Day 24 – It’s a “Gruel”ing Day…..

Well, today was a special day as it was the FIRST day that the puppies got to try real puppy food!(I posted a video on the Life of Sugar Facebook page.) As you can imagine, introduction to the puppies of real food means “messy” is typical, and that there is also  other things that change as part of being at this stage-namely their bathroom habits. When one goes to the bathroom, Sugar hunts me down with her eyes in what seems like a pleading expression like “please tell me you are going to start cleaning up after these puppies?  I can’t do this anymore——–”

This is right before they all climb into the muffin tin and REALLY track the food all over the floor 🙂

Some other firsts-I got my first night of more than 3 hours of sleep with puppies!  When I was leaving for my mini vacation this week, Dora had said it might be a good time to try seeing if they would go a chunk of the night without needing anything.  They slept until 445 am which is a great accomplishment since it was the longest they had been away from their mom and they seemed to do fine. The best news is that I am not sleeping on an air mattress anymore!  Hallelujah because I’m not sure how many nights more my bones would have let me continue to do that!

They are developing so fast that it is hard to even keep track of all of the changes. They are getting great at playing together, they are more content between feedings like they might be willing to allow me to actually create some type of schedule for them, they are sleeping for longer periods through the night,  they get excited and perk up when I come to the doorway to check on them and they continue to develop their personalities.

None of them have changed much from the initial names/personalities that I attached to them when they were much younger;

Yellow-Still the happiest guy of the bunch willing to give you a tail wag for just about anything! (AKA Happy/Chunky)

Orange-Yep, I still have a soft spot for him and I have no idea why! He’s figured out how to bark to make sure we don’t forget about him, but he is quiet, content and laid back. (AKA-Doc,

White-still a quiet female of the group, she continues to be unassuming, yet she is starting to get a playful attitude with her littermates. She loves licking your face and I have no idea why!(AKA Bashful)

Blue-Blue likes to stir up trouble with his litter mates by trying to nurse on them and you can bet that doesn’t go over well:) Because of his efforts he is also known as Dopey! However, he has a petite face, he has a quiet attitude otherwise and there’s something very gentle that you can almost feel about him.

Purple-She’s a little bit of the “under” dog and she is too polite if you ask me.  She will sit back and wait for a feeding like she’s saying “Don’t worry, I will get whatever is left over when you are done”.  That’s when I pick her up, designate her feeding space and I take control and make room for the little peanut! (Of course, that’s not my typical personality to just jump in and take control…..) AKA Dollie/Sneezy because she was the first puppy to have little sneezing spells.

Green-still quiet, still reserved and nothing seems to ruffle his feathers!  He’s not the first to try anything, but his gentle spirit speaks volumes! AKA Junior

Red-What can you say about Red?  He previously seemed like he was going to be the sole troublemaker of the group; but as time passes they are all clamoring to get out of the box and explore their territory and Red seems to be the leader of the litter.

They had their first field trip out to the entry way in an x-pen.  They seemed to enjoy it and I put up towels and blankets to cover the x-pen walls so that the draft didn’t get the best of them. Ken loved it even more because he was able to sit in the pen WHILE watching the nightly news; that was a win for him and it gave me a little time to pick up some of the loose ends around the house.

Ken loved having the pups in the entryway so he could watch the nightly news AND play with puppies!


The heart pillow draws these puppies in…..

Miss White got a new big girl collar but it is black since white is not an easy color to find in a puppy collar!

A great snuggle after eating their food

You know you have it bad for puppies when every new development and change regardless of how messy brings a smile to your face and a skip in your step!

Mark was out today to do some filming of the first feeding and it was funny because part of me was just really enjoying watching them try to navigate the muffin tin of gruel, and the other part of me wanted to jump in the pen and keep them neat and orderly!  I told Mark that it was hard for me to just stand back and watch but I’m so glad I had the opportunity because I think you lose some of the joy of the moment if you don’t just learn to step back and watch without having to fix, change, or control it.  Another great life lesson learned because of a litter of adorable puppies that have no idea what they are teaching me along the way!

Mark filming the lucky 7 after the first meal!

