. All the others were quiet other than a contented groan as they stretched out. Spirit hated to see them go. Spirit’s sire, Quasi, is like that: absolutely loves people and thoroughly enjoys visiting. I’m so pleased he is passing that to his kids and looking forward to seeing if he’ll pass it on to his grandkids. I’m beginning to think that Miss Pink got some of her great-great-great grandmother Glory’s teasing personality. The original Glory was famous for reeling people in at dog shows when she got bored, giving a come-hither look so someone would come give her attention. She would sit in a chair at ringside while we waited for our turn in the obedience ring, and pretty soon she had two or three admirers making a big fuss over her. When we visited Westview, one of the local nursing homes, they would have a wheelchair at the front door for her. She’d sit in it and I’d wheel her around the home while she exerted her magic and gave come-hither looks to everyone. The residents in their wheel chairs loved to sit beside her and give her all kinds of loving. I’d also wheel her alongside of people’s beds and she always brought a smile.

Tonight I opened up the entire room for the pups because they still didn’t seem to have enough room in the area I had opened up for them a couple of days ago. A couple of times today I saw them walking along the perimeter of their area as if looking for more room. They were asleep when I entered the room but very soon here came Miss Red. She was very persistent at seeking attention and wanting body contact so of course I had to sit back on my heels and pet her some rather than get the bedding changed. Soon Miss Pink came, too, and a little bit later, Miss Green. They kept in touch with my legs as I knelt to change papers in the bed and spread out the clean fleece pad. I then put all 6 pups in the whelping bed so I could change the flooring, but those three would have none of that and “helped” me work. I then spread papers and sheets on the floor of the rest of the room and took down the plank barrier. Miss Red came a few inches into the new area but soon turned back to crash with her sisters on the clean fleece by the gate. Helping me was hard work and they were pooped.

19 Days (7/20) All was peaceful when I got up this morning, with all six pups stretched out in the new area, contentedly sleeping.

Denise came by on her way out of town to visit family for 2 weeks. She had to get her puppy fix before hitting the road. Spirit and the puppies gladly obliged until Denise finally tore herself away to head to Minnesota. She made me promise I’d send photos while she’s gone.

Then Laurie came by with Isabella, her mother Amber and brother Noah, 7. They couldn’t believe the change in them in just three days and loved on the pups for an hour before they had enough of a puppy fix to hold them a few days. Spirit absolutely delights in company!

20 Days (7/21) When I went in first thing this morning to check on the pups and let Spirit out, they were playing. Spirit and I went out and got sprinklers going, then I came back to change the bedding and they were all crashed. I took out the whelping bed fleece and stuck it in the washer, then returned to change newspapers and put down a new fleece. Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold each opened one eye and went back to sleep, but Mr. Blue got up, stretched, peed and ambled over to visit. He squeezed between my knees and would not let me work until I had cuddled him for a bit. When he was satisfied, he found a good place to nap and nodded off. Miss Pink came over, said hello and joined Mr. Blue. I finished the whelping bed and, since the pups were in the area in front of it, proceeded to change everything in the area to the side of the bed. That done, I moved the pups into the whelping bed and proceeded to attempt to clean the last area. Mr. Blue, Miss Red and Mr. Yellow awoke enough to come out of the bed to see what I was doing, but fortunately headed back in and allowed me to finish the room.

My raw meat diet arrived and I had to go meet the truck, so Spirit got to go for the ride. She was thrilled! I wasn’t so thrilled to write a huge check for meat enough to get the puppies eating.

It’s still a little early for the pups to eat, but a couple of years ago I read a book by a guy who trains Navy Seal dogs and also breeds working dogs. He talked about always making the puppies search for their food rather than setting it right in front of them each time. With my next litter, the HH litter, I tried doing that instead of putting some of the raw meat into each pup’s mouth as I used to do. Those pups all showed great desire to use their noses on the temperament test, so I decided to continue the practice. They start eating on their own a few days later with this method, so the moms don’t get relief as soon as before, but I think it encourages them from the very beginning to make an effort and be proactive, rather than passively accepting being fed.

When I took Spirit out this afternoon for her thirty-minute puppy-free relaxing time, I put out some of my big dogs’ raw meat diet, which comes in little cubes, in two low-sided puppy bowls which have a raised center so the pups can investigate food without crawling in it, 14 cubes in each one. They had time to investigate if desired, and to at least have accustomed themselves to the new smell if they didn’t sample. No one did much as I closed the door. When I returned, one bowl was missing eight cubes and the other, four, so several had sampled the meat, which is great for the first time. Spirit thought, “Fantastic! Late supper a little early!” and dove in and cleaned the bowls. I put a water bowl where they can get to it, with sides low enough they can find the water but high enough they won’t fall in as they learn to drink. I’ll offer meat twice daily now.

Tonight when I changed bedding, it was Mr. Yellow who followed me around most of the time, and Miss Red who did so for quite a while. Miss Pink came, noticed what I was doing and left. They are using the entire room. I’ll find some in the bed, some on the fleece by the door and the rest on the fleece by the doggie door. Now if I can get them to leave the fleece and go potty on the newspapers, we’d really be accomplishing things. The washing machine is going constantly.

21 Days (7/22) When I let Spirit out this morning, I put meat cubes down for the pups. They were helpfully lounging in two groups of three so it was easy to put a pan next to each group. Mr. Blue, Mr. Yellow, Miss Red and Miss Green showed immediate interest in the meat and were mouthing it before I left the room. Miss Gold was asleep and Miss Pink was so relaxed that she only moved her head over and rested her chin on the rim of the pan. I’ll leave it in with them while Spirit’s out, and if any is left will put it out again when she goes out for her exercise session in about an hour and a half. Hopefully, since it will have had a chance to warm up (this feeding was straight from the refrigerator) the other two will be attracted by more of an odor and will also be awake. I had to chuckle at Spirit: every time I moved she raced down the hallway, hoping to be able to go in and clean up what they left. She sure learned quickly!

When I put her in the room, I picked up the bowls: only 8 cubes left from 28! They’re learning to eat extremely fast, much earlier than usual. I wonder if I’m going to see more “early” accomplishments as they grow – perhaps triggered by the neurological stimulation???

I checked ears but they’re not yet open, which is a sign that all the neurological systems (including being able to regulate their body temperature) are now hooked up. It’s almost magical how they change when physically their bodies are complete. They can now learn and will be eager to explore their new world, and their personalities will begin to emerge.

I put the meat with the pups again while Spirit had her ball session and they finished the lot.

Marlene came to visit the pups and brought her husband, Bob. She was amazed how much they had changed in a week. As soon as we walked into the room, they noticed us and began moving toward us. They’re now climbing over our legs if they’re in their way and also trying to climb into our laps as we sit on the floor. We laughed and laughed at the variety of noises they’re making, even though they still can’t hear. Today it was Miss Red who gave a big hoot that made us jump. Spirit came in and out and eventually settled beside us. Only Miss Green noticed her and went over to nurse. When she got done nursing we laughed some more, because her tummy was so full that she could hardly walk. The others finally noticed Sprit and while she let them nurse she enjoyed Marlene petting her. It was a peaceful visit. Today for the first time I can feel teeth beginning to come through the gums, so we’d better enjoy the peaceful sweet puppies while we can. When they realize they have teeth they begin attaching them to everything that moves. Right now, when they play with each other, they pretty gently put their mouths around another’s nose or leg or a fold of skin, but they’re already beginning to do the “kill the prey” head shake when they attach to something. Today Mr. Yellow was giving me kisses as I held him, the first I’ve seen anyone do, seriously licking me in a real caress.

Bob is going to help me construct my new puppy obstacle course so after we wore out the puppies I showed him where it goes. He’s even excited about building me a swinging bridge between two sections!!! I took a sketch down to the lumber yard for one of the guys to figure out the sizes of the different parts so as to use lumber most efficiently and so I don’t buy more than I need.
I weighed the pups this afternoon. Mr. Yellow remains the smallest, at 3# 8 ounces and Mr. Blue remains the largest, at 4# 10 ounces. In between are Miss Red at 4# 1 ounce, Miss Green & Miss Pink at 4# 5 ounces, and Miss Gold at 4# 6 ounces.

I gave the puppies their meat supper about 6:30 p.m.; 35 cubes this time. They cleaned up the lot except for a little they pushed into the sides of the bowl, which Spirit gladly cleaned right up.

They’re beginning to climb all over me as I try to change their newspapers and sheets I have down to give traction. It took me forever to get that done both times today. They’re really beginning to be fun. Tonight Mr. Yellow followed me around until I stopped trying to change newspapers and just petted him. After a while, satisfied, he wandered off and went to sleep. Then it was Miss Gold’s turn to pursue me until I stopped and loved on her. When I placed them in the whelping bed so I could finish changing the floor, Mr. Blue woke up enough to come visit a bit.

22 Days (7/23) When I fed them this morning, all six pups immediately headed to the bowls! They had their heads in and were seriously working on ingesting the meat before I got out of the door. They didn’t eat all of the meat but that’s fine, as I’m only guessing the amount. When they begin cleaning this much up, I’ll increase the amount.

When I went in at midday to change bedding, they were zonked, out flat, in the area in front of the whelping bed. I was able to grab the bed fleece and stick it in the washer and then pick up the soiled papers on the other part of the room before anyone woke up. Miss Gold sensed me working closer and came over for a good visit. I moved all of them into the whelping bed but she refused to stay, following my arms around as I knelt changing newspapers. She finally got enough attention and traipsed back to the bed for another nap. Then Miss Red and Mr. Blue woke up. Miss Red, naturally, marched over to the section with clean papers and peed there, but Mr. Blue chose a spot where I hadn’t changed anything. Miss Red then came to me and, with tail wagging madly, gave me a very enthusiastic greeting and lots of kisses, pressing her head against my cheek as I held her. Mr. Blue was more moderate in his greeting but obviously enjoyed a petting session before he, too, headed back for another nap. I did catch him going to the water bowl and taking a drink, which pleased me as I want to be sure they drink water with the meat they’re getting. Miss Gold went to the gate and began trying to push through the wire, fussing, walking up and down it, back and forth. I think Spirit was lying just out of sight in the hallway and she could smell her. She didn’t settle until I put the piece of fleece down by the gate. Boy, do they love that one! It’s thicker than the ones I use in the bed and they seem to really like the cushioning. At least she stretched out with her belly on as much of it as she could and immediately quieted. I finished shortly after that and put Spirit in with them. They are much steadier on their feet so I am no longer putting sheets down to provide traction. Hopefully they’ll begin getting the idea to potty on the papers rather than the fleece. I have the fleece by the gate and doggie door, and some thick cloth on the ramp so they have traction, but I left the rest of the floor just straight newspapers.

Ears must be open! When I went in last thing tonight to change their papers, I was greeted by a cacophony of sounds- barks, trills, hoots – all at the top of their voices. All woke up and “helped” me try to change the newspapers. They climbed on me as I knelt to change papers, sat on the rugs I was trying to remove so I had to keep lifting them off and try to get the rug before another body got on it (a hopeless battle), and as I walked around followed me and watched my slippers. Everyone had to have a little loving and cuddling but they were finally satisfied. Tonight Mr. Yellow, Miss Red, Miss Green and Miss Pink were the most adamant about visiting. The pups complained, though, until I put the fleece mat down at the gate and then gathered on it to nap. When I returned with their clean water bowl and an ice cream bucket full of water to pour into it, Miss Green left the others and watched as I put down the bowl and poured the water into it, then investigated carefully, though she didn’t actually drink. Satisfied, she returned to the others and they finally let me leave.

Amazing what happens when the neurological system is finally all hooked up. Now I should begin to see what they’ll really be like as far as personality. Drives will start coming in a little later. Their immature neurological systems now complete – all circuits hooked up – they can hear and also can regulate their body temperatures. I won’t have to be so careful about the temperature of their room and avoiding drafts. They’re getting heavier coats in preparation for that. They will begin exploring their world. It’s exciting to see, because they’ll seem to change by the hour as they interact with things they didn’t notice before. Spirit will know they are no longer fragile and will really welcome visitors so she can show them off.

They have begun peeing and pooping on their own. Two of them demonstrated pooping on freshly changed newspapers so I had to go back to an area I thought I was done with. One reason I begin them on raw meat is that the moms continue to clean up the poop, which they don’t on dry food. I won’t start adding soaked kibble to their meat until they’re ready to move outside because they make a terrible mess in a small area. Meanwhile, all the peeing means that I’ll be changing papers after every time I feed them to keep them in a clean, non-smelly environment.

23 Days (7/24) The pups didn’t clean up their meat meal this morning, but they did in the late afternoon, same as yesterday. Interesting. Both time they headed to the food bowls as soon as I put them down. They’re getting the idea!

Tonight when I was kneeling to change papers in the whelping bed, Mr. Yellow was busy chomping on my hand. He obviously has noticed that he has teeth and thought I was a good object upon which to try them out. They already have some pretty good jaw pressure. Miss Pink followed me as I moved around the room changing newspapers. I had the idea that she was waiting for me to settle so she could cuddle, so when I got everything finished I lay down, half in the whelping bed, half out, and waited to see what the pups would do. Miss Pink said very obviously, “Finally!” and settled down for a cuddle and a visit. Miss Green explored my face and hair and visited, wandered off, came back to visit, wandered off, came back and finally settled. Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold stretched out on the bed fleece as if very glad to have a clean pad. The others were busy playing and didn’t visit much. Tonight they were trying to run a little. So cute!
I mowed the baby puppy yard today and will clean out the puppy house in the morning so they can begin spending time outside and really begin to run.

24 Days (7/25) The puppies totally cleaned up their breakfast so I’ll add a midday meal. That will work out perfectly as I’m going to move them to the baby puppy pen for the day, and the food will help orient them to their new home.

I have an insulated puppy house with a doggie door into what I call a transition area, a long enclosed area with an opening to the outdoors at the far end. This way the pups can explore a little bit without getting out into the weather and/or the bright sunlight, which hurts their eyes at this age. I tie up the flap on the doggie door so that they can easily go in and out, which they begin gradually.

In this hot weather, I will prop open the puppy house door, which opens to the east and thus, besides being protected from the wind, will be in shade so the light won’t bother the puppies’ eyes yet and they can see their new world in case they’re ready to explore. Today we have a nice breeze blowing which is keeping things pretty comfortable, but I also have a big fan I use if necessary. I have an old big (5′ x 5′) whelping box in there, half of which is roofed to keep it shaded and draft free, and of course they’ll find some fleece bedding there. One wall of the bed has an opening into the rest of the puppy house, an area about 5′ x 4′ with the doggie door to the transition area at the far end so they easily see it when they leave the bed. I have a water bowl close to the doggie door plus a larger one outside under a lilac bush so it stays cool (as well as a big five-gallon one for Spirit).

After Berakah & Hesed had their morning ball time, I cleaned out the house, first sweeping it and then scrubbing the bed since it hasn’t been used for puppies in about 15 months. I let it dry thoroughly while Cantor had his morning ball and agility session (for about five minutes every other day, we practice the newest things he’s learning in class: weaving and finding his “spot” on the contact equipment). It worked out perfectly: the bed was dry so I finished laying newspapers and a big fleece pad that covers the back half of the bed, large enough for initial nursing sessions and of course smelling like home. Within a day or two Spirit will nurse them primarily outside but at the beginning I try to make everything as close to what they’re used to, to lessen the big stress that moving outdoors brings. In a day or two they won’t want to come back to the whelping room at night – they’ll love 20′ x 80′ puppy yard with the trees and plants and sticks and bugs and birds and everything to watch – and lots of room to run and play.

It was about 10:30 when I put them out, and only 75 degrees, so a perfect day for their big adventure. Miss Pink and Miss Red were right at the gate of the whelping room, so I carried them out first, followed by Mr. Blue and Miss Green and finally Miss Gold and Mr. Yellow. Each time I took new pups out the previous ones were exploring farther in their bed. Spirit went into the bed to check on them and I sneaked out, closed the gate, and came to the house to get Lively and Chaos for their play session.

The baby puppy house and yard are right outside my bedroom window, so I checked when I put Lively & Chaos up and got GloryToo out for her exercise session. All was quiet and Spirit was nowhere in sight, so she was probably inside the house nursing the pups. When I put GloryToo up and got Quasi out for his ball session, all was again quiet and I could see Spirit lying peacefully in the shade just outside the house. When Quasi finished his ball session, I went into the puppy yard and checked: all six were sprawled out on the fleece, sound asleep. All is well in their world.

