Day 44- Two by Two!

Today the puppies earned the opportunity to come out of their play area and explore the house free from fences!  I brought two out at a time to check out the bigger world with Sugar’s watchful eye and give them a chance to play with Sugar and test out a new environment.

They loved the freedom and I loved watching their pure joy in playing!  I made sure they had gone to the bathroom before I took them out but since they are small, so is their ability to hold their bladder so they only got to be out for 10 minutes at a time. I feel a little bad that they don’t get more of an area to play, so today was about redesigning space to give them room to run! imgp6829imgp6833

imgp6834

The stakes were high with a full canine audience-who would win the match??????

Then in the afternoon, their puppy dog faces convince me that they should get the run of the entry way and kitchen and that I should build a larger play area…..and I couldn’t stand to say no. So I hauled all of my x-pen inventory in the house and started to determine how to make it puppy friendly!  See the video on the facebook page;

 https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F607312376119630%2Fvideos%2F630489390468595%2F&show_text=1&width=560” target=”_blank”>Video of Sugar and puppies playing on Facebook Page

And that is how we finish our day of new things!  Tomorrow we get to see the initial start of teaching them the task “sit”………

Advertisements

Day 43-The Great Escape

I knew it would happen at some point.  In fact I was a little surprised that it hadn’t happened yet-

I was in the bathroom with our 8 month old grandson giving him a “steamroom” to help his congestion which I thought was PERFECT timing as my husband had the day off from work and he could keep an eye on other things, namely the puppies.  What I hadn’t anticipated was that he didn’t think they NEEDED to be watched so while I was tending to our grandson he was getting other things done……

And that’s when I came out to our living room to see an empty play area all but for 1 lone puppy who was trying to find the way out!  I frantically looked around and saw Sugar in all of her motherliness trying to round up the other 6 puppies in two different rooms looking like “What just happened and who is going to help me with this crisis???????”  The puppies were in high explore mode and I was so happy that our house is mostly childproofed  because of our grandson and definitely dog proofed due to the numbers of animals we have come through our doors, so I didn’t have to panic that they had gotten anything:)  It was at that moment I realized I didn’t have nearly enough hands to handle 1 baby and 6 puppies, so I had to try to dig out my business problem solving skills which have been on vacation since the birth of the puppies and tackle the most critical issue at hand-rounding those spunky puppies up!!!

Sugar brought me methodically around to each puppy like she was doing a headcount herself (and I totally think she’s capable of doing that!) and walked me over to the play pen area as if she was telling me where the puppies needed to go.Then she would go to the next rogue puppy and wait for me to gather him up ! After they were all safely tucked away, she insisted on going into the puppy area, walking around to each puppy, giving it a lick and a once-over and then was happy to come out and go back to her business of the day.  The whole scene was pretty incredible now that I have time to think about it-it was such a testament to her mothering skills that it gets me a little choked up:) She’s the epitome of what a mother should be!

The puppies decided that they had enough shenanigans for the morning and they were exhausted:)

It was a crazy filled morning, but it presented many lessons on life in the example of Sugar and her Sugar Babies:)

 

Day 42-The Great Outdoors!

It was another big day for the L litter as they had some more filming done, they had some visitors for socialization, and the big event was they had their first day outside in an x-pen, their first real leash walk in the yard and their first time exploring snow outside!  They were very tentative at first, but they started getting the hang of it and I brought Sugar out on a leash as an added reward for them to walk around and play with her.  I want to make sure that they have this experience this week while the weather is still warm enough so that they aren’t too overwhelmed next week when they leave.

When we came back inside they were pretty exhausted from all of the activity, so they all started to fall asleep.  This was our opportunity for some adorable puppy pictures and they were too tired to object!

all-in-a-row-1l-litter-group-shot-6-weeks-old

They handled all of the new experiences well and they didn’t show any signs of prolonged stress, so the day was a great success!  They kept their confidence when they got back into their “own world” which is what I was checking for.  This litter seems to do a great job in the resilience category which if they continue in that manner will go a long ways in making them great assistance dogs!

Their level of activity during the day continues to increase and I sometimes finding myself wondering if I have enough spare time to disappear and take a nap:) Their teeth have also come in full force, and they have now earned the litter name “Puppy Piranhas”…My hands, toes and arms are getting a beating!!!!!

