TT Litter Diary
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23 Days (10/26) The puppies greeted me with enthusiasm this morning, heading to the entrance to visit with me. I am now spending some time greeting them before bringing in each meal. Once they’ve had enough loving, they head for their bowls to eat. They ate super well today.
When I cleaned their room, I doubled the fleece pad in the whelping bed so that it’s higher off the floor and hopefully will encourage the pups to see it as a sleeping place rather than potty area. That left the front half of the whelping box with just newspapers, a flannel strip on the ramp and Lovely’s little fleece pad where she jumps in and out of their area. The rest of the floor is just newspapers.
Tiny teeth have erupted through their gums. They haven’t realized yet what their teeth are for so they are gentle as they suck on my fingers. They’re still sucking in the meat rather than taking bites, but all that will soon change as they discover their teeth.
Ears still aren’t totally open, though I think I can see tiny cracks. They do not hold still as I try to look, which doesn’t help.
The poor pups didn’t have their adventure today. Mondays are always a rush to get all the dogs cared for before I have to leave with Berakah & GloryToo for Reading Dogs at Tongue River Elementary, which is 15 miles or so away. I had to leave by 9:15 because the roads were icy for Saturday’s blizzard, so I didn’t have time to gather up things to put in the puppy room. I had hoped, anyway, that my friend could come this afternoon to help take puppy photos, which would be a big adventure for them anyway, but the furnace repairmen sowed up shortly after I got home from the school and were here for 2 hours. When they left, promising to send another tech because they weren’t sure why the furnace wasn’t working, the house was too cold to bring the pups out into the living room. The expert furnace man arrived at 6:30 and, finally, sometime after 8, I had heat, but it was way too late to do much with the pups other than give them a good loving session.
Plus, I still can’t get the snow blower started and do the drive so it’s safe for Linda to come. Years ago, when the highway department widened the road past my house, for some ungodly reason they decided they had to build it up where I live and I came home one day from work to find a big ramp from the road to my house. If it isn’t plowed immediately after a snowstorm, it becomes one huge ice slide. As soon as the guys left, I tried again to start the snow blower. Even though I had driven in and out once yesterday and again this morning, and the garbage truck and repairmen had come and gone, I hoped to get most of the snow off the drive. But no luck. The dealer was supposed to come try to start it after he closed his shop at 5, but he never came. I sure hope he has help tomorrow so one of them can come see what the problem is, though it may be too late to get the drive cleared nicely. Then the puppies have adventures rather than me.
22 Days (10/25) Everyone greeted me with enthusiasm when I let Lovely out of the room this morning. After they ate and I cleaned the room, for their new experience I took in an old cooking pan with a handle, a big lid a cake pan lid, a big metal spoon and a small wooden rolling pin. I thought the reflection off the metal pan and lids would be interesting for them, both the metal and wood would be new things to taste, plus the rolling pin would (naturally) roll. I also put down a small piece of firewood so they could investigate the texture of the bark. They headed right to the new objects and investigated
I had lots of help as I changed their rooms, and it seemed to take forever. The pups are walking well enough now that I quit putting the flannel on the “new” area, which is flat. I’ll just keep it over the ramp to hold the newspapers from sliding as Lovely enters and exits the puppy box and so the pups don’t slide down the ramp or have trouble getting up it to go into the whelping bed.
All I seem to do right now is clean. I swear the puppies choose to pee or poop so that they mess up a part of four different newspapers where they join, and the flannel strip. The washing machine will go practically non-stop until they’re old enough to move outdoors to the “baby” puppy house and yard, hopefully soon. I’m waiting for their ears to open AND for the weather to improve. Thankfully, next week the temperature is supposed to get up in the 50’s.
I checked several ears. It was hard to see anything, but the “cracks” do seem more defined than yesterday, so I think they’ll be open soon. I’m not too concerned that their neurological systems were not complete on the “magic” Day 21, when they’re supposed to be. Since Lovely whelped 3 days early, they may need an extra day or two to finish hooking up all the circuits.
I noticed Miss Yellow and Miss Pink trying to nurse while Lovely was standing. They weren’t successful, but they sure tried! I didn’t catch photos of that but I got some of pups drinking from their water bowl.
Tonight I was greeted by a several “hurry up and come in” barks when I entered, so we had our cuddle session first, before I began cleaning. Mr. Turquoise is a lap dog; he LOVES to get into my lap and, if displaced by another pup, soon comes back and askes to get up again. They can’t climb up yet by themselves but they are definitely trying. Miss Orange sat in front of me, gave me concentrated eye contact and talked to me until my lap cleared enough that she could come up. Sassy little girl! Thankfully Lovely headed to the whelping bed as soon I cleaned it and kept them occupied long enough for me to change the newspapers and flannel on the ramp and almost finish changing the newspapers on the rest of the area. It’s sure easier not having to change the flannel on that part since it has to go under the table legs and the board keeping them from the doggie door, all of which takes time to do right so the flannel lies smoothly.
21 Days (10/24) The pups who were awake headed to their breakfast bowls this morning and ate most of the meat. Then I cleaned the room (with their help.)
Tail wagging is now general and enthusiastic. They also are doing a funny growl/trill sound to communicate with me, especially when I open the gate to let Lovely out but don’t immediately walk into the room. They’re all sitting like real dogs. And definitely playing with each other. So much fun.
Last winter I found a great puppy-raising resource: the Puppy Culture Workbook. The workbook goes with the “Puppy Culture DVD” set by Jane Killion. This four-DVD series is mainly for breeders, with suggestions of things to do with puppies from birth until the end of the critical socializing period at 12 weeks. Watching the DVD section concerning a particular age of the litter might help you better understand what I’m writing in the litter diary. (You can get it from her website, www.pigsflydogs.com).
During this third week of the pups’ lives, they advise one new experience per day for the litter. I had always waited until the ears opened before I began seriously introducing new things, but for the last litter I decided to start earlier like the Puppy Culture people do, and it was fun.
Since the pups still cannot hear or regulate their temperature and are too young to notice toys, today their new experience had to be simple. A small blanket cut into relatively standard strips and hung over the entrance to the puppy bed stimulated them to use their eyes in a different way by having something vertical that looked totally new and also moved.
I used my last quart of goat’s milk to make a new batch of Mother’s Pudding for Lovely, so I called the people I got it from to see if they’d be at the farmer’s market this morning despite the forecast blizzard. They weren’t going to be there but had to come to town. They live just a few miles south of me, so we met and I got more milk.
I decided, for the puppies’ lunch, to put a little goat’s milk in with the meat and see what they did. A total of 2/3 of a cup covered the bottom of all three bowls, enough for a taste but not enough for them to inhale, then placed the meat on top. What they left of lunch was a mush of meat and milk, hard to tell exactly how much they ate but they consumed a lot of the milk.
When I fed them supper, I moved the blanket, hanging it on the grooming table upon which I have the box of clean newspapers. Lovely had cleaned up all their poops this afternoon, so she evidently approves of them having goat’s milk, so I again added ¾ cup to their supper, dividing it between the 3 bowls so that just the bottoms were covered.
I took photos but had to laugh because some of them were more interested in playing with each other than eating and were slow to notice the food. I only caught a partial shot of Mr. Blue sparring with Miss Lilac. I did catch Miss Yellow noticing and investigating the blanket before moving off to mouth-spar with Mr. Turquoise, then eventually heading to the food.
Tonight when I changed the room, I had to first sit down so they could crawl into my lap and snuggle. Eventually everyone was satisfied – Mr. White had to get in my lap twice before he was – and I could start changing fleece, flannel and newspapers.
I checked several ears but didn’t see any that were open, but as I was changing the room I happened to jar the ex-pen that keeps the pups out of the storage area and it clanged. Miss Lilac, who was right there, gave a big startle and jumped back. That’s a classic indication that she can hear, so a tiny crack must be there that I couldn’t notice as she squirmed in my hands.
Golly, that goat’s milk either causes more peeing or they drink more water after eating because nearly every newspaper had a damp spot. They were more interested in visiting with me than in nursing Lovely, though she as usual sat in the whelping bed so they could nurse as I worked. I don’t know how many times I had to pick up and move a puppy so I could change papers and put down clean cloths. Towards the end they had crashed and sprawled everywhere and got irritated when awoken as I moved them. Finally, it was done and all of us went to bed.
20 Days (10/23) I have agility class this morning so everything is a rush. I decided to feed the puppies before giving Lovely some time away from them to help them be hungry. That way I can get the room changed before I go.
So, as soon as I let her out to potty, I fixed their breakfast and carried it into the room, calling “Puppy, Puppy, Puppy!” as usual. I no sooner put down the bowls than Miss Orange marched past me and put her head in a dish! All the rest who were awake also got up and headed towards me, tails wagging – Mr. Turquoise’s tail REALLY wagging as he approached a dish – and started eating. Even the two who had been sound asleep in the whelping bed work up. They were still too groggy to get up and move, so I knelt down, lifted them and placed them close to the bowls. They ended up eating more than usual, though.
I thought I had time enough before class to change the room, but I hadn’t figured in that all the pups would mob me and want to visit. I got it done and was only a little late to class, but the pups were miffed that I couldn’t visit much. I promised them a long cuddle session later today.
They ate well at lunch, too. They definitely notice when I come into the room (and call) as I bring the food and will get up and move – a couple to the food bowl and the rest to potty.
The furnace repairman arrived at 1 and worked on the furnace. Naturally, it needs still another part but at least it will work all weekend as long as I leave the fan “on” rather than put it on automatic. Thank goodness, since it’s supposed to be below zero tomorrow night.
