Thursday, December 31, 2009


Well the pups are now enjoying fairly long walks in the back yard. They love exploring, stuffing their little noses everywhere. They have discovered the miracle of sticks. The run, tackle each other, stop and sniff, grab sticks. Whenever I can get ahead of them I run and call them trying to tire them out. Not so easy anymore. First it is hard to get ahead of them as they are all around me. Second it is hard to tire them out these days.

We were out this morning and the ice cracked in the pond. We were walking along the shore and it sounded like depth charges, almost vibrating. A couple reacted looking around but most ignored it. I suspect it has been background noise while they are on the deck. We had another walk this evening and included Dare and Levi. The pups are used to patient Uncle Dare. Levi found their little teeth and claws irritating and told them as much in a reasonable way. Otherwise he ignored them. It was a good lesson in dealing with big dogs. We finished this evening's walk with a whole house puppy party. This is where I let the pups run all over the house to explore, one of their favorite activities. They were none too pleased to be locked back up. The puppy areas just are not big enough for them anymore. They need to run. It is fun watching them run the entire length of the yard.

Tomorrow I'll hopefully trim nails. I need to get them good and tired for this as it is impossible with little waving puppy feet.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Shovel Game

Hang around here these days and you know when the pups are out and about as you can hear a regular thumping. I've been leaving a big barn shovel on the deck as it is a prized toy. There are actually a mess of other toys, but they keep putting them in their calf hutch. They have not yet figured out how to move the shovel inside though it travels all over the deck as they jump on it.

The attached clips are Joni. I can't go outside to film as they'll quit and come running to me. I've seen Joni, Aretha, Dusty, Cass and Jimi enjoy the "shovel ride" this morning. The others are all around but I don't know if they have gone for the "ride" yet.

Long Shovel Clip Joni

Short Shovel Clip Joni

Jimi frustrated as someone is holding the handle down

Joni again

Cass Gets a turn

Dusty Tries to ride shovel with a ball underneath

Dusty invented the game and Aretha was the first convert. And yes, when they jump off the handle has come down on a pup underneath. It does not come fast so they just don't seem to care. In fact attacking the moving handle has become a great game itself, much frustrating the pup on the face of the shovel trying to get it to slam down. I think they've figured out to watch where they are when the shovel game's a hoppin'.

Puppy structures

We looked at how the pups are built yesterday. I drafted Betty Belliveau and she brought along Judy Jo Drake so not only did the pups get an evaluation by two sets of eyes, we got lots of nice new photos.

Long story short, the pups are all quite similar in structure. Nice shoulders, some toe out a bit, good angulation and fairly balanced. No standouts either good or bad. Cass is a bit straighter, but not extreme and balanced.

Judy Jo took photos of the pups standing, as well as some great photos of them playing. I'm afraid my pictures look more than a bit mediocre next to these photos. You can see some of the photos from the session at:

Judy Jo's Gallery

The temperament testers are coming Sunday the 3rd in the morning. I've made preliminary picks on the girls. One girl will be a SAR dog and I've an experienced SAR handler coming for the tests. I need to make sure the pup I picked for SAR is a good fit before I finalize the girl picks. The boys are proving more of a challenge to choose from. They have developed more erratically than the girls. Hopefully this week I'll get a more solid sense of who they are.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Catching up

Well I've been a bit behind with the puppy updates, but that is not for lack of progress on the pups. It was sunny and warm today, about 40. The pups spent all day on the deck, retiring to the heated calf hutch when it was time to nap. They liked this arrangement, more to see and more room. Someone cleared a large area of snow from the pond so there were skaters today. The pups watched the skaters as well as watching the big dogs play in the yard. We took a trip around the main yard. As usual Janis was the explorer and Aretha was the nose. Aretha also has it in for boots. As I walked she would race just in front of me and try to cut me off, biting my boots.

I have a wide aluminum barn shovel laying on the deck. They've made it into a see saw. Dusty and Aretha were jumping on it to make it slam down. There was a lot of thumping out there so I'm guessing others were involved as well. I keep putting a selection of toys on the deck, but they just move those all into the calf hutch, then play with the shovel.

They'll be 6 weeks on Saturday. Sunday we'll do our first look at structure, and I'll start figuring out which pup goes where. It is amazing how quickly they change from little shapeless, blind and deaf nursing machines to a playful bunch of pups, each with its own agenda.

