XX Litter Diary

XX Litter Diary

Whelped 7/11/22: 1 black sable male
background information
pedigree

 I am extremely grateful to Whelpwise (Perinatal Veterinary Specialties, www.whelpwise.com), a canine pregnancy support group, for their help with this litter.  I have been highly impressed with their expertise and availability at all hours, day and night. 

Scroll down for earlier entries and photos.

27 Days (8/7)  Mr. X is now too large to fit in the gallon-sized bowl I used on the postal scale, so now I have to use the baby scale.  He weighed 4.9#.  He ate nearly all of his breakfast.  I have figured out that he doesn’t like the meat cold, so I left his ¼# lunch out of the refrigerator so it would be at room temperature.  He ate more of his lunch than he had been, so I did the same for his supper, which he also ate well.

I opened the sheet on the gate halfway to let more air into the room since he can now regulate his own temperature.

Since he’s eating well, I decided to discontinue Lovely’s hormone shots after the one tonight.  He’ll be 4 weeks old tomorrow, so if she dries up he will easily transition to just solid food.

Today he had serious frustration exercises.  I waited until we returned from training (since Lovely got to go train) before setting up sections of an ex-pen to form barriers.  Two sections closed off about ¾ of the opening to the bed.  Two others blocked most of the way between the two halves of the room.  These are great experiences because the pups have to figure out that standing, yelling, looking at the place they want to go does not do any good.  It teaches them to turn on their brains, turn away from the desired destination (VERY hard for pups to learn) and walk along the barrier to the edge. 

I first made sure he could figure out how to get into and out of the whelping bed, with Lovely providing the incentive for him to figure it out.

Then I encouraged her to go to the far part of the room and lifted him there with her.  She, of course, walked through the opening to the barriers and he followed her.  I then left them.

When it was time for lunch, I first put the bowl on the towel at the entrance to the whelping bed and waited for him to go through the opening and get to the food.  Then I moved the bowl to the back area and watched as he figured out how to get to it.  I started to leave then, but he left his food to come towards me so I quickly got far enough away to get some photos.  After he got some loving, he turned back to his food and allowed me to leave him quietly. 

Marlene had planned to come see him at 2 p.m., but the day was way too bright to do an introduction to the outdoors, so we’ll try another day.  I took him outside when I returned from Mass, about 6:30, since I had a lot of shade by then.  He loved it!  I love to watch his nose working – and it sure was working tonight. He explored happily for a few minutes then found me and wanted a love-in. I obliged.  Then Lovely came over to check on him and he followed her for a while before returning to me.  We were outside for about 30 minutes before he started getting tired – and crabby.  Time to take him in and let him process all the new impressions. He had quite the day!

I took way too many photos today to be able to edit them tonight, so they’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

26 Days (8/6)  Mr. X weighed 4.625# (2100 grams) this morning.  He ate nearly all of the ¼# of raw meat diet I put down for him!  There was one bite left.  Good boy!

I cleaned his room but didn’t set up an enrichment experience because he’s scheduled to have two visitors today – and go outside for the first time during them.

The weather, however, didn’t cooperate. I managed to get in a good training session at Craftco (Lovely didn’t get to go since she would be entertaining visitors today; she goes tomorrow morning).  But a few minutes after I got home, the heavens opened and we had a day of fantastic rain.  My morning visitor, Claudia, came shortly after I got home, content to do her visit inside, but my afternoon visitors wanted to be outside. We’ll try again tomorrow.

Amazing what happens when the neurological system is finally all hooked up.  Now I should begin to see what he’ll really be like as far as personality.  Drives will start coming in a little later.  Right now he’s beginning to explore his world, which is exciting to see, because he seems to change by the hour as he interacts with things he didn’t notice before.

He enjoyed having their enrichment exercise in a larger area, with both his first stranger AND some toys.  Did he ever enjoy all the attention, particularly being held in her lap!  Claudia stayed for about an hour, so I got a lot of photos – including some really cute ones! 

When Claudia occasionally put him down, he marched around exploring, meeting the other dogs (Hesed & Varoom!, Hopeful & Justice) who are crated in the living room, and then finding me.  He tried to climb in my lap but couldn’t quite make it on his own, so I helped him.  He tasted my fingers – and I could feel teeth through the gums.  The age of sweetness and innocence will soon be over.  Once he discovers those teeth, he’ll use them on everything.

He showed only very mild interest in the toys and no effort to pick one up, very typical at this age.  Once he knows he has teeth, that will change!  He is sure at a super-cute stage!

He fell asleep in Claudia’s lap.  When she left, I put him in the whelping room but didn’t offer lunch even though it was about lunchtime. All of us took a nice nap – cool temperatures and rain make such great sleeping weather.  I gave him lunch when we woke, but he wasn’t very interested.

Tonight he was exploring how he could grab my finger with his teeth.  He ate nearly all of his supper.


See all the 26-day-old photos

 

25 Days (8/5)  Mr. X weighed 4.56# this morning. I think I could see a crack in his ears, though it was hard to tell because he was struggling a lot.

When I cleaned the room, I doubled the fleece pad in the whelping bed so that it’s higher off the floor and hopefully will encourage him to see it as a sleeping place rather than potty area.  That left the front half of the whelping box with just newspapers, then a towel to give traction on the drop where they go from the whelping bed onto the board and then onto the floor. I also left Lovely’s little fleece pad where she jumps in and out of the area and put one by the doggie door to keep those newspapers stable.  The rest of the floor is just newspapers. 

One of the nice things about having more newspaper-covered floor (as opposed to all of it being covered by flannel for traction), is that I can change soiled papers every time I go into the room, keeping the room much cleaner.  It’s very important for later housetraining if pups are raised in a clean environment.  He is already going away from his sleeping area to eliminate – the only problem is that he sleeps all over the room, wherever he collapses, so then he pees and poops everywhere.  Until he moves outside, I will be very busy cleaning, washing – and will need lots of newspapers. 

Today is “foot” day for enrichment exercises. I had some bubble wrap that I thought he might like to grab and carry, but he never did.  It provided a first experience of walking on unstable surfaces and hearing weird “pops,” mostly as Lovely or I walk across it since he is still too light to do any bubble popping.  I put the green piece of bubble wrap between the towel holding the newspapers on the board and the fleece pad.  I spread the other strip of clear “fat” bubble wrap on the other end of the room. I also put down two Styrofoam pieces that we use in beginning clicker-training classes when we’re teaching dogs to freely offer behaviors.  That will give him an experience of stepping up and walking on top of something.  I no sooner put down the enrichment items than he was checking them out, barely giving me time to grab and turn on my camera.  

One thing the Puppy Culture materials urge breeders to do is to help the pups learn to handle frustration from an early age.  A big suggestion is to have small barriers that the pups have to go over or around in order to get to their meals.  The last time I ordered a new fleece pad, which is 5’ wide, I asked them to cut the extra foot off (my whelping bed is 4’ x 4’) before they shipped it.  That 4’ x 1’ strip, rolled up and taped, made a nice barrier to try today.  I used a long cardboard roll that a strip of flannel came rolled onto for a second barrier.  Mr. X was definitely frustrated by the things in his way – especially the fleece roll – and told me so.

When I took his lunch in, I switched the position of the two barriers so that Mr. X had to go over the fleece roll to get to the meat.  He climbed over the fleece roll, sniffed the meat and then turned away.  I thought that was strange, so I lifted him back by the bowl to be sure he knew it was there.  When he turned away the second time, I decided he just wasn’t hungry.  Sure enough, he maneuvered over both barriers and headed to the doubled pad in the whelping bed for a nap.  I had given Lovely one long ball session early this morning and eliminated the second one since she the last few days she hadn’t done much running during it, probably because the day had heated up by then. The elimination of that second ball session shortly before lunch meant she hadn’t been away from Mr. X so he had probably been nursing.  He did eat a good bit of his supper.


See all of today’s Enrichment Experiences photos

 

24 Days (8/4) Mr. X weighed 4.15# (2010 grams) this morning.

Today is “feel funny under your feet day” for enrichment experiences.  I put down a small plastic bottle and a larger jar that will roll nicely, a muffin tin, an egg carton, a scrunched-up piece of aluminum foil, one of the containers from the Lady Godiva chocolates gift box, a muffin tin, a food tray and a plastic tray that gives if Mr. X walks across it. The area closest to the bed was quite full of new things!  Each time I entered the room, I moved objects to different places, to stimulate Mr. X to notice something if he hadn’t already.  It’s not important that I see pups investigating things.  The important thing is that they get used to their environment constantly changing, and it becomes normal to change their idea of where they’re going or what they’re going to do.  I want my pups to leap, with enthusiasm, into each new experience in life.

