Friday, October 26, 2007

Lessons from Puppies - the Lighter Side

Okay, so I had my moment of pontificating yesterday.

Now that that's out of my system, here are a few more lessons from life with puppies, from the lighter side of the lesson coin:

1. Always, always wear shoes outside. Always. Unless you enjoy the feeling of nice warm mud oozing between your toes only to realize it's not mud.

2. The more you try to avoid poo piles, the more likely it is you'll step in them. It must be the same principle at work here that makes dieting so impossible.

3. When you enter the arena of life (or the puppy pen), wear shin guards. You know, like they wear in hockey....the ones that cover your knees, shins, ankles, and feet. This is particularly true once the pups get their razor teeth, sickle-like toenails, and can stand on their hind legs (velociraptors anyone?). In fact, maybe an entire professional-ice-hockey-goalie's uniform would be a good idea. Nah...then you'd never feel the warmth of puppy kisses or the delicious aroma of puppy breath. :o) Shin guards will have to do.

4. Selective hearing (or a deaf ear) is a good thing (except in husbands, kids, or aging parents). This comes in handy during the first few nights of crate training. Oh my... how melodramatic pups can be: poor forlorn pups cruelly abandoned by their mean masters in those awful crates with those awful sheepskin beddings! Can't you just hear their wailing and gnashing of teeth?

5. Nap while the napping is good. I learned this lesson twenty years ago when my human kids were babies -- I slept when the babies slept, especially since I was getting up with them at night. But I forgot this lesson somewhere along the line (probably somewhere in my I am Woman Hear Me Roar! thirties). Now I'm older. And now I need about 9 hours sleep a night to function well (and now, in my Who Gives a Rip? forties, I find no shame in admitting my limitations or need for sleep). But puppy bladders don't go nine hours without having to empty themselves. So we put them to bed at 11 p.m. and get them up and out at 5:30a.m., which is only 6.5 hours. And in my twenties, 6.5 hours would have been plenty of sleep. But not in my later forties. So I nap while the napping is good.

More to come...

'Til next time,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lessons for Me from Puppy Raising

It's been a while since I've posted much of anything you could call "reflective." The last two months have been so filled with puppy chronicles that I really haven't had time to capture my thought process through it all.

Don't get me wrong; the puppy chronicles are important and satisfying in and of themselves (let alone invaluable for me later for reference when we breed Kenya next year -- yes, we will have another litter in 2008 to chronicle!).

But Regular Reader knows this isn't just a photo blog or fact blog. This is a place of observation, too. And it's about time I get back to an observation or two.

So here goes.

Puppy-Raising: What it's Taught Me So Far (Five Quick Lessons)

Lesson One: Though I've learned much, I have far more yet to learn. Man, you'd think we'd catch a break here. With this breeding adventure, I've been reading and studying and talking to older/wisers and watching training videos and practicing what I'm learning. But where I land after all that effort is that I have so much more to learn.

Frankly, I didn't realize how little I knew until I started to know something. How's that for an enigma?! Isn't that the way of it with most things, though? Isn't that the way of it with life?

Lesson Two: There has to be grace to NOT be perfect. We're all in process, myself included. And we're all learning and growing together. Sometimes we WILL make mistakes. Sometimes we'll say or do the wrong thing. Sometimes we'll think we're doing the best thing when, in hindsight, we discover something else may have been the better choice.

Like on my feeding instructions for the new owners: I put that the pups were receiving 1.5 - 2 cups of food 3x daily. What I should have said was that they were receiving 1.5 - 2 cups daily spread out over three meals (that means 0.5 to 0.75 cups per meal -quite a difference). BUT I did tell everyone to feed according to the pup, not the ranges on the back of the food bag (as in, if the pup is gaining too much weight, cut back, or if the pup is looking underweight, increase the amount). It certainly won't hurt the dogs, and their vets will let them know better, but I feel stupid having put the feeding instructions out there incorrectly.

But...there's grace. I have to remember that.

I would do well to remember that with others, too (and not be too quick to judge when others make mistakes). After all, we're only human.

Lesson Three: Learning is easier when it's fun.
The pups are great for this. Clicker training is great for this. As long as we tap their enthusiasm, love for food (hehe), and natural desire to please, the pups will learn quickly and readily. We're seeing that already. We make learning to come, (using "here") a game, and the pups come to us readily. Same with crate training (they always, always, always, get a treat when we crate them, so going in the crate is fun!). They go into the crates easily now (though they don't always like to stay there, but that's a different issue).

When I teach or speak (and I do teach and speak regularly), I find the same holds true for humans. People engage and participate when I make it fun. Why is it that our adult learning system (business world, trainings, conferences, etc.) seems to think that since we're grown-ups, we must enjoy grown-up lectures? Nothing could be farther from the truth. Fun = engagement = learning. We people-trainers would do well to learn from puppy-handlers.

Which brings me to...

Lesson Four: Positive reinforcement goes so much further in motivating change than correction or punishment.

I know that's true with puppy training (especially clicker training). But it goes for people, too: kids, parents, older adults, younger adults, employees, co-workers, team members -- you name it. I knew this with my kids as they were growing up (they are all in the twenties now).

