Day 15-Puppy Breath, how sweet it is!

First of all, today was AMAZING!  It was crazy busy and yet filled with wonder!

The first amazing thing was that the repair was done on my dryer!!!!! I have never been so happy to do laundry in my entire life!  I think the song says “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” and boy was that ever true for my broken dryer. The laundry has been stacking up in preparation for the repair appointment today as we were without a dryer for over a week, and I watch as he was ripping apart my dryer hoping I wouldn’t hear the words that he couldn’t fix it….after about 1 1/2 hours he had fixed it and said “you can try using it a little longer until it gives out”.  That didn’t sound promising to me, but the best part is that I’ve ordered a new washer and dryer that will arrive mid-December.  So as long as it works for a couple more weeks it’s perfect!  After I ordered the new washer and dryer, Ken said the puppies were getting a little bit expensive for his tastes! (With a smirk of course:)

Then a friend stopped over and brought some treats for breakfast and a visit-knowing that she would find me at home, probably in the whelping box, and thought I could use some company:)  We had a great chat and it was fun to catch up and talk about life and puppies!

Around noon, Mark came to do some filming of the puppies and Sugar for the documentary and we (as in Sugar, puppies and I) had a blast in the box-second to last day of bio sensor training, nail clipping, adorable puppy faces, eyes opening…..really, it just doesn’t get much better than that 🙂 I’m amazed that someone who has traveled the world for amazing opportunities, documentaries, and interviews is taking precious time to come and film this process of whelping assistance dogs and is sincerely amazed by it, and I am humbled to think that he chooses to further the mission of Can Do Canines with his incredible skills and talents and that I get to help tell the story! In our conversation, I told Mark that I’m sure one day someone will discover that being in the presence of puppies will cure some disease-there is just NO way I will believe that the feelings I have when I am around them do nothing in the long run and only make me feel good for the immediate time frame.

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Mark doing some filming

Green had opened his eyes yesterday, and today Miss White and Mr. Blue followed suit! If it’s even possible, their faces get more adorable with the eyes peeking out at you from a wrinkled face.

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Miss White showing off her peepers!

This afternoon I got the first strong scent of puppy breath!  It’s been a “hint” of smell before but this afternoon Ken got home from work, picked up a puppy to greet it as part of his daily routine and all I heard was “Puppy Breath!”.  I came in and sure enough there was a definite aroma that for me is incredibly endearing, calming, and all of those words that make you feel warm and fuzzy 🙂

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Miss White giving Ken some licks-

According to care.com this is what a vet says about that sweet breath that many of us fall in love with:

A puppy’s sweet breath may be the combination of a couple of different things. “Puppies are still drinking their mother’s milk and are not yet exposed to the sometimes stinky foods that larger dogs eat,” says Dr. Thomas E. Catanzaro. “Their breath has that sweet mother’s milk smell because their mouths are clean and haven’t yet developed any bacteria or plaque, which typically causes odors.”

Dr. Catanzaro also notes that some vets believe sweet-smelling puppy breath is “the result of gas leaking into the puppy’s stomach from his developing esophagus.”

 

And so it’s already past 2am,  and I don’t know where the day went-but I’m sure I will drift off to sleep thinking about the oh so sweet aroma of everything wonderful on this journey 🙂

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Day 14-2 Weeks Old, and the “Eyes” have it

Today the breeding coordinator came out for her weekly check of the puppies and Sugar-and it was nice to have someone ELSE in the box for a change!  The puppies are doing great, are plenty “healthy” in their weights, are scooting around the whelping box and generally getting into mischief slowly but surely.  All signs that everything is great:)

Blue and Orange are continuing to try walking when they move to a new destination and the others are right behind them.  Blue has continued the trait of bugging his siblings when they are sleeping soundly, so I decided it was time to create some timeout rules.  Unfortunately, Blue outsmarted me as he figured out how to climb out of the timeout area that I was so proud to have established-it’s a hit on your self-esteem when a 2-week old puppy beats you at your own game!

