|We are a cute bunch!|
The sound is unmistakable. It can happen at any time throughout the day or night. Sometimes it’s a howl but at other times it sounds like a baby crying. And that’s our cue. Heidi’s litter has progressed to the point where they crave extra attention. The little ones are becoming more responsive to their environment, reacting to every sight and sound, watching us very intently as we move around the whelping box. It’s a challenge to reach in without having a herd of little feet anchoring the very towel we’re trying to swap out. Their tiny voices call out as if to say “pick me, pick me!” No longer content hobnobbing with their littermates, they relish being picked up and caressed, all the while nibbling on our noses and bathing us with little puppy kisses. These are among the blissful moments that make our journey worthwhile.
Now that the whelping box has an extension, the puppies have room to run laps. They typically use the original portion as their lounge where they sleep, play, dine and cuddle with each other. The addition, lined with unprinted newspaper and shredded paper is occasionally used as a gym when it’s clean and afterward for “relief”. The group has an elaborate play station at their disposal (no batteries required) and are developing their strength, co-ordination and cognitive skills as well as learning how to engage in an activity with a littermate. This is the beginning of a key socialization period for the puppies and they’re spending lots of time playing with one another. They test each other’s limits and learn the difference between hard and soft biting. They also take turns sleeping at the top and bottom of the sibling pile. Since their hunting and chasing instincts are emerging, we ensure that they have plenty of plush toys to play and cuddle with.
There’s no question that meal-time is a highlight for the puppies. Every time the bowl in the shape of a ring makes its appearance, the gang leaps to attention and makes a bee-line for it. Sometimes various spots get so crowded that we have to air-lift one or two of the little minions to the other side of the bowl to ensure everyone gets their fill. Much to Heidi’s chagrin, there are rarely any leftovers. Since the puppies are enjoying three daily meals of mush, Heidi gets a well-deserved reprieve from her responsibility as the milk-maiden. But mom is still a good sport in providing her little family with some added nourishment throughout the day.
With the increased control over their facial muscles, the puppies are making expressions and are beginning to reveal their personalities and convey their opinions. They’re learning to communicate with each other and us by wagging their tails. I think there’s even a song about that!
That’s it for now, but be sure to join us next week for another enriching installment of “Puppy Tales”.