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Massive Growth, Puppy Chow, a Big Move, and a Wonderful Weekend for Me

Where have I been for the past two weeks?  Taking care of puppies, running up and down the stairs, hanging in the laundry room, and getting together with a group of my labradoodle breeder friends.

Well, still lots of work going on in terms of taking care of the babies.  We’ve gone from micro management to a more macro stage.  A few short weeks ago,  I had to watch them very carefully to make sure that they were warm enough, not dehydrated, getting enough milk, and gaining enough weight every 12 hours- nerve wracking and such responsibility!  Now I’m doing things like teaching them how to eat “real” food, cleaning up poo, and making sure that each of the pups gets appropriate stimulation multiple times daily.

Look at the size of those pups…

All of the pups are HUGE, when compared to their birth weight.  Little Laura, who was the smallest pup at birth, now weighs 7.5 times what she weighed then!  From 5.5 ounces to 38 ounces, all in 25 days.  Because of the large size of this litter, we began the weaning process a few days earlier than we might if there had been fewer pups.  This will in no way hurt the litter; they’re still nursing, still being mothered by Rosie, and getting great nutrition.  We began feeding them a semi-solid food last Sunday (the 27th); it’s made of rice baby cereal and puppy formula.  As with a human baby, you begin with a pretty thin mixture.  I take each pup on its own and sit down on the floor with it.  I scoop up some of the mixture with a finger, and put it on the pups lips.  Almost all of them start to suck it off my fingers immediately.  On subsequent days, I start putting my fingers down in the tray of food, and within 3 days they are eating very nicely.  We had the mixture pretty thick by Wednesday, and the pups seemed to be tolerating it well.  Also, they weren’t attacking Rosie quite as voraciously when she came near to check on them!  Poor girl, the collective weight of the litter is as much as she weighs 🙂  She is such a good, good mama.  I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of her attentiveness and care of her babies.

Thursday morning, I started the pups on two meals a day of mash.  I started adding in soaked and smooshed puppy kibble to their rice cereal.  What a treat!  And today, Saturday, their two meals consisted of about 2/3 softened kibble and only 1/3 rice cereal.  It goes quickly!  They are so very messy when they eat, often stepping in and sliding around on the food tray.  They get it all over them, and if Rosie is nearby, she will lick up the remaining food and then clean up the pups.  I play the backup role here, wiping the babies down with a warm washcloth to make sure they don’t dry with a crust all over them 🙂

I’m the only one who is left wearing a crust….my clothes are taking a beating, and I’m not smart enough to “dress down” to do puppy care….

Which leads me to the topic of laundry.  The pups are living on “hospital pads”- cotton quilt on one side, waterproof backing on the other.  I change these 4 to 5 times a day, and of course after each meal. Our bedroom is upstairs, and the laundry room is downstairs, so I make lots and lots of trips up and down, all day long.    I have laundry going round the clock, and if I miss a day, I’m really, really behind.  Things just got a little easier for me, though…..

With the pups getting older and LOUDER, and now that they’re better able to regulate their body temperatures, we moved them downstairs Thursday night. They were unsettled at first, but seem to have adjusted just fine.  They are now in the center of the action- smack dab in the middle of our family room.   It’s not the most elegant way for our family to live, but I really think that our puppies turn out better for it (and I don’t have to lug the dirty hospital pads up and down stairs!!!)   We aren’t the quietest people, and we have junior high and high school kids in and out of our house all the time.  The pups don’t even flinch at loud noises, which is exactly why I do it this way.  I often pick one of the pups up and carry it around with me as I go on about my business- I just have to do things one-handed.   They answer the door with me, do dishes, push laundry through, check my email- all in the name of exposing them to as many places, noises, sights, and smells as possible.

We will set up the “big” puppy box tomorrow, and then they will begin their early potty training.  They have a natural instinct to want to relieve themselves someplace away from where they sleep and eat; we capitalize on this by placing a litter box at the far end of the box (which is 4 x 8).  They will quickly learn that the box is the place to “go”.  This should make their transition into their new, forever homes a bit easier, although there is still much potty training work to be done after they leave our house.  I am working hard to produce the easiest, most loving, and intuitive dogs I can.

Me and a couple of my sweeties

How do I expand my knowledge of just how to raise wonderful family animals?  Every once in a while, I have an opportunity to attend a labradoodle breeders’ conference.  I’ve made some great friends in this community, and it’s so fun to go and spend time learning and discussing topics related to labradoodles.  This group also provides some accountability (for all of us) with regard to maintaining very high standards in health testing and ethical breeding practices.  We’re all trying hard to develop and maintain a breed that won’t fall prey to overbreeding and genetic health issues.  Our conference last weekend, was held in nearby Tualatin, and over 45 breeders from around the country attended.  We networked, dined together, and sat in on seminars about taxes for dog breeders, neonatal care, socialization, color genetics, and (!) actual breeding management (you know, the ACTUAL breeding).  I learned so much and came home to the pups eager to put a lot of new ideas into play.  So much fun, and so educational!

Well, that’s all for this week.  I’m going to make like my doodle puppies and get some sleep.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much! I love the picture of Rosie and the babies 🙂

  2. We just love hearing all about the puppies and your family. Thanks for the update!

  3. What a great blog update. Lauren so enjoyed coming up Saturday, sitting on the floor with you, and snuggling each of those precious little ones in turn. She told me how gentle she was trying to be. 🙂 They have really grown! What cuties.