The last time I made rolls, I had used the foil to cover the rolls for the first half of their baking time, and then kept it in case I had a use for it again. It’s possible it retained a slight scent of the rolls. Mr. X is the first pup who has ever acted like he was picking up on the butter or yeast aroma.  Good boy!

It did make taking photos difficult.  I lost track of how many times I picked him and put him around other obstacles, then scooted away and tried to focus the camera so I could get other photos.

He got three meals today, each 1/8#.  Each time he left a bunch of meat for Lovely to happily clean up.

I picked up all the enrichment items when I took his supper in.  Later, we had a little love-in before all of us went to bed.  Mr. X struggled so much that I had a hard time checking his ears, but I think I saw a slight crack.


See all of today’s Enrichment Experience photos

 

23 Days (8/3)  Trills and barks greeted me this morning when I walked past the whelping room and when I opened the gate.  I checked to see if Mr. X’s ears were open.  Not yet, but all the little bumps and wrinkles are extremely defined so it will be soon.  Litters often become extremely noisy just before their ears open.

Mr. X weighed 3.785# (1726 g).  Lovely decided she wanted to nurse him on the little fleece pad, so I changed the whelping bed first this time.  Then I convinced her to move there so I could change the floor.  I put Mr. X with her and started work, but he decided he needed to “help.”  I managed to get the flannel covers off the floor – moving him a couple of times in the process.  Thankfully, he wandered back to Lovely about the time I started changing papers and I was able to finish the floor change in peace.

For today’s enrichment exercise, I took two cardboard boxes and, to be sure Mr. X didn’t somehow upend one and get trapped inside, cut two openings in the sides.  I spread out the flaps so that they might attract some puppy teeth.  One box contained some brown packing paper, so I put it out, too. I also put down a small piece of firewood so he could investigate the texture of the bark.  He liked that. 

As soon as I put the things on the floor, he left Lovely and headed to investigate – definitely new behavior.  He checked out the firewood and paper first, then suddenly headed towards Lovley’s bowl of kibble, first time I’ve seen him show interest in that, too.  When I changed flannel and papers today, there were no yellow spots (from pee) and I haven’t seen him in that far part of the room before, so I consider this significant exploratory behavior and it makes me feel those ears may be open tonight or tomorrow.  I chuckled when he paused and considered tugging on the towel under Lovely’s food and water bowls.

He then wandered back to the paper.  I picked him up and put in him one box.  It was funny to watch him come to the opening towards me but decide to turn around and eventually go out the back opening.  He came around the box to me and I put him in a second time, and that time he came out the front opening.  He verbalized a bit, definitely saying he was frustrated by the confinement in the box.  I try to give the pups occasional frustration exercises to teach them about “real life,” that things won’t always be easy in the beginning and that they have brains to figure out how to get what they want. 

I then put him in the other box, which I had placed at the entrance to the whelping bed.  Lovely had by that time moved to the whelping bed and I got some neat photos of her watching him figure out how to leave the box and go to her.

Since Mr. X showed interest in Lovely’s food, I decided to see if he was ready to start eating on his own.  When I 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 – very important while they’re still in the whelping room.  I divided 1/4 pound of the raw meat diet into small pieces and put it in a puppy bowl, which is low-sided with a raised center so the pups can investigate food without totally crawling into it.  I put out enough meat that there are tiny bites all along the edges of the circular bowl, so that wherever Mr. X approaches (or falls into) the bowl, he would encounter a food reward. 

I knew Mr. X wouldn’t eat that much meat, but I haven’t found a small bowl that is only about 1” tall.  Everything I had or could find at the pet food store had rims too high for a pup, so I had to use my regular puppy bowl – and didn’t want him to approach it where there was no meat and be discouraged.  I was impressed when he started eating as soon as I put him down close to the bowl.  I even got two photos of him taking a big bite of meat!  Usually at first they just suck at it and end up pressing it into the bowl, but not this boy.  Very nice!

Lovely is getting ½# raw meat diet at each of her three meals, so I gave her 3/8# for her lunch and used the other 1/8# for Mr. X, adding another 1/8# I had.  He didn’t eat quite 1/8#.  Lovely was thrilled to clean up what he didn’t finish.

I did the same thing at supper, this time just making sure he was in the vicinity of the bowl but not putting him close.  By the time I turned from the doorway, he was eating away.  He didn’t eat quite as much tonight.

 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.  The pups sometimes start eating on their own a few days later with this method, so in a big litter the moms don’t get relief as soon as before, but I think it encourages the pups from the very beginning to make an effort and be proactive, rather than passively accepting being fed. 

When I introduce the meat, I also put down a water bowl from which the pups can drink.  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.

Even though he can’t yet hear, I always give a high-pitched “Puppy, Puppy, Puppy” call as I enter the room with the meat.  That way, they learn from the beginning that coming brings rewards, because it’s one of the first things he hears when his ears open. 

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.

When I did my therapy dog visit to the Alzheimer’s Unit this afternoon, I asked if they would like Lovely and Mr. X to visit next Wednesday.  He’ll be 4 weeks old then.  Years ago, I used to take moms and litters together at that age, so I thought I’d try it again with the Unit.  They were thrilled!  Then he’ll begin visiting by himself after he’s 5 weeks old.

I checked ears last thing tonight.  Not quite open.


See all of today’s Enrichment Experience photos

22 Days (8/2)   Mr. X weighed 3.61# (1650 g) this morning.  After I weighed him, I trimmed his nails and wormed him.

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

I managed to find the blanket out in the shed this morning.  Naturally, it was in a tub on the very bottom and back of the stacks of tubs.  I was about to give up and find a small throw to cut into strips when I finally found it. We were blessed with a cool, cloudy morning, so I didn’t have to rush through ball sessions and wait until all were finished before setting up Mr. X’s Enrichment Experience.  After Lovely had her ball session, I took time to hang the blanket at the entrance to the whelping box and to take photos.  I put Lovely on a down stay out of the way and put Mr. X down by the blanket.  He definitely noticed it and seemed to be having fun trying to take one of the strips in his mouth.  I released Lovely from her stay and she promptly headed into the whelping bed.  He went towards her and then came back out to play with the blanket and then find me.

I was disappointed that the photo of him falling over as he grabbed the strip was too blurry to use.  Another good one was slightly blurred but still usable.  Oh, well, I got some good ones. 

Tonight I again checked ears.  Still not open.  We had quite the cuddle session before bedtime, with him trying to climb over my legs and in and out of my lap.  He wasn’t successful but he sure tried. 


See the Enrichment Experience photos

21 Days (8/1)   As long as I have to give Lovely the hormone shots, I’ll weigh Mr. X every morning.  Once his ears open, signaling all neurological systems are hooked up and running, I will begin offering him the raw meat diet.  Once he’s eating, I can quit Lovely’s shots. Today he weighed 3.385# (1539 g). 

The little knobs inside his ears are becoming more prominent and defined, but they still haven’t moved apart to create the openings of the ears.  He is getting much fuzzier, which signals he’s getting ready to be able to regulate his body temperature, another thing signaled by the ears opening.  The third major ability is being able to learn and to reflect on what he experiences as he begins to build an understanding of the world and his place in it.

I began his enrichment experiences this afternoon.  Several years ago, 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 fourth 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 few litters I decided to start earlier like the Puppy Culture people do, and it was fun.  Usually, for the first day’s new experience, I hang a small blanket cut into relatively standard strips over the entrance to the puppy bed.  It stimulates them to use their eyes in a different way by having something vertical that looks totally new and also moves.  However, that blanket must be out in the shed.  It was 3 p.m. – and 97 degrees – so I decided to go with a different experience.  I’ll try in the morning when it’s cool, to find the blanket and use it for the Enrichment Experience tomorrow.

I usually clean the room and put out the day’s experiences early in the morning, but with the heat wave we’re currently having, I’m rushing to get out and start ball sessions as soon as possible.  My therapy dog visit today was cancelled because they have a covid outbreak, so at least I could change the room and put out the articles in the early afternoon and he would have plenty of time to fall over/investigate them before I pick the stuff up at bedtime.  Tomorrow and Thursday I don’t have to go anywhere so this schedule will work.  Wednesday and Friday I have therapy dog visits in the afternoons so I may have to figure something else out.  No use hoping we’ll have cool weather so I can do the puppy room before starting ball sessions.