But I didn't really think about it in working with other adults until recently. I mean, how often do we affirm those we interact with regularly (yet, how often are we quick to correct, confront, or complain about them?)?

Encouragement, in whatever form (thanks, affirmation, compliments, etc.) begets positive actions, whether it's canines or humans involved.

Lesson Five: Good outcomes require sacrifice.
That may seem obvious, but it's a good reminder for me. Raising puppies from birth (even caring for Elsie during her pregnancy) DID require sacrifice: we sacrificed time, sleep, money, sleep, vacations, sleep, job performance, sleep, availability for other things (like kayaking or gardening), oh, and did I mention sleep? To say "yes" to puppy-rearing necessarily implied saying "no" to something else. But that was only if we wanted to raise puppies well, ensuring better outcomes.

We could, of course, have blown the puppies off, slept more, and done all the other things we like doing. But the outcome of sound, healthy, well-socialized pups would never have been realized.

And so it goes with other things. If I want to produce good writing, I have to say "no" to countless other distractions that would keep me from developing a solid manuscript. If I want a good marriage or good relationships with my kids, I need to say "yes" to being available to them -- say "yes" to late night conversations when I'm tired, "yes" to watching sport venues when I'm not really a sports fan, "yes" to long phone conversations despite work deadlines, "yes" to stopping what I'm doing to focus on their needs (whatever they are at the time), "yes" to evenings home with hubby or movie nights with home-for-a-visit kids -- and "no" to all those other things that could get in the way.

I'm thankful our pups turned out so well, but there were sacrifices along the way (you should see my more-trashed-than-usual house).

But again, that seems to be the way of it. As a friend once told me, and I recall to mind often, sometimes you have to say "no" to very good things (sacrifice) in order to say "yes" to the best.

So those are a few of the lessons I'm learning from this puppy-rearing adventure. I'm sure there will be more to come.

But that's enough pontificating for now. It's time for the pups to potty!

'Til next time,

Canine Socialization

Now that the pups are bigger, all weighing somewhere between 16 and 21 pounds, we're letting them romp a bit with the "big" kids (as in Baxter, Kenya, and Ridge). They get to romp with Mom (Elsie), too, but man-o-man, she's really tough on them. It's that canine socialization thing, and Elsie is still being a responsible mother to her pups.

We're told, and have read, that this is a good thing -- this canine socialization. It's necessary for them to learn how to interact with other dogs, whether in their new families or at the park or when involved in shows or competitions. It's just hard for me to watch Elsie pin these guys sometimes (to the point of their yipping and tail-tucking).

So what follows are a few clips of canine socialization, the gentler versions. You'll see that the pups are really little individuals now. Pinot is, by far, the most submissive with the big dogs, but she's also very playful with them. Copper submits pretty readily, but is confident and independent. Mr. Green... well ... he's just Mr. Green (hehe).

Here's Pinot (uploaded at YouTube because Blogger was giving me fits!):

Here's Mr. Green (it's funny how Elsie and Kenya just wait him out later in the video -- they'd been playing with the pups for a while when I shot this, so I think they're tuckered out!):

And here's Mr. Blue (again, at YouTube, since Blogger video processing is still giving me fits!):

They sure are growing up fast!

'Til next time,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Miss Pink is "Dakota" and Her Family Blogs, too!

I didn't know when I posted earlier this evening that Miss Pink's family had decided on a name: she's now officially "Dakota."

AND, Dakota's family blogs, too (just like Nala's -- aka White's --family does).

You can check out Dakota's homecoming by clicking here (this will take you to Dakota's family's blog)

I think she's loved! And she's surrounded by animal friends. :o)

How cool is that!

'Til next time,

The Three Who Remain

Well, Black (Pinot), Blue (Copper), and Green (in photo above from left to right it's Black, Green, and Blue) are all doing remarkably well despite the absence of their littermates.

The did seem a little disrupted this weekend when we had so many people coming and going between puppy visits, puppy pick-ups, our human kids dropping in from their various colleges, and one birthday dinner for youngest said human kid (who turned 20, so DH & I are now officially parents of all twenty-somethings! How weird is that!).

But since the revolving door has slowed, they seem very much at home again.

And, GET THIS....

We started crate training all three (yes, this is absolutely nuts), and last night we went the whole night without any accidents!

And today, we made it through the whole day with only one small pee puddle (Mr. Green, I'm afraid), and that's because I was gone too long this morning (I teach a class on Tuesday mornings, and I was gone nearly four hours -- pups this age can really only go about 2 hours during the day between potties). And I didn't crate them since I knew I'd be gone (just left them in the indoor pen attached to their crates).

As soon as I got home, though, I whisked them each out one at a time, and poor Mr. Green was last to go out -- he just couldn't wait, poor guy.

And I've been taking them out one at a time for pottying all day, and everybody is doing what they're supposed to do! We use the command "get busy" when they are actually peeing and pooing (as in actually in the act), so they get the idea in time that when we say "get busy" it's time to get down to business.

So far so good.

But housebreaking three pups simultaneously is a bit nuts. I'll concede that. Especially when there's only one of me during the day. We just didn't want to wait (this is an ideal age to housebreak pups). Hopefully Mr. Green's new folks and Mr. Blue's Sundancer gang won't mind. ;o)

So...I think we have our hands full for the next two weeks.

