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1/30/2007 - 4 weeks and 4 days
Wow, these puppies are growing and getting more adorable every hour! They have all their tiny teeth! They have begun to eat small amounts of canned puppy food and drinking water.
Their coats have grown ever softer and fuzzier -- they're sure to have wonderful soft and silky medium to long fur. Some, like Jack, have especially long fur but all have very soft lovely fur. Since they will soon be ready to find their own families, this week I will be working on uploading individual portraits of each fellow and telling you a bit about them.
SnowStorm is pictured at right. (Of course, SnowStorm is just his puppy name; his adoptive family will give him a permanent name.) He is one of the larger puppies. At 4 pounds today, we guess he might grow to 30 to 40 pounds. (The smaller ones may be 5 pounds smaller.)
Like all the puppies, SnowStorm had his second deworming and his first DAPP vaccine yesterday. Although we don't usually begin vaccinations until about 6 weeks of age, we are starting these kids a few weeks early because of Mary's unknown vaccine history. Most mother dogs are well vaccinated (or have acquired immunity through exposure to diseases, especially the common and deadly parvo). The mother dog passes her own immunity to some diseases to her puppies through the colostrum (early milk).
This immunity generally lasts for at least a few weeks and wears off sometime between 6 and 12 weeks -- we can never know exactly when. While the materal antibodies are in the puppy's body, the vaccines will not have any effect. This is why we always vaccinate through at least 12 weeks of age and also why it is generally unnecessary to vaccinate before 6 weeks of age. The unpredictable nature of when maternal antibodies will wear off means that all puppies have vulnerable periods of time between when their own maternal antibodies wear off and when they get their next DAPP booster. We consider all puppies, even those who are receiving optimum veterinary care, very vulnerable to parvovirus and other communicable diseases until all their puppy boosters are complete at 12 weeks of age.
Since we have no idea about Mary's past vaccine or immunity status, Dr. Zucker decided to give the puppies an extra early vaccine to offer protection during these early weeks in case Mary did not have immunity to share with her puppies. Given the high incidence of deadly parvovirus in Morgantown and the fact that both Dr. Zucker and his wife, Stephanie, are at the hospital and exposed to illness on a daily basis, it is prudent to offer these puppies extra protection.
2/1/2007 - 4 weeks & 6 days old
At almost 5 weeks old, the puppies are just adorable. They are enjoying their puppy food meals and are now getting about a third of their calories from puppy food and the rest from their patient mother. In the photo at right, peanut is off to the right drinking water.
Peanut's littermates are all sharing the puppy food, from 12:00, clockwise. . . Star (female, the largest puppy, peaceful and snuggly), Sparkle (female, second largest puppy, loves to be held), SnowStorm (largest male, most outgoing of the puppies and always begging for attention), Diamond (female, arguably the most beautiful puppy because of her lovely white face marking that gives her a lovely Sheltie look), Jack (male with super silky long fur) and Bob (the smallest male, first born, with an adorable lean face that gives him a "Benji"-like look).
Our "puppy of the day" today is Peanut. Peanut is a lovely cinnamon brown like her mom. She has small white markings on her chest and feet. She has always been the smallest puppy but has grown very well and eats like a champion. Peanut and the smallest male, Bob, were the first two puppies to show much interest in puppy food and are always the first to the food dish and the last to leave it!
Like all the puppies, Peanut loves attention. She loves to be held and played with. She plays with the puppy toys, chews on everything and particularly loves to chew on our hair if we tickle her with our head. She will allow our children to hold her like a baby and will gladly fall asleep in your arms if you hold her long enough. She is a very darling girl and will make someone a wonderful dog.
2/7/2007 -- 5 weeks and 5 days
It is hard to believe that we only have a couple more short weeks with all seven of these little angels before we have to let them go to homes of their own! This wonderful time has gone so fast. What a blessing it has been to be able to raise and enjoy these amazingly perfect little puppies. They are now very playful and incredibly affectionate.
Every puppy loves to be held and played with. Mary now allows all our other animals in the room with the puppies, so the puppies now have other dogs and cats hovering over their box on a daily basis, in addition to the contant stream of family and friends who take turns loving on them. Even Fido, our African grey parrot who lives at AMC, visited the puppies last weekend when he was spending the weekend at our house. The puppies take everything in stride and are calm, happy and interested in everything.
