ZZ Litter Diary

ZZ Litter Diary
Mercy bred to Justice
Whelped 6/16/23:  1 sable female, 3 black & tan females, 1 sable male & 2 black & tan males
This is Mercy’s 3rd (and last) litter and Justice’s first litter.

Mr. Yellow (now “Zephyr”) went to Montana for Search & Rescue.  Miss Green (now “Breeze”) went to Colorado to be a therapy dog and compete in obedience.  Miss Pink (now “Zinnia”) went to SW Wyoming for nosework competition.  I kept Miss White (now “Zest”) and Miss Gold (now Zeal) for nosework competition, therapy dog work and hopefully breeding.
They now have their own page with photos and updates of them in their new homes.  

Mr. Blue and Mr. Red are available to active families.
See the Search & Rescue test results
See the Police/Narcotics temperament test results
background information

See the pups, 48 days old, doing Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library
See the pups, 55 days old, at a wild playtime session
See the pups, 61 days old, visiting the Alzheimer’s Unit
See Miss White and Miss Gold, 65 days old, on a playdate with Emma the Sheltie.

New entries are placed at the top of the page.  Scroll down for earlier entries.

105 Days (9/29)  Mercy is feeling well enough that I let her out for a while, and the ZZs and Justice, too.  Instead of doing a ball session, which we can’t do until after Tuesday’s two-week date since her spay.  However, I let her pack a ball as I loaded some branches into a small cart and wheeled them to the brush pile.  I did two trips doing that, and the pups had a great time because we headed into an area they hadn’t yet explored yet.  I didn’t have nearly as much fun as the pups kept halting to niff, usually in front of the cart I was pulling or right where I needed to throw the branches.  Then I brought them into the house for 15 minutes instead of their usual 10, before putting them in the puppy yard.

Zoom (Mr. Red) was the only one who hadn’t yet been on leash, so I took him to Big Horn Rehab & care this afternoon after Hopeful’s and my regular therapy dog visit.  I can’t make it to everyone who wants to interact with the therapy dog, even staying 90 minutes.  The usual therapy dog visit is an hour; my experienced therapy dogs (Spirit, Lovely & Hopeful) can last 90 minutes, but Justice, who hasn’t quite been certified a year, still barely makes the hour.  Being quiet and calm is hard for him and eventually he gets restless and quits wanting to interact with the residents, so we quit with him just before he gets to that point.

The activity assistant, Jazzman, and I took Zoom to the people we hadn’t reached with Hopeful.  He was quite a hit.  I had warned them that, since it was his first time on leash, we might have a bucking bronco episode of resisting the leash pressure.  One man in a wheelchair followed us most of the way, hoping to see the bucking bronco and discussing Zoom’s learning progress as we went.  At first Zoom was too busy exploring, and especially sniffing, to want to hold still to be petted, but after a few minutes he let me put him in a sit and stayed right by the resident for quite a while as they petted him. The first person he did that with was a blind woman, even cuddling against her as she leaned close and talked to him.  Two staff members who were following us, as well as Jazzman and I, were close to tears.  After that encounter, he seemed to begin to understand what to do and had some nice interactions with residents.  We finished the planned circuit, actually a square, in the time I had allotted as suitable for a puppy visit – about 30 minutes – and ended in the activity room with lots of petting and praise from a second assistant and the activity director.  He thought he was pretty hot stuff!

Tonight’s target table and tub session was a repeat of last night’s, with Zest offering an even faster go and come routine.  She and Zoom are so much fun! The other two seem to prefer receiving instructions rather than offering things on their own. 

104 Days (9/28)  No Reading Dog at Holy Name School as the teacher stayed home with a sick child, so I did ball sessions on an absolutely gorgeous day.  We had so much fun that we barely got done in time for me to make a 3 o’clock meeting.

Tonight we again worked on the target table.  I also put down two little horse feed tubs as an alternate to the pups who don’t want to do the target table, so I could still reward for offering behaviors.  Zest has fallen in love with the exercise and developed a great rhythm.  She’s very fast and is now giving Zoom (Mr. Red) a run for his money.  The other two are still uninterested.  They each offered a couple of looks at the tubs, so I at least gave a few rewards.

103 Days (9/27)  We had planned on a normal morning of ball sessions, but somehow Pascha ran into something as I was doing poop detail.  I heard a scream, dropped everything and rushed to find who was injured.  The others had been milling around me (“helping”) but she had momentarily left the mob, so I have no clue what happened.  She ran into something and tore a huge wound down one thigh.  Sighing, I quickly put her in her crate so the curious ZZs didn’t stress her.  As soon as we finished poop detail and I put the ZZs, Hesed & Varoom! up, I took a good look at Pascha, called the vet and raced her down there. 

They called that she was ready to go home just as I finished our nosework class, so I picked up a VERY unhappy pup with at least a dozen stitches and an e-collar.  She does NOT like the pull on the wound every time she moves and tries to lick it, so she’s on crate rest for 2 weeks.  Just what I needed on top of a litter due (October 7th), a nosework trial (October 6-8) and the four ZZs whom I’m trying to socialize – and three of which start puppy kindergarten class Tuesday.  Sue only offers 3 class times so the pups will take turns at the class.  I got Pascha home and put on a Kong Cloud collar instead of the plastic e-collar.  The dogs can see, walk, change positions in their crate, eat and drink while wearing them as opposed to those awful e-collars.

When I brought the pups in tonight for their play/cuddle session, of course they mobbed Pascha’s crate, wanting to visit with their buddy.  She was still pretty groggy from the anesthesia and ignored them, which of course upset them.  They finally gave up and came to me for comfort, all 4 trying to sit in my lap.  Eventually they started playing and chewing on the cheese chews.

We again worked on the target table.  I am finding their reactions extremely fascinating.  Zoom (Mr. Red) LOVES the exercise and races as fast as he can to the table, gives a mighty leap up and flies off of it as soon as I click.  Over and over.  When I finished the last pup and let all of them out in preparation of putting them outside with their supper, he kept leaving the group to jump onto the table.  SO funny!!!

Zest is bouncing to the table now, too, having a great time, but still with not as much enthusiasm as Zoom.  Zorro (Mr. Blue) refused to “play.” The first time I put a tiny salmon treat on the table and he got up, vacuumed it up, and jumped down when I clicked.  I refused to do that again and he refused to offer any behaviors for which I could reward him, so I put him up. 

Zeal got up once and then did the same as Zorro, which surprised me as she’s usually so anxious to please, so I ended the session and took them out.  What I’m looking for is choosing to “try” something and offer a behavior – any behavior – so I can reward them.  That sets the groundwork for all training.  We’ll work the table one more time to see if those two will “play.”

102 Days (9/26)  Another crisp, beautiful fall day!  We did our ball sessions as we reveled in fall, the ZZs enjoying the session with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha, but disappointed that Mercy still can’t do her session. 

Tonight we did the same thing – play/cuddle time with chews and toys available, then worked on the target box.  Zoom again did a fantastic routine of go and return.  Zest got somewhat of a rhythm going.  Zeal and Zorro (Mr. Blue) both did better than last night but nothing like the other two.

I have had no queries from working people, so I am reluctantly going to make the boys available as pets.

101 Days (9/25)  Another glorious day!  I wished I could be out all morning doing ball sessions, but it was Reading Dog day so I was at Tongue River Elementary all morning.  I got home in time to feed all of us before I left for a therapy dog visit to Westview.  Then I had a meeting at church until 6. 

I did get home in time to feed the big dogs and bring the ZZs in for their evening fun on time.  I put out the four Himalayan cheese chews with toys and balls and the pups had fun retrieving and chewing, most of the time climbing into my lap with toy or chew.

Then I put up the toys and chews and crated the pups so I could put down the target box.  We’ll work on the target table the next few days.  With a litter coming, it would be nice to get the target table out of this living room since I now have tubs of puppy stuff in there.

The pups are now big enough to get up on it so we worked on them leaving me, going to it and getting on it, then returning when I clicked to get their treat.  All four handled it differently, which was quite interesting.  Zorro (Mr. Blue) was first and he acted like he had never seen the target table before.  Once I put a tiny treat on it, he remembered and climbed up. It took a little while for him to notice I was holding a treat when I clicked and to figure out to come down and to me to get it.  We did that same process, with me having to put a tiny treat on the table to get him to choose to go up on it.

Zoom (Mr. Red) bounced out of his crate, ran to the target table and got on it.  Good boy. He also quickly figured out to jump off and come to me for his treat.  In fact, he got a nice rhythm of go out, jump up, come back, go out, jump up, come back.  Impressive.

Zeal was next.  She immediately went to the table and jumped up on it, but was confused about where to find her treat.  She alternated between a nice go out and jump up, to a sit-and-look-at-me.  She never got a rhythm going.

Zest was last.  She didn’t get quite the rhythm that Zoom had, but she did better than the other two.  We didn’t work on anything else tonight because I wanted them to go into the puppy yard and reflect on what we did with the target table.

100 Days (9/24)  Chilly this morning, only 42 degrees, but the puppy house stayed warm.  The sky is clear, no rain overnight, so I’ll be able to go train.  First I rotated out and fed al the big dogs, and did bird chores with the ZZs, Mercy & Justice.  Then I headed to the metal storage yard.  It turned out to be a PERFECT day for training, and I stayed there for almost two hours as the dogs and I were having so much fun.

When I came home, I did poop detail with Hesed, Varoom!, Pascha and the ZZs.  Then I took a nap.  After that, I wanted to spend more time outside on this glorious day, so I hauled some dead branches back to the brush pile.  That meant the ZZs didn’t get an afternoon playtime in the house, but we did a longer one this evening.  No training, though, because I used up the last of my training treats this morning and totally forgot to get another bag out of the freezer so it would thaw.  So I scattered a lot of little treats around the house and they got to search for those as well as bring me toys and balls to retrieve.

99 Days (9/23)  We woke to a very wet world.  When dawn finally came, we sloshed around doing bird chores, with the pups spraying water on me as they raced and wrestled and chased the big dogs.  The forecast didn’t mention rain, but low, heavy clouds made me wonder.  I decided not to go train as the metal storage yard would be very muddy even if rain didn’t come.  Instead, we did ball sessions, which made the pups very happy even though Mercy is still on no-ball status as she heals from her spay.  Amazingly, the rain held off and in the afternoon the clouds even cleared out and we had sunshine, though the day stayed chilly.

The Ukrainian lady, Vera, is going to come on Saturdays instead of Sundays.  She came at 1 and cleaned until 5.  Does she ever work!  Today, besides the house, she cleaned my car.  What a relief to finally get that done.  My back really hurts if I do much bending and scrubbing so I get very far behind on cleaning.  I’m grateful to have someone willing to do the things I can’t, but it meant all the dogs were crated for a long time. 

After I took Vera home, I rotated groups out for 20 minutes to potty before I fed them supper.  It was 7:30 before I brought the pups in for their playtime.  I didn’t try to train but instead put out some toys and the three frozen marrow bones stuffed with canned dog food, and one new marrow bone.  The pups provided me a lot of chuckles as they maneuvered to get a bone.  Two would be trying to eat on the same bone, then one would come over very sadly and tell me it didn’t have a bone – while the 4th bone was sitting there in plain sight.  I found it interesting that they didn’t fight over the “new” marrow bone, but liked the stuffed ones just as well.  I didn’t chuckle when two decided to compete for the same bone while both were in my lap. Every so often they’d get my pant leg in their teeth and I was nervous one would pinch my leg.  I much preferred it when all settled down with their own bone.

It’s supposed to get down close to 40 degrees tonight, I closed the puppy house window when I put them out with their supper.  I was pleased, when I returned just before bed to pick up their bowls, to find that two were sleeping inside the puppy house.  They had been blissfully stretched out. There’s not room enough for all four so I’m going to have to take out the crate that gives puppies a place to cuddle when they first move outdoors.  I’m trying to figure out what to do if the boys are still here much longer, especially if the weather changes.  I don’t dare put a heater out because they are big and determined enough to get to it.  I hate to bring them inside and crate them at night until after Lovely whelps her puppies (she’s due October 7th), as I’m quite busy that last week of pregnancy, and our nosework trial is October 6-8.  I’m already going to be pretty stressed over both of those things and don’t need to be getting up during the night to potty puppies who are getting used to not being able to potty at will.

98 Days (9/22)  It rained off and on all last night.  Thankfully, all was still when I let the puppies out to play while I did bird chores.  Mercy was feeling more normal, so I let her out with Justice and pups to do bird chores.  I figured we’d have no ball sessions today so, when we finished, I let the pups hang out with Mercy & Justice in the house for 10 minutes before I put them out in their yard.

Sure enough, it started pouring shortly afterwards.  After I rotated all the dogs, I brought the pups inside and put each in a crate with a marrow bone to chew on while Hopeful, Spirit and Pascha had 45 minutes out of their crates.  All the big dogs got bones, too.

Next, I let the pups out and put them out the front door to go potty. Then I let Hesed, Varoom!, Pascha & Justice out for 45 minutes.  By that time the bigger dogs had chewed the best off their bones and wouldn’t be too possessive of any bones, so the pups got to be inside with them.

Then I put those dogs up, pottied the pups and let them stay out with Mercy & Justice for 45 minutes, so the pups had a great morning inside.  Then I put them in the puppy yard.

I had a therapy dog visit to Big Horn Rehab & Care at 2:30.  Since so many people want to pet the therapy dog, I seldom manage to see everyone any one week, even staying 90 minutes instead of an hour when I take one of my experienced therapy dogs.  Justice gets restless if we try to visit more than an hour, but Spirit, Lovely & Hopeful are fine with the longer time.  We alternate which end of the nursing home we start on so we don’t miss the same people each time, but we still get plaintive complaints from people we miss.   I had hoped to bring Spirit home and then grab a pup and walk it through to catch the ones Spirit didn’t visit, but the pups were wet and muddy from playing in the rain.

After all that time with marrow bones this morning, I would have thought the pups would have been “chewed out,” but not so.  When I brought them into night, they pretty much ignored the toys in favor of empty marrow bones and the Himalayan cheese chews.  I hardly had any toys brought to me.

We trained tonight after their play session.  They are now flying out of their crates and racing to the pipe.  Zest is the only one who still takes a while to offer a sit.  Zorro (Mr. Blue) is quickly offering a sit and will stay there even if I delay clicking.  He is such a sweetheart!  Zoom (Mr. Red) is a little bouncier but settles nicely into a sit.  I had to laugh at Zeal because she offered a down indication, but in back of the pipe and had quite a time figuring out how to stretch her nose around to get it at the pipe entrance.  She was thrilled when I finally clicked to let her know it was good, then had to think about getting up to come for her jackpot reward.  All were quite proud of themselves.

It was raining again when I put them outside with their super, and later when I went out to pick up their bowls.

97 Days (9/21) This morning Spirit and I started our weekly Reading Dog sessions with the Holy Name School kindergarteners.  When I got home, I let Hesed, Varoom!, Justice, Pascha and the four ZZs out to “help” me do poop detail.  As I fought my way through the circling bodies, I decided that most people would think I was insane.  I got it done, though.  Hurrah!

One good thing about doing poop detail later was that I caught both Mr. Red and Mr. Blue pooping as we wandered.  I collected samples and dropped them off at the vet on my way to an afternoon appointment.  The vet called later and said both were clear of coccidia.  Hurrah!

This afternoon my friend Peggy came to help me trim toenails.  It was still a wild time, but I did see improvement from the first time Denise helped me trim their nails on a grooming table using a Dremel grinder.  The boys thought getting a homemade training treat after each toenail was great, but the girls absolutely refused them, spitting treats out if I put them in their mouths.  It took us 45 minutes to trim the 4 pups’ nails.  SO glad that’s done.   Now I can start planning to walk a pup through a nursing home whenever I have some time.

We didn’t train tonight since they (well, at least the boys!) got so many treats during the nail trimming session.

96 Days (9/20)  The pups were quite pleased when we had a “normal” day with ball sessions, though not with Mercy.  At least they got to chase the other dogs along the fence and burned off energy.

I had a therapy dog visit, then nosework class, then a Zoom meeting, so they were a little late coming in for their evening playtime.  My chewy.com monthly shipment came today, so I had four Himalayan cheese chews to put out for them.  They still insisted on playing keep away and tug with them for quite a while before settling, a pup to each chew, for a little chewing exercise in between bringing toys for me to throw. 

We were running so late, I didn’t try to train but put them out with their supper.

95 Days (9/19)  The puppies said today’s schedule was all messed up.  I was up early so I could rotate dogs before taking mercy to the vet, which meant that it seemed forever before daylight came.  It worked out well, though, because I left Mercy last.  She didn’t even seem to miss having breakfast because I threw the big ball more often than usual as I did bird chores, to encourage her to get all pottied out.  As soon as I put the pups back in their yard, I loaded her in the car. 

I needed to get my blood drawn in preparation for my annual physical, and have to have fasted overnight.  The doctor’s office does blood draws from 7:30 – 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Mercy had to be to the vet between 7:45 and 8:15.  Piece of cake, I thought!  Take her with me, leave early, swing by the doctor’s office and get my blood drawn, then easily get to the vet’s before 8:15.  Not!  The doctor was slammed.  They said they usually do 10-11 draws, but even getting there at 7:30, I had a dozen people ahead of me – and a bunch behind me.  I didn’t get out of there until 8:25. I called the vet and told them why we were running late, and they laughed and said we were fine.  I got her dropped off about 8:30 and headed home to start ball sessions.  The pups were pretty wild during Hesed’s, Varoom!’s & Pascha’s ball/poop detail session.  I thought we would have time to do just a ball session with the pups when I normally have Mercy’s session, but we ran out of time because of our late start and no room to wiggle because I had a chiropractic session at 1:40 and picked put the housecleaner on my way home.  I took her home at 6, fed the big dogs as soon as I got home, and then brought the pups in for their evening playtime. 

I knew they were going to be especially wild, so I put down two Himalayan cheese sticks (hard chews made of yak milk).  I wished I had more, but I didn’t.  They’re about 6” long so the pups can play tug and keep-away with them, which they did for a while before turning to the toys.  Boy, did they ask for me to throw the various toys tonight!  We had a great time.  Again, most toys returned to me attached to two pups, and sometimes they climbed into my lap to chew on it together.  Sometimes all four pups chased one toy – quite the thundering down the hallway!

Play/cuddle time done, I crated the pups and put down the pipe with the nosework scents.  They have the idea now; all four headed right to the pipe and stuck their noses in.  All gave sit indications, too.  I had to laugh at Zoom (Mr. Red) when he sat and stayed there, just moving his head to stick it in the pipe and then turning it towards me to receive the treat when I clicked.

We worked on name recognition after the scent work, but I didn’t do ball sessions since they had retrieved so much during their play session.

94 Days (9/18)  The pups had a relatively boring morning and early afternoon – they had to amuse themselves. their wild play session while I did bird chores, but then Spirit, Hopeful and I left for Tongue River Elementary.  I got home in time to feed everyone lunch, then Justice and I left to do a therapy dog visit at Westview Healthcare Center.        

When I returned, I brought the pups in for an hour to hang out with me as I worked on the computer.  They were thrilled, partly to hang out with Mercy, Justice and me, but also because it was hot outside the and the cool house – especially cool floors – were welcoming.  They aren’t going to be happy for the next few days as Mercy gets spayed tomorrow morning and will be on limited exercise, limited time with pups who might bother her incision – and no ball sessions.

They enjoyed their evening play/cuddle time and then training session, again doing quite a few two-puppy tug-retrieves in between cuddling in my lap with a toy or old marrow bone.

They now go enthusiastically into their crates and, when it’s their turn, bounce out and head to the pipe.  All had great concentration tonight and each gave me some actual sit indications with head in pipe for more than a second.  When they did that, I clicked, put down a handful of treats (jackpot!) and praised heartily.  What good pups!  Now whether they understood the celebration was about the sit or not remains to be seen.  I’ll be interested if they offer it more quickly tomorrow night.

 After each pup did its nosework session, I put the pipe up and we did some name recognition work – calling its name and clicking/treating when it turned towards me.  Puppy Kindergarten classes start October 3rd, so I figured I’d better get serious about them knowing their names, even the two males who won’t stay here.  When they sell, the owners will just have to fade out the name I called them as they emphasize the call name they choose. 

Then I offered a ball session.  Tonight all but Zorro (Mr. Blue) retrieved at least a couple of times.  I think the name recognition game helped them get searching out of their minds so they were more open to play.  Again, we’ll see how that develops tomorrow.

I had their supper dished up, so once I finished ball with the fourth pup, I let the others out of their crates and we trooped outside.  I went out just before bedtime to pick up their food bowls and was pleased to see they had eaten everything.  They hadn’t finished breakfast or lunch, so they may be moving out of the grow spurt into the “resting” period where their bodies get used to longer legs and so on.  Zoom’s (Mr. Red’s) right ear, which had been back down for a week or so, looked like it was beginning to come back up.  That’s pretty typical. During a rapid growth spurt, their bodies just have so much energy available and sometimes rob strength from the cartilage to build bone in their legs and also teeth.  Then, when growth slows down, they have energy to give back to the ears.

The evening puppy sessions now take quite a bit of time.  Tonight I was tired enough between the therapy dog work and puppy nurturing that I didn’t even try to edit any puppy photos, which is unusual.

93 Days (9/17)  The other day when I got dogfood, I picked up a couple of cans as well.  This morning I distributed one can’s contents between several “old” marrow bones and put them in the freezer.  Tonight when the pups came in for playtime, 5 of those bones greeted them. They hardly looked at the toys or balls, but spent all their time happily working on the bones and, of course, checking to see if one of the other pups had a better one.  And most of the time at least one was in my lap while working on their bone.  Between Sunday night Mass and the housecleaning lady being here, we just did their 30-minute play/cuddle session, no training.

92 Days (9/16)  Three months old today!  What a sweet, smart, nose-driven bunch of pups – still wild at times but now showing some really nice intelligence and desire to please since they like our schedule. 

Since it’s now dark when I take out their breakfast, I am now putting it in the puppy house rather than outside.  Since I trained this morning, they only had their playtime during bird chores.  I have begun letting them come in for 10 minutes after we fill the feeders and bird baths before I put them back out to finish their breakfast.  They are funny; they have decided they’ll only eat a little bit until they’ve had their run/visit time; after that they clean up the bowls. 

I only had time enough between training and a meeting to feed all of us and then take a short nap, but when I got home I brought them in for an hour.  They now know that only during their evening session do I put out toys and sit on the floor for cuddles.  Daytimes I work on the computer and they can play with Mercy and Justice or hang out with me.  Today at any one time I had between 2 and 4 pups sprawled at my feet.  Add Justice, who always wants to be as close to me as possible, and you can imagine how hard it is to move from my chair if necessary.

I had some small crumbles of training treats left over for this morning, so I put them in one of the wooden puzzles and had that on the floor when they came inside tonight, along with toys and balls.  They have decided it’s great fun to bring me a toy, have me throw it down the hallway, and compete to see who can get it.  Toys often return to me being carried by two pups rather than just one.  They’ll alternate between retrieves and cuddles, but all jump up when the thirty-minute timer goes off. 

Tonight it was much easier to get puppies into crates.  They still complain when another pup is being worked, but it’s not longer a frantic “Let me out of here!” but more a “My turn!  It should be my turn!” vocalization.  They have the “go to the pipe and stick your nose in” thing down now, so I will gradually begin delaying the click and see if any will start offering a sit or down.

Tonight my super-retriever, Zest, refused to leave the training area (living room) to chase her ball.  She was trying to find the pipe, locating it on top of the table and trying to figure out how to get it. They others did the same thing.  Only Zoom (Mr. Red) consented to retrieve a few times. 

A friend had sent me a couple of bags of NutriBites Freeze Dried Liver treats to try when I train, as her dogs are crazy about them.  Mine did, too, and I told Denise about them.  They’re too large for her shelties and cockapoo, so she found some freeze-dried salmon treats by the same company. They are in nice small pieces, so she gave me part of a bag to try with the pups.  They love them!  I have been using them for nosework training. Tonight I finished the bag and started using the liver treats.  I’m going to have to order more salmon treats because the liver treats are way to hard to break in half and then still are larger than I like for the pups’ training rewards.

Once I finished training the last pup, I took them and their supper out to the puppy house.  It was hard to pry them away from the pipe on the table, which still had the scent in it as I train Pascha once the ZZs are out for the night.  I finally convinced them to follow me.

91 Days (9/15)  Daylight is much longer coming now, and I’ve had to change my routine.  Now I do more big-dog rotations out for potty and breakfast before I go out to do bird chores and let the pups play.  And I bring them into the house for about 10 minutes to hang out, to compensate for the change of schedule that they think neglects them.  They definitely don’t have “wait patiently” in their vocabulary.  Dogs, even young ones like the ZZs, have inner time clocks and know when it’s their turn for anything.  Sorry, kids, but you have to be flexible.  And besides, that means it’s a shorter time between this first play session and when I begin ball sessions and poop detail with you, Hesed, Varoom! and Pasha…

They were again irritated when I did a ball session for Pascha after the Lovely/Justice/Pascha ball session which used to be immediately before theirs, but they were less vocal than yesterday.

I forgot to mention yesterday that my search for puppy-proof squeaky toys wasn’t very successful.  I finally got a Kong Wubba and put it out last night, and again tonight, at playtime.  They like it, but I don’t know how long the “streamers” will last.  I’m watching closely for serious chewing on those.

Tonight’s training session went better – and was much quieter.  The pups went readily into their crates and complained when someone else was out working, but nothing wild like the previous night.  Instead of putting the scent tin in the suet feeder, I put it in one of the pvc pipes mounted on a wood block that we use to introduce nosework using the Dave Kroyer method.  For this first session, I sat in my chair about 2’ from the pipe on the floor and clicked/treated whenever they put their nose in the pipe, even if accidentally.  If they turned their heads towards me when I clicked, I rolled a treat towards them to begin teaching them that their reward will be given away from the hide, a big tenet in Dave’s training method so that we don’t accidentally foul the hide with crumbs.

See us working on indications with one pipe at one of Dave’s seminars
(this is the 2022 seminar; I haven’t even started editing this year’s seminar photos –
too busy with puppy photos)

This is a slow process, especially with multiple pups, because the one training is frequently distracted by a sibling and wanders away.  I just sit quietly and let the pup decide to return to the hide, learning exactly what behavior brings a reward.  Tonight each pup’s session took quite a while, but as we continue, they will become faster and more intent on the hide. 

I again did ball sessions after each pup worked, picking up the pipe and then moving to the entrance to the kitchen hallway, sitting on the floor so it was a great contrast to the work session.  I had to laugh at all the pups because they had trouble leaving the “search area” (where the pipe had been) and switching gears to retrieve.  Only Zorro (Mr. Blue) showed no interest in the ball.  Both girls retrieved nicely – especially Zest, and

Zoom (Mr. Red) happily retrieved several times.

Once the last pup was done, I took them, and their supper outside, returning later to pick up their bowls.

90 Days (9/14)  I didn’t have to be anywhere until 3:30 today, so we took our time at ball sessions.  As I cooled off successive big dogs, I worked on bringing in three crates from the storage shed on the driveway.  I set them up in the living room (I have no “living” room left now with 7 crates there).  Before I took Mercy out for her ball session, I opened the four crate doors (since Lively’s death I’ve had an extra crate, but I didn’t take it out because I knew I’d be using it soon with these pups) and scattered treats in there.  When the pups came in to lounge while Mercy cooled off, they got to explore the new things in the living room and were excited to find treats in them.  That will make the crating experience easier tonight.

Mercy and pups were WAY late for their ball session because Denise called and asked me to bring a pup for a playtime to wear out her sheltie, Emma, so that she would travel better – Denise was leaving at 3:30 for Minnesota.  We decided not to try another boy since Zorro (Mr. Blue) didn’t play much with Ema on Monday.  I grabbed Zeal and headed there just before noon.  Emma and Zeal played and played and played – for about 90 minutes.  I’m going to have to quit taking photos because my laptop says it doesn’t have room for me to put these photos on it to edit.  I have SO many photos on it already that I’m trying to edit, and I work 2-3 hours every evening, but when you take close to 500 photos at every puppy playtime, that does mount up.  That got me back home about 1:30 and I still had Lovely’s ball session, and then Mercy’s to do.  At least Zeal had a chance for a little rest while Lovely, Justice and Pascha had their play session and then Pascha had her individual ball session.

 All the pups got heartworm preventative tonight.  I use Iverhart Max, which gets rid of roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms as well as prevents heartworm infestation.  It worked quite well – I used it as a treat when I put each pup in a crate.  In fact, when I did that with the first pup, the other three – especially Mr. Blue – went crazy trying to get into that crate for it.  I just had to move to the next crate and wait for one to notice, toss in its Iverhart chewable, and close the crate door.

When all were crated, I got out the nosework scent tin, put it in the suet feeder and placed in on the bench, a familiar place where as a group they have found it.  Alone, it took each pup a little wandering – and of course they were diverted by the screams of the other 3 in their crates – to wander close enough to the hide to pick up the scent.  Then they were on it in a flash.  I had to laugh at Zest.  Her solution was to go to the end of the bench and put her front legs on the armrest, then lean w-a-y over to touch the feeder with her nose.  I gently moved her body so she could access it from the front, and she promptly went around and repeated the indication over the armrest.  She had me chuckling.  She was by far the most intent, indicating repeatedly to the point where I had to throw a treat on the floor and quickly remove the hide.  Next in quickness to find and intensity was Zorro (Mr. Blue), followed by Zeal (Miss Gold) and then by Zoom (Mr. Red) who was especially distracted by the other pups bouncing and yelling in their crates.  I am sure tomorrow night will see a huge improvement since they will know what’s coming.

After each pup was rewarded several times at the hide, I put it up and we did some retrieving.  I threw the ball down the kitchen hallway, like we do in the evening.  Zest, again, was the most intense and retrieved happily until I finally ended the session.  Zeal was next.  Neither of the males was particularly interested in just the ball as opposed to chasing the chase and trying to steal the ball.  Again, tomorrow may show more interest.  We’ll work on the retrieving individually each evening.

I then put the pups out, carrying their supper and putting it in the puppy house.  I went back before bedtime to pick up their bowls.  With the cooler weather, mice are looking for shelter and some have found the puppy house.  I am setting traps and no longer leave food out there.  The pups weren’t too happy at first, but after a few days they figured out the change. They must be in another growth spurt, because they are eating me out of house and home.  I’m offering 9 cups of the Fromm Large Breed Puppy kibble at each of the three meals and they typically finish every bit at two of the meals and sometimes also at the third.

89 Days (9/13)  Boy, do the pups ever like these crisp mornings!  I laugh at their antics most mornings when I fill bird feeders and change birdbath water.  They play hard, but they’re still ready to play just as hard a little later when I come out with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha for their ball play and poop detail.  That second morning playtime usually takes the edge off the pups and they’ll hang out (inside the puppy yard) close to my chair as I throw the ball for the big dogs. 

They know when it’s time for Mercy’s ball session.  Hers comes just after Lovely’s (with Justice and Pascha).  Today I added a private ball session for Pascha just after that one, and the ZZs were insulted.  “Our time!” they kept saying.  I started with just 5 minutes for Pascha, so it wasn’t a huge delay, but they protested loudly anyway.  They obviously told me “FINALLY!” when I came out with Mercy – and they played and played and played.

We did a little nosework tonight after their play/cuddle session.  I’m going to have to do something different, because they are so competitive they’re starting to hit the suet feeder.  Don’t want to develop unlawful indication habits.  I’ll have to figure out a way to do our training one at a time.

88 Days (9/12)  The nights are longer – and chillier.  Fall is definitely here.  I now take the pups their breakfast in the dark and then wait longer – till it’s daylight – to go out to let the pups out while I do bird chores. They were wilder than usual since they felt cheated of time yesterday. 

They were happy, though, because I had nothing on my schedule and didn’t have to hurry, so we had great ball sessions.  First thing in the morning, I always take extra balls out when the pups, Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha “help” me do poop detail.  Pascha loves to play keep away with the pups, and sometimes they manage to get her ball; then the chase is on.  Sometimes, too, the pups grab Hesed’s or Varoom!’s ball when they drop it at my feet for me to kick.  I can substitute a different ball for Varoom!, but Hesed is extremely ball-loyal and insists on my getting HER ball back to her.  Never a dull moment!

When we do Mercy’s ball session, I’m taking out a couple of balls for them, too.  Zest (Miss White) is quite the retriever.  The others like to chase her and steal her ball, but I manage to get a few throws for them at each session. So far Zeal (Miss Gold) is the only other one who brings the ball back much.

Denise wanted to do another puppy playtime when she got off work, so about 4:45 I headed to her house with Zorro (Mr. Blue).  Zest had played so nicely with Emma on Sunday that Denise felt comfortable trying a playtime with the next largest pup.  Emma, the sheltie pup, was disappointed in Zorro because he was more interested in playing with Gus, the male cockapoo, instead of her.  Must be a male thing.  At least we didn’t have to worry about him being too rough with twelve-pound Emma.  We got some good laughs over Emma’s attempts to lure Zorro to chase her.  If it hadn’t been so late in the day, I would have taken Zorro home and brought one of the girls.  Gus is older so eventually he wandered off to lie down and Emma was finally able to play. 

