Puppies were born on Wednesday, May 13. These puppies all have great new homes now.
Wednesday May 13
The litter was whelped by C-section this afternoon. I chose that method because of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was able to pick up Frida and the puppies outside Bishop Ranch at 5:30 and get them back here and installed in my master bathroom, their home for the next month.
Because Frida is a first-time mom and did not suffer the normal 24 hours of labor, her oxytocin hasn't kicked in yet and she really does not have a mother instinct yet. That will come but for the next couple of days I will have to be here with her and the puppies 24/7 and try to teach her.
First exam and weigh-in:Liver female 12 1/4
Ridges look good; no kinks
Here are a few photos.
Thursday May 14
Last night was tough, as it always is. When I brought her home she was totally clueless about the significance of the puppies. She had absolutely no maternal instinct yet and she didn’t even really want to be with them. I expected that because since she didn’t have labor she didn’t get the oxytocin rush going and that’s what is responsible for the mother instinct. She wouldn’t even get in the whelping box with them and of course they were very unhappy in that big open space. So I brought a dog bed from the front room back into the bathroom, put an old sheet over it and made her lay down on it. I put the seven puppies beside her and covered the whole lot up with an old blanket. She escaped a couple of times but I made her get back in with the puppies. Then I just sat here in a chair by them until about 1 AM and then I got down on the floor and used the side of the dog bed as a pillow and I had a few minutes of fitful sleep. About 3 o’clock the oxytocin finally kicked in and she began to lick the puppies. This calmed them down of course and it made me feel much more comfortable so I went out to the front and got another big dog bed and lay down on it and was able to sleep for a couple of hours. So now she and the puppies are in the whelping box and she’s had her breakfast and I think we’re settling into a normal routine. She seems very gentle with the puppies so I think she is now a mother.
YouTube video of Frida's first breakfast.
Friday May 15
The last day was hard. Frida had not started lactating and yesterday afternoon I finally started bottle feeding. The pups are very small and haven't learned yet how to nurse since Frida was not producing any milk. Nevertheless, I was able to get them each to take about 1/2 to 2/3 ounce of the special supplement made of goats milk (1 qt), plain yoghurt (1 cup), corn syrup (1 tbs), mayonaise (2 tbs) and one egg yolk.
However, when went in to check on the puppies at 3 am, I found that one of the puppies had died. It was the smallest one, a liver female who had weighed 12 1/4 ounces on Wednesday but had lost to 9 3/4 ounces by Thursday afteroon. I warmed up the formula again and managed to get the six remaining puppies to drink a about 4 ounces total.
Dr. Cain suggested I try an herb named fenugreek, which is used by human mothers as a lactation aid. So I sent my son over to Whole Foods to buy some and I gave Frida her first two capsules around 9:30. I don't know if it was the cause but about an hour later I was able to see two puppies nursing with milk smears around their lips, so I think Frida has finally started to produce some milk. Hopefully this will continue. In the mean time I have the milk bottle handy and offer it from time to time.
So with the loss, we now have three boys and three girls, three livers and three blacks.
Liver male 12 1/2 white right front paw
Liver female 12 1/2
Liver male 12 5/8
Black male 13
Black female 13
Black female 11 3/4 rear dew claws
Sunday May 17
The last two days were stressful. Another of the puppies died, a black-nosed female. Because Frida's milk was slow to come in I have been supplementing the puppies with the goat's milk formula. For puppies this size the stomach volume is only 15 mL, which is about 1/2 ounce. So I am still offering them bottle several times a day. Yesterday it was four times, starting about 5 am. I fed them through the day, up to 2 pm. I checked about 4 pm a and then went outside to pick up some poop in the yard and when I came in to check on them I found one of the puppies laying limp in the middle of the whelping box, unresponsive. So I don’t know what happened.
I am continuing to supplement the pupppies when they will take it and they do seem to be getting some milk from mom now. Their weights are back to about what they were when I brought them from the vet on Wednesday and all showed a gain since yesterday.
Dr. Cain is allowed back in the clinic today so I’m going to take Frida and the five remaining puppies for an exam at 4:45. And when I tried for a 7 o’clock feeding today I was able to get the half an ounce into two of the liver puppies but the other liver puppy and the two black puppies had already filled up on mom because they would not take anything and they seemed pretty plump so maybe we’re headed in the right direction now.
Monday May 18
It looks like we turned the corner yesterday. I took Frida and the puppies to Dr. Cain for an examination yesterday afternoon. She was able to demonstrate to me that Frida is producing milk, certainly enough for five puppies. This made me feel a little bit sheepish, but I actually think the milk production kicked in shortly before we got to Bishop Ranch. She also examined the puppy that died on Saturday to be sure she didn’t have some kind of evidence of disease and could find nothing.
