At week 7 of her pregnancy Leeloo is almost at the end of one ordeal and the start of another - this also means the time is high for us to think about getting her whelping box ready. My Dad came over to help me build this one because I had pretty ambitious ideas about what I wanted it to look like and how it was going to function. It had to be simple, easy to clean, utilitarian and I needed to be able to take it apart for storage. When disassembled the whelping box looks thus:
So, with a plan of attack and material list in hand we headed to Central Home Building Supplies and they had everything we needed to build my whelping box. We started with 4 pieces of 12" x 1" x 4' pine board conveniently cut by the folks at Central. We also got piano hinges since they run the length of whatever they are hinging for added stability. The original idea was to have 3 pieces of wood hinged so it folded but that didn't end up working so we have two separate pieces hinged together but stored they lie flat. The hinges attached to the boards create an image thus (cat approved):
Then, with both ends open you insert the closet rods into the drilled holes to make pig rails. For those un-initiated, pig-rails prevent the momma dog from lying against the sides of the box and squashing a puppy between her and the boards, it is a very common tragedy but often avoided by the simple use of the rails.
I have to admit - the closet rails were a stroke of brilliance - I was going to use simple round dowel but the rods are smooth, easy to clean, durable and solid and in a cost comparison actually cheaper than dowel. My Dad suggested inserting dowels into closet rod holders and that led us to using actual closet rods. My Dad then just drilled holes the right size almost all the way through the box and the poles insert perfectly - they don't need anything but the pressure of the box being closed to hold them in place - nothing sticks out, nothing cumbersome, just plain and simple:
To hold the box shut we used simple hatch closures and yes, that is a screw in there until I can find something a little less scrounged. It does the trick for now and probably will do for years to come!
In a short few moments the whelping box was ready in all its splendour and the anti-fatigue pads in place ready to take the pressure off. I will be putting a tarp under the box but over the pads so that it's easy to clean and Leeloo can't pull up the foam. I specifically didn't want a bottom on the box because it would be just another unwieldy thing to store. I also lacquered the wood so that clean up is a snap and the green placenta goo doesn't stain it although I suspect that green goo won't be deterred by a few coats of lacquer. I know there are all kids of fancy whelping boxes out there and you can spend hundreds of dollars on them but this box cost me about $130 and it is made exactly to my requirements by the Most Amazing Dad in the World - no contest. I helped of course but a lot of the design problems were fixed by my Dad with considerably fewer tears than if I'd been working alone! He also helped me fix my washing machine, weed whacker and lawn mower on the same day we built this whelping box ... and no you can't borrow him!
And the Lady herself on week 7. The puppies are a little more active and she is not. She wants to sleep most of the time, attempts to have a bit of a gallop on our walks but only takes a few strides before remembering she has at least an additional 20-30 pounds to lug around. She is bound and determined to sleep in a ball but part way through her slumber she stretches out and groans with annoyance. Soon Leeloo you will have other things to worry about.