Monday, June 18, 2012

And then there were none

Sleeping past 6am for the first time in weeks, what a new concept.  No pups yelping and playing tag in the pen.  The smell of puppy poop wasn't drifting across the house.  Everything was oddly quiet.  Compared to the busyness of this past weekend when seven puppies went out the door, our morning routine was leisurely.   Two dogs to take care of?  Easy. Beginning on Friday, the babies left one by one in the midst of last minute instructions, hugs and goodbyes. Sophie got up this morning and went to check out the puppy pen.  Nope, no puppies returned in the night.  News so far has filled me in on the successes and challenges as these engaging little babies get to know their new families and settle in to their new lives.  Their new names are already familiar to me.  Nine weeks ago today the pups were born and in the intervening weeks we developed a close bond that is unlikely to change over the coming years. Though I won't see most of these little guys again, they have left us with many wonderful memories.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Most Mornings...

On most mornings, Sophie peeks in at the puppies at around 5:30am.  As soon as they see their mom, they erupt in loud--very loud--and frantic barking. After a quick walk, Sophie nurses her puppies while a more substantial puppy breakfast is being prepared. Each of the puppies is eating about 1/2 cup of kibble three times a day.  We've introduced various wet foods - cottage cheese, canned dog food and yogurt, and they've tried dog biscuits too.  Yesterday they had their first haircuts and it was quite the assembly line.  For the most part they were surprisingly willing to stand on the table for the electric clippers.  They didn't exactly hold still, but that would be asking more than an eight-week old puppy can do.  On the other hand, if their families introduce them early and often to brief and cheerful grooming sessions, they should be good clients at their local dog grooming salons!  Tonight they're restless, squealing and growling at each other, tussling and barking.  It's quite the commotion.  They missed their evening outing in the pen with Clarence and have to get rid of their excess energy somehow!   A week from today, the pen will be nearly empty, most puppies off to begin their lives with their new families.  Eight weeks has passed incredibly quickly and it is hard to imagine that it is almost time to say a happy goodbye.

Monday, June 4, 2012

No Holds Barred

The pups celebrated their seven-week birthday with a "no holds barred" romp through the dining room this evening--a rare treat.  The fun wasn't over until every pup had pooped at least once (and likely run through it) and every neat stack of newspaper, an essential piece of puppy pen equipment, was strewn around the room.   At the end of our session our goal was reached: every puppy was tired out and ready for a good night's sleep.  The pups are eating three times a day with the last meal around dinner time.  They are good sleepers overnight and then ready for their breakfast at 6am each morning.  Their primary food is kibble in increasing amounts--1/4 cup or more per pup, per meal; I mix some cottage cheese or wet dog food into the kibble and within minutes every morsel is gone.  Today the pups got some new chewing bones but shortly thereafter, I noticed that Clarence was chewing one of them.  "How do the older dogs get the puppy toys?"  This is another mystery exceeded only by the biggest puzzle of all "How do the puppies' collars become untied overnight?"  This morning Yellow Boy and Light Blue Boy needed to be sorted out.  Today all of the boys are wearing double collars.  I'm tempted to set up a web cam to learn which puppy has learned how to cleverly untie knots.  Yesterday the puppies had their "temperament" tests; it is always interesting to observe the puppies' reactions to a series of activities in the absence of their litter mates.  All of the puppies were playful, confident and sociable and one turns out to be an excellent retriever!  Several loved climbing the handler's stool and most didn't mind being in a strange room with the door shut.  The temperament tests--more art than science--provide some additional insights into how the puppies react to other people, unusual sounds and experiences, handling by a stranger and separation anxiety.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh, Puppies!

Nearly six-week-old puppies take much more time than newborn puppies, that is a real fact.  I have fallen behind in my blogging and replaced it with more puppy time.  Not only "fun time" holding puppies and watching them play, but "clean up time" (lots of wet newspapers thrown out each day) and "chow time" - the puppies have teeth and increasingly are eating what big dogs eat.  This morning Sophie got her long promised bath and an outing all on her own.  I returned to give the pups their second of three meals of the day (kibble soaked briefly in goat's milk) and after lunch they tried out a few new chewy toys which help with their puppy teeth coming in.  They play together whenever they are awake; yelps and cries are intermingled with the occasional "ouch, he bit me!" cries.  Clarence has a new game he plays with them: he circles the outside of the pen and inside, they chase him from one end to the other, sometimes sticking their paws and tongues out of the side of the pen.  This weekend we will take the pups outside so that they can experience sun and grass and outdoor noises.  Looking ahead, their temperament testing is scheduled for next weekend.  We will celebrate their six-week birthday on Monday!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sophie's Mother's Day

