YY Litter Diary

YY Litter Diary
The YY Litter was born April 8th:  3 black & tan males; 2 black males; 3 black & tan females

Miss White (now “Jiva”) went to Minnesota for tracking, nosework & herding competition and possibly Search & Rescue. Mr. Red (now “Archie”) went to Georgia as a pet and for therapy dog work.  Mr. Gold (now “Zeke”) went to Montana as a pet and for therapy dog work.  Mr. Purple (now “Ducati”) went to southern Colorado for forensic detection (cadaver).  Mr. Blue (now “Ve”) went to Idaho for Search & Rescue.  I kept Miss Yellow (now “Pascha”) for nosework competition, therapy dog work and hopefully breeding.
YY Litter background Information
YY litter pedigree

I am extremely grateful to Whelpwise (Perinatal Veterinary Specialties,
www.whelpwise.com), a canine pregnancy support group, which helped me get all four pups of Hesed’s litter safely on the ground (VV litter).  Without them, I am convinced – and so are my vets – that Hesed would have lost that litter like she did the litter a year before.  I learned amazing things about pregnancy and whelping that I didn’t know, even after 44 years of breeding, so I signed up with them for this litter, which should be quite normal.  I asked them if a lot of people used them for trouble-free litters and they said quite a few, that people appreciated knowing what exactly was going on with the litter and having the expertise available to intervene to save a pup or whole litter that was in trouble.  Many people, after their first experience, call on them for every litter afterwards.  I can believe that, as I have been highly impressed with their expertise and availability at all hours, day and night. 

All entries now will be placed at the top.  Scroll down to see all the adventures during the week before whelping, and whelping itself.  It was an adventure!
See the YY litter, 47 days old, doing Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library
See the YY litter, 44 days old, visit Tongue River Elementary School
See the YY litter, 43 days old, with new visitors

See the YY litter, 41 days old, visit Big Horn Rehab, the other local nursing home

See the YY litter, 40 days old, visit the Holy Name School Kindergarteners

See the YY litter, 39 days old, visit the Alzheimer’s Unit
See the YY litter, 37 days old, visit their first nursing home
See the YY litter, 35 days old, meet their first children

60 Days (6/7)  I got up this morning with both eyes refusing to open and the right one streaming with tears.  The left eye was refusing to work, out of sympathy with the right one, I guess.  I got it to work long enough to feed everyone, then spent the day pretty much lying or sitting in bed, resting my eyes in the relatively dark bedroom.  The dogs, with a sigh, consented to cuddles instead of ball sessions.

Julie, Dorothy & Russ from Casper had planned to come meet Mr. Green this morning but I had to cancel. I felt really bad since Julie & Russ taken days off work. 

A friend took me to the eye doctor at 2.  have an ulcer on the cornea, probably caused by eyelash/grit rubbing and bacteria getting in.  I’m on 2 eye drops to put in the eye eveyr hour today, plus the doctor put in a contact lens to protect the ulcer from the eyelid rubbing it.  My eye was, thankfully, much better after a couple of eyedrop sessions. 

I contacted Julie after I left the eye doctor and we decided they could come about 6 or so, when we’d be in shade at least.  I was really glad they were able to come tonight.  Julie has Lovely‘s brother, and had a full sister to GloryToo.  We introduced Gus and Mr. Green, walked them around on leash, and discussed whether he might fit into the household.  We lucked out – the thunderstorm held off while they were here, but the heavy clouds muted the light so that my eye didn’t water while we were outside.  Hurrah!  Mr. Green was very happy with all the attention, but Pascha was quite peeved that she was left in the puppy yard while the rest of us had fun.

They then put Gus in the car and we went inside to confer.  Gus had a bad experience when they tried to adopt a female GSD rescue, so we talked of ways they could take time to introduce the two and how they might set up their house to make separation easy.  Then we went outside to visit with both pups, so Pascha was finally mollified.  They went home to brainstorm how they could make it happen and decide if they’d take Mr. Green.

And I hurried to feed dogs who were crabby that their supper was 2 hours late.  The pups especially let me know their displeasure.  I fed them enough that they’d have some leftovers if they got hungry during the night.  The thunder and rain waited until we were bed.

I’m hoping my eyes will be good enough that tomorrow I can create a page for the YY litter and start putting up the adventures and photos of the ones who have left.  AND get back to editing visit photos.  This diary will continue until Mr. Green leaves.

59 Days (6/6)  The poor pups felt very neglected today.  This week was my only chance to go to Billings to do PennHip x-rays on Hopeful, Justice & Varoom!.  I had to wait for Justice to turn 2 years old (which he did Sunday) AND go before I start puppy watch on Mercy on the 9th.  While they were under anesthesia, I also had them do OFA hips/elbows on Hopeful and Justice, plus prelim hips and elbows on Varoom!, who isn’t yet 2.  I made a 10:30 appointment last Thursday.

We got home from Billings shortly after 6 pm, about 4 hours later than I should have.   We left here at 8 and arrived there at 10, to find that they weren’t expecting us. The gal at the front desk who arranged my appointments didn’t save ours in the computer, so they were scheduled full of surgeries. They worked us in, but didn’t start until probably 3.  The dogs were awake enough to get into the car shortly after 4.  That meant I fought rush hour AND construction as I tried to get home before a deluge. None of the hordes of big semis were willing to slow down to let cars merge since there were so many people trying to get home from work.  Yuck!  It was quite scary and no fun. I did manage to get on the Interstate in front of a semi but it was close, even with me floorboarding the gas pedal. 

I didn’t even stay to go over the x-rays with the vet – I just cut and ran as soon as they brought on the last dog.  At least we only hit a little rain.  I was very relieved to get home and the car in the carport, all of us protected. My friends told me we had just missed a huge thunderstorm with hail. 

Thankfully, I had fixed enough for the pups’ breakfast that they’d have leftovers for lunch.  They had cleaned all of it up and were ready for a big supper.  The others were incensed that they had totally missed lunch and it was now suppertime.  I had left them marrow bones to chew on so they hadn’t starved, but they definitely don’t like their schedule messed with.  I assured them that this was the last big project until October’s three-day nosework trial. 

The dogs & I are totally zonked so we didn’t try to take the pups to Denise’s.  I had hoped to get this diary caught up and type up some of the temperament test results to get them on the website, but my eye was giving me fits.  The bright screens on my computer and phone especially bothered it.  On Sunday, while we were working outside, my right eye started acting like it had something in it.  I finally got an eyelash out, but it continued to water off and on all morning Monday.  It seemed much better after Saray left, so I made the mistake of not trying to get into the eye doctor.

It was still watering and somewhat light-sensitive this morning, so I stopped by the pharmacy before I left town this morning and got some lubricating drops.  My eye bothered me all day – watering and upset in bright light, but using the drops and wearing sunglasses seemed to help.  I’ll call the eye doctor in the morning and see if I can get in. 

58 Days (6/5)  Sarah T arrived from Minneapolis about 10 a.m., having driven straight through with a friend.  We put the pool down and this time put the toys in it, then crumbled treats.  Sarah and Mike fell in love with Miss White and soon were on the way with her.  Her name is now “Jiva” and her registered name is “Celhaus Yaj of Ten Thousand Lakes”.  According to Sarah:  “Yaj is Sanskrit for a person who is a wise sage.  Jiva is short for Jivamukthi. A Jivamukthi in Hindu is a fully “enlightened” soul who incarnates solely to help humanity.  “Jiva” means the self and “mukthi” means freedom from the mortal world, emancipation or fully absorbed in God.”  Jiva will compete in tracking, nosework, herding and possibly obedience.  Sarah is also looking into nearby Search & Rescue clubs.

The two pups left here (Pascha and Mr. Green) seemed down today.  I’m sure they wonder what’s happening to their siblings.  Now they have no choice for whom to play with.

I had planned to take them to Denise’s to play with Emma, but about the time she got off work we had another deluge.

57 Days (6/4)  Heather & Sue left this morning.  Katina came by to play with the pups one more time before she heads home tomorrow morning. The three pups have now figured out to go up the ramp and through the doggie door into the house.  Now they run to the living room and jump into the pool to search for treats.  Tonight I put the toys in the pool with the treats so that the pups had to work to get the food.  They though that was fun, eating the treats, then grabbing a toy and heading into the kitchen. They love to take all the toys there and play with them – usually in tug battles – on the runner.

56 Days (6/3)  I searched everywhere for other Easter names, but found none I like.  Over the last three days, the more I tried “Pascha” on Miss Yellow, the better I liked it.  I decided today that it will be her call name. “Pasch” is the name for Easter in the Eastern Church; in the Western Church we refer to the “Paschal Mystery” (Jesus dying on Good Friday, then resurrecting on Easter).  I already had her registered name chosen:  Celhaus You Walk on the Wings of the Wind (from Psalm 104, which is my favorite psalm AND one of the psalms prayed at the first Office on Easter Sunday.).

Lovely got to go to the seminar today.  She was thrilled.  She did great, even though she hasn’t done nosework since I bred her in January.

The pups were again peeved that I was gone all day.  They really wanted me to fuss over them at lunch, but I didn’t have time.  Heather and Sue came tonight to again play with the puppies.  They said “Finally!”  I’ve been so busy with the seminar that they haven’t had much attention. 

55 Days (6/2)  I took Miss Yellow to the nosework seminar this morning.  She had her first lessons in being crated somewhere where there is lots of activity – and being quiet when I leave my chair.  I did that a lot since this was the first day of our three-day seminar.  We only had six dogs working today (one of whom was Justice) so there was just moderate bustle and noise and people/dogs walking past our setup area (and low possibility of exposure to parvo).  Denise had promised to help me with her, too.  Denise had come very early and set up her chair and Emma’s crate, so she wasn’t there to help when I was checking people in.  When Miss Yellow started yelling, I put her in the car for a while.  She had her first lessons on walking on leash (did great!) and pottying on leash (ditto!).  She got to meet some very nice people and get ooo’d and ahh’d over.  I had put a marrow bone and toy in the crate for her and she eventually settled down to eat/play, then stretched out and napped.  Only one time did she wake up enough for me to have to go potty, forcing me to take her out in the rain.  Friday’s nosework seminar was at the arena all day so it was a moderately familiar place – at least for pottying, and she quickly peed and was ready to go back inside.

When we broke for lunch, I put her back in the puppy yard, fed the three pups and the adults and then raced back to the seminar, leaving her with the other two.  I put their food bowl in the puppy house and I think she stayed there and napped all afternoon.  Good girl!

When I got home from the seminar, the rain had quit.  Katina, Heather and Sue, planned to come to play with the pups at 6 pm, but we had a torrential downpour that didn’t let up until after 7.  The rain finally slacked off enough that they could come and the pups were trilled to have someone make a fuss over them.

54 Days (6/1)  I was up very early because the three families who came for the temperament tests wanted to get on the road home early with their pup.  I fed the pups before 5 a.m. so that they had time to digest and potty before their trip. Jim and Candace arrived at 6:30 and soon left with Mr. Blue (now Celhaus Youngest Brother Ve, call name “Ve”).  Ve will do search and Rescue in Idaho. Jeanine arrived just after they left.  She has Roxanne from the TT litter, a full older sister to Mr. Purple (now Celhaus Yamaha Chasing Ducati, call name “Ducati”).  Ducati will join Roxanne in being a SAR forensic (cadaver) dog in southern Colorado.  Then Sarah & Alex and their two children arrived to pick up Mr. Red (now Celhaus Yan, call “Archie”). 

I started ball sessions for some THRILLED big dogs, interrupted when Jennifer from Billings arrived about 10 a.m. for Mr. Gold, who is now “Zeke” (registered name probably Celhaus You Are a Blessing).  Zeke will be a pet in this young family as well as a therapy dog when he’s old enough.

After she left, I resumed ball sessions and barely finished them in time to shower and get the remaining three pups (Mr. Green, Miss White & Miss Yellow) to Big Horn Rehab at 2:30 for their last visit.  By the time we got there, the day was hot and muggy.  And the activity room was hot even with a fan blowing.  They didn’t play a lot or very hard.  They did however, allow the residents to hold them and pet them. The residents would have been content just to watch the pups sleep, but when we’d been there for an hour, I said enough was enough and took them home.  As usual, I took photos, but it will be Monday before I look at any of the photos from this week since I’m the organizer of a big three- day training seminar which starts tomorrow.

Katina (who has Kaiser from the RR litter) and Heather (who has Shiloh from the WW litter) – both full siblings to this litter – came for our Dave Kroyer nosework seminar which starts tomorrow.  They, and Heather’s friend, Sue, came tonight to play with the pups.

53 Days (5/31) The pups’ eyes are turning brown.  All ears are up!. 

We loaded up at 8:30 a.m. and headed to the arena for the Search & Rescue test.  All seven pups aced it.  They had a ball, and the testers, experienced SAR people from Montana who test all my litters, were high in their praise. They said all the pups could work.  Like the Police/Narcotics test, I will type up all the comments and get them on the website as soon as I can. 

52 Days (5/30)  Busy day today.  The police/narcotics temperament test is at 9.  I fed the pups early this morning, then left them in the puppy yard until we left.

The pups tested well.  As soon as I have time, I will type a summary of the test scores for the diary, then the complete ratings/comments, and get both on the website, but they will have to wait until Monday.  I have people here watching the temperament tests.  We’ll decide who gets which pup tomorrow after the Search & Rescue Test, then pups start leaving Thursday.  The rest of Thursday I have to devote to preparing for our big Dave Kroyer nosework seminar, which is Friday – Sunday.

51 Days (5/29)  I took the pups to Westview again this afternoon.  Ariel & Peggy helped, thanks goodness.  I wish I had recruited more helpers but never thought I’d need them as several staff members had said they would help.   The activity director, Yvette, never told me she’d be off for the holiday.  Her new assistant, Angie, didn’t bother to ask a couple of people to help bring in puppies, so it was just the four of us (with me holding camera and toy bag so unable to carry a pup).  Getting into Westview was a disaster.  Several of the pups took off at high speed past the entrance.  Thankfully, the daughter of one of the residents, whom I know, arrived just then and helped me get the three still with me into the entryway while the others chased down the runaways. 

Unfortunately, the lady at the front desk decided to be helpful, opened the door into the lobby and called the pups.  So I had three running loose in the nursing home and four being put into the entryway one at a time.  That wouldn’t have been so bad except that the maintenance man’s mini-Aussie, whom he just lets run all over, showed up, of course without him.  I tried to chase the dog off, but it listens to no one.  All the office staff were off for the holiday so no one came to collect the dog.  My pups saw it and rushed over to say hello – and it started backing away from the onslaught of curious pups.  The last of the pups came into the lobby and, instead of holding on to them, everyone put theirs on the floor and those pups rushed to see the new dog – and at that the Aussie fled.  Ariel & Peggy delayed to check in (which I never had a chance to), as I raced after the pups as they turned the corner into the main part of the nursing home.  Finally, nurses and aides at the front desk helped get the Aussie out of the way and grabbed pups to carry into the activity room, which was packed with residents.  I was heartily glad when the door closed the pups safely in the room and I could catch my breath.  I will not do a puppy visit on a holiday ever again.

I took several noisy toys for one last exposure before the temperament tests tomorrow and Wednesday.  The police car is always a big hit at the nursing homes.  It has flashing lights, loud sirens and plays a variety of police commands as if they were arresting someone.  Mr. Purple was really interested in the police car and kept trying to pick it up. He finally rolled it around enough that the doors opened and he could get his mouth over them.

 I again took the fire engine that drives all over, lights up and plays sirens.  It is always an attention-getter because if it runs into something, it reverses and heads in a different direction, often rolling straight at the pups who had been following it.  Another of the toys I took is the bumble ball.  It is a bright yellow, battery-operated ball with multi-colored knobs, and it vibrates, bounces, shakes and rolls erratically with quite a bit of force.  Unfortunately, by the time I remembered to turn it on, the pups were crashing.  I’ll take it when we return to Big Horn Rehab on Thursday.

Miss Yellow spent most of her time holding or chasing the ball.

Yes, the pups wasted so much energy on their runaway at the entrance and then chasing the mini-Aussie, that they didn’t play as much as usual. The room was really hot, too, which doesn’t help puppy energy.  At least the residents had more time to hold and pet the pups than usual, even with me calling an end to the visit before they had been there quite 45 minutes.  Not a single pup complained on the drive home.

Jeanine came over to play with the pups just before 6 p.m.  I had managed, finally, to make my salmon treats, so we decided to introduce the pups to searching.  I put out the collapsible pool and crumbled treats on the floor and in the pool.  Then we brought the pups inside. They raced down the hallway to the living room and first began playing with the toys.  Then, one by one, they noticed the treats – and noses went into high gear.  Mr. Purple and Miss White were the first to notice treats in the pool, but Mr. Green beat Miss White into the pool along with Mr. Purple.  She was really trying, so eventually I lifted her in. After that she figured out how to climb in and out.  Soon the pups were climbing into and out of the pool.  For a while, I crumbled more treats as they consumed them, but then quit so as not to upset their tummies.  They were hungry because it was supper time, but I had delayed feeding them since I knew Jeanine was coming over.

She left just before 7 p.m. and then I fed the still-hungry mob and left them to rest up for the temperament test in the morning. At dark I gave them a small late supper before they settled for the night.

Getting ready for the temperament testing meant I had no time to edit any photos of today’s activities.  I did finish editing the photos from the pups’ visit to Tongue River Elementary School (at 44 days old) so that I could send them to the principal, and he could share them with the kids today at school.  They love to see themselves and always ask for copies of the photos. I had no time to edit all of the photos but chose enough that all the kids are featured interacting with the pups.  I also got them on the website. 

See the pups at TRE

50 Days (5/28)  Naturally, when I got back to the obstacle course this morning while doing poop detail, there was the yellow collar!  Someone drug it out from one of their “holes.”  It’s very dirty; I sure hope it washes nicely.  I soaked it for a while, then put it in the washer with some clothes.  It looks a little worn in one place but otherwise survived pretty well.

The pups had a “boring” day (in their estimation):  no trips or visitors.  They did get to watch me mow and mow and mow.

Tonight they received their 3rd worming with Pyrantel (for roundworms).

49 Days (5/27)  The YYs are 7 weeks old today!  They have been acting still hungry after a breakfast of 4 cups kibble mixed with ¾# of raw meat diet, so this morning I tried adding 5 cups kibble to 3/4# of raw meat diet and they cleaned it all up.  I offered 4 cups at lunch and supper, mixed with 3/8# of raw.  They didn’t quite eat all of their lunch or supper.  In fact, they left enough that I just used it for their late supper rather than adding any more kibble or meat.  When they go to their homes, that last meal will be eliminated anyway, to make potty training easier.  I only offer 4 meals because with multiple puppies it’s always possible that one will not get enough at a meal.

The pups were definitely ready to play after last night’s wild storms. They played so hard that, by the time I entered their yard for poop detail, they were wiped out.  I saw a couple of eyes open to acknowledge me, but no one moved a muscle.  I was able to concentrate on searching for poop AND Miss Yellow’s collar.  I found plenty of poop but still no collar.  I cannot figure where it is, but other than getting flat on the ground and checking every inch under the obstacle course, I’ve checked everywhere. 

In one last effort to find Miss Yellow’s collar, I emptied the entire lawn/leaf bag of soiled newspapers, sheet by sheet, in case it had been rolled unseen when I changed papers.  Nope, no luck. I broke down and ordered another.  Now it will probably show up.

The skies clouded up, cleared, clouded up and cleared all day.  Rain was forecast but we only got a few sprinkles.  Denise and I were relieved because we planned to take the pups to her house so they could meet their first non-GSDs.  She has 2 shelties and a cockapoo.  For this litter, she only brought out to play her 10-month-old Sheltie who is VERY active. She thought all three dogs would be too much for the pups AND was hoping to wear Emma out while giving her other dogs a break. All the pups had an absolutely fantastic time.  They played and played and played. Miss Yellow vocalized with an excited prey yip, yip, yip as she chased.  It was hilarious.

Emma was a little intimidated when all 7 gave chase, mouths open to try to grab some of that enticing flowing hair, but after a while, as pups collapsed to rest, Emma managed to cut out managed a couple at a time to play with.  It’s always fascinating to see how these herding dogs decide to play.  The pups soon figured out they might not be able to catch Emma by the hair, but they could grab her harness.  Denise finally removed the harness so Emma could move.  She weighs just over 12#, and the pups weigh between 12 – 9 pounds, so a couple hanging on could bring her to a standstill. 

Emma loves to play ring-around-the-tree or bush or anything, and the pups soon got into the game.  They soon figured out to change directions so as to intercept Emma when she came around the object.  Denise and I laughed a lot. 

In between chasing Emma, the pups had a great time exploring.  Several had a great time packing around a plastic container from one of the annuals Denise had just planted in her pots.  We had to laugh at Mr. Blue, who discovered Denise’s low water bowl and began splashing in it like Lovely does.  Water sprayed everywhere until the bowl was empty.  I tried to get photos but doubt any turned out because he was so far away and was surrounded by pups watching his antics.  Denise brought the bowl out into the yard when she refilled it, but Mr. Blue never attacked the water again. 

We stayed about 90 minutes, until I finally said we had to get home.  Mr. Red had slumbered peacefully through most of the playtime, but finally woke and peed, but was still groggy enough that I didn’t want to wait for him to wake up and play – we never would have gotten out of there as another pups would have been ready to play, and another.  They were tired when we got home, but not too tired to say their supper was late again.  Sure enough, I checked the clock and it was after 6 p.m.  I hurriedly fixed their supper and took it out to pups who were jumping up and down at the gate, saying “Hurry!  I’m s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g!”.  Most of them beat me into the puppy house, still jumping up and down so wildly that I had trouble lowering the bowls to the floor.  Then peace descended, thankfully. 

48 Days (5/26)  The puppies’ heath check and first vaccination was scheduled for 10 a.m. this morning.  That meant no chance to do ball sessions, so I thought I’d quickly look at the Children’s Library visit photos to pick a couple to put into the weekly letter to the nursing home residents.  I usually do the letter Friday morning and take those to the Big Horn Rehab residents with me when I do my therapy dog visit at 2:30. Well, that didn’t work today, as I just had to look at the next one and the next one and the next on to get the best “possibles” for the letter.  I ended up just editing the whole batch.  I almost missed getting the pups to the vet on time because I was having so much fun chuckling over the photos.  Then I had to pull myself away from the photo editing (just one more before I quit…) to get to the therapy dog visit on time.

The pups did great at the vet.  We just took one crate’s occupants at a time – two pairs and three who rode in the bigger crate in back.  The first ones in happened to be Miss Yellow and Mr. Blue.  While we waited for Dr. Cindy to come in, Miss Yellow spotted the trash can and went to investigate, followed quickly by Mr. Blue.  I waited to see how long it would survive as this is a usual occurrence with each litter.  Miss Yellow pretty quickly found the plastic trash liner coming out under the lid and began pulling on it.  Mr. Blue joined and, with a crash the can toppled over (it’s only about 1’ high).  They jumped back but soon surged forward to reattack.  I intervened and rescued it, putting it on the counter, when they started dragging the can around.  Cindy laughed when she entered and saw the can out of harm’s way, commenting, “It didn’t take them long.”

Each pup got a thorough exam, first distemper/parvo vaccination and microchip.  We also weighed them:  Miss White was 9.4#, Mr. Gold was 12.2#, Mr. Purple was 12.8#, Mr. Red was 10.0#, Mr. Green was 10.8#, Mr. Blue was 13.0# and Miss Yellow was 12.4#.  Mr. Green & Mr. Red have both testicles down, but the other three don’t.  The good news is that Miss White is a natural stub tail with the coccygeal vertebrae present, which means she should be perfectly normal.  Cindy said that if she was going to be incontinent, we’d know by now; we would have seen poop or pee where she had been lying or during our visits.  What a relief!  If anything had been wrong, I would have kept her, but now she can go to a home.  We’ll see how she tests Tuesday and Wednesday, but I think she is a working prospect.  Cindy, like nearly everyone who has met her, succumbed to her charms and fun personality.  She loved her “foxy” face as she called it.

