Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Cute Puppy Pics - 5 Weeks Old

Clockwise from top left above:
Mr. Blue peeking out from under paper in whelping box
Mr. Blue-and-White (aka PSU) sleeping against Cousin Kristin
Miss Pink-and-White sleeping on Grandpa Don's lap
Miss Scarlet (red) with hot pink tennis ball

Clockwise from top left above:
Mr. Blue-and-White (I think) on Grandpa Don's shoulder
Miss Scarlet with Cousin Kristin
Mr. Green in Grandpa Don's arms
Miss White and Miss Pink with Grandpa Don

Clockwise from top left above:
Miss Pink nestled with Mr. Octopus in whelping box
Mr. Green using Mr. Octopus as a pillow
Miss Scarlet trying out the hammock
Miss Black using Miss White's legs as a headrest

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Discovering the Hammock

Again, this is still the same first-time-on-the-grass outing, but it's about 30 minutes later (a long time for 5-week olds), and in this clip we'd just introduced the hammock.

This additional "first" gives you another idea of how curious and confident the pups have become. :o)

You may hear a few puppy whines in the background (mostly pre-sleep fussing), and you'll definitely hear wind blowing by the camera's microphone. It was really windy while the pups were out, but they took it in stride. What brave little puppies they are!

Til next time,

Mr. Blue and Pinky Walk with Grandpa!

After loads of fun together in the outdoor pen, we started taking the pups out of the pen one at a time for long walks around the yard away from their siblings.

Mr Blue, by far, was the most comfortable, immediately at ease and curious. I think that may be because his vision and hearing seems to be the best so far. Remember, he was first born, so he's a day ahead of a few of the pups on development.

Mr Green, interestingly enough, though the biggest pup, was the most timid and seemed most stressed about being separated from his siblings. But he warmed up after a time.

These walks were their first time out alone (as in away from their litter mates) for any length of time.

The video below captures a later outing. This time Mr. Blue and Miss Pink (or Pinky) explore part of the yard together with Grandpa (DH Don). :o)

Notice how well they follow him. And notice how they sit at his feet when he stops (good puppies!). And notice, too, after Don sneaks away, how quickly and directly Mr. Blue comes to Don when called. Miss Pink follows, but Mr. Blue attends immediately.

So far, Mr. Blue is way ahead of the rest in vision, attention, coordination, and confidence. He's happy anywhere (with the litter mates, alone, or with us). Sure, he whimpers for attention, just like the rest, but he's very secure for a 5-week-old.

He's probably higher in the pecking order, too, but we still don't have a clear alpha yet. All of the pups will submit to each other and us. And Mr. Blue regularly submits to Mr. Green and Miss Pink when they wrassle.

Only time will tell.



'Til next time,

Checking Out the Water Dispenser

At five weeks old, the pups have this lapping thing down pat! But because this is their first on-the-grass adventure, they're a little uncertain still.

First Exposure to Grass :o)

Hey all,

Well, it's good to be back. :o) Sorry to worry you; I've just been neck deep can imagine. ;o)

Puppy land has kept me quite busy since last weekend. DH was out of town from Monday through Thursday this past week, and the pups started weaning (pretty quickly, I might add). And with weaning comes REAL puppy poop, and boatloads of puppy clean-up and pen cleaning.

Then, of course while DH was away, a few pups discovered how to use the rails to climb over the whelping box walls. I knew it was coming, but didn't expect it quite so soon. So I had my hands full trying to figure out a containment plan until DH returned home.

Oh, and they discovered their we-want-to-be-fed-NOW voices, too. So picture me, all by myself running on about five hours of sleep each night, with eight howling pups all waiting to be fed, but piddling and pooping while they wait, watching me soften their kibble, run it through the blender, mix it with puppy formula and pour it in the pan all the while running back and forth between making gruel and cleaning up poop and piddle puddles so the pups don't step in it, and then finally getting their meal done and setting it down for them to devour, then while they're busy devouring, cleaning up whatever is left to clean up, pulling soiled bedding, washing floors, laying down fresh paper and bedding, starting our puppy laundry, then transferring all eight pups back into the fresh, clean pen where they all poop and piddle some more.



Now, repeat that five times a day, and you get the picture.

Oh, and all that doesn't take into account puppy playtime and socialization. :o)

Out of sheer necessity, I finally set up a second pen in the kitchen until DH got home. It made life (and me) saner -- I'd let the pups pee and poo in the pen attached to the whelping box, then move them to the second pen to eat.

