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12/30/2006 -- 1 day old!
Mary's first whole day as a mom has been super. She is a wonderful mother. She constantly licks, nuzzles and nurses her babies and is carefully protective of them while still allowing her people to pet and even hold her darlings (although she does watch us closely!).
The puppies are doing beautifully and are now champion nursers. They sleep, then they nurse, then they sleep some more! Their eyes are still shut tight so they just root and wriggle around to find where they want to be. When they are awake and are unhappy about anything (mainly either because they haven't found a good spot at feeding time or if Mary accidentally steps on them when getting herself arranged), they make tiny and adorable squeaking mewing noises that sound a lot like guinea pig squeaks (although not as loud as guinea pigs).
Mary is very funny on her bathroom breaks outside. We usually have to carry her outside to get her to leave her puppies, but a couple times later this afternoon she has willingly (a bit regretfully) followed us out of her own accord. Once outside, Mary so very quickly does her business and then ZZOOOMS to the yard gate to ask to go back inside. At each door between her and her pups (there will be three -- the yard gate, the front door and the bedroom door), Mary ZZOOOMS to the door and stands intently until you catch up with her and open the door, at which moment she ZZOOOMS to the next door until she finally reaches her puppies.
Of course, Mary then spends several minutes licking each puppy intently until she is convinced that no harm came to them during her possible 90 second to two minute absence (which apparently feels like a VERY long time to Mary!).
Our children are ecstatic when we announce a potty break because they know they can have 90 seconds of uninterrupted puppy handling without Mary's ever watchful eye!
Mary's potty training is going superbly! Now that those puppies are out of her tummy allowing more room for her bladder and bowels, Mary seems to have found the ability to easily go a few hours between potty breaks and she has also now got the habit of going potty as soon as she gets outside. We believe we are "over the hump" on Mary's potty training. Woohoo!!
Mary hasn't forgotten her love of people and she has even ventured out of her nest box 3 or 4 feet a few times to get closer to her people. She always returns to her nest after a few minutes of loving and we, of course, take her cue to come over and love on her while she is in her nest. Mary really is a love bug to both her puppies and her people. We are blessed that she has come into our lives.
Today, our children have two friends over for a sleep over and they have all spent lots of time adoring and petting Mary and her pups. The children have now given all seven puppies their "puppy names" (which, of course, their adoptive families will likely change). The boys are Bob & Jack while the girls are Sparkle, Snowflake, Star, Diamond & Peanut. Our older daughter and her friend spent an hour or so blissfully photographing each puppy and documenting each puppy's name, markings, birth order (yes, we took notes!) and weight. We will weigh the puppies regularly to make sure they are gaining weight properly and the girls will even graph their weight curves. (What a nice little science & math project!). Today, their weights ranged from 225 to 290 grams (just over half a pound).
With so many puppies to feed and especially since her nutrition was likely poor before her recent rescue, our little Mary will need a lot of calories in the coming weeks, so we will keep a close eye on her condition and continue to feed her a highly nutritious and high calorie puppy food, supplemented with a special prescription diet high calorie food as needed.
1/1/2007 -- 3 days old
Mary and her puppies had a peaceful and happy New Year. The puppies are growing so quickly and get cuter every hour. Their guinea pig like squeaks are getting louder and louder they are getting more and more mobile. They still just sleep, nurse and then sleep some more.
Today, their tiny ears have changed from being aerodynamically plastered to their heads to flopping down like normal tiny ears. They like to snuggle with each other and they are happy to be held by us. Mary watches us closely when we are holding them but she is quite patient with us and allows us to hold them.
Mary is getting more confident about leaving the puppies alone for a few minutes so that she can venture out of the bedroom to visit with the family for a little while.
Some big news today: Dr. Zucker looked the puppies over and made a startling discovery -- the "girl" puppy that we had named Snowflake is a BOY!! I'm not sure quite how I missed that, but I guess that is why he's the doctor and I'm not!! So, we have 3 boys and 4 girls!
1/3/07 - 5 days old
Mary's puppies are growing like weeds and have nearly doubled their birth weights already! Today, their weights ranged from 395 to 500 grams (that's right around one pound each!) Peanut is still the smallest but is growing well just like all her littermates. We don't have a fancy scale at home like those at the hospital, so we just use a simple and well used kitchen scale (that we repossessed from the kids' science experiment shelves). It works just fine and helps us know that all the puppies are thriving and getting plenty to eat.
