The final weeks are upon us. The puppies are no longer little blobs of fuzzy cuteness, but active, demanding creatures with personalities – and very sharp little teeth. I’ve noticed lately that they are in the stage where they begin craving human interaction but don’t quite know what to do with it. I watch them interact with Greta and they clamber around her, clawing and biting and trying desperately to nurse. Once they are satisfied with that, they really don’t know what else to do with her. It is sort of like that with me. When they see me, they swarm around my legs and jump up at me, biting. If I bend down they try desperately to put their mouth on my hands some how. If I let them, they try to crawl up my arms toward my face. If I let them, they arrive at my face with their eyes looking crazy and their mouths open and snapping. Really, I think they have no idea what to do – they just W A N T.
I understand that there are many things they are learning now, how to eat from a bowl, and drink water, how to potty outside and how to relate to one another. I’ve seen every litter go through that learning process. But this is the first time I’ve realized that learning how to relate to people is also something they have to learn. They have to understand and get used to cuddling, being petted, and playing with someone (rather than simply chewing on someone). All this is learned, of course. I just hadn’t realized it until tonight.
The pups are huge and very advanced! Which is good as Greta seems to have had enough of mothering. I had her outside with me the entire morning (nearly 5 hours) and not once did she seem stressed about being away from her puppies. She ran around joyfully, sniffing and exploring. She tired to get Hermes to play by body slamming into him, but he wasn’t as into being outside as she was. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself. In fact, when I returned her to the puppy room I expected her to be happy to see her pups as she hadn’t nursed them at all. However, when I went back into the room a bit later she still hadn’t nursed them! That was at least 7 hours without nursing! And her teats were really taught…I had to rather forcefully “encourage” her to nurse them. Now that she has, she is scratching on the door, desperate to get out again! I think Greta has had enough of mothering.
There are some moments in time where you think, “if only I had a camera!” But I’ve found that when I feel that way I have to become very present to what I’m experiencing… then I can make a memory that is far richer than any photograph.
Wednesday was one of those nights. I’ve been coming down to spend an hour with Greta and the pups each night. For the past two nights I’ve been introducing them to the concept of eating by lapping food, rather than sucking. These guys are getting it but they are so confused! And when this litter gets confused or frustrated they whine so loud. I put a bowl of warm formula on the floor and put them all around it. They got excited and began to lap. Then they got confused and started crawling around and crying. Then they cried louder and walked through the food. Then they started licking it off of each other. Then they started lapping the milk again. Then they got confused and cried even louder. You get the picture. It was funny but noisy.
Afterward they all huddled around mama and had a proper meal. They nursed like champs for a half an hour, until they all fell asleep. They crawled around to Greta’s head and tried to snuggle as close as possible. At one point, one of them crawled right up her neck, and Greta, being the good mama that she is, just kept moving her head until she was looking straight up at the ceiling. The little pup sighed and feel asleep and Greta shot me a look that was unmistakably, “You’ve got to be kidding!” She wrestled the pup gently back down and pushed her away with her nose. Then, she laid her head on the pile of pups that had formed around her and feel asleep. Seeing all those warm, satisfied bodies all curled up into one another made me feel all warm and safe and happy inside. That was the “photo” I took tonight. Too bad I didn’t have a camera for you all to see it.
Greta‘s pups are getting so big. It’s been over a week since they were born and small enough to hold in the palm of my hands. Now they overflow, wriggling and squirming their way out. Just a day ago I noticed a lot of squeaking and practice barking. I wondered to myself what was up and realized that their ears were starting to open. To test this I gently but clearly tapped on the side of their whelping pen (the green wading pool you see in the pictures) and sure enough, they all startled! So cool to see their bodies right on target developmentally.
Greta has been sick but is finally getting better. I counted and she was having a loose, runny, large volume poop every two hours! You know what fun that is? I can’t even begin to tell you. The vet thinks her whipworm or hookworm infections may not have cleared with the first round of Panacur so we are doing a second three day dose. She also included a general antibiotic just in case in was something bacterial. It seems to have done the trick as she pooped three times today, just like a normal dog. Hopefully we’ll be out of that particular woods soon.