I didn’t get home until 6, and then had to take the cleaning lady home, so it was 6:30 before I could do anything with the dogs. The big ones had been crated since 2 when Vera came, so they definitely needed time to play and potty.  I fed everyone and then started those rotations.  The three pups who stayed home were NOT pleased that we didn’t do play/training time, but that would have put me up until midnight.  Tomorrow…

I finished going through the photos from Sunday of Zest playing with Emma.  Got some great ones!  I’ll try to get some on the website in a day or two.  Tomorrow I’ll look at the ones I got of Zorro tonight.  Hopefully I got some good ones.

87 Days (9/11)  Absolutely crazy day today!  Reading Dog at Tongue River Elementary resumed, so Spirit, Hopeful and I were there until almost 1 p.m.  I had just enough time to feed dogs and grab a bite for myself before Spirit and I headed to Westview for a therapy dog visit.  Pascha sat in the car while we did our visit because she had a vet appointment.  The vets were running late due to an emergency, so we got home just in time to grab Varoom! and head for her obedience class.  By the time I got home at nearly 5 p.m., I was exhausted.  I brought the pups in for their thirty-minute play/cuddle time but didn’t do any training.  They were not pleased, but I hadn’t seen the rest of the dogs all day, either, and they needed some play/cuddle time, too, before I collapsed into bed.

86 Days (9/10)  Training again with Denise this morning – a deliciously cool day that barely got to 70 – meant no ball sessions.  The pups did enjoy the bird-chore time and played wildly in the crisp early morning.

We were finally able to do a playday afterwards, but the boys are now too large and rough for Emma, the Sheltie.  We tried Zest, who is 5# lighter and not as tough-and-tough, and the two played very nicely together and had a great time for about an hour. 

With my cleaning lady here, I had no chance to bring the pups inside during the afternoon but brought them inside after I got home for Mass.  By that time I was very tired, so we just did playtime, no training – it was Sunday anyway, supposedly a day of rest.  I filled the two wooden puzzles with the homemade ground beef treats for them.  I refilled the larger one, but not the smaller one, because they have figured out how to work the knobs loose.  That will have to be used with younger pups.  We had some wild retrieve sessions tonight.  I try to throw the balls/toys down the kitchen hallway from where I sit on the floor in the living room.  Sometimes they go where planes; other times they bounce off the wall. All this is highly entertaining to the pups and results in some wild charges as each pup tries to get to the toy first.

85 Days (9/9)  Denise, amazingly, had another weekend off – the last one before our nosework trial in October – so we trained.  The days aren’t heating up fast now so we were able to work for 2 hours.  We had planned to do a puppy playtime afterwards, but it started raining.   

I brought the pups inside for a late-afternoon hang-out session while I worked on the computer.  I had had to order more storage tubs, mainly to organize all the puppy toys, the numbers of which keep increasing (and I need to shop for tough toys for this bunch, tugs with squeakies they can’t easily destroy).  The set of 6 tubs comes in a nice large box that provides entertainment for puppies, so I had it in the living room when I brought them in.  They played a bit with Mercy and Justice, and a bunch with the box, but soon started coming in for loving sessions.  After a while, I noticed 4 small bodies lying among their parents, out to the world.  They about filled my small office.  I let everyone sleep while I finished the project. 

I brought them in for playtime tonight later than usual do their afternoon time inside.  They are all enjoying retrieving, so I’m putting out a variety of retrievable toys with the balls.  And, of course, a couple of tug toys.  I’m using the extra-large ChuckIt balls because they don’t roll under the couch or chairs and thus stay “in play” longer.  I swear the first thing they do when they roar into the house is kick the balls so they roll under something. 

Tonight I hid the nosework scent in my office.  It took a minute for search mode to kick in, but they soon realized hides can be anywhere and were on it.  I need to figure out a way (and time!) to work at least Zest and Zeal individually; the mob is just too wild.

The days are noticeably shorter; we were surprised that it was dark when I took them outside with their supper.

84 Days (9/8)  12 weeks old today!  Wow!  Unfortunately, Denise had to work late again so we couldn’t let one pup celebrate with a playday.  We’ll keep trying.  They did have fun helping with bird chores, poop detail and Mercy’s ball session.  I took out 2 balls for them so they got a few retrieves in.  The funniest happening was Zest watching Mercy splash in the sheep pool with her ball to cool off.  She had to try it, too.  She got her front end into the pool and looked high-centered, but just as I headed to help her, she got her hind end in, too – and promptly fell on her side, splashing water everywhere.  Did she ever jump out!  I was laughing hard as I praised her for “swimming.”  She ran so fast towards me that she was throwing water everywhere – and when she got close to me, the other three tackled her. 

I picked up the Ponazuril (coccidia treatment) today, giving them their first dose tonight. They’ll get the second dose tomorrow night.  I’ll take more fecals in to be tested in two weeks.  We’re starting to get some big rainstorms, and the moisture seems to activate the darned parasite.

I made salmon training treats today.  Tonight I put some in the plastic puzzle, doing two rounds.  I have to rescue the puzzle as invariably someone carries it off and then tried to chew on the plastic slot covers.

After playtime, I used the salmon treats as rewards as we continued imprinting the nosework scents.  I’m running out of places to “hide” the suet feeder containing the scent tin.  They are watching so they can get to it as soon as I put it down.

83 Days (9/7)  It got warm enough yesterday to dry things up a little bit, and we had no rain overnight, so today was mowing day – desperately needed.  It began as a normal day with wild play, with the pups “helping” me do bird chores as soon as it was light, then poop detail with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha.  They were worn out enough to merely watch Hopeful during her ball session rather than chase her along the fence.  Then, as far as they were concerned, things went downhill.  The dew was off the grass by then, so the rest of the morning the big dogs packed their balls while I mowed. 

With the mower in the shop forever as haying equipment took first priority to be fixed, so it’s been quite a while since I mowed.  The pups had evidently forgotten mower noise.  They were fine, curiously watching, as long as I mowed outside their yard, but when I opened the puppy yard gates and brought the mower in through the big one, they were not impressed.  I talk dot them cheerfully as I mowed but left them to figure out how to handle the monster.  With the gates open, they had opportunities to get away no matter which direction they headed.  They were torn between following Mercy & Justice around, and avoiding the noisy monster.  Mr. Red was by far the bravest, staying in the puppy yard quite a while after the others had gone out one of the gates.  By the time I finished mowing their yard, none were in sight, so I left the gates open and moved to the back yard.

I fully expected the pups to be in the house, but when it was time to put Mercy & Justice up and get other dogs out to help finish mowing, I checked the puppy house just to make sure.  All four were in there.  My opening the door woke them up, so I said hello to them and then closed all the puppy yard gates.

Their vet appointment, to get their second vaccination, was at 3.  The boys are so awful to get into the big crate in the back of the car, that I put the girls in it and the boys in one of the front crates.  That worked better for loading/unloading.  We took the girls in first.  Zest (Miss White) weighed 21.2# and Zeal (Miss Gold) weighed 26.2#.  Then we took the boys in.  They gave us some laughs.  We put a line of spray cheese on the counter and the pups lick on it while they get their shots.  While Mr. Blue (26.4#) was getting his shot, Mr. Red stretched up to put his paws and head on the counter, loudly complaining that he wasn’t getting any treat.  When it was his turn for cheese & shot, Mr. Blue did the same thing.  That’s a pretty high counter, but the pups are getting BIG.  At 27.4#, Mr. Red is now the largest pup!

I had a chiropractic appointment at 3:30, so the pups got a ride into town and experienced waiting in the car for a few minutes.  Then we came home.  I was supposed to take one of the pups to Denise’s for a playtime when she got off work (supposedly at 4), so I let them come into the house and hang out while I worked on the computer and waited for her to text.  Unfortunately, she didn’t, a sign that something had gone wrong with some of the lab’s equipment.  I finally put the pups in their yard.  We’ll try for a playtime tomorrow night.

This evening they were thrilled to come inside again – and this time to find the usual toys, balls and hidden treats.  After playtime, we again played “find the nosework hide.”  Boy, do they love to use their noses!  Then I called it a night and put them outside with their supper.

82 Days (9/6)  We had a little excitement this morning while I was doing poop detail.  I had just finished the far (south) end of the backyard and all of us were heading towards the puppy yard, Justice and the pups playing their usual ring-around-Cel game, when from the far east end of the puppy yard fence – in the back yard – came a bunny at full speed.  All the dogs were either chasing Justice or, like Hesed, watching that they didn’t get run into, so I was the only one who saw it.  The bunny saw us and somehow did a dive through the fence into the puppy yard, or at least that’s where I think it went.  I never saw it again.  I had visions of the puppies having a great time chasing it, but evidently it exited through the far fence into the ball yard or holed up in the puppy yard and later found its way out before the puppies saw it.  Cottontails aren’t very large, but I still have no idea how it got through the little-puppy-proof fence.  The big dogs never flushed it anywhere else, so it had to have gone into the puppy yard.  I really prefer that the cottontails stay in the back part, where the brush pile is.  The dogs have never caught one, but this year they might…

Tonight I again put balls out with the toys and the pups had a great time retrieving.  Zest is the most intense and retrieves over and over, but the others are bringing me balls to throw, too.

After play/cuddle time, I put a tin with the nosework cocktail in the suet feeder.  The pups were clustering around, bouncing up and down, so I threw a handful of the “bone” treats into the kitchen so I could “hide” the feeder on a chair.  As each pup found it and touched the feeder with its nose, I clicked and treated.  Then I’d pick it up and, while they were diverted munching on their treats, “hide” it again. I repeated 3 more times, and by the end they were looking all over for the next hiding place.  They like this game!  Of course, they love using their noses, but they especially like to be moving while they search.

They must be entering another growth spurt.  Every time I take out a meal, I make sure to check the kibble bowl in the puppy house.  Unusually, today it was empty every time so I’d refill it with another 6 cups of kibble.  I’m already taking out 4 cups of kibble for each meal.

I broke down to Zeal’s (Miss Gold’s) unrelenting campaign to stay with me, and I am going to keep her.  Her registered name will be “Celhaus Zeal for Justice.”  I know I’m insane, but when someone texted that he was interested in her, I nearly had a heart attack at the thought of her leaving.

81 Days (9/5)  We woke to a very wet, foggy morning – highly unusual for NE Wyoming.  I was afraid we would miss ball sessions because it would rain again, but by the time I finished rotating/feeding all the big dogs, the fog was lifting.  Then smoke form the Canadian fires moved in so we had haze all day.  Maybe that helped keep the temperatures down.  It was crisp and cool until late afternoon but never got above 72.  Nice! 

The pups were wild when Mercy, Justice and I went out to fill the birdfeeders.  They were ready to run and wrestle since they spent most of the night holed up as it rained. 

They were still wired when I went out with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha to do poop detail and kick/throw their balls.  I take a couple of extra balls out with me as the ZZs do their best to steal the big dogs’ balls.  Pascha led them on some great ring-around-the-trees/shrubs chases as she carried her ball.  She’s getting better at holding her ball for longer periods rather than dropping it to chase Varoom!, and the pups loved the game with her like they do the same game with their dad when we fill birdfeeders.  It does serve well to wear off energy!  They were pretty quiet as I did Hopeful’s and then Justice’s ball sessions.  By the time it was Spirit’s turn, they were lying along the inside of their fence, as close to my chair as they could get, napping.  They were even pretty calm when they came out to “help” with Mercy’s ball session.  Having that extra ChuckIt for them to tug on does help me have the other one free to pick up and throw Mercy’s ball, though sometimes I have pups attached to both.

I again had toys and balls on the floor, and treats hidden in a variety of places above the floor, when they came in for their evening playtime.  I put out one of the extra-large ChuckIt balls that I tried with Justice, who likes to steal the other dog’s ball and carry the two around in his mouth.  They are just now large enough to hold that big ball.  I had to laugh at them because they were trying to play tug with it.

We ended the evening with another nosework imprinting session.  Tomorrow I may “hide” the tin and see if anyone will recognize it without my holding it.

80 Days (9/4)  It rained most of the night but the sky was clear this morning.  On such a cool morning, Denise and I had a great time training.  We had planned to then take one of the males to her house for a puppy playtime with her sheltie, but as we got done training, we felt a few drops of rain.  By the time I got the dogs home and unloaded, it was raining.  It rained pretty steadily the entire day and into the night – we had severe thunderstorm and flood warnings.

I had a therapy dog visit this afternoon so the pups didn’t get an afternoon playtime in the house.  They were pretty much holed up anyway.  After I got home from Westview, I made more training treats, trying using some of the 85% ground beef that Debi and Don had brought me, using the recipe I have that uses ground turkey.  I didn’t know if it would be too greasy or not, but the treats seemed okay and the big dogs liked the samples I gave them.

I put some of the burger treats in both wooden puzzles and set them on the floor in the living room with some toys and several balls. The pups approved of the new recipe!  I had to refill the puzzles to keep them happy.   I got out my wire suet feeder and the jar with the cocktail tin (nosework scents) and put them on the table for training after playtime.

We lucked out and had a lull in the rain tonight when I went out to get the pups.  They were nice and dry, too.  Good kids!  But they were pretty wild, bored from not being able to play.

(Zoom) Mr. Red and Zest are now consistently bringing me toys and letting me throw them.  Zoom prefers the squeaky toy that has two handles, so another pup often intercepts him on his way back to me and a tug game ensues, but Zest retrieved the ball quite a bit, very proud of herself.  Zeal (Miss Gold) and Zorro (Mr. Blue) also retrieved a time or two.  Zeal and Zoom continue to love to bring a toy (or bone) to play with while they sit in my lap or draped over my legs.

After their thirty-minute play session, I picked up the toys and put the cocktail tin in the suet feeder.  Tonight I was able to click and treat each pup separately several times.  They are definitely associating the smells with reward.

Then I put them outside, carrying their bag of smelly “go out to the yard” commercial treats and bowl of food for supper.  It was just beginning to rain again but I got the food into the puppy house without it getting wet, and I got back into my house only a little damp.

79 Days (9/3)  Denise and I trained this morning, getting done just in time for me to unload the dogs and head to town to pick up my Ukrainian cleaning lady.  All the big dogs had to be crated, but I closed the doggie door and went out to do poop detail with the puppies’ help so that they had some fun time this morning.

Vera worked for 4 hours, and I took her home just in time to eat lunch, shower and get to the 5 p.m. Mass.  I had given the big dogs marrow bones to enjoy while they were crated.  Often there is some marrow left to amuse the pups in the evening, but not today, so I just put out four new (frozen) marrow bones for the pups when they came in for their evening playtime.  I didn’t put out toys or try to train.  When the 30-minute timer went off, I put the pups outside (with their bones and supper), because I definitely needed all the time possible to rotate big dogs out and still get to bed at a decent hour. 

The pups have learned our routine and realize that they will get opportunities to come inside and to play both inside and outside, so they are not nearly as wild anymore (thank goodness!).  We are now working on greeting me when I open their gate without jumping up – so very hard for puppies, especially in a group.  

78 Days (9/2)  Three-day weekend, so I’m training every morning.  The pups were not pleased to miss their ball time, but we had a great time while I did the bird chores.  It hadn’t cooled off much overnight so they seemed ready to play hard before the day heated up. 

We had another warm night.  I turned on the AC by 7 a.m.  Doesn’t the weather realize it’s September?? When I first bought this place, in 1980, we often had a big snowstorm on Labor Day weekend.  I don’t want snow this early, but I sure wish it would cool off at night.  I keep wanting to try to mow the lawn but it’s in the 90’s until close to dark, too late to try. 

Training was the only thing I had to leave my place for today, so I was home in the afternoon.  I brought the pups in after lunch to enjoy the cool house while I worked on my eNewsletter with all the Celhaus happenings.  The timer had just gone off (45-minute playtime) when Denise texted that she was coming to help me trim nails.  She had promised to help sometime this weekend and it was definitely better sooner than later.  Hurrah!  I took them outside to walk around and potty since they had been crashed on the cool floor.  Then I quickly set up the grooming table and got out the Dremel grinder to set up their new adventure. 

I had some pieces left of the roast I cooled and cut up for training, so we started with those.  Zoom (Mr. Red) was the first volunteer.  First, I ran the grinder to let him get used to the sound, with frequent treats.  The others, naturally, got used to the sound as they waited for their turns. 

When I introduce pups to having their nails ground, I grind one nail, saying “Good toe” in a quietly praising manner, then give a treat.  Then another nail, ditto; a treat for every toe.  When I keep one, I gradually wean it from a treat per toe, to every couple then to treats after each foot.  It took Zoom until the 3rd foot to realize that the treats came faster if he didn’t throw a fit.  By the last foot he was pretty calm, so he got lots of praise and some extra treats before we put him on the floor. 

The next volunteer was Zorro (Mr. Blue).  Of all the pups, he was the most cooperative and figured out the soonest that this was no big deal.  This boy is so intelligent and eager to please!  We ran out of the roast beef pieces midway between feet, but he accepted the Braunschweiger training treats just fine.

Then we did Zest (Miss White, whom I’m keeping).  She was the worst of all, screaming and flailing around the entire time, spitting out the offered treats.  I think she only settled for the last toe or two; quite the drama queen.

Zeal (Miss Gold) was last and struggled some, but she’s another who really wants to please and interact with humans.  At first she, too, refused the treats, but eventually she decided they were okay and connected them to the nail grinding.

After we finished trimming nails, Denise stayed for a love-in.  When the pups drifted off to sleep, I shook the smelly-treat sack and they leapt up and headed to the doggie door – Denise and I chuckling as we followed.  By the time we got out of the house they were bouncing around at their gate.

When I brought them in for their evening playtime, I again had the nosework scent container hanging from a chair.  They didn’t notice it tonight, either.  What they did notice, and revel in, were the new high places I had hidden some of the tiny “bones.”

I had put out several balls as well as a few toys, and several of them brought balls to me to throw.  I didn’t throw the ball far, and tried to throw it away from the other pups so the one who brought it could get it, but sometimes that didn’t work.

 At the end of playtime, I picked up the balls and toys and sat in my chair holding the little wire suet basket with the tin of nosework oil-scented Q-tips.  They remembered last night’s session and eagerly gathered around me and leaned forward to touch the holder when I moved it towards them. We had a fun imprinting session before I called it a night.

77 Days (9/1)  Another nice cool morning that lasted until we finished all the ball sessions. Love it!  It’s only supposed to get up to 82 today, with chance of showers; a pleasant change from the hot days we’ve been having.

Everyone was wild during bird chores.  They again had a great time chasing Justice around everything handy; he would suddenly do a beautiful rollback and take off the other direction.  The expressions on the puppies’ faces were priceless as he suddenly charged full-bore towards them when they thought they were chasing him.  Or he would suddenly take off in a straight line at a dead run, with the four pups following as fast as their legs could go, all the time yipping and barking wildly.  It looked like the Pied Piper and his followers.  I had to stop and laugh and laugh and laugh.

They were a little calmer than usual during Mercy’s ball session; I think they were a little tired from the early-morning play.  They even consented to play with the second ChuckIt so I had more luck throwing Mercy’s ball.  But then she kept dropping it by Zest or Zeal, who of course pounce on it, so I had to run them down to get her before I threw it.  I get a lot of exercise during Mercy’s exercise time.

 Before I brought the pups in tonight for their play session, I again scattered the tiny “bones” in more remote places where they had to search for them – a game they absolutely love.  I put out toys AND tonight hung a small wire suet container (about 4″ square and 1″ wide) containing a tin with a “cocktail” of the 5 UKC nosework oil-scented Q-tips on a chair.  As they played, I watched to see if any would notice it, but none did.  When playtime was over, I picked up the toys, pulled out my chair and sat down holding the suet feeder low enough for them to notice, beginning to imprint that these odors were ones which carried a reward.  Each time a pup’s nose touched the wire, I’d click and treat.  They kept me pretty busy as all four crowded around, enjoying the new game.  When I had managed to get treats into mouths as soon as they had touched the feeder, I stood up, signaling the end of the game.  I headed into the kitchen and as soon as I picked up the smelly-treat bag, they raced to the doggie door and outside.  Such fun pups!

76 Days (8/31)  Chilly this morning – only 45 degrees. Such a crazy change from yesterday morning’s 62.  Did all of us ever enjoy our ball sessions!  I didn’t have to be anywhere until 3, so we didn’t have to rush and just enjoyed the very pleasant day. 

My afternoon appointment and meeting afterwards went really long, much longer than planned.  I didn’t get home until 6:30, which meant feeding the dogs was late as I had to rotate out two groups to play and potty.  It was 8 p.m., and getting dark, before I brought the pups inside for their playtime.  I didn’t try to train or do puzzles, but just sat on the floor and let them play and snuggle.  They were much quieter than usual, possibly because that was usually bedtime for them (supper, then the big dogs and I normally are cuddling as I edit puppy photos on my laptop, sitting on my bed).  I had planned another nose activity – introduce them to the nosework scents (five natural oils), but I couldn’t summon the energy.   We’ll try tomorrow.

75 Days (8/30)  Miserable hot night, with wind gusts.  Between that, and grieving for Lively, who told me yesterday that the crippling arthritis, that she had been battling for two years, had gotten unbearable and it was time to put her down, I got little sleep.  I always have to get up a couple of times during the night to potty.  Usually she sleeps through any nocturnal movements of mine, but last night every time I woke, she was awake, lying by my side with her head up like she was soaking up our last time together.  So, of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was sure dragging, from fatigue and grief, when it was time to get moving and care for all the dogs.

Previously, after the pups ate breakfast, I would put Mercy in with them while I filled birdfeeders and changed water in the birdbaths. Since she’s no longer nursing them, today I opened their gate and let them accompany Mercy & Justice as I wandered around doing bird chores and setting sprinklers.  Justice wasn’t pleased at first when they mobbed him, but he soon initiated a ring-around-the-trees, shrubs, doghouses and Cel game that definitely wore off some energy.

They had plenty of energy left when I let them out to “help” with poop detail with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha.  Gosh, to be that young and lively again!  The day was rapidly heating up – I had to turn on the AC in the house by 7 a.m. – so they were glad to come sit in the cool for a few minutes afterwards.  Usually I eat breakfast then, but I just couldn’t since the vet was coming at 10:15 to put Lively down.

I got Hopeful’s ball session done before the vets came and had to chuckle because the pups hardly raced along their fence as Hopeful chased and brought back her ball.  That extra exercise this morning did the trick.

By the time we went out for Mercy’s ball session, the day was already hot.  I thought perhaps they would be calm enough for me to get some photos for the website, especially of the three who still need to be placed.  I needed some cheering up anyway, as I grieved the loss of our matriarch.  Lively was great-grandmother to these pups and always checked on them.  She was too feeble to allow them around her, but she kept track of them.  The pups didn’t cooperate much – either they sat/stood facing away, watching Mercy as she retrieved, or they were too close to me.  I did manage to get a few photos, some quite funny.

I had a therapy dog visit, then nosework class, so the pups didn’t get an afternoon playtime in the house.  They were pretty wild when they came in for their evening session.  I didn’t have much ambition tonight, so I didn’t do the target table or the puzzles.  I just put down toys and tiny treats, and sprayed some cheese into a few marrow bones.  This bunch LOVES to use their noses and have a great time searching for what I may have put all over the house.  I could have used a little cuddling tonight but they were just too busy in the nice cool house.  The wind came up strongly while we were inside, and I was surprised to find that the temperature had dropped drastically when I put the pups outside.  It was cool enough to turn off the AC and open up the house.  Hurrah!  The pups thought “Hurrah!,” too, and immediately took off playing.

I managed to edit the ZZs photos, as well as some of Pascha and of Lively as we did our last ball session before the vet arrived, before I crashed for the night.  I did, after all, get some good ones of the ZZs.

See all the photos

74 Days (8/29) Mercy has definitely weaned the pups – and they respect that.  They hardly even checked her teats when I put her in with them first thing this morning, and during playtime.  She has now started playing a little with them – so fun to watch.

The dynamics during her ball session and different and quite interesting.  Before, they were pretty wild, trying to get her to let them nurse and then doing a lot of chasing as she retrieved her ball.  She would generally stand as soon as we got into the “ball” yard, the time she let them nurse or even check for milk getting shorter each day.  Today they didn’t pursue her much but instead began trying to play tug with the ChuckIt.  It’s really hard to walk to, pick up and throw Mercy’s ball with pups attached.  Zest (Miss White) also has started watching for Mercy to drop the ball and then races to grab it.  So I have to get it from her, disengage the Chuckit from the others’ mouths before I can throw the ball for the very-impatiently waiting Mercy.

I had just enough hamburger left to fill the plastic puzzle twice.  They really enjoyed that.  After they got all the meat out of its hiding places, they packed the puzzle around and even played tug with it.  I had scattered some of the tiny “bone” treats in higher places – on my chair seat and on the two stools that allow the dogs to see out the window.

I am bored with calling the three pups by their collar colors, so I decided upon call names for them:  Mr. Blue is “Zorro”; Miss Gold is “Zeal”; and Mr. Red is “Zoom.”

When I put them out for the night, I headed through the gate to set a sprinkler to water both the big perennial bed and the northwest section of the puppy yard.  Two cottontails jumped up and took off.  Brave bunnies.  That might have been an exciting adventure for the ZZ’s.

73 Days (8/28)  It was raining this morning when I got up and continued until too late to start ball sessions, just light showers, but enough to make it too wet to stay out in.  All of us were disappointed since we’d already had the two ball-less days over the weekend.  I gave all of them marrow bones so the day wasn’t a total loss. 

While they enjoyed their marrow bones, I made some Braunschweiger treats for Varoom!’s obedience class this afternoon.

When it was Mercy’s turn to hang out with me, I let the pups come inside.  They enjoyed the marrow bones, too.  I continued working on the computer, and Mr. Red brought his bone to chew on as he lay at my feet.  The others came in frequently to check on me.  They have figured out that I will be working during the daytime inside times, while the evening session is all about them, with me sitting on the floor while they play so all can cuddle and/or sit in my lap to get the attention they want, and bring their toys or balls to me to tug or throw.

I had to laugh at them tonight.  They have learned that when the timer goes off, playtime is over and we’ll either do some training or head outside.  The bag of smelly treats has solved any reluctance to go outside.  Now they fairly race down the hallway, out the doggie door and to the puppy yard gate and wait impatiently for me to get there, open it, and toss in some of the treats.

Tonight, though, they had a new enrichment exercise before they headed outside.  While searching for something else in the “dog” shed, I had found a Smarty Paws Puzzler that someone had given me a while back, that I had never used since I had the two wooden puzzles already.  For nosework training treats, I had grilled some of the hamburger that Debi & Don brought for the dogs.  It is from last year’s beef, and they had just gotten this year’s meat so they shared. The Smarty Paws Puzzler is plastic, so I decided to use some of the hamburger in it since I can wash it afterwards.  Oh, boy, did they get excited over that!  Three of the hiding places have lids that have to be lifted, so I had to help them figure those out.  They were having so much fun that I refilled it.  Once they had gotten the last crumb, I put them outside for the night.  They were quite the happy bunch!

72 Days (8/27)  I trained this morning, so again no ball sessions to wear out the ZZs.  As soon as I got home, I unloaded the big dogs and headed to town to pick up the Ukrainian woman who is going to be cleaning my house.  Hurrah!  No more guilt that I run out of energy caring for/training all the dogs and have none to clean the house regularly.  Once she got started (with all the big dogs crated), I closed the doggie door to keep the ZZs from going inside to “help” her, and went out to do poop detail with just the pups.  That way they at least got some play and visit time, since I didn’t have a chance for them to come inside in the afternoon with Vera cleaning, and then had to get ready for Mass.

They were wild when they came in tonight!  This bunch tells me quite clearly how much interaction they need.  I wish I had more time for individual work with this bunch.

 After they searched for the tiny Milkbone-type treats I “hid” all over the house, they noticed the two wooden puzzles on the floor and investigated them.  The puzzles have places to hide treats and the dogs have to figure out how to paw open the sliding covers.  I had put some of the tiny treats in the puzzles.  The pups thought that was fun.  Of course it’s very hard to figure out how to push open the covers when three other bodies are bouncing around, too.  It occupied them for quite a while.

I finally figured out that if I scatter a small handful of the treats on the floor before I head to the target table, I can get it nearly in place before the pups mob it.  Miss White again jumped up onto the table while the others tried to “ooze” up. 

They were content to go to their yard.  I carried out both their supper and the sack of Canine Carry Outs smelly treats.

71 Days (8/26) I trained this morning, so no ball sessions.  The ZZs said they were bored, so early this afternoon I let them come in for 45 minutes.  I didn’t sit down and play with them since was busy finishing their official page on the website with all the photos of the three in their new homes.  Instead, I put out some Himalayan Cheese Chews to supplement the tiny treats scattered over for them to find – and I let Mercy out to be with them. 

After I put them back in the yard, I typed up the Police/Narcotics test results and got them on the website.  That’s always a big job because I include all the test scores for both parents plus results for grandparents, great-grandparents (all the females and some of the males), then their maternal great-great grandmother (Quinta) and great-great-great grandmother (Jubilee). In fact, I was still working on that when it was time for their evening playtime.  I didn’t let Mercy out while they were inside that 45 minutes so that I could put toys out as well as scattered treats – and enough Cheese Chews were left that they could have them, too.  Tonight they had gotten used to me being in my little office and brought chews and toys when they cuddled.  Mr. Red curled up by my feet and stayed close to me nearly the entire time.

70 Days (8/25)   I had to laugh at ALL the puppies this morning.  It’s another cool morning and they were wild to play.  I have started letting the ZZs come out first thing in the morning when Hesed, Varoom!, Pascha and I play “kick the ball” while I do poop detail.  They like to drop their balls at my feet.  Since I have my hands full of poop bucket and shovel and I can’t pick up the balls and throw them, I kick the balls.  The ZZs are more interested in attacking the shovel as I drag it behind me and don’t grab ball very often, so the big dogs tolerate them in their playtime.  This morning Pascha picked up a dead cottonwood leaf – very large and noticeable, waved it in the ZZs’ faces and took off with all four in pursuit.  They had a great time playing ring-around-the tree, shrub, dog house and so on.  It gave me a chance to get some of the poop detail done in peace.   

They really enjoy the game of searching for little treats scattered around the house.  Tonight I had put a few in my office and under the dining table (which is in the living room).  They would search, come to me to visit and cuddle, play tug with a toy, then go search some more.

When they quieted down, I scattered a few treats and managed to get the target table placed without bodies hanging onto the sides.  Zest (Miss White) has the jump-onto-the-table down pat.  She, the smallest, also figured out tonight how to climb up onto it.  I laughed as I watched her s-t-r-e-t-c-h one of those little hind legs up and sideways until her foot engaged the top of the table, then heave herself up.  The others haven’t quite figured it out.

It was Mercy’s time to be out of her crate for a while, so I let her out before taking the pups out.  I grabbed the bag of smelly treats as we headed outside.  After they checked to see if she had any milk (very little, it’s just comfort nursing now), I opened the puppy yard gate and threw in some treats.  They bolted inside and started searching.  Mercy did, too, and grabbed a couple of the treats before saying she wanted out.

69 Days (8/24)  I was supposed to take one of the boys to Denise’s for puppy playtime with Emma but her old guy, Gus, had a flare-up of a long-time eye condition, is miserable, and she’s on stand-by for any cancellation at her vet’s.  So we had ball sessions instead.  I let Mr. Red out to “help” with poop detail in the front and side yards, and that he did while attached to the shovel, singing the whole time. 

When we worked our way to the back, I let the other three out.  All pounced on the shovel so the rest of poop detail was slow.  Sometimes one or two would break away to play with Pascha, but even two are now heavy enough!

I again let them come inside to cool off.  They enjoyed the dog beds, which were back down.  I’ll still put those up when the wild bunch comes in to play in the evenings, but at least in the mornings they can enjoy them.  A handful of treats got them outside and into the yard pretty smoothly when it was time for the next dog to come out and play.

The pups seem to be getting enough playtime during poop detail, because they are much calmer after the next ball session, which they spend racing along the fence as Hopeful chases and brings back her ball.  By the time Justice comes out for his ball session, they are content to stretch out in the shade, on the other side of the fence form where I sit in my chair, and just hang out.  They will stay there as I exchange dogs, pretty content to be part of the routine if not actually participating.

They are also much calmer when we go out for Mercy’s ball session.  Maybe they have figured out to play hard while it’s cool in the morning and sack out in the heat of the day.  I tried not attaching the puppy drag and no one attacked my legs.  What a relief!  They explore a little bit and then come to hang out with me for some loving while I throw the ball, not trying to nurse on her or chase her as she runs.

I took some of the smelly treats in my pockets.  I’ll have to think of a different way to have them handy because all four pups at different times zeroed in on my pocket and tried to get the treats.  When the ball time was over, only Miss Gold came when I called to put them in their yard.  She, of course, got a smelly treat and then I scattered a couple on the ground inside the gate. Almost immediately Mr. Red and Miss White came running, so I scattered most of the remaining treats on the ground.  That left Mr. Blue, who was determined to go inside the house and kept hitting the closed doggie door.  I had to climb onto the landing and pick him up.  I put him into the puppy yard and threw down the last two treats.  He got one, but the other was grabbed by one of the more cooperative pups.  Hopefully all will remember our new “rewards-for-going-into-the-puppy-yard habit and be a little easier to corral.