I took their lunch out to them about 1 p.m., let Spirit out, and closed the puppy house door to keep the flies out. After about 20 minutes I went out to check and they had cleaned up all 30 meat cubes. I let Spirit back in with them and reopened the door. It has stayed nice and cool and cloudy, perfect conditions for puppies’ first day outside. I had an appointment at 2:30 so I closed the puppy house door since rain threatened. When I returned, I reopened it. Every time I checked on the puppies they were contentedly resting, so I left them out all day. Originally I had planned to bring them in about 3:30 so they’d be rested for Brenda and her two daughters, Billie and Grace, who were coming at 5 to help me take pictures, but they were so content I left them undisturbed.

When my friends arrived, we brought the puppies into the living room, another new experience. I have a puppy adventure box, which is a frame of pvc pipe with a variety of articles of different materials and textures hanging on all four sides. The articles move when touched by either a person or a pup and make a variety of noises. The idea is to stimulate the puppies, get their brains working, and desensitize them to moving things, things touching them all over, and various noises. Miss Green showed definite interest in the articles, sniffing and touching them and Mr. Blue showed mild interest; none of the others acted like they noticed anything. Of course, they were pretty tired and preferred to just cuddle with the girls.

We began with Billie and Grace sitting on the floor and letting the pups visit, sit in their lap or be held, and become comfortable with the new setting. Then they began lifting a pup or two into the adventure box to get them to investigate. Over the next few weeks I’ll be noticing who investigates and be looking for consistency – one way to start checking for developing drives. The pups that show drives earliest and CONSISTENTLY usually turn out to be the best working prospects, though you always have to keep an open mind for those late bloomers.

Miss Green was the only pup to put much energy into anything. Four different times she used her nose to find me so she could climb into my lap. Three times Brenda put her back with the group, but the fourth time I told her that Miss Green had earned her reward and she contentedly remained in my lap for a bit a I took photos of the others. She gave me some nice eye contact, definitely telling me I was supposed to be giving her some attention.

When all the pups, including Miss Green, crashed we put them in the whelping room with Spirit to have a good rest before their supper. They had quite a day!!!!
I waited until about 9:30 to take them their supper so they had plenty of quiet time to recover from an intense day. They were very glad to see me and talked quite a greeting! They also finished all their supper and asked for more. Tomorrow I’ll soak some kibble and add that to their lunch since they’ll be outside.

25 Days (7/26) The pups greeted me with barks this morning as I let Spirit out and put down their breakfast meat. They left about 4 cubes this time, but I’ll still add some soaked kibble at lunch.
I put the pups outside at 10 a.m., after Spirit’s play session. When I carried them out, the first two pairs (Miss Pink & Mr. Yellow, then Mr. Blue & Miss Green) were content to stay in the whelping bed, but when I returned with the third pair (Miss Gold & Miss Red), they out in the open part of the house, at the open door, peering down at the little drop they would have to negotiate. I put Miss Gold and Miss Red in the house (not in the bed part) and by the time I set them down, Mr. Blue was outside. He was followed almost immediately by Mr. Yellow and shortly after by Miss Pink. Miss Green sat on the threshold and looked around, and the last two turned around and headed for the threshold to look out. At that point Spirit entered the bed and I quietly moved away and closed the gate on the family.

I checked them a couple of times during the morning without going into the yard and all were peacefully asleep in the house. When I finished ball sessions I went into the yard to check and all of them came out to greet me, with Miss Pink following me all the way to the gate and Miss Gold coming halfway before turning back. When I went back to pick up their food bowls Miss Pink again followed me all the way to the gate while the others milled around outside the house. They didn’t eat much of the soaked kibble and even left some meat cubes, but I didn’t give them as long as usual because I was rushing to get ready for a meeting.

It wasn’t supposed to be hot today but it got pretty miserable in the afternoon so about 4 p.m. I brought them inside to the whelping room. They sure greeted that air conditioned room with joy!
I had quite a scare – the washing machine quit on me as it was filling to wash puppy bedding. I’m doing at least 6 loads of puppy stuff a day. I thought, oh, no, not trips to the Laundromat over the weekend. Usually it’s several days before the repairman can get here. Tonight I gave them a full 30 minutes to eat the meat cubes interspersed with soaked kibble.

26 Days (7/27) This morning they cleaned up one bowl of soaked kibble and meat cubes and most of the other, so they’re finally sampling the kibble. Hurrah! They did the same at the other two meals.

First thing this morning (7 am) I called the appliance repair people, who of course didn’t know when they could get to me. I began sacking up yesterday’s soiled puppy bedding. Marlene had offered me the use of their washing machine but I thought today I could get the bedding into washers at the laundromat before I went to do my therapy dog visit at the nursing home which is close to the laundromat, then pick them up when I was done. Incredibly, the repairman called me about 8 a.m. and said he had a job close to me and could probably come in about an hour or so. I was ecstatic!

It was a little more than an hour before he got here but before noon I had a load in the machine. Hurrah!!!!!

The pups really like the puppy house and aren’t moving outside to explore and play as I’d like, so this morning when I carried them out to the puppy yard I didn’t put them inside the puppy house but set them on the ground outside in an effort to encourage them to begin exploring. I ran the sprinkler on the puppy yard last night so the ground would be cool and inviting, especially in the shade, when it got hot this morning. The first ones were still outside, sniffing around, when I carried out the last pair, but it wasn’t long until they were all crashed on the fleece. They still haven’t even tried to go out the doggie door into the transition area. They need to learn that before they can graduate to the big puppy yard, because its transition area doesn’t seem as logical to the pups for some reason. It’s in the baby puppy yard that they learn how to come back into the shelter of the house.

We’re having real high humidity which makes the days miserable even if the temperatures stay in the 80’s. I keep checking that the pups are okay. Yesterday we had a little morning shower and then the sun came out, making it hot and steamy. I took the big fan out to the puppy house and turned it on high, and it kept the house comfortable nearly all day. Each time I went out to check on pups I convinced them to come to me outside (or carried them) and gave them attention there, where there was a little breeze making it comfortable. I tried to get Spirit to nurse them there on the cool ground, but she’s as bad as the pups – she likes the fleece in the house. Ah, well, I’ll keep trying. At some point things will click and then they’ll hardly go into the house. This must be one bunch of contented pups!!!

They’re still not ready to move outdoors permanently, but I had hoped to leave the pups out for a longer day today – until I got home from Hesed’s 7 p.m. agility class, but just as I was getting ready to head to the training building a big black cloud began moving in. It was too hot to close up the puppy house, so I decided I’d better bring them inside. I was glad that I did, as it rained with a lot of wind while we were in class. Areas north of us got hail so I was glad they were safely inside.

They still aren’t eating all of their meals but they’re doing better on the kibble. I think it’s time to have Spirit away from them for longer periods. She’ll be happy. She’s getting a little bored.

27 Days Old (7/28) I weighed and wormed the pups this morning. They weighed between 6# 0 ounces (Miss Green, Miss Pink and Mr. Yellow) and 6# 12 ounces (Mr. Blue); the other two weighing 6″ 4 ounces (Miss Gold & Miss Red). This was approximate as they would not hold still on the scale. I fed everyone first thing, then went back later to worm them while they had full tummies. Of course I woke them as I picked them up, so they began to play and were in no mood to hold still.

I worm the pups every 10 – 14 days from the time they’re three weeks old until they leave. All puppies are born with roundworms; it’s the nature of the parasite. Encysted worms are activated by the pregnancy hormones and migrate through the placenta into the developing puppies. When a dog finishes the rapid growth stage, around nine months of age, the worms encyst and become dormant. Until that time, puppies are vulnerable. It’s impossible to keep the yard where the baby puppies are totally clean of poop, and they aren’t developed or experienced enough to notice a poop and avoid it, plus puppies explore their world by mouth, so they are very prone to ingest roundworm eggs in the soil or other parts of the environment and are impossible to keep worm-free. Living quarters of individual puppies are much more easily kept clean, plus they’re rapidly learning to poop when taken outside and the owners can pick up the poop immediately, so they need not be wormed as frequently. Regular wormings throughout young puppyhood (I recommend monthly until they’re about nine months old) keep the worm population minimal and unable to harm the pup, but it’s impossible to totally eliminate the roundworms. Of course, if you live in an area where heartworm is a danger, the monthly heartworm preventative dose also kills worms. You start the pup on heartworm preventative just as it turns four months old. Heartgard kills roundworms, but I preferred to use Iverhart because it also kills tapeworms and hookworms. Hookworms aren’t normally much of a problem in our area but tapeworm shows up occasionally. If your pup is ever exposed to fleas, tapeworm is a danger since they’re its carrier. We normally don’t have a lot of flea problems in Wyoming, though after an unusually mild winter we may see more. Unfortunately, Iverhart has become unavailable. My dogs didn’t like the substitute, Sentinel Spectrum, and I had to practically force them to take it, so for now I’m using Heartguard Plus, though I’m disappointed it doesn’t kill tapeworms.

I decided I’m going to have to nudge these ups out of their comfort zone, so this morning I put the pups out before Spirit’s ball time so they had 15 minutes by themselves. And I put them just inside the gate rather than at the puppy house, which is maybe 20′ away. If they don’t know how to find the house, they can follow my scent from two trips from gate to house – first going in to change newspapers, then bringing the clean fleece from my house. When I brought out the third pair, Mr. Yellow, who had been on of the first pair carried out, had already disappeared into the puppy house. Miss Red, who had also been in the first pair, was exploring under the lilac bush and the others were wandering around. All were quiet, no yelling from displeasure or being lost. When I put Spirit in the puppy yard, not a pup was in sight.

It’s heating up fast and really humid, so I’m thinking about changing their schedule. I think I’ll bring them in for their lunch and let them stay in the whelping room during the heat of the day, then put them out when it begins to cool off and leave them out all night. Today it’s 92 degrees with 70% humidity, bad enough for ault dogs with their ration of surface area to depth, but dangerous for pups who have little depth yet to their bodies.

I decided to begin doubling up the bigger fleece in the whelping room and puppy house to help them start getting the idea to go off the bed to potty.

I brought them inside at 1 pm. and fed them lunch. When I went out to get them, Miss Pink was lying next to her mother at the gate. Miss Gold and Miss Green were crashed on the fleece. And the other four were outside – Mr. Yellow investigating the lilac and the other three stretched around the low rubber tub that I have for their water bowl outside. I was pleased that most of them had gone outside as the puppy house warmed up. Not that it was hot; with the big fan blowing it was still comfortable, but not nearly as cool as this morning.

At 5 I set a sprinkler in the puppy yard, which was totally in the shade. By the time I take them out tonight the ground will be nice and cool.

Marlene and Deborah, another person in our nosework group, came at 6:30 to play with the pups. We put out the adventure box and carried them into the living room. They enjoyed lots of cuddling. Mr. Yellow was fascinated by Marlene’s sandals, chewed on them, and then licked every toe. Miss Pink and Miss Gold really enjoyed chewing on my fingers. Mr. Blue slept most of the visit, the majority of the time on my lap. Deborah and Marlene held pups while I trimmed toenails, for which I was grateful.

Miss Red gave intense, sustained eye contact to me several times, climbing up as I sat on the floor so she could kiss my face, tail beating wildly. Miss Green also gave me a lot of sustained eye contact but quietly, usually sitting beside me rather than climbing up as did Miss Red. Mr. Yellow gave really good, sustained eye contact to Marlene as she held him and seemed to be listening carefully to everything she said. Miss Pink gave some good eye contact but hers was more of a wink or “come hither” look; all of us agreed we think she’s going to be quite a tease. Mr. Blue and Miss Gold gave intermittent eye contact but nothing like that of Miss Red, Miss Green & Mr. Yellow, much more passive as if they were merely listening to us talk rather than actively trying to relate.

They have the trot down real well and now are trying to run, which is so cute to watch. Once they get going, they run into things a lot, since their eyes can’t see far enough yet to warn of obstacles at the speed and the distance those chubby little legs are taking them. Mr. Yellow was funny, grabbing my pant leg in his mouth and shaking fiercely.

We got some good laughs out of three of the pups and their attempt to go through a straight wooden chair rather than around it. Miss Pink was the first to find it in her way and she climbed over the horizontal rungs and kept going. Miss Green was next, but she was less graceful and at one point ended up with her belly across the two rungs and her legs hanging down in front and behind. Miss Gold had a little difficulty negotiating the rungs but did one leg at a time through each one.

Miss Gold was the only one who noticed the adventure box. She went through it from one side to the opposite side, touched a couple of the hanging objects and even put her mouth on the bits of pvc pipe hanging down. After about 75 minutes the pups were worn out so we carried them to the puppy room. It’s still pretty hot outside so I’ll let them sleep for about an hour and then put them outside for the night at 9 p.m.

I actually have two puppy pens with heated houses, doggie doors and transition areas. The “young puppy” pen is for the pups when they first move outside because the transition area (like a tunnel, so they don’t go directly out into the weather) from the puppy house to their yard seems to be more logical for them to learn to go in and out at will. In the other puppy pen, the entrance isn’t quite as logical, so they don’t move there until they understand how to find shelter and food. It doesn’t have nearly the shade that the “young puppy” yard has, either, an important factor for encouraging them to get out and explore. The “young puppy” yard is just outside my bedroom window so in case the puppies get lost or scared, I hear them and can quickly go check that all is well. It is closer also to my perimeter fence, and one time during a severe drought a coon managed to climb over both fences in an effort to get to the puppy food inside the house. That’s when I built the other puppy pen. Now the puppies stay in the “young” puppy pen/house area only as long as their mother is with them during the night. When they get old enough (around 5 weeks) that Spirit has the choice to go in and out (and I leave food in the puppy house at night), I move them to the “big puppy” pen. I can no longer hear them cry, but no varmint is going to get through 5 fences.

28 Days Old (7/29) I never heard a peep out of the puppies all night so they must have been pretty content. It only got down to 65 degrees during the night, pleasant but not cool for them. I took Spirit’s breakfast out to her when I went out to set sprinklers, just as it was barely light enough to see. I won’t take her out and feed the puppies until full light just in case any varmints are wandering around. As I walked to the yard, I heard a puppy talking. It was Mr. Yellow, who came to the gate and enthusiastically greeted me. I picked him up and cuddled him and he melded into my body, tail wagging madly. When he was satisfied, I put him down and went out, walking along the fence line to see if I could see any other puppies outside, but I couldn’t. The rest must have been asleep in the puppy house. So Spirit could eat her breakfast in peace, I didn’t wake them but left quietly.

Happy puppies greeted me morning in the puppy house when I carried in their breakfast. They were more interested in me than in breakfast and I had to move bodies gently aside so I could close the door. Just before I took out their breakfast we had a nice little shower. I was pleased they were in the house and nice and dry. Only if we have a wild storm with wind do I have to race out and shut the door to keep the house dry.

When I took Spirit out of the puppy yard for her ball session, all the pups were asleep in the house. When we returned, ready to clean the house, Mr. Yellow and Mr. Blue were outside, playing. We still have heavy clouds with intermittent sprinkles, and it’s still only 70 degrees, dim light that makes it a great day for puppies to want to be outside. Once inside the gate, I turned left to search the back area for poop first. I hate pooper scoopers; instead using a shovel and kitchen spatula and putting poop in a two gallon bucket. I drag the shovel along behind me as I walk the yard. Mr. Yellow caught up with me and followed for a good ways – very interested in the shovel’s movement, probably 10′ past the gate, which is maybe 30′ from the puppy house, then caught up with me as I finished the loop and headed to the area in front of the puppy house. He was very proud of himself and responded to my praise with a wild wagging of his tail. Mr. Blue turned back but remained outside. As I neared the gate, Miss Pink and Miss Green heard me and came out to greet me. I was nearly to the puppy house before Miss Red awoke and came tumbling out. That left Miss Gold. I peered into the house and she was awake but comfortable on the fleece.