Supper was late tonight because we had a chain of severe thunderstorms with heavy rain and hail move through.  The landscape guy finished laying my new sod just before I got home at 4.  I had just set the first sprinkler on the sod and set the timer for 2 hours when the storms moved in.  There must have been 4, if not 5, separate storms over the space of 2.5 hours.  I definitely don’t have to reset the sprinkler in another place tonight!  What perfect timing for the sod! 

BUT the pups were a little crabby when I arrived with their overdue food AND they had first to get their 2nd dose of Ponazuril before I put the food down.  It also meant I had no chance to find Miss Yellow’s collar.  I found an old one to use for the vet visit, but the one she lost is a brand-new collar and I sure hope it’s found – and is okay, not chewed to pieces.  They like to play tug with the collars; in fact, that’s how they usually lose one – a pup has happened to bite down on the latch and open it.

Before bedtime the rain decreased enough that I could check on the pups. All were dry.  And bored.  They hadn’t eaten all of their supper so I left it in one bowl for overnight. 

47 Days (5/25)  Big adventure this afternoon:  Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library.  I was so upset, when I went to load pups, to see that Miss Yellow had lost her collar.  I quickly checked the puppy yard and house, then the transition and lounge areas, but I didn’t see one anywhere.  By that time, I had to get going, so she is “naked” in the photos.  Thanks goodness she has quite a distinctive fact – very dark but with tan fringes inside her ears, so hopefully I’ll be able to ID her when I edit the photos.

I’d guess we had 40 kids there and I don’t know how many adults.  Some stayed the entire time, while others left – thankfully, since they made room for newcomers.  I finally called it a day after about 50 minutes as the pups were absolutely dead between the hot room and the crush of excited humanity.  Two of my HNS kindergarteners (and Emily) came to play with the pups.  Emily was amazed at how much they had grown in a week!  Mr. Red, as usual, solicited tummy rubs from EVERYONE.  This is a super-sound group of pups.  I saw no one avoiding the mob scene.  A few even seemed to be seriously working the crowd for attention. 

The library must have had a painting project just before us because there were spots of paint all over the floor.  One splash of yellow had me exclaiming and reaching for the roll of paper towels in the puppy bag before I realized it was dry.  When you look at the photos, those were NOT puppy pees or stuff we tracked in!  I finally called it a day after about 50 minutes as the pups were absolutely dead between the hot room and the crush of excited humanity. 

See today’s photos

When I got back to the car, my vet had called.  They found a few coccidia in the pups’ stools and had the Ponazuril ready, so on the way home we detoured by the clinic and picked it up.  They got the first dose tonight and will get the second one tomorrow night.  That should finish off the coccidia.

46 Days (5/24)  When Lovely and I went out first thing to greet the pups, I had TWO who were collarless:  Mr. Red & Mr. Gold.  Sighing, I began searching, hampered by all the boys attaching to my pant legs and tugging in different directions.  I was forced to give some “leave it” corrections in order to even walk.  Of course, I was also trying to find someone pooping.  No luck on collecting poop samples, but I found Mr. Red’s collar in the transition area and Mr. Gold’s collar in the lounge area.  Both look a little battered but are usable.  Thank goodness, because my friends Debi & Don are coming up from Ft. Colins to play with puppies and help take them to the Alzheimer’s Unit.

They arrived about 10:30 and we took the pups into the back yard where there was some nice shade, since the day was heating up.  After a while, Don left to fix some things for me – correct the hang of the big puppy yard gate, reconnect a brace on one of the ramps in the puppy obstacle course and fix a hole in the puppy house floor.  I am SO grateful to get those things done!

All that took time, and Debi & I had the best pat – lounging in the grass playing with puppies.  I was thrilled to eventually catch Mr. Purple, Miss Yellow and Mr. Blue pooping and get samples.  Hurrah!!!

Once the puppies played with all the “outdoor” toys I put out for them, several began trying to get back into the puppy house or yard so they could take a nap.  Miss White made us laugh as she kept trying to take a toy she must have really liked through a tiny hole in the fence into the puppy yard.  That fencing has 2” x 4” holes and she got really frustrated that she and the toy couldn’t fit.

Mr. Red just wanted in the yard and he let us know it by all kinds of vocalizations, pacing the fence and generally throwing a fit.  Then he’d come back, lie down in the slumbering group and mutter.  Finally Mr. Blue jumped him and must have told him to put up and shut up, because he eventually settled down to nap.

Miss Yellow tried and tried to get into the yard.  Eventually Don finished adjusting the gate and got to the puppy house. He opened the door to work and she went right inside and “helped” him.  He said nothing bothered her; she had her nose an inch or two from the drill and it didn’t bother her at all.

Once Don finished my projects, he came back to our shady area and played with the pups a bit more. 

Once all were content – even Mr. Red – I brought out the scale.  The roof of the lounge area works great for weighing puppies. Debi & Don handed me one slumbering pup at a time and I quickly weighed them before they awoke enough to jiggle the scale.  When we got the six done, Don went around to the puppy house and got Miss Yellow, who was peacefully slumbering away in there.

Mr. Blue is still the largest, barely.  He is 12.0#.  Next is Mr. Purple at 11.9#.  Mis Yellow is 11.5#, then comes Mr. Gold at 11.3#.  Mr. Green is 10.3#, Mr. Red is 9.4# and Miss White is 8.6#.

Look at the weight gains in 11 days:  Mr. Red (gained 4.1#); Mr. Purple (gained 4.0#); Mr. Blue & Miss Yellow (gained 3.9#); Mr. Gold (gained 3.8#); and Mr. Green & Miss White (gained 3.5#)!!

Debi & Don brought some neat toys, which we took with us when we went to the Alzheimer’s Unit.  We left a few minutes early and detoured by the vet clinic to drop off my collected-with-great-difficulty fecal samples.  I am SO relieved not to have follow pups around anymore!

We had hoped to be outdoors in the unit’s nice grassy courtyard, but (naturally!) it started raining just before we headed there.  The big room in the unit was really hot, so the pups didn’t play very wildly or long.  At least all of the residents got to hold pups as much as they wanted.

When we finished, Debi and Don headed back to Colorado while I took the pups home. What a fun day we had!  

45 Days (5/23)  I’m pretty sure that Mr. Gold and Mr. Green are longcoats.  Lovely’s “longcoats” are very fuzzy as pups but as adults just end up with more hair on their ruffs, tails and a tiny bit on their ears (see Kaiser from the RR litter and Talon from the TT litter).

Since the pups are now consistently cleaning up their late supper, I decided to add more kibble to their breakfast (and less meat).  I mixed 3.5 cups kibble with 3/8# of meat.  They cleaned up every bit and even seemed to be wanting more, so I’ll try 4 cups kibble at lunch.  It’s hard to estimate how much they’ll eat during the day because it’s so darned hot and muggy, consistently reaching 83 or higher and threatening rain (though so far only a few sprinkles.  The high heat after a late spring is zapping all of us, and the unusual humidity makes it miserable.  It only got down to 53 last night, so today will warm up fast.

At bodily risk, after they had finished their breakfast, I entered the puppy yard and walked around, hoping to catch a couple more pups pooping.  I’m trying to get more samples so I can run them to the clinic today and, if we need to worm the pups for coccidia again, swing by to weigh them after they visit the Alzheimer’s Unit tomorrow.

Even though several pups followed me as I walked all over the yard, no one consented to poo.  Since I was back by the obstacle course, I picked up several to introduce them to the swinging bridge – Mr. Blue, Miss Yellow, Mr. Purple and Mr. Green.  The heavy snows have stretched it and I haven’t been able to get a handyman to come, so it’s a little low in the middle and that makes climbing to the landings on either side a steep proposition.  Miss Yellow was the only one who figured out how to climb up and she seemed to think it was pretty cool, as several times she went down from one landing, across the swinging bridge and then up to the other landing.  I had to help the guys with pushes on their butts, and none offered to go back on their own.

After that, I showed Miss Yellow, Mr. Blue & Mr. Green the slide (Mr. Purple had disappeared under the obstacle course, in a cool spot probably.).  All thought that was fun but none tried to climb back up the slide, which sometimes pups do.  I figured I’d better get going on ball sessions before the day got too hot, so I didn’t work the slide any more. 

I was looking forward to a day of rest today since I had nothing on my schedule, but the landscape guys tracked me down Sunday at the nosework trial and wanted to start redoing the front lawn, which was destroyed when the generator was installed.  They wanted to come today but I told them I had 3 things going on and no way could I work puppy stuff and dog pottying, etc., around them.  They came at 7:45. By the time I fenced off the front yard to keep the dogs off and we conferred about what they were going to do, I was late starting ball sessions and thus late doing poop detail. 

When I stepped into the puppy yard only one pup was slightly visible, head barely out of the transition area.  He opened one eye briefly and then closed it.  I did the entire puppy yard with no interference – but then I also didn’t get any poop samples either.  You have to see the pups pooping and then get the sample into the refrigerator immediately or the worm eggs will hatch and you’ll miss catching that the pups need to be wormed.  And, since I managed to get samples from Mr. Gold and Mr. Red when we got home from TRE yesterday, I have to make sure I get samples from other pups.

While I was throwing the ball for Hopeful, I heard noise and looked behind me to see Miss Yellow, Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Gold, Miss White and Mr. Red playing.  They love to chew on the currant bushes, which look pretty bad from their attentions.  When I said something, they came to the fence and visited.  I started looking for poop activity but no luck. 

Miss Yellow is very intent on keeping track of me today.  Every so often she’d make a little “peep” to attract my attention.  When I spoke to her, she visibly brightened, then she’d run to the obstacle course.  Pretty soon I’d see her coming back close to where I sat, and hear another peep.  I’d speak to her, and she’d perk up before going to play with her siblings.  When I finished that ball session and headed to the house to change dogs, she raced with us and got to the gate before I got to the steps.  I praised her and went inside. 

When I came out with Lovely and Justice, she quickly joined us where I sit to throw the ball and again gave little peeps to get my attention.  One time she put her chin on the grass and just watched me – really, really prolonged eye contact!  She again followed us to the gate and waited for me to acknowledge her.  I have a feeling she knows that I’ll keep her if she tests well.  How do they know?  I deliberately try not to give any candidate special attention but to distribute all attention equally, but I have several times had one I was considering keeping begin a campaign to stay.

Miss Yellow didn’t follow me out as I headed to throw the ball for Mercy; in fact, no pups were in sight.  I glanced at the clock when we got back into the house.  No wonder – it was the pups’ lunch time.  I fixed their lunch and carried it out when I brought Lively out for her ball session.  Only Miss Yellow & Mr. Blue were close to the puppy house.  None of the others came until I walked along the fence about halfway to the obstacle course.  Then the rest heard me and came running.

Then I took Lovely & Justice out for their 2nd ball session (normally just Lovely’s time, but she just won’t exercise much by herself so I get her out with Justice and she does chase the ball some as she competes with him.)  Miss White, Mr. Purple and Mr. Blue came out to play this time, with Mr. Purple doing the chirp at the fence to get my attention.  He didn’t stay long, but Miss White & Mr. Blue played and played and played.  They were still playing when we finished and came back inside.  I often see those two pair up and I think it’s so interesting – the tiniest with the largest.  Watching them, you’d never guess the weight difference.  She’s often on top of him in the wrestling matches.

I had an “AHAH!” moment today.  Lovely has been greeting the pups every time we returned from a visit by throwing up. I thought she was stressing when the pups left, but today she did it on one of our walks around the puppy yard as I tried to collect poop samples.  The pups rushed over and began eating it, and suddenly I realized she was deliberately regurgitating partly-digested food for them like wild canines do.  It made sense, because today she was refusing to let them nurse.  The weaning process is in full swing. 

After the dogs had their ball sessions (FINALLY!!, they said), I went back to editing Friday’s photos.  I forgot to enter what “dress-up” day Friday was in their National Nursing Home Week activities, so I texted Joy and asked.  She said it was “Formal Day – Black & White Day.”  They had their “Pajama Day” on Saturday.

After the landscape guys left, Ginny came to play with the pups and help me trim toenails.  As we played with the pups, I loosened everyone’s collars as they are REALLY growing.  I guess I loosened one TOO much:  when I took out their late supper and was cleaning the puppy house, someone came in to “help” and was missing his collar.  No way to look for it in the dark.  I just hope they don’t hide it somewhere before I can look for it in the morning.

When Ginny left, I closed the bottom gate into them main back yard where we had played with the pups, keeping them in there so I could mow the puppy yard.  I wondered how they’d react to the riding mower that close and was impressed that they actually came towards it when I called them as I mowed close to them.  Good kids!  Some litters leave in haste and find hiding places, but these pups just kept on wrestling and hanging out. Lovely could have gone in with them but she was too busy playing with a ball she found in the tall grass – thankfully before the mower ran over it.  At least the pups had had a chance to notice the mower at a distance when, before Ginny came, I finally hauled the sacks of leaves that had protected my tea roses over the winter away to an area where the soil is thin and I let the leaves compost to improve it.  That’s something I usually do around April 1st, and should have done a week or so ago except every time I could work on it, we had rain.

When I finished mowing, the pups were at the gate, letting me know that their supper was L-A-T-E!  Sure enough, when I looked at the clock it was 6:30, definitely past suppertime.  I quickly fixed their meal and took it out and they dove in like they hadn’t eaten for a month.  All this mowing must be hard work on everyone…

44 Days (5/22)  Busy morning!  I was up earlier than usual to feed the pups and hope they’d be all digested out before we left for the twenty-mile drive to Tongue River Elementary.  Just in case, as I walked them to the car, I carried Ziplock baggies and a marking pen, hoping to get some stool samples since it’s time for a recheck on the coccidia status.  Of course, no one cooperated at my house, but two pooped as we walked them in the grass before entering TRE. Naturally.  Where I couldn’t gather samples and stick them in the fridge.

The pups did great at TRE.  My friend Charlene came with me to help.  Several staff members helped carry the pups from the car to a grassy area to potty, and then into the school.  I take an ex-pen  and a bunch of toys, and the school provides a tarp and an empty room.  The children who read to my therapy dogs got to come at their normal reading time.  TRE goes from pre-K through 5th grade, and kids from nearly every grade participate in Reading Dog.  The teachers determine who would benefit from the unconditional love the therapy dogs give.   The pups were also mobbed twice by entire classes coming in to see them in our “free” time slots.  Since we were there for nearly two hours, some people encountered awake pups who played and visited, while others found pups absolutely crashed.  It has amazed me how good this batch of pups is with the kids.  They’ll act like limp rags and let the kids carry them around or put them in a certain position.  Mr. Red convinced several to rub his tummy.  Teachers and staff members came by during their free time.  We had a blast – and none of the pups yelled on the thirty-minute drive home.

See today’s photos

When we got home, Mr. Gold and Mr. Red did oblige as I walked them from the car to the puppy yard.  I just need a couple more samples.

It was hot and muggy when we got home from TRE, so I sprinkled the shady area just east of the puppy house.  That would make the grass cool and inviting for pups to take a nice nap.  I wasn’t so lucky – I had time to feed the pups and big dogs then loaded Hopeful for a therapy dog visit to Westview.  I put Lovely in with the pups when I left.

When I got home, she let me know she had had enough of pups for a while.  In fact, she reluctantly checked on them before I took out their late supper, but I don’t think she let them nurse.  Contact with mom is now mainly so she can teach them dog manners, how to read another dog’s body language and RESPECT.

Now, when I take meals out and call pups, some are always way in the back, playing under and around the obstacle course, which is nicely shaded by a pine tree and stays cool.  When I took their late supper out, two pups didn’t come.  Miss White – the one I worry about – was there, so I left the two others to find their way back and find their food (if any was left) in the puppy house.

In the evening, a few minutes after I got home from a meeting and fed them supper, I did poop detail and again tried to catch puppies pooping.  No luck.  I had an awful time walking because Mr. Blue attached to my pant legs with a vengeance, pulling as hard as he could.  I continually gently removed his teeth. I don’t want to really get on him until after we do the temperament tests, since tugging is a thing evaluated – and looked for – in both tests. 

I hate to get out the puppy drag until I get poop samples so we can worm them again before they leave.  The puppy drag is a piece of rope I can fasten around my waist.  Gunny sacks are attached to the rope and move enticingly as I walk, so (usually) the pups focus on biting and tugging on them rather than my feet and legs.  The only downside is that when pups are attached to the drag, it gets pretty heavy and makes it hard for me to move.  But, if they do grab my legs, it’s easy to divert them by vigorously waving a gunny sack.  Here are some photos of an earlier litter with the puppy drag.

Mr. Purple, Miss Yellow & Mr. Green showed some nice interest in the shovel blade as I drug it behind me.  Drives are definitely starting to come in.  Yes!!

I tried to edit Friday’s nursing-home visit but only got a few done.  I kept, for some reason, falling asleep.  I haven’t even looked at yesterday’s yet.

43 Days (5/21)  I continue to lessen the percentage of raw meat diet I place with their kibble.  This morning I tried mixing 3 cups of kibble with ½# raw meat diet. They ate every crumb!

I repeated at lunch, but our break in the trial was much earlier than their usual lunchtime so they didn’t quite eat everything.

We had a nosework trial here this weekend.  Scott and Leslie, who have Ursa from the UU litter, were here for it, so I invited them and our judge, Tracy, to come play with puppies afterwards. The pups were thrilled to have company because they have had hardly any attention all weekend.

Since the activity room at Big Horn Rehab & Care had been super warm and the pups didn’t play a lot during our visit Friday, we used the same toys today.  This time Miss Yellow really attacked the big duck.  Then she and Mr. Blue had quite the tug battle over the blue bunny whose ears flop up and down when you squeeze it.  For a while, Miss White made it a three-way tug battle, then Mr. Gold joined in when she left.  He quit, too, and attacked the ice cream squeaky.  Eventually Miss Yellow switched to a tug with Scott, leaving Mr. Blue the victor with the bunny.

I hadn’t had time to take the Puppy Adventure Box apart and return it to storage.  We put it on the floor so Tracy could see the pups interact with it.  Tracy enjoyed seeing the tug drives – and a couple of toys retrieved and offered to each of us.  I took a lot more photos.

See today’s photos


The pups played with all of us for nearly an hour before stretching out on the cool floor to nap.  They were not pleased when we eventually carried them outside.

They are beginning to have nice tug wars and now will tug with people, too.  Mr. Blue has begun grabbing my pant legs and tugging as I clean the puppy yard.  Mr. Green does a little, and a couple of others have grabbed hold but let go to go play with siblings. 

Tracy enjoyed seeing the tug drives – and a couple of toys retrieved and offered to each of us.  I took a lot more photos.

The pups played with all of us for nearly an hour before stretching out on the cool floor to nap.  They were not pleased when we eventually carried them outside.

I managed to edit a few of Friday’s nursing-home visit before I crashed for the night.

42 Days (5/20)  I had to be at the nosework trial by 7 a.m. to help set up, so I fed the pups their first meal around 5.  It was quite crisp, 40 degrees, but better than yesterday.  I put Lovely in with the pups as I left and when I came home during our lunch break, took her out and fed the pups in the puppy house to avoid the flies. 

All the other dogs had been out all morning and I put them in their crates, fed all lunch, and left them crated in the cool house for the afternoon. after their lunch and fed the pups.   

By that time, it was almost 80 degrees. Ugh!  Thankfully, the house was still 67 degrees.  I closed all the windows and turn on the air conditioning, crossing my fingers it would work well since the AC people haven’t yet made it for their annual check.  It did!  Hurrah!  I let Lovely (with her buddy, Justice) out for the afternoon.  With the doggie door they could go in to the coolness or stay out as they wished.

I about had a heart attack when I called the pups for lunch.  Six came but not Miss White.  With all the effort I’ve put into saving that little one, I could hardly breathe as I searched the yard and called and called and called.  My throat was so constricted that I had a hard time doing my usual upbeat (and loud) “Puppy!  Puppy! Puppy!” call.  I finally found her (after what seemed like an hour!) when she lazily emerged from a nice cool, damp hole under the ramp to the walkway of the obstacle course.  What a relief!

When I put Lovely in with the pups several times a day, she nurses them and then wanders around, followed by her 7 satellites.  Then she spends the rest of the time until I come for her sitting on one of the high landings on the obstacle course where she can see activity at all the neighbors.  When I call her, I will see some of the pups following her back to the gate, so I know they spend time in that far area.  I didn’t realize how relaxed they were with the entire yard.

We got home about 5 p.m. and the three who trialed (Spirit, Cantor and Hopeful) were very glad to get into the cool house after being busy in that 83-degree heat, the first we’ve had this year.  Me, too!  I delayed feeding the pups because of the heat, not taking their early supper out until 6:30, by which time the shadows were cooling off the puppy yard.  I again fed them in the puppy house.  

This time I had two missing.  I didn’t panic but headed along the fence line back towards the obstacle course.  Sure enough, here came two pups at high speed.  I walked back to the gate, opened it and lifted them out and into the puppy house so they could get some of their supper before the others ate all of it.

I offered a late supper when I went to bed.  I had worried they might not eat well in this heat but they cleaned up all four meals today.

41 Days (5/19)  We had a busy day.  I managed to get a bunch of yesterday’s photos with the kindergarteners on the website before it was time to load pups and take them to Sheridan Manor.  It was only 36 degrees this morning and took a while to start warming up, but wouldn’t you know, just before time to take the pups visiting, the temperature shot up into the 70’s.  The pups said it was nap time and didn’t do a lot of playing at the nursing home.  The activity room was really warm. Joy set up a fan, which helped a little bit.  All the residents got to hold the pups – and then watch them sleep. 

I took a bunch of photos but never looked at them because as soon as I got the pups home, I went back to town to help set up for our nosework trial.  I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do much editing this weekend.  I’ll try, but if my back is hurting a lot, as it probably will since I’ll be on my feet all day, I may be lying on the heating pad rather than working on the computer.

More pups have at least one ear up but I won’t remember who until I look at the photos.

40 Days (5/18)   Lots of bustle this morning – feeding the pups early so they’d digest before we headed to Holy Name School, then caring for all the big dogs, changing clothes and loading the pups so we could get there before 8:30.  By the time we got there I felt like I’d already put in a day’s work!

The forecast was for a nice day, but this morning it looked like rain and was quite wet from yesterday’s rain.  We had planned to be on the grassy playground but denied we’d better stay on the asphalt.  We got the kindergarteners to sit in a circle, then brought out the toys and, finally, the pups.  Oh, my gosh, what a fun time all of us had!  I took over 700 photos and can hardly wait to edit them to see how many fantastic interactions came out clear and sharp.  Emily, the teacher, told the kids to keep their butts on the ground and they did really well, though the boys on one “side” of the circle somehow kept scooting closer until there was no room for pups and we’d have to make them scoot back. 

The pups were fantastic with the kids.  Dogs don’t like to be held on their backs, like you do human babies, but all the pups put up with the kids holding them that way.  For the pups, this was a perfect lesson in accepting restraint. I was very impressed.  The kids passed pups back and forth and the pups just stayed limp and hung out with whoever took them.  One of the girls is from Viet Nam and had never been around dogs.  The only way she will read to or pet Spirit during our weekly Reading Dog sessions is if Spirit holds totally still and doesn’t move towards her (VERY hard for Spirit to do!).  Today we were excited to watch her act like the other kids, holding and petting puppies and saying, “This one LOVES me!”

My two helpers, Peggy & Linda, were kept very busy catching and returning pups who escaped the circle.

See today’s photos

The pups lasted about 50 minutes before they started showing signs of wanting to leave the kids and find a nap spot.  We had the kids stay in their circle while we loaded pups, then let them gather up the toys and say a last good-bye.

            Emily, the teacher, told me tonight that the kids played “puppy” all day long and talked about the puppies the whole day, too.  They were a great hit!

39 Days (5/17)   I decided the two small pups (Miss White & Mr. Red) were finally large enough to wear real collars, so everyone got new collars this morning.  Mr. Gold now has a green collar with sparkly gold rick rack sewed on it.  Miss White has a black collar with white rickrack on top or red rickrack sewed on it.  I sure wish more colors were available in puppy collars!

Naturally, clouds moved in so I worried all morning that their clean, new would be dirty by the time we headed to the nursing home, but the rain held off until shortly before time to go so the collars were okay.