By the time he left, the pups were fast asleep, so their cuddle session waited until evening. They sure mobbed me when I entered the room and knelt down! And did they talk! I checked ears but they’re still closed. I guess they don’t have to hear themselves talk in order to enjoy making noise.
I can tell they’re now using the entire room by the wet newspapers all over the place. Now that they are eating (and drinking), I’m going to have to change the room twice a day. I proceeded – with their help – to change the fleece pad and floor coverings. It’s really difficult to pick up the fleece pad with puppies on it and others getting on it. As soon as I got the clean one down, Lovely again helped by lying on it and nursing the pups. Unfortunately, they’re becoming more efficient nursers and were soon “helping” me pick up the flannel strips and newspapers. That was bad enough, but things got even more complicated as I tried to put down clean papers and flannel. I eventually got everything done.
By that time, they were ready to crash, so I weighed them. In the three days since I last weighed them (and they began eating), they gained between 6 and 9.5 ounces! They are now heavy enough that next time I will switch to recording their weight by pounds instead of ounces. Miss Orange (55.0) was the top gainer at 9.5 ounces, followed by Miss Tan (46.0) at 8.5 ounces and Mr. White (47.5) at 8 ounces. Mr. Brown (52.5), Mr. Green (47.5) and Miss Lilac (43.5) gained 7.5 ounces. Mr. Blue (44.5), Miss Pink (46.0) and Miss Yellow (46.0) gained 7 ounces, while Mr. Turquoise (43.5) gained 6 ounces. Good job, pups!
19 Days (10/22) First thing this morning, when I let Lovely out, I noticed most of the pups were in the whelping bed. During the day, though I would find some of them in the closest half of the new area, so they are expanding their comfort zone.
When I went into the room to pick up their bowls after lunch, someone barked. With the storm and the curtains closed on the window, it was dark enough I didn’t catch who barked.
They won’t be able to regulate their temperature until all neurological systems are hooked up, signaled by the ears opening, usually about day 21. I’m checking ears daily now so I know when that happens. The little knobs inside the ears are becoming more prominent and defined, but they still haven’t moved apart to create the openings of the ears. The pups are getting much fuzzier, which right now helps them stay warm enough.
Tonight when I took in their supper, Mr. White and Mr. Blue noticed and walked to me. Mr. White continued past me and immediately began eating, as did Miss Pink and Miss Yellow. I made sure the others were awake and close to the bowls and left them.
Last thing tonight I checked to be sure the pups were warm enough. It’s supposed to get down to 6 degrees and I still have no furnace, so I keep checking that the milk house heater is working. They woke up as I stepped into the room and began talking TO me, which is a lot different from the previous seemingly aimless vocalizations. They were looking right at me. Then they began walking towards me, so naturally I had to kneel down so we could all have a cuddle session. It is so heartwarming to have tiny furry bodies pressing themselves against you in their effort to interact. I noticed some nice eye contact, too. I visited for quite a while with them, and while I visited, noticed their collars were getting tight. I took out the stitches that had tightened their collars and kept them from opening into loops. The pups have really grown – it was just 5 days ago that I put the collars on! I finally extricated myself as they began to fall asleep, all draped over me, but it was very hard.
18 Days (10/21) Usually, first thing when I get up, I let Lovely out in case she wants to potty outside of her special outdoor area, give her an early breakfast and check that all the pups are okay (they are usually sound asleep unless they happened to be nursing when I turned on the light), then clean the room while Lovely eats and stretches her legs. Then I put her back in with them while I rotate out all the other dogs, going in later for a special nursing session.
This morning when I let her out, all the pups were awake. I even saw several starting to interact with each other. At this age that begins with sitting facing each other and touching mouths as if to taste this being whom you have just noticed as more than a body to push aside in order to get a better place at the milk bar.
I quickly fixed them a breakfast of 1# of raw meat diet divided between three bowls to give them more chance to eat without being pushed aside. There isn’t a lot of level room at the moment since the side of the whelping bed forms a ramp when I open it, another reason to open up the entire room today. I lifted puppies around all three bowls and left. All but Miss Lilac had headed to the meat and had their heads down in the bowl. She evidently wanted to go right instead of left, but I left her to figure it out for herself, learning to use her nose to locate food.
Even though they can’t yet hear, I gave a high-pitched “Puppy, Puppy, Puppy” call as I entered the room with the meat. That way, they learn from the beginning that coming brings rewards, because it’s one of the first things they hear when their ears open (at about 21 days).
It’s a great introduction to what later becomes the “come” command because they never forget that call. I had one pup, years ago, whose owner moved to Houston. She would call every so often and, after we talked, would put the phone by his ears and tell me to call him. He’d go ballistic, getting all excited and looking around for me. She did Schutzhund (the competitive sport that involves obedience, tracking and protection work) with him and through the protection training he became aloof and wasn’t interested in visiting with other people, but he never forgot me. My parents lived in Beaumont, which is about 90 miles from Houston, and occasionally I would go through Houston on my trips home and stop to visit her. He would come to the door in the usual GSD “Who are you and what do you want?” mode, but as soon as I said “Puppy, puppy, puppy,” he was all over me. She said he never responded like that to anyone else he knew. He never forgot.
So that they had plenty of chance to eat, I put Lovely in her crate for an hour as I rotated a couple of dogs out of the crates where they had spent the night. When I put Lovely back in with the pups, they had worked on all three bowls and maybe ate half or a little less of the meat. It’s hard to tell since they don’t yet know how to take bites so they lick and suck at the meat and inevitably squash it into the bowl. Lovely cleaned up the leftovers for her 2nd breakfast.
They were sleeping soundly so it was easy to move the big board that set a limit to their explorations and replace it with one that keeps them from getting to the doggie door, put newspapers on all the floor and then flannel for traction. As they begin to walk better, I will leave areas of just paper in hope to start potty training, but for right now they need that traction before they’ll even think of using the new area. I then changed the fleece pad and flannel on the area they had been using, moving the pups to the clean fleece pad – Lovely is fantastic about offering to nurse them when I get to this point – and changed papers and flannel on the floor area they had been using.
When I let Lovely out to put her in her crate before Mercy’s ball session, so I could feed the pups, all were in the “old” area. I don’t think anyone had started exploring at all. I put two of the bowls of meat in that new area since it’s nice and flat, placed the third one on the edge of the new area, picked the pups up and lifted them close to the bowls, then left. The furnace repairman showed up during Lovely’s ball session, which meant I made sure he had everything he needed to replace the furnace part and went back out to resume Lovely’s exercise, so the pups had plenty of time to eat – about an hour. When I put Lovely back in with them, all had returned to the “old” area and whelping bed; no one stayed in the new area.
I offered meat again in the evening, again placing pups in proximity to the three bowls so they had a chance to eat if they wished, leaving Lovely away from them for about an hour. Some will move to the bowl and start eating right away; others need to move away to potty and then return. I estimate they are eating half of the meat. Lovely cleans up the rest. She is a little confused about the change in her meal schedule and I am having trouble estimating how much to feed her in her regular meals since she is getting the puppy leftovers.
Since they have the entire room, I didn’t change all the bedding tonight. I checked that everything was okay, noticing that a couple of pups were asleep in the new area. Good! I made sure the room was warm enough (still no furnace – he’s ordering yet another part) since we have a cold front with wind and snow moving in, and left them for the night.
17 Days (10/20) This morning when I went in the puppy room, the pups were sprawled out, sound asleep, a couple in the whelping bed and the rest scattered around the open area. That let me know that the room had stayed comfortable for them. If they had been in a big huddle I would have been concerned.
No one stirred as I turned on the light, let Lovely out, stepped over them and carried in clean bedding. They began to wake up as I knelt to change the fleece and papers in the whelping bed. Several sat up. Mr. Green came to me and was wagging his tail. Another first! I love it when they start that. And Miss Pink climbed on my calf, draped herself over it so her head was nearly touching the floor on the other side, and went back to sleep. It’s really hard to get anything done when they cuddle like that, but I’m not complaining at all!
They were much more active, energetically moving around and searching for me, beginning to interact with me – a big change overnight.
That change told me that it was time to introduce them to eating. I start them on the raw meat diet because the moms will still clean up their poop when they eat meat. I plan to try goat’s milk, but according to “Puppy Culture” you have to be right there to be sure the pups don’t aspirate. And I don’t know if Lovely will still clean up their poops when they eat the milk so we’ll have to play that by ear.
Before Mercy’s ball session (which is just before Lovely’s), I put Lovely in her crate so that I could introduce the pups to meat. I put ¾ pound of the raw meat diet in each of two puppy bowls, which are low-sided bowls with a raised center so the pups can investigate food without crawling into it.
After putting down the bowls, I made sure all were awake and their heads close to the meat and left. Miss Pink, Miss Tan and Mr. Brown were busy tasting the meat as I walked out, turned off the light and left them. The pups had about 50 minutes to investigate, eat if they wished or at least get used to the tantalizing new odor before I finished Lovely’s ball session and put her back in with them. I was surprised, when I put Lovely back in the whelping room after her ball session, to find two nearly empty bowls. They must have really liked the meat. Good thing I had extra meat thawed so Lovely can have lunch, since that was her lunch I offered the puppies.
Several 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 when introducing meat. On the temperament test at 7 weeks, all those pups showed intense desire to use their noses, so I decided to continue the practice. They sometimes 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.
