Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Four Week Collage

Wanted: More Visitors!

I suspect the puppies think life is boring now that all the visitors have left! Megan and Marti left last night, after a quick stop on the way to the Missoula airport at the (almost) world famous Big Dipper ice cream store. Megan and her twin sister, Molly, spent some time at "Camp Montana" in June and in addition to showing dogs, we also visited the edible hot spots in Missoula. Megan wanted to re-visit the Big Dipper for Mexican Chocolate ice cream so we did and Megan arrived at the airport happy and with chocolate all over her face!

I love the opportunity to see ordinary things through the eyes of another person, and especially a child. Therefore, what fun it was to see the puppies through new eyes this past weekend. Thanks to Armand, Cali, Kate, Marti and Megan for making the long trip to Montana to visit us. The puppies benefited from meeting new people, and I had a wonderful time watching the puppies and visitors interact. The puppies have now met 12 people so only 88 to go!

Puppies are now playing with more vigor and noise. This morning two were growling as they played, and rolling over with each other. We all laughed at Rosebud's efforts to spin in the past couple of days, and Kinsey greets people by barking and getting all excited. Sula is the champion tail wagger of the group, and Ledger is starting to emerge as quite the good looking boy. Madison continues to whine about everything!

The puppies are four weeks today and you might be wondering when they start to eat food other than milk. Early weaning in humans is associated with some not so great things, and so I have never been in a rush to start feeding puppies other food. I will offer them water starting today and that should be interesting and messy, but they will not be introduced to "real" food until they are close to six weeks old.

Nursing this much means that Halo needs a lot of food. Unfortunately, if she eats too much kibble she has diarrhea, and even though I was feeding a variety of foods, including dehydrated, homemade and two kinds of kibble, she was having issues last week. I cut back on kibble and started feeding her more cooked meat with different fruits, rice, and dairy products and she is much better. The main part of her diet is now cooked meat. For example, this morning at 6 she had a cup or so of two kinds of kibble with dehydrated food and some cottage cheese mixed in. At 7:30 she had a big bowl of rice and ground beef with a banana, and her lunch is over a pound of cooked chicken. She is eating 5 - 6 times a day but so far is maintaining her weight, and the puppies are gaining well.

We weighed puppies yesterday and Rosebud is the clear winner -- she weighs over 90 ounces now! Lolo continues to gain at a good rate but is definitely small and cute. Darby has joined Lolo in the Nursing Protection Program because her weight gain was behind the other puppies; she gained but not at the same rate as the others.

It is amazing how the puppies change in just four weeks. In one picture you can see that they now can groom themselves! I know it is a personal photo but I thought it was a cute one. The one puppy sitting with a paw up is Kinsey, and the single puppy looking at the camera is Ledger. I am not sure who the sleeping puppy is but it was a sweet picture so I included it, and finally we have Megan with the puppy that won her heart -- Rosebud. Megan would be happy with any of the puppies but she and Rosebud seem to have a special connection.

Thanks so much for your comments -- it is fun to hear from you. And thanks for visiting us today!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Monday

Our Blog today will be mainly pictures. Yesterday afternoon we took the puppies outside on grass and they did so well. Halo came out and nursed them, they played, and Megan even got the puppies over an agility jump! The pictures with this post are from our relaxing time outside, and I will have pictures from today posted later this afternoon.

In one picture we have the photo-phobic Puppy Nanny, Galen, with his boys -- Ledger and Dawson. This picture captures the sweetness with which Galen tends these puppies. He will not be happy to be "outed" but there it is -- a 20 year old young man kissing a puppy! Galen's days of Puppy Nanny are numbered -- he just got word that he has been admitted to the University of Montana starting in January. Marti and I do not understand why he wants to go to college when he clearly has a career as a Puppy Nanny but what do we know?!

Marti is in another picture surrounded by girls! Megan is loving Darby in the one picture but we all think Rosebud is going to be her choice -- we'll see. Rosebud is the puppy being held up -- isn't that a sweet picture? And it is Dawson with a blade of grass. We think Kinsey and Sula look more and more alike so we took a picture with the two of them being held by Marti. The single puppy on the jump is Darby, and the two puppies with the jump are the boys, Ledger and Dawson.

Marti and Megan leave tonight so we have a fun day planned. We are going on a hike and then will take pictures of the puppies for the four week collage -- its a day early but I have helpers so we have to take advantage of that!

Megan checks the Blog regularly to see if anyone is reading so take a second and post a comment to Megan!

Have a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More of Sunday

Megan is having fun with the puppies, and her favorite changes frequently. I thought you might enjoy seeing these pictures from today.

Sunday Morning with Puppies and Friends

It is a lovely morning here at Puppy Central and although the sun is barely coming over the mountains, the puppies have been eating, sleeping and playing for some time. This morning I uttered my first, “ouch”! Dawson took a nice and unexpected bite out of my leg while I was taking pictures.