Today the pups visited the Alzheimer’s Unit.  Naturally, they stayed outside when it started raining rather than taking shelter in the transition area or puppy house, so I had damp puppies.  I took two big towels – a good thing since it started pouring as we pulled up at the nursing home.  Peggy & Linda came to help and got the pups dried them off as soon as we got inside.  I need helpers to keep puppies corralled in the activity room.  At this age they will follow anyone who moves, and there’s always a lot of movement in the unit – residents wander a lot, plus staff members are in and out as they work – or peek in to spend a few minutes with the pups. 

The pups had a great time.  Joy, the activity director, entertains all of us as she lets the pups play tug with her hair and play with her keys.  The pups weren’t too sure about the weird noises she made, though.

They played about 50 minutes before they collapsed.  As they tired, my helpers and the staff members carried them around for residents to hold.  That’s always a huge hit.

Thankfully, the rain ended while we were in the unit. When we got home, the pups were able to stretch out on the cool ground and nap after their adventure.  I didn’t notice much movement for quite a while.

See today’s photos


38 Days (5/16)  As soon as I got up, I put Lovely in with the pups.  When she was done, I took out their breakfast and put it just inside the gate.  While they ate, I changed papers in the puppy house.  I try to clean the puppy house when they’re busy with Lovely or meals, because they now do a good bit of chewing on me whenever possible.  Mr. Red made it into the puppy house and chomped down on my ankle this morning as I was changing newspapers and it hurt!

When I did poop detail in the puppy yard this morning, all but Miss White followed me around.  I think she must have been snoozing in the puppy house or transition area, because I never saw her. 

Mr. Red immediately attached to my shoelaces but thankfully he let go as I started walking.  Mr. Purple was entranced by the shovel I drag behind me (I use a bucket, shovel & spatula for poop detail.).  A couple of times he put enough of his body on the shovel that it stopped me.  Good boy!

I happened to catch movement behind me and looked back.  Mr. Blue was on the lounge area roof!  He was agitated, trying to figure out how to get down and follow the rest of us.  On that south edge I do have steps for them to use, but he didn’t go far enough to the side to see them.  Before I could get back there, he leapt off the roof and rolled to the ground.   I have some concrete blocks on the edge to discourage that, but he found enough space at the corner.  You have to watch the boys – they seem to think they’re Superman and can climb tall buildings and fly.  The girls usually look around for a dignified exit, but not the boys.  Thankfully he landed on soft ground and not in the water bowl, and immediately ran to catch up with us.

This was the first time that they followed me all the way to the back of the puppy yard and discovered the puppy obstacle course.  They immediately began playing chase under the platforms.  Mr. Purple even figured out how to get on and follow the horizontal walkway that I have to walk on to avoid a big pine tree.  It was fascinating to watch him sniff and check the drop to the ground on both sides of the ramp. He was quite proud of himself when he reached me and of course I stopped and praised him lavishly.  Several others then wanted to come up but only Mr. Red figured to go to the bottom of the ramp and get on there; the others tried to climb up onto the elevated walkway and weren’t yet strong or large enough to do it, so they waited on the ground for us.

See the Puppy Obstacle Course

People often ask why I have the puppy obstacle course in the puppy yard, and the big puppy obstacle run in the back – and why I wanted the pups to experience the rough ground in my front yard at an early age.  In years of agility classes, I noticed a lot of dogs having trouble learning the obstacles because they didn’t know where their rear end was.  Since a lot of my pups go for Search and Rescue and other working jobs, I began challenging baby pups to know where all four feet were as they moved.  I give them traction in the whelping room, but as soon as they are keeping their feet under them there, I begin the Enrichment Exercises that make them go over and around various obstacles and expose them to floors (mine were all laminate; now they are luxury vinyl tile, which is definitely slicker than the laminate) and then to rough ground outside.  I usually allow them to learn the puppy obstacle course (in the puppy yard) on their own – they create fun games of chase and king-of-the-mountain, and soon are racing the big dogs as I throw the ball, roaring up the ramps onto the top, level areas and watching, then racing down the ramps to greet the big dog at the fence when it returns the ball to me.  If necessary, I do lessons on negotiating the tunnel and going down the slide. 

In a week or so, when they’ve really gotten good at running and turning, I will put them on the Puppy Obstacle Run, where they have to negotiate a dog walk, A-frame, “curtains” of hanging bottles, rocks, boards and other obstacles. It’s so much easier for them to learn to place their feet carefully while they have compact bodies than later when they have a long body and long legs to contend with.  I usually wait to introduce pups to the Puppy Obstacle Run until they’re six to seven weeks old because it challenges them both physically and mentally.

See the Puppy Obstacle Run

When I took the pups’ supper out, Mr. Blue was again on the lounge area roof.  This time he came down the ramp quite gracefully.  Of course, I was right there so he didn’t get frantic but was able to reason out how to come down, and that edge is totally blocked by some fencing.

Throughout the day I put Lovely in with the pups.  All are getting used to the routine.  I did so once last time before bedtime, then I took out their supper.  At night I only use one bowl so as to not take up too much space in the puppy house.  By the time I mixed it and got outside with it, all the pups were snuggled on the fleece pads in the puppy house.  I turned on the heater, put the bowl down, gave everyone one last pet, and all of us headed to bed.

37 Days (5/15)   The big soccer tournament is finally over, so we now have sunshine again.  Hurrah!!!!

The pups were glad to see me but not overly clingy so they must have enjoyed their first night outdoors.  I fed them breakfast and, after they ate, put Lovely in with them.  I have seen some loose stools the last couple of days so I followed them around in the yard hoping to get some stool samples to have checked.  I have coccidia here, and after all the rain, the coccidia might be active. I’m always proactive, checking at the first loose stools so we can worm the pups for them a couple of times and knock them out of their systems before they leave for their homes.  I finally managed to get a sample form Mr. Gold.  I saw another one pooping and rushed over but couldn’t tell which of the four pups grouped together had pooped.  At least I got two samples.  If coccidia show up in either, we worm all of the pups.

My friends Pam and Tessa met me at Westview to help with the puppy visit.  Activity director Yvette and assistant Angie met us as we pulled in. They must have thought we were taken aback by their appearance because Yvette quickly explained that it was Pajama Day.  We all had a good laugh.  We let the puppies walk around on the grass for a bit to potty before we led them towards the entrance and then carried them inside.

This litter lasted longer than any other litter ever has – an hour and 20 minutes!  Some played a little then crashed for a nap pretty quickly while Mr. Gold played and played.  By the time he collapsed, Miss Yellow and Mr. Red – especially Mr. Red! – were ready to play.  Mr. Blue woke up, too, and played a game with one man’s slippers. When they moved toward him, he would growl and bark; when they moved away, he’d pursue.

He had us oohing and awing at one point when a new resident came in.  At first she didn’t want to pet any puppies because she said she had allergies, but the she pointed to Mr., Blue and said she wanted to hold him.  When we placed him in her lap he stretched to get as close to her face as he could and cuddled on her chest, gazing intensely into her eyes for quite a while.  It was an interaction that brought tears to our eyes.

Quite a few staff members came in to love on the puppies.  I have always felt our therapy dog visits were as important to staff members as to the residents, since nursing homes are a really hard place to work.  I know it’s hard for me to come and find out one of my favorite residents has died since my visit the previous week; it has to be even harder for people who care for them. 

I took a lot of photos.  The LED lighting in the activity room doesn’t give very good photos.  I have to correct the lighting on every photo, so it takes forever to edit them.  I got these done as soon as possible to illustrate the diary, doing my best to get at least one photo of each resident interacting with a pup. 

See today’s photos


This is National Nursing Home Week, so I was pleased it was also the week to start puppy visits.  This winter I had had the idea to see if we could get the kids at the schools where I do Reading Dog to write letters to the nursing home residents.  Joy, the activity director at Big Horn Rehab, loved the idea and told me about the National Nursing Home week.  When I asked the two schools (Tongue River Elementary & Holy Name Catholic School) where I do Reading Dog, they said yes.  It’s been fun the last 3 weeks picking up and delivering letters.  I didn’t have a chance yesterday to ask Yvette how the residents liked theirs (just a little busy wrangling and photographing puppies!), but Joy told me her residents were thrilled and are showing their letters to everyone.

My vet called as I was leaving Westview.  Sure enough, one of the fecal samples contained a few coccidia.  I detoured by the clinic to pick up some Ponazuril.  I am to worm them today and tomorrow, then take in more fecal samples next week to check we wiped out all the coccidia.

36 Days (5/14)  Ears on both Mr. Red and Mr. Green are up this morning!  Unfortunately, by the time I took photos they were back down, but that’s puppies.

Another chilly, wet morning.  Ugh!  I raced out and turned on the puppy house heater.  After I pottied and fed my old girl, Lively (13 1/2), I put the puppies outside in the puppy yard.  Then while they had a chance to potty, I mixed their breakfast and then took it out. I put it in the puppy house, stepped in and closed the door, and called the pups through the doggie door.  It took them a bit to turn away from Lovely & Justice who were visiting at the gate, but they came thundering in and dove into breakfast.

Then I cleaned the whelping room, hopefully for the last time with this bunch.  Tonight they spend their first night outside. 

My friend, Linda, came this morning to play with the pups.  Linda is a cat person so I always enjoy her visits because she interacts with the puppies in creative ways.  I put a bunch of toys down – more of the toys Teddy gave us, some noise-making toys (including the cow and hippo from yesterday since the pups didn’t have much change to play with them). 

I also put down the Puppy Obstacle Box.  They showed some good interest in it today.  Mr. Red especially kept going back to it and trying to grab swinging things, having a great time.  I saw Miss Yellow and Mr. Green also going through the box and enjoying the noise and movement.

We saw our first tugs with toys, and a couple of very noisy wrestling matches.  As they tired out, we had fun “posing” them with some of the toys.  We had to laugh at Miss White, whom we put on a pillow from Teddy.  She thought it was fantastic and fell asleep on it.  

When all finally crashed, we carried them outside.  They are now doing quite well at following me down the ramp and to the puppy yard gate.

Lovely is definitely not wanting to spend much time with her sharp-toothed pups.  I put her out several times during the day and she soon was ready to leave them.  I fed the pups a little less supper than usual, then at bedtime fixed a half-meal and put it in the puppy house, calling all the pups inside to be sure they remembered her was a warm place AND food.  Lovely and Justice will spend the night loose, with all the others crated, so if she gets worried about the pups it will be easy to take her out to them.  My dogs take turns with “nights out,” just like I rotate them during the day. They all don’t get along (typical with intact males and females); some will push others around, so I have everyone in at least one group and they’re all used to taking turns to play during the day and be out all night. 

35 Days (5/13)   Five weeks old today!  And the weather is still miserably wet and chilly.  Ugh!  I dug out the BIG puppy bowls since they were having trouble squeezing around the smaller ones.  These are 14” in diameter and looked too big when I put their food in it, but they sure liked having space to eat.  This morning I mixed 1 cup of dry kibble with 1# of raw meat diet and the ate every crumb.  For lunch, I offered 1.5 cups of kibble with ¾# meat and they again cleaned the bowls.  For supper I mixed 2 cups dry kibble with ¾# meat.

I spent the morning cleaning house before Dusty & Katie brought their young children – Gannet & Owen to play with the pups.  I hate editing pictures and seeing dirty floors, so I swept and mopped and put a new (dry) flannel runner from the doggie door through the kitchen to try to cut down on tracked-in water drops mud.  They wanted to see Finley’s parents – Hesed and Cantor – and his full younger sister, Varoom!, so I had them out when the family arrived.   After the greetings, I brought the three dogs into the house and crated them – and in the process of getting to their crates (Cantor’s is in the bedroom while Hesed’s and Varoom!’s are in the living room – we got some great photos of them interacting with the pups and kids by the way), they tracked footprints all over my clean floor.  So, as I edited photos tonight I was groaning…

My dogs in their crates, I invited the family to walk around back to the puppy yard.  I lifted the pups out over the bottom gate onto the ground and invited the kids to help get them to walk around a bit so they’d potty before we went inside to play.  They were entranced.  Little Owen (18 months) bounced up and down and did all kind of little-girl squeaks, while Owen (4 years old next month) wanted to run with the pups.  Eventually all the pups pottied, so we carried them up the steps and put them through the doggie door flap into the house.  I had the family go inside first, walk down the hallway a bit, and call the pups to help get them moving away from the doggie door as I corralled and carried the last two pups up and tipped them in through the doggie door.

Then I quickly went inside and moved everyone into the living room.  I then put down a variety of toys, most of them more gifts from my friend Teddy and which I chose for kid appeal as well as puppy appeal.

The pups encountered their first squeaky toys – a white cow and a blue hippo.  Gannett LOVED those two toys and punched them with vigor to make as much noise as possible.  I had to admonish him not to get rough and scare the pups by shoving the toys in their faces.  He made the coolest connection with Miss White, and she with him.  They kept going to each other and interacting.

They stayed almost 2 hours.  When the puppies wore down, Dusty held them while I trimmed toenails.  Then he, Katie & Gannett helped me carry pups to the doggie door and put them out the flap onto the landing.  I went outside first and began calling the pups down the ramp, and then the family came out.  Gannett had a ball “helping” us get them to the gate and watched closely, almost as if he was counting along with me, as I lifted each pup in.  He was more hindrance than help in rounding up the last two pups, who had gone left under the landing instead of right with me to the puppy yard, but he was sure having fun.  By the time the last pup was safely in the yard, the others had had a good drink and were already settling for a nap.  It wasn’t raining at that moment, so they were happy outside.

See today’s photos


The rain stopped again at suppertime, so I was able to feed them outside.  It started just as I went outside to pick up the (empty!) bowls, so I again stepped into the puppy house and called them inside, hoping they’d nap in there as a prep for moving outside permanently.

Just before dark, I brought them inside. I again lifted them out into the main yard and took them inside by pairs as I saw them pottying.  Once all were inside, I weighed and wormed them.  Mr. Blue continues to be the largest, at 8.1#, followed by Mr. Purple (7.9#) and Miss Yellow (7.6#) and Mr. Gold (7.5#).  Then we have Mr. Green (6.8#), Mr. Red (5.3#) and Miss White (5.1#).  I’m pretty sure by now that Mr. Red and Miss White are going to be lighter-boned, like their great-grandmother, Lively, than the rest, who will be more like Lovely. That makes it even more disappointing for me that I can’t keep Miss White for breeding, as I like the smaller-framed ones as I try to breed to the German Shepherd standard.  Too many breeders fall into the “bigger is better” American mentality and keep breeding larger and larger GSDs.  The breed is supposed to be a medium-sized dog, so, if I have two potential breeding prospects to choose from, if the drives/temperament are both good, I will opt for the smaller one.  But in this case, Miss White’s stub tail knocks her out as a breeding prospect – very disappointing as she’s already showing some nice drives. 

Lovely begged not to have to go in the room with the pups so I crated her until just before bedtime.  After her cuddle/potty session I had to persuade her to go in with the pups for the night. She will be thrilled tomorrow night when she no longer spends the night with them.  She, meanwhile, is asking less often to go in with them during the day and asks out pretty soon.  She still checks on them and counts them and mothers them, but she only stands for short periods so they can nurse – I think when they have to s-t-r-e-t-c-h up to attach to a nipple they use their teeth less.  I’m sure those sharp teeth are the main reason she runs from them.  Seven IS a mob.  Dusty commented that several pups chomped on his fingers.  I think I got photos of Mr. Red and Miss Yellow chewing on his fingers during the play session.

I got a LOT of fun photos of pups and kids interacting.  I spent from when the family left until bedtime editing some for the website, but it was so tough rejecting photos that I ended up saving over 120 “must-shows.”  I’ll try to get some downsized for the diary tomorrow, but I have another puppy visit scheduled so I may not finish today’s.

34 Days (5/12)  We’re still under a heavy-rain forecast (supposed to get 2” through tomorrow morning) but thankfully it wasn’t raining when I got up.  Though the air was damp, the temperature was 51, not a bad day – so I hurried to fix the pups’ breakfast and put them outside with it.  I did something new with breakfast, mainly because I had been so preoccupied last night making sure the pups didn’t get wet and chilled that I forgot to soak their kibble for breakfast.  The way they were chomping on my ankles and attacking my shoelaces, I figured we might as well give them a chance to use those new teeth.  I put ½ cup unsoaked kibble in a bowl and mixed in their 1# of raw meat diet that they get in the mornings – they seem to be starved for breakfast, though at the other two meals ¾# is enough.  It didn’t look like enough, so I added another ¼# kibble and mixed it in, too.

This time I also tried something new in getting them outside:  instead of carrying them two at a time down the steps and to the puppy yard, I lifted them through the doggie door onto the landing, then hurried outside.  Mr. Red was already half-way down the ramp to the ground.  I have a ramp off the landing that is covered in the traction material we use on our agility contact equipment.  It works great for my old dogs and for puppies.  I walked down it, calling the pups, and several followed me, carefully investigating the downhill slope.  A couple of the others “fell” down the steps, a hilarious rolling and stopping onto one step, only to roll over onto the next – with a lot of angry yelling.  All made it to the ground unscathed and I lifted them over the half gate into their yard and breakfast.  They cleaned up every piece of kibble and meat, so from now on I won’t soak the kibble.

We still had no rain (but no sun either) when I put Lovely out with them an hour or so later – and when I brought her back inside.  I’m not going to try ball sessions because it could rain any minute, but I did do poop detail.  Today when I entered the puppy yard with my poop bucket and shovel, the pups followed me a little way past the puppy house before turning back, a slight improvement.

By the time I finished poop detail, the air was heavy with rain, so I decided to lift the pups into the puppy house as encouragement to remember that there was a warm dry place if they got chilled – and another chance to practice pushing past the half-closed doggie door flap.  When I checked a short time later, they were outside.  Thankfully, though the day was dark and the clouds low and heavy, we never actually got rain so the pups got to spend the whole day outside.

For lunch I mixed ¾ cup dry puppy kibble with ¾# of raw meat diet and they again finished the lot.  I repeated that at supper and they ate all of that, too.

Some friends from Buffalo said they were coming to town tomorrow and asked if they could come see puppies.  They have a four-year-old and a toddler – which will be the pups’ first experience with little kids.  (They also have one of my OO litter. “Finley” is 4 years old).  When they said they didn’t know exactly what time they’d come because they were attending the soccer tournament in Big Horn, I suddenly realized why we’re getting all this rain.  It ALWAYS pours cats and dogs when that huge soccer tournament is going on at the polo fields.

I keep forgetting to enter that these pups are giving fantastic and prolonged eye contact.  That desire to interact means they’re going to be easy to train.  When we had our love-in in the whelping room after I brought them in for the night, some wanted to kiss and cuddle while others wanted to bite my nose and hands.  I think all of them ended up getting a no-bite lesson:  a guttural, growled “Pfooey!  No bite” and a pinch from my hand put over their muzzle so I could press their lips against their jaws.  I press hare enough that they cry, but for some I had to repeat several times, each time pressing harder as I corrected them. When they do respond gently, I praise in a lighter voice (but without excitement as that triggers more biting), “Good No Bite!”.  Some took the lesson and visited sweetly, while others chased Lovely around the room, wanting to nurse.  I’d run, too, with 7 pursuing me with those sharp teeth.  They are getting lessons in “You DO NOT grab my teats!”  I think Lovely was really glad when I left, because then she could jump into the litter area between the half-gate keeping them in the room and the big gate (exit from the room).  I have a doggie bed there for her.  There is an elevated bed out in her little yard, too, but it will be wet.  I imagine, once the pups settled down, that she’d return to the fleece pad in the whelping bed and they could nurse.  They are good enough about pottying on the newspapers now that I have quit folding the pad in half and now just fold maybe a foot of it under, so they have a 3’ x 4’ bed.  They need it since they are getting large.

33 Days (5/11)   Miss Yellow’s ears are up this morning!

It wasn’t raining when I got up at 5 a.m. (though the air was very damp) – and was even 50 degrees. I turned on the heater and I quickly cleaned the puppy house.  I carried puppies outside, placing them in the area by the front gate in hopes they’d potty before going into the puppy house.  I had their breakfast ready, so as soon as I got all the pups out, I took it out and put it down in front of the transition area.  They were all still outside and seemed fascinated by everything being wet.  I put their food bowls down and left so as not to distract them, then watched closely through the windows to be sure the rain didn’t start while they were eating.  They finished just in time.  As the first drops fell, I dashed out and went into the puppy house so I could call to them through the doggie door.  Mr. Red was already inside when I stepped in, closed the house door, and lifted the flap more open so my voice would clearly come from inside the puppy house.  As I called, they came tumbling in, thankfully still dry.  I consolidated the tiny bit of leftover breakfast into one bowl and left it in the puppy house.  A couple headed right to it so I know it was soon gone.

I put Lovely with the pups when I left to do Reading Dog at Holy Name School at 8:30. The rain started coming down pretty hard about that time, so I had to hope that the pups would stay under cover rather than try following Lovely all over the yard.  It quit about the time I got home but promised more gully washers, so I carried the damp pups back into the house.  As soon as I put them outside every morning, I clean the puppy room so it’s ready if I have to bring them back inside in a hurry.

My friend, Peggy, was supposed to come play with the pups at 1, but it was so wet and my floor was such a mess from 9 dogs going inside and out and dripping water as they came in, we decided to cancel.  All of us were disappointed.

I got the last two puppy visits scheduled.  Next Thursday (the 18th) the pups go to Holy Name School to play with the kindergarteners during our usual Reading Dog time (8:30-9:30 a.m.). We’ll be on the playground, which should be a kick (of course we’re praying for much better weather then).  The following Thursday they do Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library at 3:30 p.m.

The next day, Friday the 26th, they have their vet check, first vaccination and get microchipped.  I do their first vaccination several days before the temperament tests, in case any pups have a mild reaction to the shot, so they feel 100% on temperament test days.  The police/narcotics test is on May 30th; and the Search & Rescue test is the 31st.  They start leaving June 1st.  Hard to believe it’s that time already.

The clouds lifted in mid-afternoon, so I put the pups back outside.  Thankfully, they were able to stay out until about 8:30 and I was even able to feed them outside.  I had again cleaned the puppy room when they went outside. And hauled another full lawn/leaf bag of soiled newspapers to the front for the garbage men.  I wasn’t handy when the men picked up all the bags Tuesday, or I would have told them I had a litter.  I changed garbage collectors last fall, so this is their first experience with my trash when I have a litter.  At least the bags are pretty light!

Lovely is starting to wean them, spending more time away from them when she is physically in the yard or whelping room with them.  In response, I have started reducing the amount of raw meat diet she gets.  When the pups begin spending the night outside, I’ll give them a fourth meal at bedtime.

32 Days (5/10)  I had hoped to move the pups outside first thing and feed them breakfast there, but it was barely 40 degrees this morning.  So I turned on the puppy house heater and fed them in the puppy room.

Ears are starting to come up!  Miss White’s are already up straight, but then it’s not surprising as she’s small and her ears are small, too.  I had to loosen everyone’s collars this morning.  Talk about a fat bunch of pups!  Now if I could just get them to exercise more.

While the pups ate, I cleaned the puppy house.  They had drug the bowl of kibble around the puppy house – every time I checked in there yesterday it was in a different place – so I went to Plan B.  I brought out a big bowl and put in it a rock I keep in there just for this purpose.  Then I transferred the kibble from the little to the big bowl and we had an immovable bowl. The rock also discourages puppies form climbing into the bowl. 

I untied the doggie door flap to see if they were ready to push through it as they went in and out. For a day or two, it will curl up at the bottom so it’s easy for the pups to figure out the exit is still there.  This bunch is not exploring at all and soon come inside to snooze.  It’s good so I don’t worry about them getting chilled outside, but the puppy house is small and they stay inside long enough that they pee and poop in there and make a real mess. 

They didn’t quite finish breakfast, so I put the pups and bowl in the puppy house at 7 a.m., earlier than I have been since the down flap kept the heat inside. Unfortunately, this lazy bunch didn’t even try to go out the doggie door, so when I returned after a few minutes there was a big mess in the puppy house.  I decided I’d have to tie the flap up just a little bit, enough to keep most of the warm air from the heater inside, but enough that they will go out.  Lovely doesn’t like to crouch to go in the transition area and calls them from outside, but they aren’t ambitious enough to push to get to her.