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Sugar bear(our nickname for her:)) had a good check-up as well and was able to have her stitches removed!  She has really endured the road to recovery remarkably well and every day I feel a sense of relief that she is doing so well! She officially was able to be removed off of all of her medications other than her antibiotic that will be finished at the end of this week! I can officially erase all of the timers and alarms I had set up on the various electronic equipment that I had created so that I would remember to give her all of her various medications at the right time each day 🙂 You have NO idea how good that feels!

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Removal of the stitches-Yeah!

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Sometimes it’s hard to find JUST the right spot!

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And other times it’s a piece of cake!

Although I didn’t see any signs of it this morning,  by afternoon what had made an appearance was the ever so slight slits in the eyelids-telling us that the eyes are just about to open! From the looks of it, in the next day or two these little pups will be able to see the world in front of them, although a very blurry version!

It got me to thinking about why their eyes and ears don’t develop until after they’re born, so of course, I had to check out what Google had to say about it! I think it’s pretty fascinating to learn about all of the things that are either taken for granted or considered insignificant simply because we don’t know the reason behind it. When you think of all of the nervous system things that had to develop in just the past 14 days for these pups, it sort of boggles the mind-even though their eyes are open, clear vision still is down the road a little bit longer.

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Peek-a-boo!  I can ALMOST see you……..Mr. Green is the first to open his eyes!

According to a variety of veterinary websites, here is the basic information about their last two senses to develop and how that is part of the canine evolutionary process:

Puppies lack two senses at birth: sight and hearing. It takes a minimum of 10 days to two weeks for their final two senses to develop. Although lacking their sight and hearing might seem odd to human beings, puppies develop in a way that is advantageous to their species.

Eye Development

Puppies’ optical nerves are developing along with the rest of the central nervous system, making them very sensitive to light. In addition, the eyes themselves are still forming behind the lids. Sealed eyelids protect the nerves and membranes of the delicate organs from hazards such as light or grit. Once the eyes have fully matured, puppies’ lids start to open.

Appearance

Newborn puppies bear little resemblance to adult dogs. They have massive heads with pronounced muzzles suited to nursing. Their legs are short and possess only enough power to scoot their bodies along the floor or ground. Newborn puppies cannot stand. Neither can they hear; their ear canals remain sealed shut. Finally, they cannot see because their eyelids are also sealed. 

Dogs as Predators

According to Stanley Coren, Ph.D., this helplessness makes perfect evolutionary sense. Newborn herbivores emerge fully functional after their mothers’ long pregnancies because they have to be able to run with the herd, in part to escape predators. However, long pregnancies would interfere with predators’ ability to hunt and to survive. Puppies continue to develop after leaving their mothers’ wombs because doing so is in the best interest of the canine species in terms of survival.

The Nervous System

Puppies’ central nervous systems are incompletely formed when they are born. The brains, spinal cords, and nerves are all present in their bodies, but the nerves cannot transmit electrical impulses in an efficient way because they have not been coated with enough myelin yet. Myelin is the fatty layer that carries messages along the nerves. In normal, healthy puppies, the myelinization process takes several weeks, after which puppies can make more purposeful movement.

Day 13-It’s a Tail Wagging Experience!

Today for the first time I noticed that Yellow/Happy/Chunky:) wagged his tail!  It was really subtle, but after Sugar came into the whelping box and they were fed, Mr. Yellow started moving away, stopped and WAGGED his tail for almost 5 seconds!!! It was SO amazingly adorable!  I called my husband into the room to witness the big event (of course he wasn’t quite sure why I was so excited…) and I felt like I did back when my kids would do something amazing for the very first time!

So, is there anything interesting about tail wagging?  I think there is!  I looked into the science behind tail wagging and BBC had an article based on research about tail wagging and if it has any significance:

So, based on the articles below, I feel justified in my excitement about witnessing Mr. Yellow’s first tail wagging extravaganza 🙂

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I know it’s only a picture so you can’t see it wagging, but trust me-it was adorable!

