Saturday, August 30, 2008

Elsie Update: A Closer View at 40 Days

As of today, Elsie is at Day #40 if we count from her second tie with Ridge (that means she's most likely 40 days into her pregnancy).

Normal gestation for dogs is 60-63 days. Elsie delivered on Day 60 last time (as I recall; it might have be 61).

We have her appointment for x-rays to count the pups on the evening of September 9 (which will be Day 50). That's a week from this coming Tuesday.

But, man 'o man, look how big she is already:

Unless there's a problem, there really won't be much else for me to post about Elsie's pregnancy until her x-ray (other than her growing size), so assume for now, that "no news is good news" (I mean, how many angles of a pregnant canine belly can be photographed!). :o)

She's doing fine, and is as gentle and affectionate as ever.

I'll let you know when we can feel the first kicks or see the first moving bulges on her belly! It's still a little early for that. :o)

But I'll post as soon as it happens! ;o)

'Til next time,

Friday, August 29, 2008

Elsie Update: The Wide Load Gets Wider :o)

Sweet Elsie Girl.

We have no doubt she has a tummy full of puppies now. We'll take her to get x-rayed in about 10 days (Sept 8, 9, or 10 depending on when we can get in to see our vet), but there's no doubt about her pregnancy. :o)

She's sleeping a lot lately, lazing around much of the time, and not really interested in playing with Pinot, Kenya, or Tuc (they seem to "know" something's different with her, too, leaving her in peace most of the time). She still runs, and barks, and eats as she should, and she wants to retrieve, but she's definitely lower key than her usual low-key. ;o)

It seems she's widening every day (maybe I just really feel for her!). These shots were taken early this morning before DH left for work (sorry about the lighting; it's overcast and the sun was barely up). In the first shot, that's DH having his usual yogurt and homemade granola for breakfast out in the backyard with the canine kiddos (Elsie didn't leave his side):

She's also redeveloped her udder (so much for a girlish figure, eh?!):

Elsie is, of course, people-needy, too. But she seems less insecure this time. Perhaps it's because this is her second pregnancy (Elsie is an experienced dam now) and she has a better idea of what's happening. Or maybe it's that she's matured. I don't know (I'll never claim to know what goes on in Labrador heads). In any case, she wants attention, but she's not quite as insistent as she was a year ago with her first pregancy.

She does, however, still like to hide her head between our knees (a little difficult when her humans both have short inseams!):

She's obviously getting more uncomfortable (pant more; restless when she tries to sit, etc.), so soon we'll change her feedings to three smaller meals a day (instead of her regular two larger ones). All those puppies in there tend to squish the stomach. :o)

If you recall, last time Elsie delivered nine pups (we lost one the next day, so ended up with eight). I suspect she'll have just as many in this litter, perhaps even more (based on her belly size already).

But I hope not. She only has nine teats, one for each pup if that's how many she has. If she ends up with more, we'll have to rotate feedings or supplement the pups who don't get as much. It becomes more complicated as the size of the litter grows.

We'll have an idea of what we'll be dealing with in ten or twelve days, after we count puppy spines in the x-rays. :o)

Until then, there's really not much we can do but wait and watch her grow. :o)

Poor thing... she's huge. I can't imagine how big she'll be when it's time for her to deliver! But she's doing just fine.

All is well and going as expected.

Stay tuned!

Til next time,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's the Heart that Counts

When my children (the human variety) were small, they'd often bring me gifts and surprises and little treasures of which they were very proud and in which the found great joy in giving.

Fist-fulls of dandelions come to mind.

Now, mind you, dandelions make my eyes redden, swell, and water (and not with tears of joy), and they make me sneeze, but you can bet I didn't tell my kids that at the time. I just received their precious offerings each time with a huge smile, an enthusiastic hug, a sincere "thank you," and a "how thoughtful of you to think of Mommy!"

So what if I'm allergic to dandelions! Their gifts were from the heart; it was their love and joy and generosity of spirit that mattered. I wanted to affirm that every chance I got!

And so it goes with our puppies. :o)

I've been thinking about Pinot, who just turned one year old, and Tuc, the little imp, who's all of 3.5 months old. It's way too easy to rush their development. I'm learning to treasure (and giggle over) their attempts to please us, no matter what the outcomes of their attempts may be.

You see, they're doing the best they can, appropriately for their ages. And while I may be less-than-thrilled with their "dandelions" as such, I find great joy in their spirits.

Take Pinot's learning to jump off the dock, for example.

Here's Kenya's jumping style for comparison:

Isn't she gorgeous?!

Now, here's Pinot's jumping style from the very same place just seconds later (she's so eager to please us, and she SO wanted to jump like Kenya):

Yes, this is actually her idea of a leap!

Well, maybe it was a dive. :o)

Okay... so it wasn't a bouquet of roses (look at Don's face!), but I'll take her dandelions any day of the week, especially when I look beyond the jump itself to the spirit behind the jump.

Sweet precious girl! She's so eager to learn, and she tries so hard. Eventually her growing body will catch up to her intellect. But in the meantime, we'll just have to take her heart for what it is (and ignore the outcomes for a time).

Same goes for little Tuc, even more so. Last weekend when he grew tired of swimming, he just couldn't wait to bring me these precious treasures he found:

Dad's shoe:

Dad's sock (notice Dad's shoe on the end of the dock top left in the picture):

Dad's hat and glasses (yes, those are his $300 bifocals in the cap Tuc is carrying):

Tuc was just so proud of himself for finding Dad's things! And he brought them right to us (to Don first, who was in the water, so Tuc left them on the dock), and then to me.

At least he didn't drop them in the lake!


What a guy!


You know, in our achievement/performance-oriented world, it would be easy for me to get frustrated. But what I manage to see more and more as the years go by is the heart behind the attempt to please us.

Their willing, innocent, eager-to-please hearts warm my heart; they make me smile.

I think that's why I'm enjoying Pinot and Tuc so much these days. I'm relishing their puppyhoods, maybe because I'm learning that puppyhood is a time to treasure and giggle through (just as childhood is). It's nothing to get worked up over, angry with, or frustrated about. There's enough in life, without puppy stuff, to take seriously. Child-like antics aren't one of them.

Besides, they'll grow up soon enough. Their wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm will never be the same once they mature (though Labs as a breed keep their eagerness to please us throughout adulthood -- part of why I so love the breed). I may as well enjoy it while I can.

A sense of humor and a little patience go a long, long way toward building solid, trusting relationships in the long run (human and canine).

And it keeps the human blood pressure down. :o)

Besides, I can always use a few more laughs.

'Til next time,
(who's enjoying LOADS of chuckles over Tuc's antics today; let's just say they've included a bowl of ceral with milk, a roll of aluminum foil, the TV remote control, a bag of tortilla chips from the pantry, and on uprooted potted plant on the deck!). :o)