The pups mark their four-week-old birthday tomorrow and are walking and talking (very loudly, I might add), lapping goats' milk from a pan, exploring the new sights and textures of the puppy pen, and tumbling into and over each other.  Little puppy growls erupt periodically as they "play fight" and after some moments of excited activity they often end up in one big pile in a corner of the pen, fast asleep.  Occasionally, a little pup gallops and grimaces in his or her dreams.  What memories could they possibly have after four short weeks?  When picked up they are often affectionate, licking our hands and faces and cuddling into us or they cry--loudly and indignantly.  Like having a newborn baby we are often trying to sort out exactly what each puppy is trying to tell us.  After much delay, I finally screwed up my courage and tackled the hardest task to date which is to clip their tiny toenails - all 112 of them.  In fact, it went better than most of my attempts last year--with the aid of a bright light and a patient husband and (surprisingly) seven relatively calm babies, it was over quickly and bloodlessly.  As I check the puppies this evening, one stirs and looks at me, and gradually the others stretch and yawn. Clarence runs in to take a peek, and then runs out.  The pups need their bedding changed and look surprised when I put them on the slippery floor. Sophie enjoys her evening ice cream before heading off to bed.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

They're Now Three Weeks Old (and what a difference three weeks makes!)

The puppies have changed remarkably in just three weeks.  Their activity level has increased dramatically, not to mention their noise level.  Yesterday, Green Boy was the first to launch himself up and over the side of the whelping box.  In fact he did it twice, and didn't seem to mind it (unusual, since the sudden drop to the floor is more likely to elicit loud and frightened squawks).  Time to move the pups to their new home--a puppy pen that will better contain their increased mobility.  This morning upon sight of Sophie, they cried impatiently for her.  She nursed them briefly and then hopped out of the box, much to their dismay.  As Sophie's contact with the puppies begins to decrease, we'll supplement their feedings with goat's milk, and eventually kibble.  The pups are increasingly aware of us and their surroundings.  They can see and hear and have begun to notice, and even interact with, each other.  According to the Monks of New Skete in The Art of Raising a Puppy, the next weeks begin a period of intense socialization. "By socialization we mean two things: first, the positive adjustment a puppy makes to the many aspects of her life...second, what we do to foster this."  An important aspect of these socialization experiences is contact with new people and new experiences.  We're lucky to have neighbors and friends who are interested in coming by to say hello, and interact with the puppies.  Another frequent visitor to the puppy room is older half-brother Clarence, who at 10-months is both curious, and gentle, around these baby siblings. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Places to Go...People to See....

Pups are two-weeks old today!  Yellow Boy's eyes were the first to open yesterday and today his brothers and sisters are starting to see the world  too (well what they can of it at this point).  The puppies are climbing up on shaky legs and, though not quite walking, are a bit more coordinated than just a few days ago.  There is more tumbling and rolling than actual forward purposeful movement, but hey, they are just two weeks old.  In the next week, one brave guy or gal will venture up and over the side of the whelping box--the tumble to earth accompanied by a surprised cry.  The Monks of New Skete refer to the coming week (days 13-20) as the "transitional period" because the pups' sensory capacities--seeing, hearing, walking, teething and smelling--will increase dramatically.  At first the puppies do not see very well; it will be at least another few weeks before they will be able to distinguish shapes and forms.  Similarly, they can't hear yet, but that will change in the next week, and considering that they live right next to the kitchen, they will very shortly become used to the sounds of water running and blenders blending.   When the pups are not crowded around Sophie nursing, they are often found sleeping in clumps of two or three.  They have tripled their birth weight and have definite heft.  Must buy more rick rack tomorrow since they are outgrowing their collars on a regular basis.  They all tolerate the handling exercises comfortably and enjoy being held close to our skin.  Who can resist being nuzzled by a puppy?  Not me.  Sophie is comfortable leaving the whelping box for extended periods of time, sensing when she is needed and when she can take a break.  Big brother Clarence has finally met the puppies up close and personal and is very curious about these squeaky, wiggly little characters.