Pascha had a vet appointment this afternoon, so I asked if I could bring the ZZs to weigh them since it’s time to worm again with Pyrantel (for roundworms).  They said “Of course!  We’d love to see them,” so I loaded them up and headed back.  The girls happened to end up in one crate, and the boys in the other.  I let the girls out one by one, carried them into the clinic weighed them and put them back in their crates – pretty smoothly.  The boys were a different matter.  They have always been rowdier to unload.  Thank goodness one of the staff members volunteered to help unload/load them – and she was needed.  She stuck her hand in the crate and pushed back on one while I unloaded, then loaded one; the we reversed.  Miss Gold continues to be the largest, at 21.8#, but the boys are catching up.  Mr. Red was 20.8# and Mr. Blue was 19.6#.  Zest continues to be the smallest, at 17.6#. 

I had set the sack of smelly treats in the mudroom before I loaded the ups in the car, so I was able to scatter a few treats just inside the gate to lure the increasingly-independent pups to go in instead of exploring towards the road.  The girls happened to be on the driver’s side so I unloaded them first.  While they were scarfing down the treats, I unloaded the boys (with great effort).  Mr. Red is definitely in the superman mode (“I can leap tall buildings!”) and tries to launch himself out of the crate.  The front crates are up on an 18” stand so the dogs get the benefit of the open windows, so he could definitely hurt himself if he leapt out.  I always grab him first and try to block the second pup from coming out with my shoulder until I get Mr. Red safely on the ground.  Mr. Blue will still wait, thank goodness, and was easily lifted out.  I hurriedly called the boys and raced them to the gate (fast movement thankfully diverts them), scattering down a few more treats so they went inside and I could close the gate.  Then I went back to close up the car.  All I had to do to get them back to the puppy yard was carry the bag of treats and shake it when anyone showed signs of taking off in another direction.  I had left the puppy yard gate open, so it was easy to throw a few treats inside, get out of the way of the rushing pups, and close the gate with them safely inside.  Then, since it was pretty hot, I had to catch my breath.

I wormed them when they came in tonight for playtime.

Speaking of playtime, I was down to only one square of salmon treats and had no time today to make more.  I used that for manding at the gate – a bit for Mr. Blue and the rest for Miss Gold who again stayed with me loyally while the others raced inside to find I had put down the frozen canned-food-stuffed marrow bones.

I had 5 frozen bones left, so I had put them in with the toys.  I had to laugh because, as usual, they had to play keep away with two of the bones for quite a while before they finally settled to lick on their own bone.  With no training treats, we didn’t work on manding or the target table; instead, I let them have the hour to play and work on the bones. 

I again shook the treat bag when it was time to go outside and they followed, of course leaping up trying to catch the bag. But at least I didn’t have to slam the gate on a couple of pups and go back inside the house to catch the remaining ones.

68 Days (8/23)  Mr. Blue got to come out when I started poop detail and play with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha – and attack the shovel.  He enjoyed that “only” time.  When we got done with the front and side areas and got to the puppy yard, I let the other three out.   They think this is GREAT fun.

Today I let them come inside when we finished and hang out while I had breakfast.  I had swept and mopped the living room and bedroom this morning and washed the dog bed covers, which were still in the dryer.  I thought we’d see if they’d settle down instead of being wild like in the evenings, when I put the dog beds up to protect them from chewing (or being peed on).  They settled down like civilized dogs and were really good, so I’ll start giving them that cooling-off time in the house before I get ready for the next ball session.

I crated Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha and then grabbed some of the smelly treats and called the pups.  All I had to do was wave my treat hand and they followed and went into their yard.  Good kids!

Tonight Mr. Blue stayed for a sit and treat before heading to the steps, but Miss Gold stayed for several. Both are doing better at sitting instead of leaping up.  Miss Gold kept coming back to me rather than go through the doggie door – wanting to be with me more than to find out what adventures awaited her inside.  She’s such a sweet pup (when not attached to my pant legs.)

After they played hard, I headed for the target table.  All tried to “help” me move it away from the wall and set it down, though all they did was keep me from moving it.  Eventually I was able to pull it out into the living room, and all 4 tried to leap up onto it as I gently lowered it to the floor.  I think it took 5 minutes to finally get it down.  Zest (Miss White) immediately leapt onto it, followed by Mr. Red – both sniffing the top expecting treats.  I raced to grab clicker and treats and began rewarding them.  The other two did the usual s-t-r-e-t-c-h of their fronts while their hind feet stayed on the floor, though both did make harder tries at climbing up.  Before I quit, I boosted them up so they were rewarded while on the table.

I have started taking some smelly dog treats (from Denise’s brother’s auction buys) out to reward them for going through their gate.  That is helping.  Tonight I took them outside without getting Mercy out and it worked pretty smoothly.

67 Days (8/22)  We had a crazy day today.  The air conditioner guy was supposed to come at 8:30 a.m. to replace my coil, which for some unknown reason is almost completely clogged with dog hair (one of the joys of German Shedders). 

All four pups attacked the shovel today as I did poop detail.  When they came out later for Mercy’s ball session, they showed less interest in the puppy drag.  Maybe I can discontinue it soon.  That would be nice as they make it extremely heavy to drag.

I rushed through rotating dogs and waited for him to come.  And waited, while the day started heating up.  Finally about 9 a.m.  I called, and they said he would be here at 1.  Great!  So I started ball sessions, in a hurry due to the heat, and had just finished when he arrived about noon.  He was here for a little over 2 hours and most of that time I worked on the computer since I couldn’t take a nap as I try to do on days when I don’t have to go somewhere.

Julie called that they would be in town this afternoon and would like to come play with the pups and let Brodie play with his sister, Pascha.  Julie and Russ arrived about 2 p.m.  The AC guy was still here, so we played with the ZZs in the ball area, which had some decent shade. 

The ZZs enjoyed barking at the two older pups as they played.  They didn’t approve of another pup getting to do something they couldn’t do.

When the AC guy left, we put the ZZs up and got the YYs out for a mild playtime since it was too hot to get excited.  When Julie, Russ & Brodie left, I stated rotating dogs out of their crates, where they had been for over 3 hours.  I had given them marrow bones to amuse them, but they had pretty much finished them.

The ZZs enjoyed the remainder of the marrow bones when I brought them in tonight.  About the time their playtime was over, a wild thunderstorm moved in so I let them play longer. 

Then I put down the target table.   Tonight it was Zest (Miss White) who gave a mighty leap up onto it.  I’m beginning to wonder if they’ll only try to get on the table if no one is one it – maybe it looks big enough to land upon.  At least they’re getting longer legs and will soon be able to climb up.

By that time the rain had moderated enough that Mercy and I could get them out to their yard.  I was only partially wet after taking their supper out.

66 Days (8/21)  This morning I let Mr. Blue out with Hesed, Varoom!, and Pascha at the beginning of poop detail, when I do the front and side yards, so that he got a little individual time.  When we got to the back yard/puppy yard, I let the others out to join them.  All but Zest (Miss White) attacked the shovel.  Mr. Blue was really into the attack and sang to it as he bit and tugged.  The other two wandered off to play with Pascha and came back, but Mr. Blue stayed the course.  It was quite hard to drag the shovel, and to disengage puppies when I reached a poop and needed the shovel to pick it up.

They had quite the wild play session and were content to rest until Mercy’s ball session.  By that time the day was heating up to a forecast 97, and they weren’t extremely lively.

Both Zest and Miss Gold pooped during their playtimes with Emma yesterday.  I collected samples, put them in the fridge overnight, and dropped them off on my way to do a therapy dog visit.  I was very pleased when the vet tech called and said both fecals were clear. 

Even though it was VERY hot when I brought the pups in tonight, they were wild.  Only Miss Gold stopped for a little manding lesson at the gate when I opened it.  She didn’t sit very well, but at least we worked on not grabbing my pant legs.  We had a manding session once they played a bit and calmed down.  They are getting the idea to sit and look up for the treat, but they sure had trouble with the sit tonight. 

Tonight I put some new, smelly treats in the Kong dispenser and they had a great time, finally realizing to get rough with it so it bounced and rolled and spit out treats.  I put some new toys down.  I’m having trouble finding indestructible ones that they like.

Once they started slowing down, I put down the target table and we worked on getting onto it.  Tonight it was Mr. Blue who gave a mighty leap up onto it.  Mr. Red didn’t remember that he had done the same things last time, but with the other two got his front on the table and futilely tried to reach up with the hind feet.  At the end, I lifted all of them up so all could get treats on the table.

Although Mercy is pretty much dry now, it still helps get the pups outside to let her out of her crate.  They all seem to enjoy the mad chase down the hall and outside.  She will lead them into the puppy yard and then take off.  That gives me a chance to close their gate and open the two yard gates (to the play area and the backyard) that I close to keep them from going all over to where I have to search for them.

65 Days (8/20)  What a deliciously cool day we had today!  So invigorating.  After raining most of the night, it only got up to 65 degrees, so being outside was great.  Denise and I trained again this morning, for 2 hours instead of our usual 90 minutes because the scenting was perfect after the rain and with the cool temperatures.  The dogs had a great time with their searches, so all of us went home invigorated.

I worked on the computer for a while, getting the info pages on Lovely’s litter up and starting to create the ZZ litter’s page.  I emailed the families of the three pups who have left and invited them to send photos – got some great ones.

I didn’t get a lot done on their page because at 2 p.mm I took Zest (Miss White) to play with Denise’s dogs.  The four pups are now too big and rough for little twelve-pound Emma, so we had decided to do individual play sessions.  I started with Zest because she’s the smallest and we wanted to be sure the pups hadn’t outgrown Emma.  Zest was slightly overwhelmed at first but soon got over it and even accepted some mild corrections from Hayden, learning quickly not to play roughly with her.  The two older dogs (Hayden, a sheltie, and Gus, a cockapoo) played a little while, but soon tired out, leaving Emma and Zest to play and play and play.  They had lots of fun playing ring-around-the-tree and ring-around-the-flower-bed. 


Zest tired out after 40 minutes.  Denise and I were having so much fun that we decided I’d take her home and grab a second pup since Emma wasn’t yet tired.  I put Zest in the puppy yard and grabbed the first volunteer before the other three managed to climb out over the bottom gate.  That happened to be Miss Gold.  That meant we started the individual play sessions with the smallest ZZ and ended with the largest ZZ.  Miss Gold’s weight was no problem for Emma- and neither pup was as wild by herself as they are in the group – so we will do play dates another time with each of the boys.  Unfortunately, it’s supposed to heat up again tomorrow.

Miss Gold also played for about 40 minutes, by which time even Hayden was tiring.  Denise decided it had been a fantastic day!

See all the playdate photos

When I returned home from Mass, I brought the pups in for their playtime.  I put 5 of the frozen stuffed marrow bones on the floor amongst the toys before I went outside to let the pups out of their yard.  I was armed with some salmon treats to do a little manding at the gate if they were wild, but only Mr. Blue stopped long enough to greet me.  He seemed surprised by the treat, but glad.  Then he rushed to join the others who were already nearly up the steps to the landing and doggie door into the house.

By the time I got into the living room, the pups were playing keep away with a couple of the bones.  No matter that there were more than enough, they had to compete for the “best” ones.  That kept them busy the for a good twenty minutes before they each settled down with a bone.  Someone had carried off the fifth bone and I never found it.  One of the big dogs did, later, so the pups must have carried it outside.

When their time was up, I picked up the stuffed bones and toys, and let Mercy out.  After the usual race to get outside, she let them nurse for about 2 minutes before saying that was enough.  I got them into their yard let them play some in the cool before I took out their supper.  The pups had hardly made any inroads on the stuffed bones, so I put them back into the freezer for another playtime.

I spent what was left of the evening going through the photos to get the best of the girls for the diary.  It had been a dark day so I had the iso setting on my camera really high to get the truest colors.

64 Days (8/19)  Thank goodness the cool front moved in!  It was 62 degrees this morning; much better than yesterday’s 75.  And only got up into the mid-89’s, warm enough but not miserable. 

Denise and I went to Craftco this morning and did some nosework training (Mercy again thrilled to get to go work!), so no ball sessions today.

We had decided to do play sessions with Emma with just one pup at a time, and planned to start today, but Denise had errands to run after we trained and then we had thunderstorms forecast for tonight, so we’ll try a play session tomorrow morning after we train.  The pups are so wild as a group that we’ll see if one can play nicely with Emma – who is smaller than they are.  I’m going to start trying to work with each pup separately, too.  They need that now that they’re 9 weeks old and look like they’ll be staying a while longer until I find working homes for them.

Tonight I decided to start working on wildness coming out of the puppy yard.  I had a few of those True Chews left, so I took them out to give to the pups as I opened the gate, a variation of the manding lessons where we teach them not to jump up for attention.  Only Mr. Red looked p at me as he came out and noticed the strip I was offering him. they others had started up the steps to the landing.  Miss Gold smelled the strip, turned around and began pursuing him.  The others were already going into the house.  Even though it wasn’t exactly what I envisioned, it did give a calmer greeting.  Last night Mr. Blue jumped up and tore the skin on my thumb as I opened the gate, so I will continue to work on outdoor greetings.

I also did a manding session as soon as we got inside, rather than after they played.  It seemed to help clam them down so I will continue doing that.  Mr. Blue again was the star “mander.”

After the pups played, I put down the target table.  Actually I should say, I put it down with great difficulty.  I have it upright against the wall, so it has to be slid out to an open space and then put down on its legs.  As soon as I headed toward the table, the pups rushed to help.  They were trying to figure out how to get onto it – impossible – and in the process made it hard for me to move it.  Eventually I got it down.  I was pleased to see Mr. Red make a mighty leap and actually get up onto the table.  He got lots of praise and treats.  He stayed up there nearly the entire time, too.  The others keep trying to climb up onto it and their back legs aren’t quite long/strong enough to accomplish that.

I filled some nearly-empty marrow bones with some canned dogfood and froze them.  They’ll make a fun activity for the pups tomorrow night.

63 Days (8/18)  It didn’t cool off last night – 75 degrees at 6 a.m. – so no ball sessions today, darn it.  By 9 a.m. when I headed out to do poop detail, it was already 90 degrees.  Ugh! 

I decided to let the pups out with the bigger dogs (Hesed, Justice, Varoom! and Pascha) as I did poop detail.  Everybody thought that was fantastic.  I did the puppy yard first and watched as everyone played in the backyard.  Then I did the backyard with “help” from the ZZs, who have decided that the moving shovel (I drag it behind me as I search for poop) is fun.  Miss White (Zest) showed the least interest, while the other three put their bodies on it and attacked – Mr. Red giving all kinds of growls as he bit at it.

By the time we finished poop detail in the back yard, the pups were tiring out.  I put them back into their yard and turned on a sprinkler so they had a cool spot.  I also closed the puppy house window to keep out the hot air and left the fan running to keep the puppy house as cool as possible.

I scheduled Mercy’s spay for September 19th.  She has to be totally dried up for a couple of weeks before we can do the surgery.  The vets are scheduled way out for elective surgeries, so I had been worried that we’d get it done in time for her to be healed up for the nosework trial October 6-8.  This date is perfect.

Tonight we again worked on the target table after they played long enough to be ready to learn.  They’re still having trouble getting up, so we just worked on that.  I took some photos.


62 Days (8/17)  This morning the pups got to “help” with TWO ball sessions. I introduced them to dad (Justice), letting them out of their yard when I took him out for his ball session.  Of course they know each other through the fence, but I haven’t allowed them to be together until now, when the pups are large and strong enough that they won’t get hurt in supervised sessions.  Justice was a little surprised at being mobbed when he came back from the first ball throw but soon figured out how to dodge them and deliver the ball to my hand so one of them didn’t steal it. 

The pups eventually started exploring all over and it was pretty easy to put Justice up when his time was up and bring Mercy out for her session.  I had the doggie door closed to keep the pups out of the house, but they were out in the big yard when I convinced Justice not to head to the doggie door but instead come in through the human door with me. 

Then I had to convince Mercy to go out the human door instead of the doggie door.  When she finally agreed, she thought it was great not to be immediately mobbed by the pups.  They were funny as they did doubletakes when they returned from their explorations and saw Mercy instead of Justice.  Since Mercy’s milk is drying up, they only nurse for a minute or so now.  She’ll stand still that long for them and then dodge them to go after the ball.

I keep forgetting to mention that Mr. Red now has a fixation on the ChuckIt and makes it very difficult for me to throw the ball as I have to disengage him from it.  I can lift him off the ground and he won’t let go.  Mercy, and now Justice, get a little irritated when I didn’t throw their ball right away as usual when they brought it to me.  I kept telling them I was doing my best.

I finished typing up the Search & Rescue test results and got them on the website. What a relief!  Bonnie and I are putting the word out to SAR and working people about the three available pups, so I’ve been pushing to get those tests up where people can review them. 

See the SAR test results

Tonight they got a much longer indoor playtime than usual because due to a phone call I received. As I was talking, here came the four pups carrying the two-gallon metal water bowl in a not-too-subtle hint that it was empty.  I wish I had had my camera!  They had a great time banging it against everything and the floor and making all kinds of noise.  Thankfully, the caller has one of the YY litter so is used to puppy antics.

After the phone call, I took them out to potty, then we returned to the living rom and I introduced them to the target table.  The box games prepared them to immediately investigate and attempt to climb up onto the table, but it was a little high for them.  I boosted a couple up the first time, then sprinkled treats on the table.  After that we practiced them going to the table and getting up.  Tomorrow I’ll begin introducing them to leaving the table and coming to me for their treats when I click.  That’s a little hard with four, but we’ll take our time until they get the idea.

I finished editing the photos of yesterday’s visit to the Alzheimer’s unit and started downsizing them to go on the website.  I got some great ones.

See the pups at the Alzheimer’s Unit

61 Days (8/16)  It didn’t cool off much last night and started heating up early, darn!  The pups finally get to visit the Alzheimer’s Unit this afternoon, and I was hoping it would be cool enough to have this wild bunch play and visit the residents in the enclosed courtyard rather than inside. 

No ball sessions today, as the owners of one of the KK litter were coming through town and I had a chance to see Layla.  She looks great at 7 1/2.  Genetics is SO interesting.  Her full older sister, Spirit, looks like a Lively clone, while Layla looks like their sire, Quasi.  It was already too hot when I got home to even think of ball sessions, so I worked on typing up the SAR test results.

I have never taken pups this old on nursing home visits because they are so very wild and don’t want to be held in the residents’ laps.  We were unable to go earlier because they had covid in the main part of the nursing home, so we had either the choice of not letting the residents see this bunch, or dealing with them the way they are and just trying very short petting sessions then letting that pup down to play and picking up another.  The Alzheimer’s Unit residents, especially, want to hold and pet the pups – and have trouble understanding why they can’t.  But oh, do they love the pups!! 

For the visit, I searched through all my toys and took the hardiest, least-likely-to-be-chewed-on ones.  Only a couple had squeakies, and the pups were not pleased.  Charlene, Betsy and Betsy’s grandson, Jack, helped me – and they worked hard.  The heat DID NOT slow down the pups!  Great Scott, but they were wild.  They got it into their heads to run down the hallway and it took Charlene, Jack and assorted staff members to keep them in the activity room.

Joy, as usual, gave them her keys to play tug with.  I wanted her that the lanyard might not survive with this bunch, but she said not to worry, that she had others.  Sure enough, the pups loved to chew on the lanyard and it ended up in pieces.  Joy also gave them her personal keys to play with.  Jessica let the pups play with her keys, too, but kept them around her neck.

Despite the heat, the pups played about 50 minutes.  Despite their wildness, we managed to let everyone pet them who wanted to.  We also laughed a lot. The visit was a success! 

See all the photos

I had a dog training club meeting tonight at 6.  Usually it lasts perhaps 30 minutes, but tonight we had lots of discussion on an item and the meeting lasted an hour.  By the time I got home, it was too late to do a puppy playtime.  As it was, I didn’t get to bed until almost 11.  At least I finished typing up the SAR test results, but the pups had no appreciation for my success there and let me know they were abused. 

I promised them that tomorrow we’ll be back to our regular schedule – ball sessions and evening playtime.

60 Days (8/15)  This morning I took the four pups to Denise’s for another playtime with Emma.  They had a great time for close to an hour, then were ready to come home and take a nap.  The day was heating up by then, too hot after a while for wild chase games.  They kept heading to the shade, which made it hard to get good photos.

See more photos

Tonight, before I brought the pups in, I carried in from the shed my tub of “outdoor puppy toys,” that are also hard to chew or old enough that I won’t be upset to have them ruined.  Mr. Red especially has begun chewing the ends/feet/arms, etc., of the good toys and ruining them. 

I scattered them on the floor and then placed amongst them 6 “True Chews,” which are kind of like Beggin’ Strips.  Denise’s brother goes to all kinds of fundraisers and buys dog treats, which she generously shares with me after she makes a visit back in Minnesota.  The big dogs love them, and so did the pups.  They even settled quietly to chew rather than have keep-away games with them.

Cathy had brought me a big Kong treat dispenser.  Tonight I put some of the Charlee Bear treats that I use on therapy dog visits in it and set it on the floor.  As they played, they accidentally knocked it over and treats spilled out.  At first they didn’t associate the suddenly-appearing little treats with the Kong, but later I saw Zest (Miss White whom I’m keeping) sniffing all over it. She had found the source of the treats, but she didn’t figure out that knocking it over causes it to dispense them.  I bet tomorrow someone figures it out!

After they played quite a while, I put down two big Chewy boxes, one which I had used earlier for the box game – taping the flaps down to make it easy for pups to climb into it.  Another one came yesterday; it I turned upside down to create another version of the box game – this time they had to climb onto it to get the click/treat.  They had a lot of fun with both boxes.  They remembered having gotten treats for climbing into the one the other day, and they soon figured out that they got rewarded for climbing up onto the other one.

Tomorrow I’ll introduce them to the target table, which we use to teach the pups to go out, get up on something, stay until I click and then return to me.  It’s the first step in beginning nosework, since in the Dave Kroyer system we never treat them at the find, but release them from their indication to come away form the area for their reward.  I’ve been working Pascha on it.  Now that the super-intense work with the ZZ litter is done, I’ll introduce Pascha to the nosework scents – and Zest as well, once she has the target table down pat.

I had to laugh at Mr. Blue and Miss Gold.  They would play the box game for a bit and then come offer a sit and attention as I clicked the others for the getting into or onto the boxes, so of course I gave them treats for manding, too.

59 Days (8/14)  I have to laugh at the pups when we go out for Mercy’s ball session.  They now head four different directions, happily exploring out of sight most of the time, coming back occasionally to attack the puppy drag or chase Mercy.  They were tired enough today that I didn’t have a lot of trouble getting them back to the puppy yard.  It was a good thing, since all of us had so much fun during the ball sessions (SO nice to get back to our normal schedule!!) that we didn’t rush inside – which made me late finishing the last one.

Varoom! had an obedience class until 5:30.  I had to eat after that as I had no time to eat before showering and loading Justice to head to Westview for a therapy dog visit.  That made the pups late for their playtime in the house and they let me know they weren’t pleased.  I still needed to do a last Lovely-Justice breeding so we just did a playtime, no training.

All that activity didn’t leave a lot of time to work on typing the SAR test results, so I’ll continue tomorrow.

58 Days (8/13)  I was up early to feed puppies so they had time to play and digest before they left for their new homes.  As soon as they were fed, I began scanning the SAR test sheets so that I could attach the tests to the emails I sent out to my SAR contacts and friend who is a police dog trainer so they could pass the word about some really nice SAR prospects – and an incredible cadaver/forensic dog prospect (Mr. Red).

Cathy & Gary arrived at 8:30, about 30 minutes earlier than planned.  It’s a good thing they didn’t get here any earlier, as I was had just finished breeding Lovely to Justice and was putting those two dogs back in their crates when I saw a car pull in. Yep, one more litter – Lovely’s last – is in the works, hopefully due October 10th. I had planned to breed her to Titus again and try for a repeat of the XX litter with, finally, a female for me to keep, but Titus’ owners are in Italy. Lovely’s timing was awful!

Scott & Leslie arrived just before 9 and we got Miss Pink off on her great adventure.

As soon as they left, I started ball sessions for some THRILLED big dogs and Pascha.  I have to say that Mercy’s ball time was much more enjoyable with only 4 pups tugging on the puppy drag – and Miss Gold as usual targeting my pant legs and ankles.  Too bad she didn’t do that on the temperament tests, because she’s sure a determined attacker at home.  It was also much easier – and faster – corralling just the four pups when the ball session was over.  Whew!  What a relief.

After ball sessions, all of us took a long nap.  I worked a while on getting the SAR test results typed up in the diary, but that will take a couple of days.  With 23 tests, 2 testers and 10 possible scores, it’s slow going.

After Mass, I brought the pups in for a playtime and Manding session.  Then I resumed downsizing the Children’s Library photos and actually got them done!  It’s amazing what energy a day of quiet gives me – we introverts find listening and talking to people for long periods of time VERY taxing, plus I’m always stressed until the pups test well.  I’ll get those photos up on the website tomorrow, and work more on entering the SAR results – after an early bedtime tonight.

See the photos of the Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library

57 Days (8/12)    We loaded up at 8:30 a.m. and headed to the arena for the Search & Rescue test. 

Bonnie, my Search & Rescue friend from Bozeman came to test the pups for Search & Rescue (and other working) potential.  She comes to test most of my litters and I greatly appreciate it.  She is getting a pup from this litter.  Bonnie recruited another SAR friend, Bridget (who happens to have Mercy’s brother, Riker) to help.

All seven pups aced it.  They had a ball, and the testers were high in their praise. Bonnie had to urge Bridget to move the toys faster as she played with the pups, because Bridget was used to testing seven-week-old pups who are more tentative this this mob of pups that turned 8 weeks old yesterday.  They also played a lot rougher.  The testers said all the pups should work – and needed jobs where they use their noses.  Bonnie commented that none of these pups are for first-time GSD owners.  Super nice litter.

Like the Police/Narcotics test, I will type up all the comments and get them on the website as soon as I can. 

The test elements:
Acceptance/Attachment  The first test involves evaluating the pup’s acceptance of the strange place and its willingness to interact with the stranger.  Ideal reaction is eye contact and interest in the stranger but no sign of nervousness in the interaction (we don’t want a “Protect me!” attitude), followed by visual investigation of the surroundings and then a return of attention to the tester. 
Eye Contact  Desire to connect with the tester by looking them in the eye was noted.
Confidence  The confidence part of the test involves holding the pup out at arm’s length for several seconds.  Again, the pup should accept the handler putting it in position and remain calm.
Independence  How comfortable is the pup, will it work away from the tester or does it stay underfoot?  Or does it avoid dealing with the tester by staying away and playing on its own.
Pain Sensitivity  The loose skin over the ribs or between the toes is gently pinched and the pup’s reaction is noted.  Ideal reaction is to notice the pinch but be unconcerned by it.  We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester.
Retrieve   Next, willingness to retrieve is evaluated using different toys and balls.  Ideal reaction is to repeatedly bring the toy back to the handler rather than moving off to “possess” it.  The type of bite on the toys is evaluated:  a full mouth bite shows more confidence and drive than a front-teeth-only bite.
Metal Object  Tester tosses a set of car keys and observes to see if pup will put its mouth on it, pick it up and/or retrieve it.
Perseverance (Chase)  Then perseverance is evaluated by seeing how enthusiastically they will pursue and grab hold of an object.  Ideal reaction is to pursue enthusiastically and grasp with a full mouth bite. 
Tug  Ideal reaction is a full mouth bite, tug and do everything possible to possess the object.  We like to see a pup get its whole body on the sack/rope/toy in an effort to subdue it.
Prey Drive Strength of desire to chase and attack is evaluated.
Hunt for Toy While playing with ball or soft toy, hide it and encourage pup to use nose to find it.  Interest?  How long will pup search?  Uses nose or eyes?  When thrown through tunnel, will it go after it? 
Unstable Footing   Since SAR dogs will search in all kinds of terrain and areas of destruction, they must be confident in insecure situations.  We made a rough, unsteady surface using a tarp, folded wire crate, raised dog bed, an agility hoop on its side, and other things.  Toys were thrown or drug over the unstable area. 
Submission  The submission test is designed to give an idea of the pup’s tractability, trust in humans, and willingness to submit to a human’s directives. In the submission test the pup is held firmly on its back for a short period of time.  The tester counts the seconds it takes for him to resist, then accept, the restraint.  She should not passively accept the restraint, nor should she panic or show avoidance of eye contact.  Ideal reaction is to resist, then submit and look the tester in the face.  We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester. 
Runaway  The tester shows pup food or a toy, gets its interest, then runs away.  She observes how eagerly the pup comes and how naturally it uses its nose to find her once she hides. 
Reaction to Strange Objects  We used a battery-operated, remote-controlled mouse.  We also had a very large stuffed teddy bear and a large stuffed duck sitting around.
Cadaver Test A vial containing cadaver material was waved past the pup’s nose as it played.  Its reaction and interest or lack of interest were noted. 
Wagon Test  The pup was placed in a wagon.  One tester walked to the side to keep the pup from jumping out, while the other pulled it around the room. 
Courage Test  Courage is normally evaluated using something that vibrates, makes noise and moves erratically.  Today we used a battery-operated robot that moved, makes noise and flashes all kinds of brilliant lights.  Will they stand their ground?  Will they go investigate it?  Excellent reaction is to go to it and check it out.  Extremely excellent reaction is to actually attack it while it moves.  Good reaction is to investigate it after the tester turns it off.  The tester encourages the pup to investigate after it is turned off, if the pup wouldn’t while it was making noise.  She notes how much encouragement is needed.
Fear  A metal can filled with metal items (hinges, bolts, etc.) is dropped behind them from a height of about 2 feet while they are looking away from it.  One tester does this when the pup was intent on whatever the other tester is doing.  Will the pup hold its ground and then go look at what dropped from nowhere?  Excellent reaction is to acknowledge and turn towards the sound and then confidently go see what made the racket.  The tester encourages the pup to investigate, if it doesn’t on its own.  She notes how much encouragement is needed.  I find most of my pups look towards the racket and keep on playing with the toy they had, rather than stopping their play to go investigate.
Surprise  This test involves getting the pup to follow you (or a toy) towards a  place with a hidden person, from behind which an umbrella is opened suddenly and then lowered to the ground, still open.  The pups are evaluated on how they recover from being startled and if they’ll go investigate.  Ideal reaction is for the pup to startle but hold its ground, then move right up to check out the umbrella.  A super excellent reaction is to go up and bite it and/or walk all over it. The tester encourages the pup to investigate after the umbrella is on the top step, if it doesn’t on its own.  She notes how much encouragement is needed.
Hunt for Food I  This test begins with a piece of chicken jerky tied on a string and dragged to attract the pup’s interest and see how interested it is, how hard it will work to get it, and how hard it will work to keep it as the tester jerks, tugs and generally prevents the pup from easily eating it.  They also hold it high to see if the pup will look up to search for it.
Hunt for Food II  The testers spread pieces of my homemade salmon treats and Braunschweiger treats around on the floor, on top of and under objects. The pups had to use their noses to find where the treats were.  They were judged on how they how they used their noses and how systematic their searching was.
Puppy Drag  I took my puppy drag, which is a piece of rope I fasten around my waist.  Gunny sacks are attached to the rope and move enticingly as I move around, so the pups focus on biting and tugging on them instead of me.  I normally wear this as I exercise the puppies’ mother each morning, to divert them from biting my legs or pants. Most pups have a great time as it was drug around the room, chasing, tugging and at times riding on it. 

The highlight of the day’s testing was Mr. Red’s reaction to the cadaver sample.  He was absolutely electrified when Bonnie waved the vial past him pups as he played with a toy.  Actually, the whole litter immediately chased down the scent and tried to climb into the vial, but Mr. Red’s reaction was incredible. He was on fire, pursuing the vial no matter how high, fast or where Bonnie moved it.  Even after she stoppered it and walked away to put it up, he followed her, jumping up to try to get to it and stayed with her after she put it away.  And he continued looking for it.  His air scenting, following the odor trail, was impressive.  All we could say was “WOW!!”  So we’d like this boy to do cadaver/forensics if we can find someone who is looking for a pup. 

See the SAR test Results

We got done about 1:30 p.m.  Bonnie and Bridget followed me home after the test and we did the paperwork on Mr. Yellow (now Celhaus Zephyr, call name “Zephyr”) so Bonnie could get on the road to Bozeman with him.  Bridget left for Moose, WY, at the same time.  I am so grateful to my SAR testers!

I had Cathy & Gary and Scott & Leslie wait till 3:30 to come, so the pups and I could eat and rest, and I could rotate out the two males who had been crated all those hours.  Yesterday I had crated the two girls who were in breeding heat (Lovely and Hopeful) and had the males outside.  When I got home with the pups, Justice had leapt the 7’ fence and gotten in with Mercy, which wasn’t a huge problem except that it put him next to Cantor’s pen and the two males were hitting the fence, screaming at each other.  Cantor hates Justice as a rival and knows full well that Justice is getting the breedings at the moment instead of him doing them.  So today the males were crated and the in-heat females were outside in secure areas.