I also put down a water bowl from which they can drink rather. It has sides low enough they can find the water but high enough they won’t fall in as they learn to drink. They need water now since they’ve begun eating and Lovely will be away from them for a while after they eat. It’s always funny to watch them explore the water bowl and eventually figure out that it’s for drinking.
Tonight, after the special nursing session, I took Lovely out of the puppy room and put her in her crate. An hour later, I took two bowls with ¾ pound of raw meat diet divided between them into the puppy room and woke the pups so they wouldn’t miss the meal. Miss Orange moved to the bowl and started eating as soon as I put it down. She was quickly followed by Mr. Brown, Miss Pink & Miss Yellow. I left the light on and gave them about an hour to eat. Again they ate nearly all of the meat, except for that which they squashed against the bowl. That’s pretty typical of beginning eaters who still, of course, wobble a lot.
Miss Orange (44.5) was top gainer at 5.5 ounces, followed by Miss Pink (39.0) at 3.5 ounces. Mr. Brown (45.0) and Mr. Turquoise (37.5) gained 3 ounces. Mr. Green (40.0), Miss Lilac (36.0) and Mr. White (39.5) gained 2.5 ounces. Miss Yellow (39.0) gained 2 ounces; Miss Tan (37.5) gained 1.5 ounces; and Mr. Blue (37.5) gained .5 ounce. I will now discontinue the special nursing sessions and instead offer 3 meat meals each day. And I will quit the daily weighings, doing them every few days now just to monitor that all continue to grow.
Tomorrow I’m going to try to stir them up a bit. I’ll open up the whole room and see if they will begin exploring. I like to do this first thing in the morning since I’m close to the whelping room as I work at the computer and thus able to hear and go help if a pup gets lost and starts crying. By the time we start ball sessions they usually have adjusted to al the new space, but I check each time I bring one dog in and before I take the next dog out.
16 Days (10/19) I woke up to a cold house. The furnace has decided not to work. Great! I turned up the heater in the whelping room so the pups at least are warm. And went out to both puppy houses and grabbed the milk house heaters and set them in the living room and bedroom. I have a small heater by my computer that I often use rather than turn up the thermostat but it’s not doing anything for the rest of the house.
Then I went to fill the dog water bowls and had no water. The day was not starting well at all. The puppy bedding involves two washer loads twice a day now so no water was a big setback. Thankfully, it was just a faulty switch in the well and I got water in time to wash the morning loads before I changed everything again tonight. Still no heat though – a part has to be ordered and it will take two days since it was too late today to order by the time the repairman made it to my house. So far, the milk house heaters are keeping the house quite comfortable (it got above freezing today, which helped), but it’s supposed to get really cold this weekend. Sure hope that part comes and the guy puts it in by Thursday.
The pups seem to be trying to figure out their world. Of course, they can only see vague shapes and the contrast between light and dark at the moment, but their world has vastly enlarged. As soon as their eyes opened, I closed the curtain on the window since they are very sensitive to bright light. As long as their eyes are blue, they are bothered by light; they won’t be comfortable in bright areas until their eyes turn brown, usually at 5 weeks or so, and will search for darker places. So I keep glare out of the room and let them gradually get used to light.
Tonight was the last night for the neurological exercises. Most were content to relax and look at my face as I did the supine exercise.
The pups were so soundly asleep when I went in tonight to weigh and do the exercises that they were limp in my hands as I picked them up and put them on the scale. Because they didn’t thrash much, hopefully I was able to get more accurate weights. I’m very pleased that we’re getting less of a gap between the large and small pups. Miss Yellow (37.0) was the top gainer, 6 ounces! Mr. Blue (37.0) gained 4.5 ounces; Miss Lilac (33.5), Miss Pink (35.5) and Miss Tan (36.0) gained 2.5 ounces. Miss Orange (39.0) and Mr. White (36.5) gained 2 ounces, while Mr. Brown (42.0) and Mr. Turquoise (34.5) gained 1 ounce. Mr. Green (37.5) stayed the same. Tomorrow Mr. Green, Miss Lilac, Miss Tan & Mr. Turquoise will get the special nursing sessions.
15 Days (10/18) This morning when I checked them, all pups except Mr. Blue and Miss Lilac were on top of the small fleece pad by the door. That was interesting, since they were the two who didn’t leave the whelping bed during last evening’s nursing session. They, and Miss Pink, pretty much stayed in the whelping bed so about midmorning I moved them out with the others since I was afraid they weren’t nursing. Lovely seems to prefer to hang out by the door so I didn’t know if she was going into the whelping bed to care for those pups. They stayed with the bunch the rest of the day. The other pups really seem to like the new space.
Lovely’s bed is working well for the special nursing sessions. Lovely happened to lie close to the edge of her bed so the puppies’ back legs kept falling onto the floor as they nursed. Their little butts were so cute as they tried to get traction on the linoleum. It was funny watching them. I kept boosting them back on the bed but then they’d really get to kneading as they nursed and off the hind end would pop again. For the afternoon session I put down a towel to give them traction if they got close to the edge. That worked well so I will continue it.
Tonight while I was doing the special nursing session I had fun watching the other pups. One or two would sit – like a real dog – for a while and complain that they could smell mom but couldn’t find her. They are so cute when they sit.
She sometimes sits up so that most of the liter can nurse but she much prefers lying down (and they can’t all fit any more), so I will continue the special nursing sessions for the smallest ones until they start eating on their own.
Top gainer today was Mr. Brown (41.0) at 3.5 ounces, followed by Mr. Green (37.5), Mr. Blue (32.5), Miss Orange (37.0) and Miss Tan (33.5) at 2 ounces. Miss Lilac (31.0) gained 1.5 ounces and Mr. Turquoise (33.5) gained .5 ounce. Miss Pink (33.0) and Mr. White (34.5) stayed the same, while Miss Yellow (31.0) lost .5 ounce – though it could be the scale having trouble with bouncing pups. Miss Yellow, Miss Pink, Mr. Blue & Miss Lilac will get the extra nursing sessions tomorrow.
14 Days (10/17) For the morning special nursing session, I had to make an executive decision. Miss Lilac was the smallest last night, followed by Miss Tan & Miss Yellow. Then I had Mr. Green, Miss Pink, and Mr. Turquoise all at the same weight. I put Miss Lilac, Miss Tan, Miss Yellow & Mr. Turquoise on Lovely, then replaced Miss Lilac with Mr. Green when she fell asleep midway through the thirty-minute session.
It’s raining and snowing this morning, very wet, not a nice day at all, so I canceled ball sessions for the big dogs. Since I’m not in a hurry to get outside and have nothing on my schedule that would make me hurry to get there on time, after I finished the morning nursing session and changed the fleece pad, I trimmed toenails. Most of the pups were full of milk and nearly asleep, so it was pretty easy. The exception was Mr. Green, who thrashed around and tried to leap out of my hands. I managed to keep hold of him but in the process jammed the fingernail scissions into my finger. Blood everywhere, darn it. I had to go get a band aid on my finger before I could finish him and the last pup. But he didn’t fall, which was the important thing.
While I worked, I had to be careful how I moved because Miss Pink had draped herself over the back of one of my legs and was snoozing contentedly.
I decided to see if the regular collars will fit. They do! When I finished each pup’s toenails, I fitted it with a collar and put it into the whelping bed. Lovely cooperated by letting them nurse there so they didn’t turn back and come pester me. A couple of the collars are a little loose so I’ll watch to be sure the pup doesn’t get a leg through the collar. The only problem is that the “first collar” package doesn’t include the colors the Velcro collars came in. So, for right now, Miss Tan is wearing a gray collar and Mr. Brown has a black one, while I see if I can find “baby” collars in their colors.
I took down the pig rail. They are now large and strong enough that I don’t have to worry about Lovely lying on them and not realizing it. I took photos of the pups in the bed before and after.
This afternoon I opened up part of the whelping room. I first put up another 8″ board on the side where Lovely has been entering and leaving, to make sure the puppies use the area prepared for them rather than climb over into Lovely’s section, which has no papers or blankets on the floor. A 12″ board works nicely to define the puppies’ new floor space – Lovely can easily step over it to get to her water, bed and the doggie door to go outside. I put down papers and a blanket for traction over it and left. The pups can begin exploring as they wish.
When I went I to do the afternoon special nursing session, I had a hard time deciding where to do it. All the pups were asleep in the whelping bed, so I put the pad next to the door and quietly grabbed Miss Pink, Miss Yellow, Miss Tan and Mr. Turquoise. Unfortunately, the movement woke up some of the others and they started sniffing with uplifted heads. Soon here came Mr. White. Lovely happened to be lying with her back to the whelping bed, but it didn’t stop him. He tried climbing over her back but couldn’t make it, but moved down to her neck and was able to climb over there since she was lying flat on her side. I had to admire him and was going to let him nurse after that problem-solving success, but he started pushing the small ones off the teats on his way to the more productive back ones. I picked him up and put him on Lovely’s bed, which he didn’t appreciate at all. He wasn’t alone long, because her came Miss Orange. She did the same thing – climbed over Lovely’s neck and started shoving the smaller pups off – so she joined Mr. White on Lovely’s bed.
Next came Mr. Green. His approach was different; he walked along Lovely’s back, past her head, around her nose and between her front legs. He, too, was going to push the smaller ones away, so he joined the other two on Lovely’s bed. Things were peaceful for a while, until Mr. Brown woke up and caught Lovely’s scent. He climbed over her neck and ended up with the other three pushy ones. Next was Mr. Blue, but he stopped at a front teat and was content there, so I left him to nurse (the four smaller ones were on the teats farther back so he didn’t bother them). Miss Lilac didn’t awaken until the 30 minutes was up.
