Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sleepy Hollow

I know I've mentioned the puppies sleep a lot. Sleeping comes right after eating so once Leeloo has satiated their hungry demands, they gradually drop off to dreamland. Once that starts to happen I pop them back into the whelping box to keep them contained until the next round. Usually there's some stumbling about before falling into a milk induced coma but before the sleeping is always the yawning and puppy yawns are unmatched in the adorable department.

Yawns happen a lot when puppies have overdone the excitement and need their sleep. In this case excitement was in the form of wrestling against their siblings for a spot at the milk bar. Heady stuff when you're not even 3 weeks old.

Sleeping is incredibly important to puppies because while they sleep they grow. Overnight they not only appear to have gotten bigger, they actually do. This is why when you add a puppy to your life - although it's very tempting - you shouldn't really drag them to everyone's house for a visit. If they are not sleeping, they are not developing, or rather, they are trying to learn and develop at the same time - rather hard work for a puppy. It's best to have people visit you for the first little while so that puppy has a chance to take time-outs in their safe zone and it's much easier to establish good habits.

Added to which, a puppy who is asleep is not peeing on your floor, chewing a rug, chasing the cat, unlacing a shoe, unravelling a toilet paper roll, finding your dirty laundry or ripping apart that library book you forgot to return. A good puppy is a sleeping puppy.

A sleeping puppy is perfection - all soft downy fur, shiny black pads, wet little nose,  folded up ears, wrinkles of thought, tiny curled whiskers and baby frowns of concern. They are all these things and more when they are awake - the more being a dash of extremely naughty! So love the sleeping puppy with all your heart ... and try call it to mind when you find a room full of shredded library book.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wall Street

At only 17 days the puppies are already trying to get out on their own. It shows impressive determination for such a young dog who can barely walk, hear or see to attempt to climb out of their box to get to their mother. However, no matter how they cry or wail or careen about the box, Leeloo simply watches them and waits for me to 'serve' them to her. She reclines on her new memory foam dog beds and awaits the mob. Sad puppy faces have no effect on her insistence that the puppies nurse where she is most comfortable.

In a way I don't mind because it means I can control how and when they feed - this despite the 4am feeding demands. A part of me, no matter that they are almost 3 pounds each, still knows that if Leeloo leans on one she can squash the air right out of its lungs and it would only take a minute of inattention. A horrible thought to be sure but it's graphic enough to make me cautious. It's the same reason I don't just put a dog bed in with the puppies for her to lie on, if a puppy goes under the bed, or the towel, or behind Leeloo while she's feeding them, it's game over. No one wants their life to be cancelled when the fun has barely begun.

If people ask me when I stop worrying about them the usual answer is when they are in someone else's arms on their way to a new home. Truthfully though I never stop worrying. In the recent past I've had good reason to question my own judgement so with these last two litters I've tried to be painfully diligent to make sure the homes they go to are responsible and will consider the dog's welfare as a priority. It only takes one bad home to make you question why you breed, fortunately 35 other amazing families have steadied my faith in humanity and common sense and I think the upcoming 9 will probably solidify it. Plus, a little karma goes a long damn way.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Complicated

I can't remember if I mentioned that Cora is in heat. She started a week ago and I realized very quickly that she has heats like her grandmother Halo. This is not a good thing. Halo blew into heat like a trainwreck and left blood and carnage in her wake. She stank, she required panties full time and when she was ovulating she smelled like something that had died in the tropics several days ago. We're not to that point yet but rest assured, Cora does not smell like a bouquet right now and I can't imagine it getting any better soon. Despite the Ode de' Death her father is very interested and I can't imagine anything worse than him breeding her so we are taking extra precautions these days. She is also forced to wear the Panties of Shame which she actually doesn't seem to mind that much - possibly because she discovered almost right away that if I'm not watching her she can eat the pad out of them. Digest that image if you will.

 She has also been allowed by Leeloo to look at the puppies. Leeloo's motherly duties have relaxed of late and looking is okay, sometimes smelling is okay but interacting with them is strictly verboten at this point particularly if they are with Leeloo and nursing. Cora's interest remains peaked and she's in for a lovely surprise once they start running around. 'Lovely' and 'surprise' being relative.