I visited with the pups a couple of minutes then promised to sit down and really visit once I had changed papers and fleece. I put down a 12′ plank across the threshold and lifted Miss Gold out with the others so I could change bedding in peace. She was not pleased and began trying to get back into the house. The threshold is up from the floor so there was probably about 8″ of board actually barricading a determined pup from her goal. She worked and worked and worked and finally managed to climb over it into the house. I promptly lifted her back out and she wandered off looking for her mother. Spirit, still with ball in mouth, wasn’t interested in the pups so Miss Gold eventually wandered back and crawled over again. By that time I was finished gathering soiled newspapers and nearly done putting down clean ones, so I let her stay. She sat there and solemnly watched me. She’s not a real verbal pup, like some of the others, and all of this was accomplished in silence. I removed the plank, stepped out and got a clean fleece and put it in the box, and then sat down on the threshold to visit with the pups for a while. They were thrilled and began trying to climb in to my lap and get hugs and pets. Miss Red again gave intense eye contact, climbed into my lap and up to my face and gave kisses. Miss Green, Miss Pink and Mr. Yellow were content to sit beside me and watch me. Mr. Blue and Miss Gold gave me much better eye contact than they did last night. Today it was Mr. Blue who was tugging at my pant leg. I eventually got the ball away from Spirit and she let the pups nurse as she stood beside me getting some petting for herself. When everyone was happy, I got up and left them together.

The pups are beginning to notice Spirit as a person rather than just a milk bar. After nursing, they’ll cuddle or look at her face and interact a bit. They now also see her as a mountain to climb. I have not yet seen anyone make it all the way over her to the other side, but they’ve come close. They’re also trying to nurse while she’s standing.  They’re still a tiny bit small to do it gracefully and easily.

29 Days Old (7/30) The pups were sprawled contentedly outside when I brought their breakfast just as it got light. They must have enjoyed their first night outside! They ate really well too! I left their food out for 30 minutes then put Spirit back in with them.

When I went out to get Spirit for her ball session, one pup came running up, barking. It was Miss Pink. Cute, I thought. I opened the gate for Spirit and here came Miss Pink, insisting on accompanying us. I tried to get her to go back but she was adamant. Usually they’ll follow a few feet, get scared, and turn back to the safety of the yard they know. Not her! She kept coming. She followed me past the deck and nearly to the gate out into the exercise area, when I finally picked her up and carried her so she didn’t overdo it. She was quite pleased and gave me kisses as we walked way out to where my chair was in the early morning shade. Spirit was not too happy. I put her down and began throwing the ball for Spirit. Miss Pink tried to follow her but of course was way too slow so she came back to me and very clearly asked to be picked up. She gave me super eye contact for a bit and then began kissing me all over. Then she began chewing on the ChuckIt with the ball that I was holding across my lap. When Spirit returned with the ball, she wanted down and raced towards her but Spirit was gone again. So she came back and asked to be in my lap again. This went on for about 5 minutes, then she decided that was fine and began exploring around the shade-giving tree, trying to catch Spirit each time she came back with the ball but following less and less as she got the idea. Once, as Spirit lay there mouthing the ball and catching her breath, Miss Pink went up to her and kissed her face, rubbing her nose along Spirit’s face and cuddling.

I use two balls with Spirit, throwing the second one when she drops the first. One time she dropped the ball right in front of Miss Pink and the puppy noticed it as it rolled. From then on she didn’t pay much attention to either Spirit of me but followed the ball as it rolled and pounced on it. If it didn’t roll I would nudge it so it moved. She even got her mouth around the ball once but it was too big and heavy for her to pick up. She played happily the rest of Spirit’s 15 minute play time and would follow the rolling ball for nearly 2′, which is super good for a pup this age whose eyes aren’t yet working well. In fact, she was miffed when I picked it up and said we’re done. I had to move my chair to some better shade that was developing as the sun rose higher, about 40′ away from where we were. She happily walked with us till I put the chair down and then headed with us back to the house some 80′ away. I didn’t make her walk the whole way but picked her up after a bit. I put her down just inside the puppy yard and picked up the bucket and shovel that I use for poop detail and headed toward the back of the puppy yard which is where Spirit poops. She followed us, though she didn’t chase the shovel like Mr. Yellow did yesterday. I was surprised that she wasn’t pooped out! She followed me all the way around the yard back to the puppy house before she decided to sit down and just watch.

All the pups except Mr. Yellow were lying outside on the cool ground. He came out when he heard my voice. I put up the plank to block them out and began picking up soiled papers. I realized I had forgotten to bring another bundle of clean newspapers so I left to get them. When I returned Miss Gold had climbed the plank and was back in the puppy house, looking very proud of herself. I lifted her out and she was content to wait until I finished. I removed the plank, turned on the fan as it’s beginning to heat up already, and sat on the threshold to visit for just a minute. I didn’t want to stay too long because Teena is coming from Montana to spend part of the day and play with pups. I was immediately mobbed by Mr. Yellow, Miss Red and Mr. Blue, Mr. Blue was content to cuddle beside me and give me eye contact, but Mr. Yellow and Miss Red had to get into my lap and Miss Red again had to climb up to look me right in the eyes for a bit before covering my face with kisses.

Since Miss Pink had so much fun with Sprit’s ball, I put a variety of toys, including balls, in the puppy yard so they have something to play with if they choose.
Teena arrived about 11 a.m. and visited while I did ball sessions with the remaining dogs.  She wanted to do something to help me so I showed her some weeds around the transition area in the big puppy pen that needed to be cut down before the pups moved into it. She got that finished just as I finished the last dog’s ball session (today, Cantor), perfect timing. I really appreciated being able to have one less thing on the must-do-very-soon list. After Cantor cooled down, I crated all the dogs and fed them lunch, and, since it was hot and muggy, Teena and I brought the puppies into the whelping room and put their lunch in with them. We then left for some lunch.

When we returned we brought the puppies into the living room so Teena could get her puppy fix. We put the puppy adventure box down and Mr. Blue moved back and forth through it three separate times, looking at the hanging objects, biting at them and making them move. Mr. Yellow and Miss Pink also went over there on their own and looked at things, but not as seriously as had Mr. Blue. Miss Pink and Mr. Blue had a little wrestling match complete with growls. Miss Red climbed into my lap as I sat on the floor and again crawled up to be close to my face and give me eye contact, and she held it for what seemed like forever. She ended up falling asleep in my lap. Mr. Yellow fell asleep leaning against my leg with his chin resting on the top of my leg. He slept there quite a while until Miss Pink bumped him and woke him up. Miss Gold did some really nice interacting; actually all the pups did. Miss Green and Miss Pink had a great time running down the kitchen hallway. I think all the puppies took turns trying out their newly discovered teeth on some part of my body. Ouch! I can quit soaking their kibble quite so much now–give them something constructive to do with their teeth. When they finally all crashed, we put them back in the whelping room until the heat of the day is over.

At 5 p.m. I turned on a sprinkler in the puppy yard; at 9 p.m. I put them back outside. They were quite happy to go out and I had to convince them to check out their food bowls before they started playing. I gave them thirty minutes and then put Spirit in with them for the night and all were happy. The puppy house was hot but outside, with the damp ground, was very pleasant.

30 Days Old (7/31) I heard puppies playing before daylight, enjoying the coolness. When I went out an hour later, they were crashed in the puppy house but they woke and came tumbling out for their breakfast.

It’s getting hot early this morning and all were again crashed in the puppy house when I let Sprit out for her ball session. She seemed relieved that today she’d be able to chase her ball in peace.

When we returned, they were still crashed. I had to talk to them to get them to come out so I could clean the house. I put down the plank and sat on the threshold to visit with them first instead of afterwards. Miss Red immediately climbed into my lap and up to my face and gave her usual eye contact and kisses greeting. Then she got down and Miss Gold came up, much more sedately, and did the same. The others greeted me but without the intense eye contact. They must have been really asleep because they were pretty subdued, not jostling to get to me but content to take turns. If someone else was getting attention they’d mouth one of the toys on the ground, or play a little. The only one who showed any energy was Miss Pink, who took the bottom edge of my pant leg and tugged and shook it. It didn’t last long, but that’s the first real tugging I’ve seen so far.

Miss Gold must be really smart. When I got up and stepped over the plank to start changing newspapers, she came onto the threshold but instead of trying to climb over, sat calmly and watched me. When I finished and removed the plank, she sedately walked into the house, turned around and sat on the threshold and continued to watch me as I gathered up the newspapers I’d thrown out and put them in the garbage can.

All of them were fascinated as I dumped Spirit’s five-gallon water bowl and their little low two-gallon one so I could fill them with fresh. They jumped as the water on the ground reached their feet and looked at it like it was a snake. No water demons so far; all moved away. Then they watched as I brought the hose to fill them. With two sprinklers going in still-shaded areas, I didn’t have a lot of water pressure so it was a very peaceful sound and splashing.

Since it would take a while to fill the big bucket, I carried the dirty fleece towards the house and the poop bucket and shovel toward the house. When I came back, Mr. Yellow and Miss Red had followed me out of the puppy yard but instead of going straight after me, they turned left and were exploring along the outside of the fence. They heard me returning and turned and ran happily to me. It took me a bit to convince them and Spirit to go into the puppy yard, but I finally managed to get everyone enclosed so I could start the next ball session.

We had another miserably hot day – 97 degrees and 40% humidity the one time I looked, though it felt worse than that in the late afternoon as some clouds moved over without putting down any rain. I had to donate blood at 1 and these days, with cleaning two puppy areas (whelping room and puppy house/yard), it’s a rush to get everything done, and dogs fed and me cleaned up to be anywhere by 1:30, much less 1. Thus I didn’t have a chance to bring the pups inside until about 2:30, when I got home. They were still comfortable because they had figured out to wrap themselves around the water buckets in the shade of the lilac, and of course that ground was nice and damp from my having dumped and refilled the buckets this morning. They were quite glad, though, to come into the house. I have partially opened the AC duct in the puppy room plus I totally took down the sheet that screened the gate into the puppy room. Years ago I replaced the solid door with a custom made gate for better ventilation in cases like this. When a litter is born, I hang a sheet over it to block drafts and give the moms privacy form all the other dogs who crowd at it on the outside trying to see what’s going on. Last week I had pulled it aside about half way to give a little more air into the room. Since the pups are now fully developed, Spirit isn’t stressed by the other dogs’ interest. Since the pups are now outside where the dogs can see them through the fence, privacy is no longer needed either.

Again I set a sprinkler on the puppy yard about 5 p.m. I put the pups out at 8, gave them supper, and left Spirit in her crate until about 9:30. They had a great time playing. They’ve pretty much figured out that afternoon in the AC is time to sleep, and mornings and evenings in the puppy yard are the times to run and play.

31 Days Old (8/1) I tried something new this morning. I let Spirit out, fed the puppies in the puppy house, turned on the fan and closed the door. I give them 30 minutes to eat each time before letting Spirit back in to clean up the leftovers. I’m hoping when I take her back out that they will have gone through the transition area into the puppy yard. They have not been doing that because the door is always open, but they need to learn that before they can move to the big puppy yard. I’d like to hopefully do that this weekend, but if this extreme heat continues I may leave them a little longer in the more shaded young puppy yard.

Well, it didn’t work quite as I hoped. All the puppies were still in the puppy house when I went back out. I finally convinced Sprit to go through the transition area into the puppy house, where she finished what the pups left and then came out – but with no puppies following. So I crawled in the “tunnel” and called. Four came out – Mr. Yellow, Miss Gold, Miss Red and Miss Green. The other two refused to come out. I crawled further into where I could see through the open doggie door. Mr. Blue & Miss Pink were yelling at the closed door. I called and tapped various parts of the inside of the house, sides and floor, but they refused to come. Meanwhile the other four were having a great time crawling over my legs as I knelt. I got Spirit to squeeze past me and go back into the house, but the pups still refused to come. I finally gave up, crawled out and opened the door and they came bounding out. I’ll try to do this again tonight when I feed them. Hopefully, though, the four who learned about the tunnel will show it to the other two.

The pups were crashed in the puppy house when I let Spirit out for her play session. I’m not surprised. Early this morning it was already 62 with 60% humidity; forecast is for it to get to 97. The humidity is new to us and all of us are suffering from it this summer. They stayed asleep when I returned and did poop detail. In fact, I had to call them to wake them up and get them out of the puppy house so I could change papers. I was interested to find a puppy poop all the way at the back edge of the 80′ yard; they’re beginning to explore farther away from the house – or at least follow Spirit farther.

I sat down and visited with them before cleaning the house. Miss Red did her usual prolonged eye contact/kissing my face routine, then Miss Gold climbed up and did one too. Miss Red’s greeting was quite sustained; she kept it up while both Miss Gold and Miss Green greeted me. Miss Gold did come back later and repeat the greeting and eye contact. Miss Pink gave a short greeting but was more interested in chewing on the new shoes I happened to be wearing – at least, new to her. Spirit was lying quite a ways down the yard from us, and when she got up Miss Red saw the movement and went towards her. Instead of coming to me, Spirit went out the gate and Miss Red followed her, coming back into the yard when Spirit did.

The two males were too busy wrestling to greet me until just before I got up. They sat and gave eye contact and enjoyed petting but made no attempts to get in my lap. Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold were having fun going around the base of the lilac bush where it’s damp and cool, especially investigating a little hole Spirit has dug under there. Miss Gold played most of the time while I was changing the papers but, just before I finished, came to the threshold and watched over the plank as I put down the last clean papers. When I raised the plank she went inside, turned around and came back out to watch me put the papers in the can.

As I left and closed the gate, Mr. Yellow came to visit, followed by Miss Pink. Miss Red came from the other direction, the back end of the yard, and asked for some petting through the fence before I turned away.

32 Days Old (8/2) Success! They have mastered the transition area! This morning I again put their breakfast in the puppy house and closed the door. Going out later to get Spirit for her ball session, I found no pups outside, nor did any come out as I talked to Spirit and opened the gate. When we returned, I picked up poop and then I knelt down at the entrance to the transition area, not going into it, and called them. All six came racing out, very proud of themselves, so we had a party with lots of praise. Miss Red again greeted me by begging to be picked up so she could give me eye contact and clean my face. Meanwhile, Spirit went through the transition area to clean up what they had left, and they followed her into the house. I then stood up and opened the puppy house door, fastening it open for the day, and they came tumbling out. Except for Miss Green, who raced through the doggie door and transition area and came to a screeching halt at my feet, VERY proud of herself. She got lots of praise from me.

We’re supposed to have a couple of decently cool days so I’m hoping not to have to bring them in the house during the heat of the afternoon AND to continue training them on the transition area by feeding lunch in the puppy house. I should be able to close the door when I feed them and the puppy house won’t get too hot for comfort until I return to let Spirit back in with them. It’s not even 70 degrees at 10:30 a.m. – amazing! The last few days it’s been 90 or close to it. And we have a nice cool breeze blowing as the front moves in. I didn’t even turn the fan on in the puppy house.

This break in the heat will let me try a different schedule. I’ve felt really bad for the big dogs whose exercise times have been at noon or so in this heat because it took so long to clean the puppy house. I decided yesterday that I won’t do that until afternoons or evenings so that I can finish the ball sessions earlier. It sounds like at least today and tomorrow (when I have evening dog training classes), the afternoons won’t be too miserable to be out there cleaning. I can spend a little time cuddling pups in the morning after Spirit’s ball session and more time with them when I clean the puppy house.

The front moved in and it’s barely 65 at 1 p.m. There was a big wind blowing until just a few minutes ago but now it’s peaceful, though occasionally raindrops indicate we might get some rain. I decided for their lunch to mix the meat cubes in with the barely-soaked kibble that had made some juice. That way they pretty much have to start eating more kibble rather than going for the cubes on top of it. I took it out and al six puppies came racing to greet me at the gate before I could get it open and Spirit out. I put her out and then put the food bowl on the ground in front of the puppy house and snuck into the house, putting down the plank and changing newspapers while they were busy eating. I got the whelping bed changed, new papers and new fleece down, and was working on the floor between the bed and doggie door when Miss Pink finished eating and started looking for me. She saw me inside and came to the plank, then zipped around through the transition area into the house, closely followed by Miss Green. They were quite proud of themselves. I praised them and quickly put down the clean newspapers, then opened the plank and sat down on the threshold to pet puppies as they finished eating. They definitely liked the food mix and kept going back for another bite or two, then leisurely licking their muzzles. That gave a little room for one or two puppies to visit with me without competition. Soon they would head back to the food bowl and others would come climb into my lap. Miss Red and then Miss Gold climbed up and gave really good eye contact before thoroughly licking my face. Miss Green also came up and said hi, then got back down and tried to carry the 6″ Jolly ball. Failing that, she found a big leaf and happily wandered around, holding her head high to keep it off the ground. Miss Pink again found my pant leg and tugged a bit, then both she and Miss Green decided to put all of my arm that they could in their mouths and shake. Their teeth are definitely through the gums! Mr. Yellow and Mr. Blue asked to get in my lap for a bit but weren’t interested in eye contact.

