Week two is boring. For me.
But lots of changes are going on in the puppies. This is still technically the “neonatal period” for the puppies, and they rely on their mother (or breeder!) for warmth, food, and elimination. They are crawling around pretty well at the end of this stage of development, although my puppies came out of the birth canal ready to escape their whelping box and have been climbing like monkeys since day one.
Puppies are growing rapidly during this stage, spending most of their time eating and sleeping. Their sleep consists of “activated sleep” where they twitch and growl and bark. EEGs done on tiny puppies show that their brain waves look the same when they are awake or asleep during these first two weeks.
Their eyes will open towards the end of week two as well, and you can see perfect little eyelashes. I am beginning to see my puppies “blink” although their eyes are still closed. They are interacting with each other and sucking on body parts. They have an incredible sucking reflex and I can lift them off the ground! A few puppies are now able to support their bodies off the ground for a few seconds using their stubby legs—a precursor to walking.
I am starting to see personalities emerge and taking notes about how they behave in the whelping box. If a pup falls under a blanket, does he make noise, or just figure it out himself? If a pup gets pushed off a boob, does she quietly relocate, or kick and scream until she gets the same boob back? How does Macy react to all this? Are there are pups who are emerging as loners?
I begin cutting each puppy’s toenails around a week of age. They get sharp and can cut Macy while they are eating. That’s 128 toenails! I pay attention to how each pup reacts and will continue to note how well they accept this handling. I am getting them used to the sound and feel of the nail grinder on their little toes.
I’m going to use this time to catch up on paperwork—it’s easy to forget! I contact the WCA futurity administrator to let her know that we had eight puppies and I will need eight copies of the rulebook to include in my puppy booklet. I will be registering my puppies with the AKC as well as the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association and since we did a frozen semen breeding we can’t register the litter online. I mail the paperwork to the AKC after making copies of everything with signatures—you can’t be too careful! NAVHDA also requires that the vet who inseminated Macy signs some paperwork, so I have to fax paperwork to her and have her return it to me. I will register the litter after they are registered with AKC, so I have to keep really good records.
I set up a picture page on a website and am updating this almost daily, along with corresponding with my puppy people on a regular basis. The questions are coming fast and furious as everyone realizes that their puppy is only a few short weeks from coming home! Six of my puppies will be going out of state, each of them requiring an airplane ride to get to their destination. Talk about a lot of logistics to work out!
I also returned to work full time this week. “Full time” for me is only three days a week since in real life I’m a nurse. I have severe separation anxiety from my puppies! I have made arrangements for someone to come by the house and check on Macy and her babies every few hours and so far so good. She’s being an exceptional mommy in every way possible!
All of my puppies are gaining weight really well, but a few are still quite a bit smaller than the others. I have to make sure that they aren’t getting bullied and are eating enough. I spend almost all of my time at home in the bedroom with the puppies, watching, taking notes, and checking things out. It looks like everyone is eating well and nobody is really dominating the “dinner table.” All the puppies are gaining weight proportionally. Just to be safe, I separate them into groups of four for feeding time when I can. I’m sure this is easier for Macy, too! I haven’t seen my husband for a week… I suppose he’s still around?
This week I have two friends who have litters born and they don’t go quite as well as mine did. Both of them are well planned litters with long lists of puppy people waiting for their “dream pup.” One of them ended in an emergency c-section with half of the litter dying. Mom and the remaining pups are doing well, but it was a tense day or so. The other litter was a first-time mom who accidentally rolled on a pup and the pup couldn’t be saved. All it takes is a few seconds of looking away when the litter is large and the mom is new. There is nothing harder than losing a puppy before its life begins—except perhaps having to shatter a family’s dreams when you tell them that they won’t be getting their puppy. Both cases are reminders that breeding is a risk for both mom and pups.
At day 11 my little pup hits one pound and my biggest one hits two pounds. Guess I’m not being good enough about fighting off the fatties!
As I’m writing a few pups are taking their first real steps. It’s day 12 and their eyes aren’t open quite yet, but they are definitely walking. They look like tiny lizards, picking their feet way up in the air! I hope they open their eyes before they can walk any faster!
Next installment: Potty Training and Food Fights
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