Link: The Science behind a wagging tail
Here is an excerpt from the article:
“Scientists have shed more light on how the movements of a dog’s tail are linked to its mood.

Earlier research had revealed that happy dogs wag their tails more to the right (from the dog’s point of view), while nervous dogs have a left-dominated swish.

But now scientists say that fellow canines can spot and respond to these subtle tail differences. 

When the animals saw an otherwise expressionless dog move its tail to the right (from the tail-wagging dog’s point of view), they stayed perfectly relaxed.

But when they spotted a tail veer predominantly to the left (again from the tail-swishing dog’s point of view), their heart rates picked up and they looked anxious.

Prof Vallortigara said he didn’t think that the dogs were intentionally communicating with each other through these movements.

Instead, he believes that they dogs have learned from experience what moves they should and shouldn’t feel worried about.

He said: “If you have several meetings with other dogs, and frequently their tail wagging one way is associated with a more friendly behaviour, and the right side is producing a less friendly behaviour, you respond on the basis of that experience.””

Another article on the internet says this about wagging tails
Link:  why do dogs wag their tails?
“Interestingly, a 2013 study found that dogs understand the asymmetric tail wagging of other dogs — a right-wagging tail relaxes other canines, while a left-wagging tail makes them stressed.”

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First signs of siblings engaging in a brief moment of play!

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The bio-sensor training continues and now they fall asleep while I’m doing it! Red is completing the exercises like a champ!

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a view from the top of him laying on his back-he says “i can do this in my sleep!”

Day 12-Puppies on the Move!

Today the puppies are really starting to become more active-they are working hard at getting all four legs underneath them to get around quicker and they are starting be able to get over the tubes (“snakes”) that are in the whelping pen to help them build muscles and hopefully to develop cognitive and simple problem solving skills.

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It takes energy to get your feet under you for the first few times!

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Orange is getting the hang of it-up on all fours and trying to navigate over the tubes

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Time for a break before working some more!

Their personalities continue to develop, and I love seeing them gain what appears to be confidence in their surroundings.  I am continually amazed at their swiftness in discerning when Sugar is close by.  They are just starting now to stir when she even comes in the room CLOSE to their whelping pen and as soon as she steps in, these little balls of fur go into action trying to get to her as fast as they can! It becomes frenetic for a moment until they all get situated (which isn’t always an easy task for 7 pups to get a prime nursing spot!).  They grunt, groan and struggle for positioning with some squeals and trilling; and then the moment happens where they stop and drink, at their most content, and their tails tell the rest of the story! A moment of pure bliss for me to watch, no matter how many times a day I get the opportunity to be a bystander of the process.

I still spend a LARGE amount of time in the whelping pen or just outside of it watching them.  The Bio-sensor training is coming along nicely, and I’m noticing that they are getting much more comfortable with the handling as each day passes, falling asleep during the exercises or becoming like putty into a relaxed state, even when being held upside down!  I take a moment to wonder  what’s going on in their brains while these exercises are happening.  They say that handling the puppy by the main caretaker is good stimulation at this point for the puppies, with one reference stating the following:

“A puppy that receives gentle human handling tends to have improved cardiovascular performance and disease resistance. He also matures faster, develops better problem-solving skills and is better able to tolerate stress as an adult” 

I’m curious about this information and of course it causes me to read on the internet about studies and research that has been done with regards to this.  To me, it’s pretty amazing to think that my activities during these first two weeks as well as the process over the next 6 weeks could have a lasting effect on their cardiovascular performance, reducing disease and helps to make a more resilient adult dog. I realize why it’s so great for visitors to come when they are older to give them the skills and interaction to help them on their path. While people are always thrilled to come visit the puppies when they get old enough, they probably didn’t realize that it’s not a one way street-they are contributing to the potential success within each of the dogs by their interaction!