Meanwhile the big dogs each gave me an early Christmas gift yesterday. We've not been able to work with the ice then snow. Yesterday I got out and each of them was very good. Fina got to do the farm work, gate sorting the 7 lambs off the ewes. I was pleasantly surprised to find she really liked the farm work. She had a good sense of where I wanted the sheep and took care of quite a bit on her own. Then we went up and did some driving through the deep snow. We were moving about 15 animals and it was hard to keep them all going forward. Fina tended to abandon any that were lagging too much, rather than work to keep them in the group. Song was better at the driving, quite determinedly making everyone stay the course. The most fun was Levi. He is just beginning to drive so I was surprised to find he really caught on to keeping the group together and moving forward straight. He'll hock sheep in the back that are not moving, and if anyone turns to face him he'll snap in their face. All this is done quite quietly, not racing or edgy. At one point the ewes in front had stopped and he was hocking the back sheep to no avail. So he launched himself right into the middle of the group, landing on their backs. It took some time for me to stop laughing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More new things

So playing on the deck was not enough for them today. We shuttled them all into the back courtyard to play in the deep snow. They are quite a resilient little bunch, accepting the deeper snow without a care. After playing outside for a bit, we let them run loose throughout the house. That was full of new smells and sights.

I've finally figured out why it is so hard to get a picture of Aretha. She is a nose, with some auxiliary legs. She was wild with the new scents outside. While others were looking and playing she was working her nose down all over the place learning her world through scent. I'd have to move her off one area and run a bit to get her running along. Ignore her for a few seconds and she was off to bury her nose in the snow somewhere else to smell the new cornucopia of scents.

Outside we had Song as well. Song thought the whole puppy party was a great idea and brought a giant frozen stick to play with. The pups thought this was fun until she dropped it on one of their heads. Clunk! Poor Cass now thinks Chicken Little is right.

I've got more new photos from the second session outside. I'll upload them as soon as the camera battery is recharged.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

5 weeks today

They are out on the deck. They ate out there, played a bit, and are now all nestled down in the straw in a big tub under the heat lamp. My own little manger scene.

More and more personality is coming out. Janis is the explorer. She's always the first to go anywhere, happy to leave me and her littermates to check out the world. Dusty is the climber. I have 2 big shovels on the deck (awaiting the next storm). One is a snow shovel and the other is a wide aluminum barn shovel. She tries to climb the face of them. She has almost gotten the barn shovel completely down, and she loves walking around on the wobbly face. Aretha is a little wild thing, also quick to go places and very interested in running and playing. Jimi is a big amiable fellow, but tough and assured. Joni loves to play with toys like Janis and Aretha. She is more people focused than the other girls right now, though all pups love to come running for cuddles. Their little tails wag so fast you can hardly see them. Dylan was a blob for a while, but now is in the thick of the activity, rather a determined fellow. He loves to take a quick cuddle break. Arlo is the most vocal, and the most toy focused of the boys. Cass is a fairly middle of the road girl.

It was warmer today, and they are older, bigger, and more used to the cold. They ate, went to sleep in the hutch under the heat lamp, then when I was going out to bring them back in I saw they had all woken and were playing happily about the deck and in the hutch. So I left them till they went to sleep again. Along with the 2 shovels (excellent puppy toys) they have an assortment of balls on the deck. They still need to be put in the tub when it is time to sleep. The tub is pretty much right under the lamp and makes a great little nest. When they get tired and cold they tend to all hunker down beside the tub rather than thinking to climb in. I keep an eye on them and when they settle and nestle together to sleep I put them in the tub. In the tub they are warm, and you can see them relax and sprawl over one another.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Growing up

The little guys are getting more and more dog like. The best thing for me is that they mostly use the "poopy box" now. This is a plastic concrete mixing tub with a slot cut in it for easy puppy access. Sort of like a large litter box. I have papers on the bottom and have been encouraging them to go there to defecate. Yesterday afternoon and evening there was only one poop outside the box and one pup that got airlifted to the box just in time. Everyone else used the box. Mind you they still pee just about anywhere. Paper is favored but certainly not a requirement yet.