Would you agree?

'Til next time,

Miss Pink's New Family

Well, Miss Pink (or Pinky, as we sometimes called her) is now officially with her new forever family. Here they are:

Andy, the dad, is a bird hunter and plans to train Miss Pink (who showed promising retrieving and training instincts) to be his retriever in the field. Jada and Drew, the kids, are pet socializers extraodinnaire (they've been helping us socialize the pups for a couple weeks now)!!! Jamie, the mom, is a pet setter, and an excellent one at that. In fact, she'll be sitting for our Pinot (Miss Black) for six days in November while DH and I head over to Copenhagen (Denmark) where he's teaching at a conference (we'll kennel the rest of our crew, but Pinot is too young for kenneling, so she's boarding with Jamie). It will be fun for Pinot and Miss Pink to have a few days together, and good timing, too: our trip occurs literally the day after Mr. Green leaves and two days after Copper (Mr. Blue) flies with his new mom to AZ.

Again, we couldn't ask for a better placement for Miss Pink. Thanks, Andy, Jamie, Jada, and Drew for providing a wonderful home for Pinky ("Dakota" or "Zara" or wherever you land with her name).

Knowing the pups have such fabulous forever homes makes it so much easier to let go!

And then there were three...

'Til next time,

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Different Perspective

Okay, we may be a little sad about the puppies leaving (tickled with their placements, just missing them a bit), but as far as Miss Pink is concerned, it's just more room on the hammock for her! :o)
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Saying Puppy Goodbyes

With each placement it's getting harder to say goodbye to the pups.

DH Don, shown below saying a few final words to Mr. Blue&White (now "Midas") before he left with his new forever family, found it to be a bit tougher than I think either of us expected.

There was such a flurry of activity for us immediately before Pink-&-White (now "Luba") and White (now "Nala") left, that we barely had time to think, let alone feel. After Midas and Mandy left, however, was a different story.

It's not that we were any more or less attached to any of the pups (we'd become attached to all of them). I think it was more that we had a lull between the Midas/Mandy pickup yesterday and Pinky's pick-up later today (this evening).

And we're down to only four (Pinky, Green, Blue/"Copper", and Black/"Pinot"), so each absence becomes more noticeable.

After this evening it will just be three, and then we'll have all three for the next two weeks.

Then it will just be Black...our little Pinot.

We already have a growing notify list for people interested in our next litters (we're planning two in 2008), so I guess we must doing something right. All I can say is that I'm tickled with how the pups turned out, and am delighted with their new homes across the board.

Now it's time to get busy with clicker training and real house-breaking (any tips for housebreaking 3 pups at one time? Yikes!).

'Til next time,
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Midas (formerly Blue&White) and Mandy (formerly Scarlet)

Here's the new forever family for Mr. Blue&White (now called "Midas") and Miss Scarlet (now called "Mandy). Ann and Suzanne, the new owners, are experienced "dog people" with loads of love, energy, and attention to shower on their new, precious pups.

And, yes, they know what they're getting into!

Shown here with their friend Nancy, this mother-daughter team is sure to provide a wonderful, solid home for these two bundles of joy. Midas and Mandy are destined to be loved to pieces and spoiled rotten! :o)
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Miss White's (now "Nala") New Forever Family

As it happens, Miss White's (now officially "Nala") new owner is a photographer and a blogger. That means we can see how she's progressing in her new environment in ways we probably can't with the other pups.


Check out these fabulous shots of "Nala" in her new home (the link will take you to the new owner's blog).

We couldn't have asked for a better placement for her!

Thanks, Russ and gang, for the fine home and love you're providing for Nala! She looks great!

'Til next time

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Playing, Grandpa with Hose, & Magic Hammock

We have six left; two more go tomorrow. Since it's a gorgeous afternoon here (60s and windy), we have all six romping together outside in the pen on the deck.

LOL...I can't help but smile to see what healthy, fine pups our Ridge-Elsie litter has produced.

So here they are in full romp, today at 8 weeks old:

And here's the magical, moving hammock that barks (hehe):


Ain't it grand!

'Til next time,

Officially 8 Weeks Old! (a report from the pups)

Here we are at 8 weeks old!

Grandma took our picture this morning while we were waiting for Miss White's new humans to come for her. Pink-&-White left us yesterday. We miss her, but we're still having fun. :o)

Miss White and Pink-&-White are really lucky. Just look at them with their new humans.

Here's Pink-&-White (now "Luba") with her new master (minus the Mrs.):

And here's White (maybe "Nala" or "Dakota") with her new family (minus the oldest daughter):

We think they're going to be really really happy in their new homes.

Grandma and Grandpa tell us we're going to be loved just as much as P&W and White will be. But it's a little scary. P&W and White were really brave, though, and they seemed really happy with their people; it was like they forgot about us already. So we think we'll be okay, too.

Tomorrow Miss Scarlet (Red) and Mr. PSU (Blue-&-White) get to go together to their new home. Then Pink leaves Monday, but Pink is local, so we'll get to see her now and then (those of us who are left here).