Once the two couples arrived, we decided who got which pup.  Cathy & Gary took Miss Green, who is now Celhaus Zephyr in Summer, call name “Breeze.”  Scott & Leslie took Miss Pink, who is now Celhaus Zinnia Elegans, call name “Zinnia.”   

After we did all the paperwork, we brought all the pups in and played with them for about an hour before we put them back in the puppy yard.  Then the two couples left to get one last peaceful night’s rest and I began spending time with my dogs, who have felt very neglected the last several days.  We were in bed early!

56 Days (8/11)  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.

My good friend, Suzan Guilford, does the police/narcotics test that she modified since I am not particularly breeding for police dogs.  Suzan is a former K9 handler and police officer, former police chief, and has taught at the Wyoming Police Academy.  She has done my temperament tests for over twenty years, except for a two year absence while she was working in Florida.  Suzan and I over the years have incorporated most of the SAR exercises into her testing so she can include them in case the SAR testers can’t come do their test. 

The main difference I see between the police/narcotics test and the SAR test is the attitude of the tester.  In the police test, the tester is very quiet, talking little and using very little body movements.  No other people are present and the environment is kept quiet.  In the SAR test, the tester (often two do the test together) is somewhat more enthusiastic, uses some verbal praise and body movements to get the pup “up” and gives praise. 

This would fit well with the ultimate purpose of the dogs being tested for both types of training.  In police work the dog must be able to dig down deep inside himself or herself to find the courage and aggression to confront a criminal and/or to search independently and at great distance from the handler.  In SAR the handler is usually closer to the dog and is able to praise and encourage him, especially in extended searches.  There is also generally all kinds of activity and distraction at a search scene so the dog must be able to filter out the extraneous activity and focus on her job.  Both tests are fascinating to watch as is the difference in the pups’ responses in each test. 

The puppy buyers are invited to watch the tests and talk to the testers afterwards.  Other people are also sometimes present to watch.  All are asked to be as quiet as possible, neither making noise or moving around, so that they don’t draw the pups’ attention from the tester and cause them to stop retrieving, tugging or using their noses so that they don’t test as well as they could.  This litter was much more aware of their surroundings than most.  I think all of them noticed the people standing out of the test area, watching.  Mr. Red even gave a tiny growl. 

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.  We’ll decide who gets which pup tomorrow after the Search & Rescue Test, then pups start leaving Sunday. 

I’ll put detailed results on the website later, but here is a summary.  First, an explanation of some of the tests that aren’t self-explanatory:
Social Attachment:  Acknowledges new person; dominance or independence
Following:  Willingness to follow and acceptance of tester
Sound Sensitivity:  Can of Rocks: a sudden loud noise behind them, in this case a can of nuts and bolts dropped from about 2’ elevation
Confidence/Elevation:  Confidence/dominance shown when held in air and has no control
Prey/perseverance:  Willingness to chase toy, solidness of bite, use of body to possess
Sound Sensitivity:  Train:  a moving, whistling battery-operated train engine (if they got different ratings for the two objects, that is listed; otherwise they rated the same on both)
Surprise/Stability:  umbrella opened suddenly as they pass by; not recovery after initial startle

Other comments
My pups are very people-oriented and voice responsive, so they never do as well on the police/narcotic test as on the Search & Rescue test because on this test, the handler is deliberately very calm and quiet and doesn’t say much.  As usual, Suzan commented that the pups came alive when she gave them the tiniest bit of praise.

My female line typically has booty drive come in first (desire to possess the toy) and being very obvious now, with the retrieve drive coming in later than the age at which we do the temperament testing, so it’s common for few to get a low retrieve rating on the temperament tests.

I am not breeding for police dog candidates, for which they want crazy drive, activity level and pushiness.  Suzan gives this interpretation statement:  This test was designed for police dogs and dogs of similar professions.  This is a good predictor of a strong, confident dog, but also one that may be more independent and not as willing to work with humans as much as they just want to work.  Having scores that are average and minimal in some categories may be just what is needed for the agility, therapy or family dog.

None of the pups liked restraint and struggled particularly on the Submission test.

All of them found something extremely interesting on the ground and mats.  Sue is currently doing puppy kindergarten classes and nosework classes, so we figured there were treat crumbs in the area.  These pups love to use their noses and have good ones.

Now a summary of each pup’s ratings:

Mr. Blue
Excellent:  Social dominance; Retrieve ball/toy (8 times)
Above Average:  Social attachment (within 5 seconds); Following; Restraint/submission; Confidence/Elevation; Pain Sensitivity; Prey/Perseverance; Sound Sensitivity (can of rocks)
Average-Good:  Sound Sensitivity (train); Surprise/Stability
Minimal: Retrieve ball/toy (2-3 times)   
Comment:  Very aware of surroundings & people.  Higher retrieve drive.  More social.  Very athletic.  Good nose.

Miss Gold
Excellent: Restraint/Submission; Social Dominance
Above Average:  Social Attachment; Restraint/Submission (20 seconds); Confidence/Elevation (after 22 seconds); Pain Sensitivity
Average-Good:  Prey/Perseverance; Sound Sensitivity (train); Surprise/Stability (when encouraged; no big reaction)
Minimal:  Sound Sensitivity (can of rocks)
Insufficient:  Retrieve ball/toy
Comment:  Nice big girl.  Minimal retrieve.  Liked pull toy.

Miss Green
Excellent:  Social dominance; Retrieve ball/toy (12 times)
Above Average:  Social attachment; Following; Restraint/Submission
Average-Good:  Retrieve ball/toy (2 times); Prey/Perseverance; Sound Sensitivity (can of rocks); Sound Sensitivity (train); Surprise/Stability (with lots of encouragement)
Minimal:  Confidence/Elevation; Pain Sensitivity
Comment:  Very happy – tail wagging all the time.  Good retrieve.  Good social.

Miss Pink
Excellent:  Social Dominance; Pain sensitivity
Above Average:  Social Attachment (5 seconds); Sound Sensitivity (can of rocks); Sound Sensitivity (train)
Average-Good:  Following
Minimal:  Restraint/Submission; Confidence/Elevation (up to 22); Prey/Perseverance (tail up, not down); Surprise/Stability (did not investigate until encouraged)
Insufficient:  Retrieve ball/toy
Comment:  Likes human contact.  Good at following.  Can encourage to investigate.

Mr. Red
Average-Good:  Following; Pain Sensitivity; Prey/Perseverance (He had front-teeth bite but liked to chase toy); Sound Sensitivity (can of rocks); Sound Sensitivity (train); Surprise/Stability (when encouraged)
Minimal:  Restraint/Submission (eye contact at 6 seconds; struggled mildly); Social Dominance; Confidence/Elevation (for 23 seconds, then struggled)
Insufficient:  Retrieve ball/toy
Unacceptable:  Social Attachment (Struggled to get down.  Didn’t recognize tester.)
Comment:  Minimal interest in chasing ball.  Good nose.

Miss White
Excellent:  Social Attachment; Social Dominance; Retrieve ball/toy (3 times)
Above Average:  Following; Restraint/Submission (no eye contact); Confidence/Elevation (5 seconds – 20); Pain Sensitivity; Sound Sensitivity (train)
Average-Good:  Retrieve ball/toy (2 times); Prey/Perseverance; Sound Sensitivity (can of rocks); Surprise/Stability (encouraged to investigate)
Comment:  More interested in smells on ground than toys.  Nice even temperament.  Doesn’t like restraint.  Good nose.

Mr. Yellow
Excellent:  Social Dominance; Retrieve ball/toy (5 times)
Above Average:  Social Attachment; Following; Prey/Perseverance; Sound Sensitivity (can of rocks); Sound Sensitivity (train);
Average-Good:  Surprise/Stability
Minimal:  Restraint/Submission; Confidence/Elevation (25 seconds, a bit of struggle)
Comment:  Happy boy.  Good nose.  Attentive to all surroundings.

I got the puppies home and fed about 1 p.m.  Cathy & Gary and Scott & Leslie came at 4 to play with the pups.  I finally pushed them out the door at 6:30 so I could feed the pups and they could rest up for tomorrow’s SAR test.  I tried resizing the Children’s Library visit photos so I could get them on the website but kept falling asleep, so I gave up as soon as all of my dogs had had some play/cuddle time and didn’t feel quite so neglected.  We were all ready to crash.

55 Days (8/10)  I took the pups to Denise’s at 9:30 a.m.  She has 2 shelties and a cockapoo.  We introduced the pups to all three dogs, then she put the cockapoo and her older sheltie in the house.  Her year-old Sheltie, Emma, is VERY active and needed a play session, and the older dogs needed a break from Emma.  The pups had been intimidated at first but before I unloaded the last ones, Mr. Red and Emma were playing.  The others quickly joined in.  Everyone had an absolutely fantastic time.  They played and played and played.

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.  Emma weighs just over 12#, and the pups weigh between 12 – 15 pounds, so we watched closely to make sure Emma didn’t get hurt.  She’s VERY fast so they hardly ever caught her. 

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. 

Denise had a long agility tunnel against her yard fence.  After Mr. Red, Mr. Blue and Miss Pink raced through it, she moved it out into the yard to see if any more pups would go through and perhaps teach Emma how to do it.  Denise knelt at the far end and put pups in the entrance while I called them and tried to get photos.  My pups have a big tunnel under their puppy obstacle course, and it looked like they’ve played in it because soon all of mine were going through it, and several would reverse and go back.  And they got Emma running through it as well – after Denise crawled through the tunnel to encourage her.

See more photos

We stayed about an hour, until I finally said we had to get home.  The pups are now experienced travelers.  They made noise either going or coming home. Good pups!  And did they ever crash once I got them home!  As soon as Mercy nursed them, they stretched out in the shade. 

I got the priorities list prepared for the testers.  On my puppy application, I have people list the 4 most important traits they’d like to see in their puppy, their training experience and what they plan to do with their pup – Search & Rescue, competition, therapy dog, service dog, etc.  I produce a spreadsheet with that info and room for the testers to recommend two pups per person – and I bully them until they do!  W use their recommendations as the beginning point in our discussion of who will get which pup.  This being Justice’s first litter, I don’t know what he’ll produce – and Mercy being my highest-drive breeding female, I haven’t accepted any application for just pets. I’ll wait until I see how they test.

Cathy and Gary arrived from Colorado and came to play with the pups about 5:30. They brought toys and the pups had a great time playing with them.  I pushed Cathy and Gary out the door at 7 so the pups could rest for tomorrow morning’s test.  I edited a few of today’s photos for this diary, then I, too, crashed.

54 Days (8/9)  Mr. Red has an ear up!  Miss Pink’s second ear is almost up.

I slept in a little this morning; just couldn’t get moving.  Pascha’s puppy kindergarten class had me late doing the puppy playtime, which made me start big-dog cuddle/potty sessions late.  While the big dogs got some attention, I worked on photos and paperwork until after 11.  All is ready for the puppies to leave, but I was so late this morning that the day was heating up and I didn’t do ball sessions.

Both pups’ fecals were negative for coccidia.  Hurrah! 

I wormed everyone for roundworms the third time tonight.

When I took lunch out, Miss White came to the gate “naked.”  “Not another one,” I thought.  I still hadn’t found Mr. Blue’s collar. 

Denise had to work late again tonight so we had to cancel playtime at her house.  That’s always a great experience for the pups, since they meet non-GSDs for the first time.  She is off tomorrow so I (again) cancelled ball sessions so we could go to Denise’s in the morning.  My poor big dogs, no ball today, tomorrow and of course Friday and Saturday while we do the temperament tests.  I’ll cancel training Sunday and do ball sessions instead.

The pups were extremely wild tonight when I brought them in for playtime.  I had to do a lot of “No bite!” lessons.  They were probably punishing me for no ball sessions this morning.  We practiced the Box game with both the small boxes and a large box.  I laughed and laughed at pups who had one end in one box and the other in another, and then couldn’t figure out how to get out of either.

While Mercy nursed the pups in the back yard, I hunted for the two missing collars – and found them!!  I had had an extra blue collar to put on Mr. Blue, but not a white one, so I was especially relieved to find the white one.  Both were, naturally, quite muddy, so I stuck them in the load of laundry I needed to run.

53 Days (8/8)  It must have rained during the night because everything was again quite wet this morning.  Thankfully, the sun again dried things out enough that I could use the puppy drag when the pups “helped” Mercy chase her ball.  I had an awful time corralling them when the play session was over.  No one came when I called. Three followed Mercy to the back yard and let me catch and put them in the puppy yard.  The others I had to find and capture one at a time.  I needed a break after that!

I took the pups to Westview again this afternoon.  I got there a couple of minutes late despite starting to load puppies in plenty of time.  I had an awful time finding Miss Green.  They have a new favorite hole on the far side of the kiddie pool with water in the back.  Black puppy in black hole, sleeping puppy not hearing my call – I was about to panic that something had happened to her before she popped into view.  You called??????? Then the pups split into what seemed like 100 different directions as I tried to get them to the car.  I was hot by the time I got in the car, and it was a nice cool day.

The only pups who yelled were in the back crate.  The ones in the two front crates – Miss Pink, Mr. Yellow, Mr. Blue and Miss White – were quiet, either looking out the window or trying to get me to pet them as I drove.

Linda & Peggy helped, thank goodness, since they’re pretty wild now, even after a wild play session shortly before.  Yvette and two staff members also helped, which we needed because the maintenance man had over-watered the lawn (why he turned on the sprinklers as we’re getting deluges every night is beyond me, and there was water everywhere, including an enticing hole filled with muddy water. It took all of us to get the pups into the nursing home and still dry.  Well, mostly dry; I see in the photos that a few had bits of mud on their sides either form the puppy yard holes or the Westview hole..

I took several noisy toys for one last exposure before the temperament tests Friday and Saturday.  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.  The pups kept trying to pick it up and carry it around, which elicited a lot of laughs.

Mr. Yellow, Mr. Blue and Miss Pink spent most of their time holding, tugging and/or chasing the ball.  Yes, tugging!  It was hilarious.  All the pups had a great time tugging, too.  Some of the skinny tug toys that I had ordered arrived last night, and they were a super hit.

The residents and staff members couldn’t believe how much they had grown in a week.  I was particularly struck by how leggy they look all of a sudden.  It was a good thing they enjoyed wanting the pups’ antics because they were not too crazy about being held today.  They were wired!

Not a single pup yelled on the way home.  Hurrah!  As I walked them around to the puppy yard, Miss Gold obliged with a poop sample.  I called the vet and asked if they wanted it.  I still haven’t heard the results form Mr. Red’s sample yesterday. The vets said bring the fecal sample, so I dropped it off on the way to Pascha’s Puppy Kindergarten class.  It will be tomorrow before I get any results.

I gave them several of hours to rest and then brought them inside for playtime.  So much for walking around to potty before going into the house – most headed to she steps and inside.  I could hear them thundering down the hallway to the pool as I headed in with the last couple of pups who had cooperated and pottied.

Those first ones had already eaten the pool treats, in the process throwing out several bottles that rolled – and which they chased.  I put more treats in the pool so that everyone had a chance to search.  I took photos.

The last of the skinny toys arrived today so I put a couple down for them to pay with – which they did with great enthusiasm!   This is quite the tugging bunch.

When the timer went off, I picked up the pool and toys, but instead of sitting in my chair for a manding session, put down three small boxes for the box game.  I had to laugh at them because they gathered around my chair and gave me eye contact even though I was standing so I could take photos.  I had to sit down and do a manding session before they would consent to turn away and look at the boxes.  Mr. Blue continued for the longest time sitting and giving me eye contact even after I was clicking and throwing treats into the boxes as pups stepped into them.

I have a big Chewy box that I will introduce them to tomorrow night.

They were one tired bunch of pups and willingly went into the puppy yard with Mercy to nurse.  That gave me a chance to clean the puppy house again. All the rain has them tracking in water and mud so I’m trying to change newspapers twice a day.

52 Days (8/7)  This morning, Mr. Blue greeted me “naked” (no collar). I had no chance to find the collar before the vet visit.  At least only one lost a collar; if two do at the same time sometimes I have to resort to weighing to be sure who is who.  They like to play tug with the collars; in fact, that’s how they usually lose one – either a pup has happened to bite down on the latch and open it, or they pull on the collar and loosen it enough that they pull it off their sibling’s head.

The pups had a great time during Mercy’s ball session, following her WAY out in the back area and then diverging to explore.  They would come check in with me every so often, too.  Thankfully, the sun had come out and dried off the grass so that I could use the puppy drag.  I usually had 1 or 2 tugging on the puppy drag and I walked  to where Mercy dropped her ball (away from the puppy mob) so I could throw it again. I gave Mercy a longer ball session as I was still trying to collect some fecal samples. No luck.  I was also hoping to tire them out a little before their heath check and first vaccination that was scheduled for 2:30 today. 

Loading puppies went smoothly since they now know the drill. Good puppies!  Of course, they still yelled the whole way.

Thankfully today was cool so I didn’t have to worry about puppies sitting in the hot car – or bring the entire mob in at once, which can be a rodeo.  We took just one crate’s occupants at a time – two pairs and three who rode in the bigger crate in back.  They did great. 

The first ones in happened to be Miss White and Mr. Red.  While Dr. Cindy examined Mr. Red, Miss White spotted the trash can and went to investigate. I waited to see how long it would survive as this is a usual occurrence with each litter.  Miss White pretty quickly found the plastic trash liner coming out under the lid and began pulling on it.  With a crash, the can toppled over (it’s only about 1’ high).  Miss White thought that was pretty cool and grabbed the liner to start tugging.  We rescued the can, putting it on a chair.

Mr. Red was really noisy, unusually so, going to both doors, around the room and back to us.  We were wondering what was bothering him when suddenly he began pooping.  That was it; he was trying to go out to potty.  Hurrah!  Finally a stool sample.  Cindy grabbed a surgical glove and collected a sample, taking it to the techs to run. The clinic was closing early because they were going to the 4H livestock sale, so I won’t hear until tomorrow if they found any coccidia.

Each pup got a thorough exam, first distemper/parvo vaccination and microchip.  We also weighed them:  Miss White was 12.2#; Miss Pink was 12.6#; Mr. Blue & Miss Green were 13.0#; Mr. Yellow was 14.4#, Mr. Red was 14.6 and Miss Gold was 15.4#. 

Mr. Blue & Mr. Yellow have one testicle down, but Mr. Red has neither down. 

They were pretty busy so I put down two chew sticks that the vets provide.  We had to laugh because invariably both pups wanted a certain strip and would ignore the other , leading to some wild keep-away games in the small exam room – under the chairs, between our legs and around the exam table.   We both got her chuckles for the day.

The exam took an hour, so I was afraid I would be late to my chiropractic appointment. I headed home to drop off the pups, forgetting that in Saturday’s paper there had been an announcement that part of the road I usually take to get home would be closed this week for construction. The didn’t have a sign at the turnoff so naturally I made the turn – behind another car – and then had to wait for the other car to turn around before I could.  By the time I went all the way back to town and took another route home, I was definitely late.  The chiropractor said to come and they’d work me in, so I unloaded puppies and headed to my appointment. I had to call Ginny and cancel her visit because I had no idea when I’d get home.  We were both disappointed. 

I was doubly disappointed because two orders arrived today in great small, low-sided boxes that are perfect for the box game.  Oh, well, I’ll try tomorrow.  It was 6 p.m. when I got home (I picked up dog food on the way), and I was too tired for a play session, plus I had dogs needing rotated out since they had been crated the hours I was gone.

Tomorrow we’ll have our indoor playtime.

51 Days (8/6)  Another pleasant, cool morning with sun peeking through clouds.  It’s supposed to rain this afternoon.  The pups didn’t eat much of the breakfast I put just inside the gate, so I picked up the bowl when I brought Mercy out to nurse them.  I got most of the soiled newspapers in the puppy house picked up before Mr. Blue came in to visit.  Thankfully, he didn’t bounce around but quietly sat and watched me put down clean papers, so I talked to him as I worked and he cocked his head back and forth as he listened.  Miss White and Miss Pink came in next, but I was nearly done.  They, too, were content to visit quietly. Such a nice change from the usual toothy mob scene.

I took Mercy, Justice and Varoom! to Craftco’s storage yard to train nosework this morning.  When we returned, I headed to do poop detail in the puppy yard.  I put Mercy and the pups in the back yard and thus was able to get the job done without “help” or having to drag puppies around on the puppy drag.  It’s way too wet to do that today.

 When I finished, I put the pups back into the puppy yard and did poop detail in the back yard.  Of course, I’m hoping to get a couple of poop samples to check again for coccidia before they leave, but no one cooperated.  The pups did, however, have a great time running the fence separating us both when I was in the puppy yard and after they got back in there.  As I searched the back part of the back yard, the ups raced along the fence and then detoured to fly across the up and down ramps of the obstacle course.  I love to see them using that course.  And it reminded me that I forgot the other day to mention that while I was doing poop detail with the pups (and puppy drag), that Mr. Blue climbed the ramp to one of the high landings on the obstacle course and then navigated the swinging bridge all by himself.  That is usually intimidating for the pups and I have to help them learn it, but he did it on his own – and seemed to think it was fun because he then turned and did it backwards.  Good boy!

I began copying, sorting, stapling and hole-punching the handouts that go with the puppies to help their owners get them off to a good start. This takes a while, but I’m starting early enough that I can set one handout printing and go back later to process it after I start another printing.

I took Mercy out to nurse the pups this afternoon and went into the yard with them, hoping for poop samples.  No luck.  All I got was a bleeding wound from Miss Pink’s sharp teeth as she grabbed for me as I reached for Mercy’s ball.  Throwing it for Mercy keeps the pups moving and could induce a poop, but not this time. Mercy was not pleased when I quit to head inside for a bandage.

Mass tonight went on much longer than usual, so it was already time to feed the big dogs when I got home and then start rotating everyone out for play/cuddles before bedtime – no time to bring the pups inside.  I was disappointed, as I was planning to introduce the box game tonight.  Box game?  It’s part of early clicker training, teaching the pup to freely offer behaviors, the second step in teaching it to love learning (the first step is introducing the clicker). Of course, it’s easiest to do this individually, so I adapt it as a litter exercise and urge my puppy buyers to continue it as a fun one-on-one game.

Here are the details from the Puppy Culture materials.  


Offering a Behavior – the Box Game

 Hold a low-sided box in one hand, the clicker between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand, and close your remaining three fingers over ONE piece of food.  You can have more food ready, on a shelf or in your pocket, but for now just concentrate on having that one piece of food ready.

 Put the box down. 

 Click anything the puppy does that is involved with the box— look at it, touch it, step in it.  It doesn’t matter if the puppy touches the box by accident; we still click it. 

 The object of the game is not to get the puppy to do anything in particular but to teach the puppy to be creative.  We want to instill in the puppy the core concept that they can offer a behavior – any behavior – and get rewarded for it. 

 The puppy’s realization that he can offer a behavior and get a response from the human is a profound moment of understanding.  It’s the beginning of a dialog and partnership that will last a lifetime. 

 The scientific term for a dog that understands this concept is operant.  It can teach the puppy impulse control or at least give it the roots of what they need to learn impulse control.

 Click everything, even accidental touches at first.   

 It doesn’t matter at all what the puppy’s offering – we are instilling a concept, not a behavior.

 Don’t try to shape anything specific.  Literally, if the only thing the puppy will do is walk away from the box, click it.

 If you want to learn more about shaping and advanced box game behavior, see Jane’s book, When Pigs FlyTraining Success with Impossible Dogs.


When I do this with a litter, I present them with an open cardboard box or two.  At first I click when they look at the box, then click when they put their head in, then click as they put feet in, each time tossing the treat in the box.  My goal is to see if I could get anyone to decide to get entirely into the box and stay there.

Tomorrow my friend Ginny is coming to play with the pups and help trim toenails.  She’s coming about 4:30, so that will be their normal in-the-house playtime.  I’ll introduce it then and get photos of that as well as the full-pool searches.

 As expected, the pups were not pleased and let me know it.  Their complaints were cut short when another deluge started and they headed for shelter. It rained for hours, so I didn’t put Mercy in with them before bedtime as usual – no use all of us getting wet.

50 Days (8/5)  Mr. Yellow’s ear is back up!  Mr. Blue’s ears are up, and Miss White’s are nearly up.

It rained most of the night and we woke to a deliciously cool – but very damp – morning.  Before I fixed the pups’ breakfast, I checked the puppy house to see if they had eaten their supper.  Nope.  I took out a bowl with 3 cups of just the dry puppy kibble.  At least it wasn’t raining at the moment, and I was able to put it just inside the gate to the puppy yard as I usually do at breakfast.  They ate the lot! 

I put Mercy in with them and hurried to clean the puppy house.  She kept all but Miss Gold busy nursing.  Just as I finished picking up the soiled newspapers, Miss Gold came bouncing into the puppy house, said hello, tucked/curled her tail and had a case of the zoomies.  I was laughing so hard at her zooming around that small area that I didn’t even try to put clean papers down until she suddenly stopped, dropped next to the kibble bowl that stays in the puppy house and began eating with one eye on me.  SO cute!  I petted her and then, finally started putting down papers to soak up all the water that very wet puppy had thrown all over in her antics.  The pups had obviously been playing merrily before we came out.

Just as I finished, the boys came in to visit.  I said hello to them and, when they started eating, left the puppy house, picked up the empty breakfast bowl and let the impatiently-waiting Mercy out of the puppy yard.

The heavens opened in a downpour about 8 a.m.  It’s supposed to rain quite heavily today, so I broke down and put two fleece pads down in the puppy to be sure the pups stayed dry and warm. They came in and were thankfully, nice and dry – they must have finished playing and were already resting in the transition area before the rain started.  They sure settled on those fleeces, though.  I closed the window in case the wind come up. The shed has an overhang to protect it, but a lot of wind might blow the rain inside in spite of it.

It rained most of the day.  When I took out lunch (4 cups dry puppy kibble), I noticed the puppy-house bowl was empty, so I refilled it.  It, too, holds about 4 cups.

Thankfully we had a break around 5, which is when I usually bring the pups in for their playtime.  AND they were dry!  One can’t ask for more. 

I emptied the rest of the bottles from the second tub into the pool, and they nearly filled it.  The pups had a ball.  Miss Pink in particular kept going back to push bottles around in search of more treats.  Most of the others did occasionally, but it seemed like al she did was come cuddle with me, go search, come cuddle, go search.  Oh, and play keep away with the marrow bones the big dogs got this morning since we could neither play ball nor go train due to the deluge.  I get the marrow (leg) bones cut 3”-4” long and give them to the dogs still frozen so they offer entertainment for a long time.  By the time the pups got to them, most were empty of marrow but they still smelled and tasted delicious and the pups had a great time with them. I had to laugh because they seemed to focus on one or two bones and tried to possess them – with great chase battles and tug attempts accompanied by growls, leaving other bones that looked the same lying unnoticed.  They hardly played with any of the toys I had put down.

When the 30-minute timer went off, the pups jumped up and headed towards the table, hardly waiting for me to pull out the chair and sit down before they were offering sits.  They all did really well at sitting and giving me eye contact and, when I click, are looking up for the treats rather than on the floor.  We manded for quite a while before I let Mercy out and all of us headed outdoors.  I had planned to put them in the back yard so I could do poop detail in the puppy yard, but it began sprinkling.  I put them in the puppy yard and quickly changed newspapers in the puppy house, taking Mercy out just as the rain began again.

I checked at bedtime and they still had kibble in both the puppy-bowl and the bowl in the puppy house, so I left them.  The pups were nice and dry.

49 Days (8/4)  The ZZs are 7 weeks old today!  They hadn’t eaten their meat/kibble mix supper, so I saved it for Mercy’s lunch and supper.  They had eaten all of the dry kibble in the bowl that stays in the puppy house, so I refilled it when I cleaned the puppy house.

Since Big Horn Rehab is shut down to visitors due to covid, I didn’t have anything on my schedule, so I took my time with ball sessions and brushed dogs after their playtime

The entire litter hung out close to where I sat on the other side of the fence, throwing the ball.  They must have played really hard before I came out to do ball sessions, because all stretched out and slept, only opening eyes as I left and then returned with the next dog.  They didn’t move until about noon, when it was time for lunch.  That time, when I headed back with the big dog, they followed and waited at the gate for me to bring lunch and put it in the puppy house.  Puppy time-clocks work pretty darned well.

When it was Mercy’s turn to play ball, let the puppies out with her. First I closed the gates to the backyard and to the front of the house and put the barrier on the doggie door into the house (which several complained about when they climbed the steps to the landing rather than following me).  Then, with the puppy drag tied around my waist, I led the way to the ball area.  The pups were too busy pursuing Mercy to nurse so I was able to walk normally to where my chair was.  Mercy took pity on them and stood quietly for a few minutes before disengaging the hungry mouths and bringing her ball to me.  At that point the mob diverged.  Miss Pink, Miss White and Mr. Blue stayed with me and played with the puppy drag, solicited petting or explored that area after they chased after Mercy when I threw her ball.  I was on my feet, moving around, most of the time as she refused to bring it back to my chair as usual because of the puppies.  She would drop the ball 10-15’ away, so I would pull the puppy drag, usually with at least one pup on it, to the ball.  They figured out that riding on the sack was great fun!  

The others took off in different directions.  Some headed towards the front as if they thought we were going to the car and, when they encountered the closed gate, started exploring.  Miss Gold, however, headed back to the puppy yard gate.  I had left the bottom gate latched and just closed – but not fastened – the top part.  She managed to push open the top part of the gate and climb back onto the puppy yard.  I didn’t realize that she had until I heard a little peep and looked behind me to see her on the other side of the fence, wanting back with us.  Ah, well, she was out of luck as I was too busy to go all the way back towards the house to the puppy yard gate.

The rest of the pups eventually noticed the ball-throwing and joined us, so when Mercy’s ball time was up, I drug several at a time back to the puppy yard gate. At least heavy-weight Miss Gold wasn’t one on the drag!

Mercy is shedding her undercoat like crazy, so I drug the pups first to the grooming table under the trees and brushed her.  As soon as the drag quit moving, they got off and started playing, though they quickly began tugging and/or riding as soon as I headed towards the puppy yard.  I eventually got them back to the yard.  I checked to see how much lunch they had eaten, and the answer was hardly any, so I lifted them into the puppy house and made sure they saw lunch.  They turned up their noses at it and headed to the dry-kibble bowl, crowding to get to it.  I’m getting the feeling that for some reason this litter doesn’t like the raw meat diet.  I will try once again, at supper time, to give them their normal meat/kibble mix, to confirm my suspicion.  Meanwhile, I picked up their lunch and refrigerated it.

Before I brought the pups in tonight for playtime, I put down the pool and added even more bottles to cover the salmon treats.  I also put the sack of treats on top of the back of the couch since last night they almost climbed onto the bench to get it. 

I went out to the shed for the second tub of bottles and had pups yelling impatiently to be let out.  Getting them inside now goes pretty smoothly.  Only a couple – Miss Pink and either Mr. Yellow or Miss Gold, will pop back out the doggie door but it’s more looking for me than trying to get to the ground. They will come back in on their own as soon as I get through the door.

The extra bottles didn’t slow down the treat-searchers at all. I also put in the pool a few big cans from the salmon I use for the treats, washed of course.  Miss Pink grabbed one, jumped out of the pool and bore it off proudly – held high, pursued by a couple of others. 

The pups seem to enjoy searching around the bottles.  They kept going back to the pool, so several times I tossed in more treats. 

I was impressed when Mr. Blue and Miss Gold located the treat bag high on the back of the couch.

When the 30-minute timer went off, I gathered the toys, pulled out the chair and sat down. They now know that drill, too, and came running for their manding session.  Mr. Blue has that down pat.  He immediately came, sat and looked at me.  What was really cool was that he continued sitting even though he was jostled by the other pups, maintaining eye contact despite them.  He got lots of treats and praise!  The others will sit and then move, but he was like a rock.  All are now looking for the treat from my hand, though they still check the ground in case someone drops crumbs.

I stand up to signal the finish of the manding session.  Then I head to the bedroom to let Mercy out.  They are learning that drill, too, and I had company as I walked.  Mercy had trouble getting out of her crate because of the welcome they offered.  With difficulty, we got moving and eventually through the bedroom and living room, and down the hallway.  I had planned to put the family in the backyard while mercy let them nurse, and to pick up poop in the puppy yard (in peace), but to my surprise it was raining.  There had been no thunder or lightening for a change, and it was just a light rain, but everything was wet enough I decided poop detail could wait until morning.

Since they haven’t been eating their early supper, and are getting lots of treats, I am only feeding one supper now.  At bedtime I took out a fresh meat/kibble mix and put the bowl in the puppy house, calling them.  They came in, gave a sniff and headed to the dry-kibble bowl.  For some reason this bunch seems to prefer dry kibble, so if they don’t eat this supper overnight, I will no longer offer the raw meat diet.  I usually have trouble weaning them off the meat in order to get them ready to go; this is a first in 45 years of breeding.  At over $6 per pound for the raw meat diet, I won’t complain about feeding just the not-quite-$2 per pound kibble.

I finished down-sizing the rest of the 30-day photos and got them on the website.  I got some fantastic ones of Bonnie trimming their toenails.  See the outside visit, inside visit  and nail-trimming photos from that day.