Yesterday was way too cold for them to go outside on the deck. (We have not even considered getting off the deck as our world is a mass of ice, not puppy friendly.) So we had them out in the living room for quite some time to blow off steam. Not easy on the living room. They can run now so they need sessions out where they can get going. They went outside for a bit this morning. It is bitter cold today, but not yesterday's wind. They did not last long and are now napping inside.

Song still nurses them a bit, but mostly their sustenance comes from 4 meals a day of solid food. I feed raw so they are growing up on salmon, chicken, some beef and tripe. Salmon has worked well for very young pups for me. They like it and it agrees with their systems. As they grow I move them to chicken/beef and whatever the big dogs are eating. When they hit 6 weeks I'll add a bit of kibble to their diet, eventually replacing a meal with kibble, to prepare them for whatever their future diets will be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baby it's cold outside!

Actually it was a balmy 40+ degrees, which made me think I could get the pups out on the deck. Mind you after shoveling the snow on the deck there was an inch of ice. Well, most of them are going to live in the northeast so they may as well get used to it. They only lasted for a short time on the ice, then retreated into the calf hutch full of straw. I put one of the calf hutches up on the deck this fall knowing I'd have a winter litter. Second time out I'd managed to get the ice up, but the deck was still cold and very wet. Again after quickly eating their food they went for the calf hutch. I got the heat lamp up in the hutch so they can all curl up together under the lamp to stay warm. Each time out was about 30 minutes, 10 minutes on the deck and 20 minutes snuggled up in the hutch, plenty for the little guys.

One of the girls is going to Florida. After today I'm guessing they'll be fighting over that position. A boy is going to NJ, hardly the sunshine state, but a lot better than here. One boy and one girl pup are going to VT and another two pups are headed to Canada.

One great thing about the deck (other than them relieving themselves outside) is that it is close to the road. I live on Route 113 and it is a busy road. The deck has lots of road noise so the pups grow up oblivious to traffic sounds.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finally some fun puppies

Pups have been quite dull for a couple days, except around 10 PM when I put them in their whelping box to spend the night. Then we begin "River Dance". Let me tell you 8 pups playing in a box can make quite a stomping noise.

After their little resting/growing spell they were all quite lively this morning. I fed them in the whelping box, then moved them out to the living room to play themselves out before going into the x-pen. It has been a while since I had a litter so I forgot that it is NOT a good idea to hang out with pups in a robe and slippers (and bare ankles). The robe drapes and flows like the finest of tug toys. The slippers are sheepskin, another prize. The ankles end up taking the brunt of the missed attempts to grab either the slippers or the robe. They miss a lot, and sometimes I'm pretty sure they were going for the ankles. Hard to get pictures with them all hanging off me, but we did manage. Dylan and Aretha were superb this morning at turning away just as I was taking the picture. Janis was a little ham, and clearly wins the cute contest. She's a spicy little pup, as is Aretha. Dusty is right up there. Arlo is a talker, and a runner. Dylan and Jimi seem more laid back. Joni and Cass are the more laid back girls so far. Jimi, Joni, and Aretha seem the most people focused right now, though they all gravitate to people wagging their little tails. Of course in a week it could all change.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cato the Thief

I was defrosting a 40 pound box of chicken leg quarters in the bathtub today. The bathroom door got left open. You know where this is going. Cato managed to pry some loose and dined royally. The worst was that I gave him a whole leg quarter this evening instead of his usual half. I was feeding outside in the dark so did not get a look at his already bloated figure. I think he ate at least 2 large leg quarters before the one I gave him. Now he is sprawled on my bed, quite pleased with himself, mid section substantially expanded with his ill gotten booty.

Boring pups

Well here I am stuck in a frozen wasteland and the pups just want to eat and sleep today. So much for entertaining myself with puppies. Must be a big growing day. No doubt they'll decide it is time for some rollicking fun around 10PM tonight.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Grouchy Old Man Winter

Well winter is here. Must be close to 8 inches of snow, then sleet, now some is melting but I doubt it will all melt before re-freezing. So we'll have a nice thick layer of frozen snow and ice on everything. Training is probably over for the season. I have some young dogs who need a fair amount of work still to be where I want come spring trials. I'll be praying for an early spring!