I feel so bad for Greta. Until the foster mamas are given a clean bill of health I have to keep them quarantined, which basically means she spends the majority of the day and night by herself (with her pups of course) in a room. She does get frequent short potty walks (and is keeping her room clean!) and at least two long walks (45 minutes) each day, but still, she is bored and wants to hang out with me and the other dogs. Poor girl. Hopefully soon she’ll be able to get out and about more.
As you see from the pictures, the puppies mostly sleep. Lately I have been catching them sleeping on their backs with their little mouths open! So cute. They are clearly feeling safe and happy. When they are hungry and hear and smell Greta, they “walk” (more like a seal like of waddle thing than a really doggy walk) around their whelping pen crying their heads off, “looking” for her. Their eyes are still closed so mostly they snuffle around, bumping into one another. eventually they give up and just huddle together in a lump. Very cute.
THEY HAVE ARRIVED! 5 of them and Greta (no longer called Honey) did it all by herself. I got home from work and headed down there to see them squirming around. They look great, healthy and strong. She had the cleanest labor I’ve ever seen. Nice job mama dog! Pictures soon.
Tonight is the second night of our new mama’s (Honey?) time with us, and she is settling in. She is so young – clearly a puppy still herself. She is so happy, lots of wags and excitement each time she sees us. And she has a surprising amount of energy given her “condition” and her very malnourished state. If she didn’t have whipworms and hookworms she’d be out with my other dogs, romping in the big yard by now. But we need to get her cleaned up inside first (and get rid of her fleas) before letting her interact with my dogs.
She is a funny looking dog! I hope to get some photos that really capture how she looks in 3 dimensions. It’s strange but she looks different from different angles. Sometimes she looks just like a hound, a coon hound or such but then you see her short legs. Tonight she reminded me of our dog, Brandy, who died this spring. Brandy had a similar look to her face, in the eyes and the ears, but normal length legs. This mama looks like she’s been cut off at the knees. I said that to her tonight, “Mama, who took your legs? Someone stole your legs and left you with these little stumps!” But she is unaware of her unusual look, and just radiates love and happiness. I love that about those foster dogs – how adaptable and agreeable they are.
Last night and again tonight I laid my hand on her side and felt the little puppies moving around. They are strong – kicking and squirming. It won’t be long now and we’ll have a whole bunch of little ones running around. Wonder what they will look like?
We will be receiving a new mama dog named Honey tomorrow. She has not yet delivered her pups, but she is being transported tomorrow (Tuesday) to us… stay tuned for a new adventure!
Well, today was SO hot that I figured if I bathed Sandy? Daisy? Angie? (still haven’t found a name right for her) outside she wouldn’t mind the cold water and she’d dry off in a snap. Plus I figured she’d like the time outside. Boy was she freaked out by the water! It could be that it was spraying at her from the hose (I tried to be gentle but there isn’t that gentle a way for one to spray another with a hose) or that it was cold, or that she’s never had a bath or a hose bath before – I’m not sure which it is. But once she realized that all I was doing was hosing her down and that she couldn’t get away from me, she submitted. It sort of was humbling to me, how dogs let us submit our will on them rather easily. Now I know what I was doing was for her own good and she ultimately seemed to really enjoy being clean (you know how dogs do that rubbing thing on the carpet once they’re clean? She was rubbing herself along the garage door!!) but it sort of hit me how I could have been doing anything to her and she would eventually give in. How trusting, and how sad that so many people betray that trust. It just really hit me today for some reason.
But anyway, hopefully she will be ok with her next bath and hopefully I didn’t teach her to be deathly afraid of them…I think not as, like I said, she clearly got into it after a bit. And it is nice to have her clean!! Birth is a yucky business and that first week continues to be a bit yucky. Add to that her bout of whipworm and the poop that goes a long with that, and her pups crawling all over her and THEIR loose stool and… well, you get the picture. The dog needed a bath. (more…)