I put on the floor an old cooking pan with a handle, a big lid, a cake pan lid, a jelly roll pan, a big metal spoon and a small wooden rolling pin.  I thought the reflection off the metal pan and lids would be interesting for him, both the metal and wood would be new things to taste, plus the rolling pin would (naturally) roll and the jelly pan would rock.  He wasn’t too impressed.  He kept trying to find either Lovely or me. 

Eventually I got some photos of him with the objects.  I created a “Enrichment Experience” page on the website and will add photos to it as the week progresses.


See the Enrichment Experience photos

 

With only one pup and a VERY attentive mother, I’m not having to change many newspapers, so I’m only changing everything every other day. That means tomorrow’s photos will have the same fleece pad and flannel.  Hopefully tomorrow’s photos won’t be too boring with the same background…

20 Days (7/31)   Mr. X continues to gain steadily.  This morning he was 3.21# (1450 grams).  He continues to become more and more responsive when I go into the room.  Tonight he was cupping his head in my hand and leaning into me.  Such a sweet boy.  I checked his ears since tomorrow is usually the big day when all neurological systems are complete.  His ears were still closed, though all the parts are now clearly defined.  It won’t be long. 

19 Days (7/30)  Mr. X is doing so well (this morning he weighed 3.045#, 1387 grams), that I decided Lovely could go with us to train nosework.  I like to go to Craftco Metalworks early on Saturdays and Sundays, taking three dogs each day.  She was thrilled!

Today, each time I checked on Mr. X, if he was awake, he tried to follow me.  When I knelt down to greet him, he really responded to my touch, leaning into my hand and wagging his tail.  I love this stage when they’re still sweet and soft, with no teeth or desire to use them on my body parts.  This is the stage where I “waste” a lot of time in the whelping room. 

I decided he was ready for me to open the entire room, so tonight I did so. Thankfully, he was asleep in the whelping bed so I didn’t have any “help.”  It took quite a while to open up the room, since it’s larger after I moved a lot of stuff that previously was under the shelves out to the new shed.  That meant that the old divider to keep pups from the doggie door out to Lovely’s potty area no longer fit; it was too short.  I eventually got it lengthened and in place, covered the floor with newspapers and then put flannel down for traction. 

Then I asked Lovely to move to the little fleece piece and moved Mr. X to nurse there while I changed the big fleece pad and newspapers in the whelping bed. 

I then tried to take some photos of Mr. X’s enlarged living area, but he kept searching for me. Yes, me, not Lovely.  In fact, once he had found her in the whelping bed but caught my scent and turned away from her to come to me.  It was really cool watching him use his nose and head to me, but it sure made photography difficult.  Several times I had to pick him up and put him far enough away that the camera could focus.  We had to have a nice love-in, at which he draped himself over my arm which was resting on the floor and talked to me.  Eventually he was satisfied and let me back off and get a few more photos.

He seems to be trying to figure out his world.  Of course, he can only see vague shapes and the contrast between light and dark at the moment, but his world has vastly enlarged. 

As he begins to walk better, I will leave areas without flannel covering in hopes of starting potty training, but for right now he needs that traction. 


see all the 19-day photos

 

18 Days (7/29)  Mr. X weighed 2.865# (1295 grams) this morning.  I was relieved that he gained pretty much the normal daily amount without my being there to make sure he was nursing frequently. What a relief!  Sleeping in my bed last night was fantastic; I sure didn’t want to have to go back to sleeping on the floor in his room.

It won’t be long before he’s eating, so I ordered a sack of Large Breed Puppy kibble.  I am going to try Fromm’s Large Breed Puppy Gold.  Whelpwise is adamant that we feed the pregnant/lactating females the Fromm Adult Gold, so I have been. Last time, Lovely refused to go back to the Nulo after she weaned her litter, so I ended up changing to Fromm’s breeding program and putting all my dogs on their gold series – adult or senior.  It will be interesting to see if Lovely will eat the Puppy Gold formula.  She is still eating just the Royal Canin – from my hand.  At least she’s eating the raw meat diet on her own now.

            I was a little concerned about Mr. X this morning because he was always in the whelping bed.  This afternoon, though, he was in different places each time I checked, mostly in the room.  I want to see more exploratory behavior before I open up the whole room.

            Once this afternoon I caught him sitting like a real dog.  I love when they start doing that.

            His face is growing.  I love their little Roman noses, which are really noticeable from a side view at this age.  His 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. 

            We had a little love-in tonight before bedtime.  As soon as he noticed that I had sat down beside him, he sat up and wagged his tail madly.  I love that, too!  He visited quite a bit, leaning into my hand as I petted him and talking to me.  I half lay down, resting on my elbow, and he worked until he managed to climb over my arm on the floor.  Once he did that, he must have realized he was hungry.  Suddenly his head lifted; he was obviously on scent.  He had located Lovely, who was in the whelping bed, and left me for her.  I petter her for a bit while he nursed, then left the room.

17 Days (7/28)  Last night and early this morning, I noticed that Mr. X was moving from the floor into the whelping bed and then back.  Finding him with Lovely in different places assured me that he can handle a larger living space.  Doing that means taking out my cushions, so now I’ll actually be able to sleep in my bed. WOW!  Today I didn’t have to go anywhere, so it was a great time to change the room setup since I could check frequently that Mr. X was okay.

After I removed my cushions, pillow, laptop and other supplies, I put up another 8″ board on the side where Lovely has been entering and leaving, to make sure Mr. X uses the area prepared for him rather than climbs over into Lovely’s section, which has no papers or blankets on the floor. 

Then I put up a 12″ board to define Mr. X’s new floor space. Lovely can easily step over it to get to her water, bed and the doggie door to go outside.  I unscrewed the hinges to the folding side of the whelping bed and took it off, lying it flat on the floor.  That makes two ½-inch “steps,” one from the whelping bed to the board, the second from the board to the floor, which proved with the last litter to be low enough that puppies can negotiate them with no trouble. 

I put newspapers over the board and floor and, over them, a flannel runner for traction.  I also put out a small fleece pad where Lovely will land as she jumps over the 2’ gate that keeps the pups away from the doorway.  Mr. X woke up when I moved him onto the flannel runner in order to change the fleece pad and newspapers in the whelping bed, so I weighed him.  He weighed 2.665# (1210 grams) this morning.

I took a few photos of Mr. X’s new digs and was tickled that, while I had the camera on, he woke up and started searching for Lovely, who was in the whelping bed.  I got photos of the whole search, and Lovely’s response.  Having only one puppy sure allows me to watch interactions between mom and pup. Lovely is very attentive but doesn’t baby him.  He has to find her, learning to use his nose well.  She was talking to him in a very low voice and it sure sounded like encouragement.  He can’t hear, but can he catch voice vibrations through the boards and covering?  I bet he can!


See all the photos

I then left both of them to get used to the new arrangements and, when I finished rotating all the other dogs out to potty and have breakfast, checked on them.  Lovely, of course, came to the door when I approached, but Mr. X was contentedly sleeping in the whelping bed.  When I took Lovely out for her first ball session, he was in the new area.  When I took her out for her second session, he was in the whelping bed.  Both times he was asleep.

I checked him frequently throughout the day.  No whining or signs of discontent.  And, whenever I let Lovely out of the room, she only wanted to stay with me a few minutes before asking to go back to her son.

I sat in the whelping room tonight for an hour, to make sure Mr. X nursed well before I spent the night in my own bed.  I sure missed the other 2 dog beds and my air mattress that cushioned my old bones the last 16 days!

16 Days (7/27)  I didn’t realize until tonight that I never weighed Mr. X this morning.  Not having to report to Whelpwise, I concentrated on getting outside early to start ball sessions before the day got hot and, in the process, didn’t think of weighing him.  I guess I’ll start weighing him every few days now, unless he starts getting fussy like he’s not getting enough food.  He is not one to suffer in silence.

His eyes are now open.  Welcome to the world, little one.  Bright light hurts immature eyes.  Those blue eyes won’t turn brown, and handle light well, until they’re about 5 weeks old.  I closed the curtains in his room.  Now that his eyes are open, he should start exploring and be much more fun.  I didn’t see a lot of action today, though – all he did was eat and sleep.  When he does move, he is trying to get up on his legs and walk – for short distances.

He was not pleased with the camera flash when I took photos tonight, turning away so I didn’t get many photos.  I did get some photos of him noticing Lovely was close and heading to her.  I had her stay in the whelping bed while I tried to get closeups, then let her ooze closer when he just wanted to snooze.  Eventually he woke up enough to find her.

