Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Puppy Portraits (During a Still Moment)

Here they are, at just over four weeks old, in the closest thing I could get to portraits (hehehe).  By the way, they're just waking up in these picture. It's the only time I can catch them while they're still.

Master Blue (left) and Master Green (right)

Master Red

Master Green

Master Blue

Master Red (left), Master Green (back center), Master Blue (right)

I have to admit, I love the last shot.  It looks almost like they're posing!  :O)

Just thought you'd enjoy these.

'til next time,

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Adventures for the Four Week Olds

The plumpty dumpties won't be plumpty dumpties for long.  Today they graduated from their whelping box to a spacious indoor puppy pen (goodbye kitchen!). And now they can learn to trot and run.

Regular Reader knows a winter litter is a first for us. All of our previous litters whelped in either early fall or late spring.  When we found out, however, that we could expect to welcome our first human grandchild into this world in May this year, we knew we wouldn't be having a spring litter.  So it was either go for a litter when we did (resulting in our current gang) or wait another year.  You know how that worked out.

The dilemmas with a winter litter are first, how to give the pups room to run and explore safely, and second, how to expose them to typical outdoor sounds while they can hear but while they haven't yet entered fear stages. 

Hopefully we've figured out the first: while not a perfect solution, the pups' new indoor pen will give them room to move and explore and romp a bit, at least for now while they are this size.  And it's big enough for us to later introduce steps and tunnels and other fun physical challenges for them.

The new and improved indoor pen does hog the whole kitchen though.  Ai yi yi yi yi.  The things we do for our canine kids, eh?!   But it's only for a few weeks, and it's critical for the pups' development. We'll gladly make do.

And since the pups will have more room to exercise, they're of course going to need continual access to drinking water. Today they met the water bowl.  :o) 

What follows are two brief videos taken today of the little squirts first exploring their water bowl (they all figured it out) and then stretching their wings a bit romping in the new pen.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, no we didn't put in a new floor. We bought a small roll of linoleum to lay beneath the puppy pen to protect our kitchen flooring from puppy piddles and water spills.  It's not pretty but it works, and we can roll it back up and store it for the next litter.

Regarding the second dilemma (exposure and acclimation to outdoor sounds): well, the pups are still getting exposure to all kinds of indoor sounds (vaccuum, blender, coffee grinder, table saw, hammering, pots and pans banging, telephones ringing, smoke detectors, TVs, radios, etc...). And I've carried them outside to hear birds and airplanes and wind chimes and big dog barks (and will continue to). People in Pennsylvania, however, don't weed-whack and mow their lawns February. 

The only thing I can think of to give them at least some exposure to outdoor noises they'll eventually encounter is to find recordings of lawn mowers and chain saws and weed whackers and such on-line and then play them for the pups. I don't have a clue what else to do. Any thoughts out there anyone?   

In the meantime, we'll keep at it. I'll try to get a more detailed developmental update on the blog by the end of the week.  Next up?  Solid food! 

'til next time,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Four Weeks Old Now!

Please forgive us, Regular Readers, for our inconsistency in blogging over the last ten days. We've had a few substantial things happen recently with loved ones (including but not limited to a death in the family and a surprising cancer diagnosis)  that have kept us occupied.

The little ones are fine and thriving, and they are turning into real puppies now! They're up on their feet, wagging their tales, seeing, hearing, playing with toys, romping, and chewing on each other (and biting each other's ears, which hurts with those sharp puppy teeth).  They're getting much more 1:1 time with us, apart from each other, and we're beginning gentle redirection on things like puppy biting and jumping to which they are responding quite well (they are *so* eager to please!). 

They're still nursing, but we'll slowly introduce them to solid food toward the end of this week with the goal of transitioning them completely by the time they're six weeks old. They should be weaned by their six-week-old vet visit for check-ups, vaccines, and deworming. 