Needless to say, four of the last six days have been sheer survival (well, the ones when DH was away). Trust me.

It wasn't that I didn't WANT to post on the blog and keep you all updated. LOL...I had all I could do to just get through the day.

Oh, and to boot, I had to teach a 2-hour class Tuesday morning, too. THAT was a trip: getting puppies cleaned up and fed and safely contained and ME cleaned up and fed and out the door by 8 a.m. (while hubby hotel-ed it in D.C.)

Speaking of DH: he's my hero. He rescued me Thursday night. He added wall attachments to the whelping box, so now no one can escape.

On Friday, he helped me set up the new outdoor pen in the yard on the grass (twice the size of anything the pups have been in before). And now they're learning to run. :o)

So the following two videos capture they're great adventure on grass for the very first time.

In this first video, the pups come out one at a time. Watch how they move from tentative (with tails down) to curious and happy-go-lucky (with tails up). You can also hear me talking in my ridiculous puppy voice (hehe).

In this second video, my twin sister Jean (aka Aunt Jeanie to the pups) and her college-freshman daughter Kristin (aka Cousin Kristin to the pups) stop by to help with socialization. Jeanie helped deliver the pups and has interacted with them several times a week since birth, so the pups recognize her.

The pups had never seen Kristin before this video was shot, so this gives you a glimpse in how they handle "strangers."

Just like the Labs of their lineage, the pups treat everybody as a new best friend!

So, enjoy!

There's more to come this evening yet, so stay tuned!

'Til next time,

Not to Worry: We're Thriving at 5 Weeks Old!

From the puppies:

Grandma says to tell you we're all fine. :o) She's just been really busy since Grandpa went away on a business trip earlier in the week, and since Mom stopped cleaning up after us and Grandma started us on semi-solid food:

But we had lots of adventures the last few days

We discovered new toys that make us look up to find them (that will help us find birds later when we get big).

After he got back from his business trip, Grandpa put higher walls on our whelping box to keep us from escaping (we'd figured out how to climb out while he was away - hehehe):

But having to stay in the whelping box sometimes isn't so bad since we learned to play outside on something Grandma calls "grass" -- it was a little prickly on our feet to start, but once we got used to it, we had lots of fun:

We discovered the hammock! We like to climb on it and under it. It makes a crawling tunnel and great sleeping cave, too!

We started learning about tennis balls. The roll, but they're still kinda hard to follow with our eyes. Our vision is still blurry, but it's getting better every day. Even if we can't track them yet, those tennis balls sure are fun to pick up and chew, though:

We also learned about wind, and sunshine, and bird sounds, and traffic sounds, and drinking out of water containers. And we even started exploring places ALONE without the pack, one of us with one of our humans. That was kinda scary, but Grandpa and Grandma let us get used to it slowly. And then it was just fun to explore. We're all really curious about new things.

Grandma made movies of us on our adventures this week, and she said to tell you she'll post the movies later today.

We're five weeks old now! And we've finally got our "sea legs" (or land legs). We can even run now! Well, we sometimes tumble or lose our balance, but it sure feels good to move that fast.

So here we are:

Are we a handsome lot or what???? :o)

Oh, and check out that green round thing in the background. Grandma says its a plastic flower pot, but it sure is fun to climb in and over. We like to see how many of us we can stuff in it at one time! Grandma has pictures of that, too.

She'll be back later today with videos!

That's all for now. It's time for our nap.

'Til next time,
The Puppies!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The First Outdoor Adventure

Since the pups all turned four weeks old by today, and since they seem to be a little ahead on their developmental curve (smart, confident puppies!), we decided to introduce them to the great outdoors!

Well, we introduced them to the great, safe, well-supervised land of the the deck attached to our house, anyway. ;0)

So, we spread out a flannel-backed picnic table cloth (never used before) to keep piddle puddles from seeping through to the decking, then covered that with a never-been-used polyester fleece picnic/beach blanket for better puppy-feet traction. Then we put up the exercise pen on top of that (we couldn't have puppy paws getting slivers from the mean old wood decking, now could we?).

Then we hauled out the whelping-box toys with which the pups would be familiar.

Then we brought the pups out two-by-two (where have I heard that before?) and placed them in the pen.

It was a strange, new world for them. A big adventure. This was a MAJOR change from their sheltered, whelping-box-and-indoor-pen world.

And it showed: some were tentative but willing, some were enthusiastic, and all were curious and attentive. And all seemed a little stressed (a little stress is a good thing).