As much as my husband tries to be the “watch from a distance” kind of person when it comes to this whelping process, he loves these puppies!  I will be coming back into the area after doing something, and there he will be in the room-talking to the puppies, filming them on his go pro, or holding them and calling them sweetheart 🙂  It’s very tender and heartwarming,  and I love that he can enjoy this process as well.  He may not be as “all in” because his days are filled with going to work and picking up some of my responsibilities so I can take care of the puppies and Sugar, but none-the-less it’s an experience for him to enjoy as well along the way!

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You can tell by his face that he is enjoying this journey as well!

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Ken taking Sugar for her first “walk” after puppies-nothing exciting as it’s only a quick block walk to get her out of the house and a little fresh air 🙂

I don’t take anything I do while working with these puppies for granted; knowing that all of these puzzle pieces fit together for the benefit of the puppies to become the best dogs possible, regardless of whether that means they make it through the whole program and become assistance dogs or it makes them a career changed pet for someone due to extenuating circumstance.  A great dog is the only thing I’m working to attain when I invest my time and energy in these little bundles (although a great ASSISTANCE dog is the jackpot of wishes!) and hopefully what I do while they are in my home gives them enough building blocks to create a future full of promise!

 

Day 11-A Global Mission

An interesting part of being a whelping home volunteer is that you get to experience “first hand” the Global Mission of assistance dogs for those who need them.

Sugar came to Can Do Canines from another organization.  It was determined by that organization that she had what she needed to be a great breeding dog and so conversations between Can Do Canines and them began and soon Sugar was on her way here after being bred out east.  We received a call from the Training Director asking if we would be interested in becoming a breeder host family for her.  We agreed, and it was a month before we were able to confirm her pregnancy of 6 or more puppies!  The news was fantastic and we were thrilled!  And then we were nervous, scared and worried that we wouldn’t be able to do the job right.  After all, these puppies are valuable; they are not ours and yet we were accepting the responsibility of being their caretakers to successfully get them to a set age where they will take the world by storm!  We wondered whether we were up for the challenge and whether or not despite our best efforts if the outcome would meet our expectations for ourselves.

Once Sugar had her beautiful 1st litter of 6 female puppies in August of 2015 we were elated! As the weeks passed, we learned many new, incredible things; like how the program worked, how her puppies would be distributed between the 2 organizations as part of their contract and what that meant as well as how to care for a litter of puppies and her mother.  It was a huge learning curve, but it allowed us to learn more about how these organizations work with each other to increase their breeding program and what that entails.  It was determined that 2 of Sugars puppies would be going with the other organization to another country to help start up a program there.  There were many decisions within that larger decision, and it tweaked my interest in learning more about how organizations operate within those boundaries.  I had no idea when I first started learning more that it was such a complex and intricate series of decisions and agreements that makes this a well oiled machine. Dogs come into the program, new breeding dogs arrive, and some dogs leave the program for other organizations.  I can only imagine the paperwork needed to keep all of these happenings in order!

Nutmeg and Sage became Ivy and Isla once they went to Hong Kong

In the end, Sage and Nutmeg who were 2 yellow females, went to Hong Kong for the program.  They stayed with Great Start fosters here until they were old enough to fly such a long distance, and shortly after the beginning of January 2016 they were on their way to be the change for someone.  They had to learn a new language and everything that goes with that, and reports are that they are doing great! However, raising a litter of puppies and then having some of them go off to faraway lands isn’t easy if you get attached like I do, so it takes a little adjustment in my thinking to convince myself that not knowing how these puppies are doing on a regular basis is just part of the process.

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Yellow with his fashionable white nails!

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A couple of puppies from this “L” litter will also be designated and chosen from the other organization to become theirs. These organizations help the breeding program within Can Do Canines be strong and diverse and keep their breeding lines at the highest standards possible so that more incredibly high quality assistance dogs can be developed. Where will they go? What will they do? How will they be chosen?  I can’t answer those questions, but it certainly adds an interesting perspective to the whelping home experience!