Day 23-There is No Place Like Home for the Holidays

After a nice mini vacation with my 3 sisters and my mom in Arizona, I have to admit it’s really nice to be back! While I was gone, my thoughts were never far from home 🙂 Something really interesting happened during the flight home that took me by surprise-I was planning on sleeping during the whole flight home as I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep last night, but once I sat in my seat between two nice, older gentleman it became apparent that sleep was not going to be in the cards for me! They both started talking to me and before long I mentioned having puppies at home and the conversation began.  I just HAD to pull out my phone then and show them adorable puppy pictures like the proud parent of a new baby!  Although I didn’t see what was happening, a crowd from the 3 rows surrounding us started to lean in to listen to what I was saying.  Then, the lady across the aisle began to ask questions about the program, volunteering, clients, how dogs are placed and much more.  Pretty soon I had an audience of 6-9 people and we were happily talking about Can Do Canines! They started asking for contact information and I started handing out the necessary info on post it notes!  It’s amazing what you can do with time, adorable puppy pics, and a captive audience 30,000 feet in the air!

Ken I think has a new appreciation for the tasks that need to be done on what seems like a constant basis; wondering if the puppies were gaining enough, wondering about a cough by one or two of them, wondering if they were nursing too often etc. and yet I think it also has given him the opportunity to understand on a different level exactly what it is that makes me enjoy these puppies so much! Yes, it is work, but WOW does it have rewards as well!


So, today I was able to see how incredibly fast these puppies are growing!  In 3 1/2 days, they got upper teeth, they are walking so much better, they are play fighting with each other and they seek out the attention of humans!  In only 3 days!!!


They also got to inherit some new territory so they can explore-I’ve expanded their space to now include the whole office which means that their favorite spot is of course under my office chair and that is making it nearly impossible for me to work on the computer.  I can’t say I mind as I instead lay on the floor playing and cuddling with them! However, tomorrow I need to rearrange the room once again as now there isn’t room for the reclining chair  and I will have to move the cleaning supplies out of the area as well. The other rooms in our house are starting to fill with the overflow……….with added space for them to explore, the addition of x-pens means my exercise program has officially started with leg lifts….


Tomorrow is a big day for them too!!! It will be their first day of mush food.  That’s typically a really messy day, so I’m prepping my washer and dryer for the tasks ahead!



sibling love 🙂

They also are clamoring out of the whelping box so it will be time for me to put in some type of a walking ramp that allows them easier access in and out of the box as well as giving them a learning lesson on uneven surfaces and gaining confidence with their footing on a variety of surfaces! They also will get the use of their puppy play gym beginning tomorrow and a new toy that I purchased for them-a kids slide!



It’s going to be busy, messy and FABULOUS!


Day 22-Clean, Play, Feed, Repeat

Ken’s Day of learning on Monday what whelping is REALLY about …….

So I get day one under the belt and think I have this thing down. Now comes day 2 which is also a work day for me and I am at home working and watching over the puppies. Sorry, wrong order… watching over the puppies and trying to get work done.

It seems like I get into a groove getting some work done and then something else needs to be done. Remember: Priority 1–Puppies & Sugar Stop working, take care of the dogs. Now back to work but it takes me 15 minutes to figure out where I left off and then it is back to the dogs again…. repeat this all day. The schedule, Sugar eats and then feeds the puppies every 3 hours, then we have to throw in puppy play time, Sugar bathroom breaks, cleaning out the pen, washing the dirty potty pads in the pen, more play time and keeping the house clean. I am not sure if I got any work done but I do know that I still have 7 puppies and a Sugar momma. The puppies are gaining weight as well as attitude. I consider this to be successful.

Puppy play time is the most fun as all 7 of them are ready to greet you and try to climb all over you as soon as you enter their domain. Found out that I need to keep the door on the pen closed or they will try and escape. 

Day 21-Settling in!

My first full day alone and in charge, well I am at least in charge in my own mind as I know who is really pulling the strings behind the scenes to make sure that I am a success with her pride and joy.

I am rating today as a success, I still have 7 puppies and a momma and they all seem to be content. I can’t believe how much Sugar is eating, every time I turn around I seem to be giving her more food and she does not hesitate in consuming it with delight. She really needs all this food to keep her energy and milk production up as the puppies are voracious every time she enters the pen to feed them. I feel sorry for her as she lays down and the puppies attack from all directions each searching for their food supply. You always get one or two of them that lose their spot and sit on the outside trying to find an opening in the line so they can get to their meal. 
When I watch this the outsider looks like Adrian Peterson trying to find a hole in the line so he can break the big one and find the promised land.

