The puppies have been in my home for 3 days now, and what I realize is that although it’s not my first litter, it’s a whole new world that I have to explore again with new eyes. Every litter, every momma dog, every experience, and every puppy is different; and every whine, cry, and pant that I had learned to decipher from a previous litter in my home is now only a casual reference point and I have to learn the “language of the box” all over again. I have to use what I’ve learned in the past to help guide me on this journey, yet I can’t allow the previous experiences to cloud my judgment for what’s in front of my eyes with THIS litter.
A cry from a puppy can be that they are too hot, too cold, hungry, not feeling well, are looking for their mom, or have to go to the bathroom which they need Sugar’s assistance for, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless, and as soon as I assume I automatically know what it is without exploring all of my options I’ve lost the benefit of fresh eyes to find the real reason for their vocalization. Honestly, it’s like learning a foreign language in a record amount of time! Some litters love a warm whelping box, while others don’t; some love being with their littermates and others love to be in the far corners of the box away from everything-yet puppies going off on their own could also indicate something might be amiss. So, you carefully watch and wait for their next move so you can compile the information and then come up with your best guess as to what’s going on and if it’s an issue or just puppies being puppies.
There’s what the books and the experts tell you about tiny little puppies and then there’s your vision of what you see, your gut instinct, and the interactions between mom and puppies. It turns you into a detective of sorts until you solve the mystery and you see a reaction in the puppies, the mom, or the environment that tells you either you are right on or try again. More often, it seems to fall into the latter category, and yet you don’t have the option to get frustrated because being alert to the tiniest of clues is really important. You don’t have time to pat yourself on the back, because a new mystery is waiting just around the corner to present itself for you to solve! The first big hurdle is the birth of the puppies, but sometimes people don’t realize that there are a hundred more hurdles along the way to them becoming 8 week old bundles of joy! Lucky for us, staff is there to guide us along the way with their knowledge and expertise so we don’t have to do the journey alone!
One litter in our home loved a 90-degree whelping box and this litter prefers more like an 80 degree box-but the variables are what played into that difference. Sugar is spending much more time in the box this time around and so they are cuddling with her nice warm body more often; the days have been sunny and the sunlight in the window can warm the room more than if it were the middle of winter; even my choice of waterproof pads and sheets can affect the level of heat that the floor retains which affects their comfort level. All of these things that change are out of my control and so I have to figure out how to solve it differently this time than maybe previous times. We watch the puppies constantly to watch their body language. If they huddle they might be cold, if they spread out they are too warm, if they cry it could be either or a combination of anything else!
By the end of the night, your mind feels like you’ve spent all day in a college-level course of a brand new language, and tomorrow you get to do it all over again with a whole new language! My brain loves a challenge, so this experience gives me opportunities in thinking “outside of the box” and to be open-minded. I honestly believe that my experiences in whelping have directly impacted my views of the real world; I have learned to explore options much more freely and to look for solutions that might not be “traditional”. It’s taught me to appreciate experiences and people, places and things that I may not have previously because you never know how much effort, training, skill or heart that has gone into what you see in front of you!