And judging by the progress I am seeing in just the past couple days that will be very soon indeed! Mr Blue knew his Momma was somewhere close by but couldn't get to her. Where there's a will ...

Miss Yellow decided to wait her turn and earned bonus points for sitting pretty. Look at that lovely dome, let's hope there's more brains in there than her father! Who am I kidding? She's a girl, she's bound to be smarter than Daddy Boy!

Or not. Whoops. It's okay to take a tumble when we're learning something new. If we're lucky there will be someone to catch us - sometimes it's a stranger, sometimes it's a friend and sometimes it's your sister, Miss Lime.

The whelping box is almost too small now for these guys to explore, just about another week or so and I'll have to upgrade them to a larger area. Once they start thinking about climbing out all bets are off! I took out two of the pigrails to make more room and left the two on the sides Leeloo is most likely to lie against. I'm ever conscious of the danger of Leeloo lying on one and will only rest easy when she is denied access to them during the day ... or when they are more mobile and can see better!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Red Sunset

Some puppies get more face time than others, they just seem to wander in front of the camera more often than their siblings for whatever reason. I know I've been missing Red, Yellow and Orange on a few blogs so I'll endeavour to catch up. Miss Red was the last one in the whelping box to get jammed into the mad scramble to eat so I took a few photos of her demanding to know where everyone went. They keep this dopey stoned look for a few weeks until their eyes clear up and they can see further. Until then their depth perception is off and they tend to run into things - fortunately they can't go very fast.

They don't have much sense of space and can't do more than stumble their way across the box hoping to bumble into each other or their mother. A couple of them are responding more to light and movement and they can all sort of hear. They certainly respond to my voice when I speak and are learning to associate me with being put with Leeloo to be fed. They learn very early who controls the food and it's not Leeloo!

Miss Red certainly has her opinions! This was the tail end of a yawn but it looks more like an oncoming sneeze. Or a derisive laugh ...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Literally everyday the puppies are making leaps and bounds in their development. Where yesterday someone's eyes weren't even open, today they are completely open. This morning someone wasn't really walking, this evening someone is almost running across the towel. It's remarkable how fast they develop considering our own human experience. Miss Pink discovered the joys of fingers just a few minutes ago, once those jaws have teeth I will be less inclined to stick my hands in them.

Miss Pink had a moment with her Mommy; aren't they sweet? Leeloo was trying to lick her face and Miss Pink was slightly misdirected about where the food stations where. Still, it's a nice Mother/Daughter moment.

But not as nice as this one.

Speaking of rapid development, Mini has skipped a few steps in the learning curve and gone straight to walking. I wasn't sure how long it would take her and thought perhaps she was actually behind everyone a day or two but in less than 24 hours her eyes have gone from almost completely closed to completely open and from seal hopping across the towel to wobbly running. Here she demonstrates hurdling Momma's leg.

Leeloo likes to use the little Stay Puft puppies as pillows which makes sense given how chubby they all are.

They also use each other as pillows and Mr Blue and Miss Purple smother Miss Red in sibling slumber. I'm sure she didn't mind considering how cozy she must be under there.

The room at the bar is getting more and more crowded and feeding time has turned into more of a frenzy of late. Fortunately it takes them less time to eat now because they are bigger and can eat faster and that means they are well into nap mode within about 20 minutes. A blessing for both Leeloo and me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Lot Like Love

I hope you are ready for lots of photos today because I went to Crazy Town with the camera. Still, eyes are barely open and there is lots of sleeping but Cute has come to stay in this joint. Miss Orange spend some quality cuddle time with Leeloo this morning after they had breakfast together. I'd love to have a nap after breakfast too, especially considering Leeloo's demands to go out and poop every two hours. It's like she has a timer or something.

