Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fast Food Nation

Now that Halo is weaning the puppies they have discovered that food that is in the dish is basically limitless - or at least til the tummies are full. It's a bit of an oddity but they all gravitate toward the same dish - even though there are three dishes all with food in them. There is a dish here but it's covered with puppy trying to stuff food in as fast as possible. It's absolutely a genetic pre-disposition.

Yesterday the puppies went on an expidition into my bedroom closet where Halo's bed is located. They were just fascinated with it because it smelled like Halo and they stomped around and around in it sniffing like mad. They are only getting one feed a day from her now last thing at night so anytime they encounter her smell they get so excited. It's really adorable because they sniff really hard and push their noses into the blanket to get all the good smells up their noses. It's like they think she's hiding under the blanket or something.

This is Blue boy and Light Wheaton boy learning to counter surf early. Fortunately I have never had a problem with Halo or Raimi counter surfing so perhaps these guys are tapping some deep seated Ridgeback gene that Halo and Raimi are missing. I am not to blame of course if they end up being expert counter surfers in later years.

This is Light Wheaton girl trying to have a drink but they are still not experts. I make sure their food has lots of water in it so they are getting a good amount of fluid but real water in a dish seems to be more of a novelty that anything else. Once they are not getting any fluid from Halo they will start to drink more regularly.

Nothing beats Momma. Hands down. Now they can stand to eat it's become a feeding frenzy of unusual proportions. She doesn't move because it's a little awkward and when they are done she tries to walk away and all you hear is the pop pop pop of mouths unsticking from her boobs. Only 4 more days of her nursing them and then it's over. It will take about 4 days for her to 'deflate' and then she'll tighten up fairly quickly. I can tell already that she's producing way less milk and once they're weaned she'll be her svelt self once again.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Hit List

Here we are with Miss Green. She is a wheaton but will not have a mask. She is a very spunky independent little girl who only seems to realize that when you pick her up she likes it. She's very adventurous and makes her way to new territory without checking with anyone to see if it's okay. She does not stand out as a big personality because she prefers to be self-sufficient but it doesn't make her a wallflower in any way. Once she is picked up she loves a good cuddle and will fall asleep snuggled in your arms.

Miss Maroon will be a red wheaton with nice black pigment.She is special since she has the letter M on her chest - it was a total coincidence that I put the Maroon color on her but it suits! She is a follower and likes to make sure someone else has tested the waters before dipping a toe in. This was her investigating Raimi's bed and probably feeling a little over-whelmed by the sheer size.

Red Boy will be a light wheaton with a bit of dusting over his muzzle and around his eyes. He is a lot like Green girl in that he likes to do it his way but definitely enjoys a snuggle and a kiss or two. He's a big boy and will be nice and sturdy but will retain the Ridgeback's natural agility that lends itself well to chasing squirrels and guarding the yard from rogue cats.

Mr Black is going to be a Raimi clone. He's a very good boy who likes to investigate new things if they are in his comfort zone but generally follows close behind any new fun that someone else is discovering. He doesn't like a lot of picking up as he's quite big but does enjoy a lap cuddle and will give good kisses if you offer a cheek or chin.

White boy aka Buddha Boy will be a nice wheaton is the only puppy who will have a large black mask. He's a cutie for sure. He is the first puppy to puts himself to bed when he's had enough play and sits on the bed waiting for everyone else to catch up. He can EAT as evidenced by the fat tummy displayed here(no he's not pooping - he's standing like that because he's so fat it's hard to stand properly).

Ah Miss Pink, already doing grown up dog things. She is a delight I tell you and personality plus. She's in your face and telling you she wants whatever is you're doing to be something she is doing. Whenever something is happening that involves fun or frolic she's right in the middle of it or on her way. She is one pretty girl and certainly knows what she wants.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meet the Fockers

Time to introduce some of the players in this little production. I'll start with half today and get the other half tomorrow as they are twelve and rather a lot to cram into one day.

Yellow girl is a red wheaton with a very small black mask - she'll just have a dusting of black around her nose and eyes. She has a white patch with a big brown spot in the middle so technically it's not even really a patch - more of an abstract sort of U shape. She's a spunky little girl and a definite show prospect. She can certainly hold her own in this crowd.