He was sound asleep when I needed to do the neurological exercises.  And not too pleased to be awakened, feet tickled with the Q-tip, or held head down.  By the time we got to the supine exercise, he was sticking his tongue out at me.  It was probably a coincidence, but it sure was funny.  I’m sure he’ll be thrilled that this is the last day for the exercises.


See all the 16-day-old photos

 

15 Days (7/26)  This morning Mr. X weighed 2.36# (1068 grams).  Whelpwise says I can stretch Lovely’s injections to every 12 hours, at least for 4-5 more days.  After that, if I want to try taking her off the oxytocin, I can, but if her milk dries up, it won’t come in again.  Otherwise, I continue the twice-daily oxytocin shots.

I checked Mr. X’s eyes when I weighed him and they are nearly open.  Later, he figured out he could brace against the wall and hold himself on his back, waving his legs – for exercise, I guess.  It was hilarious!  I tried to sneak to the office and get my camera, but just as I returned he rolled o his side and headed for Lovely.

Today I deliberately spend a lot more time out of the whelping room, to get Lovely used to more time by herself.

He is getting up on his legs and trying to walk.  Tonight I took out the pig rail and one side, putting the board on the floor so that there’s only a little step up onto it and then another tiny step into the whelping bed.

When I did the neurological exercises, he struggled and gave me a baleful stare during the supine exercise.

14 Days (7/25) Mr. X weighed 2.13# (969 grams) this morning.  Thankfully, Lovely is producing enough milk despite the lengthening of time between hormone shots.

Mr. X is doing well enough that today I took a nap in my own bed.  I didn’t get a lot of sleep because the three young ones (Hopeful, Justice and Varoom!) each had to come on the bed at different times – Justice twice – to check on me.  None of them curled up and stayed, but it was obvious they were quite glad that I was where I belonged.

I had 30 minutes to sit in the whelping room and pacify Lovely, who was not pleased I napped elsewhere, before I took Justice (4:30 p.m.), and then Varoom! (6 p.m.), to their obedience classes.  I had just enough time in between to check that Mr. X was fine. 

When I did the neurological exercises tonight, I saw that Mr. X’s eyes are about 2/3 open.

13 Days (7/24)  Some glitch on the website kept me from getting yesterday’s update up.  My webmaster fixed it this afternoon. Hurrah!!

Mr. X weighed 1# 15.7 ounces (900 grams) this morning.  I increased the time between Lovely’s oxytocin shots to 8 hours.

Twice today I caught him sound asleep while hanging on to a teat with his front teeth.  SO funny!

I’m mystified by what color Mr. X actually is.  He doesn’t look like a sable; more like a really dark black and tan.  He has super dark tan on his feet, but the rest of his body looks black.  That shouldn’t be, though.  Titus should have only sable and black genes (Hesed being homozygous sable and Cantor having to be homozygous black since it’s the least dominant color in GSDs). Sable is dominant over all other colors.  Lovely looks like a bicolor but has thrown black & tans (b/t being dominant to bicolor), so she has to have the black extender gene like her mother, Glory Too, does.  It will be interesting to see how his color changes as he gets a little older. Something tells me this pup is going to do things HIS way…
           
When I did the neurological exercises tonight, I noticed his eyes are half open.  I expected as much, as today he’s been trying to get up on his legs and take steps.  No success, but it won’t be long. When they open, I’ll take more photos.

12 Days (7/23)  This morning I realized that Mr. X had doubled his birthweight yesterday morning.  Hurrah!  In the deliberations over the new scale I didn’t pay attention to the total ounces being 26 7/8 by the old scale.  (He was 13 ounces at birth.)  They usually accomplish that by 6-7 days of age.

This morning he weighed 1# 13.3 ounces/827 grams.  He’s doing well enough now that I thought it safe to spend 4 hours this morning and 2 hours this evening catching up on the mowing.  I mow for about 30 minutes while one “play group” packs their balls around and drops them in front of the mower to try to entice me to get off it and throw them.  Then we come inside and those dogs (or dog; a couple have individual ball sessions because they don’t like company during the serious business of retrieving) cool off for a few minutes before I crate them and get the next ones out, doing turns in the same order as I do ball sessions.  At 1 p.m. the day was hot enough that we quit and had lunch and a nap.  About 6 p.m. the sun was blocked by enough trees that I could go out and finish the mowing.

Tonight when I did the neurological exercises, I noticed that Mr. X’s eyes are open a slit.

11 Days (7/22)  I was finally able to find a postal scale and it came last night.  This morning I weighed Mr. X on both it and the kitchen a I’ve been using, and gave both figures to Whelpwise.  They were slightly different:  kitchen scale said 1# 10 7/8 oz, while the postal scale said 1# 12.7 oz.  Kitchen scale said 788 grams, while the postal scale said 814.  I like the postal scale because it has a much bigger tray – and I have to use a bigger bowl now that Mr. X is growing.  Whelpwise noted the two weights and that I will use the postal scale from now on.

We had a peaceful day.  He is doing well enough that I resumed ball sessions, though shortened ones since I can’t get outside as early as usual with all Mr. X’s monitoring and discussions with Whelpwise – and it’s starting very early working on getting to the 97-100 degrees that are forecast.  Lovely was thrilled to get TWO ball sessions.  She is normally next-to-last on the ball play, but to keep her happy -not bouncing around as the others went back and forth – I let her go out with Justice.  He usually has one early session by himself, then joins her for hers, so I did the pair twice today. 

Since I now only have to give Lovely a hormone shot every 6 hours, I was able to get in a great nap, which sure helped brain activity.  I was able to think enough to process everyone’s comments about which of the two dates for rescheduling Dave Kroyers’ nosework seminar will work best for them.  He had to have knee surgery and had to cancel our August 5-7 date.  All of us are very disappointed as at least 4 people coming to the seminar from out of town were looking forward to visiting Mr. X – and I was pleased at all the socializing opportunities.  He’ll be gone by the time we do the seminar, now September 16-18.

I had to laugh at Mr. X today. I caught him practicing rolling over, and back, and over, and back. His eye slits are very defined.  I bet they start to open a bit tomorrow.

10 Days (7/21)  Mr. X weighed 1# 8 5/8 ounces (698 grams) this morning.  Since he’s doing so well, Whelpwise said to space Lovely’s hormone shots 6 hours apart now.  We’ll probably have to continue them as long as she’s nursing, but should be able to give fewer and fewer per day.

And my massage therapist tested that she had a cancellation at 4:30, which I snapped up.  When I had to cancel my regular appointment the day he was born, I couldn’t reschedule because she didn’t have an opening for a while.  I sure needed the massage after 10 days of sleeping on the floor.  Gosh it felt good!

9 Days (7/20)  I forgot to mention yesterday that, when I checked the diary from the last litter, to see how Mr. X compared with the others in development at 8 days, I saw that I had noted that Lovely had consented to eat her raw meat diet when I fed her with a spoon.  I tried that last night and, sure enough, she ate it all. 

I had started putting a bowl with a cup of Royal Canin kibble in the whelping room.  Yesterday Lovely would check that I was settled on the cushions with the laptop and then casually go over and clean it up.  I had to fill it three times.  This was in addition to hand feeding her kibble at all three meals, sitting in my chair in my office and offering 2 pieces at a time until she said she had enough.  So I wasn’t surprised that her milk was coming in.  Not surprised, but so very grateful!

Today went the same.  She ate ½# of raw meat diet at each meal, by the spoonful.  For the first two meals I thawed out the turkey/sardine raw diet, but for supper I offered the beef formula. She never blinked an eye except to tell me to feed her faster.  She ate kibble from her bowl and my hand.  Now I only have to mix one teaspoon of bone meal in the ½ cup of ice cream, as opposed to mixing in two teaspoons before today.  And she is now licking the bowl from her ice cream/bone meal supplement each morning and evening – it has to be less gritty and more inviting. 

They are both super happy with Mr. X spending the day out on the fleece pad in the room rather than in the whelping bed.  I only put him in the bed when I’m going to be gone.  So the room is warm enough, even if not as warm as I usually have for the babies, who can’t regulate their body temperature.  Sometimes he cuddles against Lovely; other times they separate and sprawl separately. 

He also spent last night out in the room.  I moved the heater from the whelping bed to their part of the room and he never showed any signs of being uncomfortable.  I slept with my head/pillow next to their area in case he got lost or cold or upset, but he never did.  What a peaceful night!