So now I roll around the living room floor with puppies in the long dark evenings. Could be worse! The little guys greet me with wagging tails. They pounce on each other then growl and wrestle. They can walk, trot and canter and have started exploring their world when out of the x-pen. They are not exactly graceful, but they are cute as buttons and cheerful as can be.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New pictures

I got new pictures this morning. I woke them up (not hard since sleep is still their main activity). So, not exciting photos but you can see they are looking more like dogs. They spend all day in the living room x-pen now. I am leaving the x-pen open for a while this morning. I've got a crash pad outside so they can slither down onto something soft, as well as a protective cover over the edge of the x-pen so they don't get their legs caught on the trips through the door. So far they have mostly just toddled to the crash pad and gone back to sleep. I'll miss these long sleeps and extremely short bursts of activity in another couple weeks.

We got our first snow last night. Gust, 10 months old from Wales, apparently never saw snow before. She was growling at the flakes from the porch last night. This morning when I let her out she raced to the end of the porch and stopped dead. Then she decided to take the leap and discovered the sheer joy of playing in the snow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Puppy play

Well they play with each other now. They are working on primitive pouncing, trying to bite one another, and a variety of noises that are evolving into playful yaps. Pups are more work for me at this stage, but far more fun.

Now they spend their days in the x-pen in the living room, back to the whelping box at night. They are eating a bit of solid food morning and evening. Mostly still living off mom. Mom enjoys licking the milk/ground salmon off the pups after they eat. However after the first couple meals now most of the food goes in the pups rather than on the pups.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Solid food

I brought the horde out to the living room to spend some time in the x-pen this evening. After watching Song feed the little buggers for an hour, no longer than a minute or two without some number of pups attached, I decided we'd best try some solid food. Let me tell you Jimi caught right on to this. Dusty and Arlo were persuaded to put their nose in the bowl to eat. Aretha finally caught on. Joni slept through most of this, but then woke up and had a virtually private feeding. Most of the others had great fun licking and sucking the mess off their siblings that had made it into the bowl. When I say "into the bowl", I mean into the bowl. More often than not front feet went right in with the nose.

I put them back in the whelping box for the night. I did make an attempt at cleaning the gruel off them before I put them to bed. Song is in there now still trying to clean them up. I'm thinking they are pretty tasty right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Song no longer mother of the year

Well the bloom is off the rose with this motherhood thing for Song. Now when she climbs in the box she is subjected to about 10-20 minutes of seige by the pups. They are much bigger, stronger, faster, and hungrier. She has taken to procrastinating about getting back in, which only heightens the intensity of the attack. So we've been encouraging her back in regularly to avoid the worst of the mob.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eyes are opening

Well they walk now, and they can sort of see. They continue to grow well. Now when Song gets into the whelping box they swarm her, and it is hard for them all to fit with those much bigger bodies all trying to cram in for a teat. I may bring them out to the x pen in the living room for a short time today. I'll wait a few days before I take more pictures. You'll have to trust me that they are moving out of the blob stage and beginning to look like puppies.

Trimmed nails today. I can't tell you how much fun that is with puppies. I've found that wearing reading glasses a bit stronger than would be comfortable for reading helps. With a bit of magnification I can get the job done quicker, and the pups tend to be squirmy even if I get them when they were sleeping.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pups walking

Well my life of leisure is over. Most of the pups have begun the drunken claymation staggering that begins their life of mobility. Eyes are not open yet, but they can stagger about in the whelping box. We still have fairly regular belly touches between each few steps.

They are continuing their bio-sensor sessions each day. ( http://www.breedingbetterdogs.com/articles/early_neurological_stimulation_en.html ) They don't much mind this, except for the head down, spine vertical position. They squirm for that. I've learned to do this while the pups are quiet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No one's getting fat 'cept ...

Mama Cass. Cass was the biggest pup born, and intends to keep her lead. She's almost 2 pounds. Usually the large pups are behind the small ones as far as walking, but I've seen her lifting her hind end regularly these past couple days so she plans to keep up on that front as well.

All the pups continue to grow well. Song spends less time in the box now. Feeding sessions are longer and further apart. Arlo has grown a bit slower than the others. I may give him some private feedings, just him and Song. He's sleek and healthy, but I don't like to see one pup get that different in size. It will be hard for him to compete for a teat if he gets much smaller than his greedy siblings.

Dusty just stood up and walked today. Soon the relative peace of this house will be shattered.