The "Four on, Four Off" method of feeding puppies is working out nicely. First of all, it is easier to count to four than eight! What I mean by this is that when one is scanning to make sure all puppies are in touch with oxygen (as opposed to under mom suffocating) it is way easier to spot four than it is to see eight.
Second, it seems to be helping puppies gain nicely and relatively evenly. When Halo is on her side, there are four nicely exposed faucets. If there are eight puppies there, some try to burrow under to find the faucets that are being laid on because of Halo's position (she cannot, after all, lay on her back to expose all eight!). In addition to the problem of puppies trying to kill themselves by getting squished and/or suffocated in search of food, we have the bigger puppies pushing the smaller, more peace loving puppies off their faucets -- basically we have the bullies stealing the candy and getting plump off their spoils!
We support equality and fairness in our whelping box, and as a social worker and UC Berkeley graduate, I am hard wired to want to help the (literal) underdog. Therefore, all puppies have access to the resources they need and the one or two that perhaps did not gain as much as the others in a time period get just a little more.
For example, Lolo McRunty is a featherweight and the big bruisers like Rosebud and Madison can send her flying off her dairy faucet with little effort. Therefore, the "four on, four off" system ensures that everyone -- including Lolo - has space to eat. Further, Lolo gets extra time nursing because her starting line was farther back from the others and she has some ground to make up. And guess what? These efforts to help the underdog and ensure access to resources for all have not hurt the other puppies at all -- they have what they need as well! Hmmm... there is perhaps a political and/or social message in all that...
So yes, the puppies are gaining weight and it is very exciting. Dawson leads the pack with a weight gain of 26% over his birth weight, and Darby, Ledger and Sula are at the tail end, up 11% over birth weight. Almost all of this gain has come in the past 36 hours, which is when Halo's milk arrived and we started seriously rotating the puppies. Lolo is up 23% over her birth weight!!
The four puppies that are not nursing at any given time (four are always nursing -- Halo is a 24 hour dairy diner) are in the whelping box in a laundry basket with the heating pad covered by a towel. They are perfectly content to sleep and rest up for their next meal, and Halo knows just where they are and is fine with them taking a nap in their basket.
I imagine these puppies will have many accomplishments in their lifetimes, but right now we are so thrilled with the simple successes reflected in that fancy scientific digital scale -- they are gaining weight!