Ah Orange boy. He is the CPR puppy who made a come back. He's going to be a wheaton with no masking at all - just dark pigment like Raimi. He will never be a large dog but will be extremely athletic and he's really really smart - he likes to go under the futon in the puppy room but today he learned that he doesn't really fit under there anymore - he got under but couldn't get out. He's very spunky, the first to go exploring, but loves his cuddles as he was hand fed for the most days out of the lot. Oh and he's a really good kisser.

Light wheaton boy will be a light wheaton with some masking but not a lot. It will be a nice accent to his face. He has got some kind of charm that puppy. He's not as heavily built as some of the other puppies and he can move pretty fast for such a little guy. He's about middle of the pack with size and while he's not a trouble maker he does hold his own when he needs to. He's more of a sit and think sort of guy - thought before action is his MO.

Pale Pink girl will be a wheaton with a small black mask. She is the eater. In fact one could say it's almost her profession - just like the Momma. She's always been kind of a porker but since she discovered that the food in the dish is basically limitless she has effectively gorged herself. She is a little adventurer who makes it known that she has something to say most of the time. Usually what she has to say is "Pay attention to me" and generally gets her way. When she discovers somethign new it is investigated and then chewed on.

Blue boy is pretty handsome - he's one of the show prospect puppies - he'll be a wheaton with a small black mask. Essentially he's Raimi with a mask - kind of like a Batman Raimi. He stands out because he's a pretty good size - the only other puppy that compares is Black boy in size. He is very adventurous and likes to find new and far away places to poop. He doesn't often win a fight tho as he can be a bit of a push over but will step in as the heavy hitter when it's two on one.

Light Wheaton girl is going to be a very pretty blonde. Unlike the blonde stigma she is one smart cookie. So far she's the only puppy who reliably goes back into the pen to pee or poo even when she's playing outside the pen. She is an independent sort and likes to get picked up for kisses but she doesn't really seek them as much as some of the others. This may be because she was the only puppy who was never ever suplemented - always the one with the fat tummy and I never ever worried about her.
Tomorrow we will meet White, Green, Black, Dark Pink, Maroon and Red.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

About a Boy

The Boy has come to terms with the puppy invasion. Finally. He thinks there's some possibility that these little things might prove useful in some way. He has been playing gently with them - although the time I turned around to find a puppy head entirely enveloped by his mouth was a little disconcerting. He never grabs hard, respects the noise they make if he's too rough and I am of course, always present to supervise. His care and attention rivals Halo's in that he watches where he puts his feet, minds them enough to get onto the couch to be out of their way and actually plays with them ... not like Momma who prefers to scope for missed pieces of food and poop. It's good he's changed his tune as he hasn't been to the park in a few days due to circumstances and the weather so at least he has some level of amusement.

I must say - all things considered - he still does not realize he cannot fit in my lap - even his head is a bit of a squeeze - tho he does try. He seemed to be telling me "See Momma? I still fit." Poor guy - soon he will have his house back and more importantly ... me.

I had 4 puppies in my lap in this photo - they all came and piled on and Raimi decided that if it was lap time he as all in. Everyone fell and sleep and Raimi happily gazed at me with adoring eyes. He is my Handsome Boy.

He likes to take a good sniffy at them too when he thinks they won't mind - it' s like an investigation where he feels he won't get caught looking. The second they move to look back he pretends he was doing something else.
He is such a patient understanding Boy and he really is a great dog to have around puppies as he's very mellow. He listens to me really well and backs off when he's told to ... soon he will not know what happened to the slow stumbly puppies and will be running away from them in a panic.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Staying Alive

Still alive. Been busy with various puppy related tasks and for the first time since before Christmas I was able to get out of the house for a few hours last night and have dinner at a friend's house. Raimi and Petal came and Raimi played like mad with her two dogs. Well, Raimi played, Petal supervised.

The camera has pooped out on me so I can't upload new pics to the computer - how frustrating. Everyone is still growing like weeds and are finally throwing themselves into the food dishes with aplomb. The food consumption seems to match the food excretion and there's a lot of cleaning up being done.