And speaking of pictures, I am in photographic heaven! The visiting camera from Portland has not yet arrived, but the visiting camera from California showed up with Marti and Megan! Yes, Marti brought her nice Nikon and I am sure you will agree that the pictures today are a big improvement. Marti leaves tomorrow evening, by which time the Portland Nikon should be here so we are set for a bit.

Armand, Cali and Kate spent the day holding puppies yesterday but they are now on their way home to Utah. Marti and Megan arrived last night, and the puppies were the perfect welcoming committee. I thought it would be fun for you to hear from someone else about the puppies, and so I have recruited Marti to write a paragraph:

“What could be better than visiting a friend for the weekend? Visiting a dear friend who has puppies!! And lives in Montana. It just could not get better. Puppies and Montana are good for the soul.

The puppies are more beautiful in person than they are in pictures. Megan is having a fabulous time getting to know all of the puppies and if it was up to her she would like to have all of them! Later today we will take the puppies out to experience the great outdoors for the first time, it is so much fun to watch them try out new things and explore their environment. I am off to get another dose of puppy breath.”

Megan was still asleep when I took pictures this morning so check tomorrow for pictures of Megan with puppies but we have some sweet ones today. Lolo is sleeping on Halo’s leg. Kinsey and Rosebud are the ones playing, and also are the two with one puppy sleeping and one sitting. Madison is the single puppy sitting up, and the two sleeping are Dawson and Madison. I love the quality of these pictures and hope you do as well!

I hope your day is filled with something wonderful -- like good friends!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Small Miracles

Good Morning Puppy Fans!

The sharp teeth are arriving and soon our sweet, sleepy puppies will be transformed into land sharks. The way a puppy signals distress is by crying, but remember that these are still very young and developing babies. So what will be happening soon is one puppy screaming in pain because another is piercing her ear. Unfortunately, the biting puppy does not put it together that she should stop what she is doing – this is a skill they develop with time and experience. This is not a gentle stage of puppy development!

Our puppies are allowed to bite and mouth us. We believe that the work of Dr. Ian Dunbar makes sense – that puppies need to learn bite inhibition (or gentle “biting”). Since mouthing and biting is a normal part of puppy development, it is not okay to prevent it but it is okay to give the puppies cues that they need to literally lighten up. Right now they cannot understand those cues, which involve very normal verbal expressions of pain, so we just let them chew and if it hurts we extract our fingers, toes, or whatever and redirect the puppy. We are seriously entering this mouthing stage – I need to stock up on band-aids!

The puppies walk so well now and are actively playing. They are very social and enjoyed their visitors last night, although they were sleepy. The puppies are awake more but still spend most of their time sleeping. Armand, Cali and Kate arrived just after the puppies had all practiced singing “Ode to Dinner” and worked on perfecting their biting so we had sleepy puppies for our visitors – but they do not bite when they are sleeping so that was not all bad! I want you all to know that Cali and Kate had studied the Puppy Cheat Sheet and correctly identified every puppy!!

Today’s pictures are pretty cute, if I may say so myself (which I just did). We have Kate getting a licking from Darby, and Halo is nose to nose with Rosebud. Kinsey is watching Rosebud play tug with the fleece, and a sleepy Halo is surrounded by babies, including Madison who is looking at the camera. The kittens are very interested in the puppies, and the feeling is quite mutual as you can see in the one picture.

Armand, Cali and Kate came all the way from Salt Lake City to spend the weekend with the puppies so they will be back over today. However, they are not the winners of the “farthest distance to visit puppies” contest. Tonight we are picking up Marti and Megan at the Missoula airport! This was a last minute trip as Marti has been watching ticket prices and managed to get an amazingly cheap deal from southern California. It is nice that Kate is also here – Megan and Kate are both 13 and have met, even though they live in two different states!

Many of you know the twins, Molly and Megan. Last May, right after competing at the National Specialty, Megan lost her beoved berner, Anna, very suddenly. Their family spent a small fortune trying to save Anna’s life to no avail. We were all heartbroken -- but especially Megan.

Anna is the aunt of these puppies – Halo and Anna have the same mom. Kim and I are giving Megan one of these girls – not to replace Anna because that would be impossible – but to help carry on Anna’s spirit in Megan’s life. We all hoped that Halo would get pregnant and she did. Ultrasound said six puppies – we had eight. We hoped there would be girls and six arrived. Anna had a swiss kiss – five of these girls have swiss kisses even though neither of their parents do. Today Megan arrives to meet the puppy that Anna has sent to her.

