XX Litter Diary
I am extremely grateful to Whelpwise (Perinatal Veterinary Specialties, www.whelpwise.com), a canine pregnancy support group, for their help with this litter. I have been highly impressed with their expertise and availability at all hours, day and night.
See the Search & Rescue Test Results & Photos (53 days old)
See the Police/Narcotics Temperament Test Results & Photos (52 days old)
See Mr. X running the Puppy Obstacle Run for the first time (52 days old)
See the photos of Mr. X’s 2nd visit to the Alzheimer’s Unit (51 days)
See Mr. X’s visit to Westview Healthcare Center (49 days old)
See the photos of Mr. X’s visit to the Alzheimer’s Unit (38 days old)
See the photos of the visit from Callan and Greg (33 days old)
See the photos of the visit from Linda (29 days old)
See the photos of the visit from Claudia (26 days old)
See photos of the week of Enrichment Experiences (21 – 28 days old)
Scroll down for earlier entries and other photos.
70 Days (9/19) Mr. X (now “Degen,” registered name Celhaus Xcellent Hope) turned 11 weeks old this morning and celebrated by taking off, with John, on the drive to his new home in North Carolina. John tried to get photos of Mr. X and me before he left, but Degen did NOT want to be held. He only got one usable one.
This completes the diary. It, and all the photos, will remain on the website for about a week, so if you missed any of the pictures of Degen’s adventures, be sure to look at them soon. I will create a page for Degen as soon as John starts sending me photos and updates.
69 Days (9/18) Mr. X again spent the morning at the seminar, which was at Craftco so there was plenty of walking/pottying space. John gave him several leash lessons, chances to potty, and naptime while I worked the seminar.
When we broke for lunch, I took Mr. X home, fed him and left him to nap. He was ready to play when Spirit & Hopeful got home. They and Justice wore him out nicely.
John came over tonight so we could get the paperwork done and everything decided for him to leave with Mr. X in the morning.
68 Days (9/17) Mr. X got to go to the seminar this morning. We were working outdoors, at Craftco. I took him with Spirit & Hopeful, and John took over when he arrived, keeping him pretty busy with rounds of leash training, visiting with seminar participants and naps. When we broke for lunch, I took him home, gave him a chance to potty, then put him in the puppy room with lunch. He didn’t eat much because John had given him a lot of my pieces of beef roast that I took for training treats. He almost immediately stretched out for a good nap after his adventure.
When I got home from the seminar, I let him out of the room so he’d potty while I unloaded the car, then let him hang out for an hour as Spirit and Hopeful had a chance to stretch and play after working all day. All of us were glad to go to bed early. I had had to be at Craftco by 7:30 today, and have to be there that early tomorrow as well. The seminar is fantastic, but it’s a lot of work.
67 Days (9/16) I put Mr. X and Lovely in the puppy yard with a couple of marrow bones to amuse them when I left for the seminar at7:45 this morning. When I went home at lunch, I brought Mr. X, fed him and left him in his room for the afternoon. He was not pleased with being ignored and let me have it when I got home about 5:45. Thankfully, John came around 7 and amused him for quite a while.
66 Days (9/15) Mr. X’s new dad, John, arrived this morning. He played with Mr. X and visited with me as I did all the ball sessions. He definitely wore that puppy out! When we finished the ball sessions, John left to go explore the Big Horn Mountains on his free afternoon. He’ll leave with Mr. X on Monday morning, after auditing the nosework seminar.
65 Days (9/14) Mr. X’s ears are up this morning and is he ever cute! They are big and fuzzy – and the tips are bending backwards. What a hoot!
I forgot to mention last night that he’s doing super well in his pool searching and manding. I have begun adding plastic bottles so that he has to actually use his nose to search for the treats. Each time we do the pool, I have added more bottles – and I sprinkle the treats in the pool before I set it on the floor.
This morning at our manding session he got distracted, hearing Lively drinking from her water bowl in her crate. He headed into the bedroom to say hello, then wandered back. I remained quietly seated in my chair until he suddenly remembered what we had been doing and came back to sit in front of me and give me nice eye contact. What a good boy!
I had a little trouble doing poop detail this morning. I use a bucket, spatula and shovel to pick up poop, and drag the shovel as I walk. Today I had a furry black monster attached to the handle, biting and pulling the opposite way. He finally got distracted by Varoom! and took off to pursue her, leaving me to finish the chore in peace.
As the day went on, Mr. X’s ear tips went back to falling forward. This evening they were tipping backwards. Puppy ears are SO fun!
So much for best-laid plans: today the Alzheimer’s Unit was placed on isolation for 72 hours. By the time the pup could go visit, I’ll be doing the Dave Kroyer nosework seminar. I took off Mr. X’s collar.
My nosework class was also cancelled today, so I headed outside to work on a project that needed to be done. Spirit, Hopeful, Varoom!, Justice and Mr. X came out to “help” me. Despite their attentions, I got the project finished – just as it began to rain lightly. They had played hard enough while I worked that all were content to hang out in the house and let me work on the computer until their hour was up. Mr. X consented to take a nap while I let Lively out for her hour.
When it was Lovely’s (and Mr. X’s) turn to be out, the rain was coming down pretty hard. I was very glad that he has learned to go out the front door and walk all the way around to the back door and come in on his own. I went out far enough to watch him potty – thank goodness for the big roof over my mobile home that forms a sheltered area for puppy pottying. He followed Lovely out into the lawn and I snuck back in the front door and left them to wander back into the house.
I cooked a beef roast to cut into tiny pieces and use as treats in the nosework seminar. Justice goes Friday, and he is so easily distracted – and loses his mind overall the possible playmates he sees – that I want super high-power treats to reward the smallest try to concentrate. As usual, I stuck in a potato and for supper had a baked potato and a slice of the roast. Lovely and Mr. X happened to be out when the roast was done. When I sat down – in the chair I use for our manding sessions – he raced over, sat and gave me eye contact. Poor boy, he had to wait until I ate; then I got out the salmon treats and we had our manding session. He has this down pat – he sits and gives me great eye contact – and when he tilts his back to look into my eyes his ears stand straight up. He’s going to be one stunning, masculine male when he matures.
After we manded for a bit, I put down the pool. Tonight it had about twice as many bottles as before, and also a few tuna and salmon cans. He did some intense, systematic searching, very nice to watch. I had to laugh at his attempts to get a treat out of the tuna can. He kept picking it up and carrying it around the pool, but never turned it over to make the treat fall out. He finally lay down and licked until he managed to get the treat.
When he went back to searching, I snuck into the kitchen and fixed his supper. I heard a strange noise and looked into the living room, to see that he was out of the pool, had the edge of the pool in his mouth and was dragging it backwards. I couldn’t help but laugh, at which he noticed me and came to me. I picked up his food bowl and led him to the puppy room for supper.
64 Days (9/13) Big day for the pup. He finally figured out how to go out the doggie door. He’s been coming in on his own for quite a while, but would stand by the door and whine, waiting for me (or one of the big dogs) to push the flap. I think the difference is the light coming through the translucent flap. And, of course, at night I turn on the outside light as we go out so it would reflect, too. Once he figured it out, he had it. Every time today that we’ve headed out the back door he has stopped as if to take a deep breath, then chosen where to push the flap – at first on an edge, then in the middle as he gained more confidence.
This afternoon I remembered to get out a collar and put it on Mr. X so he can get used to it before we go to the Alzheimer’s Unit tomorrow. I’m planning to take him in on leash, then take collar and leash off for playtime, then walk him out on leash.
63 Days (9/12) Mr. X must have decided his bed was too crowded to sleep comfortably, because this morning he only had one toy and one bone on his bed. The others he had carried to the room entrance.
We began Reading Dog at Tongue River Elementary today, so I was gone all morning. Since it was going to get up to 89 today and was already warming up nicely, I put Lovely and Mr. X in the puppy yard. Both were miffed – her because she had to be with him forever, and he because he had no entertainment.
When I got home about 12:30, I put him in his room with his lunch and tried to keep everyone quiet so he’d nap and be ready to go to Westview Healthcare Center at 2.
He was definitely ready and played for almost an hour. He played tug and Yvette, the activity director, had to be ready to substitute a toy when he grabbed for her arm, which he did frequently. He also fixated on one man’s shoes and kept going over to chew on him. Michelle helped me today and she was kept busy heading him off from those shoes, some felt boots and some socks.
See more of today’s visit photos
Tonight I started his clicker training. I sat in a chair and began clicking and treating. He soon gave nice eye contact and sat nicely almost at once. The ideal is for a pup to sit and give me eye contact, at which time I give it a treat from my hand. I was trying to establish that the clicker noise means a treat is coming. This is a huge step in their learning process, taking treats from a person’s hand. He did great.
After a bit, I said, “That’s all,” which is my notice to the dogs that we’re done with an exercise, and put down the pool. He was climbing in before I got treats in my hand. While he cleaned up the treats, I snuck into the kitchen and dished up the big dogs’ supper. When he came looking for me, I returned to the living room and sat again in the chair – and he immediately sat and gave me eye contact. I’ve noticed him giving great eye contact to people during our visits, so I wasn’t surprised.
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 if 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.
62 Days (9/11) Mr. X had me laughing this morning. He came out for Hopeful’s ball session and chased back and forth after her for a while, then headed off to explore. Puppies don’t look up, so he was quite surprised when a sunflower, heavy-headed with seed and drooping, bonked him on the head. His double-take was hilarious. Then, as it bobbed from the impact, he tried to catch it. When he finally did, he had a great game of tug. He’d lose hold of it, only to pursue it, nab it, and tug some more. This must have gone on for at least 7 minutes before he tired of the game. It’s so fun to see him come alive in the cool weather.
He had so much fun that he stayed out until I came out with Justice. Then he began scoping out the flowerbed close to where I sit, checking out the flowers that leaned over the little fence I have to discourage the dogs from digging or burying bones in the bed. He ended up plucking off a hollyhock flower and carrying it for a bit before he dropped it. It made a bright pink ball-sized bump in the grass which kept catching my eye and, evidently, his, as he’d go back and pounce on it every so often. He chased Justice WAY out as Justice ran for his ball, and ended up staying out there, having a ball exploring, even when Justice and I headed to the house.
By the time I came out with Spirit, he was beginning to tire and had come back to lie under my chair and wait for us. He was content to watch her run back and forth. Thankfully, he consented to come in with us as I needed to crate him for Lively’s and Mercy’s ball sessions. He made no protest but stretched out and crashed. I had to wake him up to go out with Lovely & Justice when it was their turn.
I needed to brush Hopeful tonight since she does her first Reading Dog session at Tongue River Elementary tomorrow morning. I got Spirit brushed after her ball session, but Hopeful gets in the pool several times during her ball session and loves to lie down until the water is up to her neck, so she’s too wet to brush then. I let Mr. X out with her, Hesed & Varoom! for their evening playtime and we trooped out to the grooming table. Mr. X was fascinated as all 3 jumped up to get brushed and then down and then back up. I only needed to brush Hopeful but everyone loves the special attention so all got brushed – twice as they kept jumping up as I worked on someone else. Mr. X would attack them when they jumped down and they’d wrestle under my feet as I brushed another one. No wonder it always takes me so long to get anything accomplished.
When we came in, they continued the wrestling with Mr. X. He’ll go under the couch and bark, and they wait to nab him wherever he comes out. When Hesed’s and Varoom!’s time was up, I crated them and got Spirit and Justice out, putting Mr. X out with them to wander around, potty and come in the back door.
I had planned to get him used to a collar today and even try a leash, but I was so busy editing the photos of his trip to Westview that I never got around to it. I got those finished and burned on CDs tonight about 8, too late to do any leash training. I will take the CDs when Mr. X goes back to Westview tomorrow afternoon. They are a great hit with the residents, who love seeing themselves playing with and petting the puppy.
I finished that project and headed to Mr. X’s room to clean it again. He must have been ready for bed because he came to the little gate and yelled, wanting in. He wasn’t happy that I made him wait until I finished putting down clean newspapers – and he yelled the whole time. I’ve noticed that when he wants something, he expects it NOW. He was quite relieved when I opened the little gate so he could join me, but not so happy when I left.
While I cleaned his room, I had to laugh at him again. I noticed still another toy on his raised bed. It seems like every time I go in there, he has added another toy or chew to his collection. It’s fine with me, since that way he doesn’t pee on them, but I’m wondering if he’s going to run out of room to sleep.
His new dad, who is from North Carolina, texted tonight that he was in St. Joseph, MO. John is driving here, plans to be here by Thursday, audit the Dave Kroyer nosework seminar I’m putting on Friday – Sunday, then leave with Mr. X next Monday morning.
61 Days (9/10) The front moved out during the night and the temperatures dropped to 38 degrees. Was Mr. X frisky when we went out before daylight. He liked that cool, crisp morning. I was pleased to see that he hadn’t pooped in his room during the night. He’s really trying. We made a round over all the lawns to be sure he had plenty off chance to pee and poop to his heart’s content before we came inside and he got to play with Lovely and Justice.
When the sun came up, I decided it was a little too wet to put him and Lovely out in the puppy yard. Instead, when I let Hesed, Hopeful and Varoom! out for their morning rotation to play and potty, I put him out too – out the front door with them. I wanted to see if he has learned the way around the house to the doggie door, so I didn’t go out, but listened in case he stressed too much. He sat on the landing for a few minutes and complained, then silence. Pretty soon in he came with Varoom! – she coming to me very proud of herself. The three girls had, of course, come quickly back into the house. I think Varoom! went out for her buddy and led him around.
I had to take Mercy to the vet for her second breeding (she refused Titus so we had to collect and AI). Then I got the week’s groceries and picked up my dogfood shipment. By the time I got home, it was too late to start ball sessions, so I gave everyone marrow bones that I had picked up with the dogfood and began rotating groups of dogs out while I worked on the computer. Soon it was time for Lovely, Justice and Mr. X to come out. I again put Mr. X out the front door with the big dogs. This time he made the circuit to the back and was soon inside, very proud of himself.
The little monster decided to drag the big 4’ x 4’ fleece pad (that I have had doubled in the back of the whelping bed for a nice soft bed for him) all over his room. Next he’ll start chewing on it, and those are EXPENSIVE, so he just lost it. I substituted a small raised bed like the one in the living room that he loves.
Last thing tonight, he again calmly found his way around the house from the front door to the doggie door and inside. This cool weather has invigorated him; he was quite playful and did not want to go to bed.
60 Days (9/9) It rained all night. Hurrah! And continued off and on today. Marvelous moisture. Someone said that her south of town we got 1.9.” I believe it!
Mr. X was ready to go out when I got up, so I put on rain gear and off we went, filling birdfeeders but not turning on bird fountains. He liked the cooler weather (47 degrees) and raced around playing with Lovely and Justice. I finally managed to catch him pooping so I could take a fecal in to the vet to be checked. We barely got back in the house when another downpour started. They continued their roughhousing in the house until I put them up and got out the next dogs.
He had a good nap and was ready to play when we went to meet the kindergarteners at Holy Name School. It was too wet to be on the playground as we had planned, so we went into the gym and had the kids sit in a big circle with toys and Mr. X in the middle. They haven’t been in school long enough to learn good group behavior, so it was interesting. Mr. X was very good with them, climbing into laps and playing with toys – some nice tug games. UNTIL a kid couldn’t hold still and got up to run around. Then he chased, they shrieked, and Emily (the teacher) and I had to get up and pursue our charges. It’s too bad no one was videoing us because it was pretty funny.
I really lucked out today: every time I needed to take Mr. X out to potty/play, it wasn’t raining. Whew!
Gary was working remotely today, and by the time he got done it was raining again, so we didn’t get any photos.
The vet called to say they found roundworms and hookworms in Mr. X’s fecal. Hookworms? That’s a totally new parasite here; where in the world did he get them? And where did the roundworms come after that very recent clear fecal? One always wonders. At least no coccidia. I weighed him (17.4#) and picked up some Panacure (wormer) on the way to have supper with Gary.
He and Titus head home in the morning after we breed Mercy again.
59 Days (9/8) It only cooled off last night to 68, so I was glad I left the AC on. We trooped out before daylight and set sprinklers. As soon as it was daylight, I put Mr. X and Lovely outside. The weather was really strange – cark clouds moved in and the temperature dropped to 60 degrees. I turned off the AC and opened up the house. Then wind picked up and the temperature rose. I turned the AC back on. Then more clouds moved in, the temperature went down – and a lot of smoke from the fire north of Billings came in. I could have turned off the AC but didn’t so that the house wouldn’t smell like smoke. Eventually the smoke moved on east and I was able to open up the house and enjoy the day – and then the rain started. Fantastic rain. Shower after shower, and then hard rain.
It had been too darned hot yesterday to haul my birdseed shipment from Wild Birds Unlimited to the storage cans in the back yard. When I took Hesed, Varoom! and Mr. X out for playtime, I first got the sacks of birdseed on my hand cart and headed to the back. Mr. X wasn’t too sure about the wheels and followed closely. I wondered if he was thinking of barking and biting, but he just followed with his head down close to one wheel.
He headed into the house as soon as we got close to the yard gate. By the time I unloaded seed and then did poop detail, he must have had a good nap, because he came out with Hopeful and me for her ball session, then again with Justice, and then with Spirit. By that time, it was 10:15, and I had to take Mercy to the vet for one last blood draw to check progesterone levels, so I put Mr. X into his room. What usually took 10 minutes today took an hour. When I got home, Mr. X said he was ready to play, but I had Mercy and Lively’s sessions to do before Lovely’s. By the time I headed out with Lovely and Justice, he said no thanks to the offer to come out.
I invited him again to come after I finished ball sessions and fed everyone, but he said no thanks. A couple of hours later, he refused another invitation. This is definitely a strong-minded pup.
Gary and Titus arrived about 4. We put Mercy in the puppy yard and Titus in the back yard to give them a chance to get acquainted. Mercy would have nothing to do with him. When it became obvious that there was no use trying to put them together for a breeding, we put them up (Mercy in her crate; Titus in Gary’s vehicle) and Gary came inside to play with Mr. X. This time he was ready to accept my invitation. I took him out and walked him around to be sure he pottied while Gary had a work phone call. Just as we came inside, the rain started coming down hard. Sure timed that right! Mr. X and Lovely enjoyed interacting with Gary for quite a while.
Gary held Mr. X so that I could trim his toenails. Mr. X goes to visit the Holy Name School kindergarten class tomorrow morning, so I was glad to get his toes done.
The rain continued pouring down, so we’ll wait until tomorrow to try to introduce Titus and Mr. X and get some dad and son (and “granddad”) photos.
58 Days (9/7) Mr. X must be in a growth spurt because he again inhaled his breakfast. He is now talking to me as soon as I get up, saying “Hurry to greet and feed me!” With this miserable heat spell – it’s supposed to get to 106 today – as soon as Lovely and Justice eat their breakfast, they, Mr. X and I hurry out into the darkness with my flashlight and set sprinklers. The timers run for 2 hours, then I set them elsewhere for another 2 hours in an attempt to keep everything alive and to provide cool lawns for the dogs. The three also “help” me set the last sprinkler round before bedtime – again in the dark. Mr. X think it’s pretty cool to be a night dog.
I’m up earlier than usual so as to start ball sessions while the morning is cool, which means only the last couple of dogs are running in the oppressive heat. Mr. X and Lovely play in the puppy yard from daylight until I start the ball sessions. It’s so fun to watch them interact now that he is weaned and more independent. They treasure their time together, doing lots of cuddling and wrestling.
At 8, I brought Lovely and Mr. X in and crated her, let Hesed and Varoom! out, and the four of us trooped out to start ball sessions and do poop detail. The last couple of days Mr. X has had me laughing as he races around, screeches to a halt, and grabs a plant stem or a fallen branch and begins to “kill” it. Then he’ll let go and gleefully race to catch up with up. What a happy boy.
He now habitually “helps” with the pop detal on the front, side and ball yards, then heads up the steps into the ouse when we get to the back yard. By the time Hesed, Varoom! and I got back into the house, he was crashed on his favorite bed, the elevated one. He slept through my coming and going with Hopeful, then Justice, then Spirit. Since he hand’t taken much time to eat breakfast before our “water” trip, I put him in his room rather than crate him while I did Lively’s and Mercy’s ball sessions. I invited him to come out with Lovely and Justice for their ball time, but he refused to move from his fleece pad in the whelping box, blinking owlishly at me. It was hot by then so I didn’t insist.
I only had two 15-minute nosework classes today (at 102 degrees, instead of taking both dogs for their usual back-to-back nosework run, I took one then returned home for the other and went back to the arena) and was home the rest of the time, so we had a pretty steady routine: Mr. X sleeps, I take him out and we walk arund th ehouse so he will potty, then he gets to hang out for 45 minutes with me and whichever group of dogs is out, then back into his room for a nap. I had planned to do some more pool searching with him but forgot to thaw out more salmon treats. Tomorrow, we’ll get back into our routine. And tomorrow his dad, Titus, and owner Gary come so we can breed Mercy. We’re going to try to get photos of dad and son.
At 10 p.m., when I headed to bed, the temperature was still 80 degrees, so I had to leave the AC on all night, which all of us hate. We’re used to night in the 50’s, windows open and lots of fresh air. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler; I sure hope so!