Yes, they'd experienced sunshine through the bay window above their whelping box indoors. And they'd explored all kinds of next textures under their feet. They'd become accustomed to indoor noises like that of the dishwasher, microwave, ice-maker, coffee grinder, laundry machine, TV, telephone, vacuum cleaner, and music playing. They took it all in stride.

But they'd never experienced the breeze before, or the scents carried on the breeze, or the buzzing of cicadas, the chirping of birds and crickets, the rumble of airplanes overhead, and the din of distant traffic noises (motorcycles, trucks, cars, etc., and the four-wheelers and dirt bikers riding in the fields below our house). Nor had they experienced direct sunlight (not to worry, we put up the shade umbrella for respite).

They hadn't really experienced "heat" either (not in our climate-controlled house). Granted "heat" is a relative term. It's actually delightful here today: clear, blue skies and only 75 degrees (F) with low humidity, but that's in the shade. Our deck is in full sun, and it felt much hotter in the sunlight, especially to the pups. They even panted (of course they had their water cooler in the pen with them).

So as not to traumatize them, we first put the pups in the pen with Elsie, where they nursed for a whopping 2 minutes, if that. Then Elsie wanted to come out, so out she came. She's weaning them.

The pups weren't happy. We tried just letting them explore for a bit (with us watching carefully outside the pen), but they seemed to grow more restless. They hadn't been this noisy since they gained their sight and hearing.

So I climbed into the pen to further socialize and comfort them --(well, maybe to comfort me, too, just a little) while DH changed out of church clothes. Then he came down and took over pen duty.

What you see in this first clip is Elsie with the pups when we first brought the pups outside. She nurses briefly, then leaves. And the pups wander around.

This next clip, taken about two minutes after Elsie left, captures the pups on their own, but before DH or I enter the pen. Be sure to notice how some pups are playing (and attempting to trot and run) in the pen, while others seem a bit distressed. And notice the increase in volume of their cries as time goes on.

Oh, and DH in this clip is ever watchful, sitting in the hammock chair to the left of the pen (that's why the pups run to the left side of the pen). I think maybe he's grown fond of these little guys!

I took this last clip after DH entered the pen. By then we'd expanded the deck umbrella to offer more shade. And the pups seem to be settling down. Take note of their obliviousness to the wind chimes and dirt-bike and four-wheeler sounds in the background (a good thing).

Mr Green seems to have claimed the water cooler. :o) He doesn't mind getting wet at all.

Miss Scarlet is, as usual, the last to settle (her norm).

But settle she did. And then they slept peacefully for about 30 minutes after we stopped the video. When they awoke, it was like they were home again! No stress, no confusion, just happy to play and chew on each other like they normally do. It was like the outdoors had been theirs all along.

What adaptability! What a gang!

Stay tuned for the rest of their four-week-old update!

'Til next time,

The Pups at FOUR Weeks Old!

Here they are, clockwise from top left:

Mr. Green
Blue-and-White (aka, PSU -- DH is a Penn State grad) :o)
Miss Black
Miss Scarlet (red)

Again, clockwise from top left in the photo below:

Miss White (still the runt, but holding her own)
Mr. Blue
Pinky and Pink-and-White
(Pink-and-White is the darker pup to the right of the two)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Puppy Discoveries at 3.5 Weeks

People have laps, and they're pretty comfy, too. In fact, people are pretty nice. We're starting to bond with our humans:

But we still need Mom, even if she doesn't nurse us as much as she used to, and even if she doesn't stay with us all time:

Grooming ourselves is a good thing, especially since Mom doesn't do that so much anymore:

There's more to drink in this life than Mom's milk and puppy formula, and it comes in different containers. It even feels good on our faces and feet:

Foam rubber makes a comfy head-rest, but Grandma's gonna remove it soon since we're all getting teeth and starting to chew on it:

People arms are fun to gnaw on, but Grandpa and Grandma won't let us:

We can sleep just about anywhere:

We can sleep in just about any position:

We can sleep in just about any space, even in the tightest of quarters:

And sunshine through the window feels warm and good on our faces and coats:

All-in-all a puppy's life is a pretty good deal. We can't wait to see what next week holds!

'Til next time,
The Puppies, for "Grandma" (aka, Joan)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Miss Black Discovers Bobo

Little Miss Black has discovered Bobo, the long stuffed purple dog.

That is, she's discovered it's a toy to be played with. So she chews on Bobo's ear and tries to pick Bobo up (a trick when the other pups keep standing on Bobo). Then she attempts wrassling Bobo, but Bobo doesn't wrassle back.