Then it will just be the three of us: Pinot (Miss Black), Copper (Mr. Blue), and Mr. Green for the next two weeks.

So don't tune out yet...we still have puppy tales to tell! But thanks for rootin' for us. :o)

Big wet sloppy kisses from,
The Elsie-Ridge puppies :o)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Forever Homes

We're pleased to announce that all our pups have forever homes!

Yup, all are sold, and we're tickled with their placements. Here's the run-down in order of when they leave us for their new homes:
  • Miss Pink-and-White, our nicely balanced, well-rounded pup who left us this afternoon (Friday), is going to be a pet and companion for a wonderful, semi-retired couple in New Jersey. We know she'll be loved to pieces in her new home. Her new name is "Luba" (Russian for "love"). :o)
  • Miss White, our super-people-oriented pup, leaves us tomorrow morning (Saturday), to become a pet and companion for a family of six (parents plus four kids ranging in age from 10 to 17) who lost their former family Lab this past July. She'll be living with her new family in Gilbertsville, PA, and it's looking like her name will be "Nala" or "Dakota."
  • Miss Scarlet and Mr. Blue-&-White are going together this Sunday afternoon (yup, together -- and will definitely be spayed and neutered later on) to a delightful pair of ladies near Wayne, PA. A mother-daughter team who live together in the long-time family home, these folks are dog people all around and know exactly what they're getting into. They already love the pups and hope to train them for pet therapy (perhaps with Paws with a Cause or the like) for work in retirement communities, rehab centers, senior citizen homes, and hospitals. Mr. Blue-and-White's name will become "Midas" and Red may remain what we've called her all along, "Miss Scarlet" (they're still deciding).
  • On Monday, Miss Pink, one of our water girls and the girl with the strongest retrieving instinct, joins a family of four humans (parents, two young children) three other dogs, a cat and an assortment of other critters who live in Harleysville, PA. Her new main male human is a hunter and hopes to train Miss Pink to be his hunting companion (duck and other waterfowl). Her other main human adult is a full-time pet sitter (with a fabulous pet-sitting reputation, btw). :o) We couldn't have asked for a better placement for Pink. They're still deciding on names, but it looks like our Pinky will become either "Dakota" or "Zara."
  • Mr. Blue (our BlueBoy), probably our best over-all pup in the litter and now officially known as "Copper," is leaving us to join the gang over at Sundancer Labs in Arizona. His new "mom" Theresa is coming to pick him up in early November (flying out in person -- we don't have to ship him alone!!!! yay!!!!). For those of you who don't know, Theresa has been a godsend for me through this process. A breeder, too, (only much further along in the process), she's walked us through so many questions and concerns about Elsie and the pups these past few months. She also shows, trains, and judges Labs in competition, and her DH hunts and trains the dogs in the field. I couldn't be more tickled that Mr. Blue (now "Copper") is finding his forever home with the Sundancer gang!
  • Mr. Green will be moving in with his new family in Lansdale, PA, in about two weeks (Nov 4), just two days after "Copper" (aka Mr. Blue) leaves us. He's to become the family pet and hunting companion for a family of four (parents and two very young children), both human adults of which have grown up around and lived with multiple Labs. His new primary male human's grandfather is also a veterinarian, so we think Mr. Green will be in good hands. As yet, we don't know of Mr. Green's new name, but we'll let you know.
  • And then there's Miss Black. Yup, she's staying with us. :o) Her new name is....(drum roll, please): "Pinot" (pronounced "pee-no" like the wine). We thought Pinot was appropriate because she was Miss Black (and we like Pinot Noir), because wine is good for the heart (and she has a heart murmur), because wine (like puppies) can be good for blood pressure, and Pinots tend to be mellow wines -- smooth and relaxing, and she seems to be our mellow girl. Then there's always the fact that "Pinot" sounds almost like "peanut" and Miss Black has a peanut head like Kenya. One other consideration for us in naming our new pup is that Miss Black's name had to sound different enough from the other dogs' names to be clearly distinguishable in the field. And "Pinot" sounds nothing like Baxter, Elsie, Ridge, or Kenya. So, whadya think?
'Til next time,

Puppy Pics Part 2 (8 weeks old)

Here are the other four at 2 days shy of 8 weeks old:

From top left going clockwise:

Mr. Blue
Miss Scarlet (Red)
Miss Black
Miss Pink-and-White

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Puppy Pics, part 1 (8 wks old)

Here they are at 2 days shy of 8 weeks old!

From top left, clockwise:
Miss White
Miss Pink
Mr. Blue & White
Mr. Green

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Puppy Update - 7 & 8 Weeks Old

Wow! I can't believe it's been nine days since I've posted. Needless to say the pups keep growing, and the pen's keep needing to be cleaned (the pens have been cleaned 7 times today already - one more time to go!).