57 Days (9/6) Mr. X was sure hungry this morning: he inhaled ¾ cup of the Fromm Large Breed Puppy kibble mixed with 1/8# of the Nulo Raw Beef Diet. I remembered to worm him this morning.
I then let him out with Lovely and Justice (in the dark, of course) as I set a sprinkler. I’m setting at least 1 (I can run 2 at a time) as soon as I get up in the morning and another as I go to bed, trying to keep things alive in the miserable heat. Now I have to watch out for a little black blob as I drag hoses and move sprinkler tripods. He thinks it’s great fun to attack the moving hose.
When we came in, I let him play with Justice and Lovely in the living room while I changed his room. He soon came looking for me and asked to come into his room, so I let him and in he promptly peed on the papers. Good boy! Of course, I had just put clean ones down so I had to change them again, but that’s better than a mess in the house.
I decided, since I wasn’t going to have Lovely spend time in the puppy room with him anymore, that I could now put down toys, so I did. He had a great time pouncing on them in turn.
I also decided to take down the board keeping him from the doggie door out to the private potty area. I have an enclosed ramp down to the ground so puppies can’t fall off the ramp. We’ll see if he figures out this doggie door and starts going down to his own private play area. I’ll listen for cries in case he gets down there and then can’t find the entrance and make it back inside.
Once it was light outside, I put Lovely and Mr. X out in the puppy yard to play, then brought them in when I began ball sessions. I crated Lovely. Then Hesed, Varoom!, Mr. X and I headed out for ball and poop detail. I had to take Mercy to the vet at 9:30 for another cytology and blood draw (to determine when to breed her to Titus, Mr. X’s dad). Rather than crate Mr. X, I put him in his room.
He must have had a refreshing nap, because he was ready to go out and play when I returned, crated Mercy and got Hopeful out for her ball session. I let him come out for her session and then Justice’s. He was quite entertaining, chasing butterflies and the bees that were working on the clover in the lawn. He wore himself out and was quite happy to sleep under my desk while I did Spirit’s ball session. He wasn’t too happy when I put him in his room afterwards, but it was time for Lively’s play.
He had another refreshing nap and was ready when I took Lovely and Justice out. By that time, the day was heating up, so he wasn’t very playful, but he enjoyed being outside and wasn’t going to come back in with us. I had to pack him inside over his protests, but he quit complaining when I fixed his lunch.
We’re getting into a comfortable routine – out to walk around and be sure he’s pottied out, then hang out in the house for a while with several of the dogs and stretch out by me as I worked on the computer. I was trying to finish editing the photos from his first visit to the Alzheimer’s Unit so that I could burn them on CDs and take them down. We’re under a severe heat warning for tomorrow, 105 degrees forecast, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have to cancel my therapy dog visit there tomorrow. At least they can enjoy photos of themselves and Mr. X if I can’t take Spirit as usual.
I tried to crop and downsize the photos to go on my website but just ran out of time. Hopefully tomorrow.
56 Days (9/5) Thank goodness, it cooled off last night enough that I could go train this morning. I put Lovely and Mr. X out in the puppy yard when it was barely light, then put Mr. X in the puppy room at 8, while I took Lovely to train. When I got home, I let Mr. X out with Spirit and Varoom! and did poop detail. He then got to hang out with all of us in the house for about 45 minutes. I crated him during Lively’s and then Mercy’s times to be out. He only protested a little when I put him in his crate and then napped. Then it was lunch time, so I walked Mr. X around the yard for potty before I put him in the puppy room with his lunch. I put Lovely in with him while I did a therapy dog visit. I think I’m going to quit putting her in with him there because they manage to tear up the newspapers when they wrestle. They can be together during Lovely’s times in the house and in the puppy yard.
Even though it was still 95 degrees at 6:30, I had run a sprinkler in the puppy yard so it was pleasant for them to be out there. I left them out in the puppy yard for a couple of hours, until after it was dark. Mr. X was quite ready to go to bed when I brought him in and put him in the puppy room.
I am trying to phase out his late evening meal so he’ll be easier to potty train when he leaves here. I’m offering a little more kibble and a little less meat at the other three meals. Usually there’s a little left after his supper, which he gets between 5 and 6 p.m., and I leave it with him overnight. Sometimes he finishes it, but usually I find a little bit in the morning, especially if I’ve gotten him tired enough in the evening that he crashes as soon as I put him in his room.
I weighed him this afternoon and intended to worm him tonight but forgot. I’ll do it in the morning. He weighed 15.5#. That was approximate, since he was pretty wiggly on the scale.
55 Days (9/4) It didn’t cool off much last night and started warming up early. Morning is coming later, too; it isn’t light yet at 6:30, so I can’t put Lovely & Mr. X out in the puppy yard until about 7 a.m. Since I’m rushing through morning rotations in order to start ball sessions as early as possible and finish before it’s miserably hot, they get les time to hang out and play now.
Mr. X definitely enjoys the air conditioning – even when I haven’t turned it on yet. This is the second morning that he has bailed on Hesed, Varoom! and I as we did poop detail. He comes out the front door with us and runs around and plays while we do the front, side and ball yard, but as soon as we cross the gate into the back yard, he’s up the steps and into the house, leaving us to finish the back yard and puppy yard.
He was crashed under my desk when we got inside, so I left him when I crated those two and got Hopeful out for her ball session. He was still dead to the world when I returned with her, let her cool off, then crated her and took Justice out. Ditto with Justice and then Spirit. He finally got up to greet Spirit when we came back in, so I picked him up and carried him out to potty. When Spirit had cooled off, I put Mr. X into his crate in the living room and got Lively out. He cried a little as I headed outside with Lively but was quiet when we returned. He did the same when I took Mercy out, a little cry then settled. His crate is next to his buddy, Justice’s crate, and that seemed to help him get used to the new experience.
Next was Lovely’s and Justice’s ball session. Once I had them out, I grabbed Mr. X and carried him outside so he wouldn’t potty in the house. I also closed the gate between the ball area and back yard in case he decided to sneak back into the house, which now had the AC on. He showed signa of not coming in when we were ready, so I got him before he could hide and carried him inside and put him in his puppy room. It was just too darned hot to play games. He crashed for a long nap.
I am noticing that he is trying to wait and potty when we go outside. Tonight, when we headed out to reset sprinklers and turn off bird fountains, he pooped as soon as we got outside. Good boy! I need to start the routine of taking him out to potty frequently. Maybe that would cut down on the millions of newspapers I have to change daily. He’ll be here another 2 weeks before his people come for him. Sure hope I don’t run out of papers.
He and Lovely again had a shorter time out in the puppy yard tonight. It was too hot to put them out until after 7 p.m., and it’s getting dark around 8. I turned on a sprinkler in their puppy yard as I left for Mass, and it had 2 hours to cool and dampen the yard so they could enjoy their evening out.
I spent the day typing up the SAR test results and getting them and 106 test photos onto the website. I got some great ones!
54 Days (9/3) Today was a day to relax – and I needed one! I did get yesterday’s test photos edited and downsized, but it’s too late tonight to start putting them on the website. Boy, did I get some great ones! Very pleased.
The only thing I “had” to do today was get Mercy to the vet at 9 for her daily blood draw. She’s in heat and we’re trying to pinpoint her fertile period. We’re hoping Titus, Mr. X’s dad, can come up for a live breeding this time rather than have to do another AI attempt – but we still need to know when he should come.
I got Hesed’s & Varoom!’s ball session and poop detail done before I had to take Mercy. Mr. X, as usual, “helped.” I put him in his room for a nap while I was gone. Usually he sleeps straight through the next few ball sessions, but all the dogs barking when Mercy and I returned woke him up and he asked to come out with Hopeful’s and then Justice’s ball sessions. When I headed out later with Lovely and Justice, he was tired and didn’t want to come. That was fine with me, since it was heating up fast.
After I finished the last ball session (Cantor’s), I let him out with Lovely and Justice and took him out to potty as I set some drip hoses on a couple of flower beds. Then he was happy to go back in his room with his lunch, for another long nap.
When he woke, he asked to come out with the rest of us. It was time for Lovely’s and Justice’s hour out, so I took Mr. X outside to potty while I set a sprinkler in the shady back yard and walked out to get the mail. I also got a small wire crate out of a shed, brought it into the house and set it up. Tomorrow I’ll start putting Mr. X in it during a couple of daytime big-dog rotations, particularly Lively’s (because she’s nearly 13 and fragile) and Mercy’s (because she has no patience with pups who aren’t hers). He’ll spend nights in his room but be out with all of us more during the day.
53 Days (9/2) After the same routine as yesterday morning (early breakfast, time out in the puppy yard, nap), we loaded up at 8:15 a.m. and headed to the arena for the Search & Rescue test.
SAR TEST COMPONENTS:
Attachment: Willingness to acknowledge, come to and follow tester, to accept a new person
Confidence: Reaction to being held at arm’s length in the air
Sensitivity: Pinch on ribs, ears and/or feet; reaction & forgiveness
Retrieve: Desire to chase, willingness to bring back to handler
Metal: See if pup will pick up/carry set of car keys or other piece of metal
Perseverance: Chase after sack or rope, tug, note desire to possess; not give up; solidness of grip; use of body to possess
Hunt for Toy: While playing with ball or soft toy, hide and encourage pup to use nose to find. Interest? How long will pup search? Use nose or eyes?
Unstable Footing: Judge pup’s willingness to cross plastic tarp, wobbly planks, etc.
Submission: Pup placed on back and held loosely. How long accepts? Reaction?
Runaway: One person holds pup while another teases with toy or food and then runs away and hides – will pup follow/search?
Reaction to Strange Object (remotely controlled mouse)
Cadaver: Interest shown? How intense? Aversion?
Wagon/Wheelbarrow: Judge pup’s confidence in riding in moving wagon or wheelbarrow
Courage: scary object – startle and recovery. Retreat, approach, sniff, investigate? Attack? Refuse to approach? (robot)
Hunt for Food I: Show pup smelly food on string, drag, then accelerate away so pup will use nose to find food. Encourage, show food again if needed.
Hunt for Food II: Hide bits of food. See if pup will seek food on its own. If necessary, encourage pup to use its nose to find food; indicate food if needed. Eyes? Nose? Methodical? Systematic?
Puppy Drag: Usually I use the puppy drag (a rope with gunny sacks tied on that I tie around my waist) during Lovely’s ball sessions to keep the pups from attaching to my legs. They are diverted to chase and tug on the gunny sacks. The weather has been so hot that I hadn’t gotten it out, so this was totally new to Mr. X. We used a strip of blanket and he loved it.
Bonnie scored each pup. The SAR test scores from 10 – 1, 10 being the highest; 1 the lowest. They also use 10-9, 9.5 and 9-8 as scores.
Mr. X’s Scoring:
10 on Attachment, Confidence, Independence, Retrieve, Prey Drive, Unstable Footing, Runaway, Strange Object, Cadaver, Courage, Fear, Surprise, Hunt for Food I and Puppy Drag.
10-9 on Sensitivity, Metal, Perseverance, Tug, Hunt for Toy, Wagon and Hunt for Food II.
9 on Eye Contact
9-8 on Submission
Comments on Individual Tests:
Confidence: did not like, struggled, but is very confident moving all over on his own.
Sensitivity: no reaction.
Submission: struggled throughout
Strange Object: really nice – focused on it, looked at it, approached then picked it up.
Courage: excellent! He notices things, focuses on them, then approaches when he is ready! Very adaptable to all new things.
Fear: No reaction. Thinks about things and takes things in stride.
Surprise: Approaches new things.
Hunt for Food II: Not super frenzied to find food. Laid-back hunter.
Puppy Drag: Loved it!
Overall Comments: Really nice pup with independence confidence and a nice human interaction. Great tug and retrieve and willingness to please. I loved his focus on new “scary” items and how he quickly worked himself up to and interacting. A happy pup. A really nice “thinking” pup who is independent and confident yet very human-oriented. His tug and retrieve drives are strong and will be easy to build on. He “checks in” with people regularly and is eager to please. I loved how he focused on new and potentially scary things and quickly worked himself into approaching and interacting. A happy guy who does self-entertaining.
Bonnie didn’t write it down, but he really liked the cadaver sample, went to it several times, then grabbed it and carried it back to the big tarp (with Bonnie in hot pursuit). She said she hoped his new family doesn’t plan on leaving him alone loose, because everything is fair game to him as he amuses himself. She also commented that he has an edge and will protest being treated unfairly – last night she loved it when Lovely started playing too roughly, pinning him to the ground in the process, and he fired back at her and got away.
I enjoyed editing the photos: not only did I get some of Bonnie chasing Mr. X for the cadaver jar, but I got some of him taking a treat off the mouse and then carrying the mouse around. Too bad they’re not as sharp as most. In that dark corner I have to turn the iso setting way up and that gives graininess.
When I sent Bonnie the cadaver-chase photos, she replied, “I LOVE his whole attitude stealing the cadaver jar.”
His attitude seems to be, “When in doubt, bark at it.” I got photos of him barking at the robot and the mouse. Then there are the photos of him getting his head stuck in a cone as he tried to get to the treat, and carrying the cone around. Bonnie eventually dumped the treat out so he could find it at the mouth of the cone.
After we got home from the test at 10 a.m., I pottied Mr. X and then let him rest until friends Lisa and Brian came. They are from Cheyenne and were in town today. Mr. X had crashed on the elevated dog bed when we got inside and was not pleased when I took him outside to greet them and potty. When we came back inside, he crashed and slept the whole hour they were here. When they left, he greeted my putting him in his room with a huge sigh.
Tonight, he got to “help” me set sprinklers and turn off bird fountains. Then I put him and Lovely in the puppy yard. They only had about 90 minutes before it started getting dark and I brought them inside. The days are definitely getting shorter; just wish they’d get a little cooler as well.
See the SAR Test photos
52 Days (9/1) Busy day today. The police/narcotics temperament test is at 9. I fed Mr. X early this morning, then put him in the puppy yard for an hour with Lovely, after which I brought him inside to rest before we left.
Mr. X tested well. Here is a summary of his test scores. As soon as I have time, I will type everything up and put it on the website, but it takes a while and Mr. X will be here for a couple of more weeks so his care consumes a lot of my day.
I include a brief description of each test component and then his ratings.
POLICE/NARCOTICS TEST COMPONENTS:
Social Attachment: Acknowledges new person; dominance or independence
Following: Willingness to follow and acceptance of tester
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, Can of Rocks: a sudden loud noise behind them, in this case a can of nuts and bolts dropped from about 2’ elevation
Sound Sensitivity, Train: a moving, whistling battery-operated train engine
Surprise/Stability: umbrella opened suddenly as they pass by; not recovery after initial startle.
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.
I am not specifically breeding for police dog candidates, for which they want high drive and activity level – and pushiness. This is the first litter that had police candidates. 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.
Now a summary of Mr. X’s ratings:
Excellent: Social Attachment, Social Dominance, Confidence/Elevation (2 X’s), Retrieve (1 time)
Above Average: Following, Restraint/Submission, Retrieve (2 times), Pain Sensitivity, Sound Sensitivity-Rocks, Sound Sensitivity-train, Surprise/Stability (umbrella)
Restraint/Submission: Eye contact at first; then 25 seconds
Prey/Perseverance: Front-teeth bite most times, 1 full bite – didn’t hold on long.
Sound Sensitivity – train: Went behind me to look at train; when it was off, went to stand over it.
Surprise/Stability (Umbrella): Walked through umbrella once it was opened.
Happy puppy – loves voice for encouragement.
I took Mr. X home and gave him the rest of his breakfast. Then I put Lovely in with him, and they took a long nap.
See more of the temperament test photos
Bonnie, my Search & Rescue tester from Bozeman, came tonight to see how Justice was doing. Bonnie had tested him and his brother for me last August and had been really impressed with Justice and urged me to buy him as my next stud prospect. She is pleased with how he is developing.
Then we took Mr. X out to the Puppy Obstacle Run and used it as part of his “Unstable Footing test. He did great! The only thing that bothered him was the tunnel. Without littermates, he hasn’t spent much time on the Puppy Obstacle Course in the puppy yard and I’m sure never wandered through the tunnel. When there is a group of pups, they figure out that tunnel, which is straight and have lots of fun chasing each other through it. The tunnel in the Run is at the corner of the L-shaped Run and has a curve in it. That’s always harder on pups because they can’t see the opening. Mr. X absolutely refused to go into it so Bonnie, bless her soul and athletic body, crawled into the tunnel and convinced him to try it. We always have the puppies do the Run both ways, the first time going east then north and down the hill; then reversing and going south, up the hill, then west. Mr. X at first thought he couldn’t do the tunnel on his own, looked at Bonnin on the other end (standing up), gave a couple of yelps then turned away from her and through the tunnel. Boy, did he get praise then!!!
All of us headed inside to visit a bit, with me letting Justice and Lovely out, too. Bonnie laughed at Mr. X playing with them and giving his mom heck when she got too rough with him.
Once Bonnie left, I made sure he had a good meal and a restful night since the SAR test is at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
See more of the Puppy Obstacle Run photos
51 Days (8/31) This morning, Mr. X told me in no uncertain tones that he was ready for his breakfast. I hurriedly fixed it and took it in. Then he said he was ready to play, preferably in the house. I told him it was too early to go outside yet, but that I would put Lovely in with him in a few minutes. When I put her in, I started cleaning the room and was able to watch them wrestling – so cute! This is the age when moms teach them how to read dog body language, greet respectfully and so on. He started smart mouthing her and she promptly lay on top of him and held him down, which of course made him mad. When he shut up, she let him up, and then they played boisterously, which was no help to the clean newspapers I was trying to spreading.
I got the next dogs out for breakfast and play. Soon he told me he was ready to go outside. Then, after he was out for a while, I could hear him saying he was ready to come inside.
I have started letting him come inside when I bring Lovely in to crate her. He can hang on while I put on my shoes and get Hesed and Varoom! out for their ball session. He is doing the mudroom steps better each time, though he still whines. We did poop detail on the front and side yards and then headed to the back yard – and suddenly he disappeared. As I filled bird feeders and baths, I began to wonder where he had gone. Then I heard a little frustrated whine and looked up – he had gone up onto the deck and was trying to push the doggie door flap open and at the same time go up the little step. I quietly watched and let him figure it out. Eventually he did and was in the house. He stayed in while we finished chores and greeted us calmly when we got back inside. He has definitely decided he’s an inside dog.
He disappeared while I ate breakfast and I had an awful time finding him. Eventually he woke, probably from my calls, and crawled out from under the couch. I carried him to his room and left him to nap.
I wanted him to rest well because we were going to the Alzheimer’s Unit at 2. I took a bunch of noisy toys, including a fire engine that drives all over, lights up and plays sirens. Joy was pleased because this time he played with her keys – and even retrieved them. He also retrieved a tennis ball.
It was really hot in the unit today. Of course, it was miserably hot outside too. Mr. X lasted about 45 minutes and managed to sit on everyone’s laps. He was sure happy to get back home and into his air-conditioned room.
I put him and Lovely out in the puppy yard about 6:30. It’s getting dark earlier now, so I brought them in about 8. I crated Lovely, then put down the kiddie pool. Mr. X headed toward it, hardly giving me any time to put treats in it before he clambered inside. Tonight, while he was nose-down in the pool, I sprinkled treats around on the floor and also on the elevated bed. When he lifted his head after vacuuming up all the pool treats, he caught a whiff of the other treats and went on alert. He had more trouble getting out of the pool than in, but he made it, and off he sniffed. He looked pretty organized in his searching. Good boy!
When he was done, I put him, and his late supper in the puppy room.
See today’s photos
50 Days (8/30) Last night I realized another thing I hadn’t done: start his pool searching I decided to start today, but first I needed to make a batch of the soft salmon treats that I use. But when I opened the cupboard, it was bare – of canned salmon anyway. I will have to swing by the grocery store when I go to this afternoon’s appointment and get some, then hurry and make the treats so Mr. X can have his first lesson tonight.
I start encouraging my litters to use their noses by crumbling some of the salmon treats (nice and smelly and soft) on the floor amongst the toys when they are playing. Once they know to search – and come roaring into the living room and put their heads down to search, I put down a kiddie pool and put the treats inside it. They can smell the salmon treats and start sniffing, but the pool makes them search and problem solve.
Since I couldn’t make treats as I rotated dogs out for breakfast, I decided to finish the Puppy Obstacle Run while the day was still cool. As soon as the sun was up, I hung big plastic jugs to make a curtain that Mr. X will have to push through, and put down a couple of old plastic crate liners to replace an old tarp that had provided strange footing experience but which the wind had torn up. All is now ready there.
I didn’t put Mr. X and Lovely out in the puppy yard until I finished the Run because she would have barked. They only got about 45 minutes out there before I was ready to start ball sessions. As usual, Mr. X came out with Hesed and Varoom! to do their playtime and poop detail. When we finish, I decided to just head up the deck steps rather than detour around the shed to the ramp entrance. I didn’t call him, either; instead, I just looked to see that he was coming with the other two and quietly headed inside. Without a pause, he detoured to the ramp and roared up it. He had such a momentum going that he nearly managed to leap up and into the doggie door. He didn’t quite make it, so I had to give him a tiny boost. I bet tomorrow he’ll do it on his own.