I then put all the pups back in the whelping bed and set the backdrop up, a sheet and a crocheted rug on the floor and took photos. The small camera lens worked just fine today, thank goodness! I noticed while I was taking photos that the two pieces of the collars tended to gap open enough to catch a foot. They are as small as I can make them, but the pups are quite low to the ground as they try to walk and were getting a foot between the two collar pieces. I used a needle and thread to tack each collar in two places to eliminate loops. Some still were causing the pups problems so I had to take a tuck in them to make them a little tighter.
Their faces are growing. I love their little Roman noses, which are really noticeable from a side view. Their coats are now getting thicker. By the time they can regulate their body temperature, on day 21, they’ll be even fuzzier.
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.
When I went in for the evening nursing session, Lovely was lying next to the gate that keeps the puppies from getting to the entry – and Miss Pink and Miss Lilac were nursing. I put a small fleece pad right there so Lovely doesn’t mess up the traction blanket when she jumps into or out of the puppy area, and the puppies thought it was great for nursing.
I decided to put Lovely on her bed in the other half of the room and let the four puppies nurse there so none of the others would disturb them. I sat in the puppy area, reading as usual but also able to watch both the nursing puppies and the non-nursing puppies. Miss Lilac woke up and searched for us but didn’t leave the whelping bed. She was walking really well – definitely better than this afternoon when I took photos. I guess the extra space and more exercise has helped her figure out how to get “up” on her legs. After she wandered around, searching, she sat and complained for quite a while before lying back down. She obviously was not happy about having her nursing session interrupted.
I went back just before bedtime to change the newspapers and pad in the whelping bed, weigh the pups and do the neurological exercises. Mr. Green had been on the rug by the gate, enjoying a private nursing session, when I let her out to potty. I’m sure Lovely likes that little rug because cool air from the hallway seeps in. I turned up the heater since it needs to heat a larger area for the pups and she already told me the room was warm.
It’s so fun to see the pups watching my face as I do the supine exercise (neurological exercise), holding them on their backs. Now that their eyes are open, they are pretty relaxed most of the time during that one.
Mr. Green (35.5) was the top gainer tonight, gaining 5 ounces. Next were Miss Orange (35.0) and Mr. White (34.5), who gained 3.5 ounces. Mis Yellow (32.5) gained 3 ounces, while Miss Pink (33.0) and Miss Tan (31.5) gained 2.5 ounces. Miss Lilac (29.5) and Miss Tan (31.5) gained 2 ounces. Mr. Brown (37.5) gained 1.5 ounces. Mr. Blue (30.5), however, was down 1.5 ounces, so he will join Miss Lilac, Miss Tan and Miss Yellow tomorrow on the special nursing sessions.
13 Days (10/16) The electrician finally came to do part 2 of the litter improvement projects (part 1 was a fluorescent light in the whelping room for better photography). Part 2 was to put a fluorescent light in the living room where I photograph the pups once they can handle the stress of a larger area – probably next week. Anyone who has ever lived in a mobile home – especially an OLD mobile home – knows how hard it is to add anything new so you will sympathize with me. He got it done, though. He worried about how it would look but I assured him that taking good photos of the pups that didn’t need hours of editing to correct the coloring was more important to me than a showcase room, which I didn’t have any way. Like my dad always said, “It may not be pretty, but it will work well.”
After I did the morning special nursing session, I moved those 4 pups to Lovely’s bed so that I could pullout the soiled fleece pad (with the other 6 pups) and change papers before putting in a clean pad. As soon as the pad stopped moving, Mr. Green was upon his legs walking around! His eyes are still only half open but he sure was moving along! I moved him back a bit so I could kneel on the pad and lean into the whelping bed, and he marched alongside of my leg and headed back up the ramp that the side makes when I open it, heading back into the bed. I had to grab him again and put him behind me. Thankfully Lovely was there so he headed to her and got out of my way. As I watched him marching – and that’s the only word to describe the determined movement – I noticed that Miss Pink was sitting up like a real dog all by herself.
As I put the pups back into the cleaned bed, I checked eyes. Miss Lilac’s and Miss Yellow’s eyes are nearly open, but still not as much as Miss Tan’s eyes, which are completely open. The other pups’ eyes are maybe half open.
When I came in from Cantor’s ball session, I heard a puppy squeaking right at the whelping room door. I rushed in and here was Mr. White with Lovely, on the chilly linoleum floor, madder than heck. He probably hung on to a teat when Lovely left the bed, so he was carried out of the bed. He wasn’t there long. Cantor’s ball session is just after Lovely’s, and he was safely in the bed when I put her back in the room.
Tonight all the eyes were open and the pups were quite active, heading every which way as I changed their bed. They are now getting up on their legs in a primitive walk. They do well on the fleece pad but when they get to the linoleum their legs go out every which way and there they lie. And yell – until either they manage to crawl back to the pad or I pick them up and set them on it. Half the time they march off in a different direction and soon are off the 4’ x 4’ fleece pad, so I have to rescue them again. It’s about time to open up the room, especially with this many pups. I put papers down and cover them with a blanket to give traction.
I kept having to capture them in order to do the neurological exercises – and it was a real struggle to get a weight. The last couple of nights they have been moving so much that the scale offered two or three weights depending on which way they tilted. I finally just picked the one that came up most often (poor digital scale…). For that reason, I’m not too worried that two pups supposedly lost weight: Miss Lilac (27.5) was down 1 ounce and Mr. White (31.0) was down .5 ounce. Nor am I worried that four stayed the same weight: Mr. Brown (36.0), Mr. Green (30.5), Miss Orange (31.5) and Miss Tan (29.5). Either last night I picked a weight higher than they actually were, or tonight the scale could never get a true weight. Meanwhile, Mr. Blue (32.0) gained 4.5 ounces, Miss Pink (30.5) and Mr. Turquoise (30.5) gained 2 ounces and Miss Yellow (29.5) gained 2 ounces.
12 Days (10/15) I had to loosen collars on all the pups. The last couple of days have been crazy and I haven’t had time to trim nails. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get that done, and at the same time see if they’re are big enough to wear the small collars that snap on. I won’t be sorry to get done with the Velcro ones, though they’ve worked fine once I figured out not to use the green fleece pad.
When I did the special nursing session this afternoon, I noticed that Miss Tan’s eyes are completely open. Tonight when I did the neurological exercises, I was able to notice the rest. No one else’s eyes are open though a couple are maybe halfway. They see well enough to look me in the eye during the supine exercises. I always enjoy seeing who will give eye contact during the exercises so I can hardly wait for all eyes to be open.
During one of the special nursing sessions I had to laugh at Miss pink: she was sitting up to nurse. Of course, she was bracing herself against Lovely, but she was definitely upon her haunches – for a while at least.
Miss Tan (29.5) was the top gainer tonight at 4 ounces, while Miss Pink (27.5) and Mr. Turquoise (27.5) were next at 3 ounces. Those nursing sessions must really be helping! Mr. Green (30.5), Miss Orange (31.5), Mr. White (31.5) and Miss Yellow (27.5) each gained 2 ounces, while Mr. Brown (36.0) gained 1.5 ounce and Miss Lilac (38.5) gained 1 ounce. Mr. Blue stayed the same at 27.5 ounces, so he will join the special nursing sessions tomorrow, replacing Miss Tan.
I put a cup of kibble in the bowl each time I fed Lovely today (early breakfast, 2nd breakfast which includes raw liver or heart, lunch, mid-afternoon Mother’s Pudding meal, early supper and late supper.) Most times she ate some of the kibble along with the meat or pudding, so I think by the end of the day she had eaten about 3 cups, which is good. I have decreased the raw meat diet from 1 pound to ¾ pound for the meals during the day.
11 Days (10/14) I tried adding a cup of kibble to her second breakfast but she ate all around it. Oh, well. She did, though, eat a cup of kibble with her Mother’s Pudding and with her supper, so I’m pleased.
I continue to work on the “Prepare for Puppy” packets. Sure wish I could have larger blocks of time so I could finish it.
Lovely is now asking to stay away from her pups and hang out with me for much longer periods. This afternoon she was content for a good thirty minutes. She “helped” me make another batch of Mother’s Pudding and then a batch of training treats.
Their eyes continue to open little by little. They can see well enough that they looked like a disturbed ant pile last night when I pulled them out on their soiled fleece pad and proceeded to change newspapers and put in a clean pad. Miss Orange climbed up my leg inside my sweatpants and I had quite a time getting her out. They also all struggled during the neurological exercises and while I tried to weigh them. I’m hoping the weights are accurate, because they sure gave the digital scale a hard time.
Top gainer today was Mr. Brown (34.5) with 4 ounces, followed by Miss Tan (25.5) and Miss Yellow (25.5) with a 3.5 ounce gain. Mr. Blue (27.5) gained 2.5 ounces, while Miss Orange (29.5) and Mr. Turquoise (24.0) gained 2 ounces. Mr. Green (28.0) and Mr. White (29.5) gained 1.5 ounces, and Miss Pink (24.5) gained 1 ounce. Miss lilac stayed the same, not surprising after gaining so much the day before.
10 Days (10/13) Since they all survived the critical first week, I sent the litter registration to AKC.
I started the first nursing session with Miss Lilac, Miss Pink, Mr. Turquoise and Miss Yellow, but less than halfway through the 30 minutes Miss Lilac fell asleep. I put her back in the bed and substituted Mr. Blue, who was quite eager to get a little extra nursing time. He isn’t the next smallest but I wanted to encourage the nice gains he’s made the last couple of days (and he was the easiest to reach).