This week, since it's supposed to be 60 degrees F here (quite unusual for early February), we'll probably try to more fully introduce them to the outdoors.  Just two days ago, on a sunny 50-degree day, I carried each outside to experience the feel of the sun and breeze and the sounds of planes overhead, wind chimes, and bird calls, but it was chilly for them, so we stayed outside only a minute or two with each pup.  All were appropriately timid at first but seemed to relax and enjoy the adventure.

Here are pictures of them now (all taken within the last two days--and don't forget that you can click on the photos to enlarge them):

I won't caption these (just for time's sake so I can get these up on the blog), but will try to provide more details this week sometime.  Thanks for you patience!


'til next time,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quick Pic Check-In (Just Over Three Weeks Old)

We sleep on our backs.

We climb.

We look for toys.

We wrassel.

We use our eyes more.

We have TEETH!

We strut.

We stretch.

We chew on each other.

We paw.

We sleep (we like corners and piles).

We investigate.

We're not quite brave enough to leave the den (aka, the whelping box) on our own yet, but we will be soon.

We love it when our humans sit in the whelping box with us.

But we play with each other, too.

Sometimes our teeth hurt.

We like toys to chew on (they help our gums feel better).

We love our humans (we even pee on their sweatshirts!). :O)

Humans' feet smell really interesting.

Toys smell different than what we're used to.

We investigate together (the herd!).

We grasp things with our tiny teeth now.

We like to spread out somtimes.

But we feel safer together for now.

Oh, and we can hear!  Our human made noises to see if we'd respond.

We couldn't quite find her, be we alerted! :)  

That's a quick report from the whelping box. :)  All is well.

'til next time,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wow! We've Turned into Puppies!

Though I know well that the third week of a pup's life is marked by huge milestones, I'm still amazed every time (like it's brand new) at the changes I see in each litter during this precious window of development.  It's like they turn into puppies (as most people think of puppies) overnight.

Here it is, Day 19 or 20 (depending on which pup we're talking about), and just look at what's happened:
  • Walking has become the preferred method of ambulation (instead of crawling).  Granted, it's still a drunken-sailor walk, but they're up on all fours!
  • Elimination and voiding (poo-ing and pee-ing) is now something they do on their own. Kenya is cleaning less; the humans are cleaning more. :)
  • The pups get up from where they're sleeping and waddle over to a different part of the whelping box to potty, then waddle back to the puppy pile. They're instinctively pottying in places other than where they sleep.
  • Their vision is becoming usable. When they "see" things now, they react appropriately with sniffs or puzzlement or growls or barks or pounces.
  • They recognize each other (oh boy, litter mates!). 
  • They play with each other. Okay, so it doesn't last very long, but they do "play" for short stretches.
  • They wrassle. :O)   
  • They're feeling secure with their humans, not just with Kenya.
  • They can pant and lap.
  • They have (ouch! for Kenya) teeth!  Their baby teeth are just poking through their gums, and just like human babies, this is uncomfortable for them.  They're beginning to feel the need to chew (look out world!). 
  • They've been introduced to ice cubes (oooo... feels good on sore gums). 
  • They can voluntarily sit, stand, roll over, scratch, paw, wag their tails, chew, investigate objects they "see" (still blurry, but visible), and are just beginning to climb.
  • This morning, I noticed that Master Green might be responding to sound, so I suspect their ears may be starting to unseal.
What follows are a few videos (can't think now exactly what's in each one) taken last night when all were fully 2.5 weeks old (they'll all be 3 weeks old in two days).  In these videos they cannot yet hear, but you'll see they're quite puppy-like otherwise.

One clip is much longer than I usually post (a full five minutes of "play"), but I couldn't resist since the pups were active for the entire time (a new record for them!).  The other two are shorter. :o)

So, here they are, the Plumpty Dumpties a 2.5 weeks old:

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Transitional Period: 14--21 Days

In my last post, I briefly mentioned that the pups had moved from the Neonate Period of development into what's called the Transitional Period: a short developmental stage of only one week that's loaded with change and milestones.