Finally there are a couple who are taking to the water and sticking their little noses in and kinda sorta drinking. The rest of them seem to think the water dish is where they stop to clean the pee and poop from their feet before stumbling back to bed.

Paper training progresses pretty well, if they are in the pen and realize they have to go they run onto the paper - if they are not in the pen then it's a sh!t show. Literally. I try to catch them just as act one begins (deciding where to poo), carry them to the pen for act two(preparing the bowels) and act three (poo debut). Sometimes there's an encore of more poo but usually it's just one curtain call and off to play again. Peeing involves far less preparation and is usually something I can't catch in time. It's a good thing generally because peeing doesn't typically stop when you pick them up - they just keep going and leave a trail dribbling behind them.

It occurs to me that the inner workings of puppies and dogs probably shouldn't hold so much interest but it is a general rule of thumb that if everything is going in and coming out normally ... you're pretty healthy. Nothing like a change in out-put to set off alarm bells. That's why the passage of the diarrhea incident has me sleeping better.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Avishkaar (Discovery)

It would appear that the expression on Halo's face says "Ouch!" but actually this is her reaction to me telling her to stay put and not move a *&^$%#@* millimetre. We have this discussion every single time. The same facial expression occurs every single time. Halo can now stand to feed them which she seems to prefer - probably because it doesn't involve any effort on her part. They sort of hang there and use each other to brace against and suck away.

The puppies are discovering themselves; they now know they have tongues, legs, feet, and tails. They have also realized that not only do they have feet, tails etc but their siblings do too.

This has resulted in an explosion of play. There is a lot of paw waving and staring at each other to judge distance for paw waving. Normally they misjudge the distance when a puppy walks by and it results in a failed tackle. Generally there's a lot of falling sideways and knocking each other over. They are kind of like bowling pins with a chain reaction affect.

A popular item seems to be feet. Red boy was particularly interested in his feet yesterday and thought they might taste good. I suspect not as they have been walking through a lot of runny poo and I'm no expert but runny poo never struck me as palatable. He eventually gave up on his examination but I think it was more lack of interest than taste. Light Wheaton girl also gave one of her front feet a good going over but there seemed to be more of a removal process than anything else - perhaps there was something stuck to her foot - along the lines of runny poo maybe.

Siblings hold significant interest - when they are tired and don't really want to expend energy running around and toppling over, they lay in a big pile on the comfy bed and mouth at eat other. This holds true into adulthood as Halo and her friend Zoe would play for an hour at the park running and then when they were tired they would lie down in the grass and knash teeth and wave their feet in play. Must be a lazy Ridgeback thing.

The other thing, of course, that holds boundless interest is me. According to Puppy I am made up of hands, feet and a face to lick. All else is superfluous. My hands are of most interest because often they are the provider of things that are edible, my fingers are not but it's always worth a try.

It seems to be an instinct that puppies recognize cheeks as supremely lickable because the second you put a puppy face to your cheek they lick like mad. Noses count too but the cheek and chin are the preferred location for puppy kisses. And boy do I love those kisses.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Punch Drunk Love

At least now I know I can take a punch. Going to the dog park with Raimi certainly has its hazards and today we added another mental note. That note being - take a kleenex with you to staunch the flow of blood. From your nose. After you've been scratching a Raimi bum and he bounces up to "thank" you for the attention. He bounced away all happy and came back to bounce some more. Meanwhile I was staggering and thinking it must be cold out because my nose is running a lot. Then it occurs to me ... what color I wonder is the "running"? We had to go straight home because I didn't have a way to stop the blood. The walk was only about 13 minutes long. Seems long enough as he is sleeping soundly with Petal but it could also be the beat down he gave me that was so exhausting.

I haven't posted since Sunday because I've been busy cleaning up a lot of runny puppy poo. I spend the balance of my time worrying about runny poo. The main concern I have is dehydration as diarrhea can dehydrate you quite a bit and when you're a tiny puppy you can get sick pretty fast. Fortunately it just seems to be a bug running through them ... I think. If anyone gets listless or starts vomiting it's off to the vet we go.