I returned to the house and began to search for my leather punch so I could put another hole in the flap and curl it up some.  In the process of searching my old dressers where I keep dog supplies, I discovered a family of mice.  EEK!!!  One of the joys of mobile homes is that you’re constantly fighting mice who find their way inside through the holed where the water pipes come in and go out.  Punch search was temporarily abandoned while I grabbed the drawer and raced outside to dump the family out where they belong, then cleaned the drawer.  The big dogs found all this highly entertaining.

I eventually found my hole punch and went back to the puppy house, having to move slumbering puppies so I could work on the flap.  I eventually got one side of the flap opened a little, then I lifted the pups outside to their mother and returned to again clean the puppy house.  I wasn’t quite finished when Mr. Red pushed through the partially-lifted flap and mad his way to the fleece pad to snooze. 

When I cleaned the puppy room, I was upset to find that they had scattered kibble all over the place.  Looks like they really had fun last night.  I moved the bowl to a corner where they might have trouble walking through the bowl.

Just as I finished the first ball session, Denise came with newspapers (Hurrah!) and of course had to see puppies.  When we checked on them, five were in the puppy house, one was in the transition area and only Mr. Red was outside. He was curled around their water bowl in the shade, where it had to been deliciously cool. He was so zonked out that he slept through us lifting all the others from the puppy house into the yard and then carrying them way to the back where there was nice shade and they hadn’t yet ventured.  Denise took the first two and I stepped inside the puppy house to grab a couple of more (no one volunteers to come to me and leave the puppy house), then returned to take the two I had while I stepped into the house to get the others.  By that time whoever had been in the transition area had come out.  Mr. Red continued his slumbers.  Denise came back for more pups, while I grabbed Mr. Red – and Miss White who had already gotten nearly back – and we finally got all of them together.  Both of us sat down and enjoyed puppy cuddles.  Denise took a few photos, though she didn’t get everybody.

When Denise could finally tear herself away, we quietly got up and went out the side gate in an attempt to keep the pups out in the yard.  Two followed to that gate but the others stayed out in the grass.

When I returned for the next ball session, Miss White, Mr. Red, Mr. Green & Mr. Purple were still out where we had been, curled against the fence.  I have a chair I sit in while I do ball sessions, and I moved it to where they were.  They complained as I threw the ball for Hopeful, and I petted them through the fence.  That didn’t please Hopeful because I was slow picking up the ball to throw it again.  As I petted puppies, I saw Denise had left her hat on the ground.  When Hopeful’s ball session was finished, I trooped back into the puppy yard to rescue it, which of course meant that Mr. Green & Mr. Purple followed me back to familiar territory around the puppy house as I left.

When I went out for the next ball session (Justice & Lovely), Mr. Red and Miss White woke up and started complaining.  Miss White eventually quit vocalizing and went back to sleep, but Mr. Red was quite irritated that Lovely was on the other side of the fence and ignoring him, and he complained the entire ten-minute session.

They slept through the next ball session, and then it was lunchtime.  I fixed lunch and, when I took it out, found the other five in the puppy house.  I had to go wake Miss White and Mr. Red and carry them to lunch.  I feed them lunch inside the puppy house, while for supper I put it on the ground by the transition area, the blackbirds who would steal it usually not hanging around since the peanut feeders are empty.  After a few minutes I go out and, if there are any leftovers, consolidate them into one bowl and place it in the puppy house until I bring the pups in for the night.

I have been waiting to bring the pups in at night until it was nearly dark (but still light enough to fine any wandering black puppies).  In late afternoon a series of thunderstorms moved in and really darkened the skies.  We had enough of a pause between storms that I could feed the pups outside.  Tonight, however, about the time they finished their meal (7 p.m.), a big storm moved in and really blocked the light.  Before the rain started, I brought the pups inside.  Naturally, when I checked them at bedtime the room was a mess so I had to change all the puppies – this time with puppy help. I’ve bene getting spoiled being able to change the whelping room and the puppy house while the pups were in the other place, but not tonight.  They are getting really good at crunching on my ankles, the little monsters.

31 Days (5/9)  It’s a little warmer this morning (44), but still chilly enough that I turned on the puppy house heater and fed the pups in their room, leaving them there until 8 a.m.  I was pleased to see that they ate just about all of their kibble/meat breakfast.  I soaked another ½ cup of kibble for lunch.

I cleaned the puppy house and put out a bowl with a little kibble.  I moved the pups outside about 8 a.m., putting Lovely in with them until time for ball sessions. 

They left a lot of their lunch, so for supper I only gave them ¾# of the raw meat diet with the soaked ½ cup kibble.  That did the trick. They cleaned it up.   

They hung out in the puppy house all afternoon after lunch (which I fed them in there).  That meant I needed to change newspapers.  I lifted the out by pairs and carried them to the side gate and put them down where the grass starts, east (behind) of the puppy house.  I was hoping they’d stay there and play with the outdoor toys I scattered there Sunday, but no luck.  They were back by the front gate, just outside the transition area, by the time I finished cleaning.  At least they hadn’t made it back into the puppy house.

I also put a bowl of puppy kibble in the whelping room.  As I feed the pups more, I reduce the amount of raw meat diet I give Lovely.  If she’s hungry, she can eat kibble.

30 Days (5/8)  34 degrees this morning.  Ugh!  I went out and turned on the heater in the puppy house first thing. It warms up the transition area through the open doggie door, so all should be comfortable when I put the pups out at 9 a.m. and head to Tongue River Elementary for Reading Dog.  I’ll turn it off then.

The weather all day was a little strange – warm when no clouds obscured the sun; almost chilly when a front moved through.  Thankfully for the pups’ first day outside, it never rained.

I always take my litters to TRE as a fun activity for the kids who participate in Reading Dog.  We set tan ex-pen up in a vacant classroom and the kids get to play with the pups during their normal reading time.  It’s a blast!  We scheduled the pups’ visit to TRE for the 22nd

When I got home from TRE and checked first-thing on the pups (I do a head count every time I’ve left them for a while), all were comfortably sprawled out either in or by the transition area.  I have a ramp going up to the roof of the transition area that ends right by the opening to the transition area, and a couple had found it made some really nice shade.  The mother dogs love to “escape” from the pups onto the roof, until the pups eventually are physical able to figure out the ramp and turn the roof into a play area.

After greeting them, I went inside to fix their lunch.  By the time I carried it out, most of the pups were already in the puppy house, waiting.  The others were in the transition area and quickly came in when I opened the puppy house door.  Smart kids!  They cleaned up their lunch.  Good thing I’m picking up a couple of bags of their Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy this afternoon!

I put Lovely back in with the pups when I left to do a therapy dog visit to Westview.  While at Westview, I checked with the activity director, Yvette, and we scheduled the pups’ first visit for Monday afternoon.  That means they’ll have their first ride in the car and visit to a new place. 

When I returned, no pups were in sight, so I called.  They must have been asleep in the puppy house, because I heard the thundering of feet on the wood floor before they appeared.  Good pups!!!  They have figured out how to go into the puppy house, which relieves my mind in case it starts raining while I’m gone.  They now run towards me whenever I call “Puppy!  Puppy!  Puppy!”  All present and accounted for – and petted, I let Lovely out of their yard for some “off” time to patrol our two-acre perimeter for squirrels and blackbirds and then get some cuddle time with me.

When I got home, I texted Joy, the activity director at Big Horn Rehab, both for the Alzheimer’s Unit and the main area.  I also texted the Holy Name School kindergarten teacher, Emily.  She is checking her schedule for the best time for the pups to visit there. 

I then emailed/texted my usual helpers to see who can help with which visit(s).  My friend Michelle, who was Children’s Librarian for 40 years until she retired last summer, can’t help with visits this time because she has come out of retirement to run the library until the board chooses a new director.  The previous director left to work for the county.  When Michelle was Children’s Librarian, we did Reading Dog at the library and always took the pups for a visit there.  She invited all the kids who participated in Children’s Library activities. It was usually a mob scene and fantastic socialization for the pups.  She invited me to bring this litter.  YES!! I’m waiting to hear back form her on when she’d like them to come.

When I took the pups’ supper out, they were again lounging in the puppy house, so I put their food bowls outside, by the gate, and called them.  They came a-running and dove into their meal.  Lovely found it hardly worth licking the bowls when I put her in with them until bedtime.

I brought them inside for the night just before dark.  I would have thought they would be so full of fresh air and adventure that they would crash, but no, they had to have a run-around-the-room and wrestle session before they settled.

Since they’re now spending their days outside, which means their poop (no longer picked up by Lovely once kibble is added to meals) will not make a mess of their room, I put ½ cup of their kibble to soak overnight.  From now on, I will add the softened kibble to their bowls before I crumble in the meat for breakfast.

29 Days (5/7)  The weather again interfered with my plans. I was going to put the pups out in the puppy house with their breakfast, then put Lovely in with them until I started ball sessions, but it was only 38 degrees, just too cold for the first morning out.  So I started the puppy house heater and then fed them in their room.  I waited until 8 a.m., by which time it was 50 degrees, to put them outside.  I carried the pups by pairs out to the puppy house, finishing with the seventh and Lovely.  By that time, Miss Yellow & Mr. Gold were outside exploring.  I wasn’t paying too much attention to the order in which I carried them out – just which two were closest to the gate.  I know Miss White was in the first pair because you just can’t miss her – tiny and with that stub tail.  So at least one of the first ones outside had been in the 2nd or 3rd pair I carried out.  They are already figuring out how to go outside where there’s room to run.  Good pups!

After an hour, I brought Lovely inside and let her hang out with me while I cleaned the room – SO much easier to do with puppies outside!  Then I crated her and I started ball sessions.  By that time the pups were sprawled out, snoozing, and didn’t even notice when she left.  Lovely will stay crated (except for her ball session) until I finish ball sessions so that she doesn’t fence fight and bark at the others during their ball sessions.  She does enough barking as it is.  She has set herself as the protector of the whole-peanut feeders in the back yard, mostly from the squirrels (whom she loves to chase from tree to tree at all times of the day) but now that the blackbirds are here (horrible peanut thieves), she works hard to chase them off as well.  They just move to a higher branch in the trees with the peanut feeders, which drives her crazy.  It gives her lots of exercise but does mean I don’t put her out super early so the neighbors aren’t disturbed.

The pups are much more comfortable outside now.  When I headed into the back yard doing poop detail with the first exercise group (Hesed and Varoom!), they were quiet until they saw us.  Then they complained a little but soon were visiting through the fence with the big girls.  I put fingers through the fence to pet them but they didn’t notice me.  As I took each succeeding play group out, I checked on the pups and all were either in the transition area or just outside, sacked out.

When it started raining about 12:30, I brought the pups in.  I had their lunch waiting in the puppy room and they dove in, eating nearly the entire 1# of raw meat diet.  These outside adventures definitely make them hungry.  I had planned to put them back outside but, even though the rein stopped, clouds threatened more so I left them inside until after I got home from Mass at 6.  I put their supper in the puppy house so they ate (again nearly finishing all the meal). They got to stay out until about 8, when it was starting to get a little chilly.

They have realized they have teeth.  Tonight they were going for my ankles along with the hem of my pants, and when I knelt down to change newspapers, several went for my hands and wrists.  Ouch!

I finally got yesterday’s photos edited, downsized and on the website about 9:30 p.m.  I was VERY glad the Enrichment Experiences are over and I wasn’t facing more photos from today.  I’ll have more soon, as now I’ll invite friends to come over and play with them.  We’ll bring them into the living room and have new sets of toys for them to experience as I observe how drives are beginning to come in.

28 Days (5/6)  Four weeks old today!!  Today’s first enrichment experience was toys.  My friend, Teddy, recently bought a new house and went through her boxes of collectibles before she moved.  She brought me all kinds of cute little soft toys.  She always enjoys my puppy photos with visitors and at the nursing homes and schools and said she looked forward to seeing her former collectibles in photos.  I use different toys for every session, so I can always use new toys.  Nearly all of Teddy’s toys are silent (no squeakers), which I use until the pups are 5 weeks old, so I went through them and picked out a bunch of the smallest, or ones that have “handles” easy for small puppies to grab.  I was tickled to see there were two Easter bunnies, so of course I used them today!

I usually have visitors come play with the pups in the living room, but between all the time caring for Miss White, and my back killing me after the whelping and ten days sleeping on the floor, I just hadn’t gotten around to cleaning house so I could schedule visitors.

After the pups had breakfast and I cleaned the room, I put out the toys and took photos.

see all the toy photos

Then I crated Lovely until after her ball session, so they had a couple of hours to enjoy the toys.  I picked up the toys before I put her in the whelping room because she would tear them up.

I turned the radio on low, tuned to the classic country station, and left it to play during the day. 

This afternoon I cleaned out and set up the puppy house.  Today’s weather didn’t cooperate with my plans – chilly, windy and trying to rain – so I had to change my plans.  Instead of putting the pups again in the yard, I started them in the puppy house.  In the puppy house, besides a big fleece pad that helps the new place seem familiar, I have an old fiberglass crate that I put a blanket in to provide a cozy nest.  There is room for Lovely to stretch out and nurse the pups, though most of the mothers prefer to take them to the lounge area.  I tied up the doggie door flap so light streaming in it would make it easily noticeable.

The pups didn’t stay inside long, but followed Lovely out the doggie door into the transition area and on outside.  Starting them this way makes it easier for them to learn where shelter is if it starts raining.

The transition area from the big puppy house to the yard has two doggie doors. The pups can choose, once they come out of the puppy house, to turn left into the lounge area or right to a small outdoor area where there is a gate looking towards the deck.  The main lounge area is a three-sided, south-facing roofed area that offers a place in the summer to stretch out in the shade or when it’s raining without going into the puppy house; in winter, a protected, sunny spot away from the snow.  I have another, smaller lounge area facing north that doesn’t connect to the transition area but creates another sheltered place which does not have straw.  It’s more a play area in warm weather as it stays cool (and they also like to poop there in bad weather).  I also have two Igloo dog houses just east of the lounge area where the pups like to “hide” and rest a bit as they explore and play.

See big puppy yard

I left the pups outside for about an hour.  The rain held off, thankfully, it did sprinkle a tiny bit.  When I brought them inside, their second enrichment experience – the Puppy Adventure Box – greeted them.  The Puppy Adventure Box consists of a pvc pipe frame from which a variety of articles are hung.  Pieces of garden hose, paint brushes, metal paint cans, a set of keys, flowerpots, cups pieces of pvc pipe, paint brushes and other items move and make a variety of noises, inviting puppies to chase, grab, bite, push through and generally have fun with them. The idea is to stimulate the puppies, get their brains working, and desensitize them to moving things – especially things touching and bumping them, having to push things out of the way, and various noises. 

They checked out the box but showed no super interest in it, which is typical.  They were more interested in wrestling, but that was just fine since they were bumping into the hanging objects, making noise and movement that caught their attention.  I got a few photos and then left them in peace. When I took in their supper, I placed the bowls inside the box.  It’s big enough that they can’t ignore it, so it will do its job.

See all the Puppy Adventure Box photos

The enrichment experiences are finished.  Now we start playtimes in the living room when we welcome visitors. 

27 Days (5/5)  Today’s enrichment experiences worked on hind-end awareness.  Training agility for so many years, I saw many dogs having trouble learning to navigate obstacles because they had no idea where their hind feet were.  It’s far easier to teach pups to pay attention to where all 4 feet go than to teach an adult, so this became a priority in how I raise my pups.  Many Search & Rescue handlers have told me how they took a pup from here to a group training session and were amazed at how quickly the pup figured out how to handle rough country.  Today obstacles included three long cardboard rolls that rolled.  Next I put down an old freezer tray and the sled I use to haul sacks of birdseed over the snow to the storage cans in the back yard.  Lastly, I put out 3 rubber horse feed bowls that I use for water in the puppy yard.  Since they’ll start spending time in the puppy yard tomorrow, I’m hoping exposure to the water bowls will help them find them scattered in the yard as they start exploring. 

I think Miss White must have eaten a huge breakfast because she slept through most of the photography session, first by the water bowls.  I eventually put her in the sled and she quickly went back to sleep with her head draped over the edge. It sure didn’t look comfortable but she never moved.

The pups definitely enjoyed the sled.  I caught several trying their teeth on the edges.  The age of sweetness and innocence will soon be over.  Once they discover those teeth, they’ll use them on everything.  They are already grabbing my pant legs as I clean their room. 

I got some good photos of Mr. Purple and Miss Yellow having a mouth-wrestling session.

See all the photos

Claudia came in the late afternoon and we took the pups into the puppy yard, to help them recognize it as their new home.  They again weren’t very impressed.  We carried them by pairs and set them just inside the gate.  By the time I got there with the last one and my camera, most of the pups were visiting with Claudia – except Miss White.  I could hear yelling but it took me a while to find her.  She had marched away from the group and Claudia and ended up in the north “lounge area” which stays shady and cool.  I had to move stuff and crawl in to get her as she was facing the wall and yelling so loudly she didn’t hear me calling her.

Once she was with Claudia and the others, I sat a distance away and began taking photos.  Mr. Gold was the first to break away and go off a short distance to explore, soon returning to Claudia.  Then Mr. Purple tracked me down – by scent and voice as I talked to Claudia, climbing into my lap to cuddle.  Eventually I got up and put him back with the group so I could get a few photos of him.  He definitely is hard to catch for photographs!

Claudia stayed for about an hour so I got a lot of photos – including some really cute ones!  We laughed about the last ones.  Claudia had 3 pups on her lap and four beside her in a line, butts towards the camera.  The three on her lap seemed to synchronize their head turns.  I took a whole series of that.

When Claudia got up, we had a line of comatose puppies.  They sure are at a super-cute stage!

See all the photos

The pups now love to climb over the back of my legs as I kneel, changing papers.  I don’t get anything done quickly, but we have nice love-ins.  We’re now up to nearly filling TWO lawn-leaf bags a day.  All I seem to do is change papers and wash puppy bedding.

26 Days (5/4)  I had Reading Dog at Holy Name School first thing this morning, so I just fed the pups their breakfast and headed to the school.  When I returned, I took them outside for another exploration, this time into the front yard where there was still a little shade from the big metal roof over my mobile home.  The front yard is rough, with dips and rocks everywhere from when my generator was installed.  My place was the parking lot for an auto racetrack in the 40’s and 50’s, which means it has only thin topsoil, a lot of clay and lots of rocks.  I have been waiting for over a year for the lawn guys to get here and to level the yard, haul off the clay and rocks that were brought to the surface, then put down topsoil and buffalo grass sod (native).  Meanwhile, the “lawn” gave the pups some practice in learning where their rear ends are and how to negotiate uneven surfaces. 

I carried them in pairs and put each pair on the ground where the ramp ended, still under the roof and in shade, while I returned for the next pair.  Once I had them all outside, I sat down a few feet away and called “Puppy!  Puppy!  Puppy!”  Mr. Blue was the first to head directly towards me, Mr. Green headed the opposite direction, along the house, Miss White and Mr. Red sat where they were and yelled, Miss Yellow went to the left, and the others gradually found their way to me, where they were rewarded with a lap, praise and petting.  The ones who came to me were upset that I continued calling, looking up at me and yelling that they HAD come. They didn’t understand I was still calling the “lost” ones.

Eventually everyone made it to me and I spent a few minutes praising and petting them before I got up and moved about 6’ away further into the sunlit yard, calling again.  That time, I quit calling when the first ones arrived and just visited with them, letting the others wander around as they pleased.  I also got some good photos of Miss Yellow, Mr. Purple and Mr. Blue with noses down, sniffing hard.

It’s always amazing to me how the pups change when the neurological system is finally all hooked up.  Now I should begin to see what they’ll really be like as far as personality.  Drives will start coming in a little later.  Right now they’re beginning to explore their world, which is exciting to see, because they seem to change by the hour as they interact with things they didn’t notice before.

See all today’s outdoor photos


When the pups had pretty much relaxed and found some shade against the big well cover that I converted into a (nicely insulated) doghouse, I left them and headed inside to clean and set up the room. That was SO much easier without puppies’ help! 

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 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, 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.  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.  They are already going away from where they were sleeping to eliminate – the only problem is that they sleep all over the room, wherever they collapse, so then they pee and poop everywhere.  Until they move outside, I will be very busy cleaning, washing – and will need lots of newspapers. 

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.  Today is “foot and frustration” day for enrichment exercises.  

I had some bubble wrap which provided another experience of walking on unstable surfaces this time also of hearing weird “pops.”  The bubble wrap only pops as I walk across it since the pups are still too light to do any bubble popping.  I put one piece of bubble wrap between the towel holding the newspapers on the board and the fleece pad by the gate.  I spread others elsewhere around 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 them an experience of stepping up and walking on top of and over something. 

I attached sections of ex-pen to the uprights on table and whelping box so they’d stay securely in place and create see-through barricades.  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 took a few photos of the room setup before I went to get the puppies, a good thing because, as I brought the pups in by twos, Lovely insisted on lying on the little fleece pad by the gate and nursing them – absolutely no way to take photos.  I left them to sleep for an hour before fixing their lunch. No use taking it in just for them to sleep through it. 

It got pretty warm today, so I opened the whelping room window, which meant I had to open the curtain for the air to get in.  The room is much brighter, but since they’re preparing to move outside it will hep their eyes adapt.  I even turned on a fan because the day was so hot.

At lunchtime, I crated Lovely with her lunch and took a few photos before I brought the pups their lunch.  I got a photo of Mr. Blue practicing the “irresistible pose” before I entered the room. 

I had to laugh as I moved from one side of the room to the other, talking photos, and inadvertently “popped” some of the bubbles in the bubble wrap.  I would jump – and so would the pups.  They weren’t heavy enough to pop the bubbles and paid no particular attention to that strange footing; in fact, they thought it was pretty comfy to nap on.

I then put their lunch bowls in the back part of the room and took a bunch of photos as they figured out to go around the see-through ex-pen panels to get to their meat.  Miss White seemed to deliberately consider how she needed to get there and was the first to get to the food.  Mr. Red stayed on the little fleece pad until I finally gave up and carried him to the Styrofoam pad so he’d at least smell lunch and work at getting there.  The Styrofoam pad across the opening rocks because it’s partly on the board and part on the floor – and several pups had to think about that before proceeding. 

All ate peacefully for a minute or two, until Mr. Gold grabbed a piece of the green bubble wrap and proceeded to put it on top of the meat in one pan.  I had to confiscate the bubble wrap so that the others could eat. 

I left the pups for about 45 minutes, checking the room and taking a couple of photos before I went to get Lovely.  All but Mr. Red had found their way back to the front part of the room and were sprawled out asleep.  He was crashed close to the water bowl.

Later, when I went in to pick up the empty bowls, I saw Mr. Green had found his way around that barrier into the whelping bed.  Good boy!

See all of today’s enrichment experience photos


The pups ate pretty well at all three meals today.  I’m offering 1# each time, because that’s what Lovely gets per meal right now.  She just gets less at those meals where the puppies get first chance to eat.

When I went in before bedtime to clean the room, I had all kinds of “help.”  And entertainment!  The pups were practicing running and wrestling and grabbing the fleece pads and towels in between trying to convince me to sit down so they could cuddle.  At one point, Mr. Purple headed to the water bowls.  I thought he was going to get a drink, but instead he went through it rather than going around.  The look on his face was priceless as he shook the water off his feet.  Time to put up a higher-edged water bowl. 

They are now barking, growling and singing, too.  We’re definitely having fun.

25 Days (5/3)  I had to loosen collars on everyone this morning. They definitely are growing!!  Tomorrow I’ll begin offering them 3 meals instead of two.

Today’s Enrichment Experience encouraged problem solving.  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 cut holes in two boxes to provide escape routes for the pups when I put them in the boxes.  Their lesson today is not to sit complaining at the top of their voice but to look around for an escape route, preferable through the holes.  I put the removed cardboard pieces on the floor in a pile for some unstable footing.  Mr. Blue obligingly went out a hole the first time, but after that tried to climb over the edge and ended up tipping the box on its side.  I didn’t have any big boxes, so I took another box and taped up the flaps rather than cut them off.  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.

Mr. Purple didn’t even try to get out of that box; he just curled up and went to sleep. 

I also put down a big branch so they could investigate the texture of the bark.  They found it interesting but not riveting, evidenced by Mr. Red curling up on it to nap.  He had already provided light relief this morning.  As I introduced puppies to the boxes, he was having a great time lying on his back – demonstrating the “Irresistible Pose” that his great-great-great-great-grandmother, Glory, was famous for. 