Then she spies Mr. Mallard the Duck.

And if you watch long enough, you'll even get to see her bark at and pounce on Mr. Mallard. :o)

This is the first time I've seen Miss Black bark or pounce.

And, remember, she's only three weeks old, so her coordination isn't what you might expect. ;o)


'Til next time,

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sleepy Pups

It's funny how each puppy has its own style of sleeping. Just look:

Miss Pink-and-White likes the chin-to-the-ground approach

Miss Black and Miss White both like to touch.

Blue Boy is very happy on his side, as long as the others are nearby.

Mr. Green will snuggle with anyone who's available. :o)

Blue-and-White likes leg room.

Miss Scarlet likes to stretch out. She was actually sleeping, not stretching, when I took this photo. Go figure.

Pinky likes to rest her head on something soft:

And, or course, they all love the puppy pile method of napping:

There's nothing more calming than watching a pile of sleeping puppies.

Makes me want to sleep, too!

Sweet Dreams, all!

'Til next time,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We're THREE WEEKS OLD! (the puppy update)

The pups are all three weeks old now (as of early this morning).

Here's their progress report:
  • ALL have quadrupled (at least) their weights since birth.
  • Six of them are over five pounds. Two are just shy of 5 lbs.
  • ALL are using their vision, though not visually tracking yet.
  • ALL are hearing and responding to sudden noises.
  • ALL are lapping liquids.
  • ALL are climbing over the whelping box "door" (no one said it had to be graceful or controlled to count).
  • ALL are teething.
  • Some have some erupted teeth (teeth already broken through the gums).
  • Red (Miss Scarlet) has the most teeth. :o)

  • ALL have discovered they have litter mates.
  • ALL have started "wrassling" with and chewing on their sibs.
  • ALL will rest comfortably on their backs when cradled in our arms.
  • ALL have demonstrated several vocalizations: bark, growl, howl, whine, grunt, etc. (I'm not sure they know what they mean yet, but they've at least tried them out.)
  • ALL have experienced seven different surfaces beneath their paws (and all found it interesting).

Here are their weights to date (heaviest to lightest), at exactly three weeks old:
  • Green: 5 lbs. 14 oz.
  • Pink: 5 lbs. 10 oz.
  • Pink-and-White: 5 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Blue-and-White: 5 lbs. 5 oz.
  • Red: 5 lbs. 4 oz.
  • Blue: 5 lbs. 2 oz.
  • Black: 4 lbs. 12 oz.
  • White: 4 lbs. 10 oz.

That's the update!

Stay tuned for more milestones.

'Til next time,

Another Milestone: Learning to Lap!

Well, the puppies are three weeks old today, so we figured it was time to introduce them to "lapping" up liquids (as a precursor to beginning the weaning process).

In this clip, you see them lapping for the very first time. :o) DH put some puppy formula in a "flying saucer" feeder, set the pups around the pan, and let them go at it.

They were actually quite skilled and not nearly as messy as I expected.

See for yourselves:

I shot this next clip just a minute later when they all seemed to have figured it out.

The "crackling" you hear in the background is actually the noise of the puppies all lapping at once. :o)

Pretty smart bunch, I'd say.

Of course, I'm not biased. ;o)

'Til next time,

More Cute Puppy Pictures (cont'd): Three Weeks Old!

Clockwise from top left:

Blue Boy rests his head.
Mr. Blue-and-White sleeps under the rail.
Pinky keeps an eye open while she sleeps!
Miss Black sleeps on a towel.

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More Cute Puppy Pictures: Three Weeks Old!

Clockwise from top left:
Mr. Green looks over the corner of the whelping box.
Miss White (lighter/cream) chews on Miss Black (darker/red).
Miss Pink-and-White tries out sitting
Miss Scarlet rests her head on Mr. Green

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Meeting Kenya :o)

Here are a couple of short clips of Kenya "meeting" the pups.

The clips also include the puppies exploring a little in the small area we have penned off around the whelping box.

AND this second clip captures one pup's new milestone: pooping all by herself on the paper outside of the whelping box! Hurray!

Oh, the little things that bring us joy! :0)

Stay tuned for tomorrow's complete puppy update (they'll all be 3 weeks old then).

'Til then,

And for you skeptics...

For those of you who didn't believe our Elsie Girl could open the door on her own, here's proof (it's only taken me two years to get this on video).