I’m in awe of their development and no matter how much time I spend with them I’m always amazed that their faces have changed so much in just the last few weeks which you can see with the head shots of them:

yellow

Mr. Yellow in all of his handsomeness!

purple

Miss Purple waiting to stir up trouble:)

green

Quiet Mr. Green

blue1

Observant Mr. Blue

imgp6643

Mr. Red with his stunning, bold face-and his signature right pink paw pads….

imgp6632

Mr. Orange with his unique half & half nose!

imgp6811

Miss White

With only 5 days left to enjoy these bundles of playful, teething, friendly furballs I will spend every moment I can with them!

Day 38-All about Puppies!

Today the puppies got their first opportunity to take a short ride in the car! They were all kenneled in one large kennel and we went for a ride to get them used to the movement and the different surroundings.  Hopefully these brief road trips will help to prepare them for their first long trip in two weeks where they will have a two hour ride to their next journey where they will spend two weeks in Duluth at the prison for their first training series. They all did wonderfully and they came back without any real stress about their experience which is great!  When they got back from their jaunt, they got right back to the business of playing like nothing had happened!

Time to learn about car rides!

Sugar wanted to go along to supervise the transportation education….

Sometimes I have to stop and laugh because I have this huge area for the puppies and I think it’s hilarious that they all gather in one TINY spot!  In the pics below you see 6 of the pups squished into one area, and then you see Mr. Orange who figured out the REAL way to get a good nap…….Smart Boy Mr. Orange!

imgp6410imgp6408
Today I was reading a book titled “The Monks of New Skete-The art of raising a puppy” and I was intrigued by the information I was reading about.  It dawned as me as it has many times over the years that for every “answer” to a training or puppy raising question, there are 100 more “answers” to that very question.  So, how does everyone figure out which answers are the “right” ones?  And which ones will make the puppy we bring into our house the best dog it can be?  That’s where it gets murky……

-This litter has an intense instinct to scratch the ground after going to the bathroom.  Some “experts” say that dogs scratch at the ground after going to the bathroom because they are trying to cover up their smell; others in the field say that they are scratching to “spread” the scent to diffuse the potency of it that might draw predators.  In the end, the big picture seems to indicate that the final result is to lessen the possibility of predators finding them due to a centralized scent, but the two theories of what they are doing are exactly opposite!

-I thought weighing the pups was purely for the purpose of keeping an eye on them and seeing which ones were gaining and to catch any issues if one of them began to lose weight. Some experts say that weighing the puppies is supposed to be an early opportunity to look for personality traits which I had NEVER even considered before!~ Do some squirm more than others, not like to be on their sides or in a confined container while being weighed-which ones are more reactive, more vocal and more sensitive to touch…..imbalance than their counterparts raised without such stimulation.” (from book above)

This gives just a small idea of how hard it is for anyone who brings a pet puppy into their family to try to figure out exactly what the right thing to do really is-and for a service dog puppy you can imagine how that becomes so much more complicated!  Luckily for us volunteers, we don’t have to think too much about it because it is our role to go to classes during the puppy raising time and we are trained by staff trainers who let us know what they want us to teach the dogs, how to go about teaching them the needed tasks, and what is important for them to know to get the desired results!

Sugar ran into the play area, stole one of their toys and came back out to taunt them from the outside……

Day 36-Just Outside Our World-Discovery Awaits……

Today the puppies got the opportunity to realize that there is a bigger world out there waiting for them!

First came t-shirt time to continue getting them desensitized to wearing things such as capes.  This exercise will hopefully help them from being cape shy and they won’t worry so much about what is on their back thinking it’s just a normal part of everyday life. They woke me up at 5 am this morning, so I had PLENTY of time to get them “dressed” before my REAL day began!  The consequences of waking me up should be weighed very carefully……. 🙂

imgp6296

I set up a totally new play area in our kitchen and they got to explore everything that they hadn’t seen yet.  It was really interesting because when they first got in there they didn’t know what to do and they started whining to get out.  Even though you think you are providing all of these incredible sensory, auditory and various other experiences, I realized quickly that moving around the house is equally as important to give them some experience in plain old “new space”.  Everything they were accustomed to changed, their potty location, the items in the play area, the lighting even-and once again I realized I would love to be a researcher that got to observe puppies and do experiments on sensory exploration.  I may have to interview a researcher or two just for kicks:) So,out came the other x-pens (because it is too hard to move the main room ones that are set up perfectly), the transfer of toys, potty pads and some comfy areas for them to sleep-and into the kitchen they went!  Interestingly, Sugar didn’t seem too fond of the change either as she kept a close eye on them for a good chunk of time.

imgp6300

And before I knew it the kitchen takeover happened……

Then, later in the evening they were going to have some more video taken of them for the documentary so they got to explore the living room as well!  It’s been a BIG day for these pups of purpose!  They were adorable as usual and the pictures and video seemed to be perfect for the holiday season!  Once again, a new “play area” had to be set up and this is exactly why I have SO MANY x-pens, because it’s really important for these puppies to get to see that there is a world outside of their play area and it’s nothing to be afraid of!