Honestly I am not sure I can take much more in the way of not eating, gunky eyes, diarrhea, not eating again ... I am beginning to feel that the first litter was a dress rehearsal and this litter is the live show. I don't have any new pics to post but I've put in some from the past couple days to tide you over. Somehow puppy diarrhea doesn't seem cute.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Play's The Thing

More playing today - well more play involving each other and people. They are now responding to voices to encourage them to show affection and their eyes light up and they kiss and wag tails. I talk like that to Raimi a lot so he comes running to see what sort of cuddles he gets. Imagine his disappointment.

I try to make sure he gets a good squeeze after I'm done with babies so that he doesn't feel too jealous. He makes sure to get his cuddles in from Petal though.

Earlier he was cleaning out the left over puppy dish and it didn't occur to me til after he'd pretty well licked off the finish that the two puppies who were poking their noses in while he was eating might have been in danger. Some dogs have a real thing about food but Raimi just kept licking away and ignored the two puppies altogether. Raimi is such a good stable fellow to have around.

The cat has finally introduced herself to the puppies. It's taken her some time to get around to being in the room while they are out. I think she was hoping that if she ignored them they would just go away. I can't imagine she doesn't remember the last litter - she definitely teased the last bunch and I have no reason to suspect she won't do the same again - although I suspect she may be in a little over her head with this crowd. There are almost double the number from last time so she better be prepared.

Petal has also seen her way to making more introductions to the puppies. Halo only takes offense when Petal comes round when they're nursing, otherwise she doesn't seem to much mind, I just make sure to keep and eye on them. Petal respects Halo's mothering skills and tries to only look at the puppies that are wandering off in the corners. You'd think those ones Halo would worry most about since they are not protected in her the fold.

Sleep is also a primary task associated with puppy life and fortunately they do it well indeed. Although, the choice of some sleep postiions baffles me.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Breakfast Club

Every time I go in the see the babies when they are sleeping the same thing happens when I speak. Picture a pile of puppies all comfy and fast asleep and the moment I say "Baaaabiieeeesssss" their heads all pop up and suddenly there is a swarm of puppihood seething across the pen. They all head to the paper to have a military drill pee and then stumble around looking for the exit to where they know their mom waits in a DOWN ... STAY to feed them. I promised I would capture this unique phenomenon and so I have. I missed the beginning part but the effect is pretty self- explanatory.

Here is Blue Boy telling the bee toy just what he thinks of it.

Tonight ... success on a somewhat relieving scale - I seem to have hit on a puppy food that is universally popular - so much so that even No Ribbon boy suddenly start eating it. I shoved some food under a light wheaton nose thinking it was No Ribbon girl and the puppy just started eating. When I realized it was the boy I was madly keeping the food flowing and trying not to distract him from his task - when he got full and lost interest I decided not to push it. We'll see if he's changed his mind in the morning.

Orange boy also decided it was time to start eating solid food again after a few days of going off it. He happened to wander over and start licking the paper which had puppy food smooshed on it so I took a fingerful of food and put it under his nose. He started to lick and decided he liked it. Let me tell you I had tears brewing. Phew. He was starting to look a little raggedly because he's not getting the full tummy everyone else is. Halo is producing less milk now and he could not seem to fill up so was getting ribby. Hopefully now he will plump up like everyone else. Even Maroon who has gone off the solid also tried some this afternoon and we seem to all be in the same chapter now if not quite the same page.
When one compares the photos from a couple weeks ago the effect is pretty drastic. Poor Halo doesn't have a chance against the madly ravenous crowd. This was breakfast this morning ... a Starbucks line has nothing on these patrons.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Life Is Beautiful

So it's Friday. Oh thank gawd. I'm exhausted - mostly from worry and stress over the puppies. Everyone is fine and running around like maniacs ... well ... as well as they can given their lack of walking practice. Some more puppies aren't eating - they seem to be passing a little eye infection to each other and while it clears up after about 48 hours I think it makes them go slightly off the solid food. They will always eat from Halo so not to worry - solid food is a big step.