While I fixed and ate my breakfast, he stretched out on the elevated dog bed, totally comfortable and looking like he’d done it all his life. He fell asleep there.
I put him in the room and he slept while I did the next several ball sessions. He was ready to play when Lovely, Justice and I headed out. And play he did, pouncing on the big dogs’ balls as they rolled. Good thing I had an extra.
When we finished and headed to the house, Mr. X didn’t come. He had found a low branch and was attacking it. After calling him and making sure he saw us heading in, I went inside. I figured I’d soon hear a puppy crying, but it didn’t happen. In fact, I was busy arranging a helper for his visit to the Alzheimer’s Unit (Ariel, who helped last time, being now in school) and totally forgot that I hadn’t put him in the puppy room. Then I understood why Lovely seemed hesitant to go in there after she cooled off. She knew he wasn’t there.
I didn’t remember until I went out with Cantor and there was a black blob under my chair. Mr. X had calmly gone back to the chair and fallen asleep waiting for me. Cantor is great with puppies so I wasn’t concerned as he met his grandson face to face. Mr. X followed him around a bit and then plopped down under the chair. When we finished, I picked up the chair and put it in the shelter, calling Mr. X to follow us. He wasn’t going to, so I went back, picked him up and packed him to the house. He wasn’t pleased at being treated like a baby, but I’d been outside all morning and wanted to get my shoes off and cool off, not play hide and go seek. Lovely was very happy to see him when I put him in the room.
Cantor and Hesed were out when the day cooled enough that I could start the sprinklers. I let Mr. X out to wander around with us, turning on sprinklers and turning off bird fountains. He thought he was tough stuff!
I then put him in his room with his supper and he ate the lot. Must have been hard work being a “big” dog. Then I put him and Lovely out in the puppy yard for a couple of hours.
When I brought them in, I crated Lovely so I could start the treat search with Mr. X. He obligingly stayed outside attacking a weed while I put Lovely up, so I had time to crumble some of the salmon treats I made this afternoon and put them in the kiddie pool, which I had brought into the living room. When I headed outside to bring him in, he popped into the doggie door! He had found his way up onto the deck all by himself!
I had to work hard not to laugh at him as he trotted into the living room, saw the pool – and barked at it. I stood quietly until he decided to go investigate, then quietly praised him. He quickly caught the scent of the treats but didn’t quite know how to get into the pool. I lifted him in and then snuck away as he started eating. I peeked into the living room several times and he was circling inside the pool, eating away. When he finished, I waited to see what he would do. I could see the brain working. Eventually he scrambled over the edge onto the floor. I picked him up and carried him to his room, praising him, and put him up for the night. His late supper awaited him, and he headed to it as I turned off the light.
49 Days (8/29) Mr. X is 7 weeks old today! His eyes are turning a nice dark brown. I love those dark, dark eyes. His grandmother, GloryToo, had almost black eyes, so expressive.
Mr. X learned how to negotiate the steps from house to mudroom to outside this morning. They’re a little more intimidating to pups than the deck steps; probably because it’s darker and challenges their immature depth perception.
Then, at 8:30, he went to the vet and got his health check, first vaccination and microchip. He weighed 12.8#.
That made us late starting ball sessions so he hung out with me while I changed clothes and then he, Hesed, Vroom! and I headed outdoors. By the time we got back inside, he was fried. He had been busy since 6:30 a.m. out in the puppy yard with Lovely until his vet appointment, then the excitement at the vet, then playtime. He could hardly wait for me to put him in the puppy room and leave him in peace.
He was ready, however, to play when I took him out for Lovely’s and Justice’s ball session a couple of hours later. Today he definitely chased their balls and would take off with them. I’m going to have to bring out an extra ball, I guess.
He got to rest again before our trip to Westview Healthcare Center at 2. He was ready to play, which was good because one of the residents’ daughter and grandson (or maybe great-grandson) were there, and the boy was a little wild. This was the first child he has met, and he did great.
We didn’t have as big a group of residents as usual, probably because group activities hav3 just resumed after a covid outbreak. I start doing weekly therapy dog visits in September (have been doing biweekly visits since they reopened from the big covid shutdown.). Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to take Mr. X again before he leaves.
I took two very noisy toys that light up, move and make all kinds of noise – a train engine and a police car. The train engine is battery-operated and rolls all over, reversing when it encounters furniture or a wall, all the while whistling, playing a tune and flashing lights. The police car also has flashing lights. It plays a variety of police commands as if they were arresting someone.
Beside them, I took regular squeaky toys. We had to tell the boy several times not to be so rough as he made the toys squeak; I was afraid he was going to destroy them. Mr. X took all the carryings-on in stride.
When he mellowed out a little, the activity director, Yvette, carried him around to sit in everyone’s laps for photos. When he started wiggling, we put him down to play some more.
He brought me a tennis ball several times. He isn’t following them very well yet if you throw them, but if they roll close to him, he’ll pursue them. This is the first time he actually brought me something he was carrying.
He played for almost an hour, which is super good. Eventually he collapsed, so I loaded up the toys and took him home.
He took a long nap, then “helped” me set sprinklers and turn off bird fountains, after which I put him and Lovely in the puppy yard until dark. When I went out to get him, he let me know he was ready for the day to end. As soon as he got into the house, he headed to the door of the puppy room and told me to hurry up and put him to bed.
See today’s photos
48 Days (8/28) Mr. X decided going down the ramp was too slow, so all day today he went down the steps -not very gracefully, but he made it to the bottom right-side-up.
No ball sessions today as I went training. Lovely didn’t go today; she had to stay home with Mr. X. Today was another extremely pleasant day, such a nice change. It starts heating back up tomorrow, darn it, and by Thursday and Friday, when we do the temperament tests, it will be close to 100. With the extreme heat, no one has wanted to come see Mr. X outside, when I could talk them into helping me introduce Mr. X to all the challenges and unstable footings in the Puppy Obstacle Run before his tests. It dawned on me that I’m running out of time and that I’d better get busy redoing the Run, so tonight after I got home from Mass, I headed to the back with Lovely, Justice and Mr. X. First, I loaded into the little cart I pull behind my riding mower the weeds that I had managed to chop down this week and hauled them to the brush pile. That was Mr. X’s first closeup experience with the mower. I only had to drive it about 30’ to get to the weeds, and he stayed far away. He came close after I turned it off and started raking; in fact, he decided to chase the rake and the weeds, such help…
I picked him up and held him as I drove to the brush pile, putting him on the ground when I turned off the mower. After that, I carried him as I drove to the Puppy Obstacle Run, putting him down again when I turned off the mower. He was quite calm about the noise and movement, looking around as I drove.
As I cleaned the Run, I stepped inside and he soon insisted that he should be inside, too. I lifted him over the little fence that defines the Run and he happily pottered around exploring as I worked. In the process, he figured out how to go up and over the little A-frame and then how to navigate the little dog walk. He seemed to enjoy figuring them out. Of course, I praised him when he tried all the new things.
I have a couple of frames from which I hang milk jugs on strings to form barriers the pups have to push through. The early snowstorm last fall kept me from cutting them down and putting them under cover. They don’t survive snow and sun well, so I had a bunch of cracked ones to pick up and haul to the trash cans in the front. Mr. X rode calmly to the front, then to the back as I hauled some new things for the Run, then back to the front to park the mower and cart for the night. As I worked on the Run, he would play with Justice and Lovely. If he was far enough away that it was safe, I’d drive the mower along the line to a new spot. Naturally, the big dogs would follow, leaving him far behind, so he’d have to find me. I’d hear a complaint and look up to see him jumping up to see where we were in the tall grass. He hadn’t been able to see me as I bent down, but as soon as I stood up and he could see me, he came as fast as he could, leaping to keep me in sight.
All this took about 90 minutes and took us to 8 p.m., when it was starting to get dark. I had one tired boy when we got into the house.
Figuring he had to be pottied out after his adventure, I let him go where he wanted in the house while I cleaned his room. He first headed to the living room with Lovely and Justice, but soon I noticed this black lump on Lovely’s bed in the little nook between the little half-gate and the gate out of the whelping room (where she can get away from him). Mr. X had come back and curled up as close as he could get while he waited for me to put him in his room. Finished, I lifted him into the room and he gave a huge sigh of relief and curled up on the fleece pad. I put Lovely in with him while I rotated the other dogs out to potty and cuddle before we called it a night.
When I took Lovely out at bedtime, I gave him his late supper so he wouldn’t famish during the night. He might be too tired to eat, but at least it’s there if he worked up a big appetite.
47 Days (8/27) Since it was Saturday, I didn’t do ball sessions but instead went to Craftco to train nosework. Lovely got to go today, so Mr. X stayed in the puppy yard. When we returned, I put Lovely in with him for a while, until it was time to take Justice for his CGC test. Just before I left, I put Mr. X in the puppy room with his lunch. He had a big adventure scheduled so I wanted him to have eaten and rested.
When I returned with Justice (who amazingly passed his CGC test!), I loaded Mr. X in the car and headed to my friend Denise’s house so she could play with him AND he could meet his first non-GSDs. She has Hayden, a sheltie, and Gus, a cockapoo. Hayden is fantastic with baby puppies, so I usually take my litters there. Gus hasn’t participated before, but this time we decided to see how he’d do with babies. He was a little pushy at first so Denise put him in the house and gave Mr. X a chance to play with just one dog. He watched for a bit but soon enjoyed playing with Hayden, and even took time to smell the flowers.
When he was comfortable and confident, we let Gus out as well. Gus wanted to play a little roughly but settled down. He kept flopping his very fuzzy tail in Mr. X’s face, and Mr. X would do his best to grab and tug. I tried without success to catch that in photos, but we sure got some good chuckles. Mr. X isn’t used to clowns so I caught several quizzical expressions on his face as he interacted with Gus. Used to Type-A German Shepherds, he didn’t know just how to take him.
We had to laugh at Mr. X’s ears – they stand up when he runs. They’re up more from the base today than yesterday but still have a while to go before they’re totally up. His eyes are maturing and turning brown.
Mr. X played for about an hour, then said it was getting hot and didn’t we know it was nap time? I took him home and he stretched out in the cool puppy room with a big sigh. He had earned a nap. After a while, I put Lovely in with him for most of the afternoon.
When I took Lovely out of the puppy room so Mr. X could eat his early supper, he begged to come. I was going to set sprinklers anyway, so I let him come out with us. He was quite happy and acted like he thought he was a big dog, helping me do chores. Gosh, he’s cute!
Finished, I headed to the ramp. He started to go ahead and go under it rather than come up, but suddenly hit the brakes, did a very nice rollback, and hit the bottom of the ramp. I put him in the puppy room (I guess by now that’s a better name for it than “whelping” room) for 30 minutes so he could eat before putting him out in the puppy yard for a while, until dark, but dark clouds moved in and the wind came up, so I didn’t.
See today’s photos
46 Days (8/26) The schedule seem to be working quite well. Mr. X gets alone times throughout the day and all night and isn’t stressing. First thing in the morning, I feed him. Lovely’s turn out of her crate is usually the third, so he has plenty of time to eat. I put here in the whelping room with him until 6:30 a.m., when I put them out in the puppy yard until I’m ready to start ball sessions, at which time I bring her in and crate her. I head out with Hesed and Varoom!, and we let him join us for the route all over the back yard and close part of the ball area, then to the front to dump the poop in the garbage can and back around to the deck and doggie door.
This morning, when we headed inside, I detoured around the new shed and towards the ramp, expecting to help Mr. X find the entrance to the ramp and lead him up again, but he went ahead of me, started right up and climbed the ramp and headed to the doggie door. What a boy!
After the girls cool off, I put Mr. X in the whelping room with his bone and any breakfast he didn’t finish, and he stays there alone while I do ball sessions. When it’s Lovely’s and Justice’s turn, we pick him up as we go out. Today I lifted him halfway through the doggie door and he went out onto the deck as I went through the human door. I turned to go down the ramp and he was right there behind me all the way down.
I took out the blue hairy toy we used in a recent photo session and threw it as soon as we got close to my chair (and the shade). He carried it into some nice cool shade and played with it while I stood and threw the first few – wild! – ball throws for the two big dogs. Eventually Lovely says she needs to catch her break, which she likes to do sitting beside me in as I sit int eh chair. Mr. X moved his toy under the chair then.
Justice kept retrieving. He has a tendency to throw the ball so it rolls to my feet. For the first time, Mr. X thought that was fun and would try to grab it before I did. When Lovely began retrieving again, he was in heaven with 2 balls to grab. Eventually he tired and went back to his hairy toy and left us in peace.
When it was time for poop detail in the back part of the ball area, Mr. X let us do it and watched calmly form under the chair, even though the big dogs continued to bring me balls to throw as I walked. Mr. X continued to watch us as we headed to the front to dump the poop and never even followed us when we were out of sight for a good 5 minutes. In fact, he just watched us until I called him; then he came running and headed with us toward the house.
I again headed past the shed towards the ramp. This time Justice was with me and Mr. X got lost in legs, going under the ramp and not seeing me start up. But he calmly circled around and found the ramp entrance on his own and nearly beat me up the ramp. I only had to give him a little boost into the doggie door before he took over and pulled himself inside.
Now back to the schedule: after they cool off, I put Lovely and Mr. X in the whelping room while I do Cantor’s ball session and then his cooling off period. Then I remove Lovely to her crate for her lunch so Mr. X can have his. After they have finished, I put Lovely back in the whelping room with him for a while, then remove her for the rest of the afternoon.
When the day starts cooling off and they have had supper, usually about 6:30, I put them out in the puppy yard until it starts to get dark (around 8:30). I bring them in and Lovely stays with him until bedtime. I then crate her and leave Mr. X with his late supper overnight.
Oh, when he’s by himself he gets his marrow bond; when I put Lovely in with him, I remove the bone. That way he has something to amuse himself with if he’s not sleeping, and he’s quiet.
Tonight, when I brought Lovely and Mr. X. in at dark, he headed for and up the ramp – and almost made it in through the doggie door without help. I only gave him a tiny boost. Good boy!
45 Days (8/25) Mr. X again slept quietly all night in the whelping room by himself. He was glad to see Lovely, but not frantic. Good!
This morning I thought, why am I thinking about teaching Mr. X the steps when he hasn’t learned the ramp up to the deck yet? Duh. It might be because since the last litter, we built a storage shed there and the ramp is more hidden. When we went out this morning, I carried Mr. X about halfway down the ramp, then put him down and continued slowly, inviting him to follow. Since their eyes don’t yet have good depth perception, this can be quite a challenge at first. He went slowly, step by step, obviously thinking about this new task. Of course I praised him enthusiastically when he got to the ground.
He happily followed us all over, really enjoying the routine and being a “big dog.” Today is cool (67 degrees) and cloudy with occasional sprinkles. All of us are loving it. The dogs retrieved longer than they have for months, and Mr. X was busier, too. And I love it that I haven’t had to turn on the AC. I much prefer fresh air. Such a pleasant break from the usual unseasonal heat.
When he throws his head back to look up at me, his ears stand up and he looks like a real German Shepherd. They’re definitely up more from the base than they were yesterday.
When Hesed and Varoom! had cooled off, I put him in the whelping room so I could continue ball sessions. Today I gave him a frozen marrow bone to amuse him while he was alone.
I forgot the ramp when we got done with Hesed’s & Varoom!’s playtime/poop detail, but I remembered again when I took him out with Lovely and Justice for their ball session. He went down the ramp a little faster, still deliberately.
Today he did some pursuing of the balls when Lovely and Justice dropped theirs. I use 3 balls so I can immediately throw one as soon as they drop theirs, then I go get the one they just dropped, which is usually a foot or so away and, naturally, rolls a little. The movement attracted him and he’d pounce on them, though he didn’t try to pick any up today. That will soon come.
When we got done, I started to teach him to go up the ramp. I had to work to get him there because he discovered a branch with leaves that the wind had broken off last night and was busy attacking it and trying to drag it around. Finally, he decided he had “killed” it and came around the gate to me. He started up with me and then disappeared. I went on into the house, figuring when he started crying, I’d go try again. But he didn’t cry. After 5 minutes, when the two big dogs had cooled off enough that I could put them, up, I headed out to find him so I could put him in the whelping room, and he was on the deck, trying to figure out the doggie door on his own. He hadn’t made a peep. I helped him inside and gave everyone another 5 minutes to hang out so that he could enjoy being with us. It had started raining, and I was waiting to see if it would stop so I could finish ball sessions, so I wasn’t pressed to get moving.
I took the PC to the shop yesterday for some upgrades, so I am working on the laptop at a smaller desk in the office. Mr. X has found the perfect space between the desk and the cabinet to my right, and now that is where he curls up to be close to me.
We were tentatively scheduled to take Mr. X to the other nursing home (Westview Healthcare Center) today if they had been cleared for group activities after a small covid outbreak. They ended up giving booster shots today, so we rescheduled his visit for Monday. Michelle was supposed to help me at Westview today, so she came here instead to play with him.
Today he played hard with the toys, most of which had squeakers. I had Michelle work on discouraging his biting her arm, fingers or hair – substituting a toy. He kept her busy with that.
He used his body on most of the toys, subduing them, especially the monster. He also loved the chipmunk, which had been Justice’s favorite toy when he was a baby and as a result of his attention, now is missing legs.
I also put out the bumble ball. It is a bright yellow, battery-operated ball with multi-colored knobs, and it vibrates, bounces, shakes and rolls erratically. Mr. X followed it around, trying to grab a knob – though that’s hard to do since it bounces around with quite a bit of force.
He was so intent on playing with the toys – and Michelle – that he ignored me. I was even able to answer Michelle’s questions and comments; before, at visits, if I spoke, he would start searching for me.
Those two make quite the pair. I got some great photos of the expressions on both their faces as they interacted.
See today’s photos
44 Days (8/24) Mr. X slept all night. Hurrah! I put Lovely in with him when I woke at 4, then went back to bed until 5.
When I got up, I crated Lovely and fed Mr. X, then put them out in the puppy yard about 6:30. He was waiting for me, front feet on the top of the bottom gate, when I entered the room. He has our schedule down pat.
As usual, I cleaned the room while he was outside. He might have been quiet overnight, but he also was busy. The big fleece pad in the whelping bed looked like a mountain range, and strips of newspaper lay on top of whole newspapers.
He only had a little while until I came out with Hesed and Varoom!. I did poop detail in his yard first, with him following me all around, then as I left the yard I lifted him out into the main yard and, where he was greeted by Hesed and Varoom!. Of course they know each other from visiting through the fence, but this was their first time face to face. I watched Varoom! closely because she wanted to herd him around. He could have cared less and would just dodge her to keep me in sight. He got to follow us all over the back yards and to the front to dump the poop bucket, then back around to the doggie door.
I was very pleased when he remembered how to go around the one gate where he hung up and cried yesterday. That is the gate into the back yard that adjoins the puppy yard. He negotiated several other gates as we wandered all over looking for poop, not stressing or vocalizing but looking for the edge of the gate. Good boy!
He even pooped for me. I had been trying to get a fecal sample to check for coccidia, which my pups usually pick up at about 6 weeks. I check them frequently once they move outside so we can worm them as soon as coccidia any show up. His stools have been normal so it’s just a precaution.
While the two girls cooled off, I ate a quick breakfast, watching Varoom! to be sure she didn’t get rough now that she didn’t have a ball in her mouth. They got along great; he was unconcerned when she got a little rough. I think he’s ready to start meeting other dogs now.
I then put him into the whelping room. To keep him occupied, I opened a can of dog food and pressed some into a marrow bone (long emptied of marrow by the big dogs). I had enough canned food to do 4 more marrow bones, which I froze. This time, though, I wanted it soft to introduce him to the pleasure of licking.
I put the bone in the room before I put him in, and was pleased that he saw/scented it and immediately headed towards it. When I got him to go out for Lovely’s ball session I noticed that he had packed it onto the big fleeced bed in the whelping box.
He was quiet while I did Hopeful’s, Justice’s, Spirit’s and Lively’s ball sessions. I had hoped to get Lovely back to her normal play order – after Mercy – but he woke up and began crying, so I got Lovely and Justice out and carried him out for their ball session. Then I did Mercy afterwards.
I noticed during Lovely’s & Justice’s ball sessions that Mr. X is more interested in playing with people with toys than actually the toys themselves. I took out a fuzzy tennis ball for him and he would pounce on it when I bounced it, but nothing intense. He just wanted to hang out with us.
When we finished and I carried him up the deck steps and put him through the doggie door, he came back out before I could go inside. I put him through again, but Justice was on the deck and he went back out with him. I left him to see if he could figure out how to get into the house by himself. All was quiet, and pretty soon he came trotting down the hallway and found me in the office. Now to get him to attempt going up the deck steps…
Mr. X visited with Lovely for a minute or two and then came to me, expecting to take his favorite spot at my feet under the computer desk. But Justice had beat him to it. With what sure seemed like a sigh, he finally settled down to the right of my feet and crashed.