I call it that because no human who has ever seen any of my dogs doing it can resist giving tummy rubs, which of course is what they want. So, naturally, I quit photographing several times to give Mr. Red a rub.

See all of today’s photos

As usual, when I carry in their meals, I called “Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!”  Now that their ears are open, they sure come to greet me when I call!  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.

Since it was a cloudy day, I had hoped to take the pups outside again after I did my therapy dog visit and nosework class, but by the time I got home it was sprinkling.  I’ll try tomorrow.

                It’s time for the pups’ first worming, so I weighed and wormed them that before I changed the bedding tonight.  Mr. Blue is now by far the largest at 4.6#, followed by Mr. Purple at 4.1#.  I was surprised by the big weight difference between those two boys so I reweighed them twice, making sure the scale had cleared to zero each time.  Yep, it was right – no longer any contest for largest!  Mr. Gold and Miss Yellow also weighed 4.1#, followed by Mr. Green at 3.6#, then Mr. Red (3.1#) and Miss White (2.8#).

I worm my 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.

Tonight, as usual, when I went in to change the room I brought Lovely’s bowl of raw meat diet and put it down in its usual place by the water bowls.  Nearly always, she immediately goes over and eats, but tonight she sat nursing pups on the little fleece pad by the gate as I changed the big fleece pad in the whelping bed.  Then she headed to the pad and the pups followed and continued nursing – all except Miss White.  She put her nose in the air and moved resolutely across the room to lovely’s food bowl and began eating.  I was SO excited to see that!  Miss White ate nearly the entire time I was changing flannel and newspapers, then ambled to say hi.  I put her in with Lovely so I could try to finish the floor before the others spilled out to visit.  No luck there, but I keep trying.  I had help as I finished my chore.  Miss White only nursed a little; no surprise as her belly was huge. 

24 Days (5/2)  When I changed the room this morning, I decided to dispense with the back half of the flannel covering.  They’re walking well enough that it’s worth trying.  I even finished changing everything before they finished nursing.  AND got the new things to explore put out before they crashed.  Amazing!

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, an egg carton, two scrunched-up pieces of aluminum foil, two of the containers from the Lindt chocolates that were my litter-stress-relief gift from Debbie gift box, two trays from chocolates and a plastic tray.  All of these “give” when they walk across it. The area closest to the bed was quite full of new things!  A couple of the pups turned their noses up at the new stuff and began chewing on the edge of the small fleece strip by the gate.  I got photos of Mr. Gold (remember he’s wearing an orange collar since these tiny collars don’t come in a gold), but I can’t remember who else worked on the fleece pad.

Each time I entered the room, I moved objects to different places, to stimulate them to notice something if they 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.

See all of today’s photos

The pups had TWO enrichment experiences today!  My friend Ginny came late this afternoon and helped take them outside for their first experience of the world.  They were NOT impressed!  Most of the photos I took show someone yelling his or her (or their) displeasure.  When they weren’t yelling, they pleased me by using their noses.  They sniffed and explored just a little, but really excelled at looking for their milk bar.  I got photos of Mr. Purple and Mr. Gold catching a whiff of Lovely sitting a distance away and tracking her down for a snack.  She wasn’t very cooperative and kept moving to a different hiding place or heading off to chase squirrels, so they had to work to get a drink.

Teeth are through the gums.  And they were using them during our outdoor session!  Mr. Blue crunched down on my hand quite hard.  They must have been biting Lovely as they nursed, because she kept growling and leaving them.  I got some photos of Mr. Blue showing Ginny all his new teeth.

Ginny stayed for nearly two hours and I took a lot of photos.  Some aren’t the greatest because of sun glare through the leafless tree branches.  Because spring is so late, the trees aren’t leafed out so we had little choice of shady spots to put the pups so the light didn’t bother their eyes – and no good place for me to shoot form the shade.  Some of the pups posed nicely for photos, but others didn’t.  Hopefully next time I’ll get some good ones of the ones who didn’t cooperate today.    

See all the outdoor photos

Before Ginny left, she held pups so I could trim their toenails.  It was great to get that done.  Then we carried the pups inside and left them to nap.  I didn’t see any movement for at least 2 hours.  Supper was late since I waited for signs of life.  They ate really well tonight.  All that yelling and searching for mom used a lot of energy!

23 Days (5/1)  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 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.

For today’s enrichment exercise, I put on the floor an old cooking pan with a handle, a big lid, a cake pan lid, a muffin tin, 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.  Miss White was the star of the photo session, investigating both the big lid and the jelly roll pan. Mr. Gold checked out the rolling pin, and Mr. Red sat in the muffin tin.  Of course, I saw others checking things out during the day when I didn’t have my camera.

Since the pups are being offered two meat meals, and the two small ones are gaining steadily, I’m only doing one, maybe two, supervised nursing sessions a day now. I didn’t do one this morning because they nursed well while I was changing the room and also because it was my day for Reading Dog at Tongue River Elementary.  When I have a litter, it’s always a rush to leave on time, so I waited until I got home.  I did a nursing session and then gave them their lunch.  I was very pleased to see Mr. Red, who filled up more quickly than Miss White, leave Lovely, walk deliberately to the water bowl and take a long – and very noisy drink.  YES!  The “non-nursers” managed to figure out how to climb over me to get to Lovely, so I was very busy during the nursing session grabbing pups and lifting them back onto my other side.

Tonight they finished nursing on the clean fleece pad in the whelping bed LONG before I was done changing covers/papers on the floor.  And of course they came to me, so I had “help” trying to spread out the flannel strips.  It took me twice as long as usual.  That done, I checked ears.  Ears on a couple of the pups looked like they were beginning to “crack” open.

See all of today’s photos


22 Days (4/30)   Ears still aren’t quite open, but I’m now greeted enthusiastically when I enter the room.  Puppies come to greet me and get attention.  They are curious about what I’m doing and, as soon as I sit or kneel down, are all over me.  During the supervised nursing sessions, the “non-nursers” drape themselves over my legs and nap contentedly.

I began the pups’ enrichment experiences this morning.  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.  For today’s new experience I hung 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. 

I took a few photos and created a “New Experience” page on the website and will add photos to it as the week progresses.  I have to say upfront that, by the time I put down the new items and try to take photos, most of the pups just want to sleep.  They have nursed on Lovely on the clean fleece pad in the whelping bed while I changed the rest of the room – newspapers and covers.  As all of us know, after a big meal we aren’t too excited about being active.  I can’t wait until later because when they wake up, they will pee all over the room – and I do hate to have damp spots in the photos.  So I just get what photos I can of any pup whom I can wake up sufficiently to notice the new experiences.  Today Mr. Blue & Miss Yellow showed the most interest, with Miss White showing a tiny bit before settling to nap by one of the strips.

See all of today’s photos.


21 Days (4/29)   Three weeks old!  The little knobs inside their ears are becoming more prominent and defined, but they still haven’t moved apart to create the openings of the ears.  They are getting much fuzzier, which signals they’re getting ready to be able to regulate their body temperature, another thing signaled by the ears opening.  The third major ability is being able to learn and to reflect on what they experience as they begin to build an understanding of the world and their place in it.

This morning during the supervised nursing session, the big pups quickly found me and snuggled against me, enjoying petting.  Mr. Blue propped himself against my cushion so he could lie spread-eagled on his back to nap.  I couldn’t resist giving tummy rubs and he stretched and hummed with pleasure.

Since I’ll introduce them to the raw meat diet today, I weighed everyone.  Mr. Blue was 3.8# (60.5 oz); Mr. Gold was 3.0# (47.5 oz); Mr. Green was 2.9# (45.0 oz) and Mr. Purple was 3.4# (53.5 oz).  It surprised me that he hadn’t gained from Tuesday, so I weighed him twice again.  Either he was wobbling so much Tuesday that I got a wrong weight (sometimes you have to guess, looking for the number that comes up most frequently) if they won’t hold still.)  Someone had vomited up a tiny bit of milk yesterday but I couldn’t figure out whom. It might have been him, so I’ll watch him closely today.  Miss Yellow weighed 3.4# (54.5 oz), so today she was second largest. 

Mr. Red weighed 2.5# (40.0 oz) and Miss White weighed 2.1# (34.0 oz).  Both had gained .1#.  Their weight gain is consistent enough that, although I’ll keep weighing them each morning, I won’t put it in the diary except when I weigh all of them.

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

I decided to see if they were ready to start eating on their 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. 

Just before Lovely’s ball session, I divided 3/4 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 a pup approaches (or falls into) the bowl, it would encounter a food reward. 

I knew they wouldn’t eat that much meat, but it’s important that the pups encounter the meat anywhere they are.  It’s Lovely’s lunch, anyway, and she will clean all of it up when she returns.  I was impressed when most of the pups started eating as soon as I put them down close to the bowl (although a couple had to move off first to potty).  Usually at first, they just suck at the and end up pressing it into the bowl.  They learn to take bites pretty quickly.

After Lovely had her ball session, I put her in her crate while I did the next ball session, so the pups had plenty of time to respond to the new smell of the meat if they weren’t initially interested.  I took a couple of photos before I let her back into the room.  They had eaten a decent amount of the meat.  Good kids!

I did the same thing for supper, while Lovely had 30 minutes to hang out and cuddle with me, play with Justice and chase squirrels.  They ate about the same amount and left the rest squashed into the bowl.

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. 

I had already 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.  So far, I haven’t seen any of them encountering the water, but they have figured out where I put Lovely’s meat bowl, which is close to the water.   I have seen Miss Yellow get disciplined when she tried to get into Lovely’s meal while Lovely ate – a very low growl then a head-push away as Lovely hastened to finish her meal.

Even though they 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 they hear when their ears open. 

The first two photos are of the pups when I first put down the bowls; the third is just before I put Lovely back in with them.

20 Days (4/28)   It won’t be long before they’re eating, so I ordered a sack of Fromm’s Large Breed Puppy Gold. 

The two small pups continue to gain steadily.  This morning Mr. Red was 2.4# (37.5 oz), while Miss White was 2.0# (31.0 oz).  He thus gained .2#, while she gained .1#. 

The pups continue to become more and more responsive when I go into the room, greeting me and wanting to cuddle.  Most, if not all, of the “extra” pups now come lie against me while I do the supervised nursing sessions.  They have now begun “tasting” my hands, sucking on my fingers.  This shows they’re close to ready to interact with the world.  And to eat.  I’ll start offering them the raw meat diet tomorrow.  It will be interesting to see if Mr. Red and Miss White, whom I’ve been feeding some to several times a day, will show any interest in the meat in a bowl, or more (or less) interest than the others to whom it’s totally new.  They still aren’t eagerly eating it, which in a way is good as it indicates they’re getting plenty of unsupervised nursing time with Lovely.

I checked ears since tomorrow is usually the big day when all neurological systems are complete.  They are still closed, though all the parts are now clearly defined.  I almost thought I saw a tiny crack in Mr. Purple’s ears but couldn’t confirm it as he was squirming too much.  It won’t be long anyway. 

They have started wrestling with each other – such fun to watch.

19 Days (4/27)  The puppies have adjusted to the larger area.  When I enter the room, I now usually find most of them together.  They also seem to be finding Lovely pretty well, as they usually have very tight tummies when I check on them.  I was pleased to see that both Mr. Red and Miss White had gained .2# yesterday.  He is now 2.2# (at 34.5 oz, he had gained 3 ounces) and she is 1.9# (at 30.5 oz, she had gained 5.5 ounces!).

Lovely also has begun sitting up while they nurse, since they’re so large they no longer fit well if all try to nurse while she’s lying down. 

Lovely is thrilled with the larger area; now she can really stretch out while they nurse.  With all the available room, the pups have really started walking well.  I have to laugh at them because they march all over the room, complaining, as they try to find Lovely while she hides in the whelping bed.  Eventually they discover her and she will let them nurse.

They have begun noticing each other and I’m seeing tiny beginnings of play – mostly mouthing each other almost as if they are kissing.

During one of the special nursing sessions, I caught Miss Yellow, lying in the whelping bed all by herself, practicing rolling from one side to the other, and back, and then back again. She seemed to be having a lot of fun.

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

If they are awake, they try to follow me when I enter the room.  When I kneel down to greet them, they now respond to my touch, leaning into my hand and wagging their tails.  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 when I can “waste” a lot of time in the whelping room – though with the individual nursing sessions I don’t have to search for the interactions. 

They 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 that world has vastly enlarged. 

18 Days (4/26)  Lovely didn’t eat her bedtime raw meat diet meal last night.  When I picked it up this morning, she rushed over and asked me to put it on the floor (in the puppy area), then gobbled it down and demanded breakfast.  When I took her breakfast in, she stared at me as I put it down in the area fenced off from the pups – by the doggie door and gave me a “You are SO dumb!” look.  I realized what she was saying was that she wanted her raw meat meals placed by her water bowl, in the main area.  She will lean over the board and munch on kibble, but not the raw meat.  Okay, I said, but you have to realize that soon the pups are going to smell it and start investigating and then you’ll be mad.  When her hormones aren’t working, she is quite a reasonable dog, except when in a teasing mood, but when she’s pregnant or lactating it’s a different story – all kinds of drama and refusing to eat her normal kibble, even implying it’s poison.

I forgot to weigh everyone last night, which I usually do at every photo session, so I weighed them this morning.  Mr. Blue is now 3.4#, Mr. Gold is 2.6# and Mr. Green is 2.2#.  Mr. Purple continues to be the largest, at 3.3#, and Miss Yellow was 3.0#.  Miss White was 1.6# (26.0 oz), while Mr. Red was 2.0# (32.5#).  I was disappointed that they had not gained, but also relieved that they hadn’t lost.  All that extra space can sometimes mean a pup misses out on feeding sessions because it’s far away enough from Lovely to sleep through mealtimes.  In a day or two they figure it out, but I sure don’t want these two smallest ones to lose their growth momentum.

That said, you can imagine my pleasure when Miss White surprised me this morning by sucking the raw meat diet off my finger, swallowing, then searching for my finger with more meat on it.  She even smacked her lips!  That’s such an improvement from my putting it into her mouth and trying to keep her from spitting it right back out.  She ate probably 3 times what I’ve been able to get down her.  Hurrah!  AND she repeated that at the next two feedings.  Only at the last feeding tonight did she refuse to eat more than a couple of mouthfuls.  She even outdid Mr. Red, who at least will swallow the offerings I put in his mouth but hasn’t yet reached for them.  

After lots of thought, I figured out how to have the nursing sessions in the room now that the pups have access to all of it.  I convinced Lovely to lie down under the grooming table, which I put in the room to hold the box of newspapers and the sack of soiled papers up away from puppies’ reach.  I lift any “extra” puppies who are awake into the whelping bed, as far as possible from us.  Then I put down a cushion to sit on and a pillow to lean against and, after giving them their raw meat diet, put the two small pups on Lovely.  For some reason, that corner is usually the last one the pups start using.  Once Miss White and Mr. Red start nursing, I set the timer, sit down in a little comfort and read a book while Lovely leans her head on my thigh and enjoys some petting.

Tails are wagging today!  SO very cute!

We had a little love-in tonight during the last supervised nursing session for Mr. Red and Miss White. The other five woke up and realized that Lovely was offering refreshments.  They were not happy that my body was between them and her.  They complained and tried to climb over me but couldn’t quite make it.  That is, only Mr. Blue made it.  He tried and tried and complained and tried and complained and finally figured out how to climb into my lap and then over.  I let him go nurse as a reward for that much determination.  The others eventually fell asleep. Mr. Purple climbed onto and draped himself over my arm while I was petting the five.   Miss Yellow with her head cupped in my hand, and the other two lying alongside my leg.  That meant I couldn’t reach for my book, but it was sweet – and oh so relaxing – to watch and feel them cuddling against and on me.

17 Days (4/25)  This morning Miss White had gained .2#!! (now 1.7#, 25.0 oz).  Mr. Red had gained .1# (now 2.0#, 31.5 oz).

I put up another 8″ board on the side of the whelping box that opens to the off-limits area by the doggie door, which has no papers or blankets on the floor. 

Then I moved the 12″ board to define the pups’ new floor space. Lovely can easily step over it to get to her water and the doggie door to go outside.  I put newspapers over the new floor area and, over them, a flannel runner for traction. 

My friend, Denise, came to help me take photos.  I took three photos of her visiting with Mr. Red and Mr. Purple before we put real (though tiny) collars on all the pups.  They are a little loose on the three smallest ones (Miss White, Mr. Red & Mr. Green), so I’ll have to watch them closely, but they were a great fit on the larger ones.  They don’t come in a gold, so I had to use an orange collar on Mr. Gold until he’s large enough for the larger-sized collar.

We first took photos of the girls (Miss White & Miss Yellow) in one of the Easter baskets.  Photographing pups once their eyes are open is often difficult, as they turn away from the flash, but we did our best to get decent ones of each pup facing the camera. 

Then, since one of the people getting a pup asked, I took photos of the smallest and largest pups Miss White & Mr. Purple.

Then I photographed two males at a time in a basket, starting with Mr. Purple and Mr. Red.  Next I did Mr. Blue & Mr. Gold; then Mr. Blue & Mr. Green.

We gave the pups a short nursing break before beginning individual photos with Denise holding and interacting with them.  Mr. Purple didn’t happen to be on a nipple when we were ready to begin, so we grabbed him first.

Next was Miss Yellow, then Mr. Green.  Some of the pups resented being taken off Lovely and didn’t want to cooperate, so we didn’t get as many photos of them as of the others this time.  Next time I’ll be sure we get more of them than the ones who cooperated with the camera today.

Next up were Mr. Blue and then Mr. Red.  We then got a lot of photos of Miss White, who has had so much handling with the special feedings that she’s quite ready to interact.  People mean food, you know.

We finished with Mr. Gold.  I made sure the pups were nursing on Lovely in the newly-opened area, then left them to adjust to their new digs.  I checked them frequently to be sure no one was lost in the large area.  They moved around a little but pretty much stayed in two groups, so no one got stressed from being alone.

Lovely has begun making the pups find her.  This practice, very strong in my female line, is one thing that make my dogs popular with the Search & Rescue, tracking people and nosework, because from their earliest days my pups are learning to use their noses well.  Lovely’s great-great-great-great-grandmother, the original Glory, was the first female I ever saw doing it.  (Lovely’s mother, GloryToo, was named after her.)  Glory would lie down on the far side of the whelping bed – or the other side of the room or puppy yard – and wait for them to wake, sense her presence and find her.

16 Days (4/24)  Both pups again gained .1# overnight.  Mr. Red gained .5 ounce, putting him at 1.9# (29.5 oz).  Miss White gained 2 ounces!  That puts her at 1.5# (24.5 oz).  I decided, since the growth is consistent, though slight, that I will just weigh the pups once a day from now on.

I had to laugh at the pups tonight when I did the supervised nursing session.  When I entered the whelping room, the mob had been nursing happily.  Lovely, of course, got up when I entered and, knowing the process, moved to the “nursing” area while I gave Mr. Red and Miss White their bit of raw meat diet.  The rest of the pups were incensed at the disappearance of the milk bar!  They started yelling, so I glanced over to be sure they were okay, and caught Mr. Blue, Miss Yellow and Mr. Gold sitting up like big dogs, glaring, with their noses lifted in the air as they yelled.  Good lungs this bunch has!  They waited for Lovely to return for quite a while, continuing to mutter and march around their part of the room long after the two little ones had begun nursing and I had sat down beside them.  It gave me a good chuckle.

I haven’t yet figured out how I’ll do the supervised nursing sessions once the pups have the run of the entire room, which will happen tomorrow.  I may have to get a bit creative.  On a positive note, Miss White finally showed a little interest in the raw meat diet and swallowed some rather than spit it out.

15 Days (4/23)  This morning, when I did the first meat/nursing session, Miss White had me in stitches.  After I fed her the meat, I put her down on the rug where we do the nursing sessions, away from the others.  Usually Lovely goes over and cleans her off, but this time she decided to eat her breakfast first.  Although I had let Lovely out to potty and given her her breakfast as soon as I got up (and checked that all puppies were okay after the family’s first night alone), she much prefers to eat when I’m in there.  I picked up Mr. Red and began feeding him his meat breakfast, and Miss White was incensed with no attention from anyone.  She marched all over the other half of the room, even on the slick floors, climbed onto Lovely’s cushion, marched across it, down to the rug and then made another circuit of the floor, complaining all the while.  When I put Mr. Red down on the rug and Lovely joined them, she gave a big huff as if to say, “Finally, now let’s get down to business!”, grabbed a teat and nursed with vigor.  She is going to be something else!

At this morning’s weighing, both were the same pound-wise, Miss White was also the same ounce-wise, but Mr. Red had gained 1 ounce.  Miss White was 1.3 pounds (21.0 ounces).  Mr. Red was 1.7# (27.0 ounces).

Tonight, though, both had gained .1#.  Mr. Red had gained 2.0 ounces (now 1.8#, 29.0 oz), while Miss White was 1.5# (24.5 oz).  I am pleased to notice frequently, when I go in to check on these two, that they are often nursing with the mob.  Miss White is strong enough that she pushes under or climbs over the others to find a teat.  Nothing intimidates this girl.  I think she’s going to be a handful!  Love her spirit.

Tonight, when I did the neurological exercises, I saw that five of the pups’ eyes were totally open.  Eyes on Mr. Green and Miss White are nearly open.  They were gazing curiously at me during the supine exercise.  And they have begun coming to check me out as I kneel, changing newspapers and coverings.

Welcome to the world, little ones.  Bright light hurts immature eyes.  Those blue eyes won’t turn brown, and handle light well, until they’re about 5 weeks old.  Now that their eyes are open, they should start exploring and be much more fun. 

14 Days (4/22) Two weeks old today!  I registered the litter this morning.

Sure enough, the two pups showed a weight gain this morning.  What a relief.  Mr. Red had gained .1# (now 1.5#, 25.0 oz).  Miss White also gained .1# (now 1.2#, 19.5 oz.).  I now enjoy watching Miss White nurse. She has it figured out, races to the teats and searches determinedly until she finds on.  She usually “shops” and drinks from three different ones before she’s satisfied – and she pushes under or climbs over Mr. Red like  he’s just an obstacle. 

With great joy, I packed up my cushion and my sleeping bag and air mattress (from the days when I backpacked in the mountains.) 

I did four supervised nursing sessions today, each time preceded by as much raw meat diet as I could convince them to consume, then finished by at least 30 minutes nursing to be sure the meat was washed down well.  In three of the sessions, Miss White was still nursing when the time went off and I let her finish before getting up.  Mr. Red is still much more interested than Miss White, though at the last time, just before bed, she did let me give her a little bit more.  To give you an idea how much (ha!) they’re getting, I put ¼# of the raw meat diet in a container and left it in the whelping room so that it wouldn’t be cold, which gives less aroma and also the chill puts them off – as well as makes the meat stiffer so it’s much harder to take a tiny bit at a time on my finger and transfer it into their mouths – or, occasionally in Mr. Red’s case, hold it so he can suck it into his mouth on his own.  Tonight, when I finished their last feeding, I put over 1/8# in Lovely’s bowl.

When I did the neurological exercises tonight, I saw that Mr. Blue’s, Mr. Gold’s, Mr. Purple’s and Miss Yellow’s eyes are nearly totally open.  Mr. Red’s were mostly open.  I expected Miss White’s to be further behind since she’s had a rough first 2 weeks, but I was surprised that Mr. Green’s were only half open. 

Another surprise was that Miss White is up on her legs and walking around, even more than Mr. Blue, who is the only one I noticed walking.  I’m guessing her light weight is the biggest factor, combined with the strength in her hind legs that she developed from having to reach so high to nurse as I supported her.  The others haven’t quite figured out how to get their chubby bodies off the ground, but now that their eyes are open they’ll figure it out quickly.  I will wait to open up the entire room until Tuesday morning, since I’m gone all Monday morning to Tongue River elementary, then at 2 I have a therapy dog visit and at 5 I have a meeting.  Tuesday I have nothing on my schedule, so I can monitor their comfort level in the enlarged space.

Now that they are starting to get up on their legs, they have begun peeing and pooping on their own.  The pooping is done with MUCH drama, groans and moving around.  Lovely usually goes on high alert and rushes to clean them, at which they protest loudly, “Mom, let me do it myself!”  All this means I now have to change the bedding and floor coverings twice a day.

