Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Ba-ack!

Two hours ago, I got home from the presentation that I have been working so hard on. Life will be returning to normal around here! It was such a pleasure to take the dogs for a walk and then do a little training this afternoon. Even Dreamer got to participate and she was elated. By the time the pups are four weeks old, most moms are ready for some excitement, even if it's just some heeling and a walk in the woods. After spending 10-14 hours a day sitting at my computer for the past nine days, I get it!

My thanks to all who pitched in to get the pups, Dreamer, Una, Corey, Andy and I through this craziness. Rosie and Lise came and stayed so they could manage the pups during the day. Marcy took care of Lise's dogs to free her up. Nancy packed orders, cleaned up after pups and walked my other dogs so they wouldn't lose their minds. Blanche took Una out training. And, as always, Andy created fabulous meals, stoked the stoves and generally kept the place running. My love and thanks to you all!

So, the High litter is four weeks old! How cool is that. In a month's time, the pups have begun to see and hear, become very mobile, can now control their body temperature, and are engaging in social interactions with each other and other dogs. They are still quite near sighted (remember my Mr Magoo still fits) and have trouble locating sound but they are developing those senses more and more every day. They have some startle reflex (which doesn't exist in the first few weeks) but don't have much in the way of fear so they have to be protected from the world around them. They are also limited in what they can learn but if lessons are tied to their primary reinforcers (food, water, cleanliness), they can learn some things. So, at this point, they are learning to recognize the various ways that we call them and beginning housebreaking.

The pups have become so good at potty training that I'm rewarding them with more space today. We proceed slower than some breeders in giving our pups space to live in so that housebreaking is ingrained in them by six weeks or so. I figure they get tons of play time out of the pen so they aren't deprived if we limit their space inside the pen. Today, they have hit the potty box 100% of the time when pooping and close to 80% when peeing. I'm thrilled with that!

They are nursing standing up now, which is very difficult for pups this age and size but is important to their physical development. It is so difficult to access mom, I think the calories required to accomplish nursing may be equal to or even greater to what they take in. But they are learning to stand on their hind legs, balance, adapt to mom's movements and the pushing and shoving of their siblings. They are also learning that the early bird gets the worm; if they are slow to realize Dreamer is there, they tend to get stuck with the more poorly producing teats.

Some of you have asked why we started feeding the pups earlier than we normally do. I made the decision after two days of no weight gains despite having access to Dreamer 20 hours a day to nurse. At that point, Dreamer was eating 10 pounds of food each day yet was rail thin, well under an appropriate weight even for a nursing bitch. Yet the pups were a pound behind where I wanted them to be and not gaining. So, I fed them and they haven't looked back. Although not quite up to my prefered weights, they are gaining rapidly so my concern has lessened.

The pups are eating ground meat, bone, organs and vegetables with grains, salmon oil, probiotic and a general multi-vitamin supplement. They love turkey and beef, like chicken and lamb but were unimpressed with pork. They have access to water but unlike our pups who eat a bit later, are thus far not interested in it. Dreamer must be providing them all the hydration they need. Yes, they are still nursing many times each day and will continue to do so until they go home.

That brings you up to speed on the babies. Enjoy the photos and video from this week!


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