Wednesday, September 1, 2010

8 weeks old

Eight weeks old, and the pups will be leaving soon. Just like with Willow's previous litter, these pups started out smaller than average, but by 8 weeks, have grown into substantial pups. The boys now weigh 14-15 lbs (Buckeye is the current big boy) and Laurel weighs 13 lbs. Hard to believe some of these pups only weighed 8 oz at birth.

The highlight of the pups' day is chow time - they are true Labradors. It is turning into a feeding frenzy trying to individually feed each pup in a crate. It is a mad dash for the open crate doors, and then if allowed, they check out each each other's empty bowls, just to make sure there are no left overs. Many of the pups have figured out that the dog food is stored in the pantry, and sniff and scratch longingly at the door. The other morning, Linden found some stored unopened bags of food and proceeded to chew a hole big enough to get his entire head into. By the time I caught him in the act, he had turned into a stuffed tick. Amazing that none of his littermates joined in. When I put Linden back in the puppy pen, he just rolled over and went to sleep. He was still full at lunch and dinner, and didn't get another meal until bedtime. The dog food bags are now all up on chairs. Starting today, the pups have gone from 4 meals a day down to 3 meals a day.

In addition to playtime in the house and yard, and entertaining visitors, I have started taking the pups out individually on leash in the morning while it is still cool. They are still cautious and only venture around the immediate neighbor's front yards, but have been exposed to passing cars and school buses, and happily greeted neighbors as they walk by. And inside the house, I have been trying to come up with new things for them to experience. Even something as simple as a hair dryer is a big experience for a baby pup.

And the pups have had the necessary veterinary care, including vaccinations, wormings and microchipping. Fortunately, this litter has been free of any major health problems.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pups on the porch

Pic of my back porch this morning.

Laurel with Cedar's head on her rump



Laurel, Cedar & Chester


Buckeye & Linden


7 weeks old

The pups turned 7 weeks old, hard to believe. They gained a more moderate 1 lb last week, now that Willow has left, and weigh 10-12 lbs. Considering how well these pups grew, Nancy and I have decided that Willow must produce very rich milk. The pups are currently eating 2 cups of kibble per day (4 meals). Wed night they went through a standardized temperament test assessing social interactions, reactivity to noise and scary things, touch sensitivity, etc. Most of the pups showed traits that are desirable in assistance dogs, and no surprises responses from anyone. This has been an incredibly easy and uniform litter, especially considering the wide range of weights, and large number of small pups at birth. There was no runt who lagged behind, no health problems (not even the very common bout of puppy diarrhea when solid food is introduced). Willow had no complications and plenty of milk for everyone. In addition to regular wormings, the pups have received an intranasal Bordetella vaccination and were microchipped. In addition to lots of play time and entertaining visitors, I have been handling of feet, tails, mouths, rolling the pups over on their backs, and starting to work on bite inhibition. They come running to "puppy, puppy, puppy" which they associate with mealtime, and love running in the crates to eat. And the pups have learned to sit nicely for attention.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Puppy fun

The pups have been having lots of outdoor fun. Walks around the backyard, playing in the pool, and hosting visitors. For mealtime, we have been feeding the pups individually to decrease competition with food and to be sure each pup gets its fair share. With Willow leaving, I have added a fourth meal of kibble. We have begun crate training by seometimes feeding the pups in the crates. This makes an early positive impression withe crate. I push the food towards the back and encourage the pup to walk in on their own. We have been working on basic manners, sitting for attention or to be lifted out of the ex-pen, bite inhibition, acceptance of handling. For handling, I have been gently rolling the pups over on the their backs and cradling, or handling feet, ears, tail and mouth.