Here's what we can expect to see in the pups by the end of the week:

  • rapid improvement in their motor skills (standing, beginning steps, sitting, better control of their movement, etc.).
  • being able to eliminate on their own (Master Blue squatted and poo-ed all by himself yesterday; Master Red did so this morning; haven't caught Master Green doing so yet.. but I suspect he has since we occasionally find a rogue sesame stick -- what their poo looks like -- in the whelping box).
  • starting to move away from where they sleep to potty (it's instinctive, and this not-pottying-where-they-sleep instinct is the foundation of housebreaking later on).
  • wider range of movement (will crawl and walk around more while beginning to explore)
  • the beginning of real, voluntary tail-wagging.  :o) 
  • showing more interest in their littermates (pawing at them, chewing on them)
  • first teeth (these should erupt around Day 20)
  • first hearing (their ears should unseal around Day 20 or 21, sometimes earlier). We'll know their ears have unsealed with they begin to startle to loud noises.

And here's what we'll be doing during this important development stage:
  • We'll spend more 1:1 time with the pups, giving them individual interaction with humans and more socialization, but for only a few minutes at a time (they're still quite young).  
  • We'll also start putting them on different surfaces for one minute per day (probably when I need to move them out of the whelping box to clean it).
  • Later in the week we'll introduce them to a water bowl (they begin to "lap" during this stage as well).
  • We'll add bright colored objects and toys to the whelping box for their visual and sensory stimulation.
  • We'll "raise the drawbridge" (we'll put up the side of the whelping box that currently rests open to allow Kenya to come and go).  The pups have already shown some interest in what's outside of the box, so once they're more active we'll need to contain them (for their safety). 
  • Kenya will still be allowed to come and go with them as she pleases; she instinctively is already staying out of the whelping box for longer stretches of time. But we will give her more time apart from them.

Just so you can see how they're doing, here are a couple of videos of the pups I took this morning (I think I may have found a way to solve my video upload problem; guess we'll see, eh?):

This first one (less than 10 seconds) shows you Master Blue chewing on his brothers snout (they've become far more aware of each other):

This next one, the longest of the bunch, shows you the typical fuss-before-we-settle restlessness. It starts with all three of them settling in, but still restless. Master Blue starts fussing, then moves over toward Masters Red and Green.  Master Red has trouble rolling over. A little while into the video  you'll  see Master Green push himself backward and sit, and Master Blue chewing on Master Green. Master Red then starts meandering around a bit (and taking a peek outside of the whelping box) while he roams.  His noises are typical of the pups' settling-down fussiness (all of the pups do this, btw; I just happened to catch Master Red this time).

This last one captures the rest  of Master Red's exploration (you can see some beginning steps here) and his fussing while looking for his brothers (again, all the pups do this; it was just Master Red's turn this time), and you'll also see Master Green later in the clip "bark" in his sleep as Master Red finds them and settles down.

By the end of the week, they'll really look like puppies, complete with the abilities to walk, to see more functionally, to hear, to climb, to lap water, to poo and pee without stimulation, to interact with each other, and to explore their worlds.

Then the work *really* begins!

'til next time,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Puppy Report: Two Weeks Old