When I weighed the two after their late-evening nursing session, they were the same pound-wise, but Mr. Red had gained an ounce.  He was 1.7#, 27.0 oz.  Miss White was the same as this morning, 1.3#, 21.0 oz.

It was heavenly going to bed in my own bed.  Ah…

13 Days (4/21)  When I weighed the two small pups this morning, I was very pleased that Miss White had finally passed the 1# mark.  Not by much (1.1#; .50 kg), but she did it.  But Mr. Red was still at 1.43 (.63K), despite my catching him nursing a couple of time during the night.

I decided it was time to give them a bit of the raw meat diet that the big dogs get for breakfast.  I placed a tiny, tiny dollop in their mouths.  At first they pushed it out – it’s so different in taste and texture than mom’s milk – but the second time I put the meat on their tongues, they smacked with pleasure and began licking for more.  They even started looking for the meat on my finger.  I gave them about four tiny bites, and then put them to nurse on Lovely to wash the meat down. 

I repeated that several times today.  Mr. Red is all for it, but after that first shoe of interest, Miss White has resisted the offered meat. She’s the one who really needs the extra calories so she can catch up with her siblings.  I’ll try again tomorrow.

Probably Sunday I’ll put several bowls of meat down and introduce all the pups to solid food.  Lovely loves this stage, since the pups get a lot more of the meat on themselves than actually in their mouths – and she gets to clean them up and finish the leftovers.

One time when I went in to check on the pups, I found Miss White propped between two other pups, on her back, hind legs sprawled, deeply asleep. – the picture of total contentment.

At the late-afternoon nursing session, Miss White was still nursing when the 30-minute alarm went off, so I didn’t move and let her continue.  I had to laugh when I caught her sound asleep while hanging on to a teat with her front teeth.  SO funny!  As I chuckled, she slowly fell off the teat, still asleep, and sprawled on the blanket.

When I did the neurological exercises tonight, I noticed Mr. Purple’s eyes are almost open. 

I was disappointed, when I weighed Mr. Red & Miss White tonight, to see no increase.  It wasn’t until I woke in the middle of the night that it dawned on me that I should continue to check ounces so as to see a gain there, which will show long before the scale registers a tenth of a pound gain.  Duh!  I should have thought of that earlier, but I’m still a little brain dead from less-than-normal sleep, plus I haven’t ever had pups this old still be so small. 

Mr. Red has begun reaching for the meat offering on my finger, but Miss White still shows no interest.  Isn’t that the way it always happens?  The one who really needs what you offer isn’t interested.  It’s a good lesson in patience.  Let her develop as she needs, keep offering extra food, and relax until she’s interested in it.  Above all, quite borrowing trouble by worrying that her reluctance to take the meat means she has problems.

Tomorrow I will put a bowl of water in the room for them to find.  Once I can interest from Miss White, I’ll put the meat in a low “puppy” dish and let her and Mr. Red figure out how to eat. I won’t introduce meat to the big ones until she is eating it on her own – no use to widen the difference in weights.  Until then, I’ll continue as many supervised nursing sessions as possible while resuming my normal schedule.  Tonight is the last night I’ll sleep on the floor in the whelping room.  Hurrah!

12 Days (4/20)  Twice when I woke up during the night, Miss White was nursing on Lovely.  One time Mr. Red was, and the other time I put him on her before going back to my mat.  The third time both were WAY back in the whelping bed so I left them until morning, putting them on Lovely when I got up.

I was very pleased to see that Miss White has now doubled her birth weight.  That’s everyone now.  Hurrah!!!  She gained 1 ounce overnight (now 14.5 oz; 43 kg).  Mr. Red gained .1# (now 1.4#; 64 kg)

Lovely continues to lie against the soft, rolled up fleece piece that I’ve been using to keep the pups on the fleece pads.  This morning when I woke up, she had popped it out of its tie to the gate and the pups were on the (chilly) bare floor.  I gave up and closed the bottom part of the gate to define the puppy area – and just hope when she jumps over she doesn’t land on Miss White.

My friend, Denise, stopped by with some treats for the dogs and, since Lovely knows her from training, got to see the pups again. Lovely even let her hold Miss White.  Denise was impressed with how much they’ve grown since she got to take a peek at them last week.  I let her hold Mr. Purple after she held Miss White, so she could see the difference in weight. It’s pretty dramatic.

I went in often to check, on the pups and every time both were nursing throughout the morning, so I didn’t stay to do a nursing session.  I did get in a thirty-minute nursing session in early and then late afternoon.  I was disappointed, when I weighed them tonight, to find they were exactly the same.

I weighed everyone to compare weights from yesterday to last night’s first reading on the new scale.  Mr. Blue gained .2# from yesterday (now 2.1#; 10.3 kg). Mr. Gold had gained .4# (now 1.5#; .84 kg).  Mr. Green had gained .1# (now 1.5#; .68 kg).  Mr. Purple had gained .4# (now 2.5#; 1.12 kg).  Mr. Red was the same as this morning (1.4#; .64 kg).  Miss White was the same as this morning (14.5 oz; .43 kg).  And Miss Yellow had gained .2# (now 2.1#; .96 kg). 

11 Days (4/19)  Six of the pups have outgrown my postal scale and the seventh, Miss White, thrashes around so much that it’s hard to get an accurate weight.  Since she’s now strong and gaining regularly, I no longer have to report to Whelpwise, who insist on ounce and gram readings, I got out my big scale, which does ounces, pounds and kilograms (not accurate enough for Whelpwise). This morning I weighed Miss White and Mr. Red on both it and the postal scale.  They were slightly different:  on Mr. Red, the postal scale said 1# 3.4 oz (553 g), while the big scale said 17 oz/1.06# (54.0 kg or 540 oz).  On Miss White, the postal scale said 13.7 oz (389 g), while the big scale said 13.5 oz (35 kg or 350g).  According to the postal scale, both had lost overnight:  Miss White had lost .2 oz; Mr. Red had lost .7 oz.  Hopefully it’s just a minor setback, but I made sure I checked on them frequently and made sure they were next to Lovely and could nurse if they wished.  Again today, when I went in to sit for 30 minutes and make sure they nursed, they weren’t interested any of the times. I just have to hope they are learning to navigate the larger area and find Lovely when they’re hungry – a good start to using their noses.

Tonight I decided the pups were strong and large enough that they don’t need the pig rail, and took it down.  It’s always amazing how much larger the whelping box looks without it.  Lovely thought so, because she immediately entered and lay down in it.

I gave all the pups new rickrack collars. I sure like the smaller sizes; so much easier to tie! Debbie had found yellow baby rickrack so Miss Yellow again has a yellow collar.  I like the multi-colored rickrack but it’s white on the underside and often shows white rather than the yellow/multi colored top.  Thank goodness Miss White is much smaller, but it can be confusing when I pop in for a quick check on her and find a “big” white pup.   

I took photos and used the big Easter eggs as “props.”  I’ll use them, and the Easter baskets, every so often in photo sessions so that you can see how the pups are growing.

After I did each pup’s neurological exercises, I weighed them on the big scale.  Except for the two small ones, there’s no use comparing with the previous weights, but now I have a base weight to compare with on later weighings.  They are so fat, I have no doubt they gained weight!  Mr. Red had gained .2 ounces (now1.3#; 59kg), and Miss White had gained 1 oz (now 14.5 oz; 41kg).  I was very pleased to see that Mr. Red has now doubled his birth weight.  Hurrah!!!

As I did the neurological exercises, I noticed the puppies’ eyes are open a tiny slit.  Mr. Purple’s are open the most.  Hurrah!  As soon as they can see, I will “pick up my mat”, put it away and begin again to sleep in my bed.  And I will begin offering them raw meat diet – which will help the two smaller ones catch up.

10 Days (4/18)  What a blessing to get close-to-a-night’s sleep!  I woke up 3 times, each time heading to the bathroom and then, before I lay down again, putting Miss White and Mr. Red on Lovely.  How pleasant to drift off to sleep hearing their contented humming as they nursed!

When I weighed them this morning, Mr. Red had gained 16 grams (now1# 3.3 oz; 548) and Miss White had gained 31 grams (now 13.4 oz; 381 g).  Good job, Miss White!  She seems to really like setting her own nursing schedule.

I clung to that thought all day as she again refused to nurse all but one of the times I went in to be sure she could.  The only time she was hungry was after I rotated all the big dogs out for potty, play and breakfast before we started ball sessions. Yes!  Ball sessions again, FINALLY.  Amazing what getting some sleep and a flexible nursing session schedule can mean.  All the dogs were thrilled.  Before I started the sessions, since I knew Lovely would sit at the gate and monitor everyone’s going out/coming back in until it was her turn to play, I gave Miss White and Mr. Red 30 minutes to nurse and they used nearly all of it before falling off, asleep.

I was glad, when I weighed them tonight, that they proved they were getting enough nursing opportunities.  Mr. Red had gained grams (now 570 g) and Miss White had gained 12 grams (now 393 g).

I didn’t take puppy photos today.  I decided, instead, that first I’d better finish editing the photos I took of Spirit with the Holy Name School kindergarteners on April 6th.  I really needed to get all those photos to the teacher so that the kids can each pick the photo they want to go on their own set of trading cards.  She and they also need to pick a couple of group photos to use, which may take a while as there are some hilarious ones, but only a few where all the kids look pretty good.  You can probably imagine the difficulty of getting 10 kindergarteners AND Spirit to face and look at the camera and smile long enough for me to take a photo.  I always laugh as I edit photos, and tonight was no exception.  We have a couple of real clowns in this class, plus a new-to-the-US Vietnamese girl who had never been around dogs and is scared if Spirit looks directly at her or moves toward her.  She always wants to pet Spirit, but I have to work hard to get Spirit to hold absolutely still and not get her feelings hurt when I restrain her from going to the girl.

I got the photos edited about 10 p.m., then sent them via www.wetransfer.com to the teacher.  Hurrah!  It meant getting to bed a little late, as I needed to give the two small pups another chance to nurse before I crashed, but the relief was fantastic.  Once the photos are chosen, I will give them to Epiphany Printing so they have time to get the trading cards created and printed – and to me so I can give each kid and the teacher a set before school is out.  You can see the photos here.  Enjoy!!!

That done, I’ll try to take puppy photos tomorrow after my therapy dog visit to the Alzheimer’s Unit and then our nosework class.  

9 Days (4/17)  I had to laugh at the pups during the night.  I usually lie on my side close to Lovely as she nurses the pups, to be sure the little ones don’t get dislodged.  Often I rest my weight on an elbow as I play solitaire on my cell phone.  With the whelping bed now open, I had to block the four big pups from crashing the nursing session for the little three.  Mr. Purple, the hog, was not happy and kept climbing over my outstretched arm to get into the “privileged” area, and I kept having to put him back into the whelping bed.  At least it was more interesting than the card game.

Great news!  Miss White is doing well enough that I no longer need to weigh her before and after every feeding!  I’ll just weigh her twice a day.  In between, I’m to check on her every time I go past the room and put her to Lovely’s breast if she doesn’t happen to be there, and make sure she’s nursing enough.  I’m still going to sleep in the room for a few more days because of the huge size difference (this morning she’s 12.1 oz, while the largest pup – Mr. Purple – is 1# 14.3 ounces).

Weights this morning are:   Mr. Blue gained 1.3 oz (now 1# 12.3 oz; 844 g). Mr. Gold had gained .9 oz (now 1# 7.6 oz; 667 g).  Mr. Green had gained 1.2 oz (now 1# 4.1 oz; 571 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.7 oz (now 1# 14.3 oz; 859 g).  Mr. Red had gained .8 oz (now 1# 1.5 oz; 497 g).  Miss White had gained .7 oz (now 12.1 oz; 343 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1# 2.1 oz (now 1# 9.4 oz; 767 g). 

Since the pups were born early, we may need to move the temperament test dates up.  Now they will be 49 days old on May 27th.   The ideal time to do the tests is just after they turn 49 days old, so waiting until June 5th/6th as we had tentatively scheduled is a little too late.  This morning I emailed both testers to see if we could possibly do the tests Tuesday/Wednesday (May 30/31).  Usually the SAR group trains on Memorial Day weekend, so those are the earliest possible dates that Bonnie (who lives 200 miles away) could possibly do the SAR test on the pups.  She’s far enough away that it involves staying overnight, so she’s harder to schedule.

Suzan (35 miles away), who does the modified police/narcotics test, is now retired and her schedule is freer.  Bonnie has to check her work schedule but it looks like we’ll be able to do the testing May 30/31st.  I have inquired about arena availability for the test.  I will let all the puppy buyers know as soon as everything is confirmed.

I got the puppies’ microchips ordered.  My vet will insert them when we do the health check and first distemper/parvo vaccination just before they leave.

After I went through the last litter’s around-the-clock feedings, when I was allowed to discontinue them and once relaxed, I was absolutely dying for naps.  When I mentioned it to Whelpwise, they said that was typical – you live on adrenalin those nine days when you’re focused on saving that pup, then when she’s over the danger, you relax and the adrenaline drains away, leaving you exhausted.  If something in the diary the next couple of days doesn’t make sense, it will be because I was more brain-dead even than during the past 9 days.

On top of everything else, I did the first breeding of Mercy to Justice this morning.  No big deal to schedule ONE MORE thing in my day.  Ha!  The ZZ litter will be due June 19th.    Thankfully, that gives me a couple of week’s rest before we start on more puppy duties.

Mom and pups are super happy the day out on the fleece pad in the room rather than in the whelping bed.  I worried that the room would be warm enough, but it must be just fine; sometimes the snuggle together or against Lovely; other times they separate and sprawl separately. 

Today was frustrating.  I went into the whelping room several times for nursing sessions, only to have Miss White only suck for a minute or two or else tell me, “I’m sleeping; leave me alone.”  All I could hope was that she was nursing in between.  I was disappointed, when I weighed her tonight, to see that she only gained 7 grams, but heartened that she gained rather than lost.  Of course, she has to get used to the new schedule, too.  I’m just going to weigh her and Mr. Red in grams in the evenings because it’s easier to calculate gain/loss know if I have to work during on nursing opportunities during the night; I’ll do both grams and ounces at the morning weighings.  The other pups I’ll now only weigh every few days.  I am heartened to notice that she’s moving all over the area; sometimes she’s in the whelping box, other times she’s out on the floor.  And never has she been distressed at being by herself.

My friend in Ft. Collins, Debi, managed to find a few baby rickrack/ribbons in colors that Debie in Utah didn’t.  They arrived tonight.  The pups are growing and need looser collars so I’ll deck them in new collars and maybe even get a few photos if I get a decent sleep tonight.  I’m going to continue sleeping in the whelping room, but no longer have to set the alarm.  (YES!!!)  I’ll just check Miss White anytime I wake up – I’m definitely hoping that my body hasn’t memorized the 90-minute schedule…

The pups are beginning to look absolutely rotund.  I have caught a couple trying to sleep on their backs, but they keep tilting over.  Their ears are sticking out of instead of flat against the skull.  Eyelids are beginning to be very defined, first step in opening.  And coats are growing so that they look fuzzier. 

Late night update:  I heard from both testers.  We have scheduled the police/narcotics test for Tuesday, May 30th at 9 a.m., and the Search & Rescue test for Wednesday, May 31st at 9 a.m.  The arena is reserved. We are ready. Hurrah! 

8 Days (4/16)   Today it was Mr. Blue’s turn to untie his collar. I like the Velcro collars better, but their “stick” doesn’t last, plus it’s very hard to get pink ones, so I won’t go back to them.  I can hardly wait until the pups are large enough to wear tiny real adjustable collars with snap releases!

At this morning’s weighing, Mr. Blue gained 2.2 oz (now 1# 11.7 oz; 787 g). Mr. Gold also had gained 2.2 oz (now 1# 5.7 oz; 616 g).  Mr. Green had gained .12 oz (now 1# .11 oz; 484 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.6 oz (now 1# 11.8 oz; 797 g) and is again the largest pup.  Mr. Red had gained .5 oz (now 1# .2 oz; 457 g).  Miss White had gained .9 oz (now 10.6 oz; 304 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1.9 oz (now 1# 8.4 oz; 694 g).  Miss Yellow has now doubled her birth weight! 

I closely watched Lovely all night and was convinced she was not going to the pups to nurse them except during my timed sessions, so when I called Whelpwise this morning I mentioned that. They suggested I double the size of the puppy area since Lovely was probably feeling too confined to stretch out and relax in the bed.  I don’t usually do that until the pups’ eyes are open but agreed to try it.  I put up a 12” board 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.  The window curtain is closed so light from outdoors won’t bother their eyes, which are very sensitive at this point.

I unscrewed the hinges on the one side of the whelping bed that comes down, so that I could take it totally off and lay it flat.  I was worried, due to the puppies’ young age and their eyes not yet being open, that the “steps” from the whelping bed to the board (about 1”) and then from the board to the floor (another 1”) will be low enough that the puppies can negotiate them with no trouble.  I decided it was still too early, due to the two pups’ small sizes, to take down the pig rail.  I worried that the pups might have trouble figuring out to go under the pig rail across the now-open side to go in and out of the whelping box, but they moved back and forth freely.

I put a heavy fleece pad over the board and a rolled-up piece of fleece along the edge of the pad to keep them off the bare floor by the door.  I have a 2’ gate that I usually use to keep the pups away from the doorway, but I don’t want Lovely jumping over it and possibly landing on one of these little ones.  After the supervised feeding, I left the pups to slumber, all still in the whelping bed.  They can begin exploring as they wish.  I checked frequently to be sure no one was lost or stressed.

The first time I checked, about an hour later, all were still in the whelping bed.  Another hour later, Mr. Blue and Mr. Gold were out in the open and obviously had been nursing there.  Next hour’s check showed Mr. Purple, Mr. Gold, Miss Yellow, Miss White and Mr. Blue out in the new area. Next time, all but Miss White were out.  Every time after, at least one was out in the new area. 

I slept with my next to their new area, ready to intervene in case anyone got lost or cold or upset, but no one did.  In fact, not a single one yelled at finding itself alone, like they have done in the whelping box.  They somehow realize they have a lot more room and that it’s just fine.  In fact all – including Lovely – seemed thrilled.

After doing the neurological exercises, I trimmed four pup’s nails and it was the huge deal I anticipated.  They squirm so vigorously that it’s hard to get the nail scissors in position and cut before the toe has moved.  I’ll do the last three tomorrow.

At tonight’s weighing, Mr. Blue gained .6 oz (now 1# 12.3 oz; 803 g). Mr. Gold had gained 1.0 oz (now 1# 6.7 oz; 642 g).  Mr. Green had gained 2.2 oz (now 1# 2.9 oz; 535 g).  Mr. Purple had gained .8 oz (now 1# 12.6 oz; 812 g).  Mr. Red had gained .5 oz (now 1# .7 oz; 474 g).  Miss White had gained .8 oz (now 11.4 oz; 326 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1.0 oz (now 1# 9.4 oz; 720 g).  Mr. Green has now doubled his birth weights!  That leaves Mr. Red and Miss White, who will be a while longer before reaching that milestone.

7 Days (4/15)  The pups have survived the critical first week.  Hurrah!!  For once Miss Yellow still had her collar on.  She has the dubious distinction of being the only one whose collar comes untied, and it happens frequently.  One would swear she was untying it herself!  This time I used the new multicolored baby rickrack instead of the wider yellow rickrack I’ve been using.  She only untied it once today, an improvement!.

Everyone had been doing so good at gaining weight, that I wasn’t prepared for Mr. Red to lose weight overnight.  Worried, I called Whelpwise, who had me potty then weigh him before and after each nursing session all day long to make sure he was okay. 

Mr. Blue had stayed the same from last night (now 1# 8.4 oz; 692 g) and was now tied with Mr. Purple for largest pup.  Mr. Gold had gained 2.1 oz (now 1# 2.6 oz; 527 g).  Mr. Green had gained .3 oz (now 15.1 oz; 427 g).  Mr. Purple had gained .4 oz (now 1# 8.4 oz; 693 g).  Mr. Red had lost .2 oz (now 14.4 oz; 404 g).  Miss White had gained .4 oz (now 9.2 oz; 262 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained .8 oz (now 1# 5.6 oz; 615 g). 

The pups get visibly stronger and more active day by day, and Lovely has begun spending more time away from them.  On her rotations out of the room, instead of a quick potty trip and begging to return to her family, she has begun hanging out with me for a bit before insisting on going back to resume her motherly duties.  Today I noticed several times that she was still stretched out on the fleece pad on the floor (rather than in the whelping bed) when I returned for the next feeding.  Maybe she thinks I should do all the work of keeping the pups on a schedule.  If that’s true, the big pups may not be getting enough nursing, so I began (during the day at least) doing 30-minute nursing sessions with all the pups instead of 20 minutes.  I sure hope she decides to spent the night in the whelping bed with her kids so that I don’t have to do big-pup sessions all night long.

Mr. Red gave me a bit of a scare this afternoon.  Normally when I pick up a pup, it starts thrashing around.  He just gave a big yawn and stayed limp.  He had no interest in nursing, either.  Coupled with the lost weight, I got worried and again called Whelpwise – sure seems like I’m doing that a lot with this litter.  They had me give him a tiny dollop of Nutrical on the roof of his mouth, and a little sugar water and watch him closely.  He didn’t seem distressed, just sleepy.  At the next nursing session, he was a little more active but still not very interested in nursing.  I finally saw more normal activity at the third session, and by the fourth he was back to normal, nursing well and then motoring around from Lovely’s nose to her tail and climbing over the other pups in the process.  He ended the day with a weight gain, thank goodness.

Tonight Mr. Blue had gained 1.1 oz (now 1# 9.5 oz; 723 g). Mr. Gold had gained .9 oz (now 1# 3.5 oz; 552 g).  Mr. Green had gained .8 oz (now 15.9 oz; 477 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.8 oz (now 1# 10.2 oz; 745 g) and is again the largest pup.  Mr. Red had gained .5 oz (now 14.9 oz; 422 g).  Miss White had gained .5 oz (now 9.7 oz; 275 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained .9 oz (now 1# 6.5 oz; 639 g).  Mr. Blue, Mr. Gold and Mr. Purple have now doubled their birth weight.  Way to go, boys!  Miss Yellow is VERY close (only 3 grams to go) and should double her weight tomorrow.

I noticed tonight that I need to trim puppy toenails – always an adventure.  This will be like doing the neurological exercises – strong puppies who really squirm and yell – which makes trimming toenails a difficult project.  I’m not looking forward to toenail trimming.  I’ll do it tomorrow.

6 Days (4/14)  Karen from Whelpwise strongly urged me to sleep in the whelping room to avoid losing another pup, so I drug out my mat and did so.  I’m glad I did, because in the wee hours of the morning I heard a pup crying like it was mad, and it didn’t stop as usual.  So I turned on my flashlight and scooted the short distance to the whelping bed, to find Lovely busy cleaning one pup while resting her elbow on Miss White.  I guess that’s where I’ll sleep until Miss White is larger and stronger.  I was pleased to notice this morning that she regained her birthweight (7.6 oz) yesterday, and today has surpassed it (8.4 oz).  Way to go, little girl!

Karen’s idea to have other pups nurse with her – and then put the mob on to nurse – is reaping huge benefits.  Miss White has discovered that she can brace her body against another pup to stabilize herself as she stretches up on her hind legs and nurses on a high teat.  That way she’s harder to dislodge when bumped.  She’s going to be a strong pup!  The Whelpwise rep this morning said she’s going to be the first one out of the whelping box, which involves climbing over an 8’ board on the side that’s open for Lovely to enter and leave.  You have to remember that these pups are blind and neurologically immature, so the do lots of wobbling. Sometimes I’m amazed that they are able to pursue a nipple that flops back and forth while at the same time their head and body are wobbling back and forth as well.  You should see them when they successfully connect – boy, do they grab that nipple and start nursing enthusiastically. 

Miss White is doing so well that only once during the night feedings did she gain so little that I had to supplement her with Esbilac and water.  All the other times she gained enough (1 gram/ounce of body weight) that I didn’t have to feed her.  Whelpwise is very pleased and said to try a bottle instead of tube feeding if she doesn’t gain enough at a feeding.  She’s getting strong enough that it’s work to tube feed her:  I have to hold her close against my body with my right arm, hold the tube and her nose with fingers of the right hand so the mark indicating the end is in her stomach stays barely visible at her lips, and push the syringe with the formula so it goes through the tube into her stomach – and all the while she is struggling against the restraint.  Bottle feeding will take longer but will be more manageable – IF she’ll take the bottle.