So last night I let Frida and the puppies spend the night in a dog bed covered by old sheet on the floor of my bathroom. They were perfectly happy, no fretting all night, because they were finally getting enough food and were not hungry and cold. At morning weigh in everybody had gained weight. The three liver puppies are 14 to 14 1/4, the black girl is 15 1/4 and the black boy is 17. Total gain for the fab five was 6 1/4 ounces.
Tuesday May 19B
Now that Frida's milk bar is fully functional the pups are always satisfied and not rooting around crying, which is pretty much what they were doing the first few days. So live in the puppy pile is pretty routine. Frida has preferred to nest with the puppies in a dog bed on the bathroom floor and I have let her to that up to today. But now that the puppies are getting stronger and more mobile they climb over the side and onto the floor. They aren't really big enough to climb back in yet so mom hops out and "helps" by picking the errant pup up in her mouth and then puts it back in the nest. While this is pretty cute, I don't like it because I am aftraid she might damage the pup.
So this morning the family was moved to the whelping box, which is set up with two crate mats. Frida is not nearly as comfortable in this condo as whe was in the nest, but hopefully she will quickly accommodate.
On the morning weigh-in I found that all five puppies are continuing to gain weight with three within a few ounces of a pound and one nearing a pound and a quarter. With each litter I assign temporary names because I will be living with these critters for a couple of months and I just want to be able to call them something other than "blue boy" or "green girl." The theme for this litter was pretty obvious--it is the COV ID-19 litter, so here is a little run down.
Birx is a pretty little livernosed girl with a perfect show ridge. She weighed in at 11 3/4 ounces at birth and is now close to a pound.
Fauci is a livernosed boy, almost a twin of Birx, very feisty. He was 14 ounces at birth and now the same as Birx, 15 3/4 ounces.
Spike is a livernosed boy with a front white paw. He has a perfect show ridge as well and today he is the smallest of the litter at 14 7/8 ounces.
Corona is a blacknosed girl. She also has a show ridge and at the moment has a lot of very dark hair, so has a sort of ebony color. I expect this to lighten as she grows and she will end up about the color of mom. She is very vocal and today weighed in at an even pound.
Virus is a blacknosed boy with a show ridge. Many litters have an early over-acheiver on weight gain and for this one it is Virus. He came into the world last Wednesday at 14 3/8 ounce, dropped down to 12 1/4 over the first day, but from there it has been steadily up and today he tipped the scale at 19 1/4 ounces.
Thursday May 21
Frida has settled into a smooth routine. She has finally accepted the whelping box as "her" place and the puppies seem at home now. My main job is to keep the carpet and crate mat in place and to keep the room warm enough that the puppies don't try to get warm by creeping under the crate mat. But they are now big enough and strong enough to be able to look after themselves. All are comfortably over a pound now and Virus weighed in at 21 3/8 ounces this morning.
These photos show something that we always see with young puppies. When they are born and for the first few days the ridges are very visible. Then about a week of age as the hair grows in and they become more rotund, the ridges are less distinctive. This will last a couple of weeks and then the ridge lines come back into focus.
Friday May 22
Nothing of merit to report. We are in the period where care for the puppies is minimal. Frida has it under control. The pups are strong and getting around well so I do not have to be so watchful to be sure one doesn't get trapped behing mom's back or that she doesn't accidentally roll over on one. They are able to take care of themselves. Virus is up to 1 1/2 pounds and the smallest is over 17 ounces.
Monday May 25
Frida and pups are thriving. The pups are nursing voraciously and this morning Virus weighed in at an even two pounds. Bris, Corona and Fauci are all >1.5 pounds and the smallest of the bunch, little Spike, is 22 ounces. They are sturdy and can scoot around the box like little pros. It is probably the cleanest litter I have ever had. I have not even changed the bedding in the box one time. Once Frida got the hang of motherly duties she has kept the puppies as clean as can be. These photos were taken over the weekend.
Tuesday May 26
We are in the "dog days" of a new litter. Pups are growing like weeds, mom is totally in control, and there isn't much for me to do except weigh in the morning, rearrange the crate mat, and cuddle each one for a few minutes. Eyes will be opening over the next two days and they are starting to get up on all four legs and lurch around a step or two before falling over again.
Wednesday May 27
Two weeks old today. Eyes are starting to open; they are just slits this morning but they will probably be seeing soon. They are starting to walk a few steps at a time now and Frida seems surprised when one of them does that. She is very comfortable with things now and is starting to spend a little time out of the box after the pups have fed and are sleeping.