The hardest part of today for me is how low key it is. I love to stay busy and keep active but watching the pups requires you to be low key, have patience, and be content sitting around playing with the puppies and Sugar. I was able to get Sugar out for a walk this afternoon after she had fed the pups and they were resting. We both really enjoyed it, the fresh air and exercise. I let Sugar take her time and smell the roses while she could. When she gets out she reverts back to the non-mom Sugar and the spunk returns with a little giddy up in her step. When she returns to the house she reverts back to mom dog and becomes serious and immediately goes to the pen to count the puppies.

Sugar moves seamlessly between responsible dog mom and happy almost 3 year old!


I think Sugar is also beginning to accept reality and she knows that her mom is gone for a while as she is not waiting for someone else to walk in behind me anymore. She is stuck with me and now comes to me when she needs things, I think she is becoming more confident in my abilities. I think she has accepted me as her temporary stepdogmom, I consider this a success.

Day one, done!

Day 20-Ken’s point of view!

Today is the first full day that Ken is holding the reins in the puppy world with me away. It sounds like he is doing everything well and this is just the first in a series of changes that these puppies will encounter during their training. They need to be easygoing, flexible and adaptable as they will be placed with a variety of families and  locations and learning to adjust to changes is just as important as any other training during their early months.  I’m approaching this time away as one more step in their future success (and maybe a good step for me as well!). 

So, how’s Ken doing with them?  Here’s the text I received this morning from him-“Going to be a great Sunday. My goal is to have the puppies potty trained and on 10 second stays by the end of the day”. Shortly after that another text….”How about a pic of them playing in the snow?” I had to wonder-he certainly knows they can’t go outside, doesn’t he ???? Just to make sure I sent a follow up text (“no, no playing in the snow”). I didn’t want to leave anything up to chance!

So, here’s Ken’s blog post from Saturday in his own words! 

December 2, 2016

Today is the day, the pressure is on. Holly did not want to leave the house and hung around the whelping room looking for things to do and watching over me for the longest time. I finally realized that she was procrastinating; maybe hoping she could delay long enough that she would miss her flight and have to stay home. Sugar on the other hand was watching Holly knowing something was going on and she had a nervous look as well. Her look was DO NOT leave me alone with him, he does not know what he is doing. I have never seen a more concerned look on her face. This got me more concerned wondering if I could handle it as Sugar is a dynamite dog who is bomb proof and can handle anything, if she was concerned then I should be concerned. 

Sugar looking for me after I left….

I had to put my concerns aside and get Holly moving, I looked at her and told her “It is time for you to leave” She gave me a nervous chuckle, delayed some more, yet after another 15 minutes she was finally out the door.

Holly has left for the airport and I am now in charge of her precious cargo. Seven service dog puppies who just opened their eyes, are walking better, are beginning to bark and play fight with each other, each day they are developing more and it is amazing to watch. On top of all of this I have to live up to high expectations of Holly.

For those of you that do not know Holly she is very detailed and everything she does is done with passion. She has reviewed her dog bible with me several times, gone over the reporting that needs to be done on a daily basis. When do the dogs eat, how do I change out the bedding, how much and when should I feed Sugar. I actually went in to puppy overload but I was not going to let her know this. I am used to running a business not raising a pack of adorable puppies, what did I get myself into? Wish me luck…

My first night did not start off good and it was not due to the dogs. I was having a craving for some sweets and I knew that we had some cookies in the freezer downstairs. I went down to ease my craving and upon opening the freezer I realized it was not running and the food was thawing. The GFI outlet had blown and now I had something else to deal with. Too much for tonight so I just took inventory of the food throwing some out, turned the freezer back on, did some google research and went back upstairs knowing this would still be here tomorrow.

The craving that saved our frozen foods……


Day 19-Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder…..

Today is the day. The day I’ve been worrying about for months.  Today is the day where I leave the comfort of my house, Sugar, and the puppies and I fly to Arizona for a couple of days to celebrate some family milestones with my 3 sisters and mom.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this-Sugar wasn’t SUPPOSED to go into heat until November and babies were supposed to be set for January.  I was thrilled because it’s that time of year that is so cold, dark and dreary that I couldn’t think of anything better than a couple of months surrounded by beautiful puppies!

