I should maybe go into a little detail about what is happening with pregnant Leeloo at this point. She is starving all the time. The puppies, however many are in there, are growing at a very rapid rate and Leeloo's food intake has increased to at least 2 and a half times what she'd normally get fed, this equates to just over 4 cups a day. As we get closer to her actual whelp date I'll increase that even more to make sure her body is able to keep up with the caloric demands of growing puppies.
She is now very uncomfortable and is no longer able to properly clean herself - it's kind of like a pregnant woman being unable to tie her shoes. Although Leeloo started out her pregnancy a little bit overweight, probably around 5 pounds or so, she is now about the weight I want to see on a pregnant bitch. Halo was a little under for her last litter so I am a bit paranoid, I like the bitch to have a little in reserve but not so much that she is obese. Leeloo's problem is now just puppy bulk, not body fat.
She is also losing the hair around her nipples. That just started in the last 24 hours. I was checking yesterday to see if the long hairs there were coming out yet and made a note that they were not. Lo and behold, today they are. Some hormonal trigger has caused her boobies to start to prepare for hungry mouths to feed and no one likes hair in their mouth! Her boobies are also approaching grotesque proportions but at least I know she will be well stocked to feed the army she is growing.
Tomorrow I start checking her temperature. If you don't know how to check a dog's temperature just imagine the least fun way to do it and bingo. I'll be checking it morning and night to get an idea of a baseline so I know when the drop occurs. A bitch will generally drop her temperature up to a degree within 24 hours of starting contractions, that drop means you better be ready! You get a baseline because if you don't know what it usually is you don't know what kind of a drop to look for - your temperature fluctuates during the day but is generally pretty consistent about when the variations occur (lower in the morning, higher in the afternoon etc) so if you know what is common you will then know what is uncommon.
I do expect Leeloo to whelp early, a lot of Ridgebacks do - and that puts High Alert two weeks from today. Anytime after June 15 we can expect her to whelp. Prior to June 15 would be surprising but not unheard of - certainly her cousin Rifka whelped a lot earlier than anyone expected! If a puppy is born prior to day 58 of its development then it is almost certainly too young to survive. Premie puppies are not like humans, their development is so rapid that critical stages in their development (like organs) must occur in the womb literally days before they are bor - if those don't occur in-utero, they might not occur at all. The closer we can get to 63 days the greater the likelihood of survival.
Leeloo is also nesting a lot. She is re-arranging cushions, pillows, blankets, dog beds and attempting to make anywhere that is soft 'more soft'. As long as she doesn't try to whelp the puppies on my down duvets I'm okay with that. She is going to get a look at her whelping box (as soon as I build it) and then she can nest to her heart's content! Until then though she will just have to suffer through the indignity of being fat, uncomfortable, needing to pee more often, starving 90% of the time and struggling to get onto the bed. Ah pregnancy ... sounds like fun.