Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Surprise and Farewell!

I woke up this morning thinking that all I had to do today was to organize everything for my mom to stay with the pups and Risk, pack the car, and wrap up work for the week. I am leaving tomorrow morning for the Gaylan's Field Seminar and Reunion in MD and will be gone for 5 days. It's not often that I leave puppies at this age but it was a matter of scheduling. I had to book the property for reunion before Risk came in season so I guessed when the pups would be born. My big fear was that the pups would be 7-9 weeks old during the reunion; at that age I simply cannot leave a litter. From 4 1/2 to 5 weeks, they are still pretty easy to handle so when Risk came in season and I calculated the whelping date, I asked my mom if she'd be willing to hold the fort down while I went away. Brave soul that she is, she said "Yes!"

Over the past few days, we've gone over the schedule and all was under control...until this morning. Risk finished her breakfast, climbed into the puppy pen and regurgitated for the pups. They dove in and enthusiastically cleaned up her breakfast in minutes. So much for all of my plans which did NOT include Mom feeding the pups solid food.

We decide when to introduce solid food based on three criteria: the dam's condition, the pups' growth ,and whether their dam is regurgitating for them. Two of these criteria pushed me to feed the pups earlier than normal. Typically we wait until the pups are 5 1/2 weeks old but Risk is struggling to maintain her weight, even on 6 pounds of food per day. The pups' weights are fine but I'm a great believer that dams know a lot, both about how their pups are thriving but also how their own body is doing. This morning, Risk made the feeding decision for me by giving the pups her breakfast.

We fed the pups Bravo ground chicken blend tonight and they dove in, eating 1.5 pounds of food in a few minutes. Tomorrow they will take on 4.5 pounds, 10 percent of the litter's combined weight. I'll bet they finish it all! Risk will continue to nurse the pups until she decides she is done; if she is like her dam and granddam, she will nurse the pups until they go home, which we think is very healthy for the pups.

I won't be blogging for the next five days but Mom has said she'll give it a try so stay tuned for her observations and insights on the pups. Photos and video will be going up, too. In fact, there are some posted from today. Enjoy and I'll see you when I get back.

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