So I booked a flight with my family to go to AZ for one week. Two days later, Sugar inexplicably came into heat.(like I really BELIEVE that dogs have any sense of schedule when it comes to these things?  I had calculated everything meticulously and then Sugar decided to show me who was REALLY in control!) All of a sudden the dates were changing in front of my eyes, and I had a paid ticket which we had all planned so we could be back in PLENTY of time for important things regarding Sugar.  I guess the best-laid plans……

Then I started thinking-can I even go on this trip anymore?  I certainly won’t be able to be gone a WEEK (nor would I want to if puppies were in my home).  How are we going to arrange to have Ken home with the pups and away from work? Will he know what to do?How is this possibly going to work and maybe I should just cancel going. What I thought was going to be a great trip away with family suddenly turned into a cause for panic. Ken and I discussed the options and we decided I would keep the ticket and we would just play it by ear.  If everyone was healthy, then I would consider going, otherwise, the trip was off.  I figured I would cancel my plane ticket and rebook at the very last minute if it was doable. Then the waiting began. I can tell you that this one little plane ticket caused a whole lot of stress leading up to this point!

But, right before Sugar delivered the pups the flight I was going on had to be changed by the airlines and so I gave them a call saying the new times didn’t work with what I currently had going on in my schedule and so we worked out an arrangement where they changed my ticket and moved it to a return date of Wednesday early morning instead.  This I felt was going to be the best chance to actually make it on the trip.

So I leave tonight for a trip and I don’t return until Wednesday morning.  Ken will take over the care of the puppies and I will do my very best to have a good time and not worry about Sugar and her puppies while away. If you know me, you know that this task will be a difficult one….


Organizing sheets, whelping pads, towels, and carpets to put them in order so that Ken has an easier time changing out the whelping box while I’m gone.  I took sheets and fleece material and cut them down to size so that they fit perfectly in the box!!!

Day 18-The Facts of Life; Some Puppy Facts!

Today I thought it would be good to research a little about the puppies and where they are at developmentally at this stage in the game, around 2 weeks old.

Puppy Seeing Ability
Their eyelids remain closed for the first 10 to 16 days of life. Puppies are, to a degree, color-blind. Dogs see in a dichromatic spectrum of colors that consist mainly of blues, grays, white and pale yellows. You see more colors than your puppy and you can also see better closer up. On average, your puppy has 20/75 vision, while humans (with correction, if needed) should have perfect 20/20 vision. Your puppy will see better in the dark and also can track moving objects much better than stationary ones. Remember, dogs in the wild must hunt prey. Their eyesight is based on that premise. Their field of view is larger than ours, they have a special reflective layer in the back of the eye that allows them to see in dim light, and they have both monocular and binocular depth perception. Puppies who are 2 to 3 weeks old and older can judge distance and track fast-moving objects relatively easily. The canine eye is very good at tracking moving objects, especially in dim light.

Puppy Hearing Ability
Unlike their eyes, which are born functional but not fully developed, puppies are born deaf. They cannot hear until 3 weeks or so of age. During this initial 2 to 3 weeks, your practically blind and deaf pup must navigate the world using scent. However, once fully developed, your puppy can hear four times the distance you can! Puppies can hear sounds in the frequency range of 60 to 60,000 Hertz can be detected by puppies while our range is only 40 to 20,000 Hz. Anything over 20,000 Hertz is considered ultrasonic. That’s why we hear nothing when a dog whistle is blown, but your puppy will cringe and cock his head to the side. However, puppies don’t hear low frequencies as well as we do. That’s why puppy toys make such loud, high-pitched squeaks.

Another adaptation that puppies have is the large number of muscles that control the ear. Can you wiggle your ears? I can’t, but a puppy can turn her ears “up” and actually turn the opening to focus on a sound. The canine ear has about 18 muscles that control its position, while we have about a third of those muscles. Breeds with upright ears hear better than breeds with ears flopped over. The distance between their ears is also important. It helps them to localize a sound, and puppies with big heads do that better.

Puppy Smelling Ability
The most important sense for puppies is olfaction or the sense of smell. A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times as acute as ours. Certain breeds have even more sensitivity, like the proverbial police Bloodhound.

Olfaction is a puppy’s only major sense for the first few weeks of life. Puppies must find their siblings, mom, and milk by using smell, not with vision or hearing. A large part of the puppy brain called the olfactory bulb is much larger and more developed than that of people.

Puppies also have an additional advantage regarding scent: the vomeronasal system. This is basically an additional organ that can interpret scent, and its main use is to detect pheromones.

Dogs’ sense of smell is so sensitive that puppies at the age of 4 to 6 months will be trained to search for drugs, explosive chemicals, and even cancer! Yes, there are a number of researchers who were able to teach dogs to detect cancer, just by scent.

The information above came from the following link: How well does your puppy see, hear and smell?



Momma Sugar keeping a close eye on her crew!