This morning as I passed while doing poop detail in the yards, I caught Lovely enjoying the raised bed in her yard. I know she’s getting awfully warm in the whelping room so was glad to see her enjoying the sun on this crisp morning (it frosted last night).
I managed to catch Teresa at Epiphany Printing yesterday and had her look at my camera. She used to have the Photo Imaging Center here and will still help me with my camera questions and problems, thank goodness! With the pandemic, Epiphany has very limited “open to the public” hours but she agreed to let me in and check my camera while I was in town even though they weren’t open to the public then. Thank you, Teresa! It turns out that somehow the focus setting on the small lens had been pushed from automatic to manual. Such a small thing – probably done when putting the camera in the bag – to cause such big problems. I’ll take more photos as soon as the puppies’ eyes open and am excited they will be good. I got the first editing of the seven-day photos done on my laptop last night (I sit on the bed at night, resting my feet, and edit photos – still editing SS litter photos, too.) Tomorrow I will try to look at them on the PC with its much bigger screen and see if I got any worth keeping.
I added a cup of kibble to Lovely’s Mother’s Pudding afternoon meal and she polished it up. I’ll continue doing that plus tomorrow I will start trying to add kibble to her meat meals, too, beginning with her second breakfast where she gets some heart or liver, which usually make some nice “juice.”
Miss Lilac (27.5) gained an incredible 5.5 ounces! I weighed her twice to be sure. No wonder she fell asleep during the special nursing sessions – she had to have already been pretty full. The others didn’t gain much, but that’s to be expected; sometimes their bodies have to assimilate the new weight before adding more. Miss Pink (23.5) and Mr. White (28.0) gained 2 ounces; Mr. Green (26.5) gained 1.5; Mr. Brown (30.5) and Miss Yellow (22.0) gained 1 ounce. Mr. Blue (25.0), Miss Orange (27.5, Miss Tan (22.0) and Mr. Turquoise (22.0) gained nothing. Tomorrow Miss Pink, Miss Tan, Mr. Turquoise and Miss Yellow will get the special nursing sessions. Usually at this point I quit weighing them daily, but I’ll continue weighing as long as I’m doing extra nursing sessions. The small pups definitely know what’s coming as I lift them out of the bed and onto the rug – they start searching intensely for Lovely, and do they ever enjoy the nursing! Thankfully all are vigorous so all I’m doing is being sure they aren’t knocked off teats by their bigger siblings to the point that they give up.
I love to see their ears at this age. At birth, they were flat against their skull; now they stick out like handles on a sugar bowl.
And eyes are open a slit! I wondered, as I was kneeling changing papers and fleece pad tonight, why the pups were so much more active – trying to get up on their legs and walk, and trying to crawl on top of my calves. When I began the neurological exercises, I knew – their eyes were open enough to admit a little light so that they could figure out which way was up. It’s amazing what being able to see does for balance and movement. They are so heavy and their legs so short that they don’t move a great distance, but that will come once their eyes are totally open, probably tomorrow or the next day. They’ll begin to be fun now, but more difficult to do the neurological exercises on. How they thrashed around tonight!.
I noticed that I need to trim toenails again, which will not be fun since they are getting quite strong.
9 Days (10/12) I continue to do three 30 minutes special nursing sessions each day. Miss Pink, Miss Tan, Mr. Turquoise & Miss Yellow are now the smallest and getting the extra milk.
Eyelids are starting to be defined. In a day or two, “cracks” will appear as the eyes begin to open.
All have now doubled their weight. Hurrah!! Top gainers tonight were Mr. Green (25.0) and Miss Orange (27.5), who gained 3 ounces. Next came Miss Tan (22.0) and Mr. Turquoise (22.0), who gained 2.5 ounces. Mr. White (26.0) gained 2 ounces. Miss Lilac (22.0) gained 1 ounce. The other four all gained 1.5 ounces: Mr. Blue is 25.0 ounces; Mr. Brown is 29.5 ounces, Miss Pink is 21.5 ounces and Miss Yellow is 21.0 ounces.
This means that tomorrow I’m changing the four who get special nursing sessions. It will be Miss Lilac, Miss Pink, Mr. Turquoise and Miss Yellow.
8 Days (10/11) The 10 have survived the critical first week. Hurrah!! All was well first thing this morning – including all collars still on pups. That green fleece pad has to be the problem. This is the first litter I’ve used it on at the beginning, since I ordered it when I was having washing machine troubles after the SS litter was already a week or so old.
Lovely has more and more free time now, since the pups are such efficient nursers that they fill very quickly and then fall asleep, at which time she leaves the very warm whelping bed and lies on the bed beside it or hangs out with me. I also have a raised bed in Lovely’s little yard, which is nearly totally protected by a roof, but I haven’t yet seen her stay that far away from her babies.
Miss Pink (20.0) gained 2.5 ounces and has now doubled her weight! The others are close to that mark. Mr. Blue (23.5) gained 3.5 ounces. Mr. Turquoise (20.5) gained 3 ounces and Miss Tan (20.5) gained 2 ounces. Miss Yellow (21.0) gained 1.5 ounces; Mr. Green (22.0), Miss Orange (24.5) and Mr. White (24.0) gained 1 ounce; Mr. Brown (28.0) and Miss Lilac (21.0) gained .5 ounce.
9/1 An ultrasound this afternoon confirmed that Lovely is pregnant. Dr. Cindy saw at least three pups in a quick scan. A more detailed scan would probably have shown more pups but it was impossible as we were in an exam room which shares a light switch with another exam room. That one was also occupied so Dr. Cindy could not turn off our light in order to see the ultrasound details. Usually the mother-to-be will have twice what we see on the ultrasound. We’ll have to wait for the x-ray during the last week of pregnancy to know how many she actually has. We have to wait that long because the pups’ skeletons don’t calcify until the very end of pregnancy. X-rays can penetrate the entire width of the dog’s body and give an accurate count, while ultrasounds are more limited in penetration and in big-bodied dogs pups can hide out of sight.
9/10 Lovely is really showing pregnancy now and is ravenous. Since she has been asking for more food, I added two extra meals of kibble, one in the morning as I start ball sessions (she is next to last for ball session so has plenty of time to digest) and one at bedtime, rather than increase the amount of kibble at lunch and supper. All my dogs get .5# raw meat (balanced) diet for breakfast as soon as they get up, plus kibble meals at midday (after we finish all their ball sessions) and evening. As the puppies grow, especially in a large litter, they press down on the mother dog’s organs and she feels full all the time, but at the same time she must keep her strength up by eating, so multiple small meals become necessary. She continues to gulp down the raw meat breakfast.
9/20 Her pups have dropped, so now she sways when she walks. She looks huge and very ponderous, like we have more than the expected six pups. She is beginning to take a lot longer to eat her kibble at those three meals. I have changed to .5# of the raw meat diet in the morning when I start ball sessions and at bedtime.
9/25 I scheduled Lovely’s x-ray for Thursday. That will tell us how many pups she has, invaluable to know when whelping. Sometimes they get tired and say they’re done, but still have pups lurking way back in the uterus. Those pups will die if they get stalled in the birth canal because as soon as they start moving towards birth their oxygen supply from the placenta ends. They need to get their little noses out into the air and begin using their lungs. If I know we still have some to get on the ground, I can intervene with calcium to keep the uterus working, hormone shots to stimulate contractions, or phone calls to the vet if Lovely is just too tired to get the pups out quickly.
Lovely is getting so big that she is miserable. She has quit eating any kibble. I have some great friends who save the livers and hearts for me whenever they buy a beef. Today I thawed out a beef liver and gave her a slice with her raw meat diet at lunch. Supposedly the raw liver (and heart) help bring in their milk so it’s ready when the first pup is born. I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that it does encourage them to keep eating during the last days of pregnancy.
I cleaned the whelping room and set up the whelping bed. Camera battery is charged, settings are adjusted for whelping room and new batteries in the external flash attachment. Hemostats (for clamping umbilical cords if they bleed) and scissors (for cutting extra cord if Lovely doesn’t chew the cord close to the pup’s abdomen) are sterilized and in the room. The bitch’s jaws normally compress the cord as she chews through it and consumes the afterbirth, which stops any bleeding. Sometimes, though, it will either be chewed off too close to the abdomen so it isn’t compressed shut; then I need to step in with a hemostat, to press the cord together and stop the bleeding. That can get exciting at times, with the mother wanting to clean the pup and flipping it around as I grimly hold the hemostat against its underside to prevent tearing. A few seconds is usually enough. I will take the hemostat off and check, re-clamping if necessary, or else let mom finish cleaning the pup in peace. All the flipping around is designed to get the pup breathing well and knock out any fluid it might have swallowed during birth. It usually does, because the pup gets mad and starts yelling. I am always glad to hear them yell! And very glad when I can step out of the picture.
Whenever I have to be gone (this week only for quick, necessary errands), I leave her in the whelping room where I have the whelping box under an old table to create a “den” for the new puppies. She can “nest” to her heart’s content in the shredded newspapers. The “pig rails” are up around the sides. For the first couple of weeks they give the fragile, blind pups a place to squeeze into in case mom lies upon them without realizing it. I have a doggie door going to a small private yard where she can potty if she needs to.
While she’s outside the whelping area, I watch her, because mommas-to-be can quickly find a hole and disappear, nature’s instinct to find a safe place to whelp. Often they’ll go from dog house to dog house, slip in, rearrange the straw, then come out and head to the next one. Lovely hasn’t started nesting yet but I’m still keeping her in sight, even though as an experienced mom she knows all is ready in the whelping room.