Friday, May 29
This is the day the house cleaners come so Frida and family are spending the morning in one of my kennel rooms. This is the place where the pups will go to live 24/7 in about two more weeks. But today they will come back to the whelping box in the bathroom after the cleaners are finished.
Monday June 1
This morning after I weighed the pups I put each one in the little laundry basket so I could change the underlayment towels, the indoor-outdoor carpet, and the crate mat in their whelping box.
After I changed the box bedding I took the wet materials up to the front of the house for washing. When I came back this is how I found Frida:
Why? I have no idea. But after I returned she hopped into the clean whelping box.
Puppies are thriving. All over two pounds now and Virus is up to 3 1/2 pounds. Their eyes are open now and I think they can all make out shapes at least as they seem to repond to movements. They are also able to walk a few steps before falling over. I will have to be changing and washing the whelping box bedding every day now as they are starting to squat and pee on their own rather than to rely on mom to take care of all the plumbing.
Friday June 5
Frida and family are spending the day in the kennel since the cleaners were here this morning. Over the last few days I became a little concerned that Spike was not gaining very fast so I have started supplementing him with milk formula by bottle several times a day. He seems to feel fine and nurses a lot but I think maybe the other four chunks are just hogging the milk. But to be on the safe side I also took a stool specimen to Bishop Ranch this moring to have a fecal exam for parasites. The eyes are fully open now and the pups are starting to play with each other and also with mom.
Saturday June 6
D-Day. Spike is still being bottle fed several times a day. I use a little bottle and start with 125 mL of the formula I use. The puppy bottle feeding stomach capacity chart I use is here:
Since Spike weighs 2 3/8 pounds his stomach capacity would be about 43 ml. Here is his bottle after his breakfast:
So from 125 ml he took it down to about 80, which is 45 ml. Bingo, full puppy. Here is a photo of the puppies all curled up next to Frida after they had all nursed and I changed the bedding in their box. I am able to identify most of them from a distance now. Corona is the dark one, Spike is next to her and is easy because of his size and his white paw. Virus is against the wall and is easy because of his size (almost twice the weight of Spike). Birx and Fauci are hard to distinguish because they are identical in size both brownnose. However, Fauci has some white toes on his back feet and you can see one in this photo so he is the one between Spike and Virus and Birx is on the left.
Monday, June 8
The pups had their first maincure yesterday. I use a little toenail clipper at this age and just snip off the barb at the end. Most of them don't like it very much to be held (I had a friend stop over and hold each puppy while I did the deed). However, Birx was totally unperturbed so whoever gets her may have an easy time with nail duty.
I am continuing to supplement Spike. I offer him the bottle of the goat's milk formula (recipe on May 15) four times a day and he is now sucking down about 40-50 mL each time. He is gaining weight again, but still not at the prodigous rate of the other four. His weight and daily gain are about a week behind Birx, Fauci and Corona and 10 days behind Virus. However, with regard to behavior, he is not lagging. He walks around a lot, plays with the other puppies and with mom's ears, and generally just acts normal. It will be interesting to follow his development. I have had several litters where the smallest puppy, who required hand-supplementation, turned out to be the largest adult.
Here is a photo of Spike and Virus.
Tuesday, June 9
Frida was very restless during the night and kept climbing in my bed, then back to the bathroom and into the whelping box. After about a half hour of that I decided she was concerned that the puppies were not warm enough. It was warm yesterday so I did not turn on the space heater when I went to bed so it was indeed a bit colder than it has been. So I turned the heater on and after another half hour, Frida calmed down. So the family wants status quo and here they were when I got up at 6:30:
The pups are making a lot of urine now and I am having to change the bedding in the box daily. I will probably be doing it twice a day by the weekend. After I cleaned the box I took the wet bedding up to the laundry room and when I returned I found Molly visiting her grandkids:
When I took Spike's bottle at 9 am he was really hungry. He emptied the bottle, 120 mL. That's twice what my chart says his stomach will hold! He did seem a bit lethargic after and was very popular with the other puppies, who were all licking his face to get the milk that he had all over his face.
Wednesday June 10
The pups are four weeks old today. When I weighed in this morning I found that Virus is up to 5 1/2 pounds and little Spike is now three pounds. I fed him three times yesterday and he drained the bottle each time, about 120 mL. I offered it to him again this morning at 6:30 after weigh-in but he was completely uninterested. He also doesn't seem as ribby as he did just two days ago. So maybe he is over the hump and will be able to hold his own at mommie's dinner table.
Grandma Molly is hopping into the whelping box more and more. This time even while Frida is in as well.