Here we have Orange Boy who reminds me of Piglet. He's a really sweet little boy and is content to be picked up anytime and settle into your arms to snuggle. He had an explore of the closet which is Dark and Dangerous Territory when you're Very Small.

The biggest won't eat culprit is No Ribbon boy who is a very pretty boy. Somehow, despite his lack of solid intake, he manages to stay plump and naughty. It doesn't matter how many times you shove a piece of food in his face it's nothing doing - he clams up and won't consider it. Maybe if fingers were on the menu he'd change his mind.

They are starting to give kisses and play more now, Pale Pink even play bowed and wagged her tail at a fold in the towel. I picked up Maroon girl and she was kiss kiss kissing my cheek - likely looking for food but it's nice to get little puppy kisses whatever the reason. I loooooove puppy breath. It smells a little sweet and warm - so nice.
Must feed babies soon and then make our way to bed - I can't wait to be asleep. It's been a very exhausting week brain-wise.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Escape from Alcatraz

So here's a few pics of the ex-pen post fiasco. This is one attempt. The cat approves. Not really - she is very patient tho and was waiting for someone to let her out. Eventually one of the permutations resulted in a gap for her to escape through. Phil was waiting for the impressive jump to get out. It never happened but I've seen it ... she can jump straight over. When you really need her on one side she can easily get to the other. It's all about motivation.

This is the final result. The puppies are happily napping and the pen is nice and large for them to wander in. It seems to be working well, no one has made a break for it and everyday the pen is exactly where I left it when I come in from work. Seems to be a success after 48 hours. Give it another few weeks and we'll see how it pans out. I still think they are going to think of something we haven't.

I Love Trouble

This is the height of comfort if you are a puppy.

Aaaaaanyway ... last night Raimi got in the worst trouble he’s been in so far in his short life. He took one of my shoes into the livingroom and was chewing on it while I was feeding the puppies. Normally I put the shoes up high when I get home but for some reason I took them off and left them on the floor. He chewed a part of the outer leather off them but they are still wearable – you’d only really notice the damage if you were looking for it. Did I mention they were $250 leather boots? Ya. Soooooooo … lots of trouble and lesson learned(by me).

Raimi has reached the teenage part of Ridgeback life. For anyone who’s never owned a Ridgeback the cycle starts with an 8 week old puppy who is adorable and starts learning the rules of the house and manners. Five month old puppy knows the rules and follows them quite well. It then occurs to 9 month old puppy that perhaps the rules aren’t written in stone and for the next few months test them to see if any have changed. It’s almost like they have completely forgotten the rules and you are now dealing with a very large stubborn independent dog with the mentality of an 8 week old puppy. All training must start again from scratch. They push the boundaries of your patience and the limits of your restraint when you discover $250 shoes with irreparable damage.

This goes out to all the people who have never owned a Ridgeback but are considering getting one: PATIENCE and CONSISTENCY are extremely important. I’m sure many a Ridgeback has ended up in a new home as a result of this stage of their development. You must be prepared for this – no one is immune. Not even me and my shoes.

My situation is exacerbated by the litter that takes the attention away from Raimi and he does not like it. He is behaving like a brat and while I make sure to love him and Petal up real good while the puppies are nursing or sleeping but he doesn’t think that’s enough. Given also the fact that part of his punishment for shoe destruction was no park visit we now have a frustrated boy. Tonight will be a good blast at the park and hopefully take the edge off.

So I tried a new puppy food yesterday thinking the Royalty in the litter would take to it. Nothing doing. Well, not quite true, they both ate several pieces and then decided against it. They are trying more and more solid food everyday so I’m hoping soon they’ll be diving in like the rest of them. I also discovered that the rest of the litter do not LIKE the new food and I have to go back to the original. Sigh. Honestly, these are Ridgebacks for gawdsakes – they should eat everything. You’d think they’d inherit their mother’s propensity for eating pretty well whatever’s put in front of her(except lettuce but couches are okay). The puppy is Miss Princess Pink, one of the "I think that is poison" puppies.

I’ll try to get some pictures of them learning to play. They are still very stumbly but attempts are being made to chew on each other’s feet, wave paws in faces and generally realize there is more to life than sleeping and eating. It’s as cute at is sounds.