After Lovely cooled off, I put the two of them in the whelping room, crated Justice, and went on with Mercy’s and then Cantor’s ball sessions. Ball sessions finished, I put Lovely in her crate, fed Mr. X in the whelping room, and fed all the big dogs. Then I showered, grabbed Spirit, and headed out to do a therapy dog visit. When we returned, I put Lovely back in with Mr. X while I grabbed Justice and headed to his CGC class. Once we got home, I let Lovely out, fed Mr. X his early supper, fixed my lunch and then fed the dogs. That done, it was time for Lovely and Mr. X to go out in the puppy yard. No storms tonight so they got to stay out several hours.
Good news! The vet clinic called this afternoon to say Mr. X’s fecal was clear. I’ll keep checking for coccidia; maybe he won’t pick any up since he’s not living outside.
When I brought Mr. X in tonight, we started working on steps. I put him down on the top step and quickly stepped beyond him onto the deck and encouraged him to figure out how to negotiate that which is as tall as he is. He wasn’t very graceful, but he did it. I then gave him a boost into the doggie door, the bottom of which is about 4” above the deck level. I have a 4” x 4” there to make a step, and the pups always have to learn to negotiate the step and then “fall” through the doggie door into the house.
I let Mr. X hang out in the house with Lovely and Justice while I sat at my desk and worked on mail. He crashed at my feet pretty quickly, too tired to even play with Justice, so I put him and Lovely in the whelping room until bedtime. Then I crated Lovely for the night, gave Mr. X his late supper, and all of us went to bed.
43 Days (8/23) We lucked out – Mr. X didn’t trash the puppy room overnight. What a relief.
This morning Mr. X followed along the entire length of the puppy yard fence as I did poop detail in the adjacent back yard. I had to chuckle as we turned and headed back towards the house – Mr. X went up on the walkway and raced along it as if her were trying to get ahead of us.
I repeated yesterday’s puppy playtimes during ball times. During Hopeful’s session, Mr. X played with the leather pouch with spare balls that I have hanging from my chair. When we went out for Justice’s session, I took a little soft Frisbee for Mr. X; during Lovely’s ball session, I took out a fuzzy ball. He mouthed them a little but didn’t really play, probably because he again had worn himself out yelling during Hesed’s and Varoom!’s session. I decided that I will try letting him out with those two, then put him in the whelping room during Hopeful’s and Justice’s turns. Maybe he’ll be ready to play when he goes out with Lovely. I’ve been afraid that Varoom! might be a little rough; guess we’ll see tomorrow.
I had an appointment this afternoon so I tried something new: I left Lovely in her crate and Mr. X alone in the whelping room to give him more time away from mom but hopefully where he’ll just nap and not stress. All was quiet when I got home, but he began yelling when her heard my voice. I hurried to unload the dogfood, put up the dogs who had been out while I was gone, and let Lovely out. She went right to the room and asked to go in to check on her son. Such a good mom! All was then quiet.
I’m going to try leaving him alone in the whelping room tonight. I’ll leave Lovely so it will be easy to quickly put her in with him if he stresses. By this age she’s usually away from the pups during the day and with them at night, but we have to be a little creative with this lone pup.
About the time I was ready to put the two of them out in the puppy yard for a while this evening, a storm was moving in, so I left them inside. Things calmed down about 7:30 so I put them out. Naturally, at 8 p.m., rain came out of nowhere. Then pounding rain. Then a little hail. All I could do was hope Mr. X had gone in the puppy house or transition area. He has done that to get out of the sun and when it got dark before zi brought them in, so I was hopeful. Sure enough, when the storm moved on and I went out to check on them, he was in the puppy house. He came out when I called, nice and dry. Good boy!
I put both in the puppy room until bedtime, then let Lovely out to see if he’d be okay by himself all night.
42 Days (8/22) Mr. X’s ears are starting to come up. They were well up from the base when he woke this morning. Sure makes him cute!
Today we’re back to our normal schedule of morning ball sessions. As usual, while Hesed and Varoom! pack their balls around I do pop detail. When I cleaned the puppy yard, Mr. X followed me all the way around. I even convinced him to come up the ramp and follow me on the level walkway, which is about a foot off the ground. It’s the easiest way for me to get past the pine tree, but this as the first day he would try the walk. He was quite proud of himself.
Hopeful’s ball session was next and I again let him come out with us. He has figured out that he gets attention from me in between throws and thinks that’s okay. Instead of putting him back in the puppy yard like I did the other day, I let him come into the house and hang out while Hopeful cooled off. He visited with her for a minute then happily curled up under my computer desk.
I let him come out with Justice for the next ball session. I was afraid Justice might be a little overenthusiastic but he was too intent on his ball. Then he was very calm with Mr. X on the walk to the house and the cooling off period.
Next was Lovely’s turn. Mr. X really thought he should stay inside the air conditioning – until he saw it was his mom’s turn. It was hot and muggy by then so he just stretched out under my chair until Lovely’s turn was over. Sure enough, we had a rain shower just after we got back inside, which made me let them hang out longer than usual. He crashed under my desk and I had to work to wake him up and get to him so I could put the two in the whelping room and continue ball sessions.
My friend, Peggy, came this afternoon to play. Mr. X was really interested in the toys! He paraded proudly around with several of them – with nice deep bites, too. He figured out how to make them squeak and had a lot of fun making noise. He especially liked a blue furry monster and a little green fuzzy toy. He enjoyed subduing and “killing” a big teddy bear. He played tug with Peggy. He also tried to chew on her sandals (and toes) and arms. He just had a ball! And so did we.
I put the two out in the puppy yard as usual about 6:30, but I had to bring them a little over an hour later when a storm moved in with thunder and a lot of wind. Mr. X will probably trash the puppy room since he didn’t have his play time outside before bedtime. At least we got a nice rain shower tonight.
See the 42-day-old photos
41 Days (8/21) Another cool night and crisp morning, so delightful. I put Lovely and Mr. X out in the puppy yard at 7 a.m. Lovely stayed out with him while I took 3 other dogs to train.
Josh was supposed to come work when I got home about 10, but I never heard from him. I lost the rest of the comfortable morning doing computer work so I was handy to catch the phone or see when he pulled in. It’s so irritating, because, with him coming with the expectation to work several hours, I planned no visitors or other puppy activities.
At 11 a.m., I brought Lovely and Mr. X into the cool house. The temperature eventually got up to 96. It was still 90 degrees when I got home from Mass, but after Mr. X had his early supper, I put the two out again to play and hang out until dark.
Mr. X didn’t eat a lot for breakfast, so I offered it again to him as early lunch at 11 when I brought them in. He didn’t eat much then, either, so of course I began worrying he had gotten into something outside and his tummy was upset. Lovely is drying up so he isn’t getting much at all from her. When I fed the big dogs at 1 p.m., I again offered him his meal and he cleaned it up. He did eat nearly all of his early supper, so I relaxed. I had mixed less dry kibble in with his meat, thinking perhaps I had added to high a percentage of kibble this morning. It’s hard to figure out just how much to feed just one pup.
40 Days (8/20) I decided to try feeding Mr. X in a small, regular bowl. And I decreased the amount of raw meat diet since I’m now adding kibble. He ate most of his breakfast except for a bit he squished onto the side of the bowl. I’ll use the bowl all day and monitor how much he eats to make sure he’s ready for the change.
I put Lovely and Mr. X out in the puppy yard about 6:30 a.m. The temperature again got down to 52 degrees last night so we had a deliciously cool morning.
Lovely got to go train this morning, and was gone for about 90 minutes. Mr. X wasn’t too concerned being left alone and greeted Lovely calmly when she returned just before 10 a.m. The morning was still very comfortable so I put her out with him for about an hour. I had a meeting at 11, so I put both of them in the whelping room; sure enough, the day was heating up by the time I returned.
It ended up getting to 93 today – ugh! I left Lovely & Mr. X inside until shade made the puppy yard pleasant, then I put the two out in the puppy yard until bedtime. The days are getting shorter now, so Mr. X is getting used to the dark.
When I cleaned his room before bringing the two back in for the night, I discovered he had been tugging on the towel under his and Lovely’s water bowls. Naturally, his low bowl was nearly empty and even Lovely’s tall one had spilled some water. All the newspapers for a good foot radius were sopping wet. I cleaned up, refilled the bowls and just put the on papers, no towel.
He cleaned up all his lunch and early supper, but left about half of his late supper.
39 Days (8/19) I forgot to soak some kibble for Mr. X’s breakfast, so I tried phase 2 of the switching-to-kibble-routine: mixing unsoaked kibble in with the meat. He cleaned up his entire breakfast so he’s ready for solid kibble. From the way he’s chomping down on my body parts, I thought he might be.
I put him and Lovely out in the puppy yard about 6:30 a.m. I can’t do it any earlier (out of respect for my neighbors) because she barks a lot, sometimes at the squirrels coming to the peanut feeder in the adjacent yard, but often because she’s bored and tired of motherhood. I would have loved to put them out earlier today because we finally had a cool night – got down to 52 – and this morning was super pleasant. Such a pleasant change from the last week or so of miserably warm nights and days that got hot early.
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s entry that, when I went out with Lovely for her ball session, I couldn’t find Mr. X. When I called, he answered from inside the puppy house. I was glad to see that because that showed me he was starting to think and choose to move to more comfortable spots as needed; before, he had plopped down and refused to move even when the sun hit his spot and was beating down on him.
I decided to let him come out with us when I did Hopeful’s ball session. She’s a wild retriever – back and forth, throwing the ball at me when she returns with it. I knew she’d be too busy to bother him, and the experience of fast movement would be good for him. He spent the 15 minutes visiting with me, watching her, and playing with a pencil-thick weed stalk he found.
I took him out again when it was Lovely’s turn for ball, then again let him hang out in the living room while she cooled off. As I typed this, I began hearing low growls and excited puppy barks: he had decided to pester her while she still had her ball. She’d say “Cut it out!” and he’d say “Why?” He eventually got bored and came into the office to find me just as I got ready to get up.
Then I put both of them in the whelping room even though the morning hadn’t heated up enough that I was forced to turn on my air conditioning. Mr. X has his schedule down and was ready to come inside and be close to his mom, and she can’t be outside while I do ball sessions because she’ll run the fence and bark. In the whelping room, she quietly sleeps.
I put the noise CD on again, even louder, and played it one more time.
Packing the boy up and down the steps made me curious about how much weight he is gaining now that he is eating well. He weighed 9.3# today.
He ate all his breakfast and lunch, but very little of his early supper – probably because of the added kibble. After almost three hours in the puppy yard tonight, he had more appetite for his late supper.
38 Days (8/18) Mr. X again ate nearly all of his breakfast of meat and soaked kibble. When he was done, I let him walk around with Lovely and me while I filled the birdbaths and turned on the fountains, then filled the bird feeders. That was quite the exploratory walk for him, all around the back, south end and front of my house, then back. He had a good lesson in following me, which will help when I take him to the Alzheimer’s Unit this afternoon.
On the first leg, he balked at a corner where there is no concrete walkway, so there’s a 3” drop to some gravel and then a 3” step onto the other sidewalk. I didn’t notice until I was at a birdbath a little way away, so I called and Lovely went back to him, but he just stood and cried. When I finished filling the birdbath, I went back to the edge of the other concrete and called. He still wouldn’t come, so I helped him take the “down” step. Once he got down, he happily climbed onto the next edge and off we went. This is a reminder that that his eyes are still immature and he has little depth perception. On the trip back around the house, he negotiated the drop and climb up with aplomb.
I then put both in the puppy yard while I finished the morning rotations. I left him outside when I crated Lovely and started ball sessions. I was happy to note, when he’s outside alone, that he is moving around rather than squeeze against the front gate. Every time I came out or went in with a dog for ball sessions, he would move to a different place.
I again did the Hesed/Varoom! session, then Hopeful’s, then Justice’s. Lovely was next, and I again invited Mr. X to come out with us. When we finished, I bought him into the house while Lovely had her cooling-off time. He isn’t ready to try going up the deck steps, so I picked him up and carried him inside, the put him down. Yesterday he didn’t know what to do and I had to call to him as I walked through the kitchen to my office, but today his whole attitude was “I’ve go this down!” and he bounced beside me, going on into the living room to find Lovely and then turning back to find me in the office before leaving to have fun galloping down the kitchen hallway and back. I worked on the computer and let him wander around. I did that yesterday, too, but forgot to put it in the diary.
When I put Lovely and Mr. X in the whelping room, I again played the noise CD, this time a little louder. It was loud enough that I could hear it when I came into the house after a ball session, and worked on the computer while the dog cooled off. I kept having to remember it was playing before I jumped up and ran to check on Mr. X, fearing he was hurt or stuck or something…
Mr. X ate all of his lunch. Good boy. He needed strength for his big adventure. When it was time to leave, I carried him out the back door and put him on the ground; then we walked all the way around to the front so he had a chance to potty, which he did.
He yelled all the way to the Alzheimer’s Unit. I like this to be a litter’s first trip because it’s only 2 miles from my house, a nice introduction to the car without stressing them too much. We gave him a chance to potty in the Unit’s courtyard, and he obliged. He then didn’t potty at all the 50 minutes we were visiting. Such a good boy! I always take paper towels but it’s nice not to need them.
I usually give the pups a chance to play with toys as they get used to the new place, but one of the residents, who is usually unresponsive, connected with him so Joy scooped up Mr. X and put him in the man’s lap to visit. Then we let him get used to the room for a bit. He was a little stressed and wouldn’t play with the toys, though he did look them over. Joy got out her set of keys that the pups usually love to play with, but he wasn’t interested. With no littermates to help with the new place, he noticed way too many new things. Next time he’ll probably do a lot more playing.
We then carried him from one resident to another, letting them hold and pet him. He was quite good, though he vocalized a little and did some stress yawning. It was warm in the unit, and of course laps are warm, so that was part of it. Most of the residents had come to the activity room. We carried him to see three who were in their rooms. I think we only missed one person out of the 21 in the unit.
He was quite ready to head home. Lovely came to greet him and led him around to the back of the house (for a chance to potty before going into the air-conditioned whelping room). He stretched out and collapsed as soon as I put him in there.
See today’s photos
37 Days (8/17) I again fed mom and son and then put them out in the puppy yard while I cared for all the other dogs. I brought Lovely inside and crate her when I started ball sessions. Mr. X was pretty quiet for the first couple and even followed along the fence for about half the length of the puppy yard as I was doing poop detail after Hesed’s and Varoom!’s ball session.
During Hopeful’s ball session, he returned to the gate and started yelling. At this time of day, that’s in the sun, which was pretty strong this morning and warming things up fast. I have a water bucket for Mr. X there, but I’ve never seen him go to it. I wanted him to stay out a little longer, so I decided to do an individual ball session for Justice (he usually doubles with Lovely) and then bring Mr. X out to the ball area when I did an individual session for Lovely.
I was relieved, after I cooled Justice off, crated him and got Lovely, to hear no crying. When we came outside, Mr. X was nowhere to be seen. I called and he started crying from inside either the puppy house or transition area. I was pleased that he had headed somewhere cooler. He has to get used to being without Lovely, but it’s harder to figure out the best way to encourage that since he has no siblings for company. Reasonable stress is fine, but I don’t want to over-stress him, especially with our miserable heat wave.
I lifted Mr. X over the half gate and put him down so he would follow us out to the ball area. He ran and bounced and talked, but he came. He seemed to like being either in my lap or under my chair during the session. Lovely only had me throw the ball once, then seemed just to want to lean against my chair, which was probably good for Mr. X’s introduction to the ball area.
After the ball session, I put Lovely and Mr. X into the whelping room. Mr. X told me in no uncertain terms that he was happy to be there, especially in the air conditioning. He stretched out contentedly on one of the fleece pads. I turned on one of my noise desensitization CDs, very low. I have two of those which have sounds of fireworks, thunderstorms, crowds, vehicle noises, voices, barking dogs, yowling cats, crying babies and so on. Of course, normally my litters are exposed to normal household sounds, and I never worry about dropping food bowls or garbage can lids around them when I’m cleaning the puppy house. Having a solo pup is complicating my usual practices, so but I’ll play these CD’s often to expose Mr. X to a lot of different noises.
I soaked some of the puppy kibble and, starting at lunch, added some to the bowl of meat. At lunch he cleaned up everything. Good boy! He left some kibble and meat at both the evening meals, but then he usually eats less at those.
My friend, Al, came this afternoon to play with Mr. X, who showed a lot more interest in toys, especially a soft braided rope and a latex purple dragon. On previous days, Mr. X ignored the latex toys, only touching the soft ones, so this was a big advance. He followed the toys when Al moved them, and even did some serious tugging! He also was moving faster, trying to run on the slick floor – and often fell as he played.
He also did a good bit of chewing. He chomped down on my ankle this morning as I was changing newspapers and it hurt!
36 Days (8/16) After they both had breakfast, I put Lovely and Mr. X out in the puppy yard to enjoy the cool part of the morning while I rotated all the other dogs out for breakfast and play. When I was ready to start ball sessions, I put Lovely inside in her crate but left Mr. X out. This morning he was much more relaxed and content in the puppy yard by himself.
I still haven’t heard again from Josh, but I was thrilled when Andrew, who has done great work for me occasionally, said he could come today about 10 a.m. to weed-eat the back of the puppy yard and the Puppy Obstacle Run.
When I finished the first ball session (Hesed and Varoom!), I went to the back of the puppy yard to check that I didn’t have to get anything out of the way. Mr. X followed me all the way back there but balked at the thick weeds and stood there, yelling, as I forced my way through them. I kept talking to him and eventually he quite hollering and began trying to find a way through. He wouldn’t try the tunnel, which was the easiest way to me, but he figured out that there was space around the edges of the ramps and elevated walkways. When he got close, I went to him and picked him up and gave him a LOT of enthusiastic praise.
I carried him as I headed back to the mowed part of the yard. He had done enough problem-solving and needed a chance to assimilate what he had learned rather than fight the weeds again. I put him down when we reached the mowed part and he followed me with confidence to the puppy house.
I left him in the puppy yard until it was time for Andrew to come. The temperature was rising fast anyway.
I hooked up the cart to the riding mower just as Andrew arrived. He filled it twice with weeds and I took them to the brush pile. Then he cut down the dead branches in the puppy yard; I hauled three loads of them to the brush pile.
He then headed to the Puppy Obstacle Run and leveled the tall grass and weeds with the weed eater. Now I can get that set up before Mr. X is old enough to use it. I usually wait to introduce pups to the Puppy Obstacle Run until they’re six to seven weeks old because it challenges them both physically and mentally.
I was glad when Andrew finished and left. It was 93 degrees and the sun was VERY bright. Ugh!
I put Lovely and Mr. X in the puppy yard about 6:30 tonight. All the shade, and a light breeze, made it quite comfortable. I left them outside until just before bedtime, letting Lovely have a cuddle session while Mr. X ate his late supper in the whelping room and then putting her in with him for the night.
Last night I finished editing the twenty-nine-day-old photos (Linda’s visit). Tonight I got them downsized and on the website for everyone to enjoy.
35 Days (8/15) Well, so much for the idea to have Lovely and the pup outside at night – she barked off and on all night. I finally brought them in about 4 a.m. Once it was daylight (and I figured the neighbors were up), I put them back out while I finished morning rotations. Then I brought Lovely in but, since it was cool and overcast, threatening rain, I left Mr. X out and started ball sessions. He hung at the front gate and watched as we walked by but didn’t complain much. After two ball sessions, the clouds broke up, sun came out and it started warming up. Before the sun reached his place at the gate, I brought him inside. After Lovely had her ball session, I put her in the whelping room with him. She’s spending most of her time in the little area between the room gate and the little gate into the room, very obviously telling me she’s tired of motherhood. But at least both are quiet.
He had his first supper as I left for Varoom!’s 6 p.m. obedience class. When I returned, I fed the big dogs and then put him and Lovely out in the puppy yard. It was cool in the deep shade so I sat down for a while and let Mr. X climb on me, visit, go off to follow Lovely, come back and visit, and repeat until I got tired of sitting on the ground. It’s fun to watch him run. I left them outside until bedtime, then brought him in and fed him his late super in the whelping room while Lovely had a cuddle time. Then I put her in with him and went to bed myself. We had a nice, quiet night.
34 Days (8/14) First thing this morning, I weighted Mr. X so I could worm him. He now weighs 7.3#.
I caught him, several times during the day, tugging on the towel or fleece pad. He definitely needs to move outside where he has all kinds of things to “taste and enjoy. Before putting him in the puppy yard – again where the grass starts – and leaving with his mother for training, I scattered some “outdoor” toys for him. I placed him next to a couple of them and quietly left.
When we returned, he was at the front gate, yelling. He continued to yell for a while after I put him and Lovely into the whelping room.
Lovely is saying it’s time to start weaning him and she wants time away from him. After all, he will be 5 weeks old tomorrow. It’s so miserably hot during the day, I hate to have Mr. X outside until he knows his way around the puppy yard and isn’t stressing over being alone in that heat. I decided that the best way to start moving him outdoors was to put Lovely and him in the puppy yard at bedtime. When I returned home from Mass (6 p.m.), I set sprinklers watering part of the puppy yard and the adjacent yard for 2 hours, to help cool things off. It was still 76 degrees – and muggily humid – at 9:30 p.m. when I put them out, so the watering made things pleasant for them.