So here's the update:

1. All pups have forever families! But more on that later.

2. Here are their weight checks (for seven and eight weeks -- the green weights are their current weights):

Pink: 14.0 lbs. on 10/14; then 16 lbs. 12 0z. on 10/18 (+ 2 lbs. 2 0z. in five days)
White: 13.5 lbs. on 10/14; then 16 lbs. 0 oz. on 10/18 (+ 2 lbs. 8 oz. in five days)
Pink & White: 15.0 lbs. on 10/14; then 18 lbs. 2 oz. on 10/18 (+ 3 lbs. 2 oz. in five days)
Red (Miss Scarlet): 14.0 lbs. on 10/14; then 16 lbs. 10 oz. on 10/18 (+ 2 lbs. 10 oz.)
Blue & White (Mr. PSU): 16.75 lbs. on 10/14; then 20 lbs. 2 oz. on 10/18 (+ 3 lbs. 4 oz.)
Blue: 15.25 lbs. on 10/14; then 18 lbs. 8 oz. (+ 3 lbs. 4 oz.)
Green: 16.5 lbs. on 10/14; then 19 lbs. 6 oz. (+ 2 lbs. 14 oz.)
Black: 13.25 lbs. on 10/14; then 15 lbs. 4 oz (+ 2 lbs. in five days)

3. Yup, that's right: Mr. Blue-&-White has overtaken Mr. Green as our big boy.

4. And, yup, that's right, Miss Black is now the runt of the crew.

5. They look and act like real puppies now (because they are!). We're still working on socialization, but we're also just introducing manners. :o)

6. We're also introducing them to crates (during naps and at night).

7. We've moved the outdoor pen from the grass to the deck (gigunda pen on the deck now) because dog ticks have returned. Three of the pups have come in with ticks on them in the last week (two from the grass, one from the deck). So now I'm moving them from the indoor pen (which is now in the kennel room with the big dogs -- yay, I have a kitchen again!) to the outdoor pen on the deck a couple of times a day.

8. And all are just people-lovers! :o)

They've turned out fabulously (healthy and with terrific temperaments), and we're very thankful. The do, of course have different personalities and strengths:
  • Mr. Blue and Miss Pink show the best aptitude for retrieving (by far, so far).
  • Mr. Blue and Miss Black seem most observant and watchful.
  • Miss Pink, Miss Scarlet (red), Miss White, and Mr. Blue like the water best.
  • Miss White is strongly people-oriented (really wants and needs people).
  • All are snugglers. :o)
  • Mr. Green, Mr. Blue & White, and Miss Black seem lower key than the rest.
  • It's hard to tell who's most vocal, as they all have their moments, but Mr. Green has the most pathetic whine/whimper/quivery moan. :o)
  • Mr. Blue and Miss Pink-and-White are probably the more dominant of the the boys and girls when playing with each other, but neither is an alpha. They just seem to end up on top more often then I see them on the bottom.
  • All are very submissive with our bigger dogs, but can hold their own.
  • We're still concerned about Black, though she's gaining weight still, and is acting healthy and fine, she's lagging behind the rest in weight gain. She's the only one who hasn't reached 16 pounds yet. She's staying with us (her forever family is our gang) though, so we can watch her carefully.
  • ALL the pups (except Black) are ready for their forever homes (again, I'll post about that in the next blog entry). Five leave this weekend.
So that's the development update (as much as I can think of right now).

I've missed you all! I've been swamped with puppy-pick-up prep and paperwork, and I was in VA last weekend on a speaking engagement, then I had to teach this week, and I had work deadlines. Add that to regular puppy duty AND people coming to look at pups (we had folks here until 10 p.m. Weds. night), and, get the idea.

They're growing up!

'Til next time,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

They have voices!

Yesterday, as I worked in my windowed office overlooking the backyard, I heard the puppies bark. That in and of itself isn't unusual; they each bark now and then. But this time all eight chimed in at the same time.

Just for context...I've been allowing the pups to remain outdoors for a few hours safely in their pen where I can see and hear them from my office where I work, partly so they get the idea that it's okay to be outside and so they realize it's okay to be away from people for short stretches of time, too (they've been with people nearly all waking hours since birth). And, to boot, I simply needed to get some work done and it's far easier to concentrate with them outside.

So, there I am, working at my computer, glancing at the sleeping pups now and then. The next thing I know, they're all barking! At the same time.

Of course, my first thought was something must've gotten into the pen.

So I looked more closely.


They were playing, just teasing each other!

Two pups hid behind the tree trunk, two crouched on one hammock, two stood on the second hammock, and two trotted around the pen. And they were all barking at each other.

What a riot!

And this on the day when they were supposed to be sleepy and not feeling well from their shots the night before.

I thought, wow, my grandbabies are growing up! Isn't that something! What fun to hear them vocalizing out there so well!

Then they brought their vocalizing indoors.

LOL ... what chaos.

I caught just a glimpse of a couple of the pups barking at and pouncing on and wrassling with each other in this next video. It's only a taste, though -- nothing compared to the real thing.

I had to stay farther away so they wouldn't notice me (they stop barking when people show up), so the video isn't perfect, but it will give you an idea.

This was filmed last night in the middle of a wicked thunderstorm. They didn't even notice the thunder (oh, and the growling you hear in the background isn't all the barking pups; it's two other pups off screen wrestling in front of the whelping box).

Now where did I put my migraine meds?

'Til next time,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

We Went to the VET! A Puppy Report

Grandma and Grandpa took us to a place called the "Vet's" last night. They said we'd have fun. They lied.