Day 10-Thursday, a Day to be Thankful

Today is the “expected” day to be thankful for something-and although I am thankful for so very many things in my life I always hope that I can be thankful every day for things around me and not have to wait for the one day a year a holiday reminds me to do so. But today reminds me to be thankful for the incredible service these dogs provide to the clients and forever homes they are placed with once their training is complete; to be thankful that their are organizations like this that somewhere in their past saw a need to help others, found that dogs indeed do have the capability to provide that help in incredible ways, and then found a way to make it a reality. In addition, then there needs to be whelping homes to help fulfill the need so that hopefully waiting lists can be eliminated in the future for people waiting to receive a dog.

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They love hiding under a variety of items in their whelping box for comfort!

It is the job of the whelping home to teach these “puppies with a purpose” to navigate through the waters of being an assistance dog in training and eventually a full fledged assistance dog; to weather the learning curve of bumps and bruises along the way by hopefully teaching them resilience.   As you’ve seen in earlier posts, training begins on day 3 for these pups and the learning process will continue even past the day of graduation when they are placed with their client. Training has no finite end, but rather it is an infinite loop of learning- learning the appropriate reactions to stimuli(sometimes a training day can ONLY be about not chasing squirrels!), learning tasks that will help their client lead a life of freedom from the things that were creating a struggle for them previously, learning how to “work” when their cape is on, and learning that being a regular, everyday dog that loves to fetch a ball, play tug of war and swim in the lake is just as important!

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It is 400am, and as I sit here and watch trying to get their legs underneath them to acquire the accomplishment of learning to walk I realize once again that these puppies have NO idea how special they are! They will be happy doing what they learn because their whelping homes, foster homes, puppy raisers and trainers will spend 2 years or more encouraging them to learn a huge variety of tasks in a fun and engaging way and that is all they’ve ever known!  It won’t seem unusual for them to be under a table at a restaurant during a meal or walking through a crowded mall when they are still a young puppy because they’ve never known anything different.  They will need to be in a variety of homes with a variety of opportunities so that nothing surprises them.  The statement that it takes a village is no truer than it is with teaching these dogs.

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And so, today, they will hear MP3’s of noises lightly in the background that will help them gain that resilience; busy city noises, trains, honking horns, loud noises and more. They will add those noises to their data bank of learning and those noises will just be white noise in the background to them hopefully as they encounter them in the real world down the road.  In the future, they will be able to continue to focus on their client because they have experienced so much in the past and they understand it’s nothing to be afraid of but instead something to ignore and move on. They will work to become the champions of greatness that all of us who volunteer in this organization know they can be, and they have a section of cheerleaders on the sideline, numbering in the hundreds or more, waiting to see them cross that stage one day with their forever person and change their lives in ways we can’t even comprehend-and THAT is hopefully their destiny!

Day 9-Wednesday-Growing Up

One of the unique aspects of this litter of Sugar’s is that another volunteer and talented videographer with many credits to his name on a variety of higher profile projects and shows is planning to do a documentary on Sugar and this litter; he will follow their progress through all of the stages of development including puppy raisers, fosters, and the prison program or wherever they may go all the way through to final training and placement with a client at graduation!  He has been taping from the day Sugar got pregnant and he was at the vet for the ultrasound to confirm her pregnancy, the x-rays, at the delivery for the c-section and has made a number of trips to our house to chronicle the journey from puppy to placement!  We are honored and humbled to be even a small part of that journey and to have the privilege to watch the progress of the documentary and see where it takes him!

The daily routine is setting in nicely now-bio sensor training, nail trims and filing so that they don’t scratch up Sugar’s stomach or create issues with infection, tracking their weights, and waiting for the next stages of their development.  As I was filing their nails, I snickered at the fact that they have already had more manicures in one week than I have had in my whole lifetime!  They have a very special purpose to fulfill, and their care and treatment along the way is of utmost importance to everyone who comes in contact with them!