He is quite entertaining:  he will sleep anywhere, but when he wakes his first thought is to find mom. Sometimes he reminds me of a seal or walrus as he pulls himself along in search of her; sometimes I think of an inchworm.  He can cover the ground pretty fast. He doesn’t always want to eat immediately but just needs some cuddling, then he’ll stretch out against or close to her and go back to sleep.

When I called Whelpwise with the morning report (nice weight gain:  he weighed 22 5/8 ounces (640 grams), they asked if I had slept well overnight since I only had to get up once to give Lovely an oxytocin shot.  I told them I had and it was great, but today I was dying for naps.  They said that was typical – you live on adrenalin those eight days when you’re focused on saving that pup, then when he’s over the danger, you relax and the adrenaline drains away, leaving you exhausted. I agreed – I seemed more brain dead today than during the past week.

Mr. X is beginning to look absolutely rotund.  This afternoon he tried to sleep on his back but kept tilting over. His ears are sticking out of his head. His eyelids are beginning to be very defined, first step in opening.  And his coat is growing so that he looks fuzzier.  He is the picture of contentment and has a totally different personality now that we’re not doing frequent feedings and weighings.  He’s also pretty placid during the neurological exercises, hardly squirming and taking the cold towel in stride.  Tonight, when I finished the exercises, he just scooted over to snuggle with mom.

I heard from both testers.  We have scheduled the police/narcotics test for Thursday, September 1st at 9 a.m., and the Search & Rescue test for Friday, September 2nd at 9 a.m.  The arena is reserved. Hurrah! 

8 Days (7/19)   First thing this morning, I grabbed the camera in time to catch a couple of photos of Lovely nursing sitting up.

This morning, after still another long nursing session that didn’t produce weight gain, I called Whelpwise to confer.  They said to quit weighing and supplementing him all day, then weigh at 6 p.m. and call them.  They want to see if he’s not seriously nursing (thought he looks like it to me) because he isn’t that hungry with all the supplementation he’s receiving, so today he is on his own.  Meanwhile, every 3 hours I will give Lovely .1 cc of oxytocin to see if a little more will get that milk flowing (she was getting .05 cc every time we fed Mr. X).  I am thrilled – and I am sure HE will be thrilled – not to be having to weigh and tube feed him all day!

I weighed Mr. X at 6 p.m. as instructed, and he was up 24 grams to 602 grams (or, up 1 ounce, now 21 7/8 ounces)!  Whelpwise said just give Lovely an oxytocin shot every 4 hours throughout the night, weigh Mr. X in the morning and call.  We can have a quiet night.  YES!!

I heard from Bonnie, my SAR tester.  She can do her test on Friday, September 2nd.  I emailed that date to Suzan and waiting  to hear from her what day that weekend she can do the modified police/narcotics test.

I trimmed Mr. X’s nails and it wasn’t a huge deal, probably because I hadn’t been irritating him all day.  Whew!

I gave him a while to rest and nurse, then took some photos.  I could see a BIG difference in him.  Super relaxed and content, all he wanted to do was nap during the photo session, until I let Lovely join him.  I even managed to get a photo of her holding him down with as she cleaned him.    


see all the 8-day-old photos

 

7 Days (7/18)  Since Mr. X survived the first critical week, I emailed both testers to get the temperament tests scheduled.  The best time to do the tests is just after they turn 49 days old, which he will attain on August 29th.  We would normally do the tests the following weekend, but that’s Labor Day weekend so the scheduling will be harder to accomplish.  Suzan (35 miles away), who does the modified police/narcotics test, is free that weekend, but Bonnie, my Search & Rescue tester, Bonnie (200 miles away), is judging a nosework trial that weekend.  It may take her a few days to decide when she could come. She’s far enough away that it involves staying overnight, so she’s harder to schedule.

Lovely seems to be producing a little milk so sometimes Mr. X gets enough that I don’t have to supplement, but other times he hardly gets any so I have to tube feed him.  He was fighting the bottle so much I gave up on it.  He is gaining slowly overall and is now up to 1# 2 ounces.

Lovely prefers to stretch out on the fleece pad on the floor rather than in the whelping bed, so Mr. X was getting lonely.  I started putting him out with her every so often so he can cuddle, and he seems much happier.

I noticed tonight that I need to trim puppy toenails – always an adventure.  He’s pretty darned strong really squirms and yells when I weigh or tube feed him, so I’m not looking forward to toenail trimming.  I’ll do it tomorrow.

6 Days (7/17)  Mr. X showed much more enthusiasm about nursing today.  In fact, at the 1 p.m. feeding, he nursed for an hour!  I had planned to take some photos, then let him rest before the feeding while I hot packed Lovely’s breast to try to get milk flowing easily for the nursing session.  After I got some individual photos of Mr. X, I allowed Lovely to join us.  Today I noticed, when she entered the whelping bed, she was no longer lying right by him.  Instead, she would lie on the other edge and ignore him.  It didn’t take him long to figure out he had to find her – and he seemed to like the game.  He can’t yet get up on his legs and walk, but he quickly noticed her joining him on the afghan and “oozed” quickly to her, over her foot and grabbed a teat.  I got a few photos of him exploring the afghan – that nose is already working seriously!  He moved with such purpose and sped that I had to put him back about 6 times in order to give the camera a chance to focus.  I got some photos of him nursing (notice how his legs and tail move as he nurses), and some sweet interactions between mother and son. 


see all the 6-day-old photos

I thought he was never going to quit nursing.  SO exciting. 

I weighed him when he quit nursing and there was hardly any difference, so he wasn’t actually getting much milk, but he seems to think it’s a possibility now.  He refused the Esbilac in the bottle, seeming insulted with the rubber nipple, so I tube fed him the formula to be sure his tummy was full.

At the 4 p.m. feeding session, he totally refused to even try nursing.  Then, at the 7 p.m. feeding, he nursed very aggressively for 17 minutes AND afterwards weighed significantly more and his tummy looked full. I called Whelpwise and they said this was great.  In fact, they said to put him on to nurse whenever he wakes up, weighing before and after, and if he gains some weight don’t bother to try the bottle or tube feeding.

They said we may be past the worst, that her milk should finally be coming in.  If I wasn’t so tired, I’d jump for joy.  Instead, I started the neurological exercises.  As I expected, he did not take kindly to the exercises.  He only shut up when I put him on the cold, damp towel.

Since I woke him up for the exercises – and it was 10:30 p.m., I put him on Lovely to nurse before we went to bed.  I was wishing I had remembered to bring the camera back into the whelping room after I downloaded this afternoon’s photos, because she sat to nurse him. I quickly got the camera, but by the time I returned, she had laid down with him.

He nursed for 39 minutes but this time didn’t show any weight gain, so I tube fed and we went to bed.

****

Prep

5/24/22:  I need to replace nearly all my flooring.  To make that possible, I needed more storage.  I can’t buy prebuilt sheds because they wouldn’t fit through my gates to get to where I wanted them – one on the west side of the trailer by the front door out of the living room, under the big roof overhang so it is sheltered; and the other on the east side of the house close to the big puppy pen. I had room in both places for a 6’ x 8’ shed.  One of the local lumber yards contracted with a master contractor to custom build sheds, and for an additional fee, he would build them on site.  I signed up as soon as I found out.  I told them I needed them finished before the end of May and, luckily, he finished the second shed today.  Hurrah!!

5/30/22:  I began moving all the tubs of puppy supplies out to the new shed and boxing/moving everything else out to the “dog” shed on the east, to make room for nearly all my flooring to be replaced.  Once the whelping room was empty, I began the same process with non-dog stuff, moving all of it into the other shed.  I had to clear out the spare bedroom so I could put the dogs’ crates back there when they did the living room and my bedroom.  By the time I got everything moved, both sheds were full.  Amazing how much room I have now in the house.

6/2/22:  Lovely’s coat finally grew back after being shaved in January so we could monitor her pregnancy with Whelpwise.  I managed to schedule a photo shoot with a professional photographer Shirley McPheeters of FFF Photography, before we had to shave her again for this litter.  Shirley’s photography business started out as strictly dog (and possibly other animal) photography and was originally called Four Footed Photos.  The kids love the “Photo with Santa,” trading card of GloryToo, which Shirley took.  I figured she might have some other seasonal backdrops and props that would make interesting photos for the new series of trading cards (Easter, other holidays and maybe other themes) that the kids would enjoy.  She said she did, and she also had some saddles and other gear that would make good props with some of her backdrops.  Today I took GloryToo and Lovely to her studio for a big photo session.  We got some great new photos so I can make more trading cards to give to the kids at Reading Dogs.  I originally made 18 for each of my Reading Dogs but they’re so popular, and kids participate in Reading Dog for several years, that I needed to make more.