I then put their food bowl in the puppy house, with them following, and closed the door. I gave them a little more time to eat before I put Spirit back in to clean up the leftovers. It’s cool enough I think I’ll keep the door closed and let them practice coming and going through the transition area a bit more, especially if it’s going to rain. When I put Spirit back in the yard, Mr. Blue was way over to the left of the gate, about 50′ from the house, Mr. Yellow was wandering around in front of the puppy house, and Miss Pink was just coming out into the yard from the transition area. Good puppies!!!!!

Their ears had been hanging down, but now their ears are just beginning to lift up from the base, with most of the ear flapped over, but it’s a nice beginning. They’ll be up soon!

33 Days Old (8/3) It’s only 56, with 75% humidity and clouds hanging really low. I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt for the first time in months and am very glad I can keep the puppy house door closed. They greeted me at the gate when I took out their breakfast, and I could hear them playing for a while, but eventually they must have gone inside the puppy house and crashed.

All except Miss Pink came to the gate when I opened it to let Spirit out for her ball session. The five started to follow us but Miss Gold, Miss Red and Mr. Yellow soon turned back. Mr. Blue came about 15′ before deciding to turn back, but Miss Green kept following me. Finally, when she had gone a good 40′, I picked her up and carried her out to the exercise area. She didn’t pay much attention to Spirit’s coming and going but instead enjoyed being in my lap, mouthing the chair arms, giving me kisses and the getting down and exploring. Since it’s cool and cloudy today, my chair doesn’t have to be in the shade and is much closer to the area she knows, so I let her follow us all the way back to the puppy pen. She faltered a few times but when I called her, came running to catch up. She was very proud of herself.

When we got back to the puppy yard, the others pups (except Miss Pink) were out exploring in the adjoining yard. All of them followed me as I turned left inside the gate and raced around playing as I tried to pick up poop. The boys and Miss Red followed me closely, watching the shovel as it dragged behind me. They were curious but leery, especially Miss Red. They were glad when I propped it up against the fence. Miss Pink must have been deeply asleep in the puppy house because she didn’t show up into I was beginning to get worried. She was fine and bounced around to get my attention.

When I finished looking for puppy poops, I sat down on the threshold and gave them some attention. Miss Red again HAD to be in my lap, up close kissing my face for a prolonged period. Miss Gold, too, thought not for as long. All the others climbed into my lap for cuddles and loves, coming and going, but not those two girls. Miss Pink and the boys enjoyed chewing on my shoes and pant legs. When I got up to go, they all followed, flowing through the gate before I could close it. I finally had to move a couple of bodies so I could close the bottom part, then lift up the puppies who were on the wrong side of it to get all into the puppy yard. They’re about ready to move to the big puppy yard but I’m trying to wait until we get the new obstacle course finished Saturday.

I had planned on letting Spirit stay in her crate until they had had lunch but while I was typing up these notes they were making so much noise that she was almost frantic to check on them. So out we trooped to find all six at the gate, yelling at the top of their lungs. I opened the top part and she jumped in, but they kept yelling. They obviously thought they should do some more exploring. If the weather was nice I’d let them explore that next area of the yard, but not now.

Instead, I took them another meal after I finished the next exercise session (Chaos & Lively) and brought Spirit in to stay in her crate until all the playtimes were finished. I also took out a small bowl with a bit of kibble and placed it in the whelping bed since they’re spending so much time in there with the cooler weather. I’d like them to learn that puppy houses contain food before they move to the big puppy yard and Spirit begins spending less time with them.

The clouds lifted and weak sunshine appeared, so after Spirit had her lunch I put her out with the puppies and left the puppy yard gate open into the next pen, closing the gate out of that pen. That gives them double the space if they care to explore (and more places for Spirit to hide and nap if she feels like it). I had agility class at 5 and another class at 7, so I fed the puppies their third meal at 4 and cleaned the puppy house. I thought they’d be busy eating so I could get papers changed, but pretty soon little heads were popping in through the doggie door. At least I had the whelping bed changed and clean fleece down and just had to dodge them for the other section of the house. It takes forever to change papers when you keep having to lift a puppy and place it somewhere, then try to get or put down paper before another one takes the spot. Finally I finished and put their food bowl in the house, calling puppies so they knew where the rest of their meal was. All cam in through the now-open threshold (I had put up the dividing plank), but only Mr. Blue went back to eating, the others more interested in following me as I stepped out. I managed to leave, finally, with puppies yelling at the gate that I didn’t stay long enough and it was BORING in just the puppy yard. Just before I left for class I put Spirit in with them in the puppy yard since I wouldn’t be home to hear if a puppy got lost or in trouble or a varmint came close. My neighbors on that side have a big pond that the coons like.

I fed them their last meal about 9:30. This schedule seemed to work very well so I’ll continue the four meals a day. They’re getting the same amount of meat cubes as they were – 60 – but divided into four meals instead of three and with 1 cup of kibble mixed in. They’re finally beginning to eat more of the kibble at each meal, which is good, because starting on Saturday Spirit will be away from them most of the day and just in with them all night.

34 Days Old (8/4)  All the pups were in the puppy house when I took their breakfast out just about daylight. Spirit got to come into the house and have her breakfast, then hang out with me for the rest of the 30 minutes I gave them to eat. They met us at the gate as I returned her, asking out. Not yet, kids, let’s let it warm up a bit before you’re in the longer (very wet) grass. I’m hoping to before the weather turns hot again, but today with the cool weather the grass won’t dry off early enough to make it feasible. Hopefully Saturday if we get the obstacle course set up in time.

When I opened the gate for Spirit to have her ball session, the boys met me there with enthusiasm. They followed all the way out to the exercise area, Mr. Yellow a bit more confident than Mr. Blue, both boys coming when I called them. We had so much rain this spring that my yard was a quagmire and I had to shovel a truckload of gravel everywhere that he dogs walk, which includes both direction from the back steps–right to two sections of yard and then the puppy yard, left to the exercise area. So far all of the pups have balked when they got to the big pieces of gravel, because they don’t like the feel of it, but all have gingerly followed me, picking their way carefully and racing happily once they reach the grass. The boys were no exception.

We had a cool night (hurrah!) and it’s still a little nippy, so my chair is in the sun only perhaps 50′ from the gate out of the back yard into the exercise area, not way out like it was when Miss Pink came out with us. The boys followed to my chair and, when I sat down, Mr. Yellow asked to be lifted up into my lap, where he happily washed my face and talked to me. Mr. Blue preferred to remain on the ground and be petted there. Both boys explored a bit, watched Spirit race back and forth, noticed the ball when she dropped it, and enjoyed their 15 minutes with me. Mr. Yellow asked a second time to be lifted up so he could give kisses and then lay quietly over my arm, just grunting a little each time I had to lift the Chuckit to throw Spirit’s ball. He lazily kissed my arm from time to time and turned his head to look in my eyes, eventually resting his chin on my arm and contentedly lying there until it was time to go.

The other four pups had been exploring the yard adjacent to the puppy yard and came past its gate to meet the other two and follow me back. I had a hard time doing poop detail with so much help, including Mr. Yellow who not only followed the shovel this morning but put both front feet on it and tried to stop it. Miss Pink noticed I had new tennis shoes on and followed me trying to untie the laces, which she accomplished on one shoe. Poop detail done (lots more puppy poops to pick up, a sign they’re definitely eating more kibble), I visited with pups for a bit – Miss Gold insisting on being picked up so she could give me eye contact and kisses – but not a whole lot because they have company coming this afternoon. Since the sun is shining and it’s a glorious day, I decided to leave the puppy yard gate open and let them enjoy the adjacent yard.

Spirit and I had trouble leaving, though. All the girls followed me to that gate, also a double gate. (The boys had crashed after their strenuous exercise.) Unfortunately, I haven’t needed to remove the rod holding the two sections together for a long time and it wouldn’t move to let me open the top part while the bottom section kept the puppies inside. So I had to go back to the gate from the back yard into the front yard, which is one corner of the puppy yard. The puppies barreled along with me, and woke Mr. Yellow who joined them, so I had to open the top part of that two-section gate to escape, the walk all along the side of the house, around the north edge and back alongside until I got to the other gate where I left the poop bucket and empty food bowl. Years ago I had most of my gates made in two sections because in the winter we’d get so much snow, always on a working day when I couldn’t shovel before leaving, that at least I could open the top part and step over and the dogs could jump over. The bottom section is 1′ – 2′ high, the newer gate having 2′ bottom sections because it worked so well for containing puppies and by the time they’re six weeks old the can climb over a 1′ gate. I put Spirit in her crate in my bedroom. I’m starting to do that for a couple of hours so the pups get used to her being away.

35 Days Old (8/5) A cool, wet front moved in during the night. I woke up to a damp world, and about 7:30, it started thundering. I had hoped before Bob and Marlene came to finish ball sessions and mow what I couldn’t get to yesterday: the adjacent yard the puppies are using plus the front yard, which is accessed from the adjacent yard (putting the puppies in the puppy yard while I mowed). Puppies were again irritated that I didn’t sit down and cuddle when I brought their breakfast, but I was running late rotating big dogs. I promised them I’d cuddle later when I changed their bedding.

It was raining lightly when I opened the gate for Spirit’s ball session. No puppies in sight, so she had a puppy-free playtime. Still no puppies in sight when we returned so I was able to do poop detail on the big yard plus the puppy yard before someone heard us and came out of the puppy house. Since it was sprinkling lightly, I decided to change the papers and fleece and then sit down on the papers inside the puppy house for our cuddle session. The changing took forever because all six were wanting me to sit down. Miss Pink was awful, grabbing my arm or hand and crunching down hard with her teeth. I finally had to correct her, so we’ve now had our first “no bite” lesson. It did seem to tone her down a notch. I finally got it done and the soiled papers in the garbage can and, lo and behold, it quit raining. So I folded the dirty fleece in half and put it on the threshold and sat down on it to be mobbed. Miss Pink promptly found the tail of the long-sleeved shirt I’m wearing over my t-shirt (and under a light rain jacket) and had a great time tugging her heart out. She was joined by Miss Red, who had so much fun that she nearly forgot to climb u and give her signature kissy session. Instead, it was Miss Green who gave eye contact and kisses for a good 5 minutes before she was sidetracked by Miss Pink grabbing her madly wagging tail and biting down hard. Miss Gold gave lots of eye contact and kisses, too. Miss Pink got diverted to my shoes and busily chewed on the toes and, eventually, shoelaces. Mr. Blue worked on them, too. They got both laces untied, the monsters. Then Miss Red finally got tired of tugging and climbed up for a prolonged interaction with me. Mr. Blue sat by my side and gazed lovingly at me and enjoyed caresses. Mr. Yellow cuddled against my leg and eventually rested his chin on my shoe and dozed off. About that time it began raining again so I got up, put Mr. Yellow on the clean fleece, and closed the puppy house door. Only two pups followed me to the gate, Miss Pink and Miss Gold, and I was able to slip through and shut it before they got out. I headed for the house with their irritated yells filling my ears, but they soon turned back and hopefully got into the transition area or puppy house before they got wet.

Bob and Marlene came with the pieces of the puppy obstacle course this afternoon. We spent time putting the various pieces where they would go and I realized my inability to do puzzles has once again reared its ugly head. The setup is much wider than my old one, mostly because the lumber yard cut the connecting ramps between the high and low platforms to 6′ long when I had planned on 2′ at most. We played around with the setup for quite a while and came up with two options. One would be to cut off a bunch of lower branches on one side of the pine tree and butt one high platform against it. The other is to set it up in the treeless area close to the puppy house, with the disadvantage that that pups it in a watered lawn area with grass that has to be mowed all year as opposed to the back part which needs little mowing once the rains end. We took photos and e-mailed them to Steve so he could be pondering the best thing to do – either cut the connecting ramps in half to get the width of the obstacle course to fit the back area or put it in the open area and put some kind of backing on the high platforms since there will be no tree branches to discourage jumping off. Bob and Marlene say Steve is a magician at problems like this so I’m looking forward to what we end up doing. We spent so much time on problem-solving that Marlene only got to give the puppies a hurried hello, but I’ll make sure she has plenty of time to cuddle them tomorrow.

Friends from Billings, Rebecca and Dan, stopped by on their way home from a trip to Denver to see the puppies. We had a great, though short, visit and the puppies thoroughly enjoyed still more company.

Miss Green’s ears are halfway up from the base, much more than the others’.

36 Days Old (8/6) When I fed the pups at 6 this morning, I left Spirit away from them until after her ball session. When I opened the gate, Miss Pink, Mr. Blue and Miss Green came to greet me in the big yard. Miss Pink followed me all the way around as I did poop detail, very interested, watching as I set down the bucket, picked up a poop and put it in the bucket, then following me to the next one. The others were too busy chasing Spirit to pay me any attention, but Miss Pink never left me.

Spirit allowed them to nurse a little but is definitely avoiding them, so it’s time for her to be away from them for most of the day, or at least when I’m home as long as the have to stay in the young puppy yard. I sat down and visited with them. Miss Red, Miss Pink and Miss Green all had to have their in-your-face kissing session. The other three were way too busy untying my shoelaces to be bothered. I had double tied them this morning but they still got both of them untied. As we exchanged pleasantries (and they attacked shoes) I exchanged their Velcro collars for real collars.

I then put in their yard some of the boxes that my dry dog food comes in. Those boxes, stacked three high eventually though at first singly, make a great climbing place for the pups, where they enjoy playing king of the mountain until the boxes eventually collapse, then they begin shredding them (at which time I remove them). They were immediately interested – but not interested enough to ignore me leaving and several chased me to the gate. Mr. Blue was the only one who hung around as I securely closed the gate. No one yelled, though, so I think they must have headed back to their new toys. Anyway, the boxes totally diverted them from noticing their collars and scratching at them because they feel so much different.

Steve arrived, took one look at how we’d set up the obstacle course, and said why don’t we reverse it, put the low platforms by the tree and the high ones in the open? The three of us just stood there with our mouths open. In all our trying to figure possibilities yesterday and last night, none of us ever thought of that. I was concerned that a mother dog might try to jump out over the 7′ fence from the 3′ high platform, but I have one more 2′ section of fencing and Steve will add that to the fence where the high platforms are close. We’ll put a little barrier on the edges of the high platforms since they won’t be by the tree, to block any pup (and it’s always a male who thinks he’s superman and jumps off high places, never a female who looks before she leaps).

Marlene had a great time playing with the puppies whenever the guys didn’t need us to do something. She’d play and visit with them until they crashed, come back to the project for a bit, then go back to play again when they woke up. The weather was amazing. It never got above 68 degrees and, though nearly all day we had low clouds and no sun, none of the forecast thunderstorms materialized–a fantastic day for all our hard work.

This is going to be a work of art. The guys are actually using levels, and they buried the big platforms 6″ so they’d be exactly 3′ high. Sure will be different from my cobbled together efforts. They angled the line between the two low platforms so they could use the 6′ ramps between them and their associated high platform. This is going to be a huge playground for the pups, totally different from my envisioned two levels side by side. The area it takes up is probably 30′ square.

We got it put together and invited Berakah, who did agility competition until she injured a leg, to try it out. Good thing we did! When she went over the swinging bridge, the platforms came partially up out of the ground. Granted, puppies weigh a lot less, but the mother dog will be in with them, too, so the guys thought a bit and added 2 x 4’s on the ground attached to the legs. It didn’t have enough sway to it, so they guys took the 1″ x 6″ boards off the straps and cut them into 1″ x 3″ boards. When we attached them to the straps we put a 1/4″ chip between the each board before screwing them onto the straps. Narrower boards with spaces between made the bridge nicely flexible.

