Friday, September 12, 2014

Three Weeks Old Today

Some one is getting tired of puppies
Happy Birthday Puppies, three weeks old today!  Today is the day the babies become puppies and start acting like little dogs.  Many of their instinctive behaviors will become evident over the next few days, particularly their attempts to keep "the nest" clean.  The front comes off the whelping box today, giving them full access to the pen and the newspapers that cover the floor.  It's amazing how quickly pups learn to leave the box and use the papers, rather than peeing on the carpet.
They see and hear more clearly at this age, and if you reach quickly for a puppy it will instinctively duck in an attempt to avoid possible danger.  No Hawks or Eagles to worry about in my basement, but I'll be careful not to startle them when I reach for them.  They also start to recognize people and greet them with wagging tails.  I love being greeted by happy chubby pups with wagging tails.  NOTHING is cuter than that.
The pups are starting to interact with one another too.  Slow motion wrestling and mouthing one another are such fun to watch.  In the picture to the right Dallas and Summerset are mouthing, while Peabody and McNab are practicing their wrestling moves.  They're such fun to watch.  It's like Puppy TV.  If I go down to check on the pups I end up spending an hour just watching them.  They don't stay awake for long, but if they decide they want Fern and she's not there, they do some serious yelling.  Fern is resigned to the feeding on demand, but almost sighs before she heads back to work.

They really started noticing toys yesterday and their box is full of colorful items of different shapes and sizes.  Some hanging, some on the rug. A few dog toys, but many household items as well.  Everything is interesting when you are three weeks old. Such fun to watch the pups discover new things and check them out.  By providing them with a variety of toys now, they become accustomed accepting new things quickly. The experiences a pup has as a baby have a great deal of effect on his eventual personality.
Time for company this weekend too.  New people with different laps, new smells and strange voices.  Our goal is always for pups to meet a MINIMUM of 100 new people before going to their forever homes.  It's important that as many of the visitors as possible are children.  Pups need to be socialized to accept and be comfortable with all the different experiences they will encounter in their new homes, and they need to have positive experiences with children.  The next five weeks will be very busy!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Eighteen Days Old

Pups are thriving, trim is moving, spots continue to clear, and the pups are starting to play with one another.  I've added toys to their box and they been walking through a short tunnel (actually a large PVC section), climbing on and snuggling with pillows, investigating a large plastic glass, and sniffing at other new items.  I've added decals to the inside of the box, moved the Activity Box downstairs (they are too young for it yet, but it won't be long now), and picked up a few new toys just for them.  A bottle with clanking balls inside, a clean new scrub brush that will feel strange when they sniff it, and some bright colored items to hang over the edge of the box - large wooden beads, and bright red funnels.  Everything is an adventure for pups this age!
Pups are still confined to the 4 x 4 foot whelping box unless I am with them.  They like to explore the pen, but aren't ready to have full access to it yet as they would not necessarily be able to find their way back into the box.  On Friday, when they are three weeks old I'll take the front panel out of the whelping box and give them more space to explore.  (The box is in a wire pen.)_
Fern is very fond of our friend Sue who came over to walk Josie and visit the pups yesterday, so she had another friend visiting her puppies.  Soon Fern will have to adjust to visits from strangers, but seems very sensible about this motherhood business.  The pups were all out of the box exploring, but they quickly found Sue's lap and curled up for a nap - except for little Orange who is now known as Mira.  Right after I took this picture of Sue and pups, Mira took off on another adventure.  She's the smallest puppy and I'm convinced it's because she's too busy doing other things to chow down when the others are eating.
Today I'll pick up Fulton, the liver boy I co-own from last year's litter.  Fulton is almost a year old and I sold him as a companion, but kept show rights - I can show him at my own expense.  He was a lovely puppy, but I was not ready to keep another boy last winter, so he lives locally and may soon be starting his show career.  I'll pick him up this morning and meet up with my daughter Jess for a photo session, and some training.  The goal is to start him at shows in October, if we can get him ready by then.  Fulton's owners have done a great job with him and he is well trained and well socialized, which makes everything easier.
Yes, I am adjusting to retirement - it's easy!  Comes naturally, in fact!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Numbers Are In!

The numbers are in and the news is good!  All eight puppies gave strong hearing responses by Day 15.  Too early to detect unis of course, but I'll get that figured out over the next three weeks.  BAER testing is scheduled for 10/8/2014.  Although I know the hearing status from an early age (pups normally begin to hear sometime between days 12 & 16) it's always confirmed with BAER testing. BAER Testing
The other bit of good news is that there appears to be no blue eyes in the litter.  Although blue eyes are acceptable, and many pet owners really like blue eyed Dalmatians, blue eyes tend to go along with deafness as they are genetically linked. That's not to say the blue eyed dogs necessarily have hearing issues, only that the litters that contain blue eyed pups are more likely to have deafs and unis.  For that reason, most breeders are extremely pleased when there are no blues in a litter.  If I keep one of the girls from the litter to show and breed I want her to have bilateral hearing, so having no blues in the litter increases the odds that the puppy I like best will have bilateral hearing.  Fingers still crossed.  Unilaterally hearing puppies are fine as companions, and some do well in performance or are shown in the breed ring (if they are particularly good) but of course we all prefer to get bilaterally hearing puppies in our litters.  Fern had several blue-eyed and/or uni littermates, so this is extremely good news.
Max got to visit the puppies on Saturday.  He's been dying to see them, and like his dad Argus he loves puppies and small dogs.  Dal boys tend to be very good with puppies, and it's always interesting to watch the interaction.  Fern would not let him in the box, but decided it was OK for him to sniff the pups as long as she could keep an eye on him!  Max is sort of a Doggy Uncle to the puppies, and I expect that he will interact with them a lot when they start coming upstairs.
Socialization has begun, and the pups had their first visitors on Sunday and all got extra handling.  More company scheduled for today.  We're starting off with people that Fern knows well so she won't worry about strangers handling her puppies.  Even so we are careful to not put Fern in a difficult position.  Company is greeted in the family room, and Fern stays upstairs when company visits the pups.  Dogs respond to very basic instincts, and protecting young pups is a strong instinct.  Once the pups are older and are coming up to the family room or going outdoors it will be less of an issue, but we'll still be very careful.  It's never a good idea to put dogs in situations where they might respond in an unfortunate fashion.  However much they are members of our family, they are still dogs and respond to stress like dogs. 
Yesterday I completed the Adventure Box, a large "playground" that will be added to the puppy pen when they are a bit older.  The more positive experiences the pups have before they go to new homes, the better.  This toy will provide both visual and audio experiences and includes items that clink, clang, clunk and jingle.  Because so many dogs are sound sensitive and respond badly to things like fireworks, we try to expose our pups to a large variety of sights and sounds before they go to new homes.  Early socialization makes an enormous difference in how puppies turn out.