And this is how my day progresses-busy, fun, emotional, happy days!  But every now and then recently the realization that these puppies are only with me for another two weeks begins to sink in and I try to grab EVERY moment I can and store it in my memory, refusing to let the future reality steal my happiness of today. Puppies live entirely in the present, so why should I be any different??????  And happy is the only emotion that can exist around these 7 miracles of magic!

imgp6316

imgp6318

Dreaming of the greatness that awaits them!

imgp6319

Getting into the holiday spirit!

imgp6327

imgp6328

First Day in Capes!

 

Day 35-Tunnel Vision

Today the puppies got to explore a new feature in their puppy play palace-a tunnel!  I thought that they would be really leery about going into the tunnel and walking through the loud plastic  and tube-NOPE, not these playful puppies!  They immediately ran over to check it out and began to climb through it before I even had a chance to be a dog whisperer and teach them the ropes! 🙂 I had it all planned out; I was going to introduce the new object to them, then I would playfully throw some of their favorite toys into the tunnel for them to go get and I would run to the other side and call them through it with a big Yippee! when they did it successfully.  3.4 seconds after I set the tunnel down they were checking it out and running through it as I sat there realizing that all of my “puppy planning” was for nothing,  But my brief disappointment didn’t last because of my excitement that overtook me knowing they didn’t need my guidance after all and they were secure enough to check out the new toy.

They have gone to 2 meals a day, which in my terms only means twice as much “cleanup”, twice as many potty pads, and twice as many loads of laundry so you’ll forgive me for not being “thrilled” at this new stage:)  Then the breeding coordinator told me that 3 meals a day will start very soon…….FABULOUS…… 🙂 So I had to put my thinking cap on for what I could do to make sure my house didn’t start to smell like a barn or a pet store, and then the idea came to me!  I would use the diaper genie that we have for our grandson and that would become the property of the puppies room for the next few weeks while they are here!  I noticed a difference immediately when I began using it, and I was able to reclaim my house from the smells that aren’t nearly as cute as puppy breath…..

They have grown so much (from their mere 1 lb weights as newborns to over 6 lbs. now-which means they had to “upgrade” their collars.  I bought them new ones, but it’s difficult to find collars that match exactly the velcro strips you chose for them when they were born-so some of them have some “variations” now in their collar color which adds one more set of confusion in keeping them straight!  Blue is now blue and green stripes, purple is now pink, white is now black…….and that is why I’m going collar hunting tomorrow!

black-and-white

Day 34-It’s a Slippery Slope…..

That title sounds like the beginning of a bad conversation, but in the case of puppies, it’s all happy and only describing their new enrichment toy added to their play area today-a slide!

imgp6211imgp6213imgp6215imgp6216imgp6218

Today, it was all about staying warm in the -20 degree weather, having fun and learning some new confidence!  They checked it out with intense excitement as it came over the x-pen, and then they weren’t quite sure what to do with it, but after a short investigation period they started tackling the task at hand and trying to figure out how to use it:)  It was funny to watch them problem solve which way to go up, whether they really wanted to go up, and how to get back down once they got up!!!

At this point now they have a ramp, a wobble board, a slide, a fun pvc toy with household items dangling from it……..and tomorrow will bring a tunnel and some other experiences!

Play puppies, PLAY!

Day 32-Bark! Who goes there?

Today the puppies are continuing to enjoy their constantly changing environment and we are trying to note the personalities of each one.  Green-the first one to actually howl….and I’m not sure why, but Red and Orange are pretty vocal in their wants! They are all developing into their own beautiful personalities!