I hope you find a miracle in your day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teeth, Laundry and No Sleep

Things are changing some at Puppy Central because the puppies' needs and skills are different. As I mentioned yesterday, Dawson figured out how to escape the whelping box. This means that the front flap -- which is usually down -- has to be up to prevent the puppies from getting out. This makes it harder for Halo to get in the box and requires that she jump in. Halo is a fine jumper but she does not want to land on a puppy, and the puppies mob wherever she is looking in for a landing spot. So, this means that she needs help and consequently I am now getting up more at night to clear a spot for her to jump in the box and feed puppies. I am glad Halo is so careful but I also like sleeping -- having a litter means one gives up a good night's sleep for a long time!

Having a litter also means LOTS of laundry! I like puppies to be clean and their living space to be clean, and so we go through a lot of fleece, towels and washcloths every day. They are peeing more now so the laundry demands have increased as well. I am doing about 3 - 4 loads of puppy laundry per day.

Finally, having puppies means screening potential homes -- my least favorite part of having puppies. It is not that I do not enjoy meeting new and wonderful people but not everyone is a good fit and I hate disappointing people. It is also a lot of responsibility to place puppies, and that is emotionally hard. Sometimes it probably seems like having a litter is all fun and cuteness -- but that is just not the case. Yes, it is fun and they are adorable but it is also not enough sleep for two months, not enough time to get everything else done, a lot of worry and stress, and the burden of trying to ensure the puppies have great homes for the rest of their lives.

But they sure are cute -- and thank goodness for that!!! The teeth are coming in but they do not have enough jaw power yet to inflict damage. They are very active and playful and so I decided we needed a new space for them. Yesterday I went and bought a 6 x 9 piece of flooring to protect the wood floor, and I also got a new 24 inch high x-pen so that we could make a puppy play area in the Great Room. It gives a lot of space for puppies and also for visitors to be able to sit and cuddle puppies. I have included a picture of this new area so that you can see what I am talking about.

Galen reports that yesterday two puppies wagged their little tails at him. They are very social and like to crawl in laps, but with their developing senses they are also easily overloaded and sometimes startle if you move too quickly at them. Consider that in less than a week their world went from dark and silent to bright and loud -- it is actually kind of amazing that they do so well with such an abrupt transition. The startling goes away quickly and is just a reaction to their developing abilities to integrate all the new sensory information coming at them.

We look forward to visiting with Armand, Cali and Kate this weekend and we just found out that we are having more visitors arrive Saturday evening -- I will tell you about them tomorrow. I also hope the visiting camera arrives soon!

I took today's pictures this morning after the puppies had nursed and were playing in the new play area. As I mentioned, there is a picture of that play area. The single puppy is Sula and the other pictures include a variety of puppies. I love the way their ears get so soft and wavy!
One of our puppies has made it to the big time! Dawson is featured on today's Berner-l homepage with his cousin, Cadi: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Berner-l/

I hope that you have plans for a wonderful weekend -- thanks for visiting us!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Puppy Cheat Sheet and Singing

Today’s post is especially for Kate but I thought all of you might enjoy it. You may have noticed that the puppies do not wear collars and in fact, they are not marked in any way. We used to paint toenails to tell puppies apart but since our third litter we have not marked puppies.

It started with Maize’s first litter – there were just three puppies and easy to tell apart. For some reason we just never marked puppies again, and so it can be hard for visitors to tell them apart. Kate was a regular visitor last summer when Halo had her first litter, and she quickly mastered the identity of each puppy. She was one of just a couple of the kids who visited who could reliably tell puppies apart.

Kate is coming up this weekend, and since she only has a couple of days to visit I thought I should make her a “cheat sheet” so she could study puppy identification on the way up from Utah and have a head start on mastering names. But others of you are planning to visit and/or maybe you are curious how we can tell these puppies apart, and so I thought you might enjoy seeing the Puppy Cheat Sheet.

Dawson is easy because he has a skunk stripe.

Sula has the skinny blaze and no swiss kiss (white spot on neck); her front feet are also the darkest.

Rosebud is also easy -- she has lots of white on her face and the white on her front paws goes up higher than anyone else.

Darby's muzzle white is a little less on the right side and she has a swiss kiss.

Kinsey has a narrower white blaze and also less muzzle white (but more than Sula); Kinsey and Sula can look alike but Kinsey has a swiss kiss and a little more white on her face. Sometimes Kinsey and Darby look alike but Kinsey has a darker right front foot.

Lolo is easy because she is small!

Madison has perfect face markings and is easy to tell apart because she has what I call an apple dumpling head -- it is very round with a short muzzle. Madison also has a distinctive one-hair swiss kiss.

Ledger looks a bit like Rosebud with lots of white but he has less white on his feet and face (especially on the right side of his muzzle), and given that he is a boy and the only other boy is very distinctive, you can turn Ledger over to confirm identity.