I also thought the bridge was too steep where it attached to each platform. The cedar boards are slick and I didn’t feel the pups would have enough traction to get up and would just jump of the sides. We brought Miss Pink to try it out. She was stressed by being there alone, so we added Miss Red. Though both tried, they couldn’t negotiate the climb. We took out three boards and the angle lessened dramatically, so we brought out a couple more pups (I think Mr. Yellow & Miss Gold) to try again. They could negotiate the entire bridge from one high platform to the next, so we were in business.

Steve called it a day and left, but Marlene and Bob wanted to try all the puppies on the obstacle course so we brought them all out and had a great time. We got some “Are you absolutely crazy?” looks from the pups, but once they got used to it they began having fun. It helped that Marlene got on one of the low platforms and walked down the ramp to show them what to do. They followed her, go the idea, then began climbing up and down and playing. We also showed them how to do the slide, which they didn’t like at all at first. We laughed and laughed and laughed and had a great time. They got the idea and soon were trying to climb up the slide, especially Miss Gold.

We then put them into the puppy yard, lifting them over the gate into the adjacent big yard that they have claimed for their own. Marlene and Bob left, and I had just enough time to shower and make it to Mass. Before I left I offered them their late-afternoon meal. They hadn’t moved from the gate but were piled in a heap. I called and tried to get them to come into the puppy house where flies wouldn’t bother the food, but they were so tired they didn’t even get up to come to me. A couple of them just opened an eye. I put the food bowl down right in front of the puppy pile and Mr. Blue and Miss Gold got up and began eating, but the others didn’t stir. After fifteen minutes I put Spirit in with them and cleaned up all they hadn’t eaten.

At bedtime I checked them and they were moving but slowly, but only three came when I called. That worried me so I walked around, calling and calling. Finally the other three came out of the adjacent yard where the outside light doesn’t shine. I think they were curled up under the big juniper bushes, sound asleep. When my heart quit pounding, I left them to get a good night’s sleep. I didn’t hear one peep all night long.

37 Days Old (8/7) They were back to normal this morning when I carried their breakfast to them.

Spirit is now in her crate all morning, so we just went out for her ball session without opening any puppy gates. When we finished, I opened the gate and began poop detail. The pups saw me and came running. Five of them also saw Spirit and latched on to her to nurse, but Miss Red was only interested in me. She kept asking to come up so she could give me kisses. I lifted her up for a moment then put her down so I could get poop picked up without a lot of “help”. She followed me all around, everywhere I went, quietly, obviously waiting. As soon as I sat down on the threshold, she climbed up into my lap and began giving kisses and pressing her body against me. Miss Green came, then Mr. Yellow. Miss Gold was too busy figuring out how to extricate a big stick from between the garbage can and the fence. She persevered until she managed it, then carried it around proudly for quite a while. When she tired of her trophy she climbed into my lap for some serious kissing. While all this was going on, Miss Pink and Mr. Blue were following Spirit around on the other side of the puppy yard fence. Miss Pink noticed I had just put out along the fence line a BIG cardboard box, probably 2′ wide x 2′ high and 5′ long. She had a great time going in and out of it. Finally she came into the puppy yard and climbed up for her morning cuddles and kisses. Mr. Blue realized he was alone and began trying to climb through the fence and yelling. He was loud enough that Spirit went to check on him, then returned closer to me. He kept on yelling so I finally asked her to go lead him, so out she went, made contact, then turned and ambled along to the gate and inside. He yelled for a while but finally followed her into the yard and made a beeline to me for attention. Miss Pink meanwhile had gotten down from my lap and was pulling on my pant leg, shaking it and growling fiercely.

When I got up to clean the house, I had a lot of help. Miss Pink trouped in first and grabbed my pant leg again, but soon decided she needed to snack on the bowl of kibble in the whelping box. Miss Green came in and began eating, too, then Mr. Yellow and then Mr. Blue. Miss Gold came in just as I finished the whelping bed and put down the clean fleece, and she began attacking the fleece, grabbing a corner and shaking it and pulling it around the bed. Mr. Yellow found one of the slick, half-page ads that I had thrown out with the soiled papers as I opened clean papers to put on the floor. He had a great time carrying it around all over. I don’t use the slick ones because they aren’t absorbent and it definitely had a new feel and taste which fascinated him. Miss Pink came in as I cleaned the last area and picked up a dog toy, one of those rubber things formed like a stick. Someone had earlier carried it into the house and left it. She had a terrible time figuring out that she couldn’t get out the door with it when she carried it crosswise in her mouth. Eventually, probably by accident, she approached the door at enough of an angle that she could squeeze it out. She had a great time parading with it outside as I finished the cleaning and shut the puppy house door. They were all busy enough that they didn’t follow me as I left.

I changed papers in the rest of the house with Miss Red helping, then left to fill a bucket so I could bring in fresh water. When I returned, only Mr. Blue came in the house with me. He watched as I poured the water into the bowl and went over to sample it.

Got in the house and all of a sudden a puppy was screaming so I raced out to check. It was Mr. Blue, on the outside of the puppy yard fence, yelling because the others were inside the puppy yard. He is having a harder time than the others learning to go around to get to the gate or where he wants to go. I left without him seeing me. He has to figure it out on his own. The noise stopped as abruptly as it began so I’m sure he quit yelling and used his brain.

Mr. Blue and Miss Green each have an ear really working at coming up. So cute!

The pups had two sets of company today. Around noon, Laurie came by while I was still exercising the big dogs and spent about 30 minutes sitting on the ground in the puppy yard loving on them until they finally all crashed. Then at 4:30 Julie and her seven-year-old daughter, Eloise, came and spent an hour doing the same thing. This time I was able to also sit on the ground and have puppies tumble all over me. Miss Red continues to be by far the most social, needing to get close to each person she meets to give eye contact and kisses. Miss Gold and Miss Green are also super social, followed by Mr. Yellow. Miss Pink and Mr. Blue are slightly less so, though Mr. Blue is giving very nice contact. His interactions with people are shorter before her wanders off, but he comes back often to visit. Miss Pink, as usual, gives enthusiastic greetings, tries her teeth out on body parts, wanders off the get into something, comes back, a real tease. She’s usually one of the last to crash, which was true again yesterday. We laughed as she went to each slumbering sibling and pounced on them, with ensuing short battles as they protested indignantly. They were again too tired to eat their late afternoon meal but were quite ready for their last-of the-day offering.

The agility matting for the puppy obstacle course arrived tonight, or at least the original order. I’ll have to order more since the obstacles are more intensive than I originally planned. Marlene and Bob, and possibly Denise, will come tomorrow night and help put this first batch of matting on and then I’ll move the puppies into the big puppy yard where it is.

38 Days Old (8/8) Spirit must have been hiding from her puppies long before I let her out at daybreak and gave the puppies their breakfast. When we returned after Spirit’s ball session, the puppies were so ravenous they totally ignored me in favor of nursing on Spirit. Their breakfast bowl only had 4 pieces of kibble left, and those were pressed into the side and they hadn’t been able to get them. By that time the pups had drained Spirit and three came checking on me – Mr. Blue attaching to my pant leg and pulling vigorously as I tried to walk – while the other three raced around in the big yard, playing with lots of accompanying noise. I sat on the threshold and Mr. Blue immediately detached from my leg and came up to visit, giving nice eye contact. Miss Pink came roaring up to me and launched her teeth at my arm. Ouch! That hurt. She was insulted when I corrected her, sat looking at me a bit, then came nicely and relatively gently put my hand in her mouth, kissing with teeth. Miss Gold climbed into my lap and gave me a short kisses/eye contact greeting but soon got down to wrestle with Miss Red, who for once didn’t give me much attention. Those two quickly entered the whelping bed and head for the bowl of kibble, diving in. I’ll add extra kibble to their 11 a.m. feeding and keep a closer eye on the bowl to be sure they don’t run out of “snacks.” No one was paying me much attention (all that visiting yesterday perhaps?) and I want to get back to our afternoon housecleaning, so I got up, closed the door on the busily crunching pups, and left. Miss Pink was the only one who noticed and she came nearly to the gate with me before becoming distracted. No one yelled, either. Interesting. That’s fine with me because at 3 my friend Cathy O is coming to check them individually for drives. That will be an intense time for them, their first experience of being without their littermates for any length of time.

This morning I scheduled all their excursions. Once they’re five weeks old, they begin visiting the nursing homes, a senior daycare and the children’s library. This Thursday (the 10th) at 1:30 they go to Sheridan Manor, one of our nursing homes. Next Tuesday (the 15th) at 1:30 they go to Westview, the other nursing home. Thursday the 17th at 10 a.m. they go to Daybreak, the senior daycare. This will be an outdoor visit in their new fenced yard. Friday the 19th at 3 p.m. they go to the children’s library. I normally go to the children’s library on Friday afternoons with a big dog for the Reading Dog program. That’s a program where kids who are having trouble reading read to a therapy dog, which helps them learn they can read, and enjoy reading, because the nonjudgmental dog was so interested in them as they read. When I have a litter of pups, we schedule a Puppy Playtime instead.  On Tuesday they also have their vet visit for health check and first vaccination.

I take different toys each time and all the seniors enjoy watching the pups play and snuggling them on their laps, even if only for short periods as the pups usually want down to run and play. The library visit is a hoot: they invite all the young children who frequent the library to come for puppy playtime. This started when we began the Reading Dog program, where children sign up for times to come read to a therapy dog on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons (Monday’s is a standard poodle and Wednesdays a Chihuahua). Once the children’s librarian got to know me and my dogs, she asked me to bring my litters in and it’s very popular with children and their moms. Last litter, in the hour we were there, I think we had 40 kids playing with the 9 puppies in the theater in the children’s library, some for the whole time, others coming for a while and leaving and new ones taking their place. The theater has a stage, a floor area and big deep steps rising up where the children sit to watch performances but when we come, where they climb up and down, followed by puppies. The steps are about 6″ high, a struggle for puppies to climb but they manage it eventually, and three feet deep.

When Cathy came, we set up an area in the living room and put down several toys – some stuffed toys, a latex Cuz ball and a couple of fuzzy Chuckit balls, none of which the pups had seen. We brought them in one at a time, trimmed their nails, played with them, and then weighed and wormed them. Mr. Blue continues to be the largest, at 10# even, followed by Miss Gold at 9# 10 oz and Mr. Yellow at 9# even. Miss Pink and Miss Red were both 8# 10 ounces, and Miss Green was smallest at 8# 8 ounces.

The pups’ reactions were very interesting. Miss Green and Miss Gold were on fire, very intense, totally unworried about being alone with a stranger. They’ve only been in the living room once so that was pretty new too, most visitors opting to sit on the grass and play with pups. Miss Pink and Mr. Yellow, on the other hand were VERY stressed. Miss Pink finally played some but Mr. Yellow never would so we ended his session very soon. Miss Red and Mr. Blue were in between the two extremes, a little tentative in the new place but played, especially Mr. Blue once he relaxed. They generally liked the fuzzy ChuckIt tennis ball and the soft toys but didn’t like the little latex Cuz ball, which I found interesting because they have several latex toys in the puppy yard and carry them so one would have thought they’d like this one. Here are Cathy’s notes on each pup in the order we did them, which was determined by who came to the gate and volunteered when I went out each time.

Miss Green:  Not shy. Quick to start going go after each toy and moved fast. Fetched the ball back to me. Shook toys. Followed (chased) the tennis ball a long distance, a good 6′. Good (deep) mouth on ball. Didn’t give up. Licked the stuffed toys. Some eye contact. Tried to take toys to Cel.

Miss Pink:  A little shy and shivered. Slow to start going after balls. Found soft “pancake” toy and didn’t let go even with me tugging. Some shaking of toy. Liked to stay close to me. Didn’t go to Cel (or even act like she knew Cel was there). Good eye contact during “pancake” toy tugs.

Mr. Blue:  Not shy. Liked both balls. Liked to pounce on balls, good (deep) mouth, wanted to keep toys to himself. Fast mover. Not as interested in other toys but did slight tugging with soft German Shepherd toy. Licked the stuffed toys. Liked to use feet a lot – swatted toys, got feet on them.

Mr. Yellow:   Quiet, some shivering. Little interest; sat by me or in place by himself. No eye contact. No play.

Miss Red:   Good eye contact. Not anxious to explore. Went after fuzzy ball slowly. Mouthed the Cuz ball. Used her body on the toy once. (Cel’s note: she didn’t mention Miss Red’s usual eye contact.)

Miss Gold:  Licked the stuffed dog. Put her whole body into play and going after tug toys. Fast and coordinated. Good bite on soft toys. Some head shaking. Not much interest in balls. Used paws a lot. Some eye contact.

39 Days Old (8/9) Miss Green’s left year is up! And the right one nearly so. It stands up if she barely tilts her head or when she moves, so it may be up by the end of the day. It wasn’t up at daybreak when I took their breakfast out. Mr. Blue’s right ear is nearly up.

All the pups greeted Spirit and me at the gate after Spirit’s ball session but only four found and followed me around after they nursed on Spirit a bit. Mr. Blue was very interested in the shovel and followed it closely, talking to it several times. Miss Pink raced up and pounced on it and then went away. Miss Green watched it but never got real close, and Mr. Yellow just wanted some loving this morning. All that activity did make it very difficult to see those small puppy poops and pick them up, but I got it done. I then sat down on the threshold and we had our morning love in. Miss Green was ecstatic and prolonged in her greeting, Mr. Yellow and Mr. Blue were more muted but gave some great eye contact and Miss Gold gave lots of kisses, eye contact and body presses. Miss Red finally quit following Spirit around and came racing and leapt into my lap for her customary greeting. Miss Pink gave some nice eye contact but was too busy to get in my lap; she grabbed the top sheet of newspaper from one of the sections in the puppy house and carried it proudly out into the transition area, head stretched high to try to keep from stepping on it as she drug it beside her. I’ve been seeing papers in the transition area and in front of the puppy house for several days but this is the first time I caught someone in the act. She played outside a bit and just as I was starting to get up went racing through the transition area and began rooting in the papers, probably to grab another sheet.

They ate all of their dry kibble overnight so a little later I carried out some more. Of course, Spirit could have needed an evening snack, but I was glad to see that because they were too tired to eat when I went to bed. As soon as I filled the bowl Miss Pink went to it and began eating.

After I finished all the ball sessions, I went to work cleaning the puppy house in the big puppy yard, moving everything I’ve stored in there since the last litter, sweeping, putting down newspapers. I then brought Spirit out and put her and the puppies in the big puppy yard. They didn’t seem really upset, probably because they’ve walked through it several times as we’ve introduced them to the obstacle course. While they were exploring, I brought their fleece from the young puppy house so the familiar smell would be comforting in the new surroundings. I also moved all the water bowls and some of the toys plus the big cardboard box, and put out a kiddie trampoline and a wooden kiddie swing. I have a kiddie tunnel but I didn’t see it; have to remember where I stored it. I then left for Mercy’s obedience class.

When I returned and took out their afternoon meal, all was peaceful. In fact, they were all sprawled contentedly in the puppy house, having gone in there on their own, probably following Spirit who of course knows the puppy house from when she was a baby. I removed Spirit and put down their bowl, and they moved immediately to eat. I’ve always found that a nap and a meal in a new place makes it “home” and they’re just fine from then on.

I had a little over an hour before my next class and kept an ear out for upset puppies, but all was quiet. Before I left I checked on them and they were still hanging out in the puppy house. I put Spirit in with them and left.

When I returned, they were outside way back in the puppy yard by the obstacle course and came running, happy and relaxed, as soon as they heard my voice. I took Spirit out and left them for about three hours by themselves in their new digs before feeding them again. They again were outside and came to the gate. This setup is confusing to the pups at first. They can go two ways out the closed in transition area, turning left into a three sided protected lounging area or left to the gate. They have to learn to turn away from me at the gate, go into the closed transition area, and go into the puppy house to get their meal. Tonight I picked them up one at a time and transferred them into the puppy house through its door, which in this big puppy yard opens to a piece of my yard just off the deck rather than into the puppy yard as did the young puppy house.

At bedtime when I put Spirit in with them they were in the puppy yard behind the puppy house and came running all out to greet us.