Day 17-It’s all in a days work…..Training Day!(For the human)

Last night I had a treat that was offered to me by my husband Ken.  He called me during the day yesterday and said he would switch places with me for the evening.  I could get the “5-star bed” and he would take an overnight shift on the “Boundary waters accommodations” of an air mattress under our office desk:)  My initial reaction was-“no, I need to be near the puppies”. But then I realized my real “requirement” was that SOMEONE was near the puppies, and since I had to train him in anyways because I was going to be gone in the near future I accepted his offer figuring one good night’s sleep after 16 days would be a treat! Yes, I am married to a wonderful man!

And so the training began-tonight I chose that he would have the honors of just a couple of tasks.  He would change out the whelping box and put fresh linens down; he would do the weights and record them; and finally, he would spend the night to learn Sugar’s cues for wanting to go in the box, go outside potty, or respond to the puppies needs through the overnight hours. And so the evening began……..



learning how to change the whelping box by problem-solving how to make a nice, clean base….

First, I explained to him how to change the whelping box with all clean materials all the way down to the base layers. Ken wanted to try to “redesign” the changing system but realized pretty early on that it’s a system because people who have whelped puppies for Can Do Canines have figured out how to best deal with this project. I remember the first litter trying to navigate this “chore” and it took awhile but I feel like I mastered the process pretty well 🙂 I had to leave the room because he wasn’t appreciating all of my “tips” on how to do it right!


It’s a little after 11pm and Ken is learning the ropes well!


Then on to puppy weights!  He learned how to fix them in a small basket with only a couple of near tip-overs, which of course gave me the opening to tell him ALL about what the puppies need and don’t need and that tipping off of a scale is one in the “don’t need” category. 🙂  After he got them all weighed in and “cataloged”, it was time to get ready for bed, and he went and got the air mattress…….then came in to ask me why we couldn’t just use the baby monitor and he could sleep in the regular bed! 🙂

I woke up at 3am with my ears peeled to make sure everything was going okay-and then I realized that Ken had forgotten to email Dora the nightly update!  Not terrible, but once again I realized that once you get into the rhythm of things it’s hard to change up the process or it throws off your whole game.

Morning came, and he woke me up around 630am (or maybe Sugar came and woke me up!) When I asked him how his night went he said he barely got any sleep and he was going to be worthless for the rest of the day!!! It was all I could do not to burst out laughing! I realized at that point how I could pat myself on the back for being adaptable at the very least; I had been on this journey for over 2 weeks, operated some nights on no sleep at all and until he said that I hadn’t really spent a lot of time thinking about how much different these last 16 days had been!  When you are really enjoying something, I guess you don’t notice the things that take away from that enjoyment if you focus on them instead.  I think Ken got at least a small TASTE of what it is to be a whelping home and that it’s not all about playing with puppies. In fact, although playing with puppies is a definite bonus, providing a caring, learning, safe environment for these puppies and their mom is what’s at the core of why I personally do this.  Cute puppies are just the part that seals the deal!

I think next I will train him in on the laundry portion of this journey……… 🙂


Day 16-Thinking Outside of the Box

Well, I knew it was coming-I just didn’t know when.  Today was the day that Miss Purple figured out that there was a doorway that she could go through to get out of the box!  I don’t know if it’s mere coincidence or if it has anything to do with the fact that their eyes are now open, but now it’s time to put the door panels on all of the time instead of occasionally 🙂  For some reason in my mind I had figured it would be closer to 3 weeks when they figured that little nugget of information out. They must be thinking that things are getting too chaos free in this house, so they had to up the ante a little bit!

So, now is the time where things get fun and interesting!  They are starting to  react to when I go in the box, and they are getting better at walking, they are just beginning to play with their littermates, and they are starting to determine what it is they want.  Pretty soon they will be clamoring at the whelping box door when they hear someone so they can explore their world at large!  I can’t believe we are already at that stage in the game, and although I know there is a lot of work ahead I can’t help but be excited for the cuteness that will be overflowing in that box in just a few days! Every morning is like Christmas morning as a kid, waiting to see the treasures that awaited me in my stocking!

They have received their first dose of worming medication, which went MUCH better than the first litter that I had!  This medicine I guess tastes better so they really didn’t fuss at all when I gave it to them. That’s great news since we have three more sets of the medication to give to them 🙂

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I can’t wait to see!



Weigh in time!




Obviously not stressful for him if he can fall asleep in a basket on his back….


They all love resting their heads on an elevated surface!


Sugar continues to be a rockstar mom!