Here are this morning’s weights.  Mr. Blue had gained 1.3 oz (now 1# 7 oz; 653 g).  Mr. Gold had gained .2 oz (now 15.3 oz; 432 g).  Mr. Green had gained .1 oz (now 14.0 oz; 397 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.2 oz (now 1# 7.3 oz; 661 g).  Mr. Red had gained .6 oz (now 14.0 oz; 397 g).  Miss White had gained .5 oz (now 8.4 oz; 238 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained .9 oz (now 1# 3.4 oz; 550 g).  All had gained weight from last night’s weighing!

At one of the afternoon feedings, Miss White was restless and seemed uncomfortable, muttering and moving from teat to teat without approving one enough to nurse long.  When I weighed her, she had taken in 6 grams, but she didn’t drop off to sleep as usual.  Before that, and the previous feeding, she didn’t poop when I pottied her before weighing her and letting her nurse.  A little concerned, I called Whelpwise. They said supplementing with Esbilac sometimes causes constipation and that was probably what was going on.  they said to give her some sugar water before each nursing, and to try once again to stimulate her to poop. While I was doing that, stooking her belly with a paper towel to imitate the mother dog who licks to cause urination and defecation, Lovely came over and pretty much shouldered me out of the way.  With a “Let the expert take over!” look, she started licking Miss White’s belly with enough force that I put her down before Lovely knocked her out of my hand.  Lovely then calmly but with authority held Miss White down with a paw and got down to the business of vigorous licking to stimulate evacuation – and for quite a while.  I never saw any poop (the mothers consume the urine and poop anyway), but when Lovely quit, Miss White immediately curled up and went to sleep.  She has been fine since then, nursing normally with no noises or restlessness.  We figure the problem is solved.

The evening’s weights are as follows:  Mr. Blue had gained 1.4 oz (now 1# 8.4 oz; 691 g) and has taken over as largest pup.  Mr. Gold had gained 1.2 oz (now 1# .5 oz; 470 g).  Mr. Green had gained .8 oz (now 14.8 oz; 420 g).  Mr. Purple had gained .7 oz (now 1# 8.0 oz; 685 g).  Mr. Red had gained .6 oz (now 14.6 oz; 411 g).  Miss White had gained .4 oz (now 8.8 oz; 250 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1.4 oz (now 1# 4.8 oz; 593 g). 

Since all the pups are now doing well, I began their neurological exercises tonight.  They were not pleased.  We have some healthy squirmers and yellers.        

I noticed during the night that Miss White is now heading to “her” teat and absolutely refuses to let the bigger ones dislodge her.  She grabs hold of the nipple and, I swear, uses her elbows to fend another pup off if it tries to push her off.   I’m pleased that it is one of the far back ones, which yield milk more easily.  I[‘m also pleased that she’s providing some entertainment, as I have little chance to do anything other then feed her – and try to nap between most feedings.  VERY boring.  And I can’t read or do anything to entertain myself as she nurses because I have to watch that she doesn’t lose her place on the milk bar.  I’m getting very tired of playing solitaire on my cell phone, which I can do with one hand and one eye while the other eye keeps track of Miss White and the other hand is ready to fend off invaders.  This is especially needed after she, Mr. Red & Mr. Green have their thirty-minute nursing session and I put the rest of the pups on for a twenty-minute nursing mayhem.

5 Days (4/13)  Here are this morning’s weights.  Mr. Blue had gained .7 oz (now 1# 2.7 oz; 538 g).  Mr. Gold had gained .9 oz (now 14.0 oz; 397 g).  Mr. Green had gained .3 oz (now 12.6 oz; 363 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.3 oz (now 1# 4.7 oz; 587 g).  Mr. Red had stayed the same (now 11.8 oz; 333 g).  Miss White had gained .2 oz (now 7.6 oz; 216g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1.3 oz (now 1# .7 oz; 473 g).  All but Mr. Red had gained since last night’s weighing.  

Miss White is doing so well that Whelpwise said to quit giving the concentrated sugar water before I put her to nurse on Lovely.  And I can eliminate the normal sugar water when I tube feed her, instead using plain water.  This means Miss White is much stronger and getting more nourishment form nursing in between my sessions.  I continue to do the feedings every 90 minutes during the day and 2 hours during the night.

Mr. Green and Mr. Gold are gaining well enough that I can discontinue their supervised nursing sessions.  I will continue Mr. Red’s since he isn’t gaining much per day.

Then Karen (Whelpwise owner) called and popped my bubble.  She said that Miss White should be gaining much more and to add a little more Esbilac to each tube feeding.  She also suggested putting a couple of other puppies on Lovely along with Miss White and see if more pups nursing at the same time would stimulate better milk flow.  Karen said pups should be getting full within a maximum of 15 minutes of nursing; the other 15 minutes is to help development and strength.  I put Mr. Red & Mr. Green on Lovely with Miss White to nurse and was amazed when milk started literally dripping from two teats.  I eventually moved Miss White to the dripping back teat, and Mr. Red to the dripping front teat so the milk wouldn’t go to waste.  Miss White quit nursing and fell asleep after about 16 minutes, and when I weighed her she had gained 8 grams!!  I didn’t have to give her any Esbilac.  Maybe, if this works, I’ll eventually get a life back…

Karen also said, once the three had nursed and I had weighed Miss White, to put all the pups on Lovely to nurse.  She explained that the body only produces enough milk for what it thinks is needed, so if only three pups nurse at a time, it will produce enough for 3 pups on matter if there are more pups.  So now, after each special nursing session for Miss White, I add a group nursing session to convince Lovely’s body that she needs to feed 7 pups.  I had to laugh, at the first free-for-all nursing session, when Miss White had climbed on top of the others and was nursing on a high teat.  What a girl!

After I shipped the monitoring equipment back to Whelpwise, I detoured by the grocery store.  In the reduced-priced Easter items, I found the cutest big decorative Easter eggs – in blue and pink.  Of course, I had to get one of each to use when I photograph the YY’s!!!

I had asked my friend, Debbie in Salt Lake, if she could try to find some baby rickrack for me.  Red is the only color I can find here.  The baby rickrack is much easier to tie around their necks to create a collar than the standard-size rickrack.  She found some and shopped it to me. the box arrived today.  It contains gold, silver, white two shades of green and a really pretty multi-color rickrack.  Since it has a lot of yellow and orange, I’m going to use it on Miss Yellow.  She is some kind of a Houdini – a couple of times a day I find her minus her collar.  Maybe the smaller rickrack will stay on her.

4 Days (4/12)  I was devastated, when I walked into the whelping room for Miss White’s 4 a.m. feeding, to find Miss Pink dead. It looked like Lovely had lain on her.  I’m sure she’s about as tired as I am with all the feedings, and didn’t hear Miss Pink squeak under her. She happened to be in the middle of the whelping bed rather than close to an edge where the pig rail would have protected her.  I am devastated. 

I again weighed the group this morning.  Mr. Blue had gained 1.0 oz (now 1# .5 oz; 474 g).  Mr. Gold had gained 1.3 oz (now 12.8 oz; 365 g).  Mr. Green had gained .7 oz (now 11.0 oz; 311 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.5 oz (now 1# 1.3 oz; 491 g).  Mr. Red had gained .8 oz (now 11.1 oz; 316 g).  Miss White had gained .3 oz (now 7.3 oz; 201g).  And Miss Yellow had gained .2 oz (now 14.0 oz; 397 g).  All had again gained weight from last night’s weighing!

This hasn’t been the greatest day.  While I was doing a special nursing session for Mr. Gold, Mr. Green and Miss Red, I noticed that Miss Red is actually Mr. Red.  In the craziness of whelping, with Lovely breathing down my neck as I tried to weigh and put a collar on the newborn pup, in the quick look for sex and color I didn’t notice the little penis by the umbilical cord.  Now that the umbilical stub has dropped off, it’s obvious that this is a boy.  I knew I was exhausted, but hadn’t realized I was THAT tired.  So now I have 5 males and 2 females (I checked everyone to make sure I had made no other mistakes).

That means I have only one potential breeding prospect to keep:  Miss Yellow.  I had originally put her down as a black so I started off the day bummed.  But then this afternoon I noticed a tiny s pot of brown had appeared under her tail.  I’m now guessing she’s going to be a black and tan with extended black – like Lovely.  I had hoped to keep a black and tan for more genetic diversity in the next generation.  The working people, Search & Rescue people in particular, don’t want black pups because they can overheat during difficult summer searches.  Sables are often preferred by working people because the mixture of black and tan hairs doesn’t absorb heat like the solid black hairs do.  The black and tan color pattern also helps to reflect heat away so is second best.

Miss White, if she survives, is not a breeding prospect because of her stub tail.  I happen to be reading an excellent new Canadian book on the German Shepherd during mealtimes:  The German Shepherd Dog:  A Historical View of the Breed’s Development, Prime and Deterioration (by Resi Gerritson & Ruud Haak, 2021, Brush Education Inc., www.brusheducation.ca, [email protected] – part of the “K9 Professional Working Breeds Series), Amazon link:  The German Shepherd Dog: A Historical View of the Breed’s Development, Prime, and Deterioration (K9 Professional Working Breeds Series): Gerritsen, Resi, Haak, Ruud: 9781550597752: Amazon.com: Books. I think in the very first part of the book the authors mentioned some dogs with stub tails being used to create our breed, but now that I have one, I can’t find it (maybe because I have no time and also am brain dead?)  I did see this comment on page 31, when I finally had a chance to sit down and eat something.  Listed in the first standard for the German Shepherd Dog (1899):  “The tail is well-coated.  The tail tip extends only to the heel joint, and it is almost always laterally bent.  When the dog is calm, the tail is carried low in a flat arch; when the dog is excited, the tail is carried high.  It never lies over the back nor is it curled.  Natural, stubby tails occur, and dogs with these should not be rejected from competition, but such dogs should not be used for breeding.”  On page 40 of the book, where they print the 2010 Standard of the German Shepherd Dog, mention of stub tails has been eliminated.  Those genes have been bred against, but a few are still in the gene pool.  It would be interesting to know for sure whether she inherited the stub-tail genes, or if it was a development fault from being too crowded in the womb.  I’ll probably never know for sure.

I again weighed the group tonight.  Mr. Blue had gained 1.5 oz (now 1# 2 oz; 514 g).  Mr. Gold had gained .3 oz (now 13.1 oz; 373 g).  Mr. Green had gained 1.3 oz (now 12.3 oz; 350 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 2.1 oz (now 1# 3.4 oz; 546 g).  Mr. Red had gained .7 oz (now 11.8 oz; 335 g).  Miss White had gained .1 oz (now 7.4 oz; 211g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1.4 oz (now 15.4 oz; 437 g).  All had again gained weight from this morning’s weighing!  (Miss White barely, though.)

At the last 2 night feedings, Miss White was nursing on Lovely, all by herself, when I went into the whelping room.  Good girl!

3 Days (4/11)  As tired as I am, I’m very glad I don’t have to go anywhere today.  I can nap in between nursing sessions!  Little Miss White is still hanging in there and slowly getting stronger and adding a little weight.  She gained either 1 gram or stayed the same after every feeding through the night, except at the 10 a.m. feeding I was ecstatic when she was 5 grams higher after nursing!  Whelpwise burst my bubble by reminding me she has a LONG way to go, but it was so nice to have good some news. Sure enough, at all the other feedings she was back to zero-or-1-gram gains.  They did, though, say she was ready for us to increase the amount of Esbilac AND the proportion of it to the sugar water. 

I was also very pleased that most of the time I can convince her to nurse on one of Lovely’s back teats, which produce more milk with less effort. Newborns don’t want to use those nipples; we think because they are often larger and thus harder to get into their mouths.  But they sure give a lot more milk for less effort – something the tiny ones benefit from.  They just have no reserve strength during that first week, coming off the stress of whelping and with no body fat, so I always try to teach the littlest ones to “head for the back of the bus.”   One time, while she was nursing on a front teat, I looked away from holding her and two of the back teats were so full that they dripping milk.  I was elated when I got her to move back to one of them.

As soon as I finished Miss White’s 7 a.m. feeding, I gave Mr. Gold, Mr. Green & Miss Red their morning 30-minute nursing session.  Then I weighed the group.  Mr. Blue had gained .9 oz (now 13.6 oz; 390 g).  Mr. Gold had gained 1 oz (now 10.5 oz; 287 g).  Mr. Green had gained .7 oz (now 9.5 oz; 269 g).  Miss Pink had gained .3 oz (now 11.6 oz; 337 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.0 oz (now 14.5 oz; 411 g).  Miss Red had gained .2 oz (now 9.5 oz; 267 g).  Miss White had gained .3 oz (now 6.6 oz; 187 g)!!!!  And Miss Yellow had gained .8 oz (now 12.5 oz; 353 g).  Morning weighing Summary:  All had gained weight from last night’s weighing! 

I am now giving the smaller pups – Miss Red, Mr. Gold & Mr. Green – three special nursing sessions instead of 4.  They are really getting into the nursing business, and I had to laugh at them today because they were pushing with their front feet and pulling so hard on the teat to make the milk flow, that they’d pop off and go over backwards every once in a while.  They also have terrible table manners – all the slurping that goes on!  But I tell them go for it!

My friend, Denise, stopped by to bring me a birthday present – and newspapers and two really cute toys for the pups.  She said she thought they toys would photograph well as they were so colorful – and I agree!  One can never have two many toys.  I take different toys to each nursing home and school visit the pups make from the time they’re 5 weeks old until they leave.  And before that, I offer the new toys each time we have visitors.  And of course, I take photos every time. 

I again weighed the group at 9 p.m.  Mr. Blue had gained 1.9 oz (now 15.5 oz; 438 g).  Mr. Gold had gained 1 oz (now 11.5 oz; 325 g).  Mr. Green had gained .8 oz (now 10.3 oz; 292 g).  Miss Pink had gained 1.4 oz (now 13.0 oz; 368 g).  Mr. Purple had gained .3 oz (now 15.8 oz; 448 g).  Miss Red had gained .8 oz (now 10.3 oz; 292 g).  Miss White had gained .3 oz (now 7.0 oz; 198 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1.3 oz (now 13.8 oz; 386 g).  I had to laugh because the two nurse mates – Miss Red & Mr. Green – weighed exactly the same at tonight’s weighing.  Evening weighing summary:  All had gained weight from this morning’s weighing! Hurrah!  Things are looking up.     

Here’s what the stimulations involve, see part 2.

2 Days (4/10)  Today was my morning to do Reading Dog at Tongue River Elementary School with Spirit and Hopeful, so my morning was a rush.  All seemed well with the pups – they were quiet, warm and nursing, so I didn’t do individual nursing sessions or weigh them before I left.

When I got home, Miss White was in the far corner of the whelping bed, under the pig rail and was chilled.  I quickly put her on the heating pad while I weighed al the pups.  I was horrified that they hadn’t gained any weight after my individual nursing sessions yesterday.  I called Whelpwise.  They said to give everyone some sugar water by syringe (for energy) and to see if Miss White would nurse.  She was still cold and won’t, so I left her in the heating pad, the sides of which I tucked up to form a slight “bowl” so she wouldn’t roll off.  I then left for my therapy dog visit to one of the nursing homes, and on the way home picked up a tube of NutriCal from the vet. That’s a high-calorie gel which Whelpwise recommended.  I usually had some on hand but ran out last year and didn’t think to get a new tube this spring.  We always gave to stressed animals at the Dog & Cat Shelter when I was Executive Director there. You put a tiny bit on the roof of the animal’s mouth and it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. We saved many puppies, kittens and injured adults using it.

When I got home, Miss White looked better, warm and stronger, but she wouldn’t nurse, so Whelpwise had me give her Esbilac (puppy milk replacement formula) diluted with sugar water, using a feeding tube placed down her throat so the food goes directly into her stomach.  (Straight Esbilac often makes the new babies constipated.) The formula is measured into a syringe, which is then attached to the tube.  I slowly depress the syringe to send the formula through the tube. To get her used to the supplement, we started with mostly sugar water with a little Esbilac added.  Gradually we increase the volume we give her and at the same time, we gradually increase the amount of Esbilac and decrease the amount of sugar water.

All afternoon and evening I had to feed her every 1.5 hours and the whole process takes about 45 minutes.  First I give her, by syringe, concentrated sugar water to give her energy and make sure she doesn’t get dehydrated.  Then I stimulate her to pee/poop before weighing her.  30 minutes of supervised nursing follows that.  I have Lovely lie on a fleece pad out in the room, rather than in the whelping bed, so I can make sure Miss White stays on a teat, holding her securely so she isn’t dislodged if Lovely moves – which happens frequently as she listens to the other puppies making noise in the whelping bed.  After the nursing session, I weigh Miss White.  The difference between the two weights tells us how much milk she got from Lovely – which is usually none or 1 gram.  Then I feed her the formula.  As we repeated the process throughout the night, Miss White became stronger and nursed better, but she only gains 1 gram after a feeding, if any at all.  But she’s still alive, and that’s the important thing.

As soon as I gave Miss White her first feeding, I weighed the group.  Mr. Blue had gained .7 oz (now 12.3 oz; 347 g).  Mr. Gold had gained .3 oz (now 9.3 oz; 264 g).  Mr. Green had stayed the same (8.9 oz; 254 g).  Miss Pink had gained .1 oz (now 10.5 oz; 309 g).  Mr. Purple had gained 1.4 oz (now 13.0 oz; 370 g).  Miss Red had lost .4 oz (now 9.2 oz; 263 g).  Miss White had lost .5 oz (now 6.1 oz; 175 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained .5 oz (now 10.7 oz; 304 g). Morning weighing summary:  Summary:  Mr. Blue, Mr. Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Purple & Miss Yellow had gained weight from yesterday morning’s weighing.  Mr. Green stayed the same.  Miss Red, Miss White & Miss Red lost weight.

I continue to give the smaller pups – Miss Red, Mr. Gold & Mr. Green – special nursing sessions several times a day.

Whelpwise had me weigh the group at 9 p.m.  Mr. Blue had gained .4 oz (now 12.7 oz; 347 g).  Mr. Gold had gained .2 oz (now 9.5 oz; 264 g).  Mr. Green had lost .1 oz (8.8 oz; 250 g).  Miss Pink had gained .8 oz (now 11.3 oz; 320 g).  Mr. Purple had gained .5 oz (now 13.5 oz; 381 g).  Miss Red had gained .1 oz (now 9.3 oz; 266 g).  Miss White had gained .2 oz (now 6.3 oz; 183 g).  And Miss Yellow had gained 1.0 oz (now 11.7 oz; 331 g).  Evening weighing summary:  Mr. Blue, Mr. Gold, Miss Pink, Mr. Purple, Miss White & Miss Yellow had gained weight from this morning’s weighing.  Mr. Green & Miss Red lost weight.

After the 10:30 p.m. feeding, Whelpwise let me go 2 hours between feedings so I could get a little sleep.  I’m pretty stiff from kneeling and sitting on the floor, bent over holding the puppy on a teat.  I’m also brain dead.

Needless to say, I haven’t had a chance to get the photos up on the website.

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 Friday.  They also aren’t enjoying our usual evening cuddling sessions – or trips to town or training – anything. 

Because the pups were born early and four are smaller than usual and struggling to nurse, I will wait a few days before I start the Neurological Stimulation Exercises, which are normally begun on Day 3.  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 details of the Early Neurological Stimulation Exercises, part 1

1 Day (4/9)  Happy Easter!  Some people have Easter bunnies and Easter chicks, but I have Easter puppies!!  A friend, Debi, sent me a basket full of Easter candies, and from a previous year I have another Easter basket, so I can’t resist the temptation to take some photos of the pups in them today.

All the pups were warm and content when I checked on them as soon as I awoke.  Lovely consented to go out to potty and I heard her, as usual, warning the deer away from our fence – the poor deer are starving with all the snow and have started hanging around my fence, trying to get to the shrubs or any grass they can reach.  Lovely has constituted it as one of her duties to patrol our property against the invaders.  She soon came back inside.  I put her breakfast on the floor in the kitchen while I washed dishes (I was too tired and hurting last night to do them.  I have osteoporosis that’s trying to force me to bend forward – which I’m resisting as much as I can – and bad feet, so my back always hurts some, but 11 hours of kneeling on the hard floor meant it REALLY hurt all day).  When she came back into the house, she refused to eat in the kitchen but led me to the whelping room and to the spot where I normally put the bowl.  Chuckling, I put it there and she dove into it.

When I weighed the pups this morning, I was concerned that all had lost weight.  That often happens, but not usually with all.  Birth is a stressful process, but Lovely’s nipples all showed melt when I gently squeezed them, so today I was on high alert.  If you’re going to lose puppies, it’s generally in the first few days.

Boys:  Mr. Blue was 11.6 oz (down .3 oz); Mr. Gold was 9.0 oz (down .7 oz); Mr. Green was 8.9 oz (down .5 oz) and Mr. Purple was 11.6 oz (down .9 oz), which really surprised me since I had seen him nursing several times on his own.

Girls:  Miss Pink was 10.4 oz (down .8 oz); Miss Red was 9.6 oz (down .9 oz); Miss White was 6.6 oz (down 1.0 oz) and Miss Yellow was 10.2 oz (down 1.1 oz) – very worrying.

I didn’t have time to do individual nursing sessions before I had to head to Mass, but as soon as I got home, I headed into the whelping room.  I did the three smallest ones – Miss White, Mr. Gold and Mr. Green – first.  All nursed about 15 minutes. 

As soon as I returned from Easter dinner at my friends’, I headed into the whelping room.  I did the three smallest ones – Miss White, Mr. Gold and Mr. Green – first.  All nursed about 15 minutes.  Then I grabbed the two others that were closest to the edge of the whelping bed – Miss Yellow and Mr. Purple.  I was very pleased that all 5 were able to find those elusive nipples on their own – a sign they are nursing independently.  Those darn nipples smell really good but flip around as they try to get their mouths around them, so they must persevere before eventually the attach. This is their first BIG learning experience and some pups give up, but these guys are doing well.  I set the time on each one for 15 minutes minimum and then started it again if they were still nursing.  Miss White nursed about 20 minutes and had a visibly fully tummy when she quit.  YES!!  The others didn’t quite make the 15 minutes but all nursed strongly.

I was VERY happy at tonight’s bedtime nursing sessions.  When I went into the helping room and lifted the sheet over the bed, seven pups were asleep in a pile and one was nursing.  It was Miss White, nursing strongly and contentedly all on her own.  Hurrah!!  I tried to let her continue as long as she wished, but Lovely jumped up and came out of the bed.  Miss White fell asleep, so I grabbed Mr. Gold and then Mr. Green.  Once they nursed, I let Mr. Blue and then Miss Pink nurse, then put Miss White back on Lovely.  This time I set the timer for 20 minutes.  All nursed at least that long and left with full tummies.

Lovely’s milk must have come in fully since the 5 p.m. feeding, as the pups were smacking their lips as they nursed and really relaxing, swallowing frequently and not kneading the breast as much (which they do to stimulate milk flow.)  What a relief!!!

I finished editing the birth photos tonight and will try to get them on the website tomorrow.  I have Reading Dog at Tongue River Elementary School all morning and a therapy dog visit at 2, so it will likely be late afternoon, as I will try to do individual nursing session before and after TRE and after the nursing home visit before I’ll have a chance to do website.  I also got half the Easter Puppy photos edited and hope to get them up tomorrow as well.  Got some cute ones!

4/8/23:  Birth

2:30 am:  I woke to puppy squeaks and dogs jumping up on to my bed to investigate.  When I turned on the light, there was Lovely grinning, with a black and tan female in between her front legs.  I QUICKY came fully awake, crated the other dogs, raced to the whelping room and pulled the whelping bed out from under the table, turned on the heater and heating pad, and transferred the family there.  I put Miss Pink down as having been born at 3:15.  She weighed 11.2 ounces (296 grams).