40 Days Old (8/10) All was peaceful when I took out their breakfast. They were lounging in the transition area and again came to the gate so I had to lift them over the gate and into the puppy house to their food bowl. Probably this afternoon I’ll begin going into the puppy house and calling them, teaching them to go away from the gate to come to me. It’s a difficult concept and some litters figure it out more easily than others. They (or Spirit) cleaned up the bowl of dry kibble overnight so I put more out.

Miss Green’s right ear is up, though slightly tipped at the top.

Berakah and Hesed have the first play session each morning. After they tire of the ball throwing, I do the poop detail in all the yards except the puppy yard. Today I noticed as we entered the back yard, that Hesed stood very still, then rushed at the puppy yard fence with a woof. Puppies scattered. They had heard my voice and were coming to the fence to say good morning. I noticed Miss Pink and Mr. Yellow slinking, bellies nearly to the ground, as they raced to the safety of the lounging area, while the other four just ran with normal body posture. From her body posture I figured this was not a first-time occurrence; she acted gleeful as if she has perfected her technique, standing motionless so the pups didn’t notice her, then racing to the fence and practically laughing aloud as they scattered. This may be the cause (or a big contributing factor) of the stress that Miss Pink, and especially Mr. Yellow, have suddenly been expressing. A few times I had noticed them run away when I came towards the young puppy yard with meals, but hadn’t thought much about it since at this age their eyes are maturing and they’re beginning to see at greater distances, and it takes them a while to get used to seeing movement from a distance. Now I suspect Hesed has been “attacking” for several days. Anyway, I fell on her like a ton of bricks and let her know I was upset, took away her ball, which she loves to entice me to throw as I pick up poop, and generally ignored her. I will start closing the gate to the back yard whenever she is out. That will protect the long side of the puppy yard where the puppies are closest to a fence. I can’t bar her from the narrow bit of fence at the gate to the puppy yard, or the length along the fence between the puppy yard and ball throwing area, but I’ll bet her major pestering has been on the length of fence I can block. All the other dogs are either very good with the puppies, lying down by the fence to give kisses, or just ignore them, so they should soon work through this setback. Hesed was not raised here; she is one I bought and from a breeder who doesn’t do much with the pups before they go; they pretty much stay in one pen all their lives until they leave. She didn’t have the upbringing that mine do so I’m not surprised that she doesn’t visit with the babies but has invented a game. Grrr… My pups all get to interact with my older females and Chaos, who is fantastic with babies, as part of their socialization. The younger ones, under two years or so, tend to want to play and play too roughly, so I don’t let them with the pups though they do a lot of fence visiting.

When I took Spirit out for her ball session, I opened the puppy gate and called. All six came racing out and followed me out to my chair. They had a great time chasing Spirit way out as I threw the ball, long past the back flowerbeds. They did about six circuits before they started tiring, that is, the girls did. The boys tired after the first one and lay under my chair chewing on my shoes. At different times Miss Red, then Miss Gold and Miss Green tried to climb up into my lap. They can’t quite make it yet so I lifted each one up for our kissy session. They soon wanted down. Miss Pink noticed Spirit’s ball as she dropped the one so I would throw the other with the ChuckIt, and she pounced on it. Then she grabbed it – the whole thing stuffed as deep into her tiny mouth as her jaw would open, and chased Spirit out and back a couple of times. The third time she got distracted by a tree and the weeds under it, and then by the other pups, but she never let go of the ball. They even played a little game of keep away. She held that ball at least 5 minutes until finally someone pounced on her and she dropped it to fight back. They kept trying to nurse but Spirit wouldn’t hold still, and finally they collapsed, panting. I had had my chair in the sun because it got down to 45 last night and was only very slowly warming up, but I moved it into the shade for their benefit. A couple of them weren’t going to get off the chair frame to let me move it but they finally did and everyone raced to find the coolest spot, Miss Spirit forgetting her ball in the process.

When Spirit’s session was over, they followed me to the big puppy yard and even had enough energy to “help” me look for poop. It was very hard to move with Mr. Blue and Miss Pink attacking – pouncing on and biting -. The shovel as I drug it and Mr. Yellow attached to my shoelace. I finally drug all three the length of the puppy yard and found poop at the very farthest end, proof that they wasted no time using the entire yard. Most litters take longer to do that, exploring n stages, but then these pups are five days older than usual for this move and that’s a huge difference in development, as fast as they’re growing and maturing these days.

As I moved alongside the obstacle course, looking for poop, Miss Red came thundering up the big ramp in back that still has no agility matting on it and braked on the platform even with me. She obviously wanted to be on eye level with me so I stopped and gave her lots of pets and praise. Miss Green and Miss Gold were playing on the horizontal ramp between the two lower platforms and then suddenly raced up the ramp to the other big platform and scrambled across the swinging bridge to get to me. WOW! I was impressed. Mr. Yellow continued pulling on my shoelaces, Mr. Blue continued attacking the shovel, and Miss Pink transferred to my pant leg, pulling as hard as she could, shaking her head to “kill” it and growling fiercely.

Eventually I finished the poop detail and headed to clean the puppy house. As I went out the gate, the pups followed me except for Miss Red and Miss Gold, who raced through the transition area and in through the doggie door and were busily cleaning up the little left from breakfast when I opened the door. They kept eating while I changed papers, then were joined by Miss Green. I have a baby gate across that door so I can keep puppies from coming out when I open it, and the others began yelling there, wanting in. I lifted them in and the noise ceased. All were so interested in the now-empty bowl that I decided to feed them lunch even though it’s a little early. In just the few minutes it took me to dish up kibble, and stir in the raw meat, put it into a clean bowl and carry it out, most were asleep. Oh, well, it will be there when they awake.

They slept for nearly an hour and then headed out to play. I was sitting in the shade by the fence when Miss Red, Miss Green, Mr. Blue & Miss Gold went by but it happened to be at a time when Quasi was refreshing himself by splashing for the ball in the sheep pool a ways away, so I was still and they didn’t notice me. Miss Green raised her head as if sniffing the air but evidently didn’t expect me to be there and went on. They went to the obstacle course ad commenced playing and wrestling underneath it. When Quasi came back for more ball throws, his and my movement attracted their attention and they came to the fence, at which point I talked to them and waggled fingers through the wire. When his time was up, I got up and headed to the house, and Miss Green followed me along the fence and then to their gate and yelled when I went inside rather than turned to pet her. By the time Quasi’s five-minute cooling off period was over and I returned outside with Mercy for her ball session, Miss Green had collapsed somewhere. The other three had returned to under the obstacle course and were still playing. Eventually they noticed ball activity again and came to visit through the fence for a while before wandering off. They clearly said that fence visiting was not nearly as much fun as face to face.

Laurie came to help me load pups and take them to Sheridan Manor, a nursing home only five minutes away. Brenda, Billie and Grace met us there and helped. The pups followed pretty well out the first gate that if you go right goes to our exercise area and if you go left heads around the north end of the house and then to the car. We closed that gate after we finally got all six through it – the first few times I try to get puppies to the car it’s about like herding cats. Some follow me, some double back to go with Laurie, some head back to familiar territory. With a lot of effort we got them through the second gate (again closing it eventually with all six pups on the correct side). I had three volunteers – Miss Pink, Miss Red and Miss Green – so I headed to the car, carrying Miss Pink with the other following, and loaded them. Then I went back to Laurie who was crouching down holding on to Mr. Yellow with the other two in her lap and arms. We loaded them and Laurie stayed with them while I hurried inside to let some of the big dogs out to potty and play while we were gone.

The pups whined a little in the car as they waited and a little more as we drove, though Mr. Yellow gave a continuous, loud complaint all the way. When we arrived at the nursing home, we gave them a chance to potty before carrying them into the activity room, which was packed with residents and a couple of sets of family members with children. We put down the pups and toys and my helpers began carrying pups around and holding them so the residents could pet them. The kids were on the floor and played with the pups, and I took photos. Miss Pink was not too happy about the activity and stressed a little, crouching down for a while, but recovered and both visited and played. Mr. Yellow really stressed. He began panting heavily as he was being held by a resident, to the extent that Laurie took him and put him down on the floor. He made his way to me and climbed on my lap and finally quit panting. It was almost impossible for me to take photos for a while there while he cuddled. When he calmed somewhat Laurie took him and helped a few residents hold and/or pet him, He continued to pant and was obviously stressing, so we terminated our visit after only 35 minutes (they usually go for at least 50 before all are worn out and asleep) and took the puppies home, where Spirit greeted them at the gate. We have five days before our next visit, so hopefully both he and, to a lesser extent, Miss Pink, will have matured enough to move out of this minor fear stage. I’ve never had a pup react so strongly to new experiences before and will watch them closely. If they don’t grow out of it, this reaction to stress will knock them out of being considered for working dog placements, though they’d do fine as pets where they wouldn’t face severe stress on the job.

They mobbed her as we lifted them out of the car and it took a while before she could detach and head inside my fence so we could close the gate with everyone safely inside. Then they attached again, nursing almost frantically from both hunger and the need for comfort (she hadn’t been in with them since 10:30 and it was nearly 2:30 by now). She eventually was able to detach and go a few feet towards the puppy yard before being brought to a halt again. That third time she was able to detach and trot towards the yard, with six puppies in fast pursuit. We got her, and eventually all of them, inside the gate to the puppy yard and closed the gate, leaving the family in peace. After about 30 minutes I went out quietly to check on them, especially Mr. Yellow, and they were fast asleep and Spirit was at the gate asking out.

When I took them their early supper at 5 p.m., Miss Gold left the gate, raced through the transition area and greeted me inside the puppy house before I could put down the food bowl. What a girl! I had to lift the others over the gate and into the house. The same thing happened when I took them their late super before bedtime: only Miss Gold would come into the puppy house on her own.

41 Days Old (8/11) When I took out breakfast, it was Miss Red who turned away from the gate and came racing through the transition area into the puppy house. I decided it was time to begin teaching the others so I stepped into the puppy house and closed the door, all the time praising Miss Red enthusiastically. When she was satisfied with the praise, I began calling the pups and tapping on the inside wall of the transition area. Miss Pink quickly came through, followed almost immediately by Miss Gold. After I praised them, I again called and tapped, and Mr. Yellow cane barreling in, vastly pleased with himself, followed by the other two. All were very happy at the praise and petting, enjoying it thoroughly before settling down to eat, at which I left.

When I went out to set sprinklers, with Lively, Chaos and Lovely in attendance, the puppies were reluctant to come to the fence to greet us, thus reinforcing my thought that Hesed is part of the problem. Four came right up to greet us, but Mr. Yellow absolutely would not come, and Miss Pink was obviously worried. She came halfway, then all the way to greet me and her grandmother, Lively, who was lying on her back against the fence convincing me to give her another tummy rub. She turned her head to Miss Pink and the two exchanged kisses through the fence. Then she retreated, then slowly, slowly stretching one foot at a time forward two steps then retreating one, forward then retreating, until she finally made it back to us for the same kisses from Lively and pets with fingers through the fence and tons of praise from me. She repeated this about four times, so obviously fighting her fear to interact, that I was furious with Hesed. I will definitely close off the back yard whenever Hesed is out, since that whole length of fence is closest to the open lounging area and where the pups generally spend most of their time.

When I came out with Berakah and Hesed for the first ball session, the pups came to the gate and complained when I didn’t open it so they could run out to play. They figured out the routine in just one day!

This morning when I did the regular poop detail, I shut Hesed out of the back yard. The pups came to the fence as I started along it – Miss Pink and Mr. Yellow first, a good sign!!!!! So the Hesed free zone last night DID help. Miss Green and Miss Gold did as well. All but Miss Pink followed me all along the fence line to the very end and then became diverted by the obstacle course. Miss Green raced up the big ramp and back down again and leapt on top of one of the ones on the ground (I couldn’t see whom from my side of the fence). They played while I did that far eastern area of the back yard and then followed along the fence as I headed back closer to the house. They were joined by Mr. Blue and Miss Pink. Miss Red must have been asleep because I never saw her. As I headed to the southern part of the yard I heard a Woof! and looked up to see Hesed pouncing at the pups by their gate, so I got in a good verbal correction on her. Tomorrow I think I’ll close her out in the exercise area and not let her come even into the small part of the back yard between the deck and puppy yard gate. The pest!!!

When Spirit and I came out for her ball session, the pups greeted us at the gate and immediately came bouncing out when I opened it. Mr. Yellow attached to one shoelace, My Blue attached to the other shoe, and Miss Pink grabbed my pant leg and began tugging fiercely. The other three circled around underfoot. When we got through the gate into the exercise area Miss Pink let go of my leg and raced towards her mother, followed by the unattached ones. The two boys remained attached, then Miss Pink came back and again grabbed my pant leg, so I made terribly slow progress towards Spirit and her ball. Miss Pink again chased after Spirit when I threw the ball but not as far as yesterday and soon returned. The others began wrestling and playing, except for the boys who reattached to my shoes as soon as I sat down. Miss Green asked to come up and gave me lots of eye contact and kisses. My Yellow then decided my face was better than my foot and asked up for some eye contact and loving. He was distracted by Spirit returning with her ball and slid to the ground. Miss Pink noticed Spirit drop her ball and grabbed it, but so did Miss Green and the battle was on. Miss Green won and began running around, proudly displaying the ball. She was chased by Miss Pink, Miss Red, Miss Gold and Mr. Blue and they had a wild ring-around-the-rosie game of keep away with my chair as the center. Mr. Yellow had reattached to my shoe and was biting vigorously at the toe. The keep away game lasted quite a while and ended up with Miss Green in undisputed possession as the others tired.

When Spirit’s ball session was over and I stood up, Mr. Yellow continued biting one shoe while Mr. Blue attached to the other and both Miss Pink and Miss Green grabbed the same pant leg. Miss Green eventually was distracted by Spirit walking past and ran to chase her, but she was immediately replaced by Miss Red. It was a very slow trip back. When I picked up the poop bucket and shovel at the puppy gate, Mr. Blue immediately transferred to the shovel, putting his front feet on it and pushing down with his body, all the while talking to it at the top of his lungs. It’s almost like a song or a conversation. He continued “possessing” it the entire length of the puppy yard, around the far end even as I negotiated the close corner between the obstacle courses and the fences, and all the way back. Miss Red followed and showed a lot of interest but couldn’t get close to “his” shovel. Miss Green again ran up the big ramp but I was on the far side so she ran down. She then got on one of the lower ramps and tracked a pup who was walking beneath, but didn’t pounce this time.

When I finished the poop detail and began cleaning the puppy house, Miss Pink raced through the transition area, lay down and watched me change papers. She was soon followed by Miss Green and Miss Red. The others whined at the baby gate for a bit but soon quieted and disappeared, and I found them crashed against the wall of the transition area.

They heard me come out with GloryToo about thirty minutes later and came to the gate but, when I turned left towards the exercise area, they lay back down. While Quasi was having his ball session, I could hear them growling and playing in the shade on the north of the puppy house but it wasn’t until the kitchen timer went off to signal the end of his 15 minutes that they realized I was out again. They came racing up and followed us back and then yelled at the gate for a bit as he had his 5 minute cooling off session before I crated him and got out the next dog, Mercy. I thought they’d come out when they heard us, but they crashed again.

This afternoon, when it was Spirit’s time to rotate out of the crate, I opened the top part of the gate so that she could come and go as she pleased during the hour. I thought she’d hang out with me but she never did and when I needed to let the next group out I looked for her outside. She was in with the puppies. Later, when I left to go train with our nosework group, I did the same thing, opened the top part of the gate. She had access t the air conditioned house and the whole back yard as well as the puppy yard, and again when I returned, she was in with the puppies.

When I got home from training it was starting to get dark. I didn’t pay any attention when no puppies greeted me as I called Spirit and closed their gate; I was too busy getting all the dogs in so I could feed them supper. When I took the puppies’ supper out, I nearly had a heart attack. Mr. Yellow had been asleep in the puppy house but no puppies came when I called. I put the food down, and heart pounding, wondering how in the world something (eagle, big hawk????????????) could have gotten FIVE pups with Spirit in with them, and other dogs in the exercise area on the outside fence. I walked along the fence between the puppy yard and back yard, calling and calling. I got all the way to the back, past the obstacle course, and still no puppies appeared. I was getting frantic as I walked back toward the puppy house, still calling and calling. Finally, the other five came happily racing up to the fence, followed it as I walked (praising enthusiastically!) and flowed through the transition area into the puppy house before I could get inside. It took forever for my heart beat and breathing to get back to normal after that scare. I feel like I aged 10 years. Every few years something like this happens and, even though nothing has ever happened to a pup, I always react the same way. It takes me days before I quit checking on them about three times as often. Just typing this, I can feel an accelerated heartbeat from reliving it.