Thursday, June 11
Little Spike is still treading water. His morning weight was back down below 3 pounds and he is looking ribby again. He would not take milk from the bottle yesterday like he did on Tuesday. When trying to feed him last night I saw that he was not suckling the nipple but was biting it. That would squeeze out a little milk, which he would swallow. So I am beginning to suspect that he just does not have a well-developed suckling instinct.
So this morning he got his supplement from a bowl. I took 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of the goat's milk formula, warmed it a bit and stirred in three tablespoons of Gerber's rice cereal. It only took a small amount of coaching before he discovered that it tasted good and he got to work.
It only took him about 5 minutes to have his fill:
Here is a little YouTube video.
Friday June 12
Little Spike lost his battle. Yesterday he had the milk-rice cereal four times and seemed happy to empty the bowl each time. When I went to bed last night he had a full belly and I was hoping he would bounce back. But this morning at 6 I found him unresponsive. I will never know what his problem was--for about the last two weeks he has not been thriving as the other puppies because increasingly plump. He seemed to nurse just as much and I have been giving him supplementation, first with the bottled milk and then with the milk-cereal gruel. Whatever was the problem, I am glad it is over for him now and is not something that would carry over and make him a sickly adult. Nature knows best.
Friday is house cleaning day so Frida and the four pups spent the morning in one of the kennel runs. This is where they will go next week when it is time to abandon the whelping box.
Sunday, June 14
The four remaining puppies are all thriving. They are very mobile and weigh from 5 to 6.5 pounds. They are spending time now out of the whelping box. Yesterday they were on the patio much of the day and then in a bed in the TV room while I had my dinner. My son Steven and granddaughter Camille came for a visit around midday and I assembled their busy box, last used by dad and his littermates two years ago.
Tuesday June 16
Busy few days. Frida got earwax, which she does from time to time, and scratched so much she opened a little sore on her right ear. So she got a good cleaning, treatment with Otomax and then had to wear the no flap ear wrap for a couple of days.
This is the week when the heads change from bear-shaped to dog-shaped. Meaning the jaws grow. You can almost see it. It is a tense time for breeders because sometimes the upper and lower jaws don't grow out at the same rate. Often the top jaw leads and the puppy can develop an overbite. Sometimes the lower jaw catches up in the 6th or 7th week, but when a puppy is overshot by 2-3 mm at 5 weeks it normally doesn't correct by graduation day. So what does that have to do with Frida's puppies. Two of the puppies are showing overbites at this point--Virus and Birx.. If the overbites persist until they are 8 weeks old they will "pet quality" as we would not show or breed an adult with an overbite.
Pups are spending from about 11 am until about 5 pm on the patio and sleeping in their little kennel room at night. Although their little room has both a crate and a dog bed, they prefer the open bed. In a few days I will start removing the open bed so they start getting used to sleeping in a crate.
Here is little Corona napping in the basket.
Wednesday June 17
Auntie Mojito (Arlo's littersister) is enthralled with the puppies and they seem to like her, too. Here are two YouTube videos I took today. Video A. Video B.
Saturday June 20
We are in a maturing time. The pups spend nights in their kennel room and mom is sleeping in her crate in my bedroom. I rise about 6 and make my coffee, then go out to the kennel and give the pups kibble in a couple of pans. While they chow down I go back in the kitchen and finish the morning routine, vitamins and meds for me, make the Honest Kitchen for the adult dogs, and feed and water Gandalf, my 43-year old Amazon parrot. Then I go back out to the kennel and do puppy poop patrol. After that I sit while they play around the big kennel room and drink my coffee and read the morning news on my iPad. Then I put the pups back in their kennel room and bring the adult dogs out for their breakfast.
When it is warm enough, around 9 am, I bring the pups out to the patio just outside my family room where they spend the day. They have their mystery box and have started to take an interest in it. They are also starting to explore out into the grass yard and seem fascinated by the new texture.
It is important for pups this age to have socialization visits and today they had three visitors, about an hour for each. Taking consideration of COVID, these visits are in the back yard, visitors enter through the grarage, not through my house, and visitors wear their mask and we take care to keep an appropriate distance. It is great socialization for the puppies, and even greater for me.
Here are a few photos from the last few days.
Wednesday June 24
Pups are six weeks old today. I haven't blogged for a few days, so here are some photos from about last weekend. Pups are starting to extend their reach, sometimes into the house the last few days.
Here are a few videos: Agility tunnel - Mystery box - Father's day
Sunday June 28
Sorry I have neglected the blog for awhile. The puppies are fully functional devils now. They are all over the place and the age of innocence has ended as they have discovered that it is fun to be in the house. But they also still retreat to their little kennel room for nap time.
We have had a number of visitors this week, including two families who will be taking Fauci and Virus home in a couple of weeks. Here are some photos from the week.
Last edited June 20, 2020
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