Well, the plumpty dumpties turn two weeks old over the next twelve hours.  And it continues to amaze me how quickly they develop.  Just look how far they've come in just fourteen days:
  • They've quadrupled their weights!
    • Master Blue, 15.5 ounces at birth, now weighs 4 lbs 1 oz.
    • Master Red, 16.5 ounces at birth, now weighs 4 lbs. 11 oz.
    • Master Green, 17 ounces at birth, now weighs 4 lbs. 6 oz.
  • Once only able to suckle (a natural reflex in newborns), they can now lick, yawn, and are just starting to gnaw on each other.
  • At first, they're only aware of their dams. Now they're beginning to discover themselves ("oh.. I have a paw and I can gnaw at it") and their littermates ("oh...he has a paw and I can chew on it").
  • For the first week to ten days, pups are unable to void or eliminate without their dam stimulating them. Now they're just starting (only just starting) to piddle and poo on their own. For now peeing usually happens as they pull themselves along on their tummies (and the gliding along the towel stimulates them to "go"), but occasionally, they're pooing on their own (not standing yet to do so, but eliminating all the same).
  • They've also begun to push themselves up onto four legs (quite wobbly, and not really standing yet, but up on all fours before toppling over).
  • They can move backward and forward (before they could only move in circles).
  • They can lift and move their heads left and right and up and down at will (before they could only "bob" their heads). 
  • They're consciously sniffing (putting their noses down to investigate).
  • They can just barely sit.  This usually occurs when the pups move backward.  They push themselves back with their front legs and end up on their bottoms.
  • Heehee... they can "bark" (though it isn't a controlled vocalization yet -- more a reflex).  I'm hoping to get a little bark on video -- it's too cute.
  • They can find the puppy pile, and enjoy piling together (part of a growing awareness of littermates)
  • AND they're eyes have unsealed (happened yesterday on Day 13, right on time!).

All of their eyes are blue (as they always are in newborns). They will turn brown later on as part of their normal development. They do not, however, have functional eyesight yet (that will come in time).  I call them little Mr. Magoos (does anyone remember the Mr. Magoo cartoons?),

They've also experienced other adventures as preparation for their life with humans (but only a teeny bit as too much stimulation during the first 10 days to two weeks can be detrimental).
  •  They've had their front nails trimmed twice (poor Kenya would be scratched to death otherwise)
  • They've had their rear claws trimmed once (just today for the first time as we wanted them to be able to "grip" or get traction with their back claws to aid in strengthening those hind legs).
  • They've been put on a scale regularly (twice a day for the first three days, once a day for the next week, now every couple of days as long as they look like they're thriving). 
  • They've almost completed Early Neurological Stimulation (something the military developed to increase stamina, focus, and disease resistance in their working canines). We done the following exercises with them daily since the day after their dew-claw removal, and will do so for another 2 days (until they're 16 days old). We do each exercise for only 3-5 seconds:
    • tickling their toes (all four paws) with a q-tip
    • holding them head-up perpendicular to the ground
    • holding them head down
    • holding them on their backs in the palms of our hands (so they're fully supported)
    • placing them on a cold damp cloth (usually when we weigh them).
  • They've been people handled and snuggled daily (apart from ENS exercises). 
  • They've had their color collars changed four times (for growth). 

Here are a few photos taken today.  Aren't they starting to look like puppies now???

Nursing is still our favorite activity.

But Momma Kenya is taking more breaks from us.  We're quite content to sleep without her.

We stretch a lot (and we can still look like little black bears).

We can sit for a couple seconds before we topple over.

Look, we have eyes!  Master Red was the first to have his eyes all the way open. But Green and Blue followed closely.

"YHmm... I think I see you over there...maybe...."

As the pups have grown and gotten more agile, Momma Kenya has changed her nursing style.  She sits often to nurse them now.  Later on, she will move to standing.

"Like my baby blue eyes? *wink wink* Aren't I handsome?!"

In this picture, you can see that their eyes are quite "cloudy" still.  Functional eyesight will develop over the next couple of weeks.

Master Blue has blue eyes, too. :)

Puppy pile!

Big yawn!

Three heads...?  The chew chain?

Master Blue: "Ooooo... Red has a paw and a tail that I can gnaw on!"

We may have made lots of progress but we're still just little squirts (still helpless and completely dependent on Kenya).

We like to snooze and snuggle together (provides warmth and security).  Sometimes we sleep on our backs, sometimes on our tummies, and sometimes on our sides.

Snuggle buddies (we still sleep 90% of the time).

So, there they are!  A whopping two weeks old.

And they are officially no longer neonates!

Now they begin what's called the Transitional Period (roughly 14 to 21 days).  This period begins when the pups eyes open and ends when they first startle to noise (meaning their ears unseal).  Much happens in this brief window of development; it lasts only one week.  I'll write more on that another day.

So far, so good. All is well.

'til next time,