And at that, I captured it sideways...oops...please forgive the sideways view. I haven't figured out how to get this vertical when I upload to on-line yet, though it's vertical and looks fine on my 'puter. It's a short clip, so you won't have to crane your necks too long. :o)

So, here's Elsie:

How kind of her to open the door for Baxter! Well, I suppose the puppies' cries in the background may have had something to do with her motivation. ;o)

Now if only we could get her to close the door, too!

'Til next time,

Life Lessons from Puppies: Part One

Okay, so in an earlier post, I listed ten life lessons from Elsie as she adjusts to being a dam.

Now I'll list the lessons I'm learning from her pups along the way (currently they're 20 days old). :o)

Here goes (the italicized teal-colored font describe the pups' activities that prompted my observations):

1. We're all unique and individual (and have been from the moment we entered this world). Even if we look similar, come from the same gene pool, live in the same houses or towns or states or countries or continents, share the same beliefs, and hold the same values, we still differ from one another. And that's a good thing -- the world is a far richer place because of our varying shades and nuances. (how different the puppies have been since their moments of birth)

Oh, and for context, I'm an identical twin (yes, same genes),
yet my sister and I differ from each other in remarkable ways.

2. AND, at our cores, we're all the same. Though we've been blessed with different abilities, likes, dislikes, interests, mores, cultures, nationalities, skin colors, religions, socio-economic statuses, living situations, relationships, life seasons, biases, world views, etc., we have the same basic wants and needs: to be safe, to be loved, to give love, to have value and worth, to be treated with dignity and respect, to have our basic needs met (clean water, enough food, adequate shelter, etc.), to enjoy healthy relationships, to feel our lives count for something, etc. (how the pups, despite their different temperaments, still want and need the same things)

Another point of context: this truth was never more
clear to me than when I had the chances to teach in
Kenya and Zambia and to connect with women there.
Our cultures and life circumstances couldn't have been
more different, yet I found kindred sisters.
Inside, we were so much the s

3. Sleep and rest are important to health and well-being. (just guess where this comes from!) :o)

4. To grow you have to take risks. Just think of what these pups have gone through in just 20 days! They left the secure warm darkness of their mother's womb and emerged into the cold, insecure world. They learned to nurse, to pee, and to poo. They discovered their hind legs and started using them. They started walking and vocalizing and wagging their tails. They opened their eyes and began to see (no matter how blurred their vision still is) -- they encountered light! They started to distinguish between light and darkness. They learned their mother's scent and the scent of those wacky two-legged things called humans. They broadened their world by looking over the whelping box rim. Then they even risked climbing (rolling, tumbling) out of the whelping box to explore the world beyond their walls.

5. Walls can provide safety, but they can confine, too. Walls don't have to be physical, like whelping box walls. They can come in the form of emotions, prejudice, ignorance, bias, insecurity, inexperience, complacency, inertia, fear, and the like. Just think of how much we rob ourselves (and the world) of when we build or keep up walls! How sad! Then think of how enriched our worlds would be if we'd learn to look beyond the walls and maybe even risk climbing over the walls or breaking them down! What a wonderful world it would be.

The next five Life Lessons from Puppies are simply statements (no explanation necessary):

6. True growth is a process, not an event. And we all grow at our own paces.

7. We don't have to have much to be happy.

8. New relationships can be scary at first, but you have to give them a chance (this includes new canines and humans). :o)

9. Not everything that peaks our interest is good for us.

10. We can't know what we're capable of unless we try.

It's amazing what we can learn if we just open our eyes.

Here's to staying alert to lessons we can learn in the mundane and ordinary!

There's more to come. :o)

'Til next time,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wake Up Slow

In this video clip, Miss Scarlet and Pink-and-White do their best to wake up the gang. Little do they know how difficult it is to waking up sleeping littermates!

In the background you hear Jack Johnson's Banana Pancakes (one of DD's old favorite songs) playing on my ipod-home thingy.

Doesn't it just make you smile?

And we all need a smile-fix now and then. :o)

'Til next time,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quick Question for Readers

Hey there, Regular Readers,

Would you rather I posted all the video clips over at YouTube and then just provided links from here (the LabTails blog) to there?

Or would you rather view the videos here at the blog without having to follow a link?

My concern is page-loading time (how long it takes for LabTails to load on your computers), especially for anyone still using a dial-up connection.

I would in either case still post plenty of still camera shots here like usual. I just thought I'd ask.

Any preferences?

Joan (who really doesn't care; either way is just as easy on my end).