48 Days (8/3)  One of Mr. Yellow’s ears had folded down.  They are obviously growing larger and must have become too heavy to hold up, hopefully only temporarily.  I had to laugh – everyone else is getting ears UP and he has to drop one down.

While I did ball sessions this morning, all the pups hung out on the other side of the fence form where I was sitting.  The big dogs got a little irritated when I had to withdraw my fingers from petting pups in order to throw their ball.  C’mon, Mom!  Aren’t we the important ones here?

Big adventure this afternoon:  Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library.  When we arrived, the children’s librarian told me that she hadn’t had much time to advertise our visit. That was obvious, because instead of a packed room with 30 or so kinds, we had maybe a dozen.  We still had lots of fun, and I was much less stressed trying take photos AND watch that no pups got stepped on or picked up by kids, and that the pups got to play with their toys.  All of them played tug, either as a group or individually with people. The pups had to compete with the kids for their balls – today the boys were really interested in chasing those.  The kids LOVE the puppy toys!  Everyone, pups and people, had a great time.  Some families stayed the entire time, while others came and went.  I finally called it a day after about 45 minutes as the pups were absolutely dead between the hot room and the crush of excited humanity. 

See the Children’s Library photos

I didn’t bring the pups in for a playtime tonight.  They were NOT pleased.

Big thunderstorm and rain for a couple of hours tonight, so I didn’t put Mercy in with them just before bedtime. I figured they were curled up keeping dry, and of course they had food in the puppy house.

Instead, I finished downsizing the Westview photos, 45-day photos of the pups searching the kiddie pool and a bunch more 43-day photos of them playing and searching in the soft collapsible pool and got them up on the website.

47 Days (8/2)  They hardly touched breakfast this morning so I picked it up.  Putting the pups and Mercy in the backyard while I clean the puppy house works fantastic!  I got that done quickly, then joined them in the back yard to watch for pooping.  No luck, darn it. 

The little monsters had not only peed on their flannel pad in the puppy house, they had pooped as well That’s it. I’ve been trying to teach them not to potty on their bed but they refuse to learn; every morning when I lift the fleece pad there’s a damp spot on the newspapers under it.  They have just lost the privilege of a bed. I put down newspapers in the entire house.

I had a dental appointment (just a cleaning) at 10:30 and dropped off the fecal samples on my way there.  Sure enough, the vet tech called as I left the dentist and said both pups had coccidia.  She commented that those were the most atypical stool samples to test for coccidia she had ever seen.  I agreed, loose stools is usually the first hint that the pups have coccidia, but all stools have been perfectly normal.  The only thing making me suspicious was the drop in appetite.

My friend Linda was coming at 1 to hold pups so I could trim toenails in preparation for Puppy Playtime tomorrow at the Children’s Library.  I had her help me weigh the pups so the vets could prepare their doses of Ponazuril.  The pups are just about too large to weigh on my scale, so I needed Linda to catch the weight when it registered while I tried to keep the pup still.  The weights probably aren’t extremely accurate – we’ll get accurate weights Monday when they have their health check – but at least we can get them wormed.

Miss Gold is a whopping 18.8#, which blew me away until I remembered they will be 7 weeks old on Friday.  They usually average 10# growth per month, so she’s not unreasonably large, though I bet she’s over 20# before she leaves here.  Next was Mr. Yellow at 16.6#.  The others’ weights were more usual:  Mr. Blue was 14.5#; Miss Green & Mr. Red were 14.1#; Miss White was 13.5# and Miss Pink was 14.0#.

I ran to the vets and picked up the Ponazuril just before I brought the pups in for their evening playtime.  I had to laugh when the tech made sure I noticed the bag with doses for Miss Gold and Mr. Yellow and explained they got a larger dose than the others, whose pre-measured syringefuls of Ponazuril were in a separate bag.  I gave them the first dose first thing when I brought them into the house.  They will get the second one tomorrow night.  That should finish off the coccidia.

Before I brought the pups in, I set up the living room with toys and the pool.  This time, though, the pool contained some plastic bottles to make them work harder for the treats.

I got the pups into the house more smoothly than usual – closing gates and blocking both sides of the ramp entrance work like a charm.  I only had a couple hang up just inside the doggie door, while the others thundered down the hallway.  I wasn’t in time to see the first couple leap into the pool, but I got to see the rest. Those bottles didn’t faze them at all, so the next two times I added treats, I also added bottles.  They seemed to enjoy the bottles because they made a game of leaping into the pool, darting through bottles and jumping out, all at high speed.  They had me laughing.        

I gave them 30 minutes to play, then did a manding session. They are all getting the idea to look for treats in my hand.  I got nice eye contact from all but Mr. Yellow, who was too busy playing.  He did come to the clicker a couple of times but was still mostly looking on the ground for treats – and of course the others leave crumbs as they jostle each other and inexpertly take food from my hand.  Mr. Red and Mr. Blue again gave very nice sits and waited for their treats, very consistent.  Miss White was trying to sit but usually couldn’t contain her excitement.

When we finished, I picked up the toys and let Mercy out so she could lead them outside.  I got the family into the back yard and snuck around to clean the puppy house.  By that time the pups were ready to go into their yard, mostly to get drinks.  Tomorrow I’ll put down a water bowl for them in the puppy yard so they can drink right after all the treats.

46 Days (8/1)  HOT night!  It was 65 degrees when I got up at 5 a.m.  Ugh!  That could be why they left most of their supper overnight.  Strangely, though, when I cleaned the puppy house, I saw that they had eaten all of the dry kibble from the bowl in there. Strange.

I again tried to get poop samples while Mercy was in the yard with the pups after they ate (only a little) of their breakfast.  After she lets them nurse, she grabs a Jolly ball and wants it thrown.  I have several Jolly balls of varying sizes in the yard.  When Mercy would let one drop, the pups would race to it and try to get it in their mouths.  Some of the balls still have handles, while others’ have been chewed off.  One has a small rope tied to the handle to make it easier for puppy mouths.  It was fun watching the pups try to pick up the balls and carry them around.  I would sometimes pick up one different from the one she had dropped, to give the pups a chance to “kill” it or carry it off triumphantly, pursued by other pups.  Mercy didn’t care what I threw as long as I threw it. 

When the pups tired, they returned to my pant legs and ankles.  Ouch!  Poop samples or not, I must get out the puppy drag.  Naturally, no one cooperated by pooping.

When I went out with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha, I carried the puppy drag to the back.  I was glad I had, because Miss Gold greeted me at the gate.  Today not only did she attack my pant legs, she went for my shoelaces as well.  I put on the puppy drag as soon as I stepped into the puppy yard, but it took some time to divert her to the gunnysacks.  By that time, the others noticed something new and came flying in from the back.  It took a little while to convince Mr. Yellow to attack the sack instead of me.  The others soon figured out it was fun to get on and grab the sacks and be drug around the yard.  Poop detail took forever.  The day is already hot (81) and muggy with moisture from a couple of thunderstorms that moved through during the night. We’re forecast to get to 94 degrees (Yuck!) and I was sweating when I finished.  I think tomorrow I will put the puppies in the back yard while I clean their yard. 

(I have no idea why the rest of today’s entry is in bold.  It’s not in my document, and the website refuses to let me unbold it.) 

Before I let the puppies out of their yard for playtime tonight, I first closed the gates to the backyard and the ball yard, creating just a small space below the deck and ramp.  I also blocked off both side of the ramp to end the confusion about the entrance.  It worked like a charm.  I lifted the pups out of their yard into the small space and started to walk them around to potty.  Mr. Blue immediately headed up the steps and three others headed towards the ramp.  I hurriedly followed and, lo and behold!, all the other pups found the entrance and headed up, even our “wanderers!”  Several got through the doggie door into the house on their own; I only had to hep three who got stuck trying to enter at the same time.  they raced down the hallway and headed to the pool, the ones who had encountered it yesterday leaping right in, and the “new” ones quickly following.  I had positioned it closer to where I sit on the floor, so I could lob more treats into it as needed, which I did whenever the “new” ones looked into it. 

I had the Ziplock bag of treats on the bench next to where I was sitting and enjoyed several pups going into search mode as they got a whiff of the treats.  Mr. Yellow and Mr. Blue did a good search job, but the best ones were Miss White and Miss gold, who zeroed in on the bag’s location and tried to climb onto the bench to get to it.  Miss Gold was particularly insistent.

Meanwhile, everyone else was playing madly.  They definitely like the SPOT Bungee Skinneeez | Stuffingless Plush Animal Toys for Dogs (raccoons and foxes) for two- and three-way tug battles (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008RQ6PHG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

and https://www.amazon.com/Ethical-Pet-Skinneeez-Stuffingless-squeaking/dp/B0018CIDTE/ref=pd_bxgy_sccl_1/136-7689904-3245058?pd_rd_w=jQaLC&content-id=amzn1.sym.26a5c67f-1a30-486b-bb90-b523ad38d5a0&pf_rd_p=26a5c67f-1a30-486b-bb90-b523ad38d5a0&pf_rd_r=JMT8T93ZVAHYN78ZFP7P&pd_rd_wg=lySwf&pd_rd_r=771bff4f-36e2-446c-940f-46bec7d5902c&pd_rd_i=B0018CIDTE&th=1).  Since the ones I have are losing their squeaks, I ordered more when I looked up the links for this diary.

 After they played and tired themselves out, I pulled out my chair, got a clicker and sat in the chair for a manding lesson.  Several (Mr. Red, Mr. Blue, Miss Pink and Miss White particularly) remembered Sunday’s lesson and lifted their heads at the first click, making their way toward me.  Miss Gold responded to the click but was looking on the floor.  The others were wrestling and slow to notice the new activity, but soon came to participate.  I was really pleased with Mr. Red and Mr. Blue because they began sitting and looking at me, looking for their treat.  YES!  By the end of the session the others were starting to look at me when I clicked and getting better at taking treats from my hand.

I then picked up the toys, let Mercy out, and we had the usual mob scene chasing her down the hallway, out the doggie door and to the ground.  I followed and convinced Mercy to go into the back yard so I could close the puppies in there and clean the puppy house. After they nursed, I played ball with Mercy while watching to see if anyone pooped.  Miss Gold did.  Hurrah.  I would prefer one more sample, but whether I get another tomorrow morning or not, I’ll at least have two to drop off at the vets.

I quickly headed to the puppy house and changed newspapers in peace.  SO pleasant.  Then I corralled puppies and lifted them into the puppy yard.  I had been late doing the puppies’ play session due to donating blood and then racing to Pascha’s puppy kindergarten class, so I didn’t give them two suppers.  Between the big-pool search lessons and the manding, they had had a lot of salmon treats, so they wouldn’t be very hungry anyway.  Rather, I waited about an hour and fixed a huge supper and put it in the puppy house.  They could eat when they were hungry.  The day was very slow cooling off from our 94-degree high, so they played for a while where I had asset a sprinkler going to cool off part of their yard.  Time enough, anyway, to wait till it got dark and cool, to head to the puppy house.


45 Days (7/31)   Miss Pink has one ear up.  She, Mr. Red, Mr. Yellow, Miss Green & Mr. Blue greeted me this morning from the roof of the lounge area when I took out their breakfast.  And roared down the ramp like professionals.

They cleaned up their late supper overnight. For breakfast I gave them 3 cups of kibble plus ½# meat. 

I put their food bowl down on the ground and tried to sneak into the puppy house to clean it before they finished.  Not!  They made me suffer for no house playtime last night.  I hadn’t even picked up the souled newspapers when they came flying through the doggie door.  First was Miss Pink, who immediately took hold of my ankle, then the rest came in and started tugging on my pant legs and the clean papers as I tried to put them down.  Miss Gold was really into the pant-leg tug!  And got my ankle a couple of times, too.  I have a feeling, when I donate blood tomorrow, they’re going to question the wounds and bruises on my arms.  Puppy teeth slice my thin skin very fast. Sigh.  Oh, well, this too shall pass.

I had to laugh when a couple of them started munching on the dry kibble.  They obviously hadn’t eaten much of their breakfast outside.

As I put down the clean papers, I tried to pet each pup in greeting, but it was a maelstrom of activity in there.  It took forever to finish cleaning the puppy house.  I laughed at them when I brought the filled milk jug from the faucet and started pouring it into the bowl.  They have been watching that each morning from a distance, but today they came quite close and thought about attacking the stream of water.  Not yet, but soon.

Sure enough, when I got out, I saw they had hardly eaten any breakfast, so I put the bowl in the puppy house and they fell ravenously on it. 

Although the day was warming up fast, I decided to try ball sessions for the big dogs, who have been telling me that they are neglected since, due to the high temperatures, I haven’t been doing their daily (and much beloved) playtimes.  First I do a poop-collecting session with Hesed, Varoom! and Pascha.  Hesed & Varoom! like to carry around their balls and drop them at my feet for me to kick, while Pascha (16 weeks old, from the YY litter) likes to chase those two as they retrieve.  Then I do 10- minute ball throwing sessions for the others, beginning with Hopeful.

 While I was throwing the ball for Hopeful, I heard noise and looked behind me to see Miss Green out by herself. She had been playing and noticed me sitting in my chair on the other side of the fence.  I petted her through the fence in between throwing Hopeful’s ball.  When I came out next, with Lovley, Justice and Pascha, Miss Green was still there and had been joined by Mr. Blue.  They were having a great time wrestling but quit frequently to come visit through the fence.  They were still there, playing, when I came out with Spirit.  After that, they must have crashed for a nap because I didn’t see them anymore.

Now, when I take lunch 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.  All but Miss Green will come running at my call, but she consistently stops where the kiddie pool is, about halfway to the puppy house.  Today I quit going to get her.  I decided she knows the routine, I’ve carried her to her meals a lot of times, from now on she can eat or not eat as she wishes.  This seems to be a habit with her.  Sometimes I’ll have a pup who just doesn’t like mobs or competing for anything, and will do similar things to avoid any group activity.  I have finally quit worrying that there’s a problem, as they usually shine on the temperament tests, when they are tested individually.

Amazingly, when I went out to take them to the car, she was in the transition area with the rest.  It was Miss White whom I had to go to the back to find.  I lifted the six out of the yard, captured Miss White (it was too hot for this!) and then began leading them around the house to the car, closing the back-yard gate behind us to keep them from turning back, which they typically will do on the first trip into unfamiliar territory. 

I only got three through the next gate, the other four heading everywhere else except through the opening.  I closed the gate to keep the three cooperators with me, and headed to the car.  Without too much difficulty I got them loaded.  I could hear the others yelling.

I headed back and opened the second gate and eventually convinced three to come through it, again closing the gate and getting those pups into the car.  That left only Miss White, who was at the gate into the back yard, yelling like crazy.  I had to go all the way around and pick her up because she wasn’t going to come, thank you very much. With her loaded, I took a deep breath to cool off and went back to open the gates, grab a Diet Pepsi and let some of the big dogs out to play while I was gone.  Naturally, we were running late after all the corralling.

This was the pups’ first car ride and visit away from home at Westview Healthcare Center.  My friends Claudia and Tessa met me at Westview to help with the puppy visit.  Activity director Yvette and two staff members met us as we pulled in. I had asked for extra help taking them inside and out because it was 90 degrees and I didn’t want the pups walking on the hot pavement.  We let the puppies walk around on the grass for a bit to potty before we carried them inside.

I had managed to find a different-shade of green collar since it’s hard to edit photos and tell which pup is Mr. Blue and which is Miss Green with those collars showing so close in color.  I wasn’t able to find a small enough white collar for Miss White, but I did find a pinstriped bleu/white collar that will work until she grows a little more.  Hopefully today’s photos will edit faster since I won’t be going through a series of photos to find a collar showing on a particular pup and thus identify it.

As usual, I took a bunch of toys they had never seen, some that made noise and some that didn’t.  One of the toys I took is the bumble ball.  It is a bright yellow, battery-operated ball with multi-colored knobs, and it usually vibrates, bounces, shakes and rolls erratically with quite a bit of force.  Today, however, it merely vibrated.  I’ll have to see if I can find a way to change the battery.  At least it still caught Miss Green’s and Mr. Red’s attention. Mr. Red did not like it when it bounced towards him!

Despite the heat and having yelled the entire trip, the pups played and played and played.  When they tired enough hold relatively still, my helpers and Yvette, the Activity Director, carried them around to sit in people’s laps while I, as usual, took pictures.  Some of the pups played a little then crashed for a nap pretty quickly – even Miss Pink – while Mr. Red played and played.

Several 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. 

See all the Westview photos


The pups again yelled all the way home, pretty normal for the first car ride, thought I always hate it in the heat.  When we got home, I let Mercy out and she helped lead the pups around the house to the puppy yard.  As I was corralling them and lifting them over the bottom gate, I lost Mr. Red.  When I found him, I was VERY pleased, because he was pooping.  Hurriedly I ran into the house and grabbed a Ziplock baggie to collect some of it.  I’ve been trying to get some stool samples to check for coccidia, previously with no luck.  I haven’t yet seen any loose stools, the first warning they’ve picked up the parasite, but they’ve been outside more than a week and that’s when I usually start noticing symptoms.  We worm them with Ponazuril as soon as we get a positive fecal, so by the time they leave they are free of it.

I had grabbed some additional Ziplock baggies so I stepped into the puppy yard and wandered around, trying to get the pups to move enough that someone else would poop.  A lot of times, if one needs to poop, others do, too.  No luck; all they did was attack my pant legs (and ankles).  Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold are the most insistent tuggers.

I had an awful time walking because they were pulling as hard as they could.  I continually, relatively gently removed their teeth. I don’t want to really get on them until after we do the temperament tests, since tugging is a thing evaluated – and looked for – in both tests.  I may have to get out the puppy drag in order to keep my ankles, though I hate to until I get poop samples.  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. (Photos are from the litter that Quinta, their great-great-grandmother was in.)

Since it was hot and muggy when we got home from Westview, when I gave up on poop samples I sprinkled the shady area in the puppy yard and just south of the fence, so the cooler air would drift towards the puppy house.

I gave them their early supper (in the puppy house) at 5.

So that they were rested, I waited until a later than usual to bring the pups in for their playtime.  I had also waited to see if Callan was going to come play with them before he headed home to Gillette.  He didn’t, so about 7 p.m. I set up the kiddie pool (instead of the collapsible pool), put treats in it, and put down some new toys.

I headed out to get puppies, and they were impatiently waiting for me at the gate – even Miss Green. I walked them around a bit to be sure they pottied.  They’re getting the idea.  In fact, I was VERY pleased that no one peed during the Westview visit, which is highly unusual when they play and visit for nearly an hour.  

After that, things fell apart.  Several started up the ramp but turned back and raced down to the ground.  Miss Pink and Miss White headed to the doggie door, so I boosted them in.  As I turned around, Mr. Red was just climbing up the steps, so I helped him through. I went back to ground level to try to lead more pups inside, but they all took off, so I decided they could find their way inside – or not.  They know by now that toys and delicious treats await them.

By the time I got inside, the three pups were already in the pool, munching away. When they cleaned up the treats, they climbed out and started grabbing toys.  I took a few photos of them with the pool search.  After a while, Mr. Blue wandered in.  He headed to the pool but didn’t try to get inside.  Instead, his head went up and he was actively air scenting.  I watched him as he zeroed in on the bag of treats, which I had left open, sitting on the table. “Good boy!,” I told him, and got up to crumble more treats into the pool.  He, and the others, immediately climbed into the pool.  Changing to a higher and hard-sided pool was no problem at all!

See the rest of the kiddie-pool search photos


None of the others ever came inside tonight, though Miss Green & Mr. Yellow have come in on their own before.  I didn’t bother with a manding lesson.  When the four pups crashed (pretty quickly), I gathered the toys and let Mercy out of her crate.  She led them outside and I got all into the puppy yard with her, then headed back to grab my Ziplock baggies, hoping for another poop sample or two.  No luck. 

I left Mercy in with them for about 10 minutes.  They finish nursing in a very short time, but she needs to stay in with them longer.  Contact with mom is now mainly so she can teach them dog manners, how to read another dog’s body language and show RESPECT.

They hadn’t eaten much of their early supper, so there was plenty for their late supper at bedtime.

44 Days (7/30)   Miss Green and Mr. Yellow greeted me this morning from the roof of the lunge area.

Miss Gold’s ears are up, curving to touch each other at tips, the classic GSD puppy look.  Mr. Blue’s ears are both nearly up, just tipped forward at the top.

The pups cleaned up their breakfast (3 cups kibble + ½# meat), offered earlier than usual. I was going training, so I was trying to get through all the rotations and breakfasts so we could go and get done before it got too hot supposed to be back up in the 90s today.  I then put Mercy in with them for a while. She was tickled to go directly from the puppy yard to the car!

The day heated up fast, so I closed the puppy house window early – about 11 – so the fan would just circulate the relatively cool air still in the house and not draw in the hot air form outside.  I also fed them lunch early, about 11:30, so they would eat before they got too hot.

I got out the wading pool to use for the treat searching and (naturally) it was a little dirty from storage in the shed, so I washed it off – in the rain even.  We had several little storms move through with lots of noise and a little rain from each.  Not enough to cool the day off; they just added mugginess to the heat.

Another reason I fed the pups lunch early was that I was hoping a friend would get to town in time to come play with them.  I had planned to feed them early supper before I left for Mass, so they’d be ready to play after I got home.  However, I waited in vain for word from Callan, so he must not have gotten to town early enough to come.  Then I was just bushed, so I didn’t bring the pups in.  It would have put me to bed after 11 since I had to rotate dogs out after I finished with the pups.  They were NOT happy.  I told them it was Sunday, a day of rest, but they were not impressed.

Callan is judging the 4H dog fair tomorrow, so maybe he’ll make it after he’s done.  I told him he couldn’t come before 4;30 because the pups have their first big adventure at 2 tomorrow – first card ride and nursing home visit.  They’ll have to come home and rest before they have visitors; besides, I have a chiropractic appointment at 4.

I managed to downsize the photos from yesterday that I had edited late last night, and got them on the website.  Everyone could see the cute puppy ears.

Since they had no treat searches tonight, I gave them 2 cups of kibble with 3/8# raw meat diet for both early supper and when I put them to bed.  They finished their early supper – which was late because I fed them after I got home at 6.  Since Mercy is no longer spending the night with them, I can just put the late supper in the puppy house and not worry whether they eat it then or later.

43 Days (7/29)  When I went out with the pups’ breakfast, Mr. Yellow proudly greeted me – on top of the roof of the lounge area!  Then he easily maneuvered to hit the entrance to the ramp – sometimes a little tricky as they have to turn sideways to get on it – and raced down to greet me at the gate.  What a boy!

All the pups were quite happy, not at all worried from their first night without mom.

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!

For lunch, I offered the same, but they didn’t quite eat everything that time.

I had the second noise CD playing loudly, along with toys and treats on the floor, and more treats in the collapsible pool.  I think it was Mr. Blue & Mr. Red who raced to the pool as soon as I helped them in through the doggie door.  I was busy corralling a couple of wanderers so didn’t see if anyone else had already jumped in and then out of the pool.  I managed to get all 7 inside at the same time.  Whew!

Boy, were they running around tonight.  Most of the tug battles involved someone nabbing a toy as another ran with it. The pups played for nearly an hour before stretching out on the cool floor to nap.  They are beginning to have nice three-way tug wars.  Miss Gold, Miss White and Miss Green continue to bring toys to me.  Miss Pink almost did, then veered off at the last minute.  Mr. Blue brought me one tonight.

Bonnie had asked for photos showing how the pups’ ears are coming up, so with great difficulty I got some.  It’s hard with no one there to divert them from the camera strap (which they think is a tug toy) and keep toys moving so they engage with them rather than keep coming to me.  I think Mr. Yellow is going to be a camera ham.  Amazing how many photos he’s in, some of which sure look like poses.  He’s going to have a really short coat; notice how the others have much fuzzier puppy coats.

I tried to get photos of them going in and out of the pool, which is quite hilarious, but most of the time all I could see were butts outside with heads inside the pool munching. It was impossible to get up and take photos from above because those who weren’t eating were mobbing me.  I did get a couple of photos of one jumping out.

See more of today’s photos


They are doing so well that tomorrow I will substitute a kiddie pool for the collapsible one.

They paid absolutely no attention to the new loud noise CD, other than a look up when the type of noise changed. No more nervous reactions.  Good pups!

When they tired, I started their clicker training.  I sat in a chair and began clicking and treating any pups who was close – teaching them that the clicker noise means a treat is coming. Of course, first they have to learn that the treat goes from my hand into their mouth rather than searching the floor.  That took a little while with this bunch as they are really into the searching.  Eventually the females began coming to my hand when I clicked.  Mr. Blue and Mr. Yellow wandered in and away, not as interested.  Mr. Red slept through the entire lesson.  I tried to wake him but he was OUT for the count.

The ideal is for a pup to sit and give me eye contact, at which time I give it a treat.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  This is a huge step in their learning process, taking treats from a person’s hand.  After a bit, I said, “That’s all,” which is my notice to the dogs that we’re done with an exercise, and got up. 

This was the beginning of his manding training.  Manding was a practice new to me until Jane Killion’s Puppy Culture DVD series, but I immediately saw its value and have incorporated it into my puppy-raising routine.  I show it to the new owners when they take their pups because it’s a great way to begin their bonding with the pups.  If they can notice – and affirm – their pup’s nice efforts to communicate with them, the pup will soon quit jumping on people, which is the most irritating habit dogs have.  Here are my notes from Jane’s explanation of manding in her DVDs.

Manding – one of the most important skills for any social creature.

  • By default, puppies will mand by jumping up and pawing at us. This is one of the chief behaviors that dog owners complain about. 
  • So we teach the puppies the core concept that if they want something, they can sit to ask for it instead of jumping up.
  • Jumping up is appropriate puppy behavior with adult dogs – please play with me, feed me, etc. Our task is to change the cue to human presence to mean sit instead of jump up.
  • We do this by presenting a cue – in this case a human – and then clicking and treating the puppy for sitting. Jumping is the program that the puppy came with.  You’re just substituting the sit behavior for the default behavior.  The profound part of it is that you’re teaching your dog to talk to you. 
  • At first, we click the puppy even if he just backs off from jumping on us. Once he seems to understand that, we ask for more.  We wait until the puppy is actually sitting before we click. 
  • We’re not training the puppy to sit on command; we’re training the puppy to sit automatically with humans in front of him. Therefore, we will not be adding a verbal cue to sit or off.  The presence of the human IS the cue for the puppy to sit.
  • The pup will at first offer the automatic response of climbing up, but quickly learns that the sit is what elicits the praise.
  • The need to be heard is a deep emotional need for all social animals. Your job is to give the puppy a voice to communicate with you.  We’re taking his most primal need and saying to him “You have a voice.  I’m going to listen to you but I’m going to show you how to speak to me.”  He learns that he matters and is heard – and that will form his whole life.  If you just correct him, you deprive him of his voice and that is incredibly damaging psychologically.

After the manding lesson, I picked up the toys and let Mercy out to lead them outside, which they did at a gallop.  She is definitely avoiding those sharp teeth.  Once on the ground, she led them a merry chase, circling the back yard, until they wore out, then stood to let them nurse.  When she (not them) had had enough, she led them to the gate and stared at me as I finished changing newspapers in the puppy house.  Thankfully, I was almost done, so I hurriedly finished and then pt the pups in the puppy yard.  I swear she breathed a sigh of relief!

I waited about 30 minutes, while the pups ran around playing, before I took out their early supper.  When I checked a little while later, they had hardly eaten any, so I took it inside to stay cool.

I managed to edit a few of the photos before I crashed for the night.  I think I managed to get some of all the pups.

Just before bedtime, I put Mercy in with the pups for about 15 minutes, then carried out their supper.  By that time they were hungry and dove in.  Any they left would be there during the night or very early morning if they got hungry before I was up.

42 Days (7/28)  Six weeks old today.  WOW!  It doesn’t seem possible.

Mercy spent more time away from the pups today than usual. It’s obvious she’s beginning to wean them.

When I put in with them 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 the roof of the lounge area or on one of the high landings on the obstacle course where she can see activity at all the neighbors.  Now comes the important time when the mother dog teaches them dog manners and how to respect other dogs – VERY important.

I’m giving them a little more raw meat diet in their breakfast than the other meals, because I don’t know if Mercy is nursing them during the night:  ½# raw meat diet with 2 cups kibble.  For the other meals, I mix 2 cups kibble with 3/8# meat diet.  They continue to snack on the kibble in the puppy house in between meals.

I had a little trouble getting the pups into the house this afternoon.  All of them refused to come up the ramp, I think they just missed the entrance.  The ramp is fenced so they can’t fall off, so sometimes the go outside the ram and then wander around under the landing.  Five followed me up the ramp and headed to the doggie door, waiting for me to boost them in.  The problem was that Mr. Yellow and Miss Gold kept popping out of the house as I went down the steps to get the “lost” pups. After I got the others inside, finally, and the two wanderers again raced down the ramp to ground level, I just left them to figure out how to get inside, not guaranteeing them any treats would be left.

When the others got into the living room, they were met with a small collapsible pool that contained their salmon treats.  I had forgotten to take more out of the freezer to thaw, so I put on the floor some tiny pieces from a bag of dehydrated liver treats that I use for training.  The noise CD was also playing away loudly.

By the time I got into the living room, Mr. Blue and Miss White were in the pool, munching like crazy.  The other three stopped when they smelled the liver treats and were slow to investigate the pool.  After they had figured out how to climb in, I sprinkled the last of the salmon treats inside it and headed to the back door to find the other two. They were at the bottom of the steps trying to figure out how to climb up. I picked them up, carried them up the steps and pushed them through the doggie door. The little monsters promptly popped out, but I got inside quickly enough that they turned and came back in.  But in the process, Miss Green had popped out and raced down the ramp. I left her to figure it out. Fresh form the goodies and toys, she did figure out how to come in pretty quickly and thundered down the hall to join the rest of us.  What a relief!

Today they hardly reacted to any of the sounds, including the crying baby. Good puppies!  I have a different noise CD that I will start playing tomorrow.  I don’t think it has a baby on it, thank goodness.

To add to the sound effects, a thunderstorm moved in and, though the rain held off, made a lot of noise.  This is the first storm for these pups since they moved outside.  When I put the pups outside, a few sprinkles were coming down.  The gully washer waited about an hour, after I had taken out their supper.  By that time they were done playing in the coolness the storm had brought and were under cover.  They were nice and dry later when I put Mercy out with them.  

They hadn’t eaten all their early supper (understandable after all the treats).  They left enough that I saved it for their late supper.  Just before I went to bed, I put Mercy out with them for about 30 minutes.  Then I let her out and she (and her buddy, Justice) spent the night out.  That way, if she worried about the pups, it would be easy to put her in with them.  She, however, stretched out on my bed as soon as I turned off the light and never moved all night. She was in heaven!

41 Days (7/27)  Miss Gold’s ears are upright but tipped.  Mr. Blue’s are both coming up.

The kibble bowl was empty this morning, so I added more food.

We had a very welcome break in the heat today.  Clouds moved in this morning and cooled things off to about 76 for a couple of hours; after they moved out, the temperature stayed in the 80’s.  I never had to close the puppy house window because, by the time the temperature got to its highest, the puppy house was shaded.

The pups showed their relief by cleaning up breakfast, lunch and early supper (2 cups kibble + ½# meat diet).  That was even after eating a lot of the salmon treats during their search exercise in the house tonight. 

I was very pleased with the pups when I took them out of the puppy yard.  All seven followed me up the ramp onto the landing, and a couple tried to climb through the doggie door.  That side is very hard because there’s a 6” drop to the landing and a little step to break that into a manageable climb into the house.  AND, no one popped back out on the landing as I was trying to lift more pups into the house.  All in all, a very smooth operation. Putting them out was also easy:  I let Mercy out of her crate and she led them down the hallway.  They had a little scrum at the doggie door as several tried to go out at the same time, but I helped them.  When I got outside, Mercy led them down the ramp and they merrily followed her – no hesitation at all.  Good pups!

I had put down new toys and some crumbled treat, as well as turned on the noise CD, before I went outside to get the pups.  I only had to take a few steps down the hallway before they headed through the kitchen and into the living room and immediately went into searching mode.  When they cleaned the floor, they began playing with the toys. They were much livelier today, probably because they weren’t so drug down by the heat.

Soon, though, they noticed me sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, and began coming to me.  Yesterday Miss Gold had brought me a toy, which I thought was just an accident.  But today she did it again, so I do think she was offering it to me.  Miss White did the same thing!

They didn’t try to chew on me as badly as they did yesterday, so that I only had to give gentle squeezes of lips over gums to remind them.  Miss Gold, Miss White and Miss Green gave very sweet kisses.  Miss Pink visited some – without biting – but was more interested in the toys.

This is definitely a cuddler litter.  When they tired, two climbed into my lap (Miss Gold & Miss White), while two curled up against my legs (Mr. Red & Mr. Blue).

Today the noise CD got to some new, disturbing noises that the pups really reacted to – growling cats and dogs and, the one that drives ME crazy, a crying baby that goes on and on and on.  Those noises were, thankfully, interspersed with less disturbing noises (machinery, construction equipment, etc.).  When the disturbing noises came on and the pups leapt up and sat up from their cuddling, obviously worried, I casually threw some more treats out from where I sat.  That rewarded them for dealing with disturbing things rather than letting them bother them.