Part of the desensitization is exposure to many different noises like I posted in a previous blog; so it was a little surprising to me as I that as I was playing holiday music all of a sudden it happened-Little Drummer Boy came on the speaker…….and the puppies started BARKING! I didn’t know what it was about the drum sound so I thought I would test their reaction a few hours later by playing the same song again.  Sure enough, the puppies for whatever reason began to bark. I was speechless for a moment because I felt like I had exposed this litter to EVERYTHING! But when I stopped to really think about it, there are so many things they haven’t yet been exposed to.  Because of this, I have now added “drum sounds” to the list of exposure items for this week!  The list keeps growing, and if I keep up at this pace I will never make it out of the box!!!!

imgp6102

Clamoring to get to Sugar once they heard her!

imgp6132

Happiness at reaching their Momma!

At 4 1/2 weeks they are chewing like crazy, biting my toes, and getting their beautifully new, sharp, teeth in my sweater. Dress up in onesies continues so that they are less likely to be sensitive to a cape on their back-they still aren’t completely comfortable in them, but they get better each day-and the laughs that it provides me while watching them is valuable in keeping my sanity!

And that’s how this volunteer work evolves; you think that you are going to be “babysitting” a litter of puppies, and then before you know it 4 weeks has gone by and you are completely in love and entrenched in the puppy world, and you have to remind yourself frequently that there is a world outside of your house!

Day 31-Baby, it’s Cold Outside!

The weather has been a little brutal for December and it’s typically what I would expect for the Minnesota cold snap in January-so the puppies have not gotten to experience the outdoors like I had hoped other than a little bit through “jacket excursions” that I mentioned in my blog a couple of days ago.

Unfortunately, puppy brains don’t stop developing just because our weather is not fit for man nor beast (or in this case puppy!) Because of that it’s necessary to come up with as many things as possible that challenge and stretch these beautiful puppy brains so that they can be self-assured, confident dogs which isn’t easy during the winter months.  All of a sudden I feel like I am back in the days of a stay-at-home mom trying to think of any activities I can to keep my active 2 and 4 year olds busy and entertained!  For my first litter I had beautiful September weather and I literally x-penned in most of my entire front yard so that every nice morning Ii set up a lawn chair, brought out any “to do” items I had and we played outside from 630 in the morning until late in the day with only nap breaks inside! Change of plans for this litter…… 🙂

imgp6079imgp6081

So, today’s enrichment activity is the wading pool and a ball pit!  First I introduced them to the cold wading pool that had been out in our garage-not too cold, but definitely a temperature difference from what their precious little puppy paws are used to in a house that is 72 and “sunny”!  Once they acclimated to the new environment, I added the balls!  At first glance it might seem like a quick, simple game for them and you may wonder “What’s the big deal?” But with that small enrichment activity, there’s many things going on:

  • The puppies are exposed to the temperature difference-good for enrichment
  • Exposure to a variety of textures, from rippled plastic to the round balls they have to navigate
  • New sound exposure-I never realized it when my kids were at ball pits, but these balls are NOISY!  The pups had to get used to the balls moving around and making noise
  • Wading through new material-the puppies haven’t had any experience to date where they had to go “through” a material to get somewhere
  • Climbing-getting in or getting out requires some muscle!
  • Desensitization in general-one tiny ball pit.  This seemingly unassuming little play thing can be scary for the first time!  ( I remember when my kids went into their first ball pit and they started sinking down and I watched their faces go through the first panic stage, then the smile broke out when they realized everything was going to be okay!)
  • General observation for me-this gave me the opportunity to “check-in” on the personalities of each puppy; who was afraid of the experience, who tackled it head on, who wanted to sit back and observe, who loved it right from the start.  It’s amazing how little activities like this can tell you so much about what these dogs are like and maybe what they need to work on.  Because of this activity, I am changing up some of my daily “exercises/training” to individualize it a little more to meet the needs of where each puppy is at.

So, today it’s the ball pit-and I will start brainstorming what activity is waiting in the wings for tomorrow!

In the Twelve Days of Whelping-Day 30 Part 2

With 12 Days until Christmas, it feels appropriate to think of a holiday song that can be sung with the puppies in mind!

sugar-and-orange-holiday-pic

Sugar and Mr. Orange getting into the holiday spirit!

Feel free to hum along……..

In the Twelve Days of Whelping, My Sugar Gave to Me:

12    loads of laundry

11    rooms of cleaning

10    hours of playing

9      wrapping presents

8     nail trimmings

7    puppies whining

6    nursing sessions

5    MINUTES OF RESSSSSSTTTTTTTT…….

4     box changes

3    charts to fill

2    floors to mop

and a journey of a lifetime!