6/14/22  We did Lovely’s first ultrasound and Dr. Cindy saw two, possibly 3. 

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.

6/20/22  The flooring guys did the whelping room today.  Does it ever look nice!

6/24/22:  Peace descended when the flooring guys finished doing the whole house and left today. 

6/25/22:  I started putting things back into their usual places and carrying in whelping supplies and arranging the whelping room.

I set everything up so I could do Lovely’s monitoring sessions in the whelping room.  That way the other dogs can be loose, playing in the house and yard, those two-plus hours a day that we’re monitoring. 

I put down a dog bed for Lovely to lie on, and a big water bowl for when I leave her in the room – which will be every time I leave for more than an hour.  I also put shredded newspapers in the whelping bad.  All is now ready.  She has a doggie door to a sheltered potty/outdoor lounge area, and a comfortable, quiet spot to stretch out and rest while I’m gone.

I made sure everything I’ll possibly need is ready.  The camera battery is charged, settings are adjusted for whelping room and batteries in the new external flash attachment. I practiced a little with my new macro lens.  Hopefully that lens will give better photos of the pups during their first weeks when I must photograph them in the confined spaces of the whelping room.

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.

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 new “pig rails” I built 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. 

From now on, whenever 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 doghouse to doghouse, 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.

6/29/22:  My friend, Debbie, sent a nice box of Lady Godiva chocolates to keep me from stressing during whelping.  She started that as stress-relief when I was awaiting Hesed’s litter (VV litter) and I’m grateful she decided to continue it with each litter.

6/30/22:  I scheduled Lovely’s x-ray for Thursday, July 7.  That will show us how many puppies she has.

The monitoring equipment from Whelpwise arrived.  Since Lovely surprised all of us by whelping 5 days early last time, we’re starting to monitor early. 

I set everything up so I could do Lovely’s monitoring sessions in the whelping room.  That way the other dogs can be loose, playing in the house and yard, those two-plus hours a day that we’re monitoring. 

For the monitoring session, you have the mother dog lie flat on her side and put a little sensor under her.  You monitor one side for 30 minutes, then have her get up and lie down on the other side, doing it for 30 minutes also.  Then you send the medical data over the phone and Whelpwise watches it, looking for any early contractions, what they call “irritability.”  Each time they call and let me know what they saw.  If the bitch starts having contractions, we will put her on some anti-contraction meds until her due date.

I put down a dog bed for Lovely to lie on and a cushion for me to sit upon during the monitoring sessions.

7/2/22:  This afternoon Jocie, the owner of our local pet store (Muddy Pawprints), shaved Lovely’s abdomen so that the sensor will work better.  She definitely looks strange with her sides and abdomen shaved and only a patch of hair over her backbone!  She has such a gorgeous, shiny coat that we hated to shave it off.  I noticed that the pups had dropped.  BIG change since this morning.

I did the first monitoring session tonight.  All is calm.

7/5/22:  Lovely has begun refusing kibble and only wants her raw meat diet. Whelpwise insists they need kibble for carbohydrates.  They said to scramble some eggs with the eggshells in and put it over a piece of toast.  We tried that for her late breakfast, and she totally refused it.  She wouldn’t even eat the meat in the bowl.  I finally had to take every tiny crumb of egg/toast off the meat.  She then ate the meat for lunch.  I divvied up the egg/toast in the other dogs’ lunch bowls and they vacuumed it up with gusto.

The daily monitoring sessions continue to show no tiny contractions, so I had just started to relax and quit worrying about premature whelping.  However, when I headed into the bedroom to let Lovely out of her crate, I found she had destroyed her crate bed.  On her last litter, the first I knew that she was going into labor five days early was when I heard a strange noise, kind of a mischievous squeak, headed to the bedroom, and discovered her bed in shreds, foam everywhere – and suddenly a puppy appeared. 

“Not again!” I thought.  Thankfully, she was just bored, or maybe she resented the plumber’s presence as he hooked up the new sink the floor guys had installed. 

7/6/22:  I finished cutting newspaper strips, which I use to absorb fluids from birthing.  Whelpwise wanted me to start searching for and monitoring fetal heartbeats but I asked them if we could wait to start until after the x-ray tomorrow. That would let me know how many heartbeats to look for.

As of tonight, we are now on puppy watch, with me taking Lovely’ temperature twice daily.  Usually their temperature begins to drop as they get close to delivery.  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. 

Normal temperature is 101.5.  This morning she was 100.6; tonight, she was at 101.1.  I take it when she’s been resting quietly.  Usually I do it each morning as soon as we awake – before she stirs around any, and then in the evening just before bedtime, when she’s been quietly resting. 

7/7/22:  We did the x-ray at 4 p.m.  She was so gassy that Cindy could only see 1 pup for sure, which she thought strange since she had been sure she saw two pups on the ultrasound.  I have to take her back at 8 in the morning and not feed her beforehand.  Lovely hadn’t eaten her lunch because she refused to eat the bone meal that Whelpwise had me sprinkle on it (again trying to get calcium in her), so why she was so gassy is beyond me.  Cindy says the pups aren’t very calcified yet, which should mean she’s not going to whelp early like last time.

Whelpwise said to now begin monitoring uterine activity twice a day.  So far no sign of any contractions.  Tonight, after the monitoring session, I searched for fetal heartbeats and could find only one, on her left side.  I had her turn over so I could search her right side.  I searched for 15 minutes and could find no other heartbeat.  I’m very bummed.

This morning she was 101.1; tonight, she was at 101.7. 

7/8/22:  Lovely was extremely crabby this morning since she had to wait for breakfast until after her x-ray.  Then, when we got home, she refused her breakfast.  This morning’s x-ray showed only 1.  Now I have a new worry: sometimes a single pup doesn’t move around enough to generate enough hormones to start labor.    I’ll have to monitor the heartbeat at least twice a day in case the pup becomes stressed, so we can rush Lovely in for a c-section.  In 45 years of breeding, I have only had 1 singleton litter – that was Jubilee, who is Lovely’s great-great-grandmother.  Jubilee was born in 1998.

This morning Lovely’s temperature was 101.0; tonight, she was at 101.7. 

7/9/22: I’m still trying to find ways to get her to eat enough to keep up her strength.  Today I tried putting her food in separate bowls:  raw meat diet in one, Royal Canin in another, and for breakfast and supper, raw beef liver in a third.  That worked for breakfast.  For lunch she refused both meat and kibble, and for supper she only ate the liver.  BUT I found that if I give her a handful of Royal Canin each time she goes into her crate, rather than the usual one piece, she will eat it all, thinking she hit the jackpot.

Whelpwise told me tonight that often they go late whelping with just one pup.  Oh, great, the food battle will continue.  They have me giving her Tums for calcium, 2 three times a day, and a Vitamin D capsule once a day.  That’s a battle, since she fights me as I try to open her jaws and put them down her.  At least one pup taking calcium from her bones in order to form the its bones is minor compared to if she were carrying a big litter. One isn’t going to hurt much.

This morning she was 101.1; tonight, she was at 101.3. 

 7/10/22:  She only ate her raw liver this morning.  She wouldn’t touch the kibble, until I hand fed her.  At least I got a cup down her to start her day. 

 I do feel she’s carrying this pregnancy Prima Donna attitude a little too far.  After Justice ate 3 garden hoses, I have to block off areas when I water.  When I’m watering in the main area (where we do ball sessions), they can’t go out the front door and turn right to go around the west edge and north end of the house to the back yard to come in the doggie door.  Instead, they have to turn left and go through a gate that is normally closed, that leads into the back yard on the south end of the house.  Then they go along the east edge of the house and eventually to the doggie door.  The other 9 easily figured out to double back when they got to a closed gate that wasn’t normally closed; in fact, they seem to find it great fun to find which gate is open at any given time. Not Lovely.  She absolutely refuses.  She will sit at one of the front doors forever, expecting me to open it.  I have several times gone out and walked with her through the newly opened gate and eventually to the back door/doggie door.  It makes no difference. She isn’t going to go that way.  Drives me crazy!

The uterine monitoring showed calm again this morning, but when I did the Doppler heartbeat search, I couldn’t find the pup.  I caught a faint heartbeat a couple of times but couldn’t hone in on it.  It was deep in the groin this morning, and even trying a search while Lovely sat and stood rather than lay on her side did not make the pup accessible enough.  Whelpwise said not to panic, since the uterine monitor showed that the pup was really kicking this morning – thus healthy – and to try the Doppler later in the day and see if the pup had moved into a better position.  I did it again just after Lovely had her ball session, found the pup and the heartbeat was good.  Whew!  Such a relief. 