I first put him in the puppy house to have his supper and gave him 15 minutes to eat. When I went out with Lovely, he was at the front gate, yelling. I let Lovely into the puppy house and lifted him in there with her so that the two of them could go out together – her showing him the way out the doggie door, which I tied up last night when I set up the puppy house. I will leave it tied up for a couple of days until he knows to go out and will be comfortable pushing it aside. After being tied up, the doggie door stays partially curled up for a day or two – so the opening is obvious to the pups and, by the time it hangs flat, they will confidently push through.
33 Days (8/13) I put Lovely and Mr. X in the puppy yard while I took three dogs to train nosework. Instead of putting them in the front gate, I used the side gate, which is where the grass starts. I put Mr. X in the grass and he took off exploring. When I returned, Mr. X was back in the front part of the yard, curled up in the transition area, against the (closed) doggie door into the puppy house. I mowed after training so the puppy yard is all eady except for the back part..
This afternoon, Callan and Greg came to pick up my A-frame that they bought, and of course had to stay and play with Mr. X. They are trainers in Gillette and have started working with the 4H kids. They have two of the UU litter, one of which is training for a personal protection dog and the other will start a police dog training class next month. All of us were pleased to see Mr. X take an interest in the toys and show a nice deep bite. It’s so exciting to see such a major change from what he did two days ago. He has definitely discovered his teeth and we laughed as he chewed on Callan.
About 7 tonight a cool front moved in (hurrah!) and lowered the temperature to 72 degrees. I was able to clean and set up the puppy house before it started sprinkling. What a relief to get that done. I’ll be interested to see if the pup discovers it tomorrow morning while Lovely is gone to training.
32 Days (8/12) Early this morning the sky was overcast and temperature pleasant, so I put Lovely and Mr. X in the puppy yard for about 40 minutes while I rotated Mercy & Justice, and then Cantor, out for breakfast and visiting. Mr. X wasn’t particularly thrilled that no one was out there to entertain him and hung at the gate, complaining. Justice was thrilled to meet him and lay at the fence trying to touch noses.
I also can’t get a mower in the back area of the puppy yard, where the puppy obstacle course is. Like the front part of the puppy yard, the weeds got ahead of me and are too tall and thick to easily remove. needs to be done before I can move Mr. X outside for good. I finally found a yard man who wants to work for me, “Josh.” Amazing! I’ve called a bunch of them but they either never return my call – or never show. He was coming tonight to weed-eat the back of the puppy yard, around the puppy obstacle course, and to cut out some dead branches that are hanging low enough that’s hard for me to get from the front half to the back half of the puppy yard. I was also going to have him weed-eat the puppy obstacle run so I can start putting it ready for Mr. X to navigate. I have found that the gallon jugs that I hang for push-through obstacles last one season before splintering into pieces. I have been saving milk jugs so I can put new ones up for Mr. X.
Unfortunately, when Josh was supposed to come, the sky was so black we cancelled. He also was having trouble getting his weed eater, which he hadn’t used for quite a while, going. I’m waiting for him to reschedule – sure hope he does – because Mr. X will start exploring towards that rear area in a few days.
People often ask why I have the puppy obstacle course in the puppy yard, and the puppy obstacle run – and why I wanted Mr. X to experience the rough ground in my front yard at an early age. In years of agility lasses, I noticed a lot of dogs having trouble learning the obstacles because they didn’t know where their rear end was. Since I wanted any pup I kept to do well in agility from the beginning, and a lot of my pups go for Search and Rescue, I began challenging baby pups to know where all four feet were as they moved. I give them traction in the whelping room, but as soon as they are keeping their feet under them there, I begin the Enrichment Exercises that make them go over and around various obstacles and expose them to floors (mine were all laminate; now they are luxury vinyl tile, which is definitely slicker than the laminate) and then to rough ground outside. I usually allow them to learn the puppy obstacle course on their own – they create fun games of chase and king-of-the-mountain, and soon are racing the big dogs as I throw the ball, roaring up the ramps onto the top, level areas and watching, then racing down the ramps to greet the big dog at the fence when it returns the ball to me. With a solo pup I will probably do lessons on negotiating the tunnel and going down the slide.
In a week or so, when he’s really gotten good at running and turning, I will put him on the Puppy Obstacle Run, where he has to negotiate a dog walk, A-frame, “curtains” of hanging bottles, rocks, boards and other obstacles. It’s so much easier for them to learn to place their feet carefully while they have compact bodies than later when they have a long body and long legs to contend with.
Tomorrow in the early morning, when I go train, I will put Mr. X and Lovely in the puppy yard while it’s cool. Then I’ll put Mr. X in the whelping room and try to get the mowing done before the day starts to heat up.
Sunday, Lovely will get to go train and Mr. X will be in the puppy yard by himself for the 90 minutes I’m usually gone. It will be a good experience for him, and a needed one. He is old enough that Lovely is wanting to spend more time away from him, and he needs to become comfortable being alone.
Each time I go onto the whelping room, I find newspapers in strange places. I think he’s starting to grab and pull, but I haven’t yet caught him in the act. It’s definitely time for a larger area! He didn’t quite finish his ¼# late supper, but he ate more than 1/8#, so I’ll continue offering him 4 daily meals of ¼# each.
31 Days (8/11) Instead of editing puppy photos during both Spirit’s and Lively’s twenty-minute morning rotations, as soon as each had eaten I headed out to weed the puppy yard. Two nights of watering made it possible for me, by the end of Lively’s time, to get most of the weeds pulled out by the roots and some broken off at ground level. Hurrah! Tomorrow morning I will haul off the weeds and clean out the puppy house, which I use to store puppy supplies between litters.
My friend, Michelle, came to play with Mr. X late this afternoon. He had a great time cuddling with her and thought she was pretty cool. We hadn’t seen each other for months, so we talked a bit during the visit. At first, each time he heard my voice, he would leave Michelle and come to me. When she called him and clapped, he would return to her. It got to be quite a game, with him obviously enjoying going back and forth between the two of us.
He also enjoyed chewing on her fingers. He showed a little interest in the toys, but not when she tried to get him to engage with him. At least he checked several out tonight. He was more interested in exploring, checking out the entire living room (and the dogs in their crates) and going most of the way down the kitchen hallway.
Michelle stayed an hour and a half. Mr. X eventually fell asleep close to her. It was past his supper time before Michelle left and I was afraid he’d be too tired to eat, but he cleaned up his whole meal.
When I cleaned the room tonight, I decided to take out the board that had been the side of the whelping box and then created a step between the bed and the floor. He’s getting around well enough now that I thought he could manage that 2” step up into the bed. I changed the papers and fleece pad in the bed first. Lovely immediately headed to the fleece pad and he followed, wanting to nurse, so I was able to watch him head to her. He only hesitated a second before negotiating the difference in height both going into and, when she left, leaving the whelping bed, so all is well.
He ate his late supper (1/8#), which surprised me since it was so close to his supper, which had been over an hour late. Tomorrow I will offer ¼# at all four meals.
30 Days (8/10) Mr. X is doing so well that I will no longer weigh him daily. Instead, I took advantage of his sleepiness this morning to trim his toenails before putting him down close to his breakfast bowl. He ate all of his breakfast!
About this age, I usually gradually start increasing the meat at each meal, but I decided, with only one pup, to add a small meal just before bedtime. It’s time to start adding some soaked kibble, but I can’t do that until he moves outside. I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to start putting him out for longer and longer periods. He ate nearly all of his lunch, not quite as much at supper, and most of the 1/8# I offered at bedtime. I began adding a little of the Fromm Gold Large Breed puppy kibble in Lovely’s bowl with the Royal Canin. At least she will have a chance to sample it before she begins cleaning up his leftover kibble meals.
Since Whelpwise is adamant about feeding Fromm Adult Gold Kibble to pregnant and lactating bitches – and Lovely absolutely refused to transition back to the Nulo after her last litter, I signed up for Fromm’s breeder program and gradually changed all my dogs to it. Their breeder program is not as good as Nulo’s – no samples of treats and foods for puppy packets for one thing – it was just too complicated ordering and keeping two different brands on hand. I’ll see how this litter, and the next one, does on the Fromm and go from there.
I had been debating whether to put Mr. X in the “baby puppy” house and yard or the “big puppy” house and yard when I move him outside. The baby puppy setup is just outside my bedroom window so I can hear if anyone gets lost or stressed and go out to get them back where they should be. I usually move the pups to the “big puppy” setup when the mothers begin spending time away from the pups, because it is more secure from any coons coming it searching for food (the neighbors across that fence have a big pond and in drought years, when food is scarce, I have had coons come through my fences). I decided this time to put Mr. X directly into the big puppy pen mainly because, by the time I move him out, he’ll be nearly 5 weeks old and Lovely will be wanting to spend time away from him.
The transition area from the puppy house to the yard has two doggie doors; the pups can choose, once they go through the doggie door and out of the puppy house, to turn left into the lounge area or to turn right to a small outdoor area where there is a gate looking towards the deck. The lounge area is a three-sided, south-facing roofed area that offers a place in the summer to stretch out in the shade or when it’s raining without going into the puppy house; in winter, a protected, sunny spot away from the snow. It was partially visible in yesterday’s photos. I also have two Igloo dog houses just east of the lounge area where the pups start exploring and sometimes need to rest a bit, plus the roof over the lounge area also juts an equal distance to the north, creating another sheltered place, but which does not have straw. It’s more a play area (and they also like to poop there in bad weather).
I still haven’t heard from my handyman so last night I set the sprinkler to run on the front part of the puppy yard and this morning began pulling weeds there by hand so that eventually I can put Mr. X outside. The area between the puppy house and the fence is too narrow to get a mower in. The area by the gate and the transition/lounge area is graveled, but big weeds still love it. The weeds are too thick and strong for a pup to push through, so they have to be removed every year. Usually, I spray them in the spring, but we had such a cold, wet spring; then a cold, windy spring; then a hot, windy early summer that I never had a chance. I ran the sprinkler on the area again tonight so I can do more weeding in the morning. Some of the weeds I have to use a shovel to get up by the roots. I can only do a little at a time because I have to get ball sessions done before the day gets too hot, and by evening the soil is hard again.
The weeds by the puppy obstacle course in the back can wait a bit, as it will take Mr. X a while to start going that far. I sure hope I hear from my handyman before I have to chop those down.
We were scheduled to go to the Alzheimer’s Unit today, though later in the day, with the oppressive heat continuing to rise, we rescheduled his visit to next week. It ended up getting to the forecast 103, and was still miserably hot when I went to bed at 10 p.m. Hate this weather.
Tonight when I cleaned the room, Mr. X was trying to chew on my ankle. And fingers. He let me know he was bored. I apologized, but it was still way to hot to take him outside this evening, and after Justice’s class in the 103-degree heat and a meeting, I had no energy left for a living-room playtime. Tomorrow, buddy…
29 Days (8/9) Mr. X weighed 5.5# this morning. He’s eating well, but not frantically hungry, so Lovely is still producing enough milk. Hurrah!
The enrichment experiences are finished. Now we start playtimes in the living room and outdoors until he moves outside – and of course and welcome frequent visitors.
When I cleaned the room this morning, Mr. X was trying out a few gallops across the room. It’s a little hard to put newspapers down flat with a puppy trying out his legs.
My friend, Linda, came tonight to play with Mr. X. Even though the temperature was still 97, the front yard was comfortable between all the shade trees and the watering I did this morning. I wanted to try the front yard because it’s rough, with dips and rocks from the generator being installed in December. My place was the parking lot for an auto racetrack in the 40’s and 50’s, which means only thin topsoil, a lot of clay and lots of rocks. I have been waiting for months for the lawn guys to get to me. They’re going to level the yard, haul off the clay and rocks that were brought to the surface, then put down topsoil and buffalo grass sod (native). Meanwhile, the “lawn” is the pits to mow and walk on, but tonight it gave Mr. X some practice in learning where his rear end is and how to negotiate uneven surfaces. Lovely kept disappearing to splash in the sheep pool just out of sight, and he was totally unconcerned. Linda and I weren’t too happy when she dripped on us, though.
He is starting to realize he has teeth. He was sucking on Linda’s fingers and then “chewing” a little.
Linda is a cat person so I always enjoy her visits because she interacts with the puppies in creative ways. For instance, she played peek-a-boo with the pup using the towel I took out for her to sit on. She stayed nearly an hour, until Mr. X got crabby because he was tired. He collapsed on the fleece pad by the gate where I put him when I took him inside, and didn’t move for quite a while.
28 Days (8/8) Mr. X weighed 5.2# this morning.
Today one enrichment experience was noise. I turned the radio on low, tuned to the classic country station, and left it to play during the day.
The second enrichment experience was the Puppy Adventure Box. 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.
Mr. X checked out the box but showed no super interest in it, which is typical. I got a few photos and then left him in peace. When I took in his lunch and supper, I placed the bowl inside the box. At lunch I placed him just outside the box, looking in and he pushed through the hanging objects and began to eat. I got a few photos again.
When I took supper in, he was on the fleece pad by the gate. He got up as I called “Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!” and followed me, going right into the box to his bowl.
I had planned to take him to another section of the lawn tonight, but it was really hot and I was bushed after Justice’s obedience class at 4:30 and then Varoom!’s class at 6. I just didn’t have the energy. Linda is supposed to come to play with him in the late afternoon tomorrow. The plan is to have him outside, but we may have to be inside if it gets as hot as forecast.
I’m impatiently waiting for my handy man to come weed eat and cut out some dead branches in both puppy yards so I can start moving Mr. X outside. It’s almost impossible to get anyone to come do work – they say they’ll come and never show. This is stuff I just can’t do so I’m frustrated, especially after seeing how he enjoyed the outdoors last night.
Tonight I finished editing all of yesterday’s photos but will have to pick the best ones and downsize them for the website tomorrow. After seeing all the photos, I’m impressed with the little guy’s use of his nose and independence. He’d be 20’ from Lovely, happily sniffing away – usually ending up finding me for a visit before heading out to explore again or to track her down. Very nice at this age!
When I cleaned his room for the last time tonight, I caught Mr. X grabbing at the edge of the fleece pad, obviously thinking about some tug. He decided instead to come “help” me and climbed over the back of my legs as I knelt, changing papers. We had a nice love-in and then I headed to bed.
27 Days (8/7) Mr. X is now too large to fit in the gallon-sized bowl I used on the postal scale, so now I have to use the baby scale. He weighed 4.9#. He ate nearly all of his breakfast. I have figured out that he doesn’t like the meat cold, so I left his ¼# lunch out of the refrigerator so it would be at room temperature. He ate more of his lunch than he had been, so I did the same for his supper, which he also ate well.
I opened the sheet on the gate halfway to let more air into the room since he can now regulate his own temperature.
Since he’s eating well, I decided to discontinue Lovely’s hormone shots after the one tonight. He’ll be 4 weeks old tomorrow, so if she dries up he will easily transition to just solid food.
Today he had serious frustration exercises. I waited until we returned from training (since Lovely got to go train) before setting up sections of an ex-pen to form barriers. Two sections closed off about ¾ of the opening to the bed. Two others blocked most of the way between the two halves of the room. These are great experiences because the pups have to figure out that standing, yelling, looking at the place they want to go does not do any good. It teaches them to turn on their brains, turn away from the desired destination (VERY hard for pups to learn) and walk along the barrier to the edge.
I first made sure he could figure out how to get into and out of the whelping bed, with Lovely providing the incentive for him to figure it out.
Then I encouraged her to go to the far part of the room and lifted him there with her. She, of course, walked through the opening to the barriers and he followed her. I then left them.
When it was time for lunch, I first put the bowl on the towel at the entrance to the whelping bed and waited for him to go through the opening and get to the food. Then I moved the bowl to the back area and watched as he figured out how to get to it. I started to leave then, but he left his food to come towards me so I quickly got far enough away to get some photos. After he got some loving, he turned back to his food and allowed me to leave him quietly.
Marlene had planned to come see him at 2 p.m., but the day was way too bright to do an introduction to the outdoors, so we’ll try another day. I took him outside when I returned from Mass, about 6:30, since I had a lot of shade by then. He loved it! I love to watch his nose working – and it sure was working tonight. He explored happily for a few minutes then found me and wanted a love-in. I obliged. Then Lovely came over to check on him and he followed her for a while before returning to me. We were outside for about 30 minutes before he started getting tired – and crabby. Time to take him in and let him process all the new impressions. He had quite the day!
26 Days (8/6) Mr. X weighed 4.625# (2100 grams) this morning. He ate nearly all of the ¼# of raw meat diet I put down for him! There was one bite left. Good boy!
I cleaned his room but didn’t set up an enrichment experience because he’s scheduled to have two visitors today – and go outside for the first time during them.
The weather, however, didn’t cooperate. I managed to get in a good training session at Craftco (Lovely didn’t get to go since she would be entertaining visitors today; she goes tomorrow morning). But a few minutes after I got home, the heavens opened and we had a day of fantastic rain. My morning visitor, Claudia, came shortly after I got home, content to do her visit inside, but my afternoon visitors wanted to be outside. We’ll try again tomorrow.
Amazing what happens when the neurological system is finally all hooked up. Now I should begin to see what he’ll really be like as far as personality. Drives will start coming in a little later. Right now he’s beginning to explore his world, which is exciting to see, because he seems to change by the hour as he interacts with things he didn’t notice before.
He enjoyed having their enrichment exercise in a larger area, with both his first stranger AND some toys. Did he ever enjoy all the attention, particularly being held in her lap! Claudia stayed for about an hour, so I got a lot of photos – including some really cute ones!
When Claudia occasionally put him down, he marched around exploring, meeting the other dogs (Hesed & Varoom!, Hopeful & Justice) who are crated in the living room, and then finding me. He tried to climb in my lap but couldn’t quite make it on his own, so I helped him. He tasted my fingers – and I could feel teeth through the gums. The age of sweetness and innocence will soon be over. Once he discovers those teeth, he’ll use them on everything.
He showed only very mild interest in the toys and no effort to pick one up, very typical at this age. Once he knows he has teeth, that will change! He is sure at a super-cute stage!
He fell asleep in Claudia’s lap. When she left, I put him in the whelping room but didn’t offer lunch even though it was about lunchtime. All of us took a nice nap – cool temperatures and rain make such great sleeping weather. I gave him lunch when we woke, but he wasn’t very interested.
Tonight he was exploring how he could grab my finger with his teeth. He ate nearly all of his supper.
25 Days (8/5) Mr. X weighed 4.56# this morning. I think I could see a crack in his ears, though it was hard to tell because he was struggling a lot.
When I cleaned the room, I doubled the fleece pad in the whelping bed so that it’s higher off the floor and hopefully will encourage him to see it as a sleeping place rather than potty area. That left the front half of the whelping box with just newspapers, then a towel to give traction on the drop where they go from the whelping bed onto the board and then onto the floor. I also left Lovely’s little fleece pad where she jumps in and out of the area and put one by the doggie door to keep those newspapers stable. The rest of the floor is just newspapers.
One of the nice things about having more newspaper-covered floor (as opposed to all of it being covered by flannel for traction), is that I can change soiled papers every time I go into the room, keeping the room much cleaner. It’s very important for later housetraining if pups are raised in a clean environment. He is already going away from his sleeping area to eliminate – the only problem is that he sleeps all over the room, wherever he collapses, so then he pees and poops everywhere. Until he moves outside, I will be very busy cleaning, washing – and will need lots of newspapers.
Today is “foot” day for enrichment exercises. I had some bubble wrap that I thought he might like to grab and carry, but he never did. It provided a first experience of walking on unstable surfaces and hearing weird “pops,” mostly as Lovely or I walk across it since he is still too light to do any bubble popping. I put the green piece of bubble wrap between the towel holding the newspapers on the board and the fleece pad. I spread the other strip of clear “fat” bubble wrap on the other end of the room. I also put down two Styrofoam pieces that we use in beginning clicker-training classes when we’re teaching dogs to freely offer behaviors. That will give him an experience of stepping up and walking on top of something. I no sooner put down the enrichment items than he was checking them out, barely giving me time to grab and turn on my camera.
One thing the Puppy Culture materials urge breeders to do is to help the pups learn to handle frustration from an early age. A big suggestion is to have small barriers that the pups have to go over or around in order to get to their meals. The last time I ordered a new fleece pad, which is 5’ wide, I asked them to cut the extra foot off (my whelping bed is 4’ x 4’) before they shipped it. That 4’ x 1’ strip, rolled up and taped, made a nice barrier to try today. I used a long cardboard roll that a strip of flannel came rolled onto for a second barrier. Mr. X was definitely frustrated by the things in his way – especially the fleece roll – and told me so.