Birch. Water bowl shows evidence of puppies trying to go swimming

Sweet little Laurel - not a very soft place to rest

Sequoia all tired out

More pool fun

Buckeye and Cedar

All tuckered out after entertaining visitors

Thursday, August 19, 2010

6 weeks old

The milk bar officially closed this afternoon at 2 pm. Willow happily went home to her breeder caretaker family, who were equally thrilled to have her back. The pups are still growing at an impressive rate, most gained around 2 1/2 lbs last week, eating 8-9 cups of kibble per day. Sequoia is still the big boy at 10.8 lbs, with Birch close behind. Laurel is the smallest pup, at a very respectable 9.2 lbs, the size of many female retriever pups at 8 weeks. With a few days of cooler weather, the pups got lots of outdoor play time. They have still yet to venture throughout the entire backyard. While in the house, they have been listening to sound effect tapes - guns, babies crying, nature sounds, etc. At least they are finally sleeping through the night!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More 5 1/2 week old puppy pics

Trying out for agility

Sequoia and my dog Yuma

Practicing Up (actually trying to get to Willow on the porch)

Buckeye asleep on the piano

Puppy pool party

The pups have been doing lots of playing in their water bowls, so figured it was time to get out the puppy pool. Sequoia was almostly instantly in the water. Some of the other pups weren't so sure. Many of the pups kept getting stuck climbing over the edge.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

5 weeks old

The pups are turned into a fun, social and playful bunch. A bummer that it has been so hot and we haven't been able to go outside very much. They have had a few outings into the backyard. When in the puppy pen, the pups often cluster down at the one end with the vinyl flooring and plaster themselves against the ex-pen closest to the AC vent. They also like sleeping around (or in) the water bowl. On Tuesday, Cedar finally figured out how to get over the low half gate - pups from other litters have made an escape at 3 1/2 to 4 weeks of age. So, I have inserted the higher panel which thoroughly discourages Willow from getting into the puppy pen, although Auntie Tacara still goes in to take care of clean up duty. The pups are doing a very good job at using the litter box. Nancy has started doing some baby puppy training exercises midday. It is always interesting to observe the pups' temperaments when you work with them as individuals in new situations. Laurel outdid her brothers for demonstrating early trainability. Knowing Nancy, she will have these pups sitting for attention in no time. Willow is still nursing the gang, but they are eating an increasing amount of soaked kibble. And they have weights to prove how well they are doing in the eating department. All the pups gained approximately 2 lbs last week! Sequoia is once again the big boy at 8.3 lbs. Buckeye, Birch and Cedar all weighed in at 8 lbs, and Linden and Chester weren't too far behind. Laurel is the semi-petite pup at 7 lbs.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

4 1/2 week old puppy pics

Indoor puppy pen, litter box at far end

The ravenous hoard - getting big!!

Buckeye and toy

Chester and toy

Outdoor puppy pen

Lunch on the lawn

Buckeye just about ready to fall asleep in the food bowl

Thursday, August 5, 2010

4 weeks old

Four weeks old, and they are a bunch of playful, curious puppies - and of course totally adorable. In addition to trips to the front yard when weather allows, the pups are starting to get free time in the house. This litter has had no confidence issues, just confidently explore the new environments. The laminate and tile floors in my house have also posed few challenges for these pups. Multiple pups have started looking over the low half gate into the puppy pen. I expect an escapee by this weekend. Four week weights ranged from 6.1 lbs (Sequoia) to 5.2 lbs (Laurel). Little Blue boy Birch has caught up with the big boys and weighs in at 6 lbs. Cedar who was lagging behind the pack these last couple of weeks has thrived on soaked kibble and was the biggest gainer this week, weighing in at 5.9 lbs.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

From Blobs to Beings

Two to four weeks of age is always my favorite time when raising a litter. For the first two weeks, the pups are helpless, blind, deaf blobs. Then around 2 weeks of age, their eyes open and they start emerging. The pups are currently 3 1/2 weeks old and look like little puppies, each with their own distinct face. They can see, hear, walk, climb, run, eat soaked whole kibble, drinking from a water bowl, and nurse from Willow standing up. They also have teeth and are starting to use them. I saw Chester tugging at the pen blanket and then shredding the newspaper underneath. Their pen has been bumped out to full size (2 ex-pens) and I have added lots of toys and the full sized litter box (the cargo liner from a Ford Escort). And the pups are starting to enjoy exploring new places - like the front yard. At this age the pups are still sleeping most of the time, and play sessions are quite short. Other than getting bigger, the percentage of time awake is the the biggest change that will occur during the next 4 weeks. Now if I could just convince Willow to feed her kids in the middle of the night. I continue to have to get up and coax Willow into the puppy pen to nurse. During the day, the most obvious sign that she needs to nurse the pups is when she starts leaving milk puddles on my hard floors. But Willow is hardly ready to turn down 8 cups of food a day that contribute to this abundant milk production. Even with reduced rations, Willow is counting down the days until she gets to go home.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sleeping puppy pics