When I gave her the raw meat diet at bedtime, she asked for more, so I gave her another .5# – and then another .5#.
9/26 I began cutting newspaper strips, about 3/4″ wide. The strips absorb fluids as each pup is born and are easy to grab in handfuls to remove before placing more dry papers in the box. When I had a bunch, I put them in the whelping bed. I will continue to cut strips until I have enough. It’s a time-consuming process since, to have them separate easily so they fill the bed and absorb liquids from whelping, I have to separate every newspaper section and cut each page separately. It is a slow process and pretty much my shoulder starts aching from working the paper cutter, so I will do several short sessions on each of the next two or three days.
The puppies must have shifted because suddenly Lovely is acting nauseated when food is placed in front of her. She absolutely refused the tablespoon of yogurt that is always part of breakfast. She wouldn’t eat the meat because it was in the same bowl. It was so obvious that she didn’t want anything to do with the yogurt that I removed it and reoffered her the meat. She ate the meat very delicately and refused any bit that had touched the yogurt.
9/27 This morning I offered the raw meat diet and the yogurt in two separate bowls. When she approached, she happened to get to the yogurt bowl first. She mad as wide a circle around it as she could and went to the meat bowl. As she ate, she kept an eye on the yogurt bowl as if it was going to bite her. Silly girl! I will not even offer any more yogurt until after she whelps.
9/29 I began taking her temperature this morning, a week before her due date. I will take it twice daily. Usually their temperature begins to drop as they get close to delivery, so I take it when she’s been resting quietly – each morning as soon as we awake, before she stirs around any, and in the evening just before bedtime. Usually, the week before they whelp, they’ll range back and forth between just over 100 degrees to tantalizingly close to 99. When the temperature drops below 99 and stays there, they’ll generally whelp within 12 – 24 hours.
Morning temperature was perfectly normal, 100.1.
GloryToo had a rally obedience class at 4, and I let Lovely hang out in the whelping room for the hour I was gone, both to let her out of the crate so she could stretch out comfortably for a while and to get her thinking about whelping there.
Her temperature at bedtime was 101.5, which is totally normal.
9/30 Morning temperature was 100.5; temperature at bedtime was 101.9.
Lovely continues to eat well at some meals, not so well at others, but still eating enough of the raw meat diet to keep up her strength for whelping. She finished the liver so I thawed out a beef heart and am supplementing the regular meat with it.
10/1 Morning temperature was 100.5; temperature at bedtime was 101.5.
Lovely was really miserable today. She fills her crate up and, though she doesn’t shift around or act unhappy, I felt she was so I put her in the whelping room in the afternoon when I did my weekly therapy dog visit to the nursing home and in the evening when I had agility class. She doesn’t like being in there if anything is going on, but if it’s quiet she will really stretch out and rest.
We did her pregnancy x-ray later this afternoon. Dr. Cindy saw 10 pups. I’m not surprised, she has gained 24# with this pregnancy. They usually gain about 2# per pup.
I always x-ray them just before their due date to get an idea of how many puppies to expect–so I know whether she is done, or just taking a break, when she shows no signs of another pup coming. I sure don’t want one left inside because she just got too tired.
10/2 Morning temperature was 99.8; temperature at bedtime was 100.8.
I put her in the whelping room while I had my morning agility class. After that we had a quiet day. I finished cutting enough newspaper strips and worked on the book for the Reading Dog kids, nice sedentary occupations during which I have music playing, so she knew exactly where I was and rested most of the day.
10/3 Lovely’s temperature this morning, 99.5, gave no indication that she would go into labor today. She was calm and content, although she would eat nothing, even the raw beef heart. I pottied her just before I went out to start ball sessions, then returned her to her crate. I don’t put the moms-to-be in the whelping room during ball sessions because they race in and out the doggie door and bounce around. They rest quietly in their crates since that’s what they do every morning until their turn for a ball session.
Imagine my surprise when I came back into the house after the first ball session (Berakah’s and Hesed’s), and heard an unmistakable squeak. I raced to the bedroom and sure enough, she had had a puppy.
I raced to the whelping room and pulled the whelping bed out into the middle of the room so that I could access all of it and have plenty of light. I turned on a heater to warm the area so the pups don’t chill when they’re wet from just being born, then headed to the bedroom. Lovely had had 2 more puppies in that short time! And was NOT happy that I had not been there. I carried her new family to the whelping bed and we settled in. Lovely gradually calmed down but if I had to leave to do something (such as put her soiled crate bedcover in the washer and grab my laptop and phone), she would go outside into her potty area. I finally closed the doggie door to keep her inside when I have to leave to rotate the other dogs out of their crates.
So, by about 10 a.m., we had two black females and a bicolor male. I usually wait to weigh a newborn and put on the collar until Lovely is busy with a new arrival, but I did these three as soon as Lovely settled a little. These pups can look like peas in a pod, so I note anything different – such as a splash of white on the chest or toes – since Lovely licks them so vigorously she can definitely remove a collar. I always put a blue collar on the first male born, and a pink collar on the first female. I put a pink collar on the first female I picked up, who was 10 ounces. On the second black female I put an orange collar after I got her weight: 12.5 ounces. I put a blue collar on the bicolor male, who weighed 10 ounces.
I took photos of the three. I put a fluorescent light fixture in the whelping room a couple of weeks ago, hoping it will help me take better photos in that very confined space. With the whelping bed pulled out into the middle of the room, and the cot for me to sit on, there isn’t much room for photography but the good light did seem to help a lot. I’m glad it did since my smallest lens decided it wasn’t going to focus, so I had to use the next larger lens.
Miss Orange is quite the adventuress. I don’t know how many times I had to rescue her from the far side of the bed and put her back with the others. Finally, about 11 a.m., she settled down to nurse seriously, with no more explorations.
To keep the pups from becoming chilled while Lovely is in labor with another pup, I put them on a heating pad. I have a couple of flannel pillowcases that protect them from getting too hot. The pups seem to love the softness and sometimes are quite irritated when mom noses them to check on them and ends up rolling them off the pad.
It is perfectly normal for bitches to take up to two hours between pups. I usually sit by the whelping bed and read a book, frequently checking mom as she peacefully nurses her pups. Nursing pups will create more pituitrin (which induces labor), so I was glad when Lovely settled down enough that the pups had a chance to attach to nipples. When she showed no signs 2.5 hours later of going again into labor, I gave her a pituitrin shot, which induces contractions (12:30 p.m.).
At 12:40, a black male was born. I usually wait to weigh and collar until Lovely is busy having another and not too worried about me handling the pup, so in the photos the new ones are often “naked” as well as wet; it just depends on when I get to photograph. The new pup weighed 12.5 ounces and got a brown collar. At 12:50, another black male was born. He weighed 13.0 ounces and got a white collar.
She started into labor soon afterwards but not really serious about it. I took her out to potty, since moving around generally helps them get going again. I can close off an area just outside the door where she is totally in sight. I need this because moms have been known to suddenly disappear into a “hole” and have a pup. I can keep her totally in sight while she has plenty of freedom to walk around and potty as many times as she needs to. Relieving themselves and then walking a bit to stretch aching and stiff muscles usually encourages them to return to labor all refreshed.
But this time not much happened, just occasional contractions. I eventually gave up and gave her another pituitrin shot at 1:20. A black female was born at 1:25, very stressed and not breathing at first. She was a breech presentation, out of the sack, and kind of doubled back so that she got stuck. Lovely kept pushing and I gently pulled, though it was hard without the sack – tail and hind legs were very slippery. We finally got her out and she was pale, not breathing at all. I think she would have been dead a minute or so later. Stimulated her and got her to crying. She weighed 10 ounces. I gave her a lilac collar and continued to monitor her. She was quiet but her color was normal and she seemed okay, with no stress breathing like at first, but I worried about her.
At 2:38, another black female, weighing 10.5 ounces was born. I gave her a tan collar.
At 2:45, she had a bicolor male. He weighed 12.5 ounces and received a green collar.
At 3:19, a bicolor male was born. He, too, was another breech, out of the sack and very stressed. I had to work hard to get him breathing. Lovely was really working him over, too. He weighed 9.5 ounces and got a purple collar.
Lovely was having contractions at long intervals, not really working on it, so I gave her another pituitrin shot at 3:40 to try to get that pup born before it suffocated. Once they detach from the uterus, they no longer get oxygen through the umbilical cord and will survive a limited time during their journey to the outside. At 3:55 another black female was born, alive and unstressed. She weighed 10.0 ounces and got a yellow collar. She was #10 so I started to relax. Imagine my surprise when at 4:00, out popped another pup: a small black male. He only weighed 8.5 ounces but was unstressed. I gave him a turquoise collar.
I waited a while to see if any more surprised might come, but Lovely settled down to doze and nurse her babies.
I then spread a cloth on the floor and moved the family out of the bed so I could clean it. I removed the rest of the newspaper strips, scrubbed and dried the bed, then put down newspapers and a big fleece pad. The pad will wick any moisture away from the pups onto the newspapers below, keeping them warm and dry. It also offers them great traction so they can move around as needed. Lovely will expel leftover fluids from the birth for a couple of days. As I lifted the pups into the bed one at a time, I snapped a quick photo or two. I couldn’t do more because I was trying to keep Lovely calm. The photos aren’t too good because I was holding her behind me with one hand while trying to focus with the too-big lens and catch the pup in a still moment. They are extremely shaky right after birth – trying to learn how to control their legs and head and stay right side up – all while totally blind. But I got one usable photo of each pup so you can see what they look like. The important things right now is not to stress them – or Lovely – any more tonight. In a day or two when they’re used to life in this big world, I can take more and better photos.
