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,


kate Flynn said...

It's amazing at just how adaptable those babies are, what a strange, huge and noisy place their new world is and yet after a relatively short time they have accepted it- well you are half way through now Joan, i hope the next 4 weeks don't go as quickly as the last, i'm gonna miss those little guys- have you had any interest in them yet and have you decided whom you might keep?

Charlie said...

I'm having such a good time watching these little kids grow up!

jan said...

I love watching them discover the wide world. Can't you just feel your blood pressure going down watching them play and sleep so peacefully?

JuliaR said...

I hope you are okay and the puppies too? You haven't posted in a week so I was wondering. Hopefully it is just a computer thing, and not a puppy thing.