This morning I got up to the Montana Puppy Choir! They were at the edge of the whelping box singing in their cute puppy voices, dressed in identical tri-colored suits. The choir has Rosebud, who barked occasionally to add emphasis to what I am certain was, "Ode to Breakfast". They are simply delightful!

My 911 Nikon call has been answered! Terri from Portland is sending her identical camera to visit for a couple of weeks while ours is being repaired!! Isn't that incredibly nice of her?! The camera is already on the way so soon we will be back in glorious close-up pictures -- I can't wait. I am sure I speak for the crowd when I say a big THANKS to Terri!

I took today's pictures right when I got up to the Montana Puppy Choir. They were already disassembling and then Halo joined to silence their pleas for more milk but I still think you can see some of the action. The single puppy sitting at the edge of the box is what everyone had just been doing. In the group picture you can see them milling about as they finished their singing. The two puppies sitting together with a puppy butt in the middle are Ledger and Rosebud -- look at the front feet to tell them apart. The cute picture of Halo with satisfied customers helps you have perspective about their growth -- aren't they getting big?! The puppy who is down is Darby -- you can tell by the slight bit of rust that comes into the white muzzle band on the right. Also, you can tell it is not Kinsey because the outside toe on the right paw is not dark. Yes, you have to be a detective to tell them apart sometimes -- but I am betting that Kate will have them all sorted out before she leaves Montana!

News Flash! New behaviors this morning! First puppy to climb out of the box is Dawson! First puppy to wag her tail at a person is Sula!

I hope you have many reasons to sing today!

Who Put The Quarters in the Puppies?!

You cannot believe how cute it is around here! The puppies now walk up to me when they see me at the edge of the whelping box! They look like tiny little dogs – SO cute! They bark occasionally and growl quite a bit, which is quite adorable at just three weeks of age.

It truly is like someone turned a switch on them overnight. They were already interactive but now it is a whole new level. Maybe it is because their little teeth are coming in?! They like to walk around and explore outside the box and they bite everything – each other, me, Halo, the cat, etc. They clearly hear now and respond to my voice. When I sit down with them I instantly have three or more puppies in my lap. It is fascinating to watch their development.

I am appreciative of Shelby, who came over again today for four hours so I could go in to work for a meeting. I printed her the three-week collage so she could practice telling them apart, and she did a good job! Galen is on his way home now so we will not need Shelby to be the Substitute Puppy Nanny again, but she is going to come back and bring her son to meet the puppies.

I think the puppies are going to double the number of people they have met by the end of this weekend. Now that they are three weeks, they are officially receiving visitors and in addition to Cali, Armand and Kate who are coming from Utah to visit this weekend, I think the puppies will finally get to meet some of the local people who are anxious to see them. We have five weeks to reach 100 new people so please consider visiting!

The camera – sigh. I took it to the camera hospital but I am not hopeful for a quick fix. It is sad not to have the quality of pictures I am used to but I hope you like the ones I took this afternoon with Galen’s camera. I love the one with the four puppies and Noah – he just lets them do whatever and keeps on purring; the one with the puppy sleeping on him is also sweet. The three puppies playing have Sula facing the camera, and the two puppies together are Lolo and Darby. The single puppy is Madison, and is the type of picture that would be so different with the usual camera but it is still cute.

Do you have a favorite puppy?

Thanks for visiting and have a happy day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

911 Nikon

The puppies met their fifth new person today: Shelby. She is the tech from our vet clinic who came over to tend puppies while I went to teach this morning. Shelby will be coming back tomorrow morning to tend again, and then Galen will be home and we can resume normal life here at Puppy Central.

I am seriously missing the Nikon (and Kim, who left today). I am trying to do the three week close-ups and the borrowed cameras were not doing the trick, so I opened the new camera I bought before I knew Galen had one I could borrow. Well, it is better but still no where near the quality of the Nikon so the new camera is going back to Costco and the Nikon is going to the shop on Thursday. It is disappointing to not have the quality of pictures I am used to.

So I am still working on the pictures for the collage but thought I had better get something posted today. Puppies are doing so well. They look more and more like small dogs, and less like rodents. I can feel teeth starting to come in so that gentle play I mentioned is soon to be a thing of the past. The puppies walk wherever they want to go – there is no more crawling happening around here! They can hear and they startle easily – I am sure they are on sensory overload these days!

Cindy mentioned that she missed seeing Noah, the usual feline puppy nanny, so I took some pictures of Noah and puppies just so you know he is still on duty. He has slowed down a lot but he still is very tolerant of the puppies. Ledger was trying to nurse – unsuccessfully – on Noah’s ear!

Lolo is the puppy with Noah, and can you believe Rosebud’s bad manners?!! She is already getting an attitude with her older sister, Asia, and we all know it was Dawson who taught her that rude trick! The collage will be coming later – don’t forget that double-clicking on a picture enlarges it for you.

Think good thoughts for the Nikon!