First they put us in the back of "the van" in these things called "crates." Four of us in each one! We REALLY didn't like that. We started whimpering and howling to get out. Mr. Green even howled his most pathetic howl with the sure-to-tug-a-human-heart quivery voice thrown it. It didn't work. They made us stay in the crates.

Then we started moving. That didn't help.

If we'd known what was waiting for us, maybe we wouldn't have complained.

When the car stopped, they took us out (still in the crates) and put us (in our crates) on top of a big red wagon. Then they rolled us into this place with lots of other people and lots of bright lights.

That was actually kinda fun. And lots of people told us how cute we were. Though still crowded in our crates, we were happier.

Then they rolled us into an "exam" room, where Grandpa took us out of our crates so we could explore and be more comfortable.

Hah! We were way too traumatized for exploring. When he and the Vet Tech lifted us out of the crates and put us on the floor, we stretched right out on the cool floor, and some us went right to sleep. Harrumph. That'll show them!

We thought we were safe.

We were wrong. The real horrors were about to begin.

They weighed us. Some of us were braver than others.

Then the "vet" guy came in. His name is Dr. Wagner. He felt us all over and moved our legs and feet in all kinds of ways. All our joints felt good.

Then Dr. Wagner listened to our hearts. He spent an extra long time listening to Miss Black. She has something called a "soft heart murmur" that Grandpa and Grandma will have to watch. She's also now the "runt" since she's not be gaining weight as fast as the rest. Grandma says she won't let Miss Black go to a new home (whatever that is) unless Black's murmur clears up (which the vet said it probably would in the next couple of weeks -- the vet isn't worried).

Oh boy. Ah... Gulp... Pant...

This next part is almost too traumatic to talk about.

When the weighing and feeling and stretching and listening were done, Dr. Wagner put stuff down our throats (yuk)(dewormer), then he stuck us with a needle between our shoulder blades (DHPP shot for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvo), and then...

This is where it gets really bad...

He stuck a BIG needle under our skin where he'd already given us a shot. This BIG needle contained something called a "microchip." It HURT. We all yelped. And some of us bled a little. But Grandma says it will help our new owners find us if we ever get lost. It's a permanent ID under our skin -- it can't fall off like dog tags (whatever they are) can.

That was it.

That was enough.

We were spent.
And then it was time to get back in the crates and go home.

We hated the car ride home as much as we did the car ride there. But once we got home, it was like nothing had ever happened.

It must've been a bad dream -- one we all had at the same time. Hmmm... pretty remarkable dream, eh? And we all had it at the same time! Go figure.

Grandma will fill you in on the details later today. In the meantime, we're all fine (all over 11 pounds!). The only concern is Miss Black's heart murmur, but that will probably just disappear on its own.

Now it's back to the hard work of puppy play! And sleep. Especially after our trauma last night!

Bye for now,
The Elsie-Ridge Puppies. :o)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Romping, Wrassling, Snuggling, and Getting Wet

This clip capture a bit of everything from our pool adventure yesterday. The reason I post it is because I think you can really begin to see a bit of personality in the pups in video.

Sarah, patient sort and good sport that she is, is still in the pool waiting to help pups get in if they want to. Just over half-way through the clip, however, the pups find her flip-flops hidden under the tarp (hehe). Having already lost her favorite flip-flops to Kenya last summer, the Sweet Sarah Girl is less than pleased that the pups have discovered her current favorite footwear. :o)

LOL...she's still a good sport though. :o)

In this video you also see puppies wrassling, growling, romping, resting in Sarah's arms, racing around the yard, and trying out the water again. Enjoy.

'Til next time,

Miss Scarlet Likes the Water

Since I had trouble uploading our first adventures in the pool from last week, I thought I'd at least get this one up from yesterday's second adventure in water.

We moved the kiddie pool from the deck (the location of the first pool adventure) to the yard adjacent to the new, enlarged play pen under our oak tree in the back yard. It was VERY humid yesterday, with temps in the eighties, but it was windy, too. Still, it seemed like a good time to try water exposure again (I don't know how many more 80-degree weather days we're going to have this fall, although it's supposed to be 88 degrees F today - yuk, for mid-October).

Here's a clip of DD Sarah enticing the pups to enter the pool with her. We set the hammock up in front of the pool for the pups to have better footing and access. And this time we also put a plastic "dock" (a step block from step aerobics equipment) in the middle of the water near the edge to make it easier to climb in and out, and to give them a place to step out of the water if they wanted to, but still be in the pool. The big black square in the bottom of the pool is a rubber traction mat to keep the pups from slipping.

The water is about 1.5 inches deep. :o)

As you'll see, we think Miss Scarlet is our water bug.

Mr. Blue was actually our first pup to go into the water last time, and he trotted in and out then. I think he was having to much fun romping in the yard outside of the pen to be to interested in the pool this time. At one point, he just nestles in under Sarah's stool for a quick nap.

In this next clip, though I was trying to capture pups in the pool (they didn't cooperate!), you'll see how much fun they were having galloping about the yard.

They all seem healthy, happy, curious, energetic, and willing to try new things, which makes me feel good. They seem secure and confident.

And I think that's what we hoped to foster in them in their short stay with us. Wow... only two weeks left to go! Where have the last six weeks gone?

