MM Litter Diary

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

see 14 day old photos page 1, page 2 and page 2

see background information

Scroll way down to see previous days’ entries.

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).  See photos of one day’s exercises

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 uttering 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.

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

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 Sprit’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! 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.

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.  AS I edit the photos I may have more observations to add, but this is what I remember of the top of my head.  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.

Celhaus German Shepherds

4817 Big Horn Ave
Sheridan, WY  82801
celhaus@fiberpipe.net
gsdlover@celhaus.com
307-674-4800 evenings

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