We cuddled longer than I had planned (the big dogs were upset at their supper being late), because I didn’t want to get up when the disturbing noises were playing. When the ordinary noises started playing, I got up, picked up the toys and let Mercy out of her crate.  She led the way out and I helped them navigate the doggie door.  This time she led them into the back yard and stood for a little bit to let them nurse, then went to the side puppy yard gate and told me to put them up.  She jumped in when I opened the top part of the gate and led them into the cool grass area, but quickly left them and jumped out of the front puppy yard gate, which I had left open when I lifted the pups out of the yard.  I had to laugh.

I again offered them supper just before bedtime.  They only ate about half of it, which thrilled Mercy when I put her in for her last night with the pups.  I had brought them into the house later than usual – at about 6 p.m., because I had two appointments in the afternoon which put me late getting home.  That meant only about 3 hours between the two suppers (and lots of salmon treats).

40 Days (7/26)   Mr. Yellow has both ears up this morning!  Miss Gold’s ears are about half up.

As usual, Mr. Yellow hurried to eat and join me in the puppy house as I changed newspapers and the fleece pad.  He is nearly always the first to come looking for me.  Thankfully, I finished the cleaning chore before the mob raced in.  All I had left was to go fill the milk jug with water and return to fill the inside water bowl.  They are fascinated by the stream of water but so far no one attacks it.  I visited with them for a little bit before I left.

Another warm night and quickly-heating-up day.  At least it’s not supposed to get quite as hot today, but it still keeps me checking pups frequently.  They cleaned up all their breakfast (2 cups kibble + ½# meat), but left some at lunch and even more at early supper.  They left so much at their early supper that I refrigerated it and then gave it to them for their late supper without adding anything more.  That time they only left a couple of bites for Mercy to clean up.

I find it interesting that they’re leaving some of the meat-mix, but yet I see that someone is eating the dry kibble from the bowl in the puppy house.  It might be Mercy, but she’s getting as much as she wants in her own 3 daily meals.  Or the pups might just grab a bite when they hang out in the puppy house.  They are looking lean despite all the food I’m offering, so I’m glad to know it’s just because they’re growing fast right now rather than my not giving them enough.

Part of the reason they might have left a lot of their early supper is because I began searching exercises when I brought them into the living room this afternoon.  Before I brought the pups in, I scattered toys AND crumbled pieces of my salmon treats on the floor.  I like to use the home-made salmon treats because they are soft and easy to crumble into tiny bites – and they are quite smelly so the pups notice them quickly.Once the pups were inside, I sat down on the floor out of the way and observed – and loved on pups when they came to me. 

I let them discover the treats.  It didn’t take them long and I saw some nice methodical searching of the area from several pups.  A couple grabbed toys and took off – they love to take them into the kitchen, away from the others.  They didn’t notice the treats until they wandered back into the living room, possibly wondering why no one was trying to take their toy. 

In a day or two, once they learn that they’ll find search games in the living room, I will make the search more difficult.  Besides putting treats on the floor, I will put some in a small collapsible pool.  I let the pups figure out on their own that the treats are in there – and how to get in and out.  It makes for some pretty “graceful” attempts, another way they learn how to handle their bodies (and gives me occasional hilarious photos). Once they have searching in the collapsible pool down pat, I substitute a kiddie wading pool.  The final touch is gradually putting in a few NuVet (plastic) bottles, each day adding more and more bottles to make the pups work to find the treats.

The pups had some serious “no bite!” lessons today.  Miss Gold seemed to understand right away not to chew on me, and gave lots of kisses.  Miss Pink resented the correction – with my hand over the top of their muzzle, I press their lips against their gums to press the nerves there, each time saying, “No bite! Kisses…” and then “Good kisses…” when they desist.  I press gently at first, but if they persist in re-biting, I push harder each time until they finally quit.  They usually squeak at the first correction but often ignore the pain because they’re in “grab” drive.  Miss Pink was not going to quit grabbing me so I kept giving hearer corrections.  She finally took offense at being corrected repeatedly and went under the couch to pout for a while.  We had to have another “No bite!” session a little later before she decided it was worth her while to mind her teeth.  She never did give me any kisses (licks).  The others were in between these two in their response to this lesson.

Until recently, the prime socializing time was considered to be until the pup turned four months old, but now that time is considered to end at 3 months.  In the protection breeds, it’s especially important to bombard the pups with all kinds of experiences of the weird things humans do – clothes (especially hats!) they wear, activities/sports they conduct, walking/jogging/biking practices, noises – so that the pup has a huge collection against which, when the protection instinct comes in at 18-24 months, it can judge a situation and know it does not warrant reaction.  If a pup does not have a “database” against which to judge strange experiences once it matures, it can become reactive and even a fear biter or aggressive. 

That’s one reason I play all kinds of noise-desensitization tapes, invite visitors and take them to the nursing homes.  My litters get natural introductions to loud noises in daily life once they move outside – snowblower in winter, mower in summer; me deliberately dropping the lid to the garbage can on the ground when I begin to clean the puppy house, dropping the food bowls on the ground after their meals – and of course their mother and the other dogs barking.  Lovley, especially, makes a lot of noise as she has set herself as the official guardian-against-blackbirds-and-squirrels-trying-to-come-to-the-peanut-feeder, which is in the back yard very close to the puppy yard.  She herds the birds and squirrels totally out of the back yard, barking the whole time.

In the house, I play “scary sounds” noise desensitizing CDs.  I have two of those which have sounds of fireworks, thunderstorms, crowds, vehicle noises, voices, barking dogs, yowling cats, crying babies and so on.  I’ll play these CD’s often to expose them to a lot of different noises.  Some pups really react to some of the noises, running around trying to locate the source; others only occasionally pause in their play to prick their ears toward the sounds, usually when a loud burst follows a period of silence.   This bunch only reacted to certain sounds – at different times one or two would look all over to locate the sound, sometimes going into the office where the CD player is.  Searching for the source of the noise is a really good reaction.  You don’t want them to be oblivious, but you also don’t want them to be scared.

When the pups began to nap, I picked up the toys and let Mercy out of her crate.  I had to laugh because, as soon as she vacuumed some tiny crumbs off the floor, she led the bunch outside.  I had to help lift them over the bottom of the doggie door, which is abut 3” above floor level.  I got outside just as Mercy headed down the steps off the landing, and I wondered if anyone would try to follow her. I was very pleased when a couple found the ramp on the side of e landing and headed down it. I followed them, and the rest of the pups followed me, probably the smoothest introduction to leaving the house a litter has ever had!  Usually one or more will balk at the steps/ramp and turn back, trying to get back into thee house through the doggie door, and I have to race to capture them and carry them down to ground level. 

I chuckled again as Mercy very deliberately led them to the puppy yard gate and even seemed to be counting them as I lifted the pups inside the yard.  I swear she gave a satisfied sign when all were confined and I didn’t put her in with them.  I wanted them to have some quiet time to process what they had learned, and that is best done without the temptation to pursue mom to nurse.

After a while, I took out their early supper.  All came to my call and thundered into the puppy house.  I set a sprinkler to cool part of the yard and left them for a while, returning just to pick up the food bowl.

About 30 minutes before bedtime, I took out their late supper, which they cleaned up before I returned to let Mercy in with them for the night.

39 Days (7/25)   Another hot night, but the puppy house cooled off nicely. I turned the fan on while I cleaned the puppy house as the pups ate breakfast outside.  For breakfast I am offering 2 cups kibble and ½# of raw meat diet.  They didn’t eat much this morning and, despite my being as quiet as possible as I changed newspapers, soon came inside to “help,” which I didn’t need at all.  That open window evidently carried the noise out on the pushed-out air.

When I finished, I put the bowl in the puppy house with the puppies, who immediately dug in and finished the food.  They just want to be in the house, I guess.  I turned on the fan and left them.

I checked the house a couple of times during the morning and it stayed comfortably cool until about noon, at which time I closed the window and left the fan circulating air inside the house.  That kept it from being totally miserable and the day heated up to 93 degrees. 

Three pups had been in the transition area and came inside when I put lunch in the house.  The other four were, as usual, back under the obstacle course.  At least this time all four followed me back to the house and raced in to find their lunch. 

As soon as the house shaded the puppy house and part of the yard, I set a sprinkler.

They are not eating as well as usual right now, whether because of the heat or they’re in between growth spurts.  One time when I checked the house temperature, I saw Miss Gold munching away at the bowl of kibble.  Good girl!  To be sure they’re getting enough food, I began offering four meals.  For lunch, early supper and late supper I mixed ¾ cup kibble with ½# raw meat diet.  Lunch was at the usual time, while supper was an hour or so earlier and supper was just before I put Mercy in with them for the night.  Both suppers were put in the puppy house.  I was quite pleased when all came running at calls for both meals, including the ones who were way back under the puppy obstacle course.  They ate nearly all of the four meals today.

I’m going to start bringing the mob inside my house each afternoon or evening for some playtime.  Cancelling this week’s nursing home visits, plus no one wanting to get out in the heat to come play with the pups, has set their socialization/new experience stimulation schedule back.  Pascha had her puppy kindergarten class today at 4:30 and I was fried when I got home, so I’ll start the pups’ indoor playtimes tomorrow.

I put Mercy in with them just before I went to bed. The pups were playing in the cool grass and she joined them.

38 Days (7/24)  After a hot night, the day began heating up fast, so I cancelled  the pups’ trip to Westview.  We hit the 100-degree mark about 4 p.m.  Ugh!

When I picked up poop in the puppy yard, I had a helper – Miss Gold.  By that time the day was heating up and the other pups, if they were visible at all, merely opened an eye as I went by, but she followed me all around the yard and even made tentative moves to attach the shovel.  Good girl!

When I took lunch out, only four pups came to my call.  They had been in the transition area and gladly came into the puppy house for lunch.  The open window was helping keep the puppy house a little more comfortable, with the fan at least keeping the hot air moving around.  The window is high on the wall so the fan was pushing the hottest air out as it rose. 

I had to go back to the puppy obstacle course to find the other three.  Two came back with me to their lunch, but I had to make a second trip to convince Mr. Red to leave the hole under the ramp.  I had to carry him to the puppy house so he didn’t miss his meal.  They left a lot of their lunch, so I brought it in and put it in the refrigerator.  That’s pretty normal when the days are hot.  They also could be in a resting phase between growth spurts.  They do that as their bodies get used to the new body size, and they don’t need as much food as when the body is creating more bones, ligaments and tendons.

Mercy was glad to spend more time away from the pups today.  She gladly went into her cool crate, ate her lunch and snoozed away the afternoon.
            I had an appointment in town at 4, and afterwards headed to my window people and got a piece of screen for the puppy house window.  When I got home, I headed to the puppy yard to put the screen up.  Thankfully that side of the puppy house was in the shade, but it was still a miserable job.  I finally got it stapled all around the window frame, opened the window and took out a fan and turned it on.  At least moving air, hot though it was, helped a little until evening came with a little blessed coolness.  I turned off the fan when I went to bed. 

I finished editing the photos from Bonnie’s & Craig’s playtime outside with the puppies. Those were fun to edit since mercy kept breaking into the photograph with her Jolly ball, trying to get Craig to throw it for her.  I got some good photos of the pups dodging her and her ball.   Here are a few for you to enjoy.


Having to cancel ball sessions and puppy visit gave me extra time to work on photos.  Tomorrow I’ll downsize the best of those for the website and then work on the photos of their playtime in the living room. 

37 Days (7/23)  Mr. Red has an ear up this morning!

Since the pups ate less yesterday (probably because of the heat) I only gave them ¾ cup kibble with 5/8# of meat for breakfast.  They cleaned it up and gave me reproachful looks, so for lunch and supper I gave them 1 cup kibble mixed with the 3/8# of meat. They didn’t quite finish both meals, but it was close.  I’m starting to reduce the proportion of meat in all their meals.

I’ve mentioned before that I feed them breakfast outside in the early morning.  I was feeding the other two meals in the puppy house due to the flies, but tonight I fed the supper much later, just before dark, and put the bowl outside.  At least they have to make their way back into the puppy house rather than just stay put.  I have no idea why they are so attached to it, but I was really worried about Miss Gold yesterday when she was in there.  She was panting like crazy, so I put her outside and hope she stayed where it was damp and relatively cool.  The litter insists on staying in the puppy house after eating, and the house is now getting quite hot during the day.  It has a window but no screen.  That is on the list for my handyman, if he ever comes, but I think I’ll measure the window tomorrow and see if I can get some screening and tack it on to keep out both mosquitos and flies but let some air in during the night and early mornings.  Like my dad always said, “It might not be pretty, but it’ll do.”  Hopefully the house will cool more quickly at night – even more than it has been since I lowered the doggie door flap.  I’ll close the window once the day starts heating up so perhaps the house will stay cooler a little longer.  

I can’t shut the pups out of the puppy house because a friend, who fixed the floor this spring, put the doggie door frame on backwards after he took it off to mut metal stripping where the floor had a hole.  The rim where the metal door slides to close off the room is inside rather than outside.  I didn’t notice the problem until I put this litter outside.  Once these pups leave, I’ll take it apart, but I’m not going to try to do it with “help,” as there are a bunch of screws that will have to be taken out then put in when the frame is correctly aligned.  Not a job for hot weather either.

My friend, Ginny, came this afternoon to play with the pups – and help me trim nails and weigh them so I could worm them.

The pups hit the ground running when they got into the cool house.  I put out some noise-making toys, their first experience with things that squeak when you touch them. They loved making noise.  We also saw our first tugs with the toys. 

Ginny kept inviting the pups to attack her shoelaces, even though I warned her those razor-sharp teeth could cut them in an instant.


When all finally crashed, we weighed and wormed them, then trimmed toenails. 

Miss Gold topped the charts at 10.1#, followed by Mr. Red at 9.4#.  Next was Miss Pink (8.6#), followed by Miss Green & Mr. Yellow (8.2#).  Mr. Blue and Mis White were 8.0#.

After enjoying them stretched out contentedly on the cool floor, we carried them outside.  I put Mercy in with them and started a sprinkler to create a cool spot for them.  It’s miserably hot – 94 degrees.

It was still hot when I went to bed.  That doesn’t bode well for their trip to Westview Healthcare Center tomorrow.  I’ll make the final decision in the morning once I see the revised forecast, but right now we’re expecting 99 degrees. The pups’ first trip is always stressful, and Westview is the farthest nursing home from my house.  They usually yell like crazy all the way there, so they’re hot when they arrive.  Then I have to worry about keeping them on the grass as the concrete could burn their feet.  And Westview’s activity room doesn’t have air conditioning (like the other two places we visit do).  I have a feeling we’ll have to cancel.

36 Days (7/22)  Mercy gets to go train this morning, so I fed the pups extra just in case they needed it – adding 2 cups of kibble to the ¾# raw meat diet.  They didn’t need the extra and left enough to make Mercy happy when she got home. 

When I took out their lunch, only 4 pups came to my call.  I put the food inside the puppy house and got them started eating, then quietly went looking for the others. They had been in the back with Mercy when I came out, and they didn’t follow her back to the puppy house.  I have a kiddie pool for Mercy that abuts to a small section of fence from when the “big puppy” yard was part of my backyard. The pups had been playing there and were on the back side of pool/fence – an excellent opportunity to use what they learned about maneuvering through barriers.  Two figured it out when I walked about halfway there and headed toward me.  I thought all were coming and turned back towards the puppy house, only to find when I got there that only two were following.  Miss Green had turned left (back) and was again behind the pool, crying.  I had to go all the way back there, around the tree next to the pol, until she saw a straight path to me.  Hopefully she learned this time to seek ways other than straight where you want to go. We’ll see…

When all seven were finally inside the puppy house, eating, 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. 

When I put Mercy in with them a little while later, all were outside, so the closed doggie door flap was no problem.  The puppy house is small and they still stay inside long enough that they pee and poop in there and make a real mess. They have figured out that the area past the puppy house is much cooler, since I’m running a sprinkler on different parts of their yard in the mornings and evenings.  Thank goodness this bunch is exploring and spends most of the time outside now, since we have a heat wave forecast for the next several days.  It got to 93 today and is supposed to be 97 tomorrow.  Ugh! 

Mercy is definitely not wanting to spend much time with her sharp-toothed pups.  When I go out, she’s usually either on top of the lounge area, enjoying the fact that the pups haven’t yet figured out how to climb the ramp up there.  Or she’s back in the back, on one of the landings of the puppy obstacle course.  I put her out several times during the day and she soon was ready to leave them. 

See the Puppy Obstacle Course
(That’s the MM litter being introduced to the newly constructed course.)


I finally heard from the Children’s Librarian.  We’ll do a puppy playtime there on August 3rd at 2 p.m.  Now all our trips are scheduled.

When I took the puppies’ supper out, all were out of the puppy house (Hurrah!).  I put down the bowl, closed the door, leaned towards the doggie door and called.  And called.  And called.  I was about to go looking when a nose poked through the curled-up corner of the flap and in came Miss White.  I gave her all kinds of praise, at which she wiggled and wiggled with glee.  The others soon followed, and I praised each one before I left them to eat.

I got the last of the high grass mowed tonight.  Mercy & Justice “helped.”  They carry balls and try to entice me to get off the riding mower to throw them, having a great time.  Mercy thought today was a really good day – she finally got to go train this morning and then had extra fun time away from her kids as I mowed.  I put her in with the pups and she started playing with them in the cooling evening, a good end to the day.

I finished editing all the Enrichment Experience photos and got them on the website.  YES!  I then began editing visit photos.  One thing about 90-plus-degree weather – I’m inside in the air conditioning more and have more time for editing.

35 Days (7/21)   Five weeks old today!  Mr. Yellow has one ear standing up – sometimes.

I tried mixing 1 ¼# of kibble with their ¾# of raw meat diet and they ate the lot.  I also noticed someone had been eating the kibble in the puppy house, so I put more in the bowl.  No way to tell who’s eating it – Mercy or the pups, or both – but it doesn’t make any difference.

 When I took lunch out (1.5 cup kibble + ¾# meat), only 5 puppies responded to my call. They had been asleep in the transition area.  I went looking for the others.  When that happened in the last litter, I panicked, thinking something had snatched one of the pups, only to fine her WAY out in the puppy obstacle course, in a hole she had dug in the cool dirt under a ramp where it touched the ground.  When I couldn’t find Mr. Red and Mr. Blue around the outside of the puppy house, I headed all the way to the back.  Sure enough, there they were.  That must be a prime puppy haunt!  When I got close, I called softly so as not to induce the others to leave their meal.  The two boys yawned and came to me, tails wagging.  I headed back to the puppy house and they followed happily.  When we got to the gate, I picked them up and then put them into the puppy house, where they immediately headed for lunch.  The pups cleaned up all their food again.

I got more puppy visits scheduled.  The pups will visit again Westview on July 31st, Big Horn Rehab on August 4th and the Alzheimer’s Unit again on August 9th.  Still no word from the Children’s Librarian.    

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. 

I’m letting Mercy spend more time away from the pups during the day.  She’s loving being able to cuddle and nap on the bed as I work on the laptop – editing puppy photos, of course. She is also happy going into her crate while I let another bunch out.  This week she will spend more time away from the pups during the day than she spends with them. Next week she’ll quit being with them all night.

I finished editing the Day 29 Enrichment Experience photos and got them on the website.  Only one more day of those to edit.  Hurrah! Then I have visit photos to edit.  And will have LOTS of photos form the nursing home visits to begin editing.  I try to do them as soon as possible, so the nursing home residents can enjoy them.  I burn the photos on CDS and give them to the activity directors.  The activity director in the Alzheimer’s Unit tells me that they are quite popular.  When the residents are having a rough day and don’t want to do anything, she will let them choose a photo CD and play it for them.  That always helps.

34 Days (7/20)  We had a quiet night.  The pups were quite happy when I greeted them this morning with their breakfast, which consisted of ¾ cup of DRY kibble mixed in with ¾# of meat diet.  They cleaned it all up except for about 2 bites.  In the very early morning, it’s cool enough that the flies aren’t out, so I can feed them just inside the front gate – and know when they’re done so I can put Mercy in to clean the bowl.  They proved they were ready for unsoaked kibble so that’s what they’ll get from now on.

While they ate, I cleaned the puppy house and put out a bowl with a little kibble, so they have something to fill their tummies between meals as Mercy begins to spend more of the daytime away from them.  Previous litters drug the bowl of kibble around the puppy house – every time I checked, it was in a different place – so I now put the kibble in a large bowl with a rock to create an immovable bowl. The rock also discourages puppies form climbing into the bowl. 

Miss White’s ears are up from the base.  Mr. Yellow’s are definitely working their way up more each day.

Since the pups cleaned up breakfast, I added 1 cup of kibble to their ¾# raw meat diet for both lunch and supper.  They ate everything.

I picked up 3 sacks of their Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy and ordered 3 more.  Last litter there was a mix-up at the distributor’s and I was scrambling to get enough kibble to sack up 10# to go with each pup plus feed everyone until they left.  I don’t have much storage room, but since I cleaned out the whelping room, I can put the sacks in there. I’ll also put all the tubs of puppy toys in there – much more room to keep track of toys used on each visit so that I take new ones on the next visit.

I scheduled their health check and first vaccination for August 7th.  We’ll microchip them then, too.  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.  

33 Days (7/19)  As soon as I got up, I carried the puppies outside to potty while I fixed their breakfast – raw meat diet first (3/4# instead of 1# since I added kibble), with soaked kibble sprinkled on top.  They ate all the meat and some of the kibble, which Mercy finished off when I put her back in with them.  I realized soaking 1 cup was way too much, so for lunch and supper I only soaked ½ cup.  I’ll only soak the kibble for a day or two.  The way they bite me and crunch down, they can definitely handle hard kibble!  But soaking seems to help release the flavor and get them eating it sooner.  Of course, they would prefer the raw meat, but it’s SO expensive, plus they need to be eating kibble since so few puppy buyers feed raw meat diets.

I put Mercy back in with the pups while I rotated out the rest of the big dogs for breakfast and some playtime.  Before I began ball sessions, I brought Mercy inside and crated her when I started ball sessions.  By that time the pups were sprawled out, snoozing, and didn’t even notice when she left.  Mercy 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. 

When I headed into the back yard doing poop detail with the first exercise group (Hesed and Varoom!), the pups were quiet until they saw us.  Then they complained just a little, and soon were visiting through the fence with the big girls.  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.

I gave them their lunch and supper inside the puppy house both times. When I took lunch out, I found 4 pups had already found their way inside and were lunging on the fleece pads, while the other three were in the transition area and popped in through the doggie door.  They ate nearly all of their lunch.

At suppertime, six pups came flying into the puppy house when I called, but Mr. Yellow was missing.  I looked towards the gate and there he was, sitting patiently. I opened the gate, picked him up and put him in the puppy house.  I noticed that his ears are really up from the base.  They’ll soon be up.  Miss White’s are also starting to come up.

I contacted the Children’s Librarian. For years a friend of mine was Children’s Librarian and loved my puppies, so we would do a Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library with each litter.  She invited all the kids who participated in Children’s Library activities. It was usually a mob scene and fantastic socialization for the pups.  The new Children’s Librarian asked us to do a playtime with the YY litter, so I’m hoping we can do one with the ZZ’s.  Today I contacted her to see if she’d like them to come.

We have puppy visits to Westview Healthcare Center scheduled for the next two Mondays – the 24th & 31st.  The puppies go to the Alzheimer’s Unit on Wednesday (26th) and to Big Horn Rehab & Care (the other local nursing home) on Friday (28th).  They will return to those two facilities either the following week or the week after.

After the pups ate supper, I cleaned the puppy house, put Mercy in with them, and left them for the night.

32 Days (7/18)  I “retired” the two small puppy bowls and began using a large one, which is 16” in diameter, still with the knob in the middle to discourage swimming in the food.  It fits better in the puppy house so the pups have room to maneuver around it. 

This afternoon I cleaned out and set up the “big puppy” house.  In the puppy house, besides newspapers on the floor and a big fleece pad that help the new place seem familiar, I have an old fiberglass crate.  In cool weather I put a blanket in the crate to provide a cozy nest, but today I left it empty; the fiberglass floor will be cool for them.  There is room in the puppy house for Mercy 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 that the way in and out would be easily noticeable.

I put the pups into the yard through the side gate, which is where the lawn part of the yard starts.  (The front part, by the front gate and transition/lounge areas is packed gravel and dirt.)  The pups followed Mercy out in the grassy area, happily exploring, then to the front area when she went to the front gate to watch me go into the house.

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, to shelter without going into the puppy house.  In winter, it’s 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 have an old extra-large fiberglass crate there.  From the very beginning, they learn that crates are a nice place to be. 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 until just before dark, giving them an experience of the beginning of night so it’s not totally new when they spend the night outside tomorrow.

They have realized they have teeth.  They are now going for my ankles along with the hem of my pants, and, when I reach down to pet them, they grab for my hands and wrists.  Ouch!

I’m still editing photos from the Enrichment Experiences.  I’m VERY glad they are over and I’m not editing more photos to the ones I already have.  We have no visitors scheduled for a couple of days.  Since I won’t have 2 puppy rooms to clean – the inside one many times daily, I hope I can get more photos edited each day and get as caught up as possible before the puppies start nursing home visits next week.  I’ll also be having friends to come over and play with the pups, which always involves lots of photos.  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 – which usually begins once they’re 5 weeks old.

Once the pups turn 5 weeks old, they can handle the stress and excitement of going places.  They’ll be 5 weeks old Friday, so today I contacted the activity directors at both nursing homes and the Alzheimer’s Unit to set up a schedule.  As soon as I hear from them, I’ll start recruiting volunteers to help wrangle puppies at each visit.

I brought the pups inside for the night just before dark.  They were so full of fresh air and adventure that they crashed, unfortunately not before peeing, so I had to change a bunch of papers before I went to bed.  Sigh.  But I took comfort in the fact that this is their last night in the house. 

Since they’ll now be spending their days outside, which means they will mostly poop outdoors and poop (no longer picked up by Mercy once kibble is added to meals) will not make a mess of their room, I put 1 cup of their Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy kibble to soak overnight.  From now on, I will add the softened kibble to their bowls before I crumble in the meat for breakfast.

31 Days (7/17)  Mr. Yellow’s ears are coming up!

What a crazy day!  First thing this morning, I cleaned the puppy house and made sure all the water bowls were full.  Then I carried the puppies out to their yard and let them potty while I fixed their meal – again #1 of raw meat diet.  While they ate, I fed Mercy and cleaned the puppy room.  Then I put her out with her pups, who had eaten all their breakfast, and began rotating the other dogs out for potty and breakfast.

The last group of dogs was fed and they were playing when Bonnie texted that they had dropped my tractor tire off at the shop and were headed my way.  When she and Craig arrived, I put them up and we adjourned to the puppy yard to play with the pups until time to pick up the tire.  Bonnie commented after a while that Miss Pink took the price for most persistent and prolonged biting.  Lovely…

While they were gone, Denise stopped by unexpectedly to get her puppy fix.  We headed to the puppy yard and she visited with them until Bonnie and Craig got back.  I left Denise to help with the tire if needed.  I wasn’t much help but I did get in on the excitement.  The tire store had inflated the tire to over 20 psi and put it in water to be sure it didn’t have a leak, but they didn’t deflate it when Craig picked it up. When Craig checked the other back tire to see what it’s psi was, it barely registered, though it looked fine.  He asked for my air compressor, and I warned him I didn’t know if it had worked because the shed had flooded repeatedly – all winter there was a sheet of ice on the floor and of course all our spring deluges had kept putting water in there.  I noticed the cardboard box it was stored in had fallen apart.  I’m afraid to see what was ruined but have been too busy with puppies since the storms quit to even try to pull everything out and check.

It seemed to work okay at first, building pressure normally, but when Craig began putting the air in the tire, we noticed sparks inside the compressor.  We got the tire up to the correct psi before the compressor died.  Whew!  When we finished getting the fixed tire back down to the proper psi, we poured a bucket of water over the compressor to be sure it wouldn’t set anything on fire, and put it with the sacks of soiled puppy newspapers waiting for garbage pickup tomorrow.  I always wonder what the garbage guys think when they pull in to find a long double line of lawn/leaf bags waiting for them.

Bonnie and Craig headed back to Bozeman then and I returned to the puppy yard where Denise was cuddling sleeping puppies.  She sent me a couple of photos.

After visiting for a while, she announced she had had enough of a puppy fix to last her, and left, then I started mowing. I had about an hour before it was time to feed puppies and shower so I could head to the nursing home with Hopeful.  I let Mercy out of the puppy yard and took the puppies’ lunch out to them first, which gave them enough time to eat before I needed to put Mercy back in and head to Westview.  Those pups were so tired from all-morning socializing that they ate only about half of the 1# of raw meat diet.  Mercy was thrilled to clean up the leftovers.

It was so miserably hot – 91 degrees, that I had to drop Hopeful at home after our therapy dog visit rather than leaver her in the car as usual during my chiropractic appointment.  I managed to change my appointment to 3:40 and made it just in time, but then that made me almost late for Claudia’s and Kathy’s puppy visit.  I had just enough time to sweep up the pieces of a stick that Pascha had brought inside and chewed up – her latest passion – before my friends arrived at 4:30.  

We put down some toys in the living room and brought the pups inside.  They LOVED the cool house and especially the floor.  They didn’t play a lot with the toys, preferring to cuddle and then stretch out to get as much of their bodies on the cool floor and relax.  I didn’t even take many photos due to the lack of action. Claudia and Kathy only stayed about 30 minutes.  They helped me carry the pups to the whelping room, and all of us laughed as the pups scarcely moved a muscle from where we put them down on the little fleece pad. 


I heard no sound from the whelping room for hours.  A tired puppy is a good puppy!  But, of course, putting them in the room that early meant I had to clean it twice – once when I took their supper in and picked up the (empty) bowl, and then last thing before bed.

At least I managed to get the “big puppy” yard mowed tonight, which means that morrow I will set sprinklers there to get the ground all comfy, and put them in that yard for a while before bringing them in for the night.  With luck, the day after tomorrow they’ll move outside for good.

30 Days (7/16)  I fed the puppies and then put them outside with Mercy while I again went to train.  When I got home, I left them outside until noon, when I brought Mercy in and took out their lunch, closing them into the puppy house with it.  Bonnie & Craig expect to arrive from Bozeman about 2, so I wanted them rested.  Bonnie s is my Search & Rescue tester, and is getting one of the males.

Then I brought them inside, where the last Enrichment Experience greeted them in their room.  They didn’t do a lot of investigating, instead stretching out to enjoy the AC and nap.

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.  Mr. Yellow showed the most interest, playing with the set of metal keys and also with some hanging pvc pipes.  I got a few photos and then left them in peace.

See all of today’s Enrichment Experience photos


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

Bonnie & Craig didn’t get here until after 3:30.  It was too late to visit much with the pups before I had to dress nicely and go to Mass, so they helped me carry the pups out to the puppy yard and visited with them there for a little bit.  Mercy was thrilled and kept begging someone to throw her Jolly Ball.  I don’t do ball sessions on the days I go train, so it’s been since Friday since she had her ball session, and it shows!  It was strictly “Puppies Beware Because I’m Not Dodging you.”  She’s in most of the photos I took. 

See all those photos

I fed the pups early, before I went to the 5 p.m. Mass, and put Mercy back in with them just before I left.  Bonnie and Craig came back at 7, and we brought the pups inside to play.  They did a lot more cuddling than playing, though Miss Pink was her usual busy self.   I think Mr. Yellow showed the most toy interest, with Mr. Blue, Miss Gold & Miss Pink showing interest as well. There might have been others.  I don’t remember who else showed toy interest; I’ll have to look at the photos when I get time.  They didn’t leave until 8:30 or so.  Craig has handyman talents and took the flat tire off my riding mower, to see if he can get it fixed in the morning.  If he is, I’ll be mowing as soon as he gets it back on the mower and they head back to Bozeman.  I’m SO grateful!

Before I started taking photos, we put bigger collars on everyone.  They definitely are growing!!  Miss White now has a black collar with red then white Rickrack sewed on it; Miss Gold has a green collar with sparkly Rickrack sewn on it; and Mr. Yellow has a navy-blue collar with yellow Rickrack sewn on it. Pascha, who was Miss Yellow in the YY litter, is still wearing the yellow collar.  She has about outgrown it anyway.  I was planning to graduate her to the larger collar when she starts her Puppy Kindergarten class tomorrow.   That way Mr. Yellow can have the all-yellow one instead of the old collar what has “wings” of Rickrack where the stitches are coming loose.

Once the pups – even Miss Pink – had crashed, Bonnie volunteered to trim toenails with the pups lying in her lap.  That worked with the first 5 pups, but when it was Miss Gold’s turn, she said she wasn’t going to be forced to lie on her back, so Bonnie had her lie on her side and go the trimming done that way.  Bonnie intentionally left Miss Pink until last because she anticipated that she would not accept that submissive pose.  Sure enough, she said no to both being on her back or her side, so Bonnie had Craig hold her while she trimmed nails, still managing to make it a peaceful experience.  I am SO glad we got that done!  I got some great photos of that, too!