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Their ear canals have opened because they now have startle reactions to noises in the vicinity of their box; their eyes should be opening this next week and Orange already seems like his right eye is thinking that he wants to see the world; and they should be able to support their weight on all fours in this upcoming week as well.

I actually got two individual chunks of 3 hours each of sleep last night which is a first in 8 days! I’ve become an expert at 10-15 minute cat naps over this past week during the nighttime hours and I’ve been a little surprised at how little sleep you can really function on 🙂 It’s not hard to go without sleep when you look into the whelping box and see these incredible creatures just learning about life!  I should be a test subject in a study about the positive effects on humans when surrounded by a newborn litter of pups-a calm, peaceful feeling even though things haven’t been perfect. Maybe that’s a thesis paper for a college student in the future!

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Day 8-Tuesday-1 week old today!

This is the 1 week old birthday of these beautiful puppies!

Today is the first day where I really feel that things are going in the right direction without any emerging issues that are going to need my undivided attention!  That’s GREAT news for me! Today I’m going to revel in thinking about mundane things, like “what’s for dinner”, and “has the dishwasher been unloaded?”  I’m going to spend some time in the kitchen cooking and I’m not going to complain about the opportunity to do so!

The puppies are all doing really well-Purple has been having what seems like the sniffles a little but it doesn’t seem any worse and it’s not really anything that is on the radar-just typical puppy things.

We continue with Sugar on her regimen of medications and every day I see a little more of her spunky self returning.  Today, for the first time in over a week, she went to her toy bin and brought me a toy of hers and tried to engage me in some tug of war.  How could I say no to that? It’s amazing that a simple gesture like going to her toy bin brought a wave of relief that things are good today!

In my nightly email update with the breeding coordinator I sent her this as a side note with all of the pertinent information about how the puppies and Sugar are doing-and I’m sure she realized that things were going much better in my house this evening:

“Fact of the day: This is why I get nothing done during the day; I live in a whelping box with 7 unbelievably adorable puppies and their momma …..and I’m not complaining 🙂 (but Ken on the other hand….)”
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This is the joy of being a whelping home; the days that you wait for, like a present waiting to be unwrapped.  Where you sit in a 20 sq ft space with them and you watch in amazement at their development-you don’t notice that you’ve worn the same jogging pants 3 days in a row, but what you DO notice are the smallest things of each puppy, and even though they’re only a week old you pretty much have already discovered some traits in them that allow you to give them nicknames.  Because there are 7 of them, I  felt inclined to give them one of the 7 dwarfs names as well:

  • Like Mr. Blue/Clutch/Dopey, who is small but mighty; he was the smallest in the litter, weighing in at 454 grams (1 pound) but he is the one that is continuously working his way around the box looking to stir up trouble with his siblings, waking them up and getting them chirping for their mom so they can get another meal.  If I want the litter to stay sleeping, I place him in an area of the box away from his litter mates and gently rock him to sleep so everyone can have some quiet time; In a clutch,(thus his nickname) I would want him on my team because he just keeps searching for the solution to whatever his problem might be at the time!
  • Then there’s Mr. Red/Grumpy; we affectionately call him Mr. Trouble because he came out loud and he hasn’t stopped since. When he wants something, YOU KNOW IT!  Don’t even TRY to hold him if he hasn’t eaten recently or anything with skin is HIS!
  • Or Mr. Yellow/Happy, aka Chunky, who was the biggest in the group and maintains his stature as the chunk ball of the group. He “chortles” in his sleep and it is ADORABLE! His face is extra “smooshy” with extra skin, and I think he will have the extra face skin like his momma and I try to kiss that beautiful face as much as I can;
  •  Mr. Orange/Sweetie/Doc:  I’m not sure what it is about him, but I feel a special warm spot in my heart for him and I have ever since he was born!  He’s quieter, he’s happy with a corner and a “snake” (the tubes we use so that they will build muscles by climbing over them).  He never instigates anything and he’s happy for me to just hold him;
  • Ms. Purple/dollface/Sneezy:  I gave her a purple collar because I thought she would be spunky, which has been the personality of many of the purple collared pups in the program.  But she is quiet and content and unassuming. She loves to stretch out just outside of the perimeter of the heat lamp as she sleeps the day away.  I think about whether she will keep that trait or become chaos on four legs very soon!
  • Ms. White/Hunny/Bashful: I think this dwarfs nickname fits Ms. White well.  She’s unassuming and seems reluctant to draw attention to herself which is the definition of the word. She loves being close to her siblings, and her favorite position is with her back legs draped up and over one of the “snakes”.  I laugh every time I see it!
  • Mr. Green./Junior/Sleepy:  He’s the one that I’m always looking for throughout the day when I’m constantly doing my 1,2.3.4.5.6…………oh 7 count to make sure they are all accounted for in the box. (I’m not sure where I think they would go as they can’t even walk yet; #theworriesofawhelpingmom)