Today, we have two "puppies of the day", Star and Bob. These two are the only two of the seven who did not seem to inherit Mary's adorably short dachsund legs. Star (female) and Bob (male) must have their mystery dad's long legs because they are easily an inch taller than their shorter littermates! It is pretty funny to see them almost towering over their brothers and sisters when they stand side by side.
Bob is one of the smallest pups and Star is one of the largest. We don't expect any of the puppies to get very large since Mary is so small (about 22 lbs) but Star may get closer to 30 to 35 lbs while Bob will probably be closer to Mary's size, perhaps 25 to 30 lbs. (Of course, they could get bigger! This is all just a guess!)
The puppies are now eating puppy food and drinking water with enthusiasm. They are still nursing some but are probably getting at least half of their calories from puppy food. Every day they eat more and nurse less.
Mary is doing very well and seems to be regaining a little weight so she isn't looking quite as thin as she did a week ago.
Next week, we will be calling the clients who have let us know they are interesting in meeting the puppies to consider adoption. We will arrange visits by appointment over the next two weeks in the hopes that some or all of the puppies may have already been commited to families by the time they are 8 weeks old and ready to go home to families!
2/15/2007 -- 6 weeks and 6 days
Today, the puppies had their first bath! They were all very brave and very good for their baths and they smell and feel perfectly fantastic. In the last few days, we had started calling them "poopies" instead of "puppies" because they have gotten so big and poop SOOO much. (Seven puppies make a lot of poop! We change their bedding about 8 times a day!) After their baths, they are so fluffy and soft that we are calling them "puffies"! Jack is pictured at right getting his bath. He was very cooperative and patient, as he always is.
Jack has the longest and silkiest fur of all the puppies. We expect them all to have soft medium length coats, but Jack and and Sparkle (pictured at left) have the longest fur of the litter. Jack is a very mellow and unassuming little guy, with silky fur that begs to be stroked. He is medium sized for the litter (probably around 30 lbs at maturity) and very loving and sweet.
Sparkle, a female, is one of the largest puppies. She is a lovely cocoa color. Sparkle and Snowstorm are ususally the first two to beg to be held, but Sparkle is more unassuming about it -- She will simply come to the edge of the box and plaintively look up at you, hoping, waiting and watching. Sparkle's gentleness and obvious adoration for people-kind steal your heart in a matter of moments. Snowstorm, on the other hand, will stand at the corner of the box and whimper, wiggle and insist until you gather him into your arms. His exuberance and outgoing nature will make him a lovely sociable dog.
A group shot of all seven after their bath shows how big they've grown! They are very healthy and are eating mostly puppy food now. They still nurse for a short while a few times per day, but the majority of their nutrition is now coming from their puppy food.
Although they are physically mature and independent enough to be separated from their mother, the extra days with their litter (until 8 weeks) helps them learn doggy-manners. This time with their littermates helps provide them with a solid understanding of doggy communication, play and proper manners. When they aren't sleeping or snuggling, they spend most of their waking time wrestling, rough-housing, playing tug-of-war with rope toys and otherwise getting to know each other and having fun. Through this plan with their littermates, they are learning very important lessons that will help them interact successfully with other dogs and animals as adults.
A couple times each day, we take all the puppies into our large bathroom where they can romp in a more spacious play space. At first, they were nervous to be on a slippery vinyl floor and in a new, large space. But, after a few trys, they now are excited about their rumpus-time and get right to playing when we bring them out for playtime.
Last week, on their 6 week birthday, they received their 3rd deworming. Tomorrow, on their 7 week birthday, they will receive their second DAPP vaccine. They are doing great and they invite you to visit! Call us to arrange a play date! They'll be ready for adoption next Friday!
2/22/2007 -- 7 weeks and 6 days
We have been packing in a lot of routine well puppy care this last week in preparation for the puppies leaving the nest. At 7 weeks, the puppies received another DAPP booster vaccine (they'll need two more during puppy hood). A few days later, they also each received a formal exam by Dr. Zucker at AMC and had their intranasal Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines. This past week, they also have received a 3 day course of the dewormer Panacur (just in case they had been exposed to whip worms) and they are finishing out a 5 day course of Albon (in case of coccidia, and because Bob had one mild episode of diarrhea. One advantage of being the vet is that you can treat quickly and, of course, cost is no object with these pampered pooches.) I am only half joking when I say that these puppies have got to be the best dewormed puppies ever raised! It is great to see these puppies with nicely formed normal stools and healthy body shapes. So many puppies have wormy pot bellies and are undernourished because of their worm loads. Parasites also cause much of the common "puppy diarrhea". None of that for these guys! Today they all received a first dose of monthly flea control medication. They'll each begin monthly heartworm medication tomorrow as well.