Tonight was a repeat – no success the first (normally scheduled) time.  Later I took her out to help me set sprinklers, etc., to get her moving, and we were then able to find the heartbeat.

This morning she was 101.0; tonight, she was at 100.8. 

Birth

7/11/22:  This morning she was 100.9.

Today, for the first time, on the uterine monitoring they saw a tiny bit of irritability.  The pup was again hiding this morning when I tried to get its heartbeat rate, so once again we decided to try again after Lovely’s ball session.

I did a couple of ball sessions and then took Lovely out (with Justice as usual) for her ball session – about an hour before her usual timne.  As she has lately, she only wanted her ball thrown a couple of times, spending the rest of the 15 minutes sitting by my chair watching me throw the ball for Justice.  I discourage them chasing the ball in late pregnancy, but they get real crabby if they miss “their” daily playtime, so we go out and don’t get wild – and it helps keep them pottying and moving around so they don’t stiffen up.  A couple of times as we sat there, she would suddenly turn to lick at a discharge, which put me on alert.

I had planned to try again for the fetal heartbeat, but as we headed back to the house, I noticed what looked like a drop of blood just coming from her vagina.  As soon as we got inside, I grabbed a Kleenex and caught it.  Sure enough, I got a reddish stain.  I immediately called Whelpwise and they had me take a photo of the Kleenex and send it to them.  We then tried to get a fetal heartbeat but couldn’t zero in on the pup, which seemed to be moving up towards the birth canal.  Karen asked me to do another monitoring session and put the sensor high on her abdomen where we had caught a faint heartbeat, which I did. 

I sent the session to Karen.  While I waited for Karen to review it and call, Lovely became quite agitated.  When I saw her cock her tail a certain way – that I have only seen during whelping – I decided she was going into labor.  Karen called as I was heading into the whelping room and agreed with my instinct.  We were right!  She had her first contraction at 12:29 and first serious contraction at 1:03.

She wasn’t having frequent contractions, which frequently happens with one pup; singletons not moving around enough to generate the strong hormone release that causes contractions.  We gave her some calcium and eventually a little oxytocin, to encourage stronger labor.  A couple of times during the labor Karen had me put her on the uterine monitor, and once check fetal heartbeat.  That is quite the adventure when she’s in labor!  After the second monitoring session, I left the room long enough to hook the monitor up to send the data to Whelpwise – maybe 3 minutes.  When I returned, she was in serious labor and less than a minute later “Mr. X” was born, at 4:08.  A black sable male, he weighed 13 oz (394 g) and was nicely vigorous.
           
Relieved, I put a blanket on the floor and transferred Lovely and her pups to it so that I could clean the whelping bed.  I removed the newspaper strips, then scrubbed the bed, put down newspapers and covered them with a thick fleece pad to provide traction for the pup and absorb moisture and wick it away from the pup so he would stay dry and warm.

That done, I took a few photos before I pushed the whelping bed under an old dining table to form a draft-free den.  Since he’s an “only,” I didn’t put a collar on him.  I’ll call him “Mr. X.”

I then spread out my sleeping bag on the dog beds, and finally got to bed at 11 p.m. 

Whelpwise said not to leave them together unsupervised for the first two days, as sometimes moms will reject or even eat the one pup.  Lovely went the other direction – she was a little too attentive, licking, licking him constantly and in the process knocking him off the teat every time he tried to nurse.  I did a nice, supervised nursing session before I turned off the lights, kneeling by them as the pup nursed and fending off Lovely’s attentions so he could get some milk in his tummy without disturbance.

I didn’t sleep much as I was alert for any sound of distress if the pup rolled away from Lovely or got rolled onto.  Newborn pups make a lot of noise as they adjust to the huge new world they are now in, instead of the safely confined womb.  That usually doesn’t make for much sleep for me

1 Day (7/12)  The night was pretty peaceful.  “Mr. X” didn’t get lost or cry, so I just regularly checked on him.  Weighing him this morning showed that he had lost a little more weight that we like: he was down to 12.5 oz (360 g).  I called Whelpwise and they said to do supervised nursings, 30 minutes every two hours, and to weigh him before and after to get an idea how much milk he was getting.  Sometimes mothers of single pups don’t come into much milk, so we need to know right away if we must supplement him, before he starts to weaken.  They also said to have the pup nurse on all four of the back teats (the more easily-productive teats) but not the others, to avoid mastitis.  So I time him on each teat, about 6-7 minutes, then move him to another.  All this takes about 45 minutes every two hours, so I’m not getting much else done!      

Lovely continues to refuse the raw meat diet but will eat raw liver and kibble from her bowl if it’s beside me.

I continue to spend most of my time – and all night – in the whelping room.

2 Days (7/13)  Lovely is still not eating, not even the raw-meat-diet that she generally loves.  Neither will she eat the spoonful of vanilla yogurt with acidophilus bacteria (for good digestive health) that I give my dogs with their raw meat breakfast. Normally she loves that, too. 

She will still eat a slice of raw liver twice a day. Unfortunately, I finished my liver last night.  My friends who buy a beef each year usually give me the liver and heart for the dogs, but I don’t think they’ve gotten their meat yet.  I still had a beef heart they gave me last year (heart will also induce milk production like the liver does), so I thawed it out overnight.  I offered some at each meal today and she acted like I was trying to poison her.

She will eat some Royal Canin kibble if I hold the bowl.  Whelpwise says that’s better than no carbohydrates, though they looked at the label for the Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult formula kibble and said no wonder the dogs like it, since the first 3 ingredients are sugar.  The only thing she eats with enthusiasm is the ½ cup of ice cream in which I mix 2 teaspoons of bone meal (for calcium) that Whelpwise has me give her twice daily.

Today Mr. X is still at 12.5 oz, so we tried giving him Esbilac (puppy milk replacement formula) diluted with sugar water, in a bottle.  (Straight Esbilac often makes the new babies constipated.)  He HATED the nipple and spent so much energy fighting it that Whelpwise said we’d better tube feed him.  I have to feed him every 2 hours and the whole process takes about 45 minutes.  First I give him, by syringe, 4 cc’s of sugar water to give him energy and make sure he doesn’t get dehydrated.  Then I stimulate him to pee/poop before weighing him.  30 minutes of supervised nursing follows that.  At the moment, he still thinks he’ll find milk in a teat and is doing well searching for the nipple and attaching to it.  I have Lovely lie on a fleece pad out in the room, rather than in the whelping bed, so I can see well.  I put him on all four back treats for about 7 minutes each.  Then I weigh him.  The difference between the two weights tells us how much milk he got from Lovely – which proves to be none. 

Then I feed him the formula, but he fights being held, having the tube placed down his throat so the food goes directly into his stomach, and being held still while I slowly depress the syringe to send the formula through the tube.  For such a young pup, he’s very strong – and squirmy.  He will lash out with his front feet and swat the tube, try to spit it out and generally make it difficult for me to keep the other end of the tube on the syringe.  Tonight I started rolling him in a light towel (like you do to restrain a cat to give it pills) so only his head showed, holding the towel shut with a big rubber band so that I could get the formula down him before he freed his front feet.  The percentage of formula actually getting into his tummy is improving greatly. At least he’s finally beginning to gain some weight.  Not much, though, so Whelpwise said to do the whole feeding routine every 90 minutes all night.

After each nursing session/weigh-in, I call Whelpwise, and they tell me how much formula to give him the next time.  After I tube feed him, I again weigh him to determine how much food he got. To get him used to the supplement, we started with 6 cc’s of mostly sugar water with a little Esbilac added.  Gradually we increased the volume we gave him, eventually getting up to 13 cc’s about 3 a.m.  At the same time, we were gradually increasing the amount of Esbilac and decreasing the amount of sugar water.

I continue to spend most of my time – and all night – in the whelping room.  I am pretty stiff from sleeping and sitting on cushions.  And brain dead.

These puppy duties are hard on the other dogs, too.  Their daily routine is out of the window – and GSDs are VERY set on daily routines they can depend on.  They haven’t had their daily morning ball sessions, which serve to blow off excess energy as they get one-on-one play time with me, since Sunday.  They also aren’t enjoying our usual evening cuddling sessions – or trips to town or training classes – anything. 