I pushed the bed under my old dining room table. This forms a nice, quiet, private, draft-free “den” for mom and pups. The pups can’t regulate their temperature until they’re 21 days old, so I have to keep their den quite warm – close to 90 degrees. I set a heater just outside the bed so it would keep the area warm. Once they were quiet and Lovely was resting, I began rotating the big dogs out of their crates to potty and have supper and cuddle time, frequently going in to be sure the pups were okay. Everyone was happy, so I fixed something to eat and had the usual evening cuddle session with each dog. By the time I got that done, I was ready to crash.
I set out my cot beside the whelping box and dozed lightly while listening for any pup to complain that it had rolled away from mom and was lost. They were quite restless and noisy until about midnight. After that, they must have figured out this new world and settled down to making a low hum, so I was able to get a little sleep.
I slept lightly because I was aware anytime a pup made any noise. Several times I turned on a flashlight to be sure none had rolled over and couldn’t find their way back to mom. It was always a complaint that Lovely had changed positions and dislodged someone from a teat. They did super well and all seem quite vigorous and healthy.
1 Day (10/4) I woke at 5 a.m., very stiff. Cots are better than the floor, but still not that great. All was peaceful, so I drug my weary body to my own bed for an hour.
When I got up at 6, I first checked the family. All was quiet, so I pottied Lovely and then put her back in the whelping room with her 1st breakfast (she’ll get two). I then began rotating the other dogs out of their crates for potty time, breakfast and a little loving. After another check on the family and an opportunity for Lovely to potty (for some reason they hate pottying in their private yard), I fed her her second breakfast and then started ball sessions.
When it was Lovely’s turn, I took her out for the usual 15- minute morning ball session. That’s the only things that will get the new moms to leave their babies and it’s really good for them: it gives their muscles a chance to stretch and recover if they are stiff from lying down for so long, and after all the pushing to give birth. The moms won’t potty much while they’re whelping, either, so the ball session gives them a chance to potty several times to catch up. The exercise stimulates the uterus to clean out any left-over fluids and begin contracting back to a more normal size. Lovely thoroughly enjoyed her ball session.
Lovely is VERY proud of her family. I left the new family alone most of the day, letting all of them rest and recover from the stress of being born, just going in frequently to check that no pup was lost or cold. I 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 so all was quiet each time I checked.
I keep close watch over them during that first critical week, weighing them each day to be sure that they are nursing properly and getting enough milk to grow. Each day I pull their fleece bedding 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. 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.
After I changed the bedding, I weighed the pups as I put them back into the bed. Miss Yellow had gained 1.5 ounces, making her 11.5 ounces. Mr. Blue (now 11.0 oz) and Mr. Brown (now 13.5 oz) had gained 1 ounce. Miss Lilac (10.5), Miss Orange (13.0) and Mr. White (13.5) all gained .5 ounce. Mr. Green (12) and Miss Tan (10.0) had lost .5 ounce, while Mr. Purple (8.0) lost 1.5 ounces. That’s not unusual; in fact, many will drop weight the first day, both from the stress of birth and because it takes a while for both the pups and the first-time mom to get into a good nursing routine. As long as the loss isn’t large and 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. Nevertheless, I’m not happy about Mr. Purple’s, Mr. Green’s and Miss Tan’s weight loss and will begin giving them special nursing sessions tomorrow. I watched the pups nurse for a while and all seems normal.
Several years ago, when I began doing the early neurological stimulation exercises on my litters, 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
As soon as all were quiet and against her side – either nursing or content to cuddle against her, I left them for the night.
2 Days (10/5) All was peaceful first thing this morning when I checked the family. The pups were all together and the bed was comfortably warm. It’s a balancing act this first week: keep the pups warm enough to thrive yet I can’t turn the heater up a lot or Lovely will start rolling up the fleece pad to get to the cooler floor of the whelping bed. I let Lovely out to potty and then fed her breakfast and left her while I rotated out the dogs who had spent the night in their crates.
I had an unpleasant surprise when I checked on them just before leaving for Ranchester to do Reading dogs at the elementary school: Mr. Purple was off by himself, cold and passive. I didn’t have time to do much but I always keep Nutrical on hand for stressed pups. It is an instantly digestible stimulant and nourishment that you gently spread on the roof of their mouth where it’s instantly absorbed. I also set up the heating pad and placed him on it. On the way to Ranchester, I called my vet and asked if they had any Esbilac (puppy formula). They did, so on the way home I picked up a can.
Mr. Purple looked about 200% better and was eager to nurse on Lovely, so I put down a rug and let him nurse by himself. When he quit, I gave him a little of the Esbilac. He didn’t like it but I coaxed him to swallow some as I dripped it drop by drop onto his tongue with a tuberculin syringe. Then I placed him on the heating pad and left him for a couple of hours. I repeated individual nursing sessions every 2-3 hours the rest of the day until bedtime and he seemed much better. After the last feeding just before I went to bed, I gave him a little more Nutrical to keep him through the night.
I also gave some Esbilac to the other pups who weren’t gaining a lot: Mr. Green, Miss Lilac, Miss Orange, Miss Pink, Miss Tan & Mr. Turquoise. That was an adventure! They don’t like the taste at all and make the most awful grimaces. I think I got as much on me as on them, but I wanted to get them well started. Weaker pups can be knocked off the teats by their larger, more vigorous littermates and give up, so for the first couple of days I’m constantly monitoring that all are nursing.
When I weighed them tonight, Mr. Brown (now 15.5 oz) and Miss Orange (now15.0) had gained 2 ounces. Mr. Blue (11.5), Miss Lilac (12.0) and Mr. White (15.0) had gained 1.5 ounces. Mr. Green (13.0) and Miss Yellow (12.5) had gained 1 ounce. Miss Tan (10.5) and Mr. Turquoise (9.0) had gained .5 ounce, while Miss Pink gained nothing (still 10.0). Mr. Purple had lost 1 ounce (7.0).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
- Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
- Stronger heart beats,
- Stronger adrenal glands,
- More tolerance to stress, and
- 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 (10/6) Today I got ready for the two weeks of neurological stimulations, which start tonight. I even remembered to dampen a towel and put it in the fridge so it’s ready for the thermal stimulation! I guess doing these exercises has now become a habit.
Mr. Purple was still alive this morning so, first thing, I gave him a chance to nurse on Lovely. He sucked a tiny bit but wasn’t very interested. At this point it’s hard to tell if he is still full from last night’s Esbilac and Nutrical, nursed on Lovely during the night, or is failing. As the day went on, I felt he was losing ground. He eventually quit trying to nurse at all, but he would still take the Esbilac. Last thing tonight, he was noticeably weaker and not interested in the Esbilac. I put more Nutrical under his tongue as I put him on the heating pad for the night.
I gave Mr. Green, Miss Pink, Miss Tan, Mr. Turquoise and Miss Lilac three special nursing sessions today, 20 minutes each. At the afternoon and evening sessions they seemed to want more time, so I will give them longer tomorrow. I again tried to give them some Esbilac, and again they resisted mightily.
I decided to give Lovely some raw liver each day for the next week, to supplement the raw meat diet and hopefully help her produce lots of milk for all the pups.
After I changed the bedding this evening, I did the first day’s stimulation tests. I did not do the neurological stimulation exercises on Mr. Purple as he’s already way too stressed. For previous litters I made a chart, thinking it would be interesting to see if any pups consistently respond to a test in the same way. In seven litters, I have not noticed any correlation in what a pup does on the exercises and how it grows up. I think their reaction is based more on whether or not they were awakened and/or startled when I pick them up. Sometimes it takes them an exercise or two to wake up and then they protest. Other times, they just yawn and say, “So what?” For this litter I’m only going to note extreme reactions – such as tonight when Miss Lilac & Miss Yellow really struggled and yelled as I did their exercises.
After I did each pup’s exercises, I weighed them before putting them into the whelping bed. Except for Mr. Purple (who lost .5 ounce), they gained between 1 and 3 ounces today. Mr. Brown (now 18.5) gained 3 ounces; Mr. Green (15.0), Mr. Turquoise (11.0) and Miss Yellow (14.5) gained 2 ounces. Miss Pink (11.5), Miss Lilac (13.5), Miss Orange (16.5), Miss Tan (12.0) and Mr. White (16.5) gained 1.5 ounces; and Mr. Blue (12.5) gained 1 ounce. Mr. Green is doing well enough I will not give him special nursing sessions tomorrow.
4 Days (10/7) When I checked on the pups first thing this morning, two of them had lost their collars – Miss Pink & Miss Orange. Just super, two black females with no ID. To tell who was who I had to weigh them, which woke them up and made them mad.
At least they are quite different in weight so I could figure out who was which and get their collars on. That’s the disadvantage of those Velcro collars – they begin unsticking from themselves and instead sticking to another pup or to the fleece pad. I tried on the smallest “real” collars but the pups are still too small for them. If the Velcro collars keep unsticking I may have to use Rickrack for collars until the pups get large enough for the next size collars.
As they flailed around and yelled, I noticed that Miss Orange has developed a brown spot under her tail. That means she is a bicolor rather than a black. I find it interesting that some of them show the brown under the tail at birth while others don’t.
The next time I went in, Miss Yellow had lost her collar. At least it just stuck to the fleece pad rather than another pup, but this is getting old.