42 Days (8/12) All six pups greeted me at the gate this morning, for which I was profoundly grateful. Last night was the last one that Spirit will spend with them, though I may chicken out tonight and leave her in if I’m still feeling weak from last night’s scare.

Miss Pink’s right ear is up! Miss Gold’s right ear is way up from the base. Mr. Blue’s right ear is up and down, up and down.

The pups came to the gate when I went out with Berakah & Hesed for their playtime. When we finished, I closed the gate into the yard, letting only Berakah in while I did poop detail there. The pups are much more eager now to come to the fence since I am severely limiting Hesed’s access to them.

When I went out with the next dog (Cantor is next every other day and we do his agility training during his playtime), they met us at their gate and then four – Miss Green, Miss Pink, Mr. Blue & Mr. Yellow – ran along the their fence bordering the exercise area, got to where no flowers block their view and watched us for a bit before heading over to the obstacle course to play underneath..
They must have really played while I trained Cantor because by the time I came out with Spirit, they were very slow to come to and out of the gate. Well, some were anyway. Mr. Yellow attached to one shoelace while Miss Pink and Miss Red really attacked the top and toe of the other. Ouch! I could feel their teeth through my tennis shoe.

I got out my puppy drag, which is a piece of rope I can fasten around my waist. Gunny sacks are attached to the rope and move enticingly as I move around, so the pups focus on biting and tugging on them instead of me. The only down side is that when pups are attached to the drag, it gets pretty heavy and makes it hard for me to move. All the pups liked it. Thankfully, only two were on it at any given time! Most prolonged interest came from Miss Red and Miss Pink, both of whom put their entire bodies on it and rode it as I moved around dragging it behind me. The others, except for Mr. Yellow who was still firmly attached to my shoelace, showed some interest, but not as intense as those two.

All but Mr. Blue took turns with the extra Chuckit ball, stealing it from each other, though we had no keep away games today. It’s hotter already than it was yesterday when they played, so they were content to wrestle for it mostly under my chair. When Spirit’s playtime was up, I drug Miss Red and Miss Pink on one shoe and Mr. Yellow on the other, and the others tugged on the gunny sacks.
I was surprised when I picked up the shovel and bucket that it was Miss Pink attacking it, not Mr. Blue. It wasn’t until I passed even with my chair that I happened to notice a dark heap under it – it was Mr. Blue, snoozing away. He never woke up. I had to walk out there, wake him up and carry him to the yard when I got done.

Meanwhile, Miss Pink tried to get her entire body on the shovel head, at times wrapping her front feet around the handle, all the time growling and biting at it. Mr. Yellow, Miss Green and Miss Red attached to my shoes, and the three brought me to a standstill several times. When I found a poop, I’d have to physically remove Miss Pink so that I could use the shovel to pick up the poop. It took forever to get to the end of the yard. At that point, Mr. Yellow, Miss Red and Miss Green decided they were tired and crawled under the big ramp of the obstacle course. Then I only had to deal with Miss Pink, all the way back.

Mr. Yellow was on the fleece in the puppy house when I finally set bucket and shovel down and turned to change newspapers. He must have passed us without my noticing, so focused was I on dragging Miss Pink and looking for tiny puppy poops. He watched as I cleaned up the house (Miss Pink having disappeared somewhere) and was asleep before I finished. I shut the gate, got Mr. Blue, put him in the house with Mr. Yellow, closed the door and drug myself wearily into my house. Tomorrow I’ll shut the bottom part of the gate when I let them out for playtime so I can do poop detail without help and in about 1/3 the time.

My friend Jody came this afternoon and microchipped all the pups. I carried them up the deck steps and lifted them through the doggie door into the hallway. They haven’t yet negotiated a closed flap so they stayed put a I made the necessary three trips to get all of them. When we were finished, I lifted them individually out the doggie door and went through the door onto the deck with them. No way would they try the steps down but I have a ramp covered with agility matting for my old dogs when they get feeble, and I walked down it, calling them. They soon figured out that it was like the obstacle course and came barreling down. Then I put them back into the puppy yard. As they went in, I sprinkled treats on the ground in their first introduction to searching for food. The girls, especially Miss Gold, figured it out immediately. The boys, especially Mr. Yellow, were slower off the mark. I kept dribbling treats from above until everyone was busily using noses to search out the little bits of food. As I left they were making ever larger circles searching to see if any had bounced away and been missed. All used their noses very well. Mr. Yellow seems to need a little more introduction to new things, but when he understands, he has it! He searched very well once it dawned on him to look on the ground for goodies.

Our nosework group trained again tonight. We got done a little earlier so it was still nicely light when I checked on puppies. Naturally all six came to the gate immediately and greeted me since I could have looked for them if needed. I was just very glad all was well and they didn’t give me another scare. I brought Spirit in and fed her, then left her crated all night. I gave the pups a BIG late supper.

43 Days (8/13)  All was peaceful on the pups’ first night without mom. They had eaten all their supper plus they cleaned up the dry kibble bowl. I put Spirit out with them at 6 a.m. and left her there for about an hour. She was at the gate ready to come out when I went out for her.

Miss Red’s ears are way up off the base.

All the pups came out with us when I opened the gate as Spirit and I headed for her ball session. The puppy drag is helping with some pups but not with my indefatigable ones: Mr. Yellow on shoelaces, Miss Red on the other shoe, biting down hard enough that my toes could feel her teeth, and Miss Pink attached to my pant leg and pulling hard with growls. Miss Gold and Miss Green rode the gunny sacks out to my chair, while Mr. Blue followed Spirit out. Eventually I got there and began throwing Spirit’s ball. It was interesting that today all the pups were going after the ball and everyone seemed to get pretty equal time possessing it. Miss Red and Miss Green ran around playing keep away with it – Miss Green in possession – for a bit. Mr. Yellow asked to come up in my lap and contentedly lay there. Miss Green, Miss Pink and Miss Gold visited some, Miss Green insisting on coming up in my lap, but Miss Red today was too busy playing either with the ball or tugging on the gunny sack. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mr. Blue heading to the shelterbelt, probably 20′ away, and disappearing into the chokecherry bushes and spruce trees. He was gone quite a while, happily exploring. He eventually came back and settled under my chair to rest. Just before Spirit’s ball time was up, I noticed all the pups except Mr. Blue were ranging along the edge of the shelterbelt, to the sheep pool (drawn there by Spirit jumping in to cool off), and then off behind it into a more open area on the other side of that leg of the shelterbelt. I was glad to see the exploratory behavior beginning.

I again had Mr. Red and Miss Yellow attached to my feet on the way back, with Miss Pink and Miss Green riding on the gunny sack. I fooled the pups and closed the bottom puppy gate, then stepped over it with the bucket and shovel. Ah, the yelling! They were not pleased. Several followed me along the fence, yelling. I figured one was Mr. Blue, because that was his MO last week, but when I happened to get close to the fence I saw it was Miss Gold. Mr. Yellow followed along the fence as I went out and then back, but quietly, just keeping me in sight. The others explored a little in the back yard, then found Spirit who allowed them to nurse a bit.

When I finished (so much sooner than the last couple of days!), I propped the shovel up along the fence and put the bucket up on a can to keep it out of their reach. Miss Pink raced over to the shovel and began attacking it, getting her whole body on it. She did everything she could to get it moving and kept after it, with lots of vocalization, for a long time before giving up. I then stepped over the baby gate (to protests from pups) and cleaned the house. When I was finished, I lifted pups over the baby gate into it, but as I did I noticed I was missing Mr. Blue. I finally found him u on the deck with his mom. I don’t know whether he figured out the steps or went up the ramp that he came down yesterday after the microchipping. He wouldn’t try to come down the steps so I went to the side, to the bottom of the ramp, and he raced happily down it to me so I could put him, too, in the puppy house.

I had picked up their breakfast bowl with what they hadn’t eaten, since I’m now reducing Spirit’s diet now that she’s nursing the pups less. I put it down once the pups were in the puppy house and they all began munching. They’ll probably fall asleep there after they finish the food.

Denise and Marlene came this afternoon to play with the pups, and Denise took lots of photos. They played with the pups on the obstacle course. Several of the girls went down the slide on their own. Miss Red and Miss Green went down the slide without a nudge, stepping right off. Miss Pink only needed a gentle nudge from Marlene to head down it. Spirit had us all laughing as she gaily negotiated the slide several times, too.  Miss Gold was playing under big ramp with Mr. Blue.

As they tired, I put down an old beat up kiddie pool, upside down, and put treats in it. The girls clambered in and began searching for food, Miss Gold the most determined and focused. She even went all along the rim outside searching for any treats that might have fallen there. We immediately put some there and she zoomed around the rim. Miss Red and Miss Pink noticed her and figured out that game, too. Food gone, they got out and played, but several pups, including Mr. Yellow went back and searched just in case more food had appeared, so of course we put more out.

The only one not particularly intent on the food was Mr. Blue. They had a blast!

I let Spirit in with them for a while just before bedtime, then brought her inside and left them for their second night alone.

43 Days (8/13) All was peaceful on the pups’ first night without mom. They had eaten all their supper plus they cleaned up the dry kibble bowl. I put Spirit out with them at 6 a.m. and left her there for about an hour. She was at the gate ready to come out when I went out for her.

Miss Red’s ears are way up off the base.

All the pups came out with us when I opened the gate as Spirit and I headed for her ball session. The puppy drag is helping with some pups but not with my indefatigable ones: Mr. Yellow on shoelaces, Miss Red on the other shoe, biting down hard enough that my toes could feel her teeth, and Miss Pink attached to my pant leg and pulling hard with growls. Miss Gold and Miss Green rode the gunny sacks out to my chair, while Mr. Blue followed Spirit out. Eventually I got there and began throwing Spirit’s ball. It was interesting that today all the pups were going after the ball and everyone seemed to get pretty equal time possessing it. Miss Red and Miss Green ran around playing keep away with it – Miss Green in possession – for a bit. Mr. Yellow asked to come up in my lap and contentedly lay there. Miss Green, Miss Pink and Miss Gold visited some, Miss Green insisting on coming up in my lap, but Miss Red today was too busy playing either with the ball or tugging on the gunny sack. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mr. Blue heading to the shelterbelt, probably 20′ away, and disappearing into the chokecherry bushes and spruce trees. He was gone quite a while, happily exploring. He eventually came back and settled under my chair to rest. Just before Spirit’s ball time was up, I noticed all the pups except Mr. Blue were ranging along the edge of the shelterbelt, to the sheep pool (drawn there by Spirit jumping in to cool off), and then off behind it into a more open area on the other side of that leg of the shelterbelt. I was glad to see the exploratory behavior beginning.

I again had Mr. Red and Miss Yellow attached to my feet on the way back, with Miss Pink and Miss Green riding on the gunny sack. I fooled the pups and closed the bottom puppy gate, then stepped over it with the bucket and shovel. Ah, the yelling! They were not pleased. Several followed me along the fence, yelling. I figured one was Mr. Blue, because that was his MO last week, but when I happened to get close to the fence I saw it was Miss Gold. Mr. Yellow followed along the fence as I went out and then back, but quietly, just keeping me in sight. The others explored a little in the back yard, then found Spirit who allowed them to nurse a bit.

When I finished (so much sooner than the last couple of days!), I propped the shovel up along the fence and put the bucket up on a can to keep it out of their reach. Miss Pink raced over to the shovel and began attacking it, getting her whole body on it. She did everything she could to get it moving and kept after it, with lots of vocalization, for a long time before giving up. I then stepped over the baby gate (to protests from pups) and cleaned the house. When I was finished, I lifted pups over the baby gate into it, but as I did I noticed I was missing Mr. Blue. I finally found him u on the deck with his mom. I don’t know whether he figured out the steps or went up the ramp that he came down yesterday after the microchipping. He wouldn’t try to come down the steps so I went to the side, to the bottom of the ramp, and he raced happily down it to me so I could put him, too, in the puppy house.

I had picked up their breakfast bowl with what they hadn’t eaten, since I’m now reducing Spirit’s diet now that she’s nursing the pups less. I put it down once the pups were in the puppy house and they all began munching. They’ll probably fall asleep there after they finish the food.

Denise and Marlene came this afternoon to play with the pups, and Denise took lots of photos. They played with the pups on the obstacle course. Several of the girls went down the slide on their own. Miss Red and Miss Green went down the slide without a nudge, stepping right off. Miss Pink only needed a gentle nudge from Marlene to head down it. Spirit had us all laughing as she gaily negotiated the slide several times, too.

Miss Gold was playing under big ramp with Mr. Blue.

As they tired, I put down an old beat up kiddie pool, upside down, and put treats in it. The girls clambered in and began searching for food, Miss Gold the most determined and focused. She even went all along the rim outside searching for any treats that might have fallen there. We immediately put some there and she zoomed around the rim. Miss Red and Miss Pink noticed her and figured out that game, too. Food gone, they got out and played, but several pups, including Mr. Yellow went back and searched just in case more food had appeared, so of course we put more out. The only one not particularly intent on the food was Mr. Blue. They had a blast!

I let Spirit in with them for a while just before bedtime, then brought her inside and left them for their second night alone.

44 Days Old (8/14) I again put Spirit in with the puppies first things. That seems to be working well.
Today was Cantor’s day to train so he has his session after Berakah & Hesed and before Spirit. The puppies came to the gate, sure it was their turn, and were not happy when he and I went to the exercise area without them. They ran along the fence and watched as I threw the ball for him. On his training days, I throw the ball for the first five minutes to be sure he has had a chance to potty before we enter the training field, which is beyond (east) the puppy and back yards. Then we train contacts and weaves for several minutes and afterwards return to my chair and I throw the ball the rest of his 15 minute session. The pups sat at the end of their yard and yelled while we trained. As we came out of the training area, past the end of their yard and began going along their northern boundary, all but Miss Gold raced up the big ramp and across the platform. They split there, with Miss Pink, Miss Green and Mr. Yellow running across the swinging bridge, connecting platform and down the slide, Mr. Blue and Miss Red diverting down the series of ramps to the side, and Miss Gold running under the obstacle course, all of them ending up at the fence to watch Cantor’s last ball runs. All but Mr. Blue then headed back towards the puppy house, probably for a drink, but Mr. Blue remained at the fence and Cantor went slowly over, tail wagging, to sniff noses. The two males visited until the timer went off, signaling the end of Cantor’s session.

When I went out with Spirit, I thought the pups might be too tired to attack me, but alas, his five minute cooling off time also served to recharge the monsters. Mr. Yellow immediately attached to shoelaces, Miss Pink and Miss Red attacked the other shoe, Mr. Blue got my pant leg, and the other two jumped on the gunny sack. I managed to get all of us through the gate into the exercise area, but had trouble going anywhere because Mr. Yellow and Miss Red kept moving in front of me to stop me ad they bit and tugged. It’s really hard to walk when there’s no clear area to put your feet. Mr. Yellow then transferred to my ankle and bit down hard, so we had a no-bite lesson, which is to place my hand over the top of his muzzle and press the lips into the gums/teeth on both side of his mouth. He yelped and backed off and considered things, and I moved a few more feet, but then he reattached, so we had another lesson with me applying more pressure. I made a few more feet’s distance before he quite thinking about the lesson and re-attacked my ankle with an even harder bite. I responded with a REAL correction, to which he backed off, though, and came back for more. At that time I picked him up and carried him under my arm, head and legs hanging, until we got to the chair. The girls had all moved to the gunnysack so I had a clear path to walk though a heavy load to tow.

