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.