Their ears are really amazing because if you look closely, you see there is no visible ear canal structure yet to connect their inner ear to the outer world! The ears are simply little folds of skin with no canal going inside! Watching the formation of these tiny little creatures is truly awesome and very amazing.
Mary has remembered that she is a dog as well as a mom and she is enjoying playing with the other Zucker dogs when she is out on her potty breaks. She isn't as fast as the other dogs, but what she lacks in speed she makes up for in attitude. She is a real member of the pack now. We are delighted to see that motherhood hasn't diminished her interest in all the members of the Zucker home.
A lovely surprise came in the mail today when a friend and client of AMC sent us a check to contribute towards Mary and her puppies care. While this donation isn't necessary to ensure our continued commitment to Mary and her family, we do sincerely appreciate the gift and will ensure it goes towards Mary and her puppies' expenses. Today's gift paid for one large bag of Science Diet puppy food (which, considering the ravenous way Mary is eating, won't last too long). The contributions of our clients to our Needy Pet Fund do add up and do make it easier for us to extend charitable care to needy pets. There is a bottomless need for care and so every donation we receive allows us to say "YES" one more time to a pet in need. Thank you!!
1/5/06 -- One Week Birthday!
We can hardly believe it has been a week today since these 7 wiggly kids entered our lives and just 2 weeks today since we met Mary! It has been a wonderful time! The kids are doing great. They are growing well and have become round little tubs. Even our tiny Peanut has just about hit the one pound mark today and the biggest pups are nearly a pound and a half!!
The puppies have become more creative in their sleeping patterns and now roll around, sleeping on their backs, upside down and all around.
Mary is still incredibly kind and patient with all of us people who love to mess with her and her babies. We enjoy snuggling with them all!
Today we had our first client inquiry about possibly adopting one of Mary's puppies!! Yippee! We have begun an "Interested" list and will take names of people who may be interested in adopting a puppy. When the pups are about 6 weeks old (early February), we will invite interested families to visit with the puppies here at our home and then we will begin accepting applications for adoption. We would LOVE to have many or all of the puppies reserved so that when they are old enough to leave Mary (8 weeks or so), they can go directly to homes of their own! Wouldn't that be amazing?
1/11/07 -- 13 days old
Mary and her puppies are all doing just super. We're working hard to load the calories into Mary since she is nursing so many rapidly growing puppies. She is eating about 5 to 6 cups of high quality puppy food a day, plus about a half a can of a very high calorie prescription diet (a/d). So far, she is maintaining her condition but we're ready to increase her a/d if she shows any signs of loss of condition.
Puppies benefit from early contact with people. Puppies who receive good early socialization grow into dogs who trust and like people and are comfortable with many different people, animals and experiences. At this early age, daily handling is what they need. This photo was taken when Snow Flake (aka Snow Storm -- our son thinks Snow Flake is too feminine for a boy puppy) was 10 days old. By three or four weeks, they also gain from exposure to other animals, a variety of people, noises and experiences. Later, they also gain from experiences like Puppy Preschool.
Last night, we noticed that Jack's eyes are open! He is one of the largest puppies and so it makes some sense that he'd be the first. How cute is he?? We expect all the puppies to open their eyes over the next few days!
Since Mary had such a large litter and the puppies are growing so rapidly, we decided to try to get the puppies to take one bottle feeding of puppy formula each day to take some pressure off of Mary. We began attempts this week but so far, the puppies are not interested in the bottle at all. We'll keep trying to encourage them to take a bottle once a day, keep watching their weight and keep pushing calories into Mary.
We're very happy that so far, Mary and her puppies are all thriving, but we know that we still face a couple risky weeks while Mary's little undernourished body works so hard to produce enough milk for all these puppies! She is about 25 lbs now and feeding about 14 lbs of puppy!! That is like a 150 lb woman nursing 84 lbs of baby!! No wonder that lactation is the most calorie demanding stage of a dog's life and also carries significant risk to both mom and puppies. Nearly all serious breeders have faced a life threatening situation with mother or puppy at least once. Moms like Mary who didn't receive early and regular veterinary care and optimum nutrition throughout pregnancy face even higher risks. It's scary to know all the things that could go wrong. Even if it were not for the tragic consequences of pet overpopulation, I don't think I'd ever want to intentionally breed a dog I cared about, just knowing how hard it can be on the mother and how many risks there are.