Mr. Purple was still alive first thing this morning but much weaker. He wouldn’t even try to swallow the Esbilac so I gave up. I decided to call the vet as soon as they opened at 7:30 and see about taking him to be euthanized, but he died just before that. Poor little guy. I hate this, but it does happen, especially in larger litters. I think a pup can get squeezed enough that it doesn’t get all the needed nutrients or else development suffers a glitch. He’s fine in the womb, but once he’s outside, things don’t work perfectly and, in a day or two, the problems build up enough to put the pup into crisis.
The other 10 pups continue to thrive; the three smallest ones (Miss Lilac, Mr. Turquoise & Miss Pink) are benefiting from the special nursing sessions. I got three of those in today, 20 minutes first thing this morning, 30 minutes in the afternoon and 30 minutes in the evening. I added Miss Tan to the evening one. From now on, I’ll give the four smallest ones the special nursing sessions, no matter how much they gained that day, to try to help them stay close to the same size as the others. I again tried the Esbilac and again it was absolutely refused, so I gave the rest of the can to Lovely. It’s only good for 72 hours after it’s opened, and we were close to that anyway.
The next time I checked the pups, Miss Orange had already lost her new collar. I may have to go back to Rick-Rack collars since the Velcro seems greatly attracted to the fleece pads.
I put a bowl of kibble in the whelping room in case Lovely is ready to begin eating kibble again.
The pups gained between 1.5 and 3 ounces today. All that meat Lovely is inhaling is definitely going into milk. Mr. Blue (15.5) and Mr. Green (18.0) gained 3 ounces. Mr. Turquoise (12.5) gained 2.5 ounces. Mr. Brown (20.5), Miss Orange (18.5), Miss Pink (13.5), Miss Tan (14.0) and Mr. White (18.5) gained 2 ounces. Miss Lilac (15.0) and Miss Yellow (15.0) gained 1.5 ounces. Way to go, kids! They are still significantly smaller than the last litter was at this age, but then their birth weights were much lower, too. The big think is that they are steadily gaining.
While doing the neurological stimulation, I noted the pups need their toenails trimmed. It was too late to worry about that tonight, but I will do it tomorrow.
5 Days (10/8) A couple of times when I went in to check on the pups, I found Lovely lying outside the bed, close where she could watch them but be cooler. I put her bed back in the room so she doesn’t have to lie on the hard floor. Puppies are doing well and Lovely is now spending a few minutes visiting with me and soaking up some loving before returning to her family each time I let her out. She is a dedicated mom.
I’ve been busy. I working on the “Prepare for Puppy” packet so that Monday I can take to the print shop to be copied. In it I have all kinds of suggestions for the owners-to-be on how to get ready for baby. I contacted the testers and am trying to get the temperament test dates scheduled.
Tonight I again changed the bed papers and fleece and then did the neurological stimulation exercises, weighing each pup before I put it back in the whelping bed. Mr. Brown (22.0), Miss Orange (21.0, Mr. Turquoise (15.0) and Miss Yellow (17.5) gained 2.5 ounces. Mr. Blue (17.5) gained 2 ounces. Miss Pink (15.0) and Miss Tan (15.5) gained 1.5 ounces. Mr. Green (19.5) and Mr. White (19.5) gained 1 ounce, while Miss Lilac (27.0) gained .5 ounce.
I also made a list of who is now showing what color. Sure hope we’re done “changing our spots.”
For solid blacks, I now have Mr. Brown, Miss Lilac, Miss Pink, Mr. Turquoise & Miss Yellow. For bicolors I now have Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Miss Orange, Miss Tan and Mr. White.
I then did the extra nursing session with the four smallest (Miss Lilac, Miss Pink, Miss Tan & Mr. Turquoise). Once they were nursing peacefully, I took one of the others out at a time and trimmed toenails. Was that a battle! Those pups may be small but they’re strong and did they every struggle and squirm. It took 20 minutes to do the 6 pups. Then I did the four who were nursing. They didn’t take quite as long since I could do the hind feet while they nursed. Then I had to pop them off their nipple and try to trim the front feet before they got too mad. I think I had 4 minutes left of the 30-minute nursing session when I finally finished, but at least it was done. Next time I’ll have to have someone hold them while I trim nails.
6 Days (10/9) All the pups were fine first thing this morning when I checked them. I gave them a 30-minute nursing session before starting the big dogs’ ball sessions. They got another in the afternoon and one this evening.
This afternoon I took photos but the darned “close” lens still isn’t working. The photos looked focused in the little viewfinder, but when I began to edit them tonight, the pups were blurred and stuff behind them was focused. Darn it! I will try again tomorrow with the next-largest lens, but with that one I need to be farther away and I don’t have much room to maneuver. Plus I can’t move them (they always turn their faces away and their little butts towards me) without putting down the camera, moving forward, repositioning them, backing up and grabbing the camera hopefully before they turn away again. They were trying to get up a bit on their legs and walk so I was especially disappointed those photos didn’t turn out.
When I changed the fleece pad and newspapers tonight, the pad was soiled, and the newspapers underneath had several damp spots. That shows that the pups are now able to potty on their own. They no longer must depend on Lovely to lick them to stimulate urination and defecation. Now I’ll begin changing papers and fleece twice a day.
I’ve about decided that the problem with the Velcro collars coming unstuck is with the one newest (green) fleece pad. I got it for the last litter and it’s still very thick and fuzzy. The collars stay on the pups when I have the old cream pad and blue pad down. I’ll try the purple one tomorrow. And I packed the green one away until they are wearing thick collars. I hated to do that, since it offers such tremendous traction for the pups, but the others should work just fine.
As usual, I weighed the pups after I did the neurological stimulation exercises. Miss Lilac (18.5) gained 3 ounces; Mr. White (22.0) gained 2.5 ounces; Miss Pink (17.0) and Miss Tan (17.5) gained 2 ounces; Mr. Brown (23.5) and Miss Yellow (19.0) gained 1.5 ounces, Mr. Green (20.0) & Mr. Turquoise (15.5) gained .5 ounce; while Mr. Blue (17.5) and Miss Orange (21.0) stayed the same weight.
7 Days (10/10) All was well first thing this morning – including all collars still on pups. Thank goodness!
After I did the first special nursing session, I took more photos. At this age, they shake a lot as they try to lift their heads, move them from side to side and move a little. And, of course, everything is difficult when you can’t see, too. You can tell they’re really making an effort. As they get stronger the shaking abates, but right now, but it sure ruins a lot of photos, especially the ones of them head on. Even a slight tremor gives focus problems. Thankfully, when I started editing the photos tonight, I found quite a few were nice and sharp. What a relief! I do think I’d better doing some research and try to find another lens, one that allows me to be closer than 6’ to the pups. In my small whelping room, it’s an effort to be 6’ away AND keep the camera level.
I again did three 30-minute nursing sessions for the four smallest pups. As of last night’s weighing, Mr. Blue was added to the extra-nursing group, while Miss Lilac gained enough weight that she was no longer one of the smallest. He’s nursing quite vigorously so I’m not particularly worried about him. And I’m thrilled Miss Lilac, who had the most difficult birth and was the most stressed of all 11 that first day, has graduated out of the special group. I’ll check at each night’s weighing to make sure she doesn’t need extra help.
I had read that some breeders supplement the mother with goat’s milk and then start their litters on it. The “Puppy Culture DVD series and breeder’s workbook recommend it, too. Supposedly it has smaller molecules than cow’s milk which makes it more easily digestible, and it doesn’t cause any digestive problems like cow’s milk sometimes does. I had never tried it but decided I might with this litter since they are so small. They are gaining steadily but in smaller increments than most litters.
They should also be able to learn from watching their mother to lap up the milk a few days before they can suck and swallow pieces of the raw meat diet. I ran down to the Farmer’s Market this morning and luckily found some goat’s milk. The people are local and said they would meet me in town with more milk whenever I needed it so I don’t have to wait until the Saturday market. Lovely still refuses to eat only kibble and is eating 5# of VERY expensive raw meat diet every day. Maybe I’ll be lucky and can put some kibble in her goat milk and gradually get her back to eating kibble so I can reduce the raw meat portion.
I also decided to try the “Mother’s Pudding” that Jane Killion (Puppy Culture) feeds to her lactating bitches to give them energy and increase milk production. The mix a package of cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix, egg yolks and sugar with goat’s milk, cook to pudding consistency and serve to the moms. I made a batch and, once it cooled, offered it to Lovely as an extra meal.
The pups get visibly stronger and more active day by day, and Lovely is now spending more time away from them. She will be on her bed or at the gate when I open the gate to check on them or let her out. On her rotations out of the room, instead of a quick potty trip and gulped meal, she has begun contentedly hanging out with me for a bit before going back to resume her motherly duties.
When I weighed the pups after I did each one’s neurological stimulation exercises, Mr. Brown (27.5) had gained 4 ounces! Mr. Blue (20.0) and Miss Orange (23.5) had gained 2.5 ounces; while Miss Lilac (20.5), Mr. Turquoise (17.5), and Miss Yellow (21.0) gained 2 ounces. Mr. Green (21.0), Miss Tan (18.5) and Mr. White (23.0) gained 1 ounce; and Miss Pink (17.5) gained .5 ounce. Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Miss Lilac Mr. Turquoise and Miss Yellow have now doubled their weight! Others should pass that milestone tonight. Hurrah!!!!
The bicolors are now showing tan hairs on the backs of their legs. It’s so fascinating that they appear black at birth and only gradually the tan appears. Irritating, too, to have to keep changing the descriptions.