There's an eye! Miss Yellow's eyes are very close to being totally open and a couple other puppies are at this stage as well. Miss Purple is the only puppy who has both eyes open all the way - it doesn't surprise me, Miss P strikes me as an 'early bloomer'. Look at the fat little head on Miss Y, she is certainly going to be a lovely gal.

Miss Red shows off her wrinkles. I wish it was like this for people - the puppies start out with all these wrinkles and as they age the wrinkles disappear. And see her cute flopsy ear? Their ears are now growing faster than any other part of their body, by the time they are 8 weeks they will be twice the size of their heads.

And who can forget Mini? She seems to manage to ingratiate herself into every photo shoot. Here we can see all that white! She also has an 'outie' belly button but that should recede as she grows. She does seem to be a bit behind everyone else in the eye department, hers only just started opening today whereas everyone else's started last Friday or Saturday.

Miss Pink certainly knows how to party. Gorge yourself at the milk bar and this is what happens. Such a shame. I hope she doesn't wake up with a calcium hangover.

Oh look, it's Mini again. This time she's getting a bath from Momma Leeloo. I think Leeloo was cleaning off her milk moustache.

There's no shortage of unusual sleeping positions. Mr Blue made himself into a little pretzel and fell fast asleep sitting up. He's definitely learning to find the best sleeping positions early.

Just look at those feet. Little black pads with tiny little toes. It's hard to imagine that one day those tiny feet will be the same size as Leeloo's. This is Miss Yellow who stretched herself out along Leeloo's leg ... she has plenty of that to go around!

Here's Mini ... again. She is next to Miss Behemoth Purple who is the largest puppy. The other puppies fall in the middle of these two as regards size. Miss Purple is just a 'big boned' gal but sleeping next to Mini doesn't help her case much.

The Mayhem after the feed. Leeloo now demands that when she feeds the puppies they must be on the dog bed. She lies down and waits for me to present her with nine hungry mouths. This happened with the last litter too but not intentionally. I had a dog bed next to the whelping box to put the puppies on it to clean them out, Leeloo lay down next to them, they started to nurse and the rest is history. Clearly Leeloo remembers the protocol and insists that puppies now get fed on the dog bed. I think I just made more work for myself.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Fast and the Furious

The bigger the puppies get the faster they can eat and that means milk moustaches for everyone. Mini has the 'Got Milk?' face down to an art and her brother Mr Blue isn't too far behind. The side effect of eating fast and furious is a fat little tummy. Sometimes the puppies get so round in the belly that they could probably just roll everywhere.

You start to worry sometimes that they'll pop but I haven't seen a puppy yet who managed that. Even so, when they are as pot-bellied as Mini is in this photo you wonder whether they have an off switch or not. They keep eating even when they are beyond capacity - I think they don't realize they're full right away and the instinct to keep eating as long as possible is stronger than the off button for their tummy.

The end result of eating is always the same no matter who you are. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can accomplish both incoming and outgoing at the same time! Leeloo is here to help but the past few days have seen the puppies start to go potty on their own. My tenure with clean up duties is about to start! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arrested Development

The first 10 days or so of a puppy's growth are not very interesting, they just get fatter and bigger but they don't really do anything of interest besides eat and sleep. From today onward though several things start to happen that accelerate as time goes on. Their eyes start to open from the inside corner to the outside - Miss Purple's eyes are completely open now - but they can't see very well for at least another week or so. Their ears start to open which means no more vacuuming without disturbing them. They also start to walk, sort of a seal hop to start, then halfway standing and wobbling and then, in short order, running through the house with a roll of toilet paper. It's easy to exclaim how cute they are right now but to me they are just this side of boring. They don't do anything of interest and they certainly don't interact with you. People keep saying how busy I must be but I'm actually not, the real work for me starts in about a week when they need to learn to eat mush and are walking with a little more confidence. Right now Leeloo is still pretty well in charge.

