Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Puppy Journal

The latest from Sheila Miller:

The puppies were 3-weeks old as of Sunday. They weigh between 3 1/4 and 3 3/4 pounds each.

Their third week was a big one for them. Between 14 and 21 days old, several little miracles happened:

1. Eyes fully open and responsive

2. Can pee and poop on their own.

3. Ears open as evidenced by the first startle reactions to sound.

4. Have started wandering around the bedroom instead of staying put on their blanket while I clean the Dura-Whelp. :-)

5. Have noticed each other, especially each other’s noses.

6. Their milk teeth erupted!

7. They had their first nail trim.

This current week, going on 4-weeks old, is also a big one as they make the transition into real puppies. This is the week where I will see if they are interested in the weaning process. Picabo’s first litter wasn’t interested at all at this age. Puppies have to be hungry to try food. Picabo is too good of a provider. They will also become more curious about everything and more playful with each other. The game we can play now is the one where I kneel down half in/half out of the whelping box (not a very glamorous position) and the puppies come to me and explore my hair, face (take off the glasses!), and crawl over my arms. As each day goes by, I will be looking for signs of escape. I’ve given them their first toys - soft baby rattles - and they bite on the toys' little ears. They need to have more little adventures out of the whelping box now that they are comfortable in the bedroom. I put them on a blanket in the living room and they definitely knew they were somewhere else. They cried a little, wandered a little, and then piled up and went to sleep. Once they are comfortable in that room, I will set up an x-pen in there so the whole family can watch TV (is anything on??).

Let me tell you about my new x-pen for the living room. I bought it a couple of years ago from a gardening supply company. It is a 4-panel compost bin. Each panel is vinyl covered and is 28” high and 35 1/2” wide. It comes with clever connectors but I just use zip ties to hold it together. I bought two of them (8 panels) to keep the dogs off of my tomatoes (doesn’t work on chipmunks). I was excited about its potential use for puppies because of its height. I’m not a tall person and regular x-pens are hard for me to reach over and pick up a puppy. I should be able to reach over this. Because each panel is separate, I can overlap them to get exactly the size I what. If I put the ties on loosely, it will even fold up and out of the way.

The puppies are trying to suck the life out of Picabo but she is holding up very well. She is thin but still has flesh covering her bones. She is eating very well. She is on track to consume between 70 and 80 pounds of puppy food from her second trimester until weaning. Wow! That doesn’t include all of the yogurt, cheese, meat, eggs, and other snacks I give her. She is, however, quite bald. Her body has no intention of diverting any food to hair production. Time enough for that later. She comes outside with the other dogs and goes on walks with us. She is doing very well. I, on the other hand, am not. I’ve been fighting a virus or combination of viruses since a couple of days before the puppies were born. Every school is a cesspool of microbes. They usually miss me but not this year. The latest incarnation is in the form of laryngitis. Five days without any voice at all - just air. :-) I taught one day like that and called it quits. I’m about 75% now and will go back to school tomorrow. Raising a litter a puppies during the school year is tough. My life would be so much easier if I had a husband with a job, a wife with upper body strength, or a lover who could cook. Since I have none of those, I guess I will clean the Dura-Whelp again, run a load of laundry, and fix a bowl of cereal for supper. :-)

Sheila Miller

Wolftree Acres

Nevada, USA



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