I’ve been getting asked a lot about why we are called whelping homes and what that means. My honest answer is “because that is what the organization calls us”. 🙂 While the term whelping is the process of a dog delivering puppies which we are a part of doing in our homes, the term “whelp” when looked up says “It doesn’t sound as cute as “puppy,” but whelp means the same thing: a baby dog or wolf”. So that’s the long answer to why we are called whelping homes! We are the process of helping the dog deliver puppies and we deal with the baby dogs (puppies) until they are ready to go to their training homes!
“The puppies are starting to become more vocal, and they are learning the appropriate times to use their voices! They are starting to grumble with their playmates while jostling each other around the play area; they whine and yip when I put them in the whelping box for bedtime (hoping I will change my mind I’m sure); and they have the fun “bark and pounce” which is adorable because they can’t quite control the rest of their body and they typically go tumbling somewhere that they didn’t intend to go!
Sugar is increasing her playtime with them as well as her corrections for inappropriate behaviors which is fascinating to watch. I will sit in a corner of the play area and just observe-and she will watch them playing, decide which one is not meeting her expectations and then she will single them out to start playing with them and guiding their behavior. I would love to know what is going on in that mind of hers as well as the puppies because it’s very clear that this is not JUST playtime, but rather the beginning of learning how to be a certain type of dog. Her “corrections” include using her paw to stop a behavior, nibbling them, pushing them with just enough energy to let them know who’s really in charge, and she also will nudge them away from a puppy that seems to be the underdog in almost a protective manner. I realize at this point that I would LOVE to be able to follow a researcher that was working on animal behavior to gain more insight into this area. I just can’t seem to pull myself away from the activity in front of me!
The puppies are all making fabulous strides in using the potty pads and it’s now become somewhat of a game for me. I try to see how many puppies can use the pads successfully when I am in the area with them and I keep stats! (I know-it’s a sad statement of what my day entails, but it’s necessary to keep things interesting in the box!) Today on three separate occasions I had a 5/7, 6/7, and 7/7 in my success ratio-and yes, I call it MY success ratio because it still does require some active participation by me to teach them where they should be going:) By the time the first litter left my house in 2015, they were 95% potty trained but we had the advantage of the month of September as the training time frame with LOTS of time outside, so it will be interesting to see what this winter litter will be like in that category. But there is no doubt that I am giving it my very best shot at success!
With this blog I want to give a BIG thank you to the volunteers who also help with these litters as they grow! Obviously, staying home and not doing anything for 1 1/2-2 months during this process is impossible, but it’s also understandable that these puppies need a high level of care due to their hopes of becoming awesome service dogs-which means that sometimes my husband and I have activities that we need to attend, ESPECIALLY during the holiday season! So, what do we do when we have to be somewhere but we have a houseful of puppies needing care? We call on the volunteer village of Can Do Canines! We are so fortunate that volunteers are so willing to help the whelping homes and give us the much needed breaks during this process! For example, when I was gone this past week and Ken had a business function to attend, a whelping home volunteer came and took the reins for the whole afternoon to make sure Sugar got outside, make sure that she got in to feed the puppies, kept the puppy area clean and gave the puppies some socialization and much more; yesterday when we had a family celebration that was going to mean we would be gone for approximately 5 hours (which of course was over the feeding/dinner times!) another whelping home volunteer came over to help out, and that was after a snow emergency was called! I sent them an email saying it wasn’t necessary with the bad weather, and yet they said no problem, drove over 45 minutes and showed up so that we could enjoy a family night out! I have always been appreciative of the volunteers in this organization that consistently use their time, talents, energy, and money to make this organization successful but I appreciate them in a completely different capacity after becoming a whelping home! It requires a heightened level of intense time requirement and I’m not sure I could pull it off without the help of other volunteers-and I’m sure the other whelping homes would agree!
It’s interesting, because even my family didn’t understand the difference between raising a litter of puppies and raising a litter of “future assistance dog” puppies. People sometimes have experience with puppy litters, but it’s safe to say this is a totally different ballgame~but a totally awesome one to be a part of!
So, thank you to all of the volunteers who help to make the process of getting puppies to the next stage of their journey possible!