When I took his lunch in, I switched the position of the two barriers so that Mr. X had to go over the fleece roll to get to the meat. He climbed over the fleece roll, sniffed the meat and then turned away. I thought that was strange, so I lifted him back by the bowl to be sure he knew it was there. When he turned away the second time, I decided he just wasn’t hungry. Sure enough, he maneuvered over both barriers and headed to the doubled pad in the whelping bed for a nap. I had given Lovely one long ball session early this morning and eliminated the second one since she the last few days she hadn’t done much running during it, probably because the day had heated up by then. The elimination of that second ball session shortly before lunch meant she hadn’t been away from Mr. X so he had probably been nursing. He did eat a good bit of his supper.
24 Days (8/4) Mr. X weighed 4.15# (2010 grams) this morning.
Today is “feel funny under your feet day” for enrichment experiences. I put down a small plastic bottle and a larger jar that will roll nicely, a muffin tin, an egg carton, a scrunched-up piece of aluminum foil, one of the containers from the Lady Godiva chocolates gift box, a muffin tin, a food tray and a plastic tray that gives if Mr. X walks across it. The area closest to the bed was quite full of new things! Each time I entered the room, I moved objects to different places, to stimulate Mr. X to notice something if he hadn’t already. It’s not important that I see pups investigating things. The important thing is that they get used to their environment constantly changing, and it becomes normal to change their idea of where they’re going or what they’re going to do. I want my pups to leap, with enthusiasm, into each new experience in life.
The last time I made rolls, I had used the foil to cover the rolls for the first half of their baking time, and then kept it in case I had a use for it again. It’s possible it retained a slight scent of the rolls. Mr. X is the first pup who has ever acted like he was picking up on the butter or yeast aroma. Good boy!
It did make taking photos difficult. I lost track of how many times I picked him and put him around other obstacles, then scooted away and tried to focus the camera so I could get other photos.
He got three meals today, each 1/8#. Each time he left a bunch of meat for Lovely to happily clean up.
I picked up all the enrichment items when I took his supper in. Later, we had a little love-in before all of us went to bed. Mr. X struggled so much that I had a hard time checking his ears, but I think I saw a slight crack.
23 Days (8/3) Trills and barks greeted me this morning when I walked past the whelping room and when I opened the gate. I checked to see if Mr. X’s ears were open. Not yet, but all the little bumps and wrinkles are extremely defined so it will be soon. Litters often become extremely noisy just before their ears open.
Mr. X weighed 3.785# (1726 g). Lovely decided she wanted to nurse him on the little fleece pad, so I changed the whelping bed first this time. Then I convinced her to move there so I could change the floor. I put Mr. X with her and started work, but he decided he needed to “help.” I managed to get the flannel covers off the floor – moving him a couple of times in the process. Thankfully, he wandered back to Lovely about the time I started changing papers and I was able to finish the floor change in peace.
For today’s enrichment exercise, I took two cardboard boxes and, to be sure Mr. X didn’t somehow upend one and get trapped inside, cut two openings in the sides. I spread out the flaps so that they might attract some puppy teeth. One box contained some brown packing paper, so I put it out, too. I also put down a small piece of firewood so he could investigate the texture of the bark. He liked that.
As soon as I put the things on the floor, he left Lovely and headed to investigate – definitely new behavior. He checked out the firewood and paper first, then suddenly headed towards Lovley’s bowl of kibble, first time I’ve seen him show interest in that, too. When I changed flannel and papers today, there were no yellow spots (from pee) and I haven’t seen him in that far part of the room before, so I consider this significant exploratory behavior and it makes me feel those ears may be open tonight or tomorrow. I chuckled when he paused and considered tugging on the towel under Lovely’s food and water bowls.
He then wandered back to the paper. I picked him up and put in him one box. It was funny to watch him come to the opening towards me but decide to turn around and eventually go out the back opening. He came around the box to me and I put him in a second time, and that time he came out the front opening. He verbalized a bit, definitely saying he was frustrated by the confinement in the box. I try to give the pups occasional frustration exercises to teach them about “real life,” that things won’t always be easy in the beginning and that they have brains to figure out how to get what they want.
I then put him in the other box, which I had placed at the entrance to the whelping bed. Lovely had by that time moved to the whelping bed and I got some neat photos of her watching him figure out how to leave the box and go to her.
Since Mr. X showed interest in Lovely’s food, I decided to see if he was ready to start eating on his own. When I introduce them to eating, I start them on the raw meat diet because the moms will still clean up their poop when they eat meat – very important while they’re still in the whelping room. I divided 1/4 pound of the raw meat diet into small pieces and put it in a puppy bowl, which is low-sided with a raised center so the pups can investigate food without totally crawling into it. I put out enough meat that there are tiny bites all along the edges of the circular bowl, so that wherever Mr. X approaches (or falls into) the bowl, he would encounter a food reward.
I knew Mr. X wouldn’t eat that much meat, but I haven’t found a small bowl that is only about 1” tall. Everything I had or could find at the pet food store had rims too high for a pup, so I had to use my regular puppy bowl – and didn’t want him to approach it where there was no meat and be discouraged. I was impressed when he started eating as soon as I put him down close to the bowl. I even got two photos of him taking a big bite of meat! Usually at first they just suck at it and end up pressing it into the bowl, but not this boy. Very nice!
Lovely is getting ½# raw meat diet at each of her three meals, so I gave her 3/8# for her lunch and used the other 1/8# for Mr. X, adding another 1/8# I had. He didn’t eat quite 1/8#. Lovely was thrilled to clean up what he didn’t finish.
I did the same thing at supper, this time just making sure he was in the vicinity of the bowl but not putting him close. By the time I turned from the doorway, he was eating away. He didn’t eat quite as much tonight.
Years ago, I read a book by a guy who trains Navy Seal dogs and also breeds working dogs. He talked about always making the puppies search for their food rather than setting it right in front of them each time. With my next litter, the HH litter, I tried doing that instead of putting some of the raw meat into each pup’s mouth as I used to do when introducing meat. On the temperament test at 7 weeks, all those pups showed intense desire to use their noses, so I decided to continue the practice. The pups sometimes start eating on their own a few days later with this method, so in a big litter the moms don’t get relief as soon as before, but I think it encourages the pups from the very beginning to make an effort and be proactive, rather than passively accepting being fed.
When I introduce the meat, I also put down a water bowl from which the pups can drink. It has sides low enough they can find the water but high enough they won’t fall in as they learn to drink. They need water now since they’ve begun eating and Lovely will be away from them for a while after they eat. It’s always funny to watch them explore the water bowl and eventually figure out that it’s for drinking.
Even though he can’t yet hear, I always give a high-pitched “Puppy, Puppy, Puppy” call as I enter the room with the meat. That way, they learn from the beginning that coming brings rewards, because it’s one of the first things he hears when his ears open.
It’s a great introduction to what later becomes the “come” command because they never forget that call. I had one pup, years ago, whose owner moved to Houston. She would call every so often and, after we talked, would put the phone by his ears and tell me to call him. He’d go ballistic, getting all excited and looking around for me. She did Schutzhund (the competitive sport that involves obedience, tracking and protection work) with him and through the protection training he became aloof and wasn’t interested in visiting with other people, but he never forgot me. My parents lived in Beaumont, which is about 90 miles from Houston, and occasionally I would go through Houston on my trips home and stop to visit her. He would come to the door in the usual GSD “Who are you and what do you want?” mode, but as soon as I said “Puppy, puppy, puppy,” he was all over me. She said he never responded like that to anyone else he knew. He never forgot.
When I did my therapy dog visit to the Alzheimer’s Unit this afternoon, I asked if they would like Lovely and Mr. X to visit next Wednesday. He’ll be 4 weeks old then. Years ago, I used to take moms and litters together at that age, so I thought I’d try it again with the Unit. They were thrilled! Then he’ll begin visiting by himself after he’s 5 weeks old.
I checked ears last thing tonight. Not quite open.
22 Days (8/2) Mr. X weighed 3.61# (1650 g) this morning. After I weighed him, I trimmed his nails and wormed him.
I worm the pups every 10 – 14 days from the time they’re three weeks old until they leave. All puppies are born with roundworms; it’s the nature of the parasite. Encysted worms are activated by the pregnancy hormones and migrate through the placenta into the developing puppies. When a dog finishes the rapid growth stage, around nine months of age, the worms encyst and become dormant. Until that time, puppies are vulnerable. It’s impossible to keep the yard where the baby puppies are totally clean of poop, and they aren’t developed or experienced enough to notice a poop and avoid it, plus puppies explore their world by mouth, so they are very prone to ingest roundworm eggs in the soil or other parts of the environment and are impossible to keep worm-free. Living quarters of individual puppies are much more easily kept clean, plus they’re rapidly learning to poop when taken outside and the owners can pick up the poop immediately, so they need not be wormed as frequently. Regular wormings throughout young puppyhood (I recommend monthly until they’re about nine months old) keep the worm population minimal and unable to harm the pup, but it’s impossible to totally eliminate the roundworms. Of course, if you live in an area where heartworm is a danger, the monthly heartworm preventative dose also kills worms. You start the pup on heartworm preventative just as it turns four months old. Heartgard kills roundworms, but I prefer to use Iverhart because it also kills tapeworms and hookworms. Hookworms aren’t normally much of a problem in our area but tapeworm shows up occasionally. If your pup is ever exposed to fleas, tapeworm is a danger since fleas are its carrier.
I managed to find the blanket out in the shed this morning. Naturally, it was in a tub on the very bottom and back of the stacks of tubs. I was about to give up and find a small throw to cut into strips when I finally found it. We were blessed with a cool, cloudy morning, so I didn’t have to rush through ball sessions and wait until all were finished before setting up Mr. X’s Enrichment Experience. After Lovely had her ball session, I took time to hang the blanket at the entrance to the whelping box and to take photos. I put Lovely on a down stay out of the way and put Mr. X down by the blanket. He definitely noticed it and seemed to be having fun trying to take one of the strips in his mouth. I released Lovely from her stay and she promptly headed into the whelping bed. He went towards her and then came back out to play with the blanket and then find me.
I was disappointed that the photo of him falling over as he grabbed the strip was too blurry to use. Another good one was slightly blurred but still usable. Oh, well, I got some good ones.
Tonight I again checked ears. Still not open. We had quite the cuddle session before bedtime, with him trying to climb over my legs and in and out of my lap. He wasn’t successful but he sure tried.
21 Days (8/1) As long as I have to give Lovely the hormone shots, I’ll weigh Mr. X every morning. Once his ears open, signaling all neurological systems are hooked up and running, I will begin offering him the raw meat diet. Once he’s eating, I can quit Lovely’s shots. Today he weighed 3.385# (1539 g).
The little knobs inside his ears are becoming more prominent and defined, but they still haven’t moved apart to create the openings of the ears. He is getting much fuzzier, which signals he’s getting ready to be able to regulate his body temperature, another thing signaled by the ears opening. The third major ability is being able to learn and to reflect on what he experiences as he begins to build an understanding of the world and his place in it.
I began his enrichment experiences this afternoon. Several years ago, I found a great puppy-raising resource: the Puppy Culture Workbook. The workbook goes with the “Puppy Culture” DVD set by Jane Killion. This four-DVD series is mainly for breeders, with suggestions of things to do with puppies from birth until the end of the critical socializing period at 12 weeks. Watching the DVD section concerning a particular age of the litter might help you better understand what I’m writing in the litter diary. (You can get it from her website, www.pigsflydogs.com).
During this fourth week of the pups’ lives, they advise one new experience per day for the litter. I had always waited until the ears opened before I began seriously introducing new things, but for the last few litters I decided to start earlier like the Puppy Culture people do, and it was fun. Usually, for the first day’s new experience, I hang a small blanket cut into relatively standard strips over the entrance to the puppy bed. It stimulates them to use their eyes in a different way by having something vertical that looks totally new and also moves. However, that blanket must be out in the shed. It was 3 p.m. – and 97 degrees – so I decided to go with a different experience. I’ll try in the morning when it’s cool, to find the blanket and use it for the Enrichment Experience tomorrow.
I usually clean the room and put out the day’s experiences early in the morning, but with the heat wave we’re currently having, I’m rushing to get out and start ball sessions as soon as possible. My therapy dog visit today was cancelled because they have a covid outbreak, so at least I could change the room and put out the articles in the early afternoon and he would have plenty of time to fall over/investigate them before I pick the stuff up at bedtime. Tomorrow and Thursday I don’t have to go anywhere so this schedule will work. Wednesday and Friday I have therapy dog visits in the afternoons so I may have to figure something else out. No use hoping we’ll have cool weather so I can do the puppy room before starting ball sessions.
I put on the floor an old cooking pan with a handle, a big lid, a cake pan lid, a jelly roll pan, a big metal spoon and a small wooden rolling pin. I thought the reflection off the metal pan and lids would be interesting for him, both the metal and wood would be new things to taste, plus the rolling pin would (naturally) roll and the jelly pan would rock. He wasn’t too impressed. He kept trying to find either Lovely or me.
Eventually I got some photos of him with the objects. I created a “Enrichment Experience” page on the website and will add photos to it as the week progresses.
With only one pup and a VERY attentive mother, I’m not having to change many newspapers, so I’m only changing everything every other day. That means tomorrow’s photos will have the same fleece pad and flannel. Hopefully tomorrow’s photos won’t be too boring with the same background…
20 Days (7/31) Mr. X continues to gain steadily. This morning he was 3.21# (1450 grams). He continues to become more and more responsive when I go into the room. Tonight he was cupping his head in my hand and leaning into me. Such a sweet boy. I checked his ears since tomorrow is usually the big day when all neurological systems are complete. His ears were still closed, though all the parts are now clearly defined. It won’t be long.
19 Days (7/30) Mr. X is doing so well (this morning he weighed 3.045#, 1387 grams), that I decided Lovely could go with us to train nosework. I like to go to Craftco Metalworks early on Saturdays and Sundays, taking three dogs each day. She was thrilled!
Today, each time I checked on Mr. X, if he was awake, he tried to follow me. When I knelt down to greet him, he really responded to my touch, leaning into my hand and wagging his tail. I love this stage when they’re still sweet and soft, with no teeth or desire to use them on my body parts. This is the stage where I “waste” a lot of time in the whelping room.
I decided he was ready for me to open the entire room, so tonight I did so. Thankfully, he was asleep in the whelping bed so I didn’t have any “help.” It took quite a while to open up the room, since it’s larger after I moved a lot of stuff that previously was under the shelves out to the new shed. That meant that the old divider to keep pups from the doggie door out to Lovely’s potty area no longer fit; it was too short. I eventually got it lengthened and in place, covered the floor with newspapers and then put flannel down for traction.
Then I asked Lovely to move to the little fleece piece and moved Mr. X to nurse there while I changed the big fleece pad and newspapers in the whelping bed.
I then tried to take some photos of Mr. X’s enlarged living area, but he kept searching for me. Yes, me, not Lovely. In fact, once he had found her in the whelping bed but caught my scent and turned away from her to come to me. It was really cool watching him use his nose and head to me, but it sure made photography difficult. Several times I had to pick him up and put him far enough away that the camera could focus. We had to have a nice love-in, at which he draped himself over my arm which was resting on the floor and talked to me. Eventually he was satisfied and let me back off and get a few more photos.
He seems to be trying to figure out his world. Of course, he can only see vague shapes and the contrast between light and dark at the moment, but his world has vastly enlarged.
As he begins to walk better, I will leave areas without flannel covering in hopes of starting potty training, but for right now he needs that traction.
18 Days (7/29) Mr. X weighed 2.865# (1295 grams) this morning. I was relieved that he gained pretty much the normal daily amount without my being there to make sure he was nursing frequently. What a relief! Sleeping in my bed last night was fantastic; I sure didn’t want to have to go back to sleeping on the floor in his room.
It won’t be long before he’s eating, so I ordered a sack of Large Breed Puppy kibble. I am going to try Fromm’s Large Breed Puppy Gold. Whelpwise is adamant that we feed the pregnant/lactating females the Fromm Adult Gold, so I have been. Last time, Lovely refused to go back to the Nulo after she weaned her litter, so I ended up changing to Fromm’s breeding program and putting all my dogs on their gold series – adult or senior. It will be interesting to see if Lovely will eat the Puppy Gold formula. She is still eating just the Royal Canin – from my hand. At least she’s eating the raw meat diet on her own now.
I was a little concerned about Mr. X this morning because he was always in the whelping bed. This afternoon, though, he was in different places each time I checked, mostly in the room. I want to see more exploratory behavior before I open up the whole room.
Once this afternoon I caught him sitting like a real dog. I love when they start doing that.
His face is growing. I love their little Roman noses, which are really noticeable from a side view at this age. His ears are growing in preparation for opening on the 21st day. They’re losing the “teacup handle look” and beginning to fold over. They won’t begin standing up like real German Shepherd ears until they’re at least 5 weeks old.
We had a little love-in tonight before bedtime. As soon as he noticed that I had sat down beside him, he sat up and wagged his tail madly. I love that, too! He visited quite a bit, leaning into my hand as I petted him and talking to me. I half lay down, resting on my elbow, and he worked until he managed to climb over my arm on the floor. Once he did that, he must have realized he was hungry. Suddenly his head lifted; he was obviously on scent. He had located Lovely, who was in the whelping bed, and left me for her. I petter her for a bit while he nursed, then left the room.
17 Days (7/28) Last night and early this morning, I noticed that Mr. X was moving from the floor into the whelping bed and then back. Finding him with Lovely in different places assured me that he can handle a larger living space. Doing that means taking out my cushions, so now I’ll actually be able to sleep in my bed. WOW! Today I didn’t have to go anywhere, so it was a great time to change the room setup since I could check frequently that Mr. X was okay.
After I removed my cushions, pillow, laptop and other supplies, I put up another 8″ board on the side where Lovely has been entering and leaving, to make sure Mr. X uses the area prepared for him rather than climbs over into Lovely’s section, which has no papers or blankets on the floor.
Then I put up a 12″ board to define Mr. X’s new floor space. Lovely can easily step over it to get to her water, bed and the doggie door to go outside. I unscrewed the hinges to the folding side of the whelping bed and took it off, lying it flat on the floor. That makes two ½-inch “steps,” one from the whelping bed to the board, the second from the board to the floor, which proved with the last litter to be low enough that puppies can negotiate them with no trouble.
I put newspapers over the board and floor and, over them, a flannel runner for traction. I also put out a small fleece pad where Lovely will land as she jumps over the 2’ gate that keeps the pups away from the doorway. Mr. X woke up when I moved him onto the flannel runner in order to change the fleece pad and newspapers in the whelping bed, so I weighed him. He weighed 2.665# (1210 grams) this morning.
I took a few photos of Mr. X’s new digs and was tickled that, while I had the camera on, he woke up and started searching for Lovely, who was in the whelping bed. I got photos of the whole search, and Lovely’s response. Having only one puppy sure allows me to watch interactions between mom and pup. Lovely is very attentive but doesn’t baby him. He has to find her, learning to use his nose well. She was talking to him in a very low voice and it sure sounded like encouragement. He can’t hear, but can he catch voice vibrations through the boards and covering? I bet he can!
I then left both of them to get used to the new arrangements and, when I finished rotating all the other dogs out to potty and have breakfast, checked on them. Lovely, of course, came to the door when I approached, but Mr. X was contentedly sleeping in the whelping bed. When I took Lovely out for her first ball session, he was in the new area. When I took her out for her second session, he was in the whelping bed. Both times he was asleep.
I checked him frequently throughout the day. No whining or signs of discontent. And, whenever I let Lovely out of the room, she only wanted to stay with me a few minutes before asking to go back to her son.
I sat in the whelping room tonight for an hour, to make sure Mr. X nursed well before I spent the night in my own bed. I sure missed the other 2 dog beds and my air mattress that cushioned my old bones the last 16 days!
16 Days (7/27) I didn’t realize until tonight that I never weighed Mr. X this morning. Not having to report to Whelpwise, I concentrated on getting outside early to start ball sessions before the day got hot and, in the process, didn’t think of weighing him. I guess I’ll start weighing him every few days now, unless he starts getting fussy like he’s not getting enough food. He is not one to suffer in silence.
His eyes are now open. Welcome to the world, little one. Bright light hurts immature eyes. Those blue eyes won’t turn brown, and handle light well, until they’re about 5 weeks old. I closed the curtains in his room. Now that his eyes are open, he should start exploring and be much more fun. I didn’t see a lot of action today, though – all he did was eat and sleep. When he does move, he is trying to get up on his legs and walk – for short distances.
He was not pleased with the camera flash when I took photos tonight, turning away so I didn’t get many photos. I did get some photos of him noticing Lovely was close and heading to her. I had her stay in the whelping bed while I tried to get closeups, then let her ooze closer when he just wanted to snooze. Eventually he woke up enough to find her.
He was sound asleep when I needed to do the neurological exercises. And not too pleased to be awakened, feet tickled with the Q-tip, or held head down. By the time we got to the supine exercise, he was sticking his tongue out at me. It was probably a coincidence, but it sure was funny. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled that this is the last day for the exercises.
15 Days (7/26) This morning Mr. X weighed 2.36# (1068 grams). Whelpwise says I can stretch Lovely’s injections to every 12 hours, at least for 4-5 more days. After that, if I want to try taking her off the oxytocin, I can, but if her milk dries up, it won’t come in again. Otherwise, I continue the twice-daily oxytocin shots.