Then I tried to call Whelpwise, but the call would not go out, even though I tried repeatedly.  I got my landline pone from the bedroom and tried it.  I had a dial tone but again no call would go out.  Weird.  I texted a friend and the text went through, so my Wi-Fi shouldn’t be down.  I finally took a chance that the last number from yesterday, from Whelpwise calling me after I sent the monitoring data, was the personal phone of the one still on duty.  I lucked out.  The call went through and she was wake and on duty.

She was as surprised as I was!  We quickly went into whelping mode and she asked me to check fetal heartbeats and make sure no pup was stressing.  Good luck on that.  Lovely was agitated, as normal when they first start whelping, and panting very hard so all the Doppler was picking up were loud panting noises.  I finally found one heartbeat and it was normal.

After 30 minutes, as instructed I called Whelpwise and they said to give Lovely some calcium.  None of us had thought to have the vet give me some injectable calcium, so we gave Lovely some Tums which I still had on hand from the last litter.

Shortly after that, she had a couple of contractions and at 3:50 a black male arrived.  Mr. Blue weighed 11.9 oz (336 g).  He has a few white hairs on his chest.

Then at 4:20, a black & tan female was born. Miss Red weighed 10.3 oz (294 g).  These pups are smaller than usual (16-18 oz), so her labor is easy; a couple of contractions and a pup appears.  I’m pleased that the pups are all nice and vigorous, and trying to nurse – hard because Lovely keeps licking them.

At 5:11, Lovely had a black and tan female.  Miss Yellow weighed 11.3 ounces (321 grams).

Whelpwise wanted me to do a uterine monitoring, so I started, but after only a few minutes Lovely got up and had another pup.  At 5:30, Mr. Green was born.  A black and tan male, he weighed 9.4 ounces (265 grams).

At 5:50 Lovely had yet another pup, but it was DOA.  Then she had a couple of contractions before stopping, so I called Whelpwise, who said to do a uterine monitoring session, I got about 6 minutes of monitoring in before she began having contractions.

At 6:50, she had a black male.  Mr. Gold weighed 9.7 oz, 277 g. He was out of the placenta and nearly drowning in fluid, not breathing, turning pale and I worried I’d be able to save him.  I managed to strongly massage his sides to make sure his heart was beating and did several clean-the-nostrils arcs (Lovely having a fit trying to take him from me), and got a bunch of fluid from his nostrils and mouth.  Then I gave him back to her and she rolled him around, and finally he started yelling.  I called Whelpwise, and while we were talking, Lovely picked up the new pup and carried her across the whelping bed and put her with the others, whom I had put on a heating pad as soon as she began having contractions.  Then she lay her chin over the puppy pile and cuddled with them.

Whelpwise wanted me to do a uterine monitoring, so I started, but after only a few minutes she got up and had another pup. 

2:30 am:  I woke to puppy squeaks and dogs jumping up on to my bed to investigate.  When I turned on the light, there was Lovely grinning, with a black and tan female in between her front legs.  I QUICKY came fully awake, crated the other dogs, raced to the whelping room and pulled the whelping bed out from under the table, turned on the heater and heating pad, and transferred the family there.  GSD pups are almost impossible to tell apart, and you need to monitor their weight daily to be sure they[‘re thriving, so I put colored colors on them.  I have bene using Velcro collars but they pretty much quit sticking to themselves and begin sticking to anything else after you wash them – and in the first week, with the moms draining pregnancy fluids, those collars get dirty quickly.  I decided to go back to the old rickrack collars and see if they worked better.  My first female always gets a pink collar, while the first male always gets a blue collar.  I put Miss Pink down as having been born at 3:15.  She weighed 11.2 ounces (296 grams).

Then I tried to call Whelpwise, but the call would not go out, even though I tried repeatedly.  I got my landline phone from the bedroom and tried it.  I had a dial tone but again no call would go out.  Weird.  I texted a friend and the text went through, so my Wi-Fi shouldn’t be down.  I finally took a chance that the last number from yesterday, from Whelpwise calling me after I sent last night’s monitoring data, was the personal phone of the one still on duty this early in the morning.  I lucked out.  The call went through and she was wake and on duty.

She was as surprised at puppies as I was!  We quickly went into whelping mode and she asked me to check fetal heartbeats and make sure no pup was stressing.  Good luck on that.  Lovely was agitated, as is normal when they first start whelping, and panting very hard so all the Doppler was picking up were loud panting noises.  I finally found one heartbeat and it was fine.

As instructed, after 30 minutes I called the Whelpwise expert, and she said to give Lovely some calcium.  None of us had thought to have the vet give me some injectable calcium, so we gave Lovely some Tums which I still had on hand from the last litter.

Shortly after that, she had a couple of contractions and at 3:50 a black male arrived.  Mr. Blue weighed 11.9 oz (336 g).  He has a few white hairs on his chest.

Quickly after, at 4:20, a black & tan female was born.  Miss Red weighed 10.3 oz (294 g).  These pups are smaller than usual (normal is 16-18 oz), so her labor is easy; a couple of contractions and a pup appears.  I’m pleased that the pups are all nice and vigorous, and trying to nurse – which they find hard because Lovely keeps licking them. It’s fun to watch them get mad at her.

At 5:11 she had another pup, but it was DOA.  A little later, she had a couple of contractions then stopped, so I called Whelpwise, who said to do a uterine monitoring session.  So much for that:  I got about 6 minutes of monitoring in before Lovely began having contractions. 

At 5:30, a black and tan male was born.  Mr. Green weighed 9.4 oz (265 g) and was still in the placenta, so he started breathing normally as soon as the sack tore as Lovely cleaned him.

At 6:50, she had a black male.  Mr. Gold weighed 9.7 oz (277 g).  As he came out, he was out of the placenta and nearly drowning in fluid – not breathing, turning pale. I worried I’d be able to save him.  I managed to strongly massage his sides to get his heart was beating and then did several clean-the-nostrils arcs (Lovely having a fit trying to take him from me), and got a bunch of fluid from his nostrils and mouth – big bubbles.  Then I gave him back to her and she rolled him around as she cleaned him, and finally he started yelling.  That’s always a good sign – it clears out the lungs.  I called Whelpwise to report another pup, and while we were talking, Lovely picked up the new pup and carried her across the whelping bed and put her with the others, whom I had put on a heating pad as soon as she began having contractions.  Then she lay her chin over the puppy pile and cuddled with them.

Since nothing was going on and we knew there should be at least one more pup in the birth canal, Whelpwise had me give her a shot of oxytocin (a hormone that causes contractions to start again).  They also wanted me to do a uterine monitor, so I started, but after only a few minutes Lovely got up and had another pup. Mr. Purple, a black and tan male, was born at 8:00.  He’s the biggest pup, weighing in at 12.5 ounces (357 g).  Lovely did the same thing with him – picked him up and carried him to the puppy pile, then lay down around the pups.

I no sooner gathered up some of the bloodied newspaper strips when Lovely began having more contractions.  Miss White, a black and tan female, was born at 8:37.  She is the smallest pup, weighing in at 7.6 oz (222 g).  She has a stub tail – first one I’ve ever seen. (It looks like an Australian shepherd’s tail.)  I’ll have to do some research.  It seems like I remember that one of the regional types of sheep herding dogs that Von Stephanitz bred together to form the German Shepherd Dog had stub tails. That was bred out over the years but there might still be some genes in the gene pool.  OR, more likely, it’s a developmental thing; she might have been squished in the placenta so the tail didn’t develop.  I’ve often said that if you breed long enough, you’ll see everything.  This is definitely a new thing for me!

Lovely then said she was done whelping, so we gave her another oxytocin shot to be sure no one was lurking inside.  She passed some birth fluids but had no new contractions, so Whelpwise had me do 20 minutes of uttering monitoring and a Doppler search for heartbeats on each side.  They said to keep her quiet and not let her be cleaning or fooling with the pups.  Right!  So easy to do with newborns and new moms.  I pushed the whelping bed back under the table to make room for a big blanket and for me – no way can I sit in the whelping bed with Lovely and family and do the monitoring and heartbeat search.  I pointed the little space heater into that space, put the heating pad down on edge of the blanket and put the pups on the heating pad.  I got Lovely to lie down facing the pups, who were pretty content to snooze on the warm heating pad, and managed to get most of the monitoring/heartbeat search done on one side.  Then I moved pups and heating pad to the other end of the blanket and convinced Lovely to lie down facing the other way.  I was able to do the monitoring/heartbeat search on that side pretty easily as well.  I found no fetal heartbeats on either side.  Whelpwise checked the monitoring data and saw no contractions, so we said Lovely was done whelping.  8 pups is a nice litter.  With luck all will survive the critical first week, which is when you normally lose them if you’re going to.

Whelping over, I moved the blanket/heating pad/pups to the far end of the whelping room so that I could clean the whelping bed.  I pulled the bed back out into the room, removed the newspaper strips, then scrubbed the bed, let it dry, put down flat sections of newspapers.  I then covered the papers with a thick fleece pad to provide traction for the pups and to absorb and wick moisture away from them so they will stay dry and warm.

That done, I gave everyone clean collars and took a few photos before I pushed the whelping bed under an old dining table to form a draft-free den. 

I took a few more photos of the family in their “den” and left them to rest while I took a much-needed nap.  It was 1 p.m.

I slept for an hour, then got up and checked on the family.  All were content and quiet, but Lovely said she was starving.  I gave her a pound of raw meat diet and left her while I fixed something to eat for myself, then let her out to potty and relax a bit.  Even though she can use her own private potty area, she still prefers to be out with me for a few minutes.  She said she was still hungry, so I gave her another 1# of raw meat diet and left her to rest and tend her family.

I slept for an hour, then got up and checked on the family.  All were content and quiet, but Lovely said she was starving.  I gave her a pound of raw meat diet and left her while I fixed something to eat for myself, then let her out to potty and relax a bit.  Even though she can use her own private potty area, she still prefers to be out with me for a few minutes.  She said she was still hungry, so I gave her another 1# of raw meat diet and left her to rest and tend her family.

I checked the family frequently during the day and all pups were close together, a sign both that they were comfortable – not too warm or chilled – and that she is rejecting none because of any problems I can’t see.  Lovely continued to say she was starving so she got plenty of the raw meat diet at intervals.  They won’t even look at kibble for a couple of days after giving birth.  And the raw meat helps with milk production, so she can have all she wants.

Late tonight I placed a fleece pad on the floor and brought out the three smallest pups for a private, supervised nursing session.  Miss White, Mr. Green & Mr. Gold are the smallest.  I set the timer for 30 minutes, had Lovely lie down on the fleece pad, and put the 3 pups against her breasts after I checked her nipples to be sure her milk had come in.  I figured it had, as the pups had contentedly nursed all day and no one had complained.  Miss White immediately began searching for a nipple and, with me holding her up a little because the one she wanted was up high, began to nurse eagerly.  She nursed for 20 minutes. Mr. Green was never interested in nursing but snuggled between the far back, very large mammary glands where it had to be nice and toasty.  Mr. Gold was not interested at first, then nursed strongly. He, too, wanted a top breast, so I spent quite a while kneeling there supporting both pups so they didn’t fall off their nipples.  At this early stage, pups can give up if it’s just too hard to nurse, so I do everything I can to help them want to live and thrive.

All of us were very ready for bed, so we crashed early, me very thankful that the pups were doing well enough that I could sleep in my own bed.


3/14/23  We did Lovely’s first ultrasound and Dr. Cindy saw 6.  SIX???

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.

3/28/23:  Lovely is getting so large and claims she’s STARVING, so I called Whelpwise to let them know and ask when they would be sending the monitor.  They said it would go out tomorrow.  I’m glad, because the puppies have dropped and her mammary glands are filling.  We will check heartbeats to be sure no pup becomes stressed.

I told Karen that Lovely said she was hungry and explained that she was getting 5 meals per day.    First thin in the morning she gets ½# of the raw meat diet.  About 3 hours later, she gets a second breakfast of ½# raw meat diet.  For lunch, supper and again last thing before bed she gets 1.5 cup of Fromm Black Gold Adult kibble.  Karen did some figuring and said to try offering 1.5# raw meat diet at her two breakfasts, adding some barley, oatmeal, sweet potato or canned pumpkin for extra roughage.  Plus continue the kibble meals as I’ve been doing.

3/29/23:  Lovely ate her first up-sized meat breakfast but refused the second. I offered it to her for lunch and she ate it then.  She also ate her supper and late meal of kibble.

3/30/23:  I know Lovely needs the kibble, so I only offered her 1# of raw meat diet for early and second breakfasts.  She ate her early breakfast and a little over half her second breakfast.  I gave her the leftovers with her 1.5 cup of kibble for lunch.  She ate nothing.  This is going to take some experimenting, but at least she’s no longer saying she’s starved.

Jocie came to my house this morning and shaved Lovely so she’s ready for me to start monitoring puppies when the equipment arrives, possibly tomorrow (Friday) or at least by Monday.

3/31/23:  My “Stress Relief” package came tonight.  My friend, Debbie, who got one of the WW litter, began sending me fine chocolates to help me get through whelping beginning with the VV litter.  It has become a tradition, bless her.  She started with Lady Godiva chocolates and has begun experiments with other types to see which work best.  This time she sent Lindt Chocolates.  It’s hard ignoring them but I’m doing my best to wait until Easter and the final countdown to pups.  The company by mistake sent TWO shipments, so I have lots of chocolates!

4/1/23:  Lovely continues to absolutely refuse to eat the pumpkin, so I gave up.  She IS eating both breakfasts of 1# of raw meat diet, and usually at least 2 of the 3 later kibble meals I offer.  At least she is no longer saying she’s starving!

4/2/23:  I moved everything out of the whelping room (used for storage in-between litters), which is mainly tubs of toys to use when photographing the litter and taking the pups to the nursing homes and schools.  Now the living room is quite crowded. I will put Lovely in the whelping room when I’m gone for any length of time.  She has a doggie door to a sheltered potty/outdoor lounge area.  I put down a comfortable dog bed for her 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 cut up a bunch of newspapers into strips and put them in the whelping bed so that, when the urge comes, she can nest to her heart’s content.

All is now ready to keep her quiet during her last week of pregnancy. 

4/3/23:  A friend asked me what I would like for my birthday on the 11th.  I’m not much on birthday presents, but after sorting all the quiet puppy toys this weekend, puppy toys were on my mind.  I told her that if she insisted on getting me something, how about getting some squeaky toys to use when I photograph the pups when they’re 5 -7 weeks old as we visit the nursing homes and schools.

4/4/23:  I spent most of today extremely stressed.  A major storm is coming from the south – Casper (125 miles south of us) got 26.7” of snow yesterday.  Their forecast yesterday was for up to 12” – which is what ours is for today.  The roads south of us – where FedEx meets the plan to receive packages – are closed. 

To my pleasant surprise, the monitoring equipment arrived this morning before the blizzard got bad.  The monitor must have arrived yesterday but after FedEx, which comes here early in the mornings – had done my route.  Thank goodness!

Then I waited all morning for the handyman to finally get here to open my shed where my litter supplies are stored.  With the snow/melt/freeze cycles all winter, the wood on the door had swelled and sealed against the wood of the shed and then frozen.  This past week we had temperatures up into the high 40’s/low 50’s, so I innocently thought I could get the shed door open now.  Well, I tried all day for several days during the warm parts of the days.  No luck.  You’d never guess there was opening, it was so solid. I called a handyman, who is also busy calving, and waited three days for him to be able to get here.  He had said early this morning that he was going out to start his pickup, so I suspended all normal activities – such as breakfast.  For a while I cut up more newspaper stirps, until I felt I had enough for a big batch of pups.  Then I worked on my computer, which is by the window looking out on my drive, so that I would have time to get all my winter gear and muck boots on before he was at my gate. 

He finally came and got the door open – of course it now won’t close and when warm weather comes (if ever), he will have to sand down the edges.  At least it closes enough I can put a clip on the latch and close it tight enough to keep weather out until then.        

After he left, I started searching for my whelping supplies and carrying them into the house – the ones for immediate use into the whelping room and the rest into the living room (which is now pretty full).

However, to my horror, the fleece pads I put down for the litter, to wick away moisture and give the pups traction, weren’t in that shed.  Of course, I could use a blanket, but those can move around and possibly wrap a pup and smother it, which would mean I’d have to spend most of my time in the whelping room to prevent the pups stressing – or dying. 

I remembered that I was in such pain right after Mr. X left, from a fall in the house which compressed a disc, that I never finished moving stuff back into the whelping room as usual.  I cudgeled my brain, trying to remember where I put those storage tubs with the fleece pads.  Since there was only one pup, I didn’t permanently move him to the puppy yard outside as I usually do (which normally allows me to move all my stored items back into the now-unused whelping room).  

The next logical place to have put those tubs was the puppy house, since I had left the doggie door into it closed since Mr. X used the puppy yard only during the day.  Naturally, that had also been affected by the snow/melt/freeze cycles all winter. When I had shoveled/snowblown paths around the yard (to fill birdfeeders and pick up poop), it had created mounds.  When we had warm temperatures after each storm, some snow melted and drained downhill, then refroze against the puppy house door.  The door itself wasn’t frozen shut, but there was at least 4” of ice preventing it opening.  So I had to try to chop ice away from the puppy house door.  Naturally, my big equipment shed is encased with its own lake of ice and the door is firmly shut, preventing me from getting to my bar and sharp, double-bladed axe.  All I could find was an old little single-bladed (dull) ax that for some reason was in the mudroom.  The prospect was so daunting that I first tried to take a nap to rest my by-then aching back.  Stress kept me from success there, but at least my back was again happy.

At least the snow had stopped.  We ended getting 5” instead of 12”, thank goodness.  When I went out to chop ice, the project was at least as bad as I had feared.  I had been flat on my back with that compressed disc for 3 months before the radiologists did a kyphoplasty to repair it.  That removed the pain, but they said don’t dare fall again (I have osteoporosis).  With ice and rough-packed snow all over, I have been so careful not to fall that I haven’t gotten back into my normal physical shape – which was quite noticeable as I started to chop the ice.  I could chop for a few minutes then had to straighten and rest my back before chopping some more.  After about 40 minutes, I had to go lie down again.  I thought, “This is going to take me several days.” 

My stress level went up several more notches because I might not have several days.  Lovely whelped the WW litter 6 days early, and 3 of the 6 pups were premature and didn’t make it.  We’re talking tomorrow beginning the “she could whelp early again” watch, and the thought of not having everything ready to move her into the whelping room at the first sign of agitation had me pretty well stressed.  A stressed human is NOT the way to keep the mother-to-be calm and content – and prevent early labor.

Thankfully, I had a brainstorm.  I texted the members of my nosework training group who were strong and might have time to come chop.  I was overjoyed when I almost immediately got a text that John had just gotten off work and was heading my way.  With his heavy bar, it didn’t take him long to chop that ice out in a n arc that allowed the shed door to open.  And there were my storage tubs containing the fleece pads.  Hurrah!!!!  What a relief!  After he left with my fervent thanks sounding in his ears, I carried those tubs into the house and put them in the big bathroom, which is close to the whelping room and next to the washing room, handy for washing soiled ones and grabbing a fresh one. 

And I finally began to relax.  What a relief!  I organized the whelping room and unpacked the box of supplies from Whelpwise.  

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.  Tonight she was at 101.5.  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. 

Then I did Lovely’s first uterine-monitoring session.  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 sent the data over the phone line with no troubles (in the past I’ve occasionally had problems sending the data because the phone jack outside was damp from storms).  Today I was in luck.  AND Whelpwise called me once they revied the data and said all was peaceful, no contractions – so for now no worries about early whelping.  They want me to use the Doppler in the morning and check for fetal heartbeats.  That will also give me an idea how many pups Lovely has.  I’m to do that every morning and the uterine monitoring each evening until we get closer to her due date, when I’m to do both twice a day.  That way we pick up immediately if a pup begins to stress or she start having contractions.  For now, though, all is calm and we’ll get a good night’s sleep.

4/5/23:  Lovely’s temperature this morning was 101.5. 

I put down a cushion for me to sit upon during the monitoring sessions since I get VERY stiff over the hour of sitting on the floor.  I did her first fetal heartbeat monitoring session, detecting 3 pup on the right side and 2 on the left. That doesn’t necessarily mean that she just had 5 pups.  I wasn’t sure the Doppler was working consistently, even after putting in new batteries.  I called Whelpwise, who said to try again during tonight’s monitoring session.

I made sure everything I’ll possibly need is ready.  The 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.

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. 

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.

Lovely’s temperature tonight was 101.5.  I repeated the fetal heartbeat search during the monitoring session.  I could only find 4 pups tonight.  Whelpwise saw 3 minor contractions on the uterine data.  Nothing to worry about, but signs that things are barely starting to move.

4/6/23:  Lovely’s temperature this morning was 101.1.  I was quite worried, when I did the fetal heartbeat, that I could only find one pup on each side.  BUT I did see both pups kicking and stretching under Lovely’s skin as I moved the Doppler sensor over them. That was fun.  Whelpwise said not to worry about the “disappearing” pups as that happens as they begin to move towards the birth canal.  They only saw two small contractions on the uterine data so all is still well.

I have been racing around all day.  Early this morning, I frantically got in the hour-long uterine and fetal heartbeat session on Lovely and made it to Holy Name school on time for Reading Dog. I even managed to remember to change the lens and camera settings from “whelping room” to “school” settings. We took photos of Spirit with each kindergartener so we can make them a set of trading cards. 

I got groceries, then home for a little bit to rest (but no time to eat) before heading to my massage and then to Lively’s monthly pain-relief session with the wholistic vet.  He agrees with me that it won’t be long till her hind legs give out.  She’s still healthy and happy and bounces around with joy, but her hind feet will do the splits and she’ll fall and have trouble getting up.  The rough-packed snow, ice and drifts are really making her go downhill.  She has arthritis all down her spine and it’s constricting the nerves.  She will be 13.5 on May 3rd.

Karen, the owner of Whelpwise, called while I was at the vet’s and offered to help me do the fetal heartbeat check as I’m having troubles and nervous since the time Lovely whelped prematurely and half the litter didn’t make it.  I rushed home, set everything up in the whelping room and called her about 3:30.  By that time she was busy helping other clients and it wasn’t until about 5 that she called.  I got off the phone with her at 6:01.  With her help, I found 4 pups, two on each side.  You glop her sides with Ultrasound Gel, then when you find a pup, you stick a piece of paper to mark its position.

The X-ray is tomorrow afternoon.  Then we’ll know if that’s all or there are more.

Whelpwise reported that this evening’s uterine monitoring session showed 2 mild contractions.  Lovely’s temperature was 101.0 tonight.

4/7/23:  Lovely’s temperature this morning was 100.9

I used up the last of the Ultrasound Gel that Whelpwise sent, so they said to use cooking oil.  I tried that this morning as I looked for fetal heartbeats.  That was NOT a good idea.  Lovely kept wanting to lick it off her sides, the Doppler senser and my hands. Thank goodness I’m supposed to pick up some more gel when I take Lovely to the vet this afternoon.  Despite her “help,” we got the fetal heartbeat search and uterine monitoring done.  I found two pups on each side, plus a possible 5th but it was very faint and I couldn’t “lock” on it.  The Doppler could have been picking up a heartbeat from one of the ones on the other side.

On the uterine monitoring, Whelpwise saw three mild to moderate contractions.  They don’t think she’ll wait until the 12th to whelp.

Lovely is pretty bright eyed and perky.  She’s only eating her meat meals and part of a kibble meal, but is showing no sress.

I took Lovely for her x-ray this afternoon.  The vet saw 7, possibly 8 pups.  She first looked for heads and counted those; then she counted spines.  She got the same results on each count.  I had her email the x-ray to me and sent it to Whelpwise.  Karen thought she saw 5, possibly six.  Another staff member said 6.  Lovely looks smug as the experts argue.  “Ha, ha!” she says, “I’m the only one who knows.”

Her temperature tonight was up slightly, to 101.3. That’s totally normal; it often fluctuates on the days leading to whelping.  Thankfully the vet found some Ultrasound Gel to give me.  It’s backordered and they’re running low themselves, so I appreciated it.  The heartbeat check tonight went much more smoothly with gel instead of Canola oil.  I found 5, possibly 6 heartbeats.  Whelpwise said they only saw one mild contraction on the uterine monitoring.  We decided we should have a day or two till she goes into labor.