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What is addressed to us for contemplation does not threaten us, but makes us intellectual beings.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Where has the time gone? It’s hard to believe the puppies are 9 weeks old already — and harder to imagine that with most breeders they would already have gone to their new homes. Clearly puppies have been going to homes at 7-8 weeks for decades, with no apparent ill-effects in most cases, but I look at these pups and I just can’t imagine sending them off on their own right now! They do so much learning over the next few weeks — new people, new places, new experiences, and lots of learning how to be a dog and communicate with other dogs. We’ve had puppies that have come to us at 8 weeks and that have come to us at 12 weeks, and we have noticed that the older puppies are a little more self-controlled, a little more stable. It doesn’t mean owners are off the hook as far as socializing, training, teaching bite inhibition, etc. — at 12 weeks socialization is still very important and Boxer puppies are still little devils!

We’ve had a few mild days this week (and several more in sight) so the pups have had some good outside time — they love exploring the yard and they get some good sound sleep afterward! Potty training has been going a little slowly because of the temperatures, but we should be able to make good strides now that it will be comfortably above freezing. (They’re pretty good about going on the papers, but we try to get them going outside most of the time before they go to their new homes. They won’t be perfect, of course — they’re too young! — but it helps to give them a head start.) We’ll start crate-training in earnest, too, this week. They’ve had crates open to them since they were 4 weeks old and one or more sleep in a crate more often than not. Once we start closing the door, however, it’s a different story. They’ve had some 10-15 minute crating sessions when we’ve been cleaning their pen, so we’ll start from there and increase the time, then start on alone-crating.

The little girl is still little, but has grown by leaps and bounds since starting on solid foods. She is about 2/3 the size of her brothers, but she was 1/2 their size just a couple of weeks ago. She is a normal puppy in all other respects (knock wood, of course!), so we’ll just wait to see if she’s going to catch up to the boys or if she’ll always be on the small side. The boys are now about the same size as the pups in the last litter, so they’re apparently thriving on their raw diet. They’ve had chicken wings on occasion to get them used to raw meat and bones, and they’re getting some ground raw mixes — and still snacking on Emma a few times a day, as she lets them!

The puppies are now 4 weeks old and are doing well (knock on wood, always knock on wood!). The little girl is still very, very little, but she is gaining steadily (if slowly) and her activity and development are on par with her brothers, so we’re hoping she’s just little. A number of different things could be wrong, but unless we start seeing signs of a problem we’ve decided not to borrow trouble — so long as I can say that if it weren’t for her size I wouldn’t be worried at all, I’m trying not to worry. (It’s not easy — my natural inclination is to worry exponentially more than is necessary! — but I’m working on it.) We started introducing solid foods today, so hopefully that will give her a boost — often smaller puppies do start gaining more once they’re on solid foods, and have caught up to their littermates by 12 weeks of age.

We moved the puppies into their new room today — they started crawling out of the pool a week ago, but rather than move them at that time (3 weeks is considered a fear period, although we did move the last litter at that age) we set up a puppy area where the pool had been — it was kind of a nice transition from the pool to the large space they have now, which is understandably intimidating. They’ve settled in well, so far — of course they have some familiar things with them, which helps. We added a small dog bed a few days ago, which they love to pile up and sleep in. (Soon we’ll add another one, as they’ll be getting too big to all fit in the one bed!) They’ve got one of the fleece ‘blankets’ they had in the pool/whelping room and all of the toys they had. We’ve added a few rugs (their new area has vinyl flooring, so the rugs provide traction as well as another texture) and a brick that had been outside (new object/feel and smells). We’ll bring in a radio in a day or two and start leaving it on during the day, set to a different type of station each time. Some new toys will make their way into the room as well, probably baby toys which are good for noise and motion.

