I have finally got the pups on a feeding routine that seems to work. Weight gains are back where I expect them to be, with an average gain of approximately 1/4 pound per puppy per day over the last three days. The range is now from big chunky Knut at 7 3/4 pounds to Inga at 5 pounds. The weight chart also has a line for Salsa and you can see that as of today, Harald and Olav are about where she was at a comparable age, where as Inge is about three days behind mom. However, Inge is gaining at a somewhat higher rate than mom was at the same point.
The weekend was pretty busy, with dog shows every day for four days. This afternoon Cheri is going to help me see if we can stack the pups for a first set of audition photos. Normally we don't get much cooperation at 5 weeks so I am not expecting a lot.
The news on cosmetic features is that Sigrid, who I thought had a single crown, really does have two, but one is "lazy". A "lazy" crown is one that is more difficult to see than a really distinctive whorl, but close examination shows that the hair is in a definite whorl. A lazy crown usually becomes more distinct as the puppy grows bigger. So at this point Sigrid will not be ruled out as a show prospect if her audition photos confirm good conformation. On the other hand, Margrete definitely seems to have only one crown, although I thought she had a show ridge when she was born. Finally, I have been calling Ulrika a pet all along because of a kink in her tail. It was quite apparent when she was a couple of weeks old, but now it is much less apparent. It is (was?) not the kind of kink that bends the tail to one side, but rather the tail seems to bend down and then back up at one vertebrae. It is not unlike the tail of a well-known Rhodesian Ridgeback bitch who has been one of the top-winning show dogs over the last two years. So the jury is still out on whether Margrete will be show quality.
The pups have begun to use the yard outside their kennel run. Here is a photo of two curled up on a dog bed outside our back door and another of a group playing with mom and "step-mom", Coco. Coco is with us for two weeks while her family are on vacation and she adores the puppies. Coco also happens to be rather smart and has figured out how to open kennel gate closures. So she goes through the kennel to get into the inside sleeping room to visit the puppies. Salsa is her side-kik and she follows Coco in to see if the pups have leaft any food in their pan. The real problem is that Coco can also open the gate from the puppy kennel room into the large room where we feed, bathe, etc. Yesterday Salsa followed Coco in and, in her normal manner, counter-surfed and snared a bottle of phenylpropanolamine (Proin), which we give 10-year old Monroe for incontinence. I found the empty bottle in the kennel run so Salsa had finished off the contents. Fortunately, there were only eight 75-mg tablets left. Cheri called the poison-control consultant, who said that it was about half the amount that they think would cause serious problems. As of today Salsa seems perfectly normal so her steel stomach has served her well once again.
This stage in a litter is always a lot of fun, watching the pups expand their little universe. They are starting to play in the grass now and come over to the patio outside our family room. And now that they are totally weaned Salsa is starting to play with them. But that doesn't stop the occasional attempt to revisit the food bar:
We had visitors today, Terry and Tori Rosen and their son Brandon, who is a Caltech undergrad and is spending the summer interning with John Kuriyan at Berkeley. They brought Halo, their 4 1/2-month old puppy from our Sheila-Ruger litter and he and Coco played with the puppies. Finally the pups all collapsed in a heap to nap in the grass.
With regard to feeding, we have settled into a routine--three meals a day, at about 7 am, 2 pm, and 9 pm. Now they are getting four cups of kibble for each of the three meals. Mabe a little too much as little Inge isn't feeling very good this afternoon and napped in the puppy crate throughout the visitors. She has been on a dedicated catch-up campaign and has the shape of a little hippo.
Sunday morning and pups are 6 weeks old today. They had visitors this morning. Jennifer Pearce is in one of Cheri's Pilates classes and she brought her twin 12-year old daughters Ainsley and Abby for a lot of holding and valuable socialization.
Coco, who had her one-year birthday Thursday, watched the proceedings from her perch on one of the patio chairs.
Cheri helped me stack the puppies about 1:30 on Sunday afternoon. I am not sure what I can make from the photos this week. They have grown leg this week and in today's photos they all look short in neck and body. I expect this aspect ratio to change over the next two weeks. The heads, which aren't really apparent in these photos, are uniformly lovely, as can be expected from the parents, both of whom have very nice heads. The pigmentation of the five livers is rich and very much like Salsa's.
We are having more visitors now that the pups are taking over the yard and are a lot more interactive. The first photo is our friend Terry Rosen, who owns Halo, one of our 4 1/2-month-old Sheila-Ruger male puppies and will be getting Margrete from this litter. The other two photos are face shots of Olav and Knut, two of the boys from the litter.
Our back yard is completely fenced with a 6-foot redwood fence. The total area is about half of our 1-acre lot: This week the puppies are extending their range. For the first week or so they played outside the fenced on the sidewalk, and then began to visit the concrete patio out side our family room. This week they are starting to roam all the way out to the large grass yard. When they get tired from their exploration they sometimes nap on a dog bed on the patio or just go back into the kennel and curl up in their little Varikennel
Olav chilling on the patio
Salsa and Sigrid
Everyone doing well. Last night Cheri was out so when I fed the pups their evening meal about 8:30 I sat in a chair in the kennel while they ran all about and played with each other. They are totally carefree at this age. Finally they settled in a heap in their little kennel room and went to sleep.