'Til next time,

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Our Adventures this, our 6th, Week!

Grandma introduced us to boxes this week. Our first box lasted about twenty minutes. We liked to shred cardboard boxes so much that she finally got us this soft cushy box with a toy inside. Somebody said it was a "cat" box, but we don't know what that means. We still really like the box, though. We even sometimes get stuck inside it.

Here's a still picture of Mr. Blue-and-White outside the box so you can see what it looks like:

Here's Mr. Blue IN the box playing with the red fuzzy toy:

In this clip Pinky likes playing with the red fuzzy ball inside the box, so much that she's happy to hang out in there. But first, Mr. Blue scrambles out so Pinky can get in.

We've also gotten better at wrassling with each other. We sometimes growl and snarl and bare our teeth, but we're really just playing. We pretend to fight and do something called play "kill." It sounds pretty intense, and we sometimes bite a little too hard, like when we grab an ear or a tail or a toe, but that's how we learn to have soft mouths later one.

We really don't mean to hurt each other. We're just figuring out who's the boss in our litter. Nobody is the clearer winner yet, but it's little too soon to tell. So we'll keep wrassling. ;o)

And if it REALLY gets out of hand, Grandma will intervene. But not often. She leaves us to figure things out (Grandma says it's REALLY hard for her not to rescue us when we're on the bottom end of the fighting and we're yelping to get up). But it's really better for us if she doesn't. We have to learn to fend for ourselves.

In the following video, Mr. PSU (Blue-and-White) teams with Miss Pink-and-White to pin little Miss White. Miss Pink-and-White quickly loses interest, but Mr. PSU pursues this issue. Not to worry--Miss White can hold her own.

Being six-week-old puppies also means we're easily distracted, so our play fighting soon gives way to interest in Grandpa cleaning up poop, in our dummy duck toy, and in our water bowl, where we're fast friends again.

Oh, and guess what?! Grandma let uss wade in the wading pool this week, too!!!! It was really hot outside, so she thought it would feel good.

We weren't quite sure what to make of it, but Miss Scarlet, Miss Pink-and-White, and Mr. Blue seemed to like it. Mr. Green and Miss Black checked it out, but weren't quite as sure. It was our first experience with water. Way cool!

Grandma still has to edit the wading pool video so she can put it here. She'll do that later today. :o)

It's been a fun week! And, much to Grandma's toe discomfort, we've really learned to use our teeth!



That's all from us, the Puppies. Grandma will be back soon.

Bye (paw waves).

Here We Are at Six Weeks Old!

Above, clockwise from top left:

Mr. Blue plays in the cat box.
Mis Scarlet nuzzles DD Sarah.
Miss Pink-and-White takes a nap.
Miss Black uses Miss Scarlet as a pillow.

Clockwise from top left:

Miss Pink drifts off to sleep.
Miss White thinks about sleeping.
Mr. Green has way too much fun with dummy duck to bother sleeping.
Mr. Blue-and-White is long gone.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Kenya and the Pups

Kenya finally got to play in the pen with the pups this week! It was her first face-to-face-without-a-barrier-in-the-way encounter.

All did fine! Neither pups nor Kenya were fearful (unlike Baxter Boos!).

Take a look:

Kenya was remarkably tolerant (remember, Kenya herself is only 14 months old) and gentle -- very soft-mouthed with the pups and patient with them chewing on her ears. I suspect she'll make a good mom, too, one day.

And now that she's had her turn in the pen, it's the place she bolts to first as soon as we take her outside.

As far as she's concerned it's..."Oh boy! Eight more playmates!" :o)

We've been trying the pups out of the pen one-or-two-at-a-time with the big dogs. And they're holding their owning, despite learning some canine manners. :o)

I'll put up video of that over the weekend.

'Til next time,
Joan (who was completely wiped out with a migraine yesterday, and was neck deep in pup land Tuesday and Wednesday when it rained and I had to come up with creative indoor solutions for puppy playdom). :o)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Promised Delivery Video (better late than never!)

Okay, so I finally figured out how to edit video footage!

If you remember from five weeks ago, I promised a video clip of Elsie delivering a pup. Well, I actually did take the video (with my handy little point-and-shoot digital camera), but when I tried to upload the 7-minute clip, both YouTube and Blogger couldn't handle the file size.

No worries, though. This week I figured out how to edit the clip and turned the one 7-minute clip into two clips of 4 minutes and 3 minutes each.

Aren't you proud of me! Wow, you really can teach a middle-aged dog new tricks! It only took me five weeks to figure it out. ;o)

Anyway, WARNING: this might be a little gross (mostly slimy, not bloody) for the weak-of-stomach sort. ;o) The clip begins as the pup (rear end first) begins to emerge from Elsie's birth canal. Elsie is sitting as she delivers the pup.

In part one, you'll see Miss White's birth (she scared us a bit because she took a while to respond) and you'll see Elsie shredding the umbilical cord. You'll also see DH Don's gloved hands in there trying to keep Elsie from eating this pup's placenta (she'd already eaten her limit of one).

Then, here in part two, you'll see DH trying to get Miss White to nurse (she was slow to start). It takes a bit, but she ultimately latches on.