I took 607 photos between all the activity today, so it will take a while to edit them.  I’ll try to look for a few of the best ones so I can get something up on the website soon.  Here are a couple that Bonnie took and sent me.

8/5/23:  See the now-edited inside visit photos and nail trimming photos


29 Days (7/15)  I was going training this morning, so I finished putting newspapers, a fleece pad and a stainless steel bowl of water in the puppy house so it looked like home.  I then put Mercy and the pups in the puppy yard.  This time I put the pups close to the outside water bowl which is by the propped-open door of the puppy house.  Last night they hadn’t moved from the gate and thus hadn’t found the water bowl, so naturally the first thing they did when I brought them inside was head to the water bowl – and then pee on the clean newspapers before they had been inside 5 minutes.  Sigh.

So today I made sure they knew where the water was.  I was gone training for around 90 minutes.  It had really cooled off last night and a hazy sky slowed the day’s heating up, so the temperature was still pleasant when I got home.  I cleaned the room and set up the Enrichment Experience before I brought the pups in. 

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’s obstacles included three long cardboard rolls that rolled and a piece of fleece rolled up and taped.  The fleeces have to be purchased in certain sizes, and the one closest to the size of my whelping bed is 4’ x 5’.  The bed is 4’ square, so I have them cut the fleece to fit and send the extra piece since I paid for it.  The last time I ordered fleece, I rolled up that extra piece, taped it closed and began using it as an obstacle during Enrichment Week and, when the pups are larger, as an obstacle in the hallway for them to jump as they thunder to the living room to play. 

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 a rubber horse feed bowl like the ones that I use for water in the puppy yard.  I’m hoping exposure to the water bowls will help the pups, as they start exploring, find water sources scattered around the yard. 

See all the 29-day photos


When I approached the puppy yard, all the pups but Miss Pink were in the puppy house, sprawled out on the fleece pad in the old whelping box.  Miss Pink was out with Mercy, and quickly came to greet me and follow me around.  I picked up the others and transferred them from the puppy house to the ground – and they immediately turned back to head inside again.  I had to move them far enough from the puppy house so I could close the door.  And I had to move the six of them FAST before they turned back.  With the door finally closed (Whew!) and pups sitting sleepily on the ground, I was able to carry them two at a time into my house.

By that time, they had had well over 2 hours of fresh air.  They collapsed on the little fleece pad where I put them, and didn’t move.  Oh, no, I thought, I’ll never get any photos while the room is still clean.  I went to the far edge of the room and called, but at first no one moved.  Then Mr. Red, bless his heart got up and headed towards me, investigating things as he wandered.  He was joined by Miss Gold, so at least I got a few photos.

For lunch I turned the sled right-side-up and placed the food bowls inside.  They had to figure out how to get to their meal.  I went to the far end of the room with my camera and Miss Pink followed me, wanting to visit rather than eat.  What a girl!  She had a minute of indecision where I swear I could see her mind working – visit, or eat before it’s all gone – before she turned back to the food bowl. 

See all the lunch photos


When I put Mercy back in with them, they had cleaned nearly every bit. She gets so disappointed when the bowls are hardly worth licking.

The pups definitely enjoyed the sled once I turned it right-side-up.  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. 

Denise cancelled coming to play with the pups (and help trim toenails, because it got miserably hot today. I then planned to put the pups outside for a while tonight, but it was still miserably hot and I want them to like being outside, so I didn’t.

Tonight, when I brought supper in, they galloped to me and in the process bounced into and out of the sled like athletes.  They were ready to eat and visit, so I had an awful time rearranging all the obstacles so that they had to maneuver them to get to their bowls.  I barely got photos since they raced over everything at speed to get to their supper. 

See all the supper photos


I wish my whelping room was a little larger; it would sure be easier to take photos of everything I do with them.  But we only have a couple more days until they move outside for good, then I’ll be photographing them outside or in the living room.

28 Days (7/14)  Four weeks old today!!  This morning, 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. I still put the cloth at the edge of the bed to give traction on the drop where they go from the whelping bed onto the board and then onto the floor. I also left Mercy’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. 

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

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 “frustration day” for enrichment exercises.  

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 also put down two pieces of firewood so they could investigate the texture of the bark. 

See all the morning photos


Pascha keeps packing an old elk antler from where it belongs in the front yard and happened to have left it where I looked for pieces of firewood, so I brought it in, too.  I didn’t put it in the room until lunchtime, though, because the puppies had played so hard as I was changing the room this morning that they were pretty well crashed when I set up the Enrichment Experience.  I had to wake them up and put them in different places around the ex-pens so they noticed them. 

When I took their lunch in, some of the pups were by the water bowl and the others were by the gate.  I called and got most of them in the same place, then put a bowl down where they weren’t and called them.  A few pups navigated the barriers pretty well.  I put the other bowl where the rest of the pups had to navigate a barrier to get to it.  Then I put the antler in between the bowls and watched to see what happened, camera ready.  Fresh from both nap and meal, the pups were ready to investigate both the firewood and the antler – and to play.

See all the lunch photos


When I took in their supper, they were asleep on the little fleece pad, so I placed the bowls on the other side of the barriers, close to the water bowls.  I moved the antler to that area, too.  Miss Orange had a hard time figuring out how to get through the barrier.  I got a bunch of photos of her trying.  She finally made it, only to have Mr. Red attack her, as if he was saying, “You took long enough, Sis.  What was the problem!”

See all the supper photos


The pups ate so well at all three meals yesterday, that I increased the amount of meat to 3/4# per meal.  That way I know they’re getting enough to eat. They cleaned up nearly all of that at each meal.

Of course, all that eating (and drinking) means a lot of peeing.  Mercy still cleans up their poop, but oh my gosh, how they do pee!  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.

Denise had to work late today and couldn’t come.  I still need to start introducing them to the outdoors, so I got the puppy house cleaned out and a big water bowl for Mercy and small one for the pups set out.  Then I carried the pups out to the baby puppy pen, two at a time, and placed them just inside the gate.  I closed Mercy in with them and left them for 30 minutes or so while I cleaned the puppy room in peace, without help.  Amazing how much easier it is to change pads and papers without bodies hurtling around or attacking me.  I also removed the big board that forms the side of the bed but which has been on the floor to make getting in and out of the whelping bed for the puppies.  They showed yesterday that they have no trouble negotiating a 2” rise into the whelping bed when they easily climbed on and off the Styrofoam pieces. They gravitate towards the cloths to pee – so I tried eliminating that cloth and just putting newspapers.  This will make it easier to pick up and replace soiled papers each time I enter the room.

When I finished, I went out to get the pups.  None had moved from the gate – not very adventuresome pups, but it sure made it easier to collect them.  I put them in the whelping room and left them to ponder the experience.

27 Days (7/13)  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.

The pups did so well yesterday on the slick living room floor, that when I cleaned the room this morning, I discontinued using the big flannel piece between the whelping bed and the gate.  Instead, I just put a cloth over the area just outside the whelping bed where they step down and up and would dislodge the newspapers.    

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, preferably through the holes. This litter didn’t do any complaining, which was nice.

See all the box-introduction photos


At lunchtime, I called as I entered with the bowls, and then put a bowl in each box.  That caused some bewildered looks.  As the pups came to me, I lifted them into a box and mad sure they smelled the meat, then left them alone.  I could get three in the bigger box, though it was a tight fit.  But for problem-solving it was great.

All but Miss White came to me.  She was slumbering so peacefully she never heard me calling.  I left the pups to eat in the boxes while I did Mercy’s ball session.  When we got back inside, I went into the whelping room, put the food bowls on the floor and called again.  There wasn’t much food left and most of them just opened an eye but didn’t move.  Miss White woke, and I put her to the bowls.  She immediately started eating and finished what was left.

See all the lunch-in-the-box photos


Tonight I cut the rest of the sides open on both boxes and put the supper food bowls in the boxes, calling the pups.  The big box is nice and high so they had no trouble finding the bowl and entering the box to eat.  The second box is not as high, so they had to figure out how to bend down to follow their noses and eat.  They cleaned up both bowls, seeming to enjoy the challenge.

See all the supper-in-the-box photos


Ruslan came this afternoon and got both puppy yards mowed.  Hurrah!  I actually have two puppy yards – one for baby puppies and their mother that is outside my bedroom window; another, larger one for older puppies whose mothers are beginning to spend more time away from them.  In the baby puppy yard, I have several large trees which shade most of the yard all day long.  I also have an insulated puppy house with a doggie door on the south end into what I call a transition area, a long, enclosed area with an opening to the outdoors at the far (east) end.  This way the pups can explore a little bit without getting out into the weather and/or the bright sunlight, which hurts their eyes at this age.  I tie up the flap on the doggie door so that they can easily go in and out, which they gradually begin to do.  They need to learn how to go into shelter if they need it. 

I have an old big (5′ x 5′) whelping box in there, half of which is roofed to keep it light-protected and draft free, and of course they’ll find some fleece bedding there. One wall of the bed has an opening into the rest of the puppy house, an area about 5′ x 4′ with the doggie door to the transition area at the far end so they easily see it when they leave the bed. 

During the day, in hot weather like this, I also tie open the puppy house door so they can go in and out that way. 

Baby Puppy Yard


I haven’t used the baby puppy yard for the last several litters, but I think I will with this one, at least until we can mow the big puppy yard a second time.  The growth was so high that yesterday’s mowing left a lot of leavings and rough edges on the forbes (plantain, etc.) that grow in with the grass.  Besides being very rough walking for the pups, I don’t want them eating a bunch of green stuff.  I’ll let it dry out in the heat before I put pups in there so it’s not tempting.  Ruslan is supposed to come back Monday to mow the rest of the yard and the ball-throwing area, and I’ll have him give the big puppy yard a second mowing to clean it up. The mower still sits with its flat tire and I’m sure C&K won’t come get my riding mower before Monday at least, since this is the annual insane rodeo week when the entire world descends on Sheridan and most locals don’t work. 

            In the “big puppy” yard, the entrance isn’t quite as logical, so the litters don’t move there until they understand how to find shelter and food.  It doesn’t have nearly the shade that the “young puppy” yard has, either, an important factor for encouraging them to get out and explore.  The “young puppy” yard is just outside my bedroom window so in case the puppies get lost or scared, I hear them and can quickly go check that all is well.  It is closer also to my perimeter fence, and one time during a severe drought a coon managed to climb over both fences in an effort to get to the puppy food inside the house.  Alarm barks from the pups woke the dogs and me and we rushed out to see the coon vaulting over the fences back to the wild.  That’s when I built the “big puppy” pen.  Now the puppies stay in the “young” puppy pen/house area only as long as their mother is with them during the night.  When they get old enough (around 5 weeks) that Mercy has the choice to go in and out (and I leave food in the puppy house at night), I move them to the “big puppy” pen.  I can no longer hear them cry, but no varmint is going to get through 5 fences and assorted German Shepherds to get into that puppy house.

            Denise is going to come tomorrow afternoon after she gets off work to help me take the pups outside for the first time. The “baby puppy” yard doesn’t have as good of soil as the “big puppy” yard, so the grass doesn’t get as rank.  It has to be mowed with the self-propelled mower rather than my riding mower, and I had Ruslan mow it less than 2 weeks ago, so today’s mowing didn’t leave a lot of rough “junk”.  It will be pleasant walking for the pups and sitting for Denise and I.  I’ll also water the puppy yard in the morning so that the ground is pleasantly soft.   We’ll take the pups to the baby puppy yard and play with them as they get used to the outdoors; then I’ll leave them there until suppertime.  Hot weather means flies, so I’ll feed them in the whelping room as usual and leave them there for the night.  Tonight I’ll try to get the puppy house cleaned out. Saturday I’ll start having the pups and Mercy spend time outdoors for longer and longer times during the day, eventually moving them out for good.

For someone unknown reason, Mercy insists on drinking from the puppy water bowl instead of her big one, which means that sometimes the puppy bowl is dry and I don’t notice.  Tonight I put out a gallon bowl for the family. I’ll notice better when the water gets low.

We’re not getting any rain, but the humidity with temperatures in the 80’s and slow cooling at night is making the whelping room a little warm once I turn off the AC for the night.  I set out a fan to pull in the outside air.

(I’ll get some photos up as soon as I can.)

26 Days (7/12)  Both the sables were in high visiting mode today, seeking me out, following me around and impatiently waiting for me to kneel down so they could visit. The others were playing.  I have to laugh at them when I finally finish changing the rom.  They take all those clean papers as an invitation to romp.  They’re trying to run, too.  Mr. Red especially, and Miss Gold sometimes, are practicing the irresistible pose to get me to rub their tummies.

I’m so frustrated that the repair guys still haven’t come fixed my mower tire so I can mow the lawn and the pups can start going outside. They’re ready!  Our parish has welcomed a Ukrainian family who had to flee the war and the man is looking for work.  He has a job waiting for him but Social Security has wasted over 3 months dawdling getting him his social security card so he can work.  I had him come trim branches a couple of days and tomorrow he’s coming to attack the grass with my self-propelled mower.  I don’t envy him because the grass is very tall and very thick and the weather has turned hot with unusually high humidity for her. If he can get the two puppy yards done tomorrow, I’ll be content; then he can come other days to do the rest of the lawn.

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 rubber gloves, two scrunched-up pieces of aluminum foil, two trays from chocolates and a plastic tray.  All of these “give” when they walk across it.

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 Mercy or 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 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 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. 

The area closest to the bed was quite full of new things!  Each time I entered the room, I moved objects to different places, to stimulate them to notice something if they hadn’t already. 

See all of today’s Enrichment Experience photos

They are eating so well – and growing like crazy, so I begin offering them 3 meals instead of two.  They were funny at lunch, practically steeple-chasing over the things on the floor to get to the bowls. Then finished all but a couple of bites at each meal so I was right about it being time to up their food offerings.

The pups had TWO enrichment experiences today!  My friend Linda came late this afternoon. Linda is a cat person so I always enjoy her visits because she interacts with the puppies in creative ways.  I put a few little toys and balls down, not expecting the pups to play on this first time out of the whelping room, but as an invitation.  We had to laugh at the pups. They have really learned the “Puppy!  Puppy! Puppy!” call.  If they would head towards me (out of camera range), Linda would call them and they’d race back to her.  So cute!  

The pups did quite well in the huge (to them), open room.  Several visited with Hesed, Justice, Pascha and Varoom!, whose crates are in the living room.  Pascha, at 13 weeks, was totally mesmerized by her tiny cousins.  This was the first time any of the dogs had seen the new family.  I took photos but I don’t know how many will come out as the batteries in my flash attachment died and I couldn’t get up to go look for more as it would have disturbed the pups.  I tried different camera settings in an effort to get at least a few photos of the pups interacting and cuddling with Linda, so maybe we got some keepers.  Miss White settled on the other side of Linda’s leg from me so I got no photos of her as she cuddled and lay her head on Linda’s lap.  Linda said it was quite cute.  I did get photos of Mr. Yellow interacting with Linda and even noticing a couple of toys.  I will probably have more comments on the visit once I have a chance to look at the photos.  I’m taking so many right now that I’m getting behind in the editing.  (I’ll get those photos up as soon as I can.)

Tonight, when I changed the room, Miss Pink tugged hard on my pant leg and then tried her teeth on my calf.  The sweet stage may soon be over.

25 Days (7/11)  This morning, when I took in the pups’ food, placed down the bowls and called, only Mr. Red got up and came.  Several others just looked at me.  This time I didn’t wake anyone up or do any more encouraging; I just left.  I checked a little while later and all were either eating or walking away, full.

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 heavy crock, 2 big metal spoons (one with a wooden handle) 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, the crock might roll and the jelly pan would rock. 

I got some interesting photos of Mr. Yellow acting like he wanted to climb the gate and leave the room.  His actions mystified me because Mercy was stretched out in the whelping bed.  I have no idea what he was smelling that was attractive, because all the other dogs are crated while I have the puppy room open, carrying soiled stuff out and clean stuff in.  Later, Miss Pink seemed quite fascinated by something outside the room.

See all of today’s Enrichment Experiences photos (scroll down past yesterday’s)

Just as I started to turn off the camera, Miss White started pestering Mr. Blue.  They would mouth wrestle for a bit, then he’d try to disengage and take a nap, but she would push him until he reengaged.  This went on for quite a while. Sometimes my lens I use in the whelping room will refuse to focus when it zooms in., Naturally, this was one.  I had to take un-zoomed photos of the mouth-wrestling from across the room where I had happened to be so as to shoot photos of them interacting with most of the enrichment items (moving would have interrupted their play), then crop them, so some of the photos are a little grainy.  You can still enjoy this prolonged early-play demonstration.

See all of the play photos

Whenever I went into the room during the day, I moved things around.

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.

They cleaned both their bowls at supper tonight!  Mercy was not particularly pleased (no leftovers for her), but I was.

Tonight when I cleaned the room, it was Miss Pink pulling on my pant leg and Mr. Yellow draping himself across my calves.  It must be “Sable Day!”

24 Days (7/10)  When I took the pups’ breakfast in, set it down in the middle of the new area and called, Miss Green actually got up and came to me.  I praised her enthusiastically before she headed to a bowl.  A couple of others looked at me but didn’t move, and the rest were asleep.  I woke everyone up and pointed them towards the bowl before I left.

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 Jane’s 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, and a small rug with fringes from the grooming table.  These stimulate them to use their eyes in a different way by having something vertical that looks totally new and also moves. 

Unfortunately, by the time I cleaned the room (Mr. Blue draped over my calves and the others following me around), they were ready for a nap.  I picked everyone up and put them by one of the hangings, and took a few photos.

I created a “New Experience” page on the website and will add daily photos to it as the week progresses. 

See all of today’s photos

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 Mercy 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. 

They are now pottying all over the room.  And in such great volume from all the eating and drinking, that I’m having to change the covers and papers twice a day.  They’re walking well enough, even trying leaps and roll-backs, that I decided to discontinue the flannel covering of the main part of the room.  I left the flannel piece covering the papers from the gate to the whelping bed because Mercy jumping in and out would mess up the papers otherwise.  That reduces the washing burden some, but the papers sure do make a glare for photographs.

The weather has decided it is summer.  We still have very high humidity, so the days feel hot.  I’ve been opening the widow in the whelping room overnight to keep the room comfortable for them, then closing it when I have to turn on the AC in the house.  I had had a box of newspapers covering the AC vent in the whelping room so the room didn’t get too cool.  Now that the pups can regulate their temperatures, I took pity on Mercy, who with all the milk she’s producing (she looks like a milk cow!) gets quite warm, and moved the box partially away from the vet, allowing some – but not too much – cool air into the room. She said, “Thanks!”

Tonight, as I was unpinning the blanket from the sheet covering the table, I felt a tug.  I looked down and there was Mr. Blue, tugging at my pant leg!  I managed to get him disengaged and knelt down to change the big fleece pad and Mercy obliged by diverting him with a meal on the little fleece pad.  Whelping bed cleaned, Mercy gladly moved to it.  I lifted the pups into the bed, hoping they would nurse while I cleaned the room, but no such luck.  Here came Miss Pink and Miss White bouncing around.  It looked like they were checking the room perimeter, then circling in smaller and smaller-diameter circles.  That was fun to watch until their circle morphed into “helping” me pick up the millions of soiled papers.  They were fascinated by the papers moving and kept lying on the edges so that I either had to pick them up or let them roll off as I lifted the papers. They haven’t yet figured out to grab with their mouths but now just use their bodies.  Fun, but very time consuming.

Mr. Yellow came to the edge of the big fleece pad and watched as I worked on that area, but thankfully he didn’t come onto the papers.

            When I finally had finished putting down clean papers and was ready to put down the flannel strip, Miss White and Miss Pink were tiring, so they lay on the strip as I tried to stretch and smooth it out.  I don’t know how many times I moved them to Mercy, who continued to offer nursing in the whelping bed.  Eventually they stayed there, though Miss Pink played a game of peek-a-boo around Mercy’s head as I tried to pin the flannel to the fleece pad to keep it in place. 

            I eventually finished everything and left.  I was not surprised that the washer had finished with the big fleece pad, which I had put in as soon as I took it out of the room.  That’s a 50-minute cycle!  At least I was able to start washing the small fleece pad and flannel piece as I headed to bed.

23 Days (7/9)   They are now eating nicely. This morning they ate at least ¾ of their meat meal; tonight, not quite as much.  They are responding to my call and a couple will even get up and head toward the bowls, which I have put a little farther away from their favorite fleece pad. 

I had originally put their water bowl against the wall by one of the legs on the grooming table (which holds up out of the way the box of clean newspapers and sack of soiled papers), relatively close to their little fleece pad since they weren’t venturing into the new space.  This morning I moved their water bowl to the far edge of the room.  I was pleased when Mr. Blue immediately went over for a drink, and when Mr. Yellow found it just before I finished the room.  This way they’re less liable to fall in or walk through it, as I once caught Mr. Yellow doing.

They are now curious about what I’m doing and, as soon as I sit or kneel down, are all over me.  Mr. Blue, especially, was wrapping himself over my calves tonight as I changed the papers.  I found pee spots midway into the new area.  Yes!

I wormed the pups tonight.  I worm them 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 without a blood test before 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.

22 Days (7/8)   Trills and barks greeted me this morning when I walked past the whelping room and when I opened the gate.  I was greeted by the ones who were awake when I entered the room.  How the others can sleep through the racket is beyond me.  Soon they will be yelling for their meals –  Hurry!  Hurry! 

This morning they greeted me and got some attention before turning to the food bowls I put down.  Mr. Red is always the first to begin eating, followed usually by Miss Pink.  I put the bowls close to (but not on) their little fleece pad for the two meals today.  Tomorrow, since they know food is coming on a regular schedule, I will start moving it away so that they have to seek it.  This morning they ate nearly all of the closest bowl and some of the bowl a little farther from the pad’s edge.  Tonight they cleaned up one bowl and made great inroads into the second!  That will relieve some of the pressure on Mercy.

I leave Mercy away from them for about an hour – part of the time hanging out with me and the rest in her crate as I rotate out other dogs.  She is thrilled to be back in somewhat of her usual routine, but not as excited about her amount of meat decreasing as the pups now get her 2nd-breakfast-½# and late-supper-½#.  I have increased the amount of kibble at each of her meals and make sure at bedtime that she has kibble, but of course she likes the meat better. 

Tonight they again 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 again came to me, so I had “help” trying to spread out the flannel strips.  It took me twice as long as usual.  At least they weren’t yelling for me to hurry up and put down their clean little fleece pad.  They seemed to understand that it was coming soon.

21 Days (7/7)   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.  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. 

This morning I thought I’d encourage them to use the entire room by introducing their first meal.  After I let Mercy out of the room for her first breakfast, I put 1/2 pound of the raw meat diet, into small pieces. in two low-sided bowls that have a dome in the middle to discourage pups from climbing in and going to sleep.  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.  Usually at first, they just suck at the and end up pressing it into the bowl.  They learn to take bites pretty quickly.

Three pups were awake, so I lifted them beside one bowl.  Miss Pink gave the meat a thorough sniff, but I don’t think she ate any.  Mr. Red and Miss White checked out the meat but didn’t eat.  The other four I had to wake up and then place beside the second bowl – several times as of course they had to walk away to pee before they did anything else.  I never saw any interest in the food from them. 

Miss Gold looked me in the eye and complained abut being awakened – and for this???  Mr. Blue quickly found his way back to his comfort zone. 

At least, when I put Mercy back in with them, one pup had stayed in the new area – Miss Green was curled up asleep close to one of the bowls.  It didn’t look like the pups had sampled any of the meat.

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 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 once they begin eating and Mercy will be away from them for a while after they eat so they can’t slake their thirst after eating by nursing on her.  It’s always funny to watch them explore the water bowl and eventually figure out that it’s for drinking. 

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. 

Tonight the pups were all on the small fleece pad at the gate, so I placed one bowl on the fleece pad in the middle of them and the other on the edge, barely in the “new” area.  Miss Green immediately got up and started eating from the bowl on the pad.  After a few minutes I checked, and Mr. Red was munching away, also on the bowl on the pad.  I checked later, and all were asleep, but the one bowl had a significant amount of meat missing.  I placed the other bowl on the fleece pad and woke puppies up, then left the alone.  I had Mercy out with me for 30 minutes, then crated her for another 30 minutes before putting her back in with the pups.

I had a terrible time changing the room tonight.  I first changed the papers and big fleece pad in the whelping bed and, as usual, put Mercy in there to nurse the pups while I worked on the rest of the floor.  Tonight the pups quickly filled their tummies, especially the ones who had eaten their supper, and proceeded to come watch and follow my movements as I tried to first gather up the flannel and then soiled newspapers.  I was pleased to see pee spots a little further into the new area.  Hurrah!

I was not pleased by furry bodies collapsing everywhere I needed to work, complaining loudly at the disruption of their room.  They didn’t quit yelling until I finished the “old” area and – despite them – smoothed out the flannel on that part and put down the little fleece pad by the gate.  Immediately the two sables (Mr. Yellow & Miss Pink) headed to the fleece pad and stretched out.  The others lay on the flannel.  All noise, thankfully, ceased.  They were then content to watch me as I finished changing papers and putting down a new flannel piece in the “new” area.

Since they’re now beginning to eat meat and will start really growing, I weighed them tonight.  Miss Gold is largest, at 4.4#, followed by Mr. Blue (4.3#), then Mr. Yellow (4.2#). Next come Miss Green & Miss Pink at 4.0#, followed by Mr. Red (3.9#) and Miss White (3.8#).

Just before I left the room, I checked ears.  I think they’re open

20 Days (7/6)  Still no ambition to explore the rest of the whelping room.  At least I saw them napping, in a pile, a little further into the new area.

Now, if they are awake when I enter the room, they follow me with their eyes though they don’t yet get up to come to me.  When I kneel down to greet them, they 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. 

I ordered a sack of Fromm’s Large Breed Puppy Gold so it would be here when they move outside.   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.  Kibble must wait until they go outside.  I’m even glad this litter is so slow developing, because I have a flat tire on my mower and am still waiting for the repairman to get here and fix it – which means the grass in the puppy yard is too high form them to move outside.  I’ll start offering them the raw meat diet tomorrow. 

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. 

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

19 Days (7/5)  As I checked the pups during the day, I nearly always found Mr. Red and Miss White in the “new” area.  No one else is exploring at all.  They may not be moving their bodies, but they sure are moving their mouths!  I’m hearing all kinds of trills and mini-growls.  Today I hard a strange noise while Mercy was out of the room and went racing down to see who was hurt or lost. It was just Mr. Blue complaining loudly as he looked for Mercy.

Tonight I changed the big fleece pad, then moved Mercy and pups on it while I changed the room.  Mr. Blue watched me for a couple of minutes before turning back to nursing.  Miss White, when she finished, cam just out of the whelping bed and watched me as I smoothed the flannel cover over the papers and pinned it in strategic places so it would stay put while walked upon.  At one point her head was right by my hands and I stopped to stroke her.  She responded by sucking on my finger.  I could feel teeth breaking through the gums.

Tails were wagging tonight!  SO very cute!  They have begun noticing each other and I’m seeing tiny beginnings of play.

Mercy 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. 

The pups have started getting up on their legs and walking, but they still aren’t using the new area.  When I changed newspapers, I only found yellow (pee) spots a little over 1’ from the old boundary line.  The rest of the room was clean. 

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 (or shortly thereafter).  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. 

18 Days (7/4)  Our 4th of July began just after midnight with a steady rain that intensified into a deluge (not again!) about daylight.  No training as planned.  And no ball sessions.  Instead, I worked on puppy-owner handouts and puppy photo editing, checking on the pups occasionally.  In mid-morning I finally found a pup in the new area.  Miss White was sleeping barely over the “line.”  These pups are way too content.

 When I let Mercy out to potty before her lunch, I saw Miss Pink sitting like a real dog.  The pups must have fallen asleep nestled around Mercy after nursing, because she was sitting in the middle of the sleeping blobs, looking around bemusedly as if wondering where she was.  But she was definitely sitting! 

I registered Justice with UKC today.  Mercy is already registered with them.  Their pups will be easy to register with UKC if their owners want to do UKC nosework competition.  UKC is the only option for nosework we have anywhere close.

The whole group was sleeping just “over the line” when I fed Mercy her late supper.  And it was late since I had to stay up until the idiot neighbors finished their fireworks.  I HATE the 4th of July.  I’m sleep-deprived and crabby the entire week that fireworks are legal before and after the 4th.  So are the dogs.  We can ignore most of the noise, except when they set off house-shakers right over us.  But we sure can’t sleep until they quit for the night.

17 Days (7/3)  I forgot to mention yesterday that we’re now done with the Neurological Exercises.

When I checked on the pups first thing this morning, they were awake since Mercy had left them when she heard my steps.  I caught the first “mouth wrestling” between Mr. Blue and Miss Pink and had to stop to watch and chuckle.  That means they are starting to notice things, and of course the closest things that move catch their attention first.

I moved the 12″ board to define the pups’ new floor space. Mercy 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.  I took a few photos.  Just as I was leaving, I caught Mr. Blue s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out on his back.  Good thing most of the pups were done nursing, as he was right on top of most of Mercy’s nipples.  As I chuckled over him, Mr. Yellow and then Miss White gave huge stretches.  If that wasn’t a picture of total comfort, I don’t know what is.

Mercy 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.  Mercy’s great-great-great-great-grandmother, the original Glory, was the first female I ever saw doing it.  (Mercy’s aunt, 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.  It was fascinating to watch the pups learn to quit complaining and use their noses to solve a problem.

I chuckled when I changed the room tonight.  I didn’t find a single pee spot in the new area.  I knew I hadn’t caught anyone exploring, but all those dry papers were proof they hadn’t.  The “old” area was a different story: I had to change all those papers.  This is the laziest litter I can remember except for Hesed’s OO litter, who were so fat they didn’t even try to walk until they were almost 3 weeks old.

16 Days (7/2)  The pups are now using the entire area available to them.  I could tell for sure when I changed their room last night – pee spots everywhere.  Tomorrow morning I will open up the entire room for them.  Doing this in the morning allows me to monitor them all day to be sure no one gets lost, since now they have a turn to learn to negotiate to get back into the whelping bed.

Tonight I caught Mr. Yellow nicely up on his legs and walking.  YES!!

15 Days (7/1)  Denise came this afternoon to hold puppies while I trimmed nails.  Until the pups are three weeks old, the moms know they are fragile and are worried about people handling them. But Mercy knows, and loves, Denise from our nosework training, so she was a very welcome visitor.  Mercy told Denise how bored she is getting now that the puppies fill their tummies quickly and then sleep forever.  She kept trying to convince Denise to pet her rather than the babies.

Even with help, it took a while.  They are champion squirmers and strugglers.  And did I mention, yellers?  Once we got that done, we took individual photos while Denise got her puppy fix.  We were trying to get photos of their eyes, which are now open, but they wore themselves out during the nail trimming so we mostly got photos of them sleeping in Denise’s arms – and a few with Mercy cuddling up to Denise in an effort to distract her.

The last photo I took was of Miss Gold and Mr. Red twitching as they dreamed.  It’s always fun to watch them “running,” in their sleep, when they’re not even walking yet.

Welcome to the world, little ones.  Bright light hurts immature eyes, so I have the curtain closed on the big window and a sheet over the gate.  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. 

See all of today’s photos


14 Days (6/30)  Two weeks old today!  I registered the litter this morning.

I decided the pups were just too fat and lazy to start climbing out the whelping box (which usually happens as soon as their eyes open) so I forestalled them by opening up the room halfway.  I’m hoping that will encourage them to take a little exercise and do something. 

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 then put up a 12” board to create a portion of the room as their new area. 

I put newspapers over the whelping-bed board and floor and, over them, a blanket for traction.  I also put out a small fleece pad where Mercy will land as she jumps over the 16’ gate that keeps them away from the doorway.  I took a couple of photos of their new living space, then took time to exchange their rickrack “collars” for real (though tiny) collars.  Those don’t come in gold, so Miss Gold will wear an orange collar for a while.

Changing collars woke the pups up and some began moving around.  Mr. Red and Mr. Blue explored some but soon headed back to find Mercy.  I took few photos and left the pups to slumber or nurse as they chose.  The pups can begin exploring as they wish. 

I checked frequently to be sure no one was lost and stressed.  One time Mercy would be nursing a couple in the whelping bed; another time she’d be nursing several by the gate.  By the end of the day most of the pups were hanging out on the little fleece pad where Mercy lands when she jumps in.  I think they figured that way she couldn’t sneak in or out without them knowing.

13 Days (6/29)  Miss Green’s eyes are now totally open, with the others at least half open. I noticed several trying to get up on their legs, though those fat bellies make it really hard.

12 Days (6/28)  I have to laugh at how content this bunch is.  Unlike most pups this age, they are not showing any need for a larger area but are sprawling out, tummies tightly full, every time I check on them.  If they’re anything like either parent this period of peace won’t last long, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

When I did the neurological exercises, I noticed that they eyes are much more open than last night.  Miss Green’s are nearly totally open, while the others’ eyes are maybe 1/3 – ½ open.  Doing the exercises is NOT peaceful!  Did they ever struggle tonight!  And yell!  I thought perhaps the exercises would be more peaceful since I didn’t first disturb them with weighing, but no such luck.  Four more nights and then I can, thankfully, end that rodeo.