I checked Mr. X’s eyes when I weighed him and they are nearly open. Later, he figured out he could brace against the wall and hold himself on his back, waving his legs – for exercise, I guess. It was hilarious! I tried to sneak to the office and get my camera, but just as I returned he rolled o his side and headed for Lovely.
Today I deliberately spend a lot more time out of the whelping room, to get Lovely used to more time by herself.
He is getting up on his legs and trying to walk. Tonight I took out the pig rail and one side, putting the board on the floor so that there’s only a little step up onto it and then another tiny step into the whelping bed.
When I did the neurological exercises, he struggled and gave me a baleful stare during the supine exercise.
14 Days (7/25) Mr. X weighed 2.13# (969 grams) this morning. Thankfully, Lovely is producing enough milk despite the lengthening of time between hormone shots.
Mr. X is doing well enough that today I took a nap in my own bed. I didn’t get a lot of sleep because the three young ones (Hopeful, Justice and Varoom!) each had to come on the bed at different times – Justice twice – to check on me. None of them curled up and stayed, but it was obvious they were quite glad that I was where I belonged.
I had 30 minutes to sit in the whelping room and pacify Lovely, who was not pleased I napped elsewhere, before I took Justice (4:30 p.m.), and then Varoom! (6 p.m.), to their obedience classes. I had just enough time in between to check that Mr. X was fine.
When I did the neurological exercises tonight, I saw that Mr. X’s eyes are about 2/3 open.
13 Days (7/24) Some glitch on the website kept me from getting yesterday’s update up. My webmaster fixed it this afternoon. Hurrah!!
Mr. X weighed 1# 15.7 ounces (900 grams) this morning. I increased the time between Lovely’s oxytocin shots to 8 hours.
Twice today I caught him sound asleep while hanging on to a teat with his front teeth. SO funny!
I’m mystified by what color Mr. X actually is. He doesn’t look like a sable; more like a really dark black and tan. He has super dark tan on his feet, but the rest of his body looks black. That shouldn’t be, though. Titus should have only sable and black genes (Hesed being homozygous sable and Cantor having to be homozygous black since it’s the least dominant color in GSDs). Sable is dominant over all other colors. Lovely looks like a bicolor but has thrown black & tans (b/t being dominant to bicolor), so she has to have the black extender gene like her mother, Glory Too, does. It will be interesting to see how his color changes as he gets a little older. Something tells me this pup is going to do things HIS way…
When I did the neurological exercises tonight, I noticed his eyes are half open. I expected as much, as today he’s been trying to get up on his legs and take steps. No success, but it won’t be long. When they open, I’ll take more photos.
12 Days (7/23) This morning I realized that Mr. X had doubled his birthweight yesterday morning. Hurrah! In the deliberations over the new scale I didn’t pay attention to the total ounces being 26 7/8 by the old scale. (He was 13 ounces at birth.) They usually accomplish that by 6-7 days of age.
This morning he weighed 1# 13.3 ounces/827 grams. He’s doing well enough now that I thought it safe to spend 4 hours this morning and 2 hours this evening catching up on the mowing. I mow for about 30 minutes while one “play group” packs their balls around and drops them in front of the mower to try to entice me to get off it and throw them. Then we come inside and those dogs (or dog; a couple have individual ball sessions because they don’t like company during the serious business of retrieving) cool off for a few minutes before I crate them and get the next ones out, doing turns in the same order as I do ball sessions. At 1 p.m. the day was hot enough that we quit and had lunch and a nap. About 6 p.m. the sun was blocked by enough trees that I could go out and finish the mowing.
Tonight when I did the neurological exercises, I noticed that Mr. X’s eyes are open a slit.
11 Days (7/22) I was finally able to find a postal scale and it came last night. This morning I weighed Mr. X on both it and the kitchen a I’ve been using, and gave both figures to Whelpwise. They were slightly different: kitchen scale said 1# 10 7/8 oz, while the postal scale said 1# 12.7 oz. Kitchen scale said 788 grams, while the postal scale said 814. I like the postal scale because it has a much bigger tray – and I have to use a bigger bowl now that Mr. X is growing. Whelpwise noted the two weights and that I will use the postal scale from now on.
We had a peaceful day. He is doing well enough that I resumed ball sessions, though shortened ones since I can’t get outside as early as usual with all Mr. X’s monitoring and discussions with Whelpwise – and it’s starting very early working on getting to the 97-100 degrees that are forecast. Lovely was thrilled to get TWO ball sessions. She is normally next-to-last on the ball play, but to keep her happy -not bouncing around as the others went back and forth – I let her go out with Justice. He usually has one early session by himself, then joins her for hers, so I did the pair twice today.
Since I now only have to give Lovely a hormone shot every 6 hours, I was able to get in a great nap, which sure helped brain activity. I was able to think enough to process everyone’s comments about which of the two dates for rescheduling Dave Kroyers’ nosework seminar will work best for them. He had to have knee surgery and had to cancel our August 5-7 date. All of us are very disappointed as at least 4 people coming to the seminar from out of town were looking forward to visiting Mr. X – and I was pleased at all the socializing opportunities. He’ll be gone by the time we do the seminar, now September 16-18.
I had to laugh at Mr. X today. I caught him practicing rolling over, and back, and over, and back. His eye slits are very defined. I bet they start to open a bit tomorrow.
10 Days (7/21) Mr. X weighed 1# 8 5/8 ounces (698 grams) this morning. Since he’s doing so well, Whelpwise said to space Lovely’s hormone shots 6 hours apart now. We’ll probably have to continue them as long as she’s nursing, but should be able to give fewer and fewer per day.
And my massage therapist tested that she had a cancellation at 4:30, which I snapped up. When I had to cancel my regular appointment the day he was born, I couldn’t reschedule because she didn’t have an opening for a while. I sure needed the massage after 10 days of sleeping on the floor. Gosh it felt good!
9 Days (7/20) I forgot to mention yesterday that, when I checked the diary from the last litter, to see how Mr. X compared with the others in development at 8 days, I saw that I had noted that Lovely had consented to eat her raw meat diet when I fed her with a spoon. I tried that last night and, sure enough, she ate it all.
I had started putting a bowl with a cup of Royal Canin kibble in the whelping room. Yesterday Lovely would check that I was settled on the cushions with the laptop and then casually go over and clean it up. I had to fill it three times. This was in addition to hand feeding her kibble at all three meals, sitting in my chair in my office and offering 2 pieces at a time until she said she had enough. So I wasn’t surprised that her milk was coming in. Not surprised, but so very grateful!
Today went the same. She ate ½# of raw meat diet at each meal, by the spoonful. For the first two meals I thawed out the turkey/sardine raw diet, but for supper I offered the beef formula. She never blinked an eye except to tell me to feed her faster. She ate kibble from her bowl and my hand. Now I only have to mix one teaspoon of bone meal in the ½ cup of ice cream, as opposed to mixing in two teaspoons before today. And she is now licking the bowl from her ice cream/bone meal supplement each morning and evening – it has to be less gritty and more inviting.
They are both super happy with Mr. X spending the day out on the fleece pad in the room rather than in the whelping bed. I only put him in the bed when I’m going to be gone. So the room is warm enough, even if not as warm as I usually have for the babies, who can’t regulate their body temperature. Sometimes he cuddles against Lovely; other times they separate and sprawl separately.
He also spent last night out in the room. I moved the heater from the whelping bed to their part of the room and he never showed any signs of being uncomfortable. I slept with my head/pillow next to their area in case he got lost or cold or upset, but he never did. What a peaceful night!
He is quite entertaining: he will sleep anywhere, but when he wakes his first thought is to find mom. Sometimes he reminds me of a seal or walrus as he pulls himself along in search of her; sometimes I think of an inchworm. He can cover the ground pretty fast. He doesn’t always want to eat immediately but just needs some cuddling, then he’ll stretch out against or close to her and go back to sleep.
When I called Whelpwise with the morning report (nice weight gain: he weighed 22 5/8 ounces (640 grams), they asked if I had slept well overnight since I only had to get up once to give Lovely an oxytocin shot. I told them I had and it was great, but today I was dying for naps. They said that was typical – you live on adrenalin those eight days when you’re focused on saving that pup, then when he’s over the danger, you relax and the adrenaline drains away, leaving you exhausted. I agreed – I seemed more brain dead today than during the past week.
Mr. X is beginning to look absolutely rotund. This afternoon he tried to sleep on his back but kept tilting over. His ears are sticking out of his head. His eyelids are beginning to be very defined, first step in opening. And his coat is growing so that he looks fuzzier. He is the picture of contentment and has a totally different personality now that we’re not doing frequent feedings and weighings. He’s also pretty placid during the neurological exercises, hardly squirming and taking the cold towel in stride. Tonight, when I finished the exercises, he just scooted over to snuggle with mom.
I heard from both testers. We have scheduled the police/narcotics test for Thursday, September 1st at 9 a.m., and the Search & Rescue test for Friday, September 2nd at 9 a.m. The arena is reserved. Hurrah!
8 Days (7/19) First thing this morning, I grabbed the camera in time to catch a couple of photos of Lovely nursing sitting up.
This morning, after still another long nursing session that didn’t produce weight gain, I called Whelpwise to confer. They said to quit weighing and supplementing him all day, then weigh at 6 p.m. and call them. They want to see if he’s not seriously nursing (thought he looks like it to me) because he isn’t that hungry with all the supplementation he’s receiving, so today he is on his own. Meanwhile, every 3 hours I will give Lovely .1 cc of oxytocin to see if a little more will get that milk flowing (she was getting .05 cc every time we fed Mr. X). I am thrilled – and I am sure HE will be thrilled – not to be having to weigh and tube feed him all day!
I weighed Mr. X at 6 p.m. as instructed, and he was up 24 grams to 602 grams (or, up 1 ounce, now 21 7/8 ounces)! Whelpwise said just give Lovely an oxytocin shot every 4 hours throughout the night, weigh Mr. X in the morning and call. We can have a quiet night. YES!!
I heard from Bonnie, my SAR tester. She can do her test on Friday, September 2nd. I emailed that date to Suzan and waiting to hear from her what day that weekend she can do the modified police/narcotics test.
I trimmed Mr. X’s nails and it wasn’t a huge deal, probably because I hadn’t been irritating him all day. Whew!
I gave him a while to rest and nurse, then took some photos. I could see a BIG difference in him. Super relaxed and content, all he wanted to do was nap during the photo session, until I let Lovely join him. I even managed to get a photo of her holding him down with as she cleaned him.
7 Days (7/18) Since Mr. X survived the first critical week, I emailed both testers to get the temperament tests scheduled. The best time to do the tests is just after they turn 49 days old, which he will attain on August 29th. We would normally do the tests the following weekend, but that’s Labor Day weekend so the scheduling will be harder to accomplish. Suzan (35 miles away), who does the modified police/narcotics test, is free that weekend, but Bonnie, my Search & Rescue tester, Bonnie (200 miles away), is judging a nosework trial that weekend. It may take her a few days to decide when she could come. She’s far enough away that it involves staying overnight, so she’s harder to schedule.
Lovely seems to be producing a little milk so sometimes Mr. X gets enough that I don’t have to supplement, but other times he hardly gets any so I have to tube feed him. He was fighting the bottle so much I gave up on it. He is gaining slowly overall and is now up to 1# 2 ounces.
Lovely prefers to stretch out on the fleece pad on the floor rather than in the whelping bed, so Mr. X was getting lonely. I started putting him out with her every so often so he can cuddle, and he seems much happier.
I noticed tonight that I need to trim puppy toenails – always an adventure. He’s pretty darned strong really squirms and yells when I weigh or tube feed him, so I’m not looking forward to toenail trimming. I’ll do it tomorrow.
6 Days (7/17) Mr. X showed much more enthusiasm about nursing today. In fact, at the 1 p.m. feeding, he nursed for an hour! I had planned to take some photos, then let him rest before the feeding while I hot packed Lovely’s breast to try to get milk flowing easily for the nursing session. After I got some individual photos of Mr. X, I allowed Lovely to join us. Today I noticed, when she entered the whelping bed, she was no longer lying right by him. Instead, she would lie on the other edge and ignore him. It didn’t take him long to figure out he had to find her – and he seemed to like the game. He can’t yet get up on his legs and walk, but he quickly noticed her joining him on the afghan and “oozed” quickly to her, over her foot and grabbed a teat. I got a few photos of him exploring the afghan – that nose is already working seriously! He moved with such purpose and sped that I had to put him back about 6 times in order to give the camera a chance to focus. I got some photos of him nursing (notice how his legs and tail move as he nurses), and some sweet interactions between mother and son.
I thought he was never going to quit nursing. SO exciting.
I weighed him when he quit nursing and there was hardly any difference, so he wasn’t actually getting much milk, but he seems to think it’s a possibility now. He refused the Esbilac in the bottle, seeming insulted with the rubber nipple, so I tube fed him the formula to be sure his tummy was full.
At the 4 p.m. feeding session, he totally refused to even try nursing. Then, at the 7 p.m. feeding, he nursed very aggressively for 17 minutes AND afterwards weighed significantly more and his tummy looked full. I called Whelpwise and they said this was great. In fact, they said to put him on to nurse whenever he wakes up, weighing before and after, and if he gains some weight don’t bother to try the bottle or tube feeding.
They said we may be past the worst, that her milk should finally be coming in. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d jump for joy. Instead, I started the neurological exercises. As I expected, he did not take kindly to the exercises. He only shut up when I put him on the cold, damp towel.
Since I woke him up for the exercises – and it was 10:30 p.m., I put him on Lovely to nurse before we went to bed. I was wishing I had remembered to bring the camera back into the whelping room after I downloaded this afternoon’s photos, because she sat to nurse him. I quickly got the camera, but by the time I returned, she had laid down with him.
He nursed for 39 minutes but this time didn’t show any weight gain, so I tube fed and we went to bed.
5/24/22: I need to replace nearly all my flooring. To make that possible, I needed more storage. I can’t buy prebuilt sheds because they wouldn’t fit through my gates to get to where I wanted them – one on the west side of the trailer by the front door out of the living room, under the big roof overhang so it is sheltered; and the other on the east side of the house close to the big puppy pen. I had room in both places for a 6’ x 8’ shed. One of the local lumber yards contracted with a master contractor to custom build sheds, and for an additional fee, he would build them on site. I signed up as soon as I found out. I told them I needed them finished before the end of May and, luckily, he finished the second shed today. Hurrah!!
5/30/22: I began moving all the tubs of puppy supplies out to the new shed and boxing/moving everything else out to the “dog” shed on the east, to make room for nearly all my flooring to be replaced. Once the whelping room was empty, I began the same process with non-dog stuff, moving all of it into the other shed. I had to clear out the spare bedroom so I could put the dogs’ crates back there when they did the living room and my bedroom. By the time I got everything moved, both sheds were full. Amazing how much room I have now in the house.
6/2/22: Lovely’s coat finally grew back after being shaved in January so we could monitor her pregnancy with Whelpwise. I managed to schedule a photo shoot with a professional photographer Shirley McPheeters of FFF Photography, before we had to shave her again for this litter. Shirley’s photography business started out as strictly dog (and possibly other animal) photography and was originally called Four Footed Photos. The kids love the “Photo with Santa,” trading card of GloryToo, which Shirley took. I figured she might have some other seasonal backdrops and props that would make interesting photos for the new series of trading cards (Easter, other holidays and maybe other themes) that the kids would enjoy. She said she did, and she also had some saddles and other gear that would make good props with some of her backdrops. Today I took GloryToo and Lovely to her studio for a big photo session. We got some great new photos so I can make more trading cards to give to the kids at Reading Dogs. I originally made 18 for each of my Reading Dogs but they’re so popular, and kids participate in Reading Dog for several years, that I needed to make more.
6/14/22 We did Lovely’s first ultrasound and Dr. Cindy saw two, possibly 3.
Usually the mother-to-be will have twice what we see on the ultrasound. We’ll have to wait for the x-ray during the last week of pregnancy to know how many she actually has. We have to wait that long because the pups’ skeletons don’t calcify until the very end of pregnancy. X-rays can penetrate the entire width of the dog’s body and give an accurate count, while ultrasounds are more limited in penetration and in big-bodied dogs, pups can hide out of sight.
6/20/22 The flooring guys did the whelping room today. Does it ever look nice!
6/24/22: Peace descended when the flooring guys finished doing the whole house and left today.
6/25/22: I started putting things back into their usual places and carrying in whelping supplies and arranging the whelping room.
I set everything up so I could do Lovely’s monitoring sessions in the whelping room. That way the other dogs can be loose, playing in the house and yard, those two-plus hours a day that we’re monitoring.
I put down a dog bed for Lovely to lie on, and a big water bowl for when I leave her in the room – which will be every time I leave for more than an hour. I also put shredded newspapers in the whelping bad. All is now ready. She has a doggie door to a sheltered potty/outdoor lounge area, and a comfortable, quiet spot to stretch out and rest while I’m gone.
I made sure everything I’ll possibly need is ready. The camera battery is charged, settings are adjusted for whelping room and batteries in the new external flash attachment. I practiced a little with my new macro lens. Hopefully that lens will give better photos of the pups during their first weeks when I must photograph them in the confined spaces of the whelping room.
Hemostats (for clamping umbilical cords if they bleed) and scissors (for cutting extra cord if Lovely doesn’t chew the cord close to the pup’s abdomen) are sterilized and in the room. The bitch’s jaws normally compress the cord as she chews through it and consumes the afterbirth, which stops any bleeding. Sometimes, though, it will either be chewed off too close to the abdomen so it isn’t compressed shut; then I need to step in with a hemostat, to press the cord together and stop the bleeding. That can get exciting at times, with the mother wanting to clean the pup and flipping it around as I grimly hold the hemostat against its underside to prevent tearing. A few seconds is usually enough. I will take the hemostat off and check, re-clamping if necessary, or else let mom finish cleaning the pup in peace. All the flipping around is designed to get the pup breathing well and knock out any fluid it might have swallowed during birth. It usually does, because the pup gets mad and starts yelling. I am always glad to hear them yell! And very glad when I can step out of the picture.
I have the whelping box under an old table to create a “den” for the new puppies. She can “nest” to her heart’s content in the shredded newspapers. The new “pig rails” I built are up around the sides. For the first couple of weeks they give the fragile, blind pups a place to squeeze into in case mom lies upon them without realizing it. I have a doggie door going to a small private yard where she can potty if she needs to.
From now on, whenever she’s outside the whelping area, I watch her, because mommas-to-be can quickly find a hole and disappear – nature’s instinct to find a safe place to whelp. Often they’ll go from doghouse to doghouse, slip in, rearrange the straw, then come out and head to the next one. Lovely hasn’t started nesting yet but I’m still keeping her in sight, even though as an experienced mom she knows all is ready in the whelping room.
6/29/22: My friend, Debbie, sent a nice box of Lady Godiva chocolates to keep me from stressing during whelping. She started that as stress-relief when I was awaiting Hesed’s litter (VV litter) and I’m grateful she decided to continue it with each litter.
6/30/22: I scheduled Lovely’s x-ray for Thursday, July 7. That will show us how many puppies she has.
The monitoring equipment from Whelpwise arrived. Since Lovely surprised all of us by whelping 5 days early last time, we’re starting to monitor early.
I set everything up so I could do Lovely’s monitoring sessions in the whelping room. That way the other dogs can be loose, playing in the house and yard, those two-plus hours a day that we’re monitoring.
For the monitoring session, you have the mother dog lie flat on her side and put a little sensor under her. You monitor one side for 30 minutes, then have her get up and lie down on the other side, doing it for 30 minutes also. Then you send the medical data over the phone and Whelpwise watches it, looking for any early contractions, what they call “irritability.” Each time they call and let me know what they saw. If the bitch starts having contractions, we will put her on some anti-contraction meds until her due date.
I put down a dog bed for Lovely to lie on and a cushion for me to sit upon during the monitoring sessions.
7/2/22: This afternoon Jocie, the owner of our local pet store (Muddy Pawprints), shaved Lovely’s abdomen so that the sensor will work better. She definitely looks strange with her sides and abdomen shaved and only a patch of hair over her backbone! She has such a gorgeous, shiny coat that we hated to shave it off. I noticed that the pups had dropped. BIG change since this morning.
I did the first monitoring session tonight. All is calm.
7/5/22: Lovely has begun refusing kibble and only wants her raw meat diet. Whelpwise insists they need kibble for carbohydrates. They said to scramble some eggs with the eggshells in and put it over a piece of toast. We tried that for her late breakfast, and she totally refused it. She wouldn’t even eat the meat in the bowl. I finally had to take every tiny crumb of egg/toast off the meat. She then ate the meat for lunch. I divvied up the egg/toast in the other dogs’ lunch bowls and they vacuumed it up with gusto.
The daily monitoring sessions continue to show no tiny contractions, so I had just started to relax and quit worrying about premature whelping. However, when I headed into the bedroom to let Lovely out of her crate, I found she had destroyed her crate bed. On her last litter, the first I knew that she was going into labor five days early was when I heard a strange noise, kind of a mischievous squeak, headed to the bedroom, and discovered her bed in shreds, foam everywhere – and suddenly a puppy appeared.