And, so today I enjoy the lack of craziness, the contentment of time, and the joy in the smallest of things; and I wonder what tomorrow will bring!

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Day 7-Monday

Today, the unimaginable happened….my dryer broke-actually, not so unimaginable since it is going on 27 years old, but the timing is very unfortunate to be sure with so many loads of puppy laundry to be done every day in addition to regular life laundry!

And then, something absolutely AMAZING happened!  I thought I would post an update in the life of a whelping home on my Facebook page, some type of “life happens” entry:

“Litter of 7 assistance dog puppies under a week old……doing up to 4 loads of puppy laundry a day……dryer just broke……home Service Plus says they are booked until next week…..#lifesneverboring

Literally, in a flash, offers started coming in from people commenting on my post-Fellow Can Do Canines volunteers, friends, family, neighbors, high school friends and acquaintances!  I seriously could NOT believe what I was seeing! Out of the generosity of their hearts, people volunteered to come to my house, pick up my laundry, dry it, and BRING IT BACK TO ME! Initially I felt bad because I didn’t want people to think that’s why I put it on Facebook, but then I realized they would know that wasn’t my purpose and that they really are just THAT generous.  My heart literally melted as the comments starting pouring in throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning.  It dawned on me that Thanksgiving was another 3 days away, and that was just too far off to wait to be thankful-today was my day to take some time to appreciate all of the special people in my life that are willing to jump in and help someone whenever there is a need.  I am so very fortunate to know each and every one of them!  By 730am a family friend had seen my post, called me and stopped by my house to pick up a load so he could bring it back to his house and throw it in the dryer.  Then he said “get another load washed and when this one is done I will stop back and switch out bags”.  The broken dryer gave me a gift that is a priceless reminder of how to be there for others no matter how small the problem may seem.

As for Sugar, the breeding coordinator came out this morning to see how Sugar was doing and we went over some of the things that I had mentioned to her in the email update last night-mainly that her incision continued to have a smell about it and I wanted to make sure it was healing okay.  She looked carefully at it and thought that there was some signs that would indicate she would need to be put on antibiotics.  Another round of contacting the vet for a consult and sure enough she had to come to the house again later in the afternoon to bring me the antibiotics.  I can’t imagine doing her job! So, for now, Sugar has 2 more medications added to her regimen to get her back to 100%. We will continue the process of adjusting meds, food, and watching for signs of improvement or lack thereof.

