By Bev Travis
I was having a leisurely conversation with Phyllis Galowitz the other day and we were talking about the litter of puppies that were just born on 10/12/07 and what it is like for me as a breeder to have them.
First let me say that I enjoy all our dogs so very much and the puppies are something wonderful and special to behold. The interactions between the mother and puppies and the rest of the pack and the puppies – is so special I always am in awe and amazed at how smart, loving and caring they are of one another.
So the story goes like this. The day before, we have had Irie x-rayed to determine the number of puppies she has in the litter because it is important to have a pretty good idea of how many puppies there are in case she gets into trouble delivering. One vet said 7 – 8 which I knew was incorrect, drove to another vet who said 9 for sure and maybe 10….which I thought was more accurate from the looks of her. We have a bed for me next to the Irie’s whelping box in the office. She had been restless all day and kept going up into her cave. I knew that the puppies would be born soon, so I went to sleep in the office next to her that night. At 11:30 I was awakened by the sweet sound of a puppy crying. Irie had already cleaned the newborn, so I helped dry it then checked the sex, weighed and tagged it with a color coded collar so that I knew which pup was which. By 4 am she had delivered 10 puppies. I had been awake all night since she was delivering them so fast we could barely get one wee one dried and warm before the next was delivered. I was thankful that all went well and hoping we could both get some sleep when I noticed her contracting again. Fearful that I would fall asleep, I sat in the whelping box with her and waited and waited and waited until FINALLY at 6 am the last puppy was born. So much for x-rays, vet expertise, etc….we had 11 healthy puppies – 4 males and 7 females- one tired dog and one very tired breeder.
I continued to stay with the pups in the office until they were about two weeks of age to make sure they stayed warm, near Mom and that she did not lie on anyone accidentally. Eventually, I moved into a bed on the office side of the house with a baby monitor and then later back to my bed and my husband when the pups were between 3 and 4 weeks of age.
Mother’s instinct to bite the cord at just the perfect place, keep her bedding clean, nurse and nurture the puppies is so beautiful – I never tire of it.
The first two weeks Irie barely left the puppies except to take care of her own needs. Since she eats the placentas, she was not that hungry. During the first week she consumed a nursing formula of eggs, milk, honey and oil – 70 eggs, 5 gallons or more of milk in a week.
Up until about three weeks of age, puppies cannot urinate of defecate on their own, so the mothers lick them gently to keep them clean and comfortable. What is interesting to me is that the other females in our pack want to perform this task as well –however not my male, Buddy! The pups also cannot see or hear until they are about 2 1⁄2 weeks old.
It is an ongoing joy to watch the dogs interact with the puppies, watch Irie care for them and teach them, have friends and family come to play with them. We do weekly updates on our website for anyone who would like to share in the fun. Check out our website for pictures and other information: http://homepage.mac.com/bobevskennel. ~