The young ones – Justice, who is 13 months and Varoom!, who is 8 months – are particularly having a hard time since they don’t have the experience to know that puppy duties end and regular routine resumes soon.  They already had been in trouble for deciding to play tug with the garden hoses.  In the process they drug a sprinkler around and ruined two new-last-year 100’ (expensive!) hoses and an older 50’ one.  Since then, I have been closing gates to keep them away when I run sprinklers. Tonight I was watering an area where the cross fence was only about 8’ from the sprinkler’s location.  That has never been an issue, but when they both came inside soaking wet, I headed out to look.  The monsters had grabbed the hose and pulled on it until they drug the sprinkler into the gate, tugging so hard that they pulled over the metal sprinkler stand, drug it into the gate and popped off a leg, ruining it.  They then had a blast chasing the water that the sprinkler head kept shooting out into the air and into the ground as it made its rotation.  It dug a hole and made a nice big puddle for them to splash in.  I could have killed them.

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 by not worrying if they roll off the pad onto the cool floor while I change the fleece pad in the whelping bed

See Early Neurological Stimulations illustrated page, part 1):        

3 Days (7/14)  I was telling my friend Ginny about Lovely and the heart, and she said she had a package of liver left from their beef.  She dropped it off today.  I immediately started it thawing so Lovely had her liver at lunch and supper.

I continue to give Lovely bone meal mixed in ice cream twice daily, and a tiny injection of oxytocin before every puppy feeding.  Both are designed to bring her milk in.

She is refusing to eat any of the Royal Canin kibble unless I play the Toss It game that we do for fun. It involves having the dog sit a distance away and throwing a treat for them to catch.  We play it a lot at Reading Dog.  The kids love it and the dogs find it a lot of fun because the kids, who aren’t very coordinated yet, can’t be depended on to throw the treat in the same direction two times in a row.  Lots of laughter accompanies the end to a child’s reading session when he or she asks for the treats.  To get Lovely to eat today, I even used the treat jar rather than just dishing out some treats.  She had fun, and I got at least a cup of kibble down her at each of the three meals.

Whelpwise said that, if Lovely’s milk doesn’t come in, I will have to feed Mr. X for at least two weeks.  Since I only keep one can in my whelping supplies because I need it so seldom that it usually expires, I decided I’d better get more Esbilac, but when I asked my vet, they said they didn’t have any.  I then called Jocie at Muddy Pawprints, to get her to set back a can or two for me until I was able to leave the pup and go to town, but she didn’t have any, either.  I became worried that we might have a shortage of Esbilac like so many other items since covid hit.  Since I can’t leave the puppy yet, I ordered some off Amazon.  Once I can be gone for a bit, I’ll check the other local stores.  Sure hope someone has some, since the Amazon order won’t arrive until the 22nd.

Tomorrow I must leave long enough to get another kitchen scale.  Mine has started acting weird, giving much lower weights this afternoon and evening than it did this morning. Another strange thing is that it sometimes gave a lower weight just after I tube fed Mr. X some 14 ounces of formula than it did just before I tubed him. Whelpwise and I decided the scale was going bad and I’d better get another.  I just got it for the January litter so I’m not very pleased with its lifespan.

The good news is that Mr. X is steadily gaining weight.  I had hoped perhaps Whelpwise would let me go longer between feedings tonight (or not do them all night), but no such luck yet.

I took a few photos.

One thing about a singleton litter is that I get to watch so many interesting interactions between mother and son.  Today I caught Lovely lying in the whelping bed intently staring at one edge. Looking more closely, I could see that Mr. X had crawled under the pig rail, where Lovely couldn’t get to him.  As I watched, she lowered her head until her chin rested on the fleece pad and just lay watching him sleep.  She stayed that way for quite a while.

Normally I would begin the neurological exercises tonight, but Mr. X is being stressed enough right now.  I hope to begin tomorrow. Everything is ready and the towel is damp and in the refrigerator.

Tonight I slept totally through the alarm the first time, and a couple of other times didn’t wake until the sleep alarm went off 5 minutes later.  I think all three of us groaned each time I turned on the light and started the feeding routine.          

Here’s what the stimulations involve:
See Early Neurological Stimulations illustrated page, part 2)

4 Days (7/15)  I did better overnight waking up to the alarm for each feeding.  I’m afraid, though, that I may now have a furry alarm clock.  What woke me wasn’t the phone alarm, but Mr. X vocalizing that it was time to eat.

Great news!  Whelpwise said he’s doing well enough that I can go two hours between feeding sessions, and I can begin giving straight Esbilac rather than have to measure exact proportions of Esbilac and sugar water. Hurrah!  Maybe I can get naps in between some sessions.  Mr. X is even trying to nurse on Lovely and seems to be getting a little milk, though not enough to make a difference – yet.  I sure hope her milk comes in!

I noticed him sucking on the fleece pad a couple of times during the night, so I asked Whelpwise if we should try the bottle again.  They said yes, to try the bottle first and if he fights it, just tube him to finish.

This morning Lovely was again mortally insulted when I offered her beef heart.  Since she obviously wasn’t going to eat it, I gave a couple of small pieces to the other dogs with their raw meat breakfasts and they were thrilled.

On a whim, this morning I set out to thaw a bar of some Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet that I fed the dogs when beef was temporarily unavailable.  When I crated the other dogs for their lunch, I let Lovely out of the whelping room and put her out the front door to go potty and sniff around.  While she was outside, I casually put the Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet in a bowl on the floor in the kitchen and sat down at my computer desk. She slid to a halt when she got to the bowl – and gulped it down!!!  I guess when I go to town today I’ll have to stop by Muddy Pawprints and get some small sacks of raw meat diet other than beef, to see if the hormones just have her wanting something different.

Today she is consenting to eat the Royal Canin kibble from my hand.  I’m not having to toss it for her to catch.  Now if I can just get her to eat it out of a bowl…

I managed to find several cans of Esbilac at Tractor Supply so now I can relax.  I was just about out.  And I found a new scale, though I don’t think it’s any better.  I also made it to Muddy Pawprints and got another bag of Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet and a bag of Chicken raw meat diet.  Maybe if I give her a variety of raw meat diets, I can get her eating better.  I had thawed another 1/2 # bar of Turkey/ Sardine for supper and she gulped it down.

I think I twice caught Mr. X nursing on Lovely in the whelping bed. I didn’t try to look closely because Lovely would have moved and probably dislodged him if he was nursing.

5 Days (7/16)  We continue to try to get Lovely’s milk to come in.  Meanwhile, all day I continued every-two-hour feeding sessions, first trying to get him to nurse on Lovely, then trying to get him to take the Esbilac in a bottle, then tube feeding him what he didn’t eat.  At any giving feeding I cannot predict whether he will nurse on Lovely or throw a fit; whether he will even try a little formula from the bottle or throw a fit; and how much he’ll fight as I tube feed him. All I CAN predict is that he is strong and self-willed and loud.  I have no doubt when he is displeased.  I weigh him before he nurses, after if he nurses if he does so for more than a couple of minutes (to see if he’s getting any milk), and then after I get the 14 ml of formula down him.  At the initial weighing on the next feeding, there is no predicting whether he will have gained anything or not.  All I can say is that he’s gradually gaining weight and after the 7 p.m. feeding we finally got to a weight of 1 pound!

I have to laugh at Lovely when she cleans him and gets him to pee and poop.  He throws a fit over that, too.  She has started just slapping a front foot over him, pinning him down and calmly cleaning him while he thrashes and yells.  The Whelpwise crew have been telling me all kinds of stories about the singleton pups they’ve raised.  Evidently he is typical. The singletons think the world revolves around them and have no worries about complaining about how they are treated. And they are often quite precocious. I don’t remember anything like this of Jubilee, my only other singleton pup, but then she was a bitch and it’s been 22 years. 

Today Lovely has spent quite a bit of time on the fleece pad in the room, just checking on Mr. X if he makes noise.  I think she’s a little bored with just one pup.  I have noticed him seeking her out when she lies in the whelping bed and think that he’s nursing a little.  Sure hope so!  I would like to give up the mother duties.
           
Whelpwise said we can try extending the time between feeding sessions to 3 hours during the night, unless he wakes up and fusses in between.  I expect Lovely will sleep in the whelping bed with him once I turn out the lights and she knows I’m not going anywhere.

Lovely refused breakfast, so later I just put the Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet in the whelping room and left it.  She never ate it so I picked it up after a while.  For lunch, I put down a bowl of the Royal Canin and a bowl with a little of the Chicken raw meat diet.  That comes in little bite-sized nuggets rather than a bar, and I just let it thaw.  I totally ignored the bowls and eventually she went over to them and at the lot.  I repeated it later.