When we got to my chair, Miss Pink and Miss Green began playing keep away with the extra ball. They ended up in the shelter belt with it and I feared it was lost, but after a while here came Miss Gold out of the brush with the ball! All the pups began running in a much larger area, exploring the shelterbelt and the open land behind the sheep pool. They’d come back, play tug with the gunnysack, visit with me, then take off again. At first only Mr. Yellow stayed with me, seeming to want to reconnect after being such a jerk. He gave some nice kisses, lay on my feet for a bit, then as if he felt enough apology had been offered, ran off to explore with the others. He, Mr. Blue and Miss Red disappeared for quite a while. The others came back and lay panting at my feet, but not them. Finally I heard some yelling that sounded suspiciously like Mr. Blue, so I called, and Mr. Yellow and Miss Red came happily running to join us. The three already there tried to jump up in my chair to make sure I knew they were there. The yelling went on for a bit, with me calling occasionally, until finally Mr. Blue came trotting out of the brush and to us.

Meanwhile, Miss Pink had been giving me lots of eye contact like she did last night, sitting a couple of feet away so she could stare at me. Suddenly she decided she need in my lap and, instead of asking up, backed up and made a tremendous leap towards me. She didn’t make it of course but I pulled her up and praised her for trying.

It had been sprinkling some so I had a plastic tarp on the ground, which I use to cover my chair when I leave it, to keep it dry. The pups all went over, investigated, walked on the edges and found a nice piece to tug and shake.

When Spirit’s playtime was up, the girls rode the gunny sack back while Mr. Blue attacked my shoelaces (thankfully not biting my ankles) and Mr. Blue tugged on my pant leg. I again closed them out of the puppy yard and picked up the bucket and shovel to go clean their yard. I had trouble getting to the half gate because Miss Pink flung herself onto the shovel and held on, trying to keep it from moving. I eventually got to the gate, stepped over, and then had to pull really hard to lift the shovel up enough that she would let go.

As I looked up after getting the shovel, I saw Mr. Blue and Miss Green climbing up and down the deck steps. Miss Gold was over at the ramp. The others had followed Spirit into the back yard and were nursing. Eventually everyone but Mr. Blue found Spirit and peacefully had a meal, but Mr. Blue, independent sort that he is, kept wandering around under the deck. When he realized he was along he again began yelling. He didn’t quit until some of the pups, seeing me come back along that fence line from picking up poop, began following me and met me at their gate. When I stepped over the baby gate into the puppy house and threw out the old fleece, he lay on it and promptly went to sleep, even with soiled newspapers cascading over him as I tossed the out of the house. Then the others decided they were ready for a nap and lined u at the baby gate, yelling, and he awoke. House cleaned, I put down their food bowl – which still had food leftover from breakfast – and lifted them into the house. Some headed for the food and others for the bed. When I returned with a newly-filled water bowl, most were settling down for a nap. I closed the door and left them to rest.
They woke up and came out to watch the last couple of ball sessions, alternating coming to the fence to visit with playing. Then I didn’t see them for hours.

After I returned from Lovely’s CGC class, I put Spirit in with them for a while, then fed them supper and all of us went to bed.

45 Days Old (8/15) Mr. Blue’s right ear is up but leaning toward the top of his head. Both Miss Green’s ears are up but the right one is tipped slightly. Miss Red’s right ear is up but also tipped a bit.

It’s raining steadily this morning so I’m not doing ball sessions. The pups should be nice and rested for their visit to Westview, the other local nursing home. They were not pleased at the quiet morning; I heard them a couple of times yelling for me at the gate.

They went to the other nursing home, Westview, this afternoon. Laurie came early so we could trim toenails before we left. It was Spirit’s turn to be out so we let her help us take them around to the car. She thought she should go and was a little miffed when they were loaded and not her. She’s bored having to stay home but I don’t want to take a chance of her going somewhere and bringing distemper or parvo virus back to her pups. I keep telling her “Soon. Soon you’ll be back in training and be going places.”

The rain let up so we could get them there dry. Hurrah! Laurie, Denise and another friend, Becci, helped me. The pups played and played for nearly 50 minutes. Mr. Yellow was Mr. Social today, happily visiting with everyone and giving great eye contact. What brought lots and lots of laughs and really intense interest from everyone was Miss Green’s, Miss Red’s, Miss Pink’s and Miss Gold’s reactions to the police car toy I have. When you push buttons, it has lights that flash and stern voices that instruct you to put your hands up and all those other common police orders. The first time someone pushed the buttons and rolled the car, they swooped down on it with great interest, putting their feet on it and checking it out thoroughly. They went absolutely bonkers, circling it, barking wildly, attacking it with teeth and paws, picking it up, carrying it and throwing it. Every time anyone pushed the buttons and started the car moving one or more pups took after it. They played and played and played, and we laughed and laughed and laughed until our sides ached.

I also took a big caterpillar stuffed toy, which they loved to bit and put their bodies on. It and some of the other toys have squeakers and the pups would race to whatever made noise, just fascinated. Miss Green, Miss Pink, Miss Red and Mr. Blue particularly liked it, while Mr. Yellow played with it a little. Miss Pink and Mr. Blue had quite a tug battle with it and with a rope toy. Mr. Yellow liked getting his whole body on it. Mr. Blue tired after a while and Miss Red stepped up to continue the tugs. Miss Green and Miss Red also got in some nice tugs with the rope. Miss Pink and Miss Green also enjoyed a silent rolling fire engine. Miss Green and Miss Gold also liked the tennis ball “dumbbell.” Miss Pink and Miss Gold had a nice tug battle over the stuffed bunny. Mr. Yellow and Miss Green picked up tennis balls and strutted while bringing them to Laurie. I have a lot of photos to edit as Denise was also taking photos.

They were pretty quiet going home. Spirit greeted us at the gate and was mobbed by the puppies as we unloaded them. With a great effort she managed to walk, usually with puppies attached, around the outside of the house and into the puppy yard, where I left her for about 20 minutes before bringing her in. The pups had about an hour to rest before we headed out again.

The pups had their vet visit – health check and first vaccination – this afternoon. I got them to the care and loaded very easily all by myself; they’re becoming pros at travel! They were pretty mellow; the vet even noticed they weren’t as busy as my litters usually are. I explained they’d been to the nursing home earlier and she laughed. I only had to rescue the little trash can from Miss Green, who had grabbed the bit of plastic liner that hung over the edge and was dragging the can around the room.

The vet squirts a little cheese on the table to divert them while she takes their temperature and gives the shot, and it’s always interesting to see the pups’ reactions. Miss Pink and Mr. Yellow were the only ones who found the cheese on their own; the others had their heads up, visiting, and we had to repeatedly tap the table to get them to put their heads down and notice the cheese. Neither male has either testicle down, though it’s still early. The inguinal canal doesn’t close until they’re about 4 months old, at which time any testicle still in the abdomen is trapped, making neuter surgery more intense. I have noticed a small umbilical hernia on Miss Gold the last few days, and the vet confirmed that it’s about 3 mm in diameter. After her difficult birth, I expected she might have one; it’s so easy to have a little too much pressure put on the cord’s attachment when a pup hangs up and then drops during birth. It will easily be closed with a stitch when she’s spayed. My vet thinks the spot between Miss Green’s eyes is a developmental scar; she says sometimes a few skin cells won’t develop properly. She was pleased that hair is growing in the middle of the bald spot and we both think enough may eventually grow to either cover it or leave just a tiny scar. Weights ranged from 10.6# (Miss Green) to 12.2# (Mr. Blue).

They were quite glad to get back into their yard for a serious rest. I didn’t hear a peep out of them for the hour afterwards, before I left to take Marlene, Bob, Steve and Denise to supper as thanks for all their hard work building the puppy obstacle course. They were livelier when I returned nearly two hours later, thinking they needed some more spoiling, but I told them they’d had enough for the day and I was going to bed, fed them and left them to get a good rest. They have tomorrow “off” to recoup and reflect on what they learned today.

46 Days Old (8/16) Both Miss Green’s ears are up this morning, as are Miss Pink’s, though one of hers still tips at the top.

When I took Berakah and Hesed out for their ball session and carried out my chair, Miss Pink was in the back of their yard all by herself. When she saw us, she raced up the big ramp, across the swinging bridge, down the slide and to the fence to greet us!

The pups were ready to play this morning! Mr. Yellow immediately attacked my ankle as I opened the gate, which hurt, but thankfully transferred to my shoe, and Miss Red and Miss Green fought over the other one. The others piled on onto the gunnysacks as soon as I put the drag on the ground and we were off (slowly, of course). They were all over the place this morning, exploring, wrestling, playing keep away with the other ball (which is now lost in the shelterbelt), coming back to visit with me. Miss Red figured out how to climb up into my lap, strong little thing that she is, and was very proud of herself, staying quite a while to give kisses and talk to me. Miss Pink wanted up but mainly to grab the ball in the Chuckit. She soon climbed down and sat a couple of feet away and stared at the Chuckit as I held it ready to throw when Spirit returned with her other ball. Miss Gold asked to come up and had a nice visit. One of Spirit’s balls took a wild bounce – probably hitting one of the barely covered rocks that “grace” my place. In the 40’s and 50’s there was a big auto race track here; the eastern edge of my place was part of the track while the rest was parking lot, so I have an awful lot of gravel and rocks that each year work up onto the surface. They do make for interesting ball chases for the dogs when the ball hits one just right. Anyway, that bounce took it into the training area, so I had to walk about 40′ to open the gate so she could go find it, then close the gate and walk back to my chair. Miss Pink and Miss Red enjoyed the ride on the drag, but Miss Green attached to my shoe and fought it every step of the way; and I mean fought it. She put her whole strength into biting down and used her body to try to stop it, sometimes in front pushing me back, sometimes to the side. She was growling like crazy and every time I lifted my foot to take a step she shook it as hard as she could and growled more fiercely. I thought I would never get to the gate – and so did the impatiently waiting Spirit, but finally I did.

Then I had the return journey to make, with Miss Green just as fiercely contesting each step. That was fight drive and it was impressive. She didn’t let go until I sat down in my chair, at which time she was diverted by the other puppies leaping off the drag. A few minutes later she asked to come up and gave me some nice kisses and eye contacts, seeming to be reveling in stopping me (finally).
When Spirit’s play time was up we had another attack session all the way back to the house, but right at the gate she dove forwards to change position just as I was putting my foot down and got a paw stepped on. She yelled and mercifully quit, surprised and hurting a little, packing the paw for about 30 seconds, yelling as I checked to see if she was injured, before moving forward but at least not engaging with my foot again. The pups split in all directions as I stepped into their yard to do poop detail. They’d follow Spirit around, get diverted playing, go search for her, follow her some more, stop to play, all quite happily. Mr. Blue yelled a bit at the puppy gate as I cleaned the house, wanting in for his nap, but soon steeled on top of the gunnysacks with several others, all waiting patiently for me to finish so they could crash on the clean fleece and papers in the house. They’d had quite a play session and were very cooperative as I made sure I had all of them, no searching for a wanderer this morning.

I’m letting Spirit in with them less often now, about three times a day, as I work on getting them ready to leave home. Spirit is busy teaching them dog manners now, asking before grabbing a teat, reading her body posture and showing respect.

47 Days Old (8/17) The pups were not happy with me when we had no ball sessions this morning, but perked right up when I went out to load them to go to Daybreak, a senior daycare facility. They followed me and loaded right up, although I had to carry Miss Red because she wouldn’t let my foot alone, attacking and tugging. Laurie, Denise and another friend, Cathy S, met me there to help with the pups and we could have used another person. Daybreak has a totally new location from our last puppy visit and, since it was a nice day, they wanted the puppies to be outside in their enclosed area. The problem was that it’s designed to enclose people, not puppies, with the two ends of the L-shaped yard made of decorative iron grids far apart enough for a puppy to squeeze through and which ended a good 6″ above the ground, and the two other solid wood fences about the same distance off the ground, a gap that the puppies could almost navigate at a dead run. Those open fences allowed the pups to see people going by on the sidewalk and all kinds of other movement and we kept having to retrieve them and return them to the concrete patio area where the elders were sitting in a rough circle. Mr. Blue, independent soul that he is, kept taking off for a grassy area, which was okay, but then he’d turn towards the short leg of the “L”, out of sight and where the other open iron fence was. As soon as he headed out, the others would follow, so Laurie and Cathy were kept busy running after pups. Denise had to put down her camera and run as well a few times. Cathy had an awful time moving around because Miss Red kept attacking her shoes. She went after Laurie’s too.

Mr. Yellow stressed a bit at first, coming to me and then to Laurie for a little comfort. I let him climb in my lap but kept taking photos, and he soon climbed down and began playing. Later he went to Laurie, got a little cuddling, then was off to play. He was fine after that. He just seems to need a little time to analyze a new situation before becoming comfortable. As he gets more experience, that should fade.

As usual, I took toys new to them, including two battery operated balls: a Bumble Ball and a Weazel Ball. The Bumble Ball, bright yellow with multi-colored knobs, vibrates and bounces erratically, while the Weazel Ball rolls erratically. The Weazel Ball had a “weasel” attached by a tiny plastic thread which was supposed to make the weasel look like it was rolling around the ball, but the thread was so flimsy I knew it would break at the first puppy tug so I removed it. I’ll save the weasel to use with smaller puppies. Miss Pink was hilarious with the Bumble Ball, chasing it, attacking it, talking and growling the entire time, trying to get her mouth over it and as much of her body as possible on it. Miss Gold and Miss Green attacked it, too, though no one matched Miss Pink’s intensity – and she wouldn’t share. Mr. Blue would often go past it and take a quick, sneaky side nip at it as he went by. Mr. Yellow investigated it but never attacked.

I also took a big stuffed monkey that makes very weird noises. Miss Green particularly liked it. Mr. Blue joined her – they love putting their entire bodies on it to “subdue” it. Denise brought a Kong Floppy Knots rope toy with a pink striped covering and dog face and long ears, and of course a squeaker, that she says is her Sheltie’s very favorite toy. Mr. Blue carried that toy around quite a bit. Miss Gold, Mr. Yellow and Miss Red really liked it, too, with Miss Red playing a tug game over it with one of the seniors.

And of course we had a variety of small stuffed toys and balls. Mr. Blue loved the flower-in-a-pot toy and carried it all over. One always-popular toy is a flat “dairy cow” that crinkles and squeaks; we had some three-way and four-way tug battles on it – mainly Miss Green, Miss Red and Mr. Blue, with the other three joining in, too. I have other similar “flat” stuffed toys with squeakies – a fox and a coon, and no matter which I take, they’re popular. Miss Green, Miss Pink and Miss Red enjoyed some great tug games with several of the smaller soft toys, including the “cow”. Mr. Blue and Mr. Yellow liked the coon and had a good tug battle over who would possess it. One of the seniors “fished” with a long soft braided rope and “caught” Mr. Blue and Mr. Yellow for a nice tug session, and later, Miss Pink. Still later, she “caught” Miss Gold, Miss Green and Mr. Blue. At one time she had Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Blue, Miss Green and Mr. Yellow all on her toy and she was having such a good time. She especially wanted to pet the puppies. Miss Pink and Miss Red were fascinated by one senior’s oxygen tank.

Denise commented, “I was impressed how quickly the pups left the play yard when they had to go to the bathroom. They are so smart. More social every day too.” Cathy also commented, “Today was a fun adventure. I was very, very impressed how the puppies left the concrete and went to the grass or flower beds to pee and poop. Good for you, Cel, for a training job well done.” This litter, from the time they moved outside, has always sought the edges of their yard to poop. I seldom find poops in the middle.

They played about 40 minutes before they tired, at which time we were able to carry them around so people could pet them and hold them in their laps. Then we packed them up and headed home.

I had hoped to give them another new experience – the riding mower – this afternoon. I got the exercise area mowed but never saw the pups; they were crashed in the lounging area on the opposite side of their yard from the mower. Just as I was ready to mow the back yard, it began to rain. It wasn’t much of a storm but enough to wet the grass; by the time it passed over and the grass was dry enough to mow, it was too close to time for Cantor’s agility class for me to get started again. Perhaps tomorrow after we return from the children’s library…


Celhaus German Shepherds

4817 Big Horn Ave
Sheridan, WY  82801
307-674-4800 evenings

Nu-Vet for Health

Click for more information on Nu-Vet

The NuVet people had tried to recruit me for their breeder program for several years but it wasn’t until I was getting frustrated at my inability to get a soft, shiny coat on Quasi that I decided to try their products. I finally told the NuVet people I would never recommend any product without trying it first, and that I’d like to try their NuVet Plus on Quasi. They sent a free two-month supply and at the end of the trial period I was seeing enough improvement that I signed up for their breeder program.   [READ MORE]