11 Days (6/27)  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.

I decided the pups were strong and large enough that they don’t need the pig rail to protect them from being squished.  Besides, they’re so large they could get stuck under the rail, so I took it down.  It’s always amazing how much larger the whelping box looks without it.  Mercy thought so because, by the time I left the whelping room, she had stretched W-A-Y out in it and was contentedly nursing the pups.

The pups have outgrown my postal scale, well, actually the bowl that fits on it to contain them.  It’s hard to get an accurate weight as they’re trying to climb out.  Since this litter is doing great and I don’t have to report to Whelpwise, I got out my big scale (not accurate enough for Whelpwise, who insist on gram readings), which does ounces, pounds and kilograms. The weights are slightly different, so if you’re monitoring weights don’t compare tonight’s to last night’s.  You can resume comparing tomorrow.

Tonight, Miss White had doubled her birth weight.  Hurrah!  Now I can quit daily weighings.  On the new scale, tonight Mr. Blue is 2.8# (12.5 kg); Miss Gold is 3.0# (13.4 kg); Miss Green is 2.8#; 12.9 kg); Miss Pink is 2.5# (11.5 kg); Mr. Red is 2.6# (11.8 kg); Miss White is 2.6# (11.8 kg); and Mr. Yellow is 3.0# (13.3  kg). 

10 Days (6/26)  Those tiny eye openings are stimulating a lot more movement.  I had to laugh when I pulled out the fleece pad so I could change papers and put in a new pad, when the pups saw movement from Mercy and came alive.  It was like disturbing an ant’s nest!  Their heads came up and they started trying to find her.  She lay down on the old pad while I worked, but then of course when she got up to get into the now-clean whelping bed, that disturbed them again.  I had an awful time getting weights on the first couple – and doing the Neurological Exercises – as they were awake and thrashed around. They took so long that the others had gone back to sleep and started off limp for the weighing. 

I missed that Mr. Yellow doubled his birth weight three days ago.  He was actually the first one, rather than Mr. Red. (Math is not my best subject.)  Tonight, Miss Pink had doubled her birth weight.  That just leaves Miss White.  Mr. Blue is now 2.59#; 1182 g.  Miss Gold is now 2.89#; 1300 g.  Miss Green is now 2.77#; 1242 g.  Miss Pink is now 2.51#; 1134 g).  Mr. Red is now 2.45#; 1113 g.  Miss White is now 2.39#; 1080 g.  And Mr. Yellow is now 2.68#; 1213 g). 

They woke up during the exercises and I got glares as I did the 4th exercise (holding them on their back) from a couple whose eyes are about half open.

They were so noisy in their protests that Mercy, who was waiting for them in the whelping bed, leaned forward a couple of times to watch.  When I finish a pup, I place it with Mercy and it immediately heads to the milk bar.  When I give her the last one, she stretches out, ready for bed.  I close the whelping bed up, depart with my weight sheet, wet towel (for the last exercise) and dirty fleece pad, and leave them for the night.

They need toenails trimmed, but I’m going to have to wait until someone whom Mercy knows can come hold them.

9 Days (6/25)  Mr. Blue, Miss Gold and Miss Green have now doubled their birth weights!!!  Mr. Blue is now 2.53#; 1150 g.  Miss Gold is now 2.7#; 1226 g.  Miss Green is now 2.62#; 1188 g.  Miss Pink is now 2.38#; 1082 g).  Mr. Red is now 2.32#; 1060 g.  Miss White is now 2.24#; 1024 g.  And Mr. Yellow is now 2.56#; 1168 g). 

Tonight when I did the Neurological Exercises, I noticed that several eyelids now have a tiny opening.  It won’t be long now until eyes are open and puppies begin exploring.

8 Days (6/24)   Mr. Red is the first one to double his birth weight.  Go, Mr. Red!  Mr. Blue is now 2.31#; 1034 g.  Miss Gold is now 2.45#; 1104 g.  Miss Green is now 2.51#; 1134 g.  Miss Pink is now 2.25#; 1018 g).  Mr. Red is now 2.11#; 965 g.  Miss White is now 2.06#; 922 g.  And Mr. Yellow is now 2.49#; 1135 g). 

I noticed tonight, while doing the Neurological Exercises, that the pups’ eyelids are becoming more defined.  They should start opening in a day or two.

7 Days (6/23)  As of 8:30 tonight (birth time of last pup), the pups have survived the critical first week.  Hurrah!! 

Denise and I had planned to train or, if the forecast rain came, she would come see pups, but by afternoon we were under a tornado watch.  The rain began as Hopeful and I were doing a therapy dog visit, but we got home before the deluge and wind came.  With that tornado watch, we cancelled Denise’s visit.  Until the pups are 3 weeks old and their neurological systems mature, the mother are very watchful, so I don’t allow anyone that they don’t know come see puppies.  Mercy knows Denise well from our frequent nosework trainings, so she would be pleased to let Denise admire her babies.  Denise is going out of town this weekend, so we’ll have to wait until next week for her visit.

I will continue weighing daily until all the pups have doubled their birth weight, which is usually around 10 days of age.  This bunch, since they were so large at birth, will need at least a couple more days to accomplish that landmark. 

Since all are consistently gaining, I will just give their new weights, not gains.  Mr. Blue is now 2.13#; 979 g.  Miss Gold is now 2.35#; 1045 g.  Miss Green is now 2.27#; 1027 g.  Miss Pink is now 2.06#; 941 g).  Mr. Red is now 2.04#; 935 g.  Miss White is now 1.96#; 889 g.  And Mr. Yellow is now 2.35#; 1076 g).  It will be interesting to see what size these pups finally attain.  Although they were quite large at birth, both their parents are just medium sized.  With working dogs, where breeding partners for generations are chosen for working rather than physical traits, you can get very large pups from small parents, and vice versa – the genes are so varied that you often get throwbacks to a very large – or small – predecessor.  We’ll know more once the pups get large enough that we can compare bone structure.

6 Days (6/22)  Mercy is beginning to spend time out of the whelping bed.  I have a dog bed in the room so she can lounge comfortably yet listen for any problems.  The pups are quite efficient at nursing by now, so she can let them get their fill, then when they fall asleep, she leaves them.  I can tell she’s spending time out of the whelping bed because she has started barking at the gate when the other dogs come in the doggie door, which is only a couple of feet away, and walk towards the kitchen.

I had a little time this afternoon, so I took some individual photos of the pups.  I brought in my backdrop, put down a fleece pad, gave everyone new collars and took a few photos of each.  Som collapsed on the pad and went back to sleep (such as Miss Gold), so I didn’t get many, but others moved a bit and I got more interesting photos. You can see their little Roman noses.  I even got photos of Mr. Red and Mr. Yellow complaining.  I got one of Mr. Yellow trying to walk, and one of Mr. Green changing directions.  It’s funny to watch fat puppies try to get up on their legs.  They aren’t trying much yet, but it won’t be long.

I’m beginning to think that we have black & REDS rather than just black & tans.  Love that rich, rich reddish tan!   Look at the red on Miss Gold and Mr. Red!  The two sables are definitely red sables.  I had thought they might be black sables, but at the moment they’re showing more red. That could change since sables are born light and get darker as they age, up until they’re about 2 years old.  The black and tans are born almost black and get lighter as they age.

Later, I went in, changed the fleece pad, weighed pups and did the Neurological Exercises.  It definitely works better to weigh first; three just kept sleeping while I weighed them.  They woke up when I started the exercises, though.  If you wonder sometimes why they gain a lot one day and just a little the next, it can be a combination of fighting the weighing and normal growth spurts.  After each spurt, the body has to assimilate that new weight before it starts putting on more.

Mr. Blue gained .1# (now 1.86#; 842 g).  Miss Gold gained .2# (now 2.14#; 959 g).  Miss Green gained .2# (now 2.15#; 964 g).  Miss Pink gained .1# (now 2.0#; 889 g).  Mr. Red gained .2# (now 1.87#; 850 g).  Miss White gained .1# (now 1.89#; 864 g).  And Mr. Yellow gained .2# (now 2.13#; 961 g). 

See all the photos.



5 Days (6/21)  Mercy is eating like crazy, and the pups’ weight gains show it.  Mr. Blue gained .1# (now 1.86#; 842 g).  Miss Gold gained .2# (now 1.96#; 895 g).  Miss Green gained .1# (now 1.95#; 875 g).  Miss Pink gained .2# (now 1.82#; 832 g).  Mr. Red gained .2# (now 1.69#; 755 g).  Miss White gained .1# (now 1.80#; 814 g).  And Mr. Yellow gained .2# (now 1.95#; 879 g). 

I thawed out a roast that Debi & Don brought me so I can put it in the crockpot tomorrow.  The other dogs are enjoying a small ladle of broth over their lunch, though I reserve most of the broth and all of the meat for Mama Mercy.

4 Days (6/20)  Both temperament testers had conflicts on 5th/6th, so we scheduled the Police/Narcotics Test on Friday, August 11th, and the Search & Rescue Test on Saturday, August 12th, both at 9 a.m.  The arena is reserved, so we’re all set.

One would think, in the middle of June, that one could take puppies to the vet without having a heating pad in the box.  Not so this year!  I put a towel in a cardboard box, then the heating pad, and turned it on for about 10 minutes before I loaded Miss Gold, Mr. Red & Miss White for their vet trip to remove rear dewclaws.  I plugged the heating pad back in while I waited in the clinic lobby, and again when we got into our room. Dr. Cindy didn’t take long – a quick snip since the rear dewclaws are barely attached – the reason they can cause problems if left on.  (If the adult dog snags one on a bush or something and tears it off, you’ll get lots of bleeding), then glue to seal the tiny wound.  She checked after all three were done, to make sure there was no bleeding (none), then we headed home.  Mercy eagerly inspected them, said they were fine, and allowed them a comfort nursing.

Tonight, in an effort to more easily weigh the pups, I weighed each one before beginning its Neurological Exercises.  Some still struggled a little, but this worked much better.  They are no large enough that I substituted a big bowl on the scale instead of the small low-sided tray I had been using.  I’m going to have to soon move to my big scale, which isn’t quite as accurate, but this litter is having no problems that necessitate very accurate weights for Whelpwise to monitor and decide if we need to supplement.

I thought I’d arrange the pups by size.  Largest is Miss Green at 1.79# (819 g).  She gained .18# (85 grams).  Then came Mr. Blue, Miss Gold & Mr. Yellow, who weighed 1.77#.  Miss Gold & Mr. Yellow weighed 800 grams, while Mr. Blue weighed 794 g.  Mr. Yellow had gained .21# (96 g); Mr. Blue had gained .21# (84 g); and Miss Gold had gained .18# (79 g).   Next is Miss White at 1.69# (763 g), who gained .153 (63 g).  Then comes Miss Pink at 1.6# (731 g), who gained .19# (61 g).  Last, but gaining, is Mr. Red at 1.47#/ (671 g), who gained .19#/92 oz.   

3 Days (6/19)  The pups were content and nursing when I got up this morning and let Mercy out to potty.  I, too, was content after a good night’s sleep.  Maybe I’ll get those birth photos edited today without falling asleep.  First, though are ball sessions with the big dogs, who feel quite neglected.  IF it isn’t raining.  It rained all night and is dark, but the forecast doesn’t mention rain.

I emailed both temperament testers to see when we can schedule the testing.  The pups will be 7 weeks on August 4th, so we can do the testing the 5th/6th if that works for my testers, otherwise sometime the following week.

When I weighed the group, all had again gained.  Mr. Blue had gained 39 grams (now 1.49#; 650 g).  Miss Gold gained 74 grams (now 1.48#; 668 g); Miss Green gained 62 grams (now 1.48#; 683 g); Miss Pink gained 33 grams (now 1.34#; 607 g).  Mr. Red gained 40 grams (now 1.19#; 531 g).  Miss White gained 23 grams (now 1.43#; 645 g).  And Mr. Yellow had gained 64 grams (now 1.44#; 642 g).         

My friends Debi & Don had brought some meat from a beef they got last year when they came up to play with the YY litter and help take them on a nursing home visit.  I dug out some packages of stew meat out of the freezer and put them in a crock pot.  Mercy is eating A LOT, and broth poured over kibble helps her get enough carbohydrates to produce lots of milk.

Dark clouds threatened rain, so I thought we’d have to skip ball sessions again this morning, but they moved off.  We started late, but al the dogs were happy to finally have their normal morning play.  I barely got done in time to grab Spirit and head to the nursing home for our 2 p.m. visit.  Everyone wanted to visit, so our usual hour-long visit extended to 90 minutes, until I saw a clock and realized I barely had time to get Spirit home, unload her and pick up Mercy for her vet appointment.

Poor Mercy has been miserable for most of her pregnancy.  Our late spring, which caused EVERYTHING to bloom at the same time, triggered an allergic reaction and a yeast infection in one ear.  We were limited in what we could give her, so she was thrilled when I took her to the vet this afternoon for an allergy shot.  We can also treat her ears with a more comforting medicinal drop rather than vinegar water, which is all I could use before she whelped.

Of course, we had to weigh her to determine how much of the Cytopoint she needed.  She weighed 76#, which means she lost 18 of the 23# that she gained during her pregnancy.  She looks like my normally trim Mercy (except for her mammary development!).

I did the first of the Neurological Exercises tonight.  Many pups are ho-hum about it, but not this bunch.  They struggled and yelled from the time I picked up the Q-tip through when I placed them on a cold, damp towel.  They are strong little buggers!

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

As I finished each one, I weighed it and then put it in the whelping box with Mercy, who was watching all the protests quite calmly.

Mr. Blue had gained 60 grams/.07# (now 1.56#; 710 g).  Miss Gold gained 53 grams/.11# (now 1.59#; 721 g); Miss Green gained 51/.2# grams (now 1.62#; 734 g); Miss Pink gained 63 grams/.13# (now 1.47#; 670 g).  Mr. Red gained 48 grams/.09# (now 1.28#; 579 g).  Miss White gained 55 grams/.12# (now 1.55#; 700 g).  And Mr. Yellow had gained 62 grams/.12# (now 1.56#; 704 g). 

Then I trimmed toenails.  That was a battle!  Mercy even scooted closer to check us out. It took quite a while to get everyone done.  I needed a Diet Pepsi when I finally finished. In the process, I discovered that Mr. Red has one rear dewclaw.  So he’ll join sisters Miss White & Gold on the trip to the vet tomorrow to have them removed.  Rear dewclaws are a recessive trait that shows occasionally.  Since German Shepherds are working dogs, you leave the front dewclaws on in case they need to climb a wall or maneuver rough terrain.  The rear dewclaws can be a nuisance, catching on things and serve no practical purpose, so if they show up in a pup I have them removed on day 3 or 4, a simple process. 

I finished editing the birth photos, finally.  It’s late, so I’ll get them on the website tomorrow.  One last potty trip for Mercy, who prefers to potty in the yard rather than in her little enclosed yard, and we headed to bed.

2 Days (6/18)  And sleep I did!  Nor did I wake up to cramps.  Hurrah!  Plus the pups were quiet and Mercy didn’t wake me to retrieve any out from under the pig rail.

All has been peaceful today, puppies fat and content.  

Mercy is VERY proud of her family.  I left the new family alone most of the day, letting all of them rest and recover from the stress of being born, just going in frequently to check that no pup was lost or cold.  I have to frequently monitor the little heater in the bed.  It’s very hard to get it adjusted so they’re warm enough but not too warm – and mom isn’t too hot.  The pups have already figured out how to find mom when she changes position, so all was quiet each time I checked. 

I keep close watch over the pups during that first critical week, weighing them each day to be sure that they are nursing properly and getting enough milk to grow.  In the evening, I pull their fleece bedding out on the floor and let them nurse while I change newspapers and put in a new fleece pad.  That way I can check that all are nursing well.  The whelping bed has a hinged side that I let down to form a ramp when I change bedding.  Once the pups begin moving around, I take it down so they have an easy way out into the room and back to the bed as I begin helping them to learn to potty away from “home”. 

The moms often lie down on the “old” pad and nurse the pups as I work, although generally what happens is that they wander around and wake all the puppies, who squirm and try to move towards her and roll off the pad onto the linoleum floor.  All of this makes them mad.  I eventually return all of them to the pad but I believe that a little stress from early in life makes for a stronger, more resilient adult dog, so I don’t hurry to rescue them. 

When I weighed the pups, all had gained.  They are already so large that I switched from ounces to pounds.  Unfortunately, I forgot to record ounces so I could subtract yesterday’s reading from today’s readings to get a gain.  The math is too much for me, so I’ll just give the gains in grams since I recorded those both days.  Tomorrow I’ll list gains in tenths of a pound.  Mr. Blue had gained 39 grams (now 1.69#; 650 g).  Miss Gold gained 74 grams (now 1.48#; 668 g); Miss Green gained 62 grams (now 1.8#; 683 g); Miss Pink gained 33 grams (now 1.34#; 607 g).  Mr. Red gained 40 grams (now 1.19#; 531 g).  Miss White gained 23 grams (now 1.43#; 645 g).  And Mr. Yellow had gained 64 grams (now 1.44#; 642 g).  I was very pleased that Miss Gold had gained nicely after having lost yesterday.  The wide range of gains is quite normal for newborns, since they grow in spurts, and in nursing efficiency.  Mercy is being a fantastic mother and hardly leaves the whelping bed.

Today I got ready for the two weeks of neurological stimulations, which start tomorrow.  I even remembered to dampen a towel and put it in the fridge so it’s ready for the thermal stimulation!  I guess doing these exercises has now become a habit.

See Early Neurological Stimulations illustrated page, part 1.

Several years ago, when I began doing the early neurological stimulation exercises on my litters, I was pleased to see that the introduction mentioned my practice of stressing them a little each night as I change their bed:                     

I tried to edit the birth photos tonight but kept falling asleep, in spite of taking two good naps, one after Denise and I trained nosework this morning, and the other this afternoon.  I’m going to bed early tonight and sleeping in my own bed since the pups are doing so well.  Hurrah!

1 Day (6/17)  The pups were quiet during the night, but Mercy woke me up at about 2:30 a.m., insisting that I look in the whelping bed.  She pointed out two pups who had crawled under the pig rail.  They were contentedly asleep, but she wanted them with the others.  So I pulled them out and placed them in the puppy pile, at which she immediately curled around them and told me I was no longer needed.  Chuckling, I returned to my “bed” and went back to sleep.

I thought my “bed” was pretty comfortable, but when I woke up a couple of hours later and moved my legs, I had massive cramps all up both legs and in both feet.  I managed to quiet them and went back to sleep, but when I got up to good, they returned full force and were pretty miserable until I took my standard remedy (potassium tablets and a glass of milk).  My feet have been bad for years and I occasionally get cramps after being on them for a long time during the day, and that remedy works the fastest of any I have tried.  I guess that hard foam pad is NOT a good idea.

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.  Mercy continued to say she was starving so she got plenty of the raw meat diet at intervals.  They normally 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.  At one meal, instead of the raw meat diet, I gave her some kibble with the last of the beef broth and meat poured over it.  That got a little kibble into her system.          

I have been concerned about Mr. Red, who had such a slow start yesterday.  I kept checking on him and never could catch him nursing.  I had a meeting this afternoon and before I left, I tried an individual nursing session by putting down a fleece pad in the room and just having him and Mercy on it.  I tried putting his mouth on several nipples and he just spat them out and curled against her side and went to sleep.  I finally gave up and put him back in the whelping bed.

After my meeting, I wanted to get back as soon as possible and check on Mr. Red.  If they start going downhill, you can usually save them by intervening with bottle or tube feeding.  I hurriedly headed to the sporting goods store and found a 3” self-inflating mat. 

When I weighed the pups this afternoon, I was relieved that only one (Miss Gold) had lost weight – and hers was a tiny amount. That often happens, because birth is a stressful process.  If you’re going to lose puppies, it’s generally in the first few days.

Boys:  Mr. Blue was 21.5 oz (up 2 ounces); Mr. Red was 17.4 oz (up .6 oz) and Mr. Yellow was 20.4 oz (up 2 oz).
Girls:  Miss Gold was 20.8 oz (down .3 oz); Miss Green was 21.8 oz (up 1.6 oz); Miss Pink was 20.2 oz (up .7 oz) and Miss White was 22.0 oz (up 1.7 oz).

Naturally, when I went to set out the new sleeping mat when I was ready to go to bed, the directions said let it sit for 30 minutes the first time.  Why the makers put the instructions inside the rolled-up mat instead of on the box is beyond me.  I don’t have room to roll the thing out and let it sit hours before I need it.  I managed to find other things to do for about 20 minutes and said that was enough – I needed to crash.  It was maybe half inflated, so I dug out my old backpacking inflatable mat and slept on the two of them. 


First photo shows the boys; second photo shows the girls.

6/16/23:  Mercy’s temperature this morning was 99.3.  With the Doppler, I found 4 heartbeats on the left side and only 2 on the right, even though I spent 20 minutes searching on each side.  Whelpwise says that’s common at this stage of pregnancy. They also said that, from the uterine monitoring data, she’s moving into pre-labor.  She definitely wants to be close to me.  After our monitoring session, I pottied her and convinced her to eat a little raw liver.  Normally she heads to her crate in the bedroom, but this morning she turned and headed to the whelping room, another sign that labor is close. As soon as I get this on the website, I’ll move into the whelping room.  I doubt anything will happen for a while, but I’ll take my laptop in with me and continue editing the YY litter photos, of which I have a HUGE backload. 

I created a better cushion for me to use while whelping this litter.  Whelping Lovely’s litter and sleeping on the floor for 10 days as I tube fed a struggling pup, I sprained a muscle in my back that caused me great pain for 8 weeks.  I had a 4” thick foam pad that had proved too stiff when I tried it in a previous litter, I had a brainstorm and put two soft dog bed cushions on top of it.  That was much better!

Whelpwise ordered another uterine monitoring session at 10:30. They said she’s definitely in labor – they saw all kinds of contractions – though nothing shows on the outside.  They ordered another monitoring session at 2.

For a while Mercy was restless, then she settled down and snoozed.  About 1:30 she began panting, which is usually the first noticeable symptom of whelping.  I stepped out to potty Pascha and get a bite to eat.

When I returned, I saw a very smug mom – and a BIG sable puppy!  What a sneaky girl.  Some bitches won’t even let you leave to go to the bathroom, and others like to wait for privacy to pop out a pup.  Miss Pink weighed 19.5 oz (556 grams).  I put her birth at 1:55. I called Whelpwise and Susan, who is on duty at the moment, laughed.  She, too, has had sneaky moms pull fast ones on her.  She said to do a short monitoring session in 45 minutes if Mercy hasn’t had another pup.

 I started the monitoring session, but in the middle of it, at 3:56, Mercy had another pup.  Miss White was even larger than Miss Pink, 20.3 oz (580 g).  Miss White has rear dewclaws, which occasionally appear.  I called the vet and made an appointment to have them removed Tuesday.

Whelpwise said to wait 45 minutes and do another monitoring session when Mercy was quiet and the puppies nursing, so they could gauge the strength of Mercy’s contractions.  She had another pup during that session.  Miss Green was born at 4:38 and weighed 20.2 oz (55 g).

Whelpwise said to give Mercy some injectable calcium, wait 20 minutes, and then try to do another monitoring session when all was peaceful.  As soon as I started the monitoring session, Mercy had another pup.  Mr. Blue, a bicolor weighing 19.5 oz (560 g) was born at 5:36.

After close to an hour had passed, Whelpwise had me give her a shot of oxytocin (a hormone that causes contractions to start again).  They said to wait 40 minutes and then do a 20-minute uterine monitoring session.  I did, but after about 10 minutes of peaceful slumbering (which is what they like for the monitoring), Mercy suddenly woke up, gave some hard pushes, and produced Mr. Yellow, a sable male, at 7:22 p.m.  Mr. Yellow weighed 18.4 oz (560 g).  It is absolutely amazing that Mercy, who is a small female, is producing such huge pups!

I was hoping I had gotten enough good data, so as soon as Mr. Yellow was cleaned up and heading to the milk bar, I went to the bedroom to send the data over the land line.  That took less than 10 minutes.  When I returned, there was another newborn pup, this time a black and tan male!  Mr. Red weighed 16.8 oz (477 g).  He had inhaled fluid during his time in the birth canal and was a little stressed and not breathing well when I got into the room.  I immediately went into my “pup slinger” routine.  Wrapping him in a towel so I had a secure grip, I supported his head between my thumbs and did several big sweeps in a circular downward motion.  That helps clear the fluids out of his lungs and nose.  He wasn’t extremely vigorous after his rough entry into the world, so I put him on the heating pad to make sure he was warm enough and give him a chance to breathe more freely.

By the time I talked to Whelpwise about the data, Karen had gone home and Kari was on duty.  Kari is much more easy-going and just laughed about Mercy goofing up the data by having a pup every time I put the sensor under her.  She said to do another uterine monitoring in 40 minutes.

While I waited to do another session, Mercy was peacefully slumbering with her pups. This time, when the alarm went off, I didn’t even get the sensor attached to the data box, much less slide the sensor under her, before she gave a mighty shove and a HUGE black & tan pup arrived.  Miss Gold weighed 21.1 ox (600 g)!!  She, like Mr. Red, had come out of the placenta while in the birth canal and had fluid in her lungs.  I repeated my pup-slinger maneuver and put her on the heating pad.  It wasn’t long before she moved off the pad to search for milk. She also has rear dewclaws.

Kari from Whelpwise said to wait 40 minutes and then do a 20-minute uterine monitoring session.  This time all was peaceful before and during the monitoring session, so she must have just had 7 pups.  Karen had kept saying she thought there was an 8th one, so Kari had me Doppler both sides to see if I could find any heartbeats, then do a uterine monitoring session on the left side since all our attempts recently at monitoring were on the right side, Mercy definitely preferring to lie with her right side down.  I couldn’t find any heartbeats on either side.  While I was doing the uterine monitoring, I put the pups on the heating pad in the corner of the whelping bed.  Mr. Red woke up and found Mercy and began nursing.  Hurrah!  I was very relieved to see that.  He had been so stressed during birth and very passive, so I was worried about him.  This was the first time he showed any ambition.  Earlier, I had tried putting him on a teat but he wouldn’t take hold.  I always relax when everyone has gotten some milk in their stomachs to help them recover from birth.

Whelpwise checked the monitoring data and saw no contractions, so we said Mercy was done whelping.  She had a little discharge, so we gave her an oxytocin shot to be sure any fluids in the uterus were expelled.  After 30 minutes and no pups, worrisome discharges or placentas produced, I was able to start cleaning up.  7 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 pups and heating pad to a blanket on the floor and pointed the space heater to that area.  Mercy went with them. That way I could clean the whelping bed.  I removed the newspaper strips, then scrubbed the bed, let it dry, and 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, put them in the now-clean whelping bed 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 almost 1 a.m.

I slept in the whelping room so I could be sure no one got lost in what must seem like a huge area, coming form the uterus and blind.


5/12/23  We did Mercy’s ultrasound and Dr. Cindy saw at least 3. 

Usually the mother-to-be will have twice what we see on the ultrasound.  We’ll have to wait for the x-ray during the last week of pregnancy to know how many she actually has.  We have to wait that long because the pups’ skeletons don’t calcify until the very end of pregnancy.  X-rays can penetrate the entire width of the dog’s body and give an accurate count, while ultrasounds are more limited in penetration and in big-bodied dogs, pups can hide out of sight.

6/1/23:  Mercy is getting so large and claims she’s STARVING, so I added a 5th meal just before bedtime.    First thing in the morning she gets 3/4# 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. 

6/7/23:  The Whelpwise box of pregnancy-monitoring equipment arrived.  I am SO not ready to start those sessions, which take up about 3 hours of each day. 

Mercy has begun refusing her kibble meals but still eats her meat meals with gusto.

6/8/23:  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 Mercy 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.

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. 

6/9/23:  My friend, Jocie, who usually comes to my house to shave my mothers-to-be, is out of town.  My vets loaned me one of their surgical clippers so I could do it myself. I was enough intimidated by the prospect of possibly “burning” her by shaving too close, that I decided I’d wait until tomorrow.

Heavy rain began tonight and it rained all night. 

6/10/23:  It rained – make that POURED – all day today, too.  My friend, Denise, and I were supposed to go train nosework this morning.  So much for those plans.  Maybe it was a nudge to get Mercy shaved so I could start monitoring tonight. 

Mercy, thank goodness, lay quiet while I shaved her.  I didn’t do a very pretty job of it, but I got it done.  It reminded me of what my dad usually said when he built something for me, “It may not be pretty, but it will do the job.”

As of tonight, we are now on puppy watch, with me taking Mercy’ 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 100.6.  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 Mercy’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 Mercy 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.

6/11/23:  Mercy’s temperature this morning was 100.3.       

The rain finally quit last night, so Denise planned to go train.  We usually go as early as possible, but I told her I had to fist do a monitoring session on Mercy in addition to rotating all the dogs who had been crated overnight out for potty and breakfast before I could leave.  Normally I would put all of them out in different play areas while I was gone, but the nightly heavy rains have brought a terrible plague of mosquitos.  I texted Denise when I was down to rotating the last dog and said I could be there at 9.  I left Mercy in the whelping room since I would be gone close to two hours.

Both morning and evening monitoring sessions showed all was peaceful.  Mercy goes to sleep during them and, when I need to turn her over for the second side, I have to really work to get her up, turned around and down again facing the opposite way.  Whelpwise wanted me to start doing the Doppler search (to count and monitor fetal heartbeats) but I begged off until tomorrow since I had Mass tonight and it would mean getting to bed really late since I would have to do the monitoring/Doppler after Mass.

Mercy’s temperature tonight was 100.7. 

6/12/23:  Mercy’s temperature this morning was 100.1. 

I put down a cushion to sit upon during the monitoring sessions since I get VERY stiff over the hour of sitting on the floor.  On each side, as I did the uterine monitoring session, I glopped her sides with Ultrasound Gel, then slowly ran the Doppler sensor over the shaved area.  When you find a pup, you stick a piece of paper to mark its position.  When you think you’ve found all of them, you take a photo to send to Whelpwise, then clean off the glop and go through the process of getting Mercy to lie down with the other side up.  I ended up detecting 3 pups on each side.   

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 Mercy 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.  Mercy 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.

Mercy’s temperature tonight was 100.5.  I repeated the fetal heartbeat search during the monitoring session.  I could only find 4 pups tonight, 2 on each side.  Whelpwise saw 1 minor contraction on the uterine data, nothing to worry about.

6/13/23:  Mercy’s temperature this morning was 100.5.  I found three pups on each side.  I could see the pups kicking and stretching under Mercy’s skin as I moved the Doppler sensor over them. That was fun.  All is peaceful in the uterus.

I finally resorted to offering Mercy treats to convince her to get up and turn around.  It takes one to get her to get on her feet, another to change directions, a third (and sometimes fourth) to lie down, and a last one to stretch out on her side.  All this is accompanied by very mournful looks and deep sighs that I disturbed her rest.

We did the X-ray this afternoon.  Dr. Cincy saw 7 pups.

Whelpwise reported that this evening’s uterine monitoring session was again totally quiet.  I found 4 pups on the right side and 3 on the left when I did tonight’s Doppler search.  Karen, the Whelpwise owner, told me to keep searching the left side for a 4th pup that could be there.

Mercy’s temperature was 100.5 tonight.

6/14/23:  Mercy’s temperature this morning was 100.4.  Uterine monitoring showed everything still peaceful, no contractions.  I found 4 pups on the right side and 3 on the left side when I Dopplered Mercy.

She has quit eating her raw meat diet meals and acts nauseated.  Whelpwise told me that they associate their last meal with the nausea.  I hadn’t known that.  I usually offer them raw beef liver or heart during their last week of pregnancy. They’ll eat that when they refuse everything else, and those organ meats stimulate milk production.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find any in the stores. I did have some turkey broth/meat in the freezer so I thawed out a container and offered Mercy some of it poured over her kibble.  THAT she could – and did – eat with no nausea.

The evening uterine monitoring session showed all was quiet.  With the Doppler, I found 4 pups on the right side and 3 on the left, with a 4th “possible” way up by her ribs.  The heartbeat was faint so it could be a pup on the opposite side (already counted).

Mercy’s temperature was 100.2 tonight.

6/15/23:  Mercy’s temperature this morning was 99.5.  With the Doppler, I found 4 heartbeats on the left side and 3 on the right, with another faint one close to the ribs and backbone.

Whelpwise called the uterine monitoring sessions “restless” but saw no contractions and didn’t think she was close to whelping until I told them that Mercy’s temperature had finally dropped below 100 AND that I found the heartbeats further back, probably because they had begun moving towards the birth canal.  That, along with the uterine restlessness, put all of us on alert.  From now until the pups are safely on the ground, all my usual commitments – therapy dog visits, meetings – are tentative, depending on whether I feel it’s safe to leave Mercy unattended.  I let the nursing home know I may not make it there tomorrow.

I could only find 3 fetal heartbeats on the left side tonight, but I found 4 on the left, though one was very faint.  Whelpwise saw 4 contractions and irritability (not quite contractions.)

Mercy’s temperature was 99.4 tonight.