Tonight is our last night with all seven puppies. Although we are very happy for the ones with families promised already and we dearly want wonderful homes for each of them, it is VERY bittersweet for us to see them go. We adore each one and could easily keep any or all of them if we had the space and energy to permanently give them the love and attention they deserve. But, with 3 kids, 4 dogs, 4 cats, 2 guinea pigs, 2 goats, 3 chickens and a tankful of fish, our little home is pretty packed full of people, pets and love! It is with a lot of regret that we start seeing off these little guys tomorrow. We will surely count on seeing them soon for their routine well puppy care!
Tomorrow is the official -- "can go home" day and the puppies are officially entering the adoption program in the morning. Jack has been promised to a couple who will pick him up tomorrow. Star has also been promised, to our own consulting animal behaviorist and friend, Megan Meginly and her fiance. They will pick her up on Saturday. Several other families have expressed interest in the puppies and a few have already visited them, with more visits scheduled for the next couple days. We are so happy that so many wonderful families are considering taking one of our little pups into their families. They have grown into splendid puppies and will make wonderful dogs!!
2/23/2007 -- 8 weeks old! Ready for Adoption!
It began today. Jack went home with a lovely couple who had visited with him earlier in the week. We miss you already Jack!! We know his new family is giving him all the hugs and kisses he so much adores. Enjoy!!
Star was adopted today and will go home with her family tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a big socialization and visiting day for the remaining puppies. Dr. Zucker and our nurse manager, Jessica, will be visiting at the Fun Factory's anniversary celebration and will bring a puppy or two to visit with the children. Mrs. Zucker (Stephanie) and our receptionist/assistant Carloyn will be taking the other couple puppies for a visit to Woof's to meet and greet customers. More visits with prospective adoptive families are scheduled over the next few days. We are very happy for the puppies who are finding permanent families, but we are sad to see them go. The nest box looks empty tonight with just 6 puppies. Tomorrow night we'll be down to 4 or even fewer.
Wow. How did eight weeks go so fast? How can a little poopy puppy steal your heart in 8 weeks?
2/25/2007 -- 8 weeks + 2 days old
Yesterday, Star went home with Megan and her fiance. Peanut and Diamond were also each adopted by loving families. We wish them all well.
Before going home with Megan, Star went on the outing to the Fun Factory with Dr. Zucker and Jessica and was the hit of the event, making lots of friends and having a great time. Sparkle and Snowstorm went on the outing to Woof's and had a great time investigating the store and meeting and greeting the staff and customers. These field trips help the puppies bein socializing the puppies by helping them gain exposure to a variety of people, places and noises. (Of course, one must be careful to avoid hazardous places where exposure to contagious diseases are likely.)
We're now left with just 3 adorable darling puppies still seeking homes -- Sparkle, Bob and Snowstorm. It seems pretty lonesome without all seven!
Bob and Snowstorm are on a 2 night field trip to Megan's house to keep Star company during her move to her new home and just for a fun visit with Megan. They'll come back to the Zucker home Monday morning to rejoin Sparkle. Having Sparkle here alone at the house has been fun since we can lavish all our attention on her and it is easier to allow one puppy the run of the house (which would be impossible and very poopy & gross if we did it with seven!) We've allowed her the run of the house most of the day. The milder weather has allowed us to begin her potty training. Today, she took a few outside potty breaks and played outside for about an hour (and earned a bath by playing in the mud!) and she peed and pooped outside! Pretty good progress for her first excursions outside!
3/1/2007 -- 8 weeks 6 days
On Monday, sweet Jack was returned to AMC by the couple who had adopted him the prior Friday. They regretfully decided that they weren't ready for the demands of puppy raising. Jack was none the worse for the wear and immediately was right at home back with the rest of the puppies. Jack is now available again for adoption. Jack is incredibly sweet and calm and will make someone a fantastic dog.
