of the pups:
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Tia didn't show any sign of coming into labour during the night, but in the morning she was panting heavily and moved from basket to basket. The first puppy was born early afternoon and the last one right before 6 PM. Tia was a bit stressed and confused about what all these squealing little guinea pigs were expecting from her, but by the 4th puppy she'd gotten it down and was taking care of the newborn ones while simultaneously feeding older siblings like a pro. :-)
Tia has been hunkering in her puppy box for several days but today ventured out for a proper walk, albeit short.
She doesn't let any of the other dogs near her pups, or even in the room, chased out her surprised mom who had curiously snuck in when the door was left open, like a shark. She has however been welcoming of all human visitors, proudly showing off her babies and soaking up all the compliments from those who have come by to see the little miracles.
We definitely have eyes now, and the pups are walking, lifting themselves up on their legs to wobble across the puppy box. They're getting ready to take on the world. :-)
And suddenly they were not little sausages or guinea pigs anymore, but little dogs. So much noise and action now in the box as the puppies try out their voices and legs. Still unstable with lots of tumbling and rolling, and the attempts at growls and barks are not very convincing, but they keep at it with unwavering energy, until suddenly everyone is fast asleep for a nap attack.
I found two outside the box tonight, so we will need to get going on putting up the puppy pen!
The smaller puppy pen we put up was only enough for a few days. They are running everywhere on unstable legs and every time we come into their room we have someone outside the pen, so today we transformed the dining room into the large pen that they will stay in until they leave for their families. We were surprised to see one puppy already carrying one of their toys around!
Today Tia's pups got solid food for for the first time: kibbles soaked in warm puppy milk from powder. They took to it right away and finished their plate. Table manners need to be worked on...
Last night we closed each mom in their respective room and pen with their pups as usual, but this morning we came down to find total mayhem!! The moms had opened the doors between their rooms, gotten all their puppies out of the pens and then happily settled under the dining room table while the 11 pups played together all over the room. Several long minutes of panic as we hurriedly counted that all the pups where there and still had 4 legs and one tail each, but it seemed no harm had come to anyone and they definitely didn't seem traumatized. Clearly the moms wanted to share rearing duties. So during the day we kept all the puppies together in the largest pen and actually the moms are much calmer, as are we now that we don't have to worry about making sure all doors are closed between the two litters. The moms can now go in and out of the pen as they want, and all day they have been caring for everybody, cleaning those who needed cleaning and feeding whoever needed feeding indiscriminately. Tonight we'll separate the litters again, but so far keeping them together during the day has worked really well.
We kept all the puppies together in the big play pen today again, and the moms have been taking care of them together all day. The other dogs are parked outside the pen checking the pups out, and were even graciously granted permission by the moms to go in and gently sniff out the newcomers. When everyone was out for a walk, we let China the cat come in and be the first other species of animal the pups got introduced to. They were not very impressed. :-)
We have all settled into a well-functioning routine: the moms and their pups sleep in different pens but during the day the pups are in a big playpen, all together, and the moms go in and out as they want. The puppies are happily eating their kibbles now, but the moms don't seem to want to stop nursing them, still producing lots of milk. We try to make sure they are both in there nursing at the same time, but sometimes one sneaks in on her own and proudly gather a mound of puppies around her. :-)
Normally the pups would spend time outside every day at this age, but the weather has been really dreadful with the rain coming down in buckets every day. We still take them out just a little bit between showers every day, but for the rest we need to try to entertain them in their inside pen. We try to add something new for them to explore every day so their pen has become quite urbanised with tunnels and caves and cardboard houses and pillow forts...
The moms, especially Tia, start to have enough with being milk-bars and are less patient with the pups trying to latch on. The pups don't really need the milk because they are eating kibbles, but they still like the comfort and Tia and Illyn still have milk so for now the moms allow the pups to snuggle up a few times per day.
Finally the weather is good enough for the puppies to be outside by themselves every day. When we have puppies we turn the old, walled orchard into a play pen for them with lots of different things to explore. And since they start following better, they can also come with the other dogs on little walks in the fields. Today it was a big adventure: they came all the way to the second field to help repair a gate! After that they slept all afternoon.
There is no doubt anymore: we definitely have initial ear lift-off! :-D Several of the puppies sport some pretty funky wing flaps.
We have selected owners for the puppies in this litter: the girls go to a farm in Switzerland, a farm in Wales and a sheepdog trainer in Belgium. The boys go to a farm in Wales, their dad in England, and two stay here.
The girls have been picked and the owners ponder names, but the boys are held up by me since I can't choose. Aaarghh, impossible!!
And all the pups have selected their families and all have names. ^_^ Off to do chips, passports, vaccinations and papers next week.
Three of the boys lift their legs to pee! :-o We've never had it that early before. At first we thought it was maybe due to strong winds and loss of balance, but no, they keep doing it. :-)
First vet visit today for passports, chips + id registrations, certificate of health from the vet and first vaccinations against: distemper, hepatitis, lephospiros and parvo. All pups were in great health, and all the boys were fully equipped. :-P
All behaved well and enjoyed the trip. The initial indignation over being treated in this undignified way soon gave way for boredom while waiting, and they all fell asleep in the kennels.
Now that we have their chip numbers we'll proceed with the ISDS registrations and FCI registrations (they'll get export pedigrees that are valid for any FCI kennel club).
We have started taking the pups with us when we go by car to walk the other dogs. It's a bit messy to load 19 dogs into the van, but the pups behave very well.
We moved out the pups to sleep in the kennels outside at night, but after only a few nights the temperatures went down so much that we moved them inside again. And today big snowflakes started falling and kept falling and in just a couple of hours everything was white! Very messy for us who had to move all the sheep we had just taken out back home again, but the dogs had a blast. :-)
The ISDS registration certificates arrived today and since we already have the passports, id cards and FCI export pedigrees, the pups now have all their papers to go to their new homes. :-)
Please forgive us that there will be no news posted during this period. Sabine is with Jim and Nell in Florida, USA, to give clinics and participate in trials. (The pups can be proud of their grandpa and Nell; they did the the old world honour and placed well, even won, several trials and earned back the price of the flight ticket. :-))
All the pups got their booster vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, lephtospiros and parvo, and their vaccination against rabies. Now they're all done until next year! :-)
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