As I noted, we started feeding sold foods today. Last time we started at 3 weeks; I held off this time because many of the raw ‘gurus’ say puppies can’t digest non-milk foods until 4 weeks old. Of course the last litter didn’t have problems that we noticed, but I didn’t see as much shivering the first time we fed this litter as we saw with the last one, and I wonder if that’s an indication. (Or it could be that I took pains to be sure the food was room temperature this time.) There are as many different raw weaning methods as there are people who feed raw diets, so deciding which process to use can be frustrating! We decided to combine a couple, so we’re giving 1/2 oz. balls of raw hamburger to start; they each had one at about 6:30 p.m. and will have another at about 11 p.m. Tomorrow we’ll feed those three times, and depending on how it goes I may start a goat’s milk gruel for the evening meal (goat’s milk, egg, kefir, NR Tree Bark Gruel, and baby barley cereal to thicken it). If they do well with that, we’ll give two meals of each for this week, then next week will mix the burger with the gruel and start feeding ground raw chicken (with bone). At some point this week we’ll throw a few wings in for them to suck on/play with, so they start to get the idea. Emma will have free access to them most of the time, as well — while we’re gone during the day, and at night — so they’ll still be nursing off of her, too. I think she’ll be glad that they’re getting some food elsewhere, though; she’s been a little reluctant to feed them and I know from experience that their sharp little teeth are coming in!

 

We bred Emma to the gorgeous Jag, Ch. Randolph’s Beau Jangles — whom I always call “Clifford” in my head, because he’s a big, red dog. ;) We’ve known Jag since he was whelped, and believe he has a lot to offer Emma. We’re sure to get some gorgeous pigment in these puppies, as an added bonus!

Emma had seven puppies; unfortunately the last two were stillborn. We think it’s due to her prolonged labor — 14 hours from start to finish this time. Even though many bitches take long breaks between puppies and have no issues, that doesn’t seem to be the case for Emma. We suspect the puppies detached early on in the labor process, so weren’t getting blood and oxygen for several hours. They had no color when they were born, and no heartbeats. We tried resuscitation, of course, but couldn’t get them going. (The last two puppies in her previous litter had the same issues — the fifth was born without a heartbeat and we couldn’t get him going; the sixth had a very faint heartbeat and we worked on her for 45 minutes before she really got going. That was Gloria, who at 3 years old is as healthy and vital as you could want!)

To add to our sadness, the littlest puppy boy was not interested in nursing. We were bottle feeding him, and he wasn’t even particularly interested in that, although once we were able to get the bottle in his mouth he would nurse from it, sometimes with vigor but usually lackadaisically. At 2 days old he started fading, that evening he started gasping for air, and shortly after arriving at the emergency vet he went into cardiac arrest. They could not bring him back, and upon intubation milk came pouring out of his lungs. We suspect some kind of developmental problem, due to his lack of interest in nursing from the start, and based on how relaxed Emma became after he was gone. It is as if she knew something was wrong with him, which of course is entirely possible.

Conventional wisdom says that 30% of puppies will die at birth or in the litter. It’s hard to accept, in this day and age, that this statistic applies to home-whelped, purpose-bred litters (as opposed to puppies whelped in the wild, where neonatal loss seems more inevitable). We should be grateful, I suppose, that our overall record in limited breeding is far lower, but this one litter has been full of losses. I have hesitated even to post information about the puppies, because I am so worried and superstitious now; however they were all checked by the vet yesterday when their tails and dewclaws were done, and given the “A-OK”, as was Emma. I’ll still worry, of course, for several more weeks — but logically they’re all eating well, moving around, and are warm, pink, and twitchy, all signs of happy, healthy puppies. (Knock wood, of course!)

At 5 days old, there’s not much else to report. We started Early Neurological Stimulation exercises yesterday (a day late, actually, but the pups have been handled multiple times per day every days so I think we’ll be OK); those continue through 16 days old. We’ll start adding different textures and scents to the whelping box over the next couple of weeks; eyes and ears don’t open until about 10-14 days, and those senses aren’t well-developed for another week or two, but the senses of touch and smell are highly functioning from birth. Small stresses help build strong immune systems, increase cardiac performance, and contribute to stable temperaments (but you don’t want to over-do it, either!).  New photos will be posted to the litter pages weekly, and I will try to keep this blog updated (if for no other reason than to have it to look over with the next litter!).

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July 2018
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Males - Hunter :: Potter :: William   ||   Females - Patsy :: Xena :: Emma :: Evie :: U-Ch. Sage :: Gloria

Bred By - Dart :: Brandy :: Peanut :: Izzie   ||   Past - Ch. Hugo :: Linus :: Nettie :: Valentine

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