Comments Replied To (finally)

Just a quick note to let you all know I've finally caught up with your comments so far (I think). So, if you've commented on a post here recently, you can check wherever you commented, and I should have replied (tried to catch up this afternoon while pups were sleeping).


More Cute Puppy Pics (18 days old)

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Our House in the Wee Hours of the Morning

Here are the pups at 3:00 a.m. this morning (a YouTube video, but YouTube is taking forever to load up on Blogger, so I switched to the link instead of the video window):

Click here for the YouTube video of the pups at 3 a.m.

Here are the pups at 6:30 a.m. this morning (this is just a blogger video, so you can view it right here):

Oh, and DH is out of town on business for yesterday and today. :o)

Now, where did I put my coffee?

'Til next time,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brave New World: The Exercise Pen

After their adventure leaving the whelping box this afternoon, the pups needed (and took) a looong nap in the whelping box. Then they woke up and did their "business." And I needed to clean up their mess.

It was time to introduce a different safe zone where they can play while I clean.

Here are the pups exploring their new indoor world: the exercise pen. This first clip captures the pups looking around with Elsie in the pen.

This second clip is of the pups after Elsie leaves the pen.

They're not entirely happy, but at least they can see and smell her. :o)



Pups Leave the Whelping Box!

For the very first time, I lifted the wall insert of the whelping box and allowed the pups to come out on their own. We thought we'd let them have a couple of minutes of exploring today, and here's the clip of that brief adventure!

Note as you watch that the pups are starting to consciously/deliberately wag their tails. They don't see well yet, but their sense of smell is very keen.

You'll also see once quick instance of Elsie almost leaning back on Black's head (what we still have to keep an eye on when Elsie is with the pups).

They're growing up! And, yes, they're only 17 days old in this clip (I shot is about two hours ago). Helping me in the clip are Chris (DD's significant other) and Aunt Jeanie (my twin sister).


Oh, and as always with the YouTube videos, you may have to wait a few minutes after I post this (11:03 p.m. 9/12) for YouTube to process the video (it's already uploaded there).


The pups explored toys for the first time this week. Here's Mr. Green taking a nice sniff of this strange furry creature (it's a plush mallard duck that makes a duck call when squeezed).

The sweet Elsie Girl, however, still likes duck toys herself. She had to play with this first before her kids could have a turn. :o)

The pups are getting more human socialization this week, too. Here's Miss White snuggling with DH Don.

We're also introducing them to new surfaces under their feet (just for a minute or two). Here they are trying out a natural fiber throw rug (like jute only a bit softer). Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, and Miss Scarlet were brave enough to explore beyond the carpet's edges.

The puppies graduated to a new scale! Here's Miss Scarlet trying it out.

All the pups except Miss White have topped 4 pounds (that's 4x their birth weights in just over two weeks). Miss White (the runt) is still gaining proportionally, weighing in at 3 pounds 12 ounces.

All of their noses and pads have darkened, and their ears are soft and floppy now. Here's Pinky socializing with Aunt Jeanie.

A few of the pups have discovered there's a whole new world beyond the whelping box walls.

Yes, they're all of 16 days old and they're climbing!

We even had two escapees today: Mr. Green and Miss Scarlet.

I left the house for only two hours for a meeting this morning (second time leaving the pups with no humans in the house, the first time being yesterday, again for two hours). Elsie had just nursed the pups, Ridge and Kenya were crated, and Baxter lounged in the family room with Elsie. Because I'm still occasionally rescuing pups from beneath Elsie when she sits on them, I put the gate up between the family room and kitchen to be sure Elsie wouldn't go in the whelping box while I was gone.

When I came home, the first thing I did was check the whelping box.

Uh oh. Only six pups. Then I see movement on the other side of the kitchen underneath the dishwasher. There's Miss Scarlet.

Then I hear howling in the family room. Mr. Green had scooted around the gate's edge, down two shallow brick steps and was snuggled in behind a big pickling crock we have in a corner out there. Elsie was standing watch.

Everybody was fine; no worse for wear. But it sure scared me.

SO... the next adventure came this afternoon when I set up the exercise pen (didn't think I'd need this for another week or so).

The exercise pen for now gives me a safe place to put the pups while I clean the whelping box. This one will move outside when the weather warms up (we're only in the 40s tonight). I have another one for indoors, but this was handier, so I used this one instead.

In just a little bit I'll upload a video or two of the pups exploring. First will be a short clip of them leaving the whelping box for their playtime with people.

Then I'll post a brief clip of them exploring the new play area.

Be back shortly!