The space at the bar is certainly restricted these days, they don't much appreciate Leeloo curling around them when they're trying to eat, it squashes them together and makes it harder to reach their goal. Soon enough I'll be supplementing their meals with soaked dog food and once that happens Leeloo's burden will be eased. Until then she handles the brunt of the attack with as much patience as she can muster ... it can't be easy feeding nine!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Size Matters

A side effect of having puppies, according to Leeloo anyway, is some pretty bad gas. Never mind eating 9 placentas and their varying afterbirths, eating up to 10 cups of food a day plus supplementing it with puppy poop and pee, is bound to turn your digestive system upside down. At this point Leeloo can clear a room, or rather, clears me out of a room, and when she comes to sleep on the bed I insist she points that cannon away from me. I don't think the other dogs appreciate it much either. Despite the gas attacks Leeloo continues to take exemplary care of her charges and at 10 days old they are right on track for their eyes starting to open and learning to walk.It's hard to catch them trying to walk since it's mostly falling but by the end of the weekend I expect to see everyone stumbling around the whelping box like little drunken sailors. Maybe Miss Lime dreams of the day she will be chasing squirrels.

Mostly they still sleep now but the cute quotient has increased exponentially in the last couple days. Once their eyes are open all bets will be off. Mr Light Wheaton and Mr Blue have to stick together since they are the only boys and you know how girls can get when they gang up on you.

It's hard not to be drawn to Mini who is a little spitfire of determination. I only supplemented her on the second day, after that there didn't seem to be any need and I was right. Giving this puppy extra food would not necessarily have made her bigger, it would have just made her fatter which she didn't really need. Besides, who among us would disagree that Mother's milk is the best thing for growing babies?

I watched Mini this morning when she was on the outer edge of the puppy pile. She determined that she wasn't warm enough so she started to wiggle her way into the centre of the group. I was curious to see if she could because she'd have to squeeze in between puppies who are more than twice her size. Sure enough she squirmed right into the middle and fell fast asleep under some fat siblings. There she is under Miss Orange and Miss Pink.

And Miss Lime has her own little tiny neck warmer. Lucky gal. I can't get over the difference in head sizes here and Miss Lime ... she isn't even the biggest puppy! Looks like Daddy Boy had quite an influence on the girls!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Others

At long last, after 10 nights of broken dreams, I managed to sleep for a full 5 hours in a row. I'm used to at least 8 or 9 hours in a row (sue me) so to get even 5 was some kind of breakthrough. Leeloo slept on the bed for all that time, I guess she needed a break too! At 4am we were up feeding babies though and they were little ravenous monsters just as expected. They can now go about 5 or 6 hours without being fed but I like to try and get some food in their tummies a little more often if Leeloo will oblige. Added to which, Leeloo is almost bursting with milk if we leave it too long!

I do, obviously, still own other dogs whose lives have also been turned upside down by the introduction of a litter of puppies. We have been going for walks in the woods once the puppies were 3 days old because by then cabin fever had set in and I was sure Cora was going to start making her own plans on how to get out of the house. We go without Leeloo who is generally fine with us leaving without her since she has other things to keep her mind occupied.

Since I no longer live in a large city where there are dog parks I don't really run the risk of running into a lot of the germs they can pick up in those places. I always worry about bringing something home to the puppies which is why I restrict the dog shows I attend (a petri dish of dog germs if ever there was one) and was careful to clean dog feet as they came back into the house from the park. Still, for a couple litters they ended up with cocci which is easy enough to cure but a pain just the same.

Esme knows it's important to get dirty to build your immune system so she makes a solid effort to bring half the forest home with her.

Cora does too in her own way, she likes to carefully select a stick or two and carry it around. She never gets to bring them home since she usually eventually eats them. Good roughage.

Boy loves to explore the woods - it's almost his favorite place to be (besides lying on the bed next to me) and he could care less about the puppies. This is his 4 litter experience and his expression, when he looks at them, is generally one of resigned patience. He knows what's coming, he knows they will leave (except that damn Cora) and he knows that although I may be distracted for a time, in the end he will always be mine.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Night of the Living Dead

Who needs sleep? Or rather, who needs to sleep consecutive hours in a row? Apparently Leeloo doesn't and that means neither do I. For the past few nights, although I have been able to sleep in my own bed, I have been woken by Leeloo insisting that I get up for one reason or another. Sometimes it's because she needs to go out, sometimes it's because she can't decide which part of the bed she wants to sleep on, but most of the time it's for no reason at all.