However,  slowly but surely I am starting to see the twinkle in her eyes again and I am hopeful that this is her turning point! I want her back to her happy, energetic, and fun-loving self again and I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens as soon as possible. Being a whelping home is extremely rewarding for me personally; but it also has a level of worry about Sugar and her pups that is unsettling at times. In talking with other whelping homes, I know they struggle with the same thing.  We love what we do and we love animals, and that is what makes it stressful sometimes.   I do my very best to keep my concerns and worry under control, but thank goodness the breeding coordinator knows me so well. She can help me navigate through those difficult times without losing my perspective of why this role is important and why staying calm even when the chips are down is the best thing I can do for Sugar and her litter of precious pups!

Now it’s time to go back in the whelping box to enjoy these beautiful babies!

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The growing list of meds that Sugar needs for her recovery

 

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lunchtime!

 

Day 6-No Sleep for the Weary

Last night was a long night-I thought we were doing alright with Sugar’s progress but around 8pm she had nothing major, but she lost her footing.  Then, about an hour later she did it again.

I was typing up the daily update for the breeding program coordinator so that I could email it to her and decided to add a side note at the bottom that read:

**Totally Miscellaneous;

  • Sugar has “fallen” twice tonight out of the blue-I didn’t see if it was a careless slip or something odd-but she hasn’t ever done this before?  Just thought I would share that if for some reason it is important?

At around 11:30pm, my phone rang but I didn’t get to it quick enough.  Then I got a text saying “Call me please” from the breeding coordinator.  I knew something was up.

I called her back and she started asking questions about the falling.  What ended up coming out of the ensuing conversation is that she had been in contact with the vet on call after receiving my nightly update and they determined that there was enough cause for concern that it MIGHT be canine eclampsia that they wanted to immediately try some measures to reduce the risk if that indeed ended up being the case.  What I didn’t completely know at the time (but of course I researched after that) was that Canine Eclampsia can be deadly if not caught soon enough or treated. Although I have no vet or medical experience, the way I understood it is that Canine Eclampsia is different than the human form ; it is a low blood calcium that can cause neurological issues and can deteriorate somewhat quickly if signs and symptoms aren’t given your full attention. If caught early it is almost always curable, but the secret lies in catching the subtle clues that may not seem important-like Sugar stumbling, which isn’t typical for her but isn’t surprising with her being tired, having a c-section, etc.

Although I didn’t see the importance of that little tidbit of information, luckily there was something inside of me that made me decide to add it to the nightly update and that was an important piece of information for her to have. And luckily, part of this program is having a fabulous breeding coordinator who has a system of getting nightly updates so that she can stay on top of things that we have no understanding of!

Dora was wonderful at giving me the right amount of information to make sure that I could effectively get Sugar what she needed but yet made sure I stayed calm so that I could keep a close eye on Sugar. I had to be the eyes and ears to be able to notice if any other symptoms appeared that would require a change of plans and a trip to the vet ASAP.  I was told to give her the recommended amount of calcium supplements per the Vet’s instructions, watch her closely for any signs such as continued falls, tremors, seizures, pawing at the face, as well as a few others.

Being a whelping home, I always think I’m going to be mostly concerned with the health and welfare of the puppies; I had forgotten that things can get a little problematic for the mother as well. I absolutely ADORE Sugar and the thought that she wasn’t feeling up to par and could potentially have a life threatening situation required me to switch emotional gears quickly last night.

I spent the night awake, wondering what I could do to help Sugar; laying on my air mattress on the floor right next to the whelping box (under my office desk!)  while keeping my hand on her so that I could know if anything was happening like tremors or seizures. I had to fight the urge to sift through endless amounts of information on the internet because I knew that what I read would send me into a tailspin of fear for Sugar and I wouldn’t be able to keep a clear head and be the best caretaker of her if things got worse-and after that conversation close to midnight, sleep was NOT going to be my top priority!

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I joked with friends saying I should be on “Hell’s Kitchen-canine style” with all of the mixing of food items I’m doing for Sugar’s meals to try to regulate her system-pumpkin, rice,wet specialty food, 3 medications and soon to be adding cottage cheese!

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Through it all Sugar has maintained her complete devotion to her litter of pups!