Bob went home with a wonderful couple today! When Bob was on his field trip to Megan's home last weekend, he met a couple (great friends of Megan and her fiance) who fell in love with him. They decided to take the plunge and add Bob to their family (of one other dog) and they took him home today. Lucky Bob! We'll miss him!!
Last weekend, the Zucker family decided that we can't part with Sparkle and have made her our fifth and final dog. Somehow we weren't able to keep her from stealing our heart and we just have to keep one of these angels, so Sparkle it is. We're all delighted with her and excited to have a keeper puppy in the house again.
So, we now have just two more puppies needing homes, Jack and SnowStorm.
SnowStorm and Jack, along with Sparkle, now pretty much have the run of the Zucker home most of the time. We're taking them out for potty breaks regularly and they are all quickly learning to go potty outside. They have all had at least several successful poops and pees outside over the last several days and we're giving them lots of praise along with treats when they have success.
The puppies have all learned to sit on command and just today we started teaching the to come on command. They're doing great!! It took only about 90 seconds with each of the puppies to teach them sit and they all learned come together in just a minute or two. It is amazing how eager they are to learn! All the puppies, along with our adult dogs, will sit in a row waiting for their turns for treats -- it's so cute!!
3/9/2007 -- 10 weeks old -- Happy Endings. . . Happy Beginnings. . .
Our last adoptive puppy, SnowStorm, left to day for a wonderful new life with a loving family! Congratulations to SnowStorm and his new folks! Over the last couple days, Bob, Addie Star and Jack have each come in for wellness appointments and vaccine appointments. They are all looking wonderful and were thrilled to see Dr. Zucker as well as SnowStorm (who was still in the hospital looking for a home until this evening) and Sparkle (who is hanging out in Dr. Zucker's office during the day during her potty training and came out to say "hi" to her littermates.
It is more than a little sad for us to end this stage of having Mary's puppies taking over our home, office and our lives, but we are so happy for each of them that they found loving life-time homes. May each one of them and their new families be blessed with health and happiness for many years to come. We're delighted to have added Mary and Sparkle to the Zucker family and will never forget these precious weeks we have been honored to share with the litter and the puppy-love of all the puppies. There is nothing like puppy love!
View the Puppy Photo Album
A Word of Warning to Puppy Lovers. . .
There may be noone who loves puppies more than those of us at AMC but our love for puppies, kittens and the rest of God's creatures informs us that it is rarely a responsible decision to allow pets to reproduce. Sadly, the majority of pregnant animals aren't so lucky as Mary to have a happy ending to their stories. For each one pet that we, or another rescue program, is able to help, many others live and die without ever knowing a loving, safe, healthy home. Most pregnant pets do not receive adequate veterinary care and most puppies and kittens die prematurely because of a lack of proper care or a simple lack of a loving home. The math just doesn't add up. There are too many kittens and puppies born each year for too few homes.
Hundreds of thousands of healthy, adorable pets die each year just because they lack a home. Until times change and increasingly responsible pet owners turn the tide on the tragedy of unwanted pets, noone should add another litter to the pet population.
Please do not allow your pet to become pregnant unless you are a serious, careful, breeder of pure-bred AKC registered dogs and you are prepared to be financially and personally responsible for your dog and all of her puppies throughout a lifetime.
Please understand that Mary's medical care (exams, nursing care, ultrasound, x-ray, labs, medications, spay at 12 weeks post partum, etc, not including any housing or food costs) is estimated at $1500-$2000 and could have been much more her pregnancy or birth had complications. A complicated birth could add thousands more. Each of her puppies received at least $300-$500 in medical care before placement through our Adoption Program. (If any of the puppies had medical problems, their care could have easily run over a thousand dollars for a single puppy.) That is several thousands of dollars (about $5000!) in medical costs to take proper medical care of a pregnant dog and her litter, even if all goes well! AMC can not afford to donate this care very often, and neither can any of our local rescue organizations. Many shelters and rescue organizations are spread so thin that high-need cases like Mary must often be immediately euthanized to save their modest financial resources for other pets who can be "saved" with a smaller financial investment.
We are thankful to have had the opportunity to help Mary and her litter, but we are sadly aware of the many more dogs and litters that do not receive the care they need.
Please do your part by spaying or neutering your pets before they reproduce.