I'm pretty sure she knows what time it is - "Hmmm, Tamzin fell asleep at 10:30pm. Oh look, it's 11pm. TAMZIN! I have to poop now." Better still is when she allows me to get into a deeper sleep and it takes some effort to rouse me. "Whine. Whiiiine. Whiiiiiiiine. Whiiiiiiiiiiiine. Oh look! You're awake! Hey, can I have a snack?"Sometimes I've been sleeping for a whole 2 hours when she decides she wants to feed the puppies. This is certainly something she is capable of doing without supervision but she wakes me anyway at about 4am just to be sure she's doing it right. She gets into the whelping box, lays down and waits for me to poke puppies underneath her. I suppose her reasoning might be that I got her into this mess so I am at least going to be inconvenienced as much as she can make possible.

The worst way to be woken by Leeloo is the Night Walk. I didn't trim her nails last week because she had the puppies and that was stress enough. Today, now that they are 8 days old and look like little walruses, she is getting a manicure because being woken by the click clack of nails on the floor at 3am Makes. Me. Crazy. She's not really even walking with purpose, just wandering around the house, to the back door, around the dining table, to the bathroom, into the bedroom, and back again. At least if her nails were shorter I wouldn't be able to hear it.

So enough of my complaints, how about some photos of babies? Oh whoops, Mr Light Wheaton better hope I don't show this to his girlfriend when he's a teenager!

The time Leeloo doesn't spend waking me up at night is used to clean puppies and make them 'go' since they can't always do it on their own. As they age their bowels and bladders start to function but initially Momma has to stimulate them - this is probably something to do with keeping the 'den' clean - but for the puppies it's certainly not a dignified time in their lives.

She can be quite vigorous about it, I think it has something to do with keeping them active and using their underdeveloped muscles but I'm pretty sure this chore is not such a chore for most canine mothers considering how much Leeloo likes to clean them. The puppy's grandma Halo was notorious for loving to clean the puppy pen even when they were well past needing her care!  

Despite all the work involved and the lack of sleep for both Leeloo and me, I do know she is happy there are 9 on the outside of her instead of on the inside! Even when one is jamming its little foot into the side of her face.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Big Momma's House

It's been one week since the puppies were born and everyone is doing just great. I am so pleased with how fat they are. Almost all of them have more than doubled their birth weight - impressive since they were so fat to begin with and even Mini is packing on the ounces. She's not quite at a pound yet but she has at least doubled her birth weight which is totally normal for a one week old puppy.

Hard to imagine a whole week has gone by already - it was a bit of a blur which wasn't helped by my lack of sleep. Here is a photo of them when they were born ...

And here they are now ... nice and fat and growing like little pigs. Mini is the one at the end under Leeloo's leg - she has the best boobie!

And just how did they get so chubby? Well, it helps when Leeloo is eating 10 cups a food a day and drinking about 3 gallons of water (making milk is thirsty work). Plus eating every meal like it's your last goes a long way toward getting fat. Since Ridgebacks tend eat like that their entire lives it's a good thing I have a great list of responsible owners who are going to be careful not to let these guys grow up fat. 

For now though fat is what we want to see. No weedy puppies in my house! Leeloo will make sure of it. 'So much milk ... so little time' is Miss Pink's philosophy. She shouldn't be wasting it on her nose in that case ...

It's a serious business this eating thing - you can't let any opportunity to fill your tummy pass by.

It's really no wonder that any bitch's under carriage is never the same after a litter. It's a pity too since Leeloo was so svelte. Hopefully I can get her back into tip top shape in time for the US show ring.

For now though Leeloo will concentrate on making sure these babies are warm, clean and full. She is such a steady mother and so far they are an easy crowd to care for. This is the calm before the storm when you are dealing with puppies, it won't be long before everyone is running from them! We are enjoying our peace and quiet now!