“Not again!” I thought. Thankfully, she was just bored, or maybe she resented the plumber’s presence as he hooked up the new sink the floor guys had installed.
7/6/22: I finished cutting newspaper strips, which I use to absorb fluids from birthing. Whelpwise wanted me to start searching for and monitoring fetal heartbeats but I asked them if we could wait to start until after the x-ray tomorrow. That would let me know how many heartbeats to look for.
As of tonight, we are now on puppy watch, with me taking Lovely’ temperature twice daily. Usually their temperature begins to drop as they get close to delivery. The week before they whelp, they’ll range back and forth between just over 100 degrees to tantalizingly close to 99. When the temperature drops below 99 and stays there, they’ll generally whelp within 12 – 24 hours.
Normal temperature is 101.5. This morning she was 100.6; tonight, she was at 101.1. I take it when she’s been resting quietly. Usually I do it each morning as soon as we awake – before she stirs around any, and then in the evening just before bedtime, when she’s been quietly resting.
7/7/22: We did the x-ray at 4 p.m. She was so gassy that Cindy could only see 1 pup for sure, which she thought strange since she had been sure she saw two pups on the ultrasound. I have to take her back at 8 in the morning and not feed her beforehand. Lovely hadn’t eaten her lunch because she refused to eat the bone meal that Whelpwise had me sprinkle on it (again trying to get calcium in her), so why she was so gassy is beyond me. Cindy says the pups aren’t very calcified yet, which should mean she’s not going to whelp early like last time.
Whelpwise said to now begin monitoring uterine activity twice a day. So far no sign of any contractions. Tonight, after the monitoring session, I searched for fetal heartbeats and could find only one, on her left side. I had her turn over so I could search her right side. I searched for 15 minutes and could find no other heartbeat. I’m very bummed.
This morning she was 101.1; tonight, she was at 101.7.
7/8/22: Lovely was extremely crabby this morning since she had to wait for breakfast until after her x-ray. Then, when we got home, she refused her breakfast. This morning’s x-ray showed only 1. Now I have a new worry: sometimes a single pup doesn’t move around enough to generate enough hormones to start labor. I’ll have to monitor the heartbeat at least twice a day in case the pup becomes stressed, so we can rush Lovely in for a c-section. In 45 years of breeding, I have only had 1 singleton litter – that was Jubilee, who is Lovely’s great-great-grandmother. Jubilee was born in 1998.
This morning Lovely’s temperature was 101.0; tonight, she was at 101.7.
7/9/22: I’m still trying to find ways to get her to eat enough to keep up her strength. Today I tried putting her food in separate bowls: raw meat diet in one, Royal Canin in another, and for breakfast and supper, raw beef liver in a third. That worked for breakfast. For lunch she refused both meat and kibble, and for supper she only ate the liver. BUT I found that if I give her a handful of Royal Canin each time she goes into her crate, rather than the usual one piece, she will eat it all, thinking she hit the jackpot.
Whelpwise told me tonight that often they go late whelping with just one pup. Oh, great, the food battle will continue. They have me giving her Tums for calcium, 2 three times a day, and a Vitamin D capsule once a day. That’s a battle, since she fights me as I try to open her jaws and put them down her. At least one pup taking calcium from her bones in order to form the its bones is minor compared to if she were carrying a big litter. One isn’t going to hurt much.
This morning she was 101.1; tonight, she was at 101.3.
7/10/22: She only ate her raw liver this morning. She wouldn’t touch the kibble, until I hand fed her. At least I got a cup down her to start her day.
I do feel she’s carrying this pregnancy Prima Donna attitude a little too far. After Justice ate 3 garden hoses, I have to block off areas when I water. When I’m watering in the main area (where we do ball sessions), they can’t go out the front door and turn right to go around the west edge and north end of the house to the back yard to come in the doggie door. Instead, they have to turn left and go through a gate that is normally closed, that leads into the back yard on the south end of the house. Then they go along the east edge of the house and eventually to the doggie door. The other 9 easily figured out to double back when they got to a closed gate that wasn’t normally closed; in fact, they seem to find it great fun to find which gate is open at any given time. Not Lovely. She absolutely refuses. She will sit at one of the front doors forever, expecting me to open it. I have several times gone out and walked with her through the newly opened gate and eventually to the back door/doggie door. It makes no difference. She isn’t going to go that way. Drives me crazy!
The uterine monitoring showed calm again this morning, but when I did the Doppler heartbeat search, I couldn’t find the pup. I caught a faint heartbeat a couple of times but couldn’t hone in on it. It was deep in the groin this morning, and even trying a search while Lovely sat and stood rather than lay on her side did not make the pup accessible enough. Whelpwise said not to panic, since the uterine monitor showed that the pup was really kicking this morning – thus healthy – and to try the Doppler later in the day and see if the pup had moved into a better position. I did it again just after Lovely had her ball session, found the pup and the heartbeat was good. Whew! Such a relief.
Tonight was a repeat – no success the first (normally scheduled) time. Later I took her out to help me set sprinklers, etc., to get her moving, and we were then able to find the heartbeat.
This morning she was 101.0; tonight, she was at 100.8.
7/11/22: This morning she was 100.9.
Today, for the first time, on the uterine monitoring they saw a tiny bit of irritability. The pup was again hiding this morning when I tried to get its heartbeat rate, so once again we decided to try again after Lovely’s ball session.
I did a couple of ball sessions and then took Lovely out (with Justice as usual) for her ball session – about an hour before her usual timne. As she has lately, she only wanted her ball thrown a couple of times, spending the rest of the 15 minutes sitting by my chair watching me throw the ball for Justice. I discourage them chasing the ball in late pregnancy, but they get real crabby if they miss “their” daily playtime, so we go out and don’t get wild – and it helps keep them pottying and moving around so they don’t stiffen up. A couple of times as we sat there, she would suddenly turn to lick at a discharge, which put me on alert.
I had planned to try again for the fetal heartbeat, but as we headed back to the house, I noticed what looked like a drop of blood just coming from her vagina. As soon as we got inside, I grabbed a Kleenex and caught it. Sure enough, I got a reddish stain. I immediately called Whelpwise and they had me take a photo of the Kleenex and send it to them. We then tried to get a fetal heartbeat but couldn’t zero in on the pup, which seemed to be moving up towards the birth canal. Karen asked me to do another monitoring session and put the sensor high on her abdomen where we had caught a faint heartbeat, which I did.
I sent the session to Karen. While I waited for Karen to review it and call, Lovely became quite agitated. When I saw her cock her tail a certain way – that I have only seen during whelping – I decided she was going into labor. Karen called as I was heading into the whelping room and agreed with my instinct. We were right! She had her first contraction at 12:29 and first serious contraction at 1:03.
She wasn’t having frequent contractions, which frequently happens with one pup; singletons not moving around enough to generate the strong hormone release that causes contractions. We gave her some calcium and eventually a little oxytocin, to encourage stronger labor. A couple of times during the labor Karen had me put her on the uterine monitor, and once check fetal heartbeat. That is quite the adventure when she’s in labor! After the second monitoring session, I left the room long enough to hook the monitor up to send the data to Whelpwise – maybe 3 minutes. When I returned, she was in serious labor and less than a minute later “Mr. X” was born, at 4:08. A black sable male, he weighed 13 oz (394 g) and was nicely vigorous.
Relieved, I put a blanket on the floor and transferred Lovely and her pups to it so that I could clean the whelping bed. I removed the newspaper strips, then scrubbed the bed, put down newspapers and covered them with a thick fleece pad to provide traction for the pup and absorb moisture and wick it away from the pup so he would stay dry and warm.
That done, I took a few photos before I pushed the whelping bed under an old dining table to form a draft-free den. Since he’s an “only,” I didn’t put a collar on him. I’ll call him “Mr. X.”
I then spread out my sleeping bag on the dog beds, and finally got to bed at 11 p.m.
Whelpwise said not to leave them together unsupervised for the first two days, as sometimes moms will reject or even eat the one pup. Lovely went the other direction – she was a little too attentive, licking, licking him constantly and in the process knocking him off the teat every time he tried to nurse. I did a nice, supervised nursing session before I turned off the lights, kneeling by them as the pup nursed and fending off Lovely’s attentions so he could get some milk in his tummy without disturbance.
I didn’t sleep much as I was alert for any sound of distress if the pup rolled away from Lovely or got rolled onto. Newborn pups make a lot of noise as they adjust to the huge new world they are now in, instead of the safely confined womb. That usually doesn’t make for much sleep for me
1 Day (7/12) The night was pretty peaceful. “Mr. X” didn’t get lost or cry, so I just regularly checked on him. Weighing him this morning showed that he had lost a little more weight that we like: he was down to 12.5 oz (360 g). I called Whelpwise and they said to do supervised nursings, 30 minutes every two hours, and to weigh him before and after to get an idea how much milk he was getting. Sometimes mothers of single pups don’t come into much milk, so we need to know right away if we must supplement him, before he starts to weaken. They also said to have the pup nurse on all four of the back teats (the more easily-productive teats) but not the others, to avoid mastitis. So I time him on each teat, about 6-7 minutes, then move him to another. All this takes about 45 minutes every two hours, so I’m not getting much else done!
Lovely continues to refuse the raw meat diet but will eat raw liver and kibble from her bowl if it’s beside me.
I continue to spend most of my time – and all night – in the whelping room.
2 Days (7/13) Lovely is still not eating, not even the raw-meat-diet that she generally loves. Neither will she eat the spoonful of vanilla yogurt with acidophilus bacteria (for good digestive health) that I give my dogs with their raw meat breakfast. Normally she loves that, too.
She will still eat a slice of raw liver twice a day. Unfortunately, I finished my liver last night. My friends who buy a beef each year usually give me the liver and heart for the dogs, but I don’t think they’ve gotten their meat yet. I still had a beef heart they gave me last year (heart will also induce milk production like the liver does), so I thawed it out overnight. I offered some at each meal today and she acted like I was trying to poison her.
She will eat some Royal Canin kibble if I hold the bowl. Whelpwise says that’s better than no carbohydrates, though they looked at the label for the Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult formula kibble and said no wonder the dogs like it, since the first 3 ingredients are sugar. The only thing she eats with enthusiasm is the ½ cup of ice cream in which I mix 2 teaspoons of bone meal (for calcium) that Whelpwise has me give her twice daily.
Today Mr. X is still at 12.5 oz, so we tried giving him Esbilac (puppy milk replacement formula) diluted with sugar water, in a bottle. (Straight Esbilac often makes the new babies constipated.) He HATED the nipple and spent so much energy fighting it that Whelpwise said we’d better tube feed him. I have to feed him every 2 hours and the whole process takes about 45 minutes. First I give him, by syringe, 4 cc’s of sugar water to give him energy and make sure he doesn’t get dehydrated. Then I stimulate him to pee/poop before weighing him. 30 minutes of supervised nursing follows that. At the moment, he still thinks he’ll find milk in a teat and is doing well searching for the nipple and attaching to it. I have Lovely lie on a fleece pad out in the room, rather than in the whelping bed, so I can see well. I put him on all four back treats for about 7 minutes each. Then I weigh him. The difference between the two weights tells us how much milk he got from Lovely – which proves to be none.
Then I feed him the formula, but he fights being held, having the tube placed down his throat so the food goes directly into his stomach, and being held still while I slowly depress the syringe to send the formula through the tube. For such a young pup, he’s very strong – and squirmy. He will lash out with his front feet and swat the tube, try to spit it out and generally make it difficult for me to keep the other end of the tube on the syringe. Tonight I started rolling him in a light towel (like you do to restrain a cat to give it pills) so only his head showed, holding the towel shut with a big rubber band so that I could get the formula down him before he freed his front feet. The percentage of formula actually getting into his tummy is improving greatly. At least he’s finally beginning to gain some weight. Not much, though, so Whelpwise said to do the whole feeding routine every 90 minutes all night.
After each nursing session/weigh-in, I call Whelpwise, and they tell me how much formula to give him the next time. After I tube feed him, I again weigh him to determine how much food he got. To get him used to the supplement, we started with 6 cc’s of mostly sugar water with a little Esbilac added. Gradually we increased the volume we gave him, eventually getting up to 13 cc’s about 3 a.m. At the same time, we were gradually increasing the amount of Esbilac and decreasing the amount of sugar water.
I continue to spend most of my time – and all night – in the whelping room. I am pretty stiff from sleeping and sitting on cushions. And brain dead.
These puppy duties are hard on the other dogs, too. Their daily routine is out of the window – and GSDs are VERY set on daily routines they can depend on. They haven’t had their daily morning ball sessions, which serve to blow off excess energy as they get one-on-one play time with me, since Sunday. They also aren’t enjoying our usual evening cuddling sessions – or trips to town or training classes – anything.
The young ones – Justice, who is 13 months and Varoom!, who is 8 months – are particularly having a hard time since they don’t have the experience to know that puppy duties end and regular routine resumes soon. They already had been in trouble for deciding to play tug with the garden hoses. In the process they drug a sprinkler around and ruined two new-last-year 100’ (expensive!) hoses and an older 50’ one. Since then, I have been closing gates to keep them away when I run sprinklers. Tonight I was watering an area where the cross fence was only about 8’ from the sprinkler’s location. That has never been an issue, but when they both came inside soaking wet, I headed out to look. The monsters had grabbed the hose and pulled on it until they drug the sprinkler into the gate, tugging so hard that they pulled over the metal sprinkler stand, drug it into the gate and popped off a leg, ruining it. They then had a blast chasing the water that the sprinkler head kept shooting out into the air and into the ground as it made its rotation. It dug a hole and made a nice big puddle for them to splash in. I could have killed them.
Several years ago, when I began doing the early neurological stimulation exercises on my litters, I was pleased to see that the introduction mentioned my practice of stressing them a little each night as by not worrying if they roll off the pad onto the cool floor while I change the fleece pad in the whelping bed
3 Days (7/14) I was telling my friend Ginny about Lovely and the heart, and she said she had a package of liver left from their beef. She dropped it off today. I immediately started it thawing so Lovely had her liver at lunch and supper.
I continue to give Lovely bone meal mixed in ice cream twice daily, and a tiny injection of oxytocin before every puppy feeding. Both are designed to bring her milk in.
She is refusing to eat any of the Royal Canin kibble unless I play the Toss It game that we do for fun. It involves having the dog sit a distance away and throwing a treat for them to catch. We play it a lot at Reading Dog. The kids love it and the dogs find it a lot of fun because the kids, who aren’t very coordinated yet, can’t be depended on to throw the treat in the same direction two times in a row. Lots of laughter accompanies the end to a child’s reading session when he or she asks for the treats. To get Lovely to eat today, I even used the treat jar rather than just dishing out some treats. She had fun, and I got at least a cup of kibble down her at each of the three meals.
Whelpwise said that, if Lovely’s milk doesn’t come in, I will have to feed Mr. X for at least two weeks. Since I only keep one can in my whelping supplies because I need it so seldom that it usually expires, I decided I’d better get more Esbilac, but when I asked my vet, they said they didn’t have any. I then called Jocie at Muddy Pawprints, to get her to set back a can or two for me until I was able to leave the pup and go to town, but she didn’t have any, either. I became worried that we might have a shortage of Esbilac like so many other items since covid hit. Since I can’t leave the puppy yet, I ordered some off Amazon. Once I can be gone for a bit, I’ll check the other local stores. Sure hope someone has some, since the Amazon order won’t arrive until the 22nd.
Tomorrow I must leave long enough to get another kitchen scale. Mine has started acting weird, giving much lower weights this afternoon and evening than it did this morning. Another strange thing is that it sometimes gave a lower weight just after I tube fed Mr. X some 14 ounces of formula than it did just before I tubed him. Whelpwise and I decided the scale was going bad and I’d better get another. I just got it for the January litter so I’m not very pleased with its lifespan.
The good news is that Mr. X is steadily gaining weight. I had hoped perhaps Whelpwise would let me go longer between feedings tonight (or not do them all night), but no such luck yet.
I took a few photos.
One thing about a singleton litter is that I get to watch so many interesting interactions between mother and son. Today I caught Lovely lying in the whelping bed intently staring at one edge. Looking more closely, I could see that Mr. X had crawled under the pig rail, where Lovely couldn’t get to him. As I watched, she lowered her head until her chin rested on the fleece pad and just lay watching him sleep. She stayed that way for quite a while.
Normally I would begin the neurological exercises tonight, but Mr. X is being stressed enough right now. I hope to begin tomorrow. Everything is ready and the towel is damp and in the refrigerator.
Tonight I slept totally through the alarm the first time, and a couple of other times didn’t wake until the sleep alarm went off 5 minutes later. I think all three of us groaned each time I turned on the light and started the feeding routine.
Here’s what the stimulations involve:
See Early Neurological Stimulations illustrated page, part 2)
4 Days (7/15) I did better overnight waking up to the alarm for each feeding. I’m afraid, though, that I may now have a furry alarm clock. What woke me wasn’t the phone alarm, but Mr. X vocalizing that it was time to eat.
Great news! Whelpwise said he’s doing well enough that I can go two hours between feeding sessions, and I can begin giving straight Esbilac rather than have to measure exact proportions of Esbilac and sugar water. Hurrah! Maybe I can get naps in between some sessions. Mr. X is even trying to nurse on Lovely and seems to be getting a little milk, though not enough to make a difference – yet. I sure hope her milk comes in!
I noticed him sucking on the fleece pad a couple of times during the night, so I asked Whelpwise if we should try the bottle again. They said yes, to try the bottle first and if he fights it, just tube him to finish.
This morning Lovely was again mortally insulted when I offered her beef heart. Since she obviously wasn’t going to eat it, I gave a couple of small pieces to the other dogs with their raw meat breakfasts and they were thrilled.
On a whim, this morning I set out to thaw a bar of some Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet that I fed the dogs when beef was temporarily unavailable. When I crated the other dogs for their lunch, I let Lovely out of the whelping room and put her out the front door to go potty and sniff around. While she was outside, I casually put the Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet in a bowl on the floor in the kitchen and sat down at my computer desk. She slid to a halt when she got to the bowl – and gulped it down!!! I guess when I go to town today I’ll have to stop by Muddy Pawprints and get some small sacks of raw meat diet other than beef, to see if the hormones just have her wanting something different.
Today she is consenting to eat the Royal Canin kibble from my hand. I’m not having to toss it for her to catch. Now if I can just get her to eat it out of a bowl…
I managed to find several cans of Esbilac at Tractor Supply so now I can relax. I was just about out. And I found a new scale, though I don’t think it’s any better. I also made it to Muddy Pawprints and got another bag of Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet and a bag of Chicken raw meat diet. Maybe if I give her a variety of raw meat diets, I can get her eating better. I had thawed another 1/2 # bar of Turkey/ Sardine for supper and she gulped it down.
I think I twice caught Mr. X nursing on Lovely in the whelping bed. I didn’t try to look closely because Lovely would have moved and probably dislodged him if he was nursing.
5 Days (7/16) We continue to try to get Lovely’s milk to come in. Meanwhile, all day I continued every-two-hour feeding sessions, first trying to get him to nurse on Lovely, then trying to get him to take the Esbilac in a bottle, then tube feeding him what he didn’t eat. At any giving feeding I cannot predict whether he will nurse on Lovely or throw a fit; whether he will even try a little formula from the bottle or throw a fit; and how much he’ll fight as I tube feed him. All I CAN predict is that he is strong and self-willed and loud. I have no doubt when he is displeased. I weigh him before he nurses, after if he nurses if he does so for more than a couple of minutes (to see if he’s getting any milk), and then after I get the 14 ml of formula down him. At the initial weighing on the next feeding, there is no predicting whether he will have gained anything or not. All I can say is that he’s gradually gaining weight and after the 7 p.m. feeding we finally got to a weight of 1 pound!
I have to laugh at Lovely when she cleans him and gets him to pee and poop. He throws a fit over that, too. She has started just slapping a front foot over him, pinning him down and calmly cleaning him while he thrashes and yells. The Whelpwise crew have been telling me all kinds of stories about the singleton pups they’ve raised. Evidently he is typical. The singletons think the world revolves around them and have no worries about complaining about how they are treated. And they are often quite precocious. I don’t remember anything like this of Jubilee, my only other singleton pup, but then she was a bitch and it’s been 22 years.
Today Lovely has spent quite a bit of time on the fleece pad in the room, just checking on Mr. X if he makes noise. I think she’s a little bored with just one pup. I have noticed him seeking her out when she lies in the whelping bed and think that he’s nursing a little. Sure hope so! I would like to give up the mother duties.
Whelpwise said we can try extending the time between feeding sessions to 3 hours during the night, unless he wakes up and fusses in between. I expect Lovely will sleep in the whelping bed with him once I turn out the lights and she knows I’m not going anywhere.
Lovely refused breakfast, so later I just put the Turkey/Sardine raw meat diet in the whelping room and left it. She never ate it so I picked it up after a while. For lunch, I put down a bowl of the Royal Canin and a bowl with a little of the Chicken raw meat diet. That comes in little bite-sized nuggets rather than a bar, and I just let it thaw. I totally ignored the bowls and eventually she went over to them and at the lot. I repeated it later.