1/15/2007 -- 2 weeks and 3 days
It is hard to believe, but these puppies just keep getting cuter. All seven now have wide open eyes and they walk like drunken college students. Bob, the first to be born, was also the first to begin walking at 13 days old. Within a couple days, all seven puppies are now toddling all over the place. They wobble and wander and are just adorable. They have all managed to climb out of their little nest and we are desperately seeking out a new larger nest box before they start scrambling all over the bedroom. The puppies have really begun to enjoy being held and are very calm and sweet when being held. They are perfectly adorable and addictive.
Most folks recommend a child's swimming pool for an ideal nest box, but finding one in January in Morgantown isn't easy! We've searched Lowe's for oversized rubbermaid to no avail. Dr. Zucker will likely be pulling out the carpentry tools next weekend to make a wooden box for them unless we have an easier inspiration before then.
Their ears now look like tiny normal ears and their tiny whiskers are soft and tickley. They seem to be developing Mary's very soft and lovely fur, so we are excited to see that they are taking after their pretty mom.
Mary and the puppies all still look great. We're still offering them bottles every day and sometimes they will take a little bit. Most days, they pretty much ignore the bottle and seem to think we're crazy for trying. They are getting plenty of milk from Mary and are still growing very well, but we are still worried about Mary's health as she is now in her highest energy demand stage of lactation. In a couple weeks when the puppies begin eating some puppy food, Mary's energy demands will lessen some, so we'll keep our fingers crossed that her little body keeps on keeping on until then!
At two weeks of age, the puppies received their first deworming with Strongid to control both hookworms and roundworms. We will repeat these dewormings every 2 weeks through about 3 months of age and then go to monthly deworming with heartworm preventative. Mary is continuing her daily Panacur dewormer for two more weeks and then will also go to monthly deworming with heartworm preventative. This aggressive deworming protocol, recommended by the CDC and CAPC, is the gold standard for preventing and controlling intestinal parasites in puppies.
1/21/2007 -- 3 weeks & 2 days old
What perfect angels these puppies are! Just in time for their third week birthday, Dr. Zucker built them a spacious and sturdy new whelping box. It is 3 x 4 feet with 12 inch walls.
Like their earlier, smaller box, their new home is lined with several layers of cotton towels that are changed several times a day. Underneath the toweling, we have dogs beds filled with absorbent pine shavings to provide some extra insulation, cushioning and to absorb any extra moisture.
Mary now has more room to stretch out with her growing puppies and the puppies are making good use of the extra space to play! They can now sit, stand, walk and even wrestle! They pretty much look and play like a typical puppy -- their just smaller and clumsier. They have begun to make very cute and funny small barks and growls in addition to their whimpers and whines. Around their third week birthday, they all began teething and one by one, each puppy's teeth erupted, so they now all have tiny razor like teeth! We are now offering them canned puppy food as well as water each day, but so far they are pure milk-drinkers having rejected our offered bottle feedings and so far declined water or puppy food.
Mary is doing very well, although she is a touch thin. We've added a full large can of canned science diet puppy food each day (split into two feedings) to her bottomless bowl of dry science diet puppy food. We may add a second daily can later this week if she gets any thinner.
Mary is happy, loving and completely settled into the Zucker family. She now has accepted our four cats coming and going in the bedroom (where her puppies are), although she still will not accept our other dogs coming into the bedroom. This perfectly natural possessiveness and protectiveness is gradually waning as her puppies are growing, so we expect that she'll be ready to introduce her friends (our other dogs) to her babies in another couple weeks.
A second wonderful client and devoted dog owner has expressed interest in adopting one of Mary's puppies! Hooray! We plan to invite interested families to visit with the puppies when they are about 6 weeks old (the second week of February). Please contact us and ask to be put on our "Interested List" if you would like to consider adopting one of these angels so that we can invite you to visit when the puppies are ready for visits.
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