Sequoia sleeping

Chester & Sequoia sleeping

Laurel sleeping in a pile of toys

Linden asleep on the piano

Outdoor adventures

Yesterday, the pups had their first adventure outside. Cautious, but not overwhelmed by the experience. They had dinner on the lawn, and have gone out a couple of times today. At this age, they stay close together, do a little exploring, and then fall asleep.
Chester the explorer
Pups at play
Sequoia & Laurel mouth wrestling

Buckyeye, all tuckered out

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

3 weeks old

Three weeks old and doing great. The pups are getting increasingly more agile on their feet and are starting to react a bit to loud sounds. Ear canals are starting to open. They have transitioned from canned food to soaked kibble mash. Willow is in peak lactation and this will be the last week of the 8 to 9 cups of kibble per day - poor darling.

All the pups gained at least 1 lb this last week. The new big boy is Buckeye (Purple), Mr Chow Hound. He weighs 4.4 lbs. Birch (Blue) had the largest weekly gain and was almost the same size as the former big boy Sequoia (4 1/4 lbs), not too shabby for being one of the smallest pups at birth. Cedar (Yellow), Linden (Green), and Laurel (Pink) are the three smallest pups at 3.9 lbs, but still a very respectable weight for 3 week old retriever pups. Considering the wide range of birth weights, this litter has done amazingly well for becoming a uniformly sized bunch without any stragglers.

Puppy chow time

Puppy pinwheel

Second meal of soaked kibble mash, starting to be more interested in the new food bar

Laurel, post meal siesta, never even left the table

Same goes for Linden

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More changes

Almost 3 weeks old, eyes are wide open, but still only limited hearing. Ear canals should be open by this weekend. They are becoming accomplished walkers, and waddle over for attention if you step into the puppy pen. Willow is already trying to ditch this litter. Willow needs considerable encouragement to go into the pen to nurse the pups.

The puppy pen now has a small litter box (a plastic appliance pan) lined with a thick layer of flat newspapers. The pups were champs at using the potty pads, and are quickly adapting to the litter box. Chester was the first potty pad champ, I saw him go over twice to urinate that very first evening. Just this evening, I saw Sequoia march over to the new box to take a bio break. It is amazingly easy to litter box train baby puppies if you take advantage of their early instinct to toilet away from the "den" (would get rather messy in a true den otherwise). As soon as the pups start walking, you will see them wake up and make a deliberate effort to move away to toilet. When in the plastic puppy pool, I have seen a few pups frantically circle around the pool, looking for a place to toilet. A clear signal it is time to upgrade to the puppy pen.

Last night was the first night the pups spent out in the puppy pen, instead in the bedroom pen. The bedroom pen was getting too small, and the pups too noisy. This is a vocal litter. They are doing enjoying the extra space in the bigger pen and are quite interactive with their toys. The other adult dogs periodically go in to visit, especially my German shepherd Tacara.

Willow is now up to 9 cups of food per day. Her milk supply was tapped out this weekend, and I was a bit worried about the pups getting dehydrated, especially since they were eating some canned food. All their fluids come from what they eat and baby puppy kidneys are still underdeveloped. So I increased Willow's chow from 8 c to 9 c, much to her delight, and her milk supply noticeably improved. She is now quite the milk cow. These pups are very well fed, they look like little butterballs. In fact, they are so well fed that they are the first litter to be only minimally interested in their first offering of mashed soaked puppy kibble. This evening, I dished out their first kibble meal, and only a few pups nibbled at the puppy mush. Pups from other litters have dived in and thoroughly enjoy the new bounty. The pups are currently getting approximately 1 tablespoon of canned food 3x daily, and they are eagerly accepting that food.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Coming alive

The pups have really come alive today. I have removed the crib bumpers, so they have more visual stimulation. I added a few small stuffed toys to the puppy pen this morning, and the pups are already interacting with the toys and each other. What a difference a day makes. Lots of fun.

Unidentified pup and stuffed lamb

Sequoia and teddy bear

Chestnut and ball

Sequoia falling asleep on ball

Sequoia and stuffed carrot