And, as you know, Miss White is doing just fine (she's a little sweetie, a spunky gal despite her lethargic start, and she's one of the most developmentally advanced girls).

Here's Miss White now:

Isn't it amazing how far we've come in just five short weeks???!!!


'Til next time,

P.S. Whoops...for those of you who read this entry when it was initially posted, I mistakenly identified the pup being delivered as Miss Black. But after looking at my delivery notes this evening, I realized it was really Miss White, the runt, whose delivery is captured in this clip. So sorry for any confusion. ;o)

Baxter and Mr. Blue

Here's the first time Baxter has interacted with one of Elsie's pups face-to-face. Since Mr. Blue is our most confident puppy, and Baxter is SO big (which could intimidate a less-confident pup) we thought we'd use Mr. Blue for Baxter's introduction.

We needn't have worried about Mr. Blue's end of this introduction. LOL...take a look:

If anything, Baxter is the one who's intimidated! Poor Boos, our 100-pound boy! He's our lumbering gentle giant.

Oh, and you might have noticed Mr. Blue scratching at is ribbon; the rickrack needs to be changed again (it's grown snug enough for him to notice it), so I'll change it today!

In the background, you hear Mr. Green yipping because he's alone in the outdoor pen about 20 yards away from where I'm standing (the rest of the pups are in the indoor pen). I removed Mr. Blue from the outdoor pen to meet Baxter, but left Mr. Green there. He can hear us, but he's not happy about being by himself. Not to worry, though. He's growing in confidence and security daily. :o)

'Til next time,

The Last Daytime Nursing

I think Elsie has had enough of this nursing business. What do you think?

This clip captured Elsie's last daytime nursing (three days ago). She's down to nursing only once a day now at night before bed -- and that we hope to end that in the next couple of days.

The goal is to have the pups completely weaned by the time they reach six weeks of age (which will be this coming Saturday).

Sweet Elsie girl...she's been a great mom!

'Til next time,

Monday, October 01, 2007

What a Lunch Hour!

Here's what my twin sister, Jean
(aka Aunt Jeanie to the pups and my human kids),
does on her lunch break from work several days per week.

Imagine having this kind of lunch hour each day!
What a wonderful, happy, low-stress world it would be!

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All Over Nine! The Five-Week Report

And the weights are in...

  • Mr. Blue: 9 lbs. 10 oz.
  • Miss White: 9 lbs. 0 oz.
  • Mr. Green: 11 lbs. 6 oz.
  • Miss Scarlet (Red): 9 lbs. 10 oz.
  • Miss Black: 9 lbs. 2 oz.
  • Pinky: 10 lbs. 0 oz.
  • Mr. PSU (Blue-and-White): 11 lbs. 0 oz.
  • Miss Pink-and-White: 10 lbs. 2 oz.

That's about a 3.5-pound weight gain for each pup since last week. Wow!

Misses White and Black are still our smallest, but growing proportionally to the rest. Mr. Blue is a good pound lighter than the other two boys, but he's also the most advanced in development. Mr. Green is still the moose at nearly 11.5 pounds (his little legs look like tree stumps, and he's definitely stockier than the rest).

According those who know these things, the best approximation during puppy-hood of what a pup's adult body type/proportion will be occurs at about eight weeks of age (give or take three days on either side of the 8-week mark). That's still three weeks away for our crew. And that's only an approximation. But, generally, how the pups look proportionally at eight weeks of age (length of legs compared to body, set of shoulders, jaw alignment etc.) is about what they'll be as adults.

Since these little guys just hit the five-week mark it's really too soon to tell how the pups are shaping up in physical attributes (as in structure & frame) compared to the Lab breed standard.

But there are things we can assess now, and those things are looking very good:

1. All the pups are healthy (gaining weight proportionally, eating well, seeing and hearing as they should, vocalizing, playing, romping, climbing, sleeping, wrestling, startling-and-recovering, etc.)
2. All demonstrate curiosity, spunk, and an eagerness to explore.
3. All willingly relax on their backs in our arms (some stay relaxed longer than others).
4. All attend and come when we call them for meals. Now, they may only be four or five feet away when we call, but all of the pups have learned to anticipate what's coming.
5. All are people-oriented. All welcome and joyfully interact with strangers.
6. All can be comforted and soothed by human touch and by the sound of a human voice.
7. All can be happily engaged away from the pack, though they vary in how long it takes them to regain their confidence when off by themselves.
8. They all do, however, eventually become confident as long as they can hear or see us. They don't need to see or hear the other pups, but they all do need to be reassured that their humans are nearby.
9. All have dense, lush coats.
10. All can "chew" soft kibble, lap water, and seem to have sound jaw alignments.

No one (except Mr. Blue) is tracking moving objects yet, but that should start to develop this week as their vision strengthens (it's tough to track if you can't see the object!). Mr. Blue can only follow movement if it's not too fast; his vision is better than the rest's.

Once they can track we start evaluating their retrieving instincts. We'll just have to wait and see.

So that's the puppy status as 5 weeks.

Oh, they're down to nursing once a day now, just at night before bed. And by the end of the week, they'll be weaned from Elsie completely.

And so it goes...

'Til next time,