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Bailey and Frank’s Litter – Week Seven

“The Return of the Big White Monster”Perhaps that’s something of an overstatement, but imagine that you’re a seven week old puppy with limited life experiences under your furry belt. One afternoon as we were tending to the litters in the living room, we heard growling coming from the library where Bailey’s litter is located. Bailey, we thought, was telling her brood that they’d reached their quota on the milk-truck and that she wasn’t interested in any further top ups for a while. We called out to her, but to no avail. We decided we needed to go investigate. To our surprise, we found our big boy Haydain, sprawled out in the middle of the whelping box enjoying some of the puppies’ toys. Haydain occupied so much space that the pups barely had any room left for themselves. Whenever a puppy approached, he would emit a bassy, resonating growl to communicate that he preferred to keep the toys all to himself. Of course, it was all in good fun as he rolled over on his back to allow them to cl…

Sierra and Storm’s Litter – Week Seven

“Goldenstock”It was to be the biggest event of the year and the weather seemed to be holding out. They came from near and far for a singular purpose: it was gonna be a party! The invited guests were all of Sierra’s, Whitney’s and Bailey’s litters with the moms designated as chaperones. The event began with drinks….as usual. Each of the litters sought out and chased their respective moms for their liquid refreshments. Once the little ones were topped up, the fun began. Some unsettled weather from earlier in the week ensured there was a fresh supply of twigs and small branches on hand. The day’s favourite activities were crawling into a “foxhole” that their Aunt Bailey had dug and the tug-of-war competition which was usually played with one on one or two on one. In a canine interpretation of the shot put, the puppies would see how far they could flip the water bowl. In these circumstances, anything goes.

Since some of Whitney’s litter was beginning to trickle out to their forever homes, …

Bailey and Frank’s Litter – Week Six

“Decisions, Decisions”This week was all about treasures and discovery. Since the weather was a bit unsettled during the week, Mother Nature contributed numerous twigs and bits of bark to the yard. These quickly became the gang’s favourite toys. While we get a little squeamish when we have to go outside in a bit of drizzle, the little ones don’t give it a second thought. Rain or shine – it doesn’t matter. As long as they get to go outside, they’re happy. This week, their outdoor activities included tug of war with a stick; one on one, one on two or simply having a nice leisurely chew. They engaged in chases, whether actual or imagined and hide & seek was a huge crowd pleaser. The water bowl was also a key attraction and it often did double duty as a footbath. For some reason, the puppies were curious as to what the underside of the bowl looked like so it needed frequent refilling.

We can never quite understand the decision-making process of a little puppy. Sometimes they’ll jump up…

Sierra and Storm’s Litter – Week Six

“The Sortation”
This one goes in here. This one goes in there. This other one goes in here. Like letter carriers arranging the mail for their morning route, we were tasked with sorting each of these precious little packages back into their respective whelping boxes after a large backyard outing with Sierra and Whitney’s litters together. They were a bit reserved to start, but after a swig of liquid courage from their mom, the little ones raced off to join the rest of the group in activities ranging from scavenger hunts to rock climbing. It was one big, happy outing with neither judgment nor discrimination – just a whole lot of fun. The puppies’ play is becoming a bit more coordinated and adult-like, but they’re still just kids at heart. And that spinning around trying to chase your tail thing never gets old. Toward the end of a long, fun-filled day, the puppies like to get some good night cuddles before they drift off to sleep dreaming of tomorrow’s adventures.

Even Sierra’s role has ev…

Whitney and Storm’s Litter – Week Seven

“The Cuban”
It was a cool December day. There was a gentle breeze rustling through the trees and the sun’s rays struggled to peak out between the clouds. He sat atop some rocks in the crisp Caledon air – a dull grey morning, but that did not concern him. Like a connoisseur with a prized Cuban cigar, he worked the shaft until it felt right to him. And so it was that Mr. Snowball enjoyed his stick.

This particular outing was special as we had both Whitney’s and Sierra’s litters out together for a jumbo play date. They stayed in their respective groups at first, seeking out their moms as they both ran off with the little ones in tow resembling a furry conga line. Once everyone had a snack, Miss Candy Cane and Mr. Shining Star came to chase us trying to tug on our pant legs. In the meantime, Mr. Coal was at the door to the house wondering if he could get back inside. We were able to coax him to come back and join in on the fun. When the moms broke away for some quiet time, the two groups me…

Bailey and Frank’s Litter – Week Five

“The Line Forms on the Right”
The procession seemed endless as they came from all corners of the house. We’re not sure why, but Bailey’s litter has proven to be a tourist attraction among the rest of the pack. Granted, Whitney and Sierra, the two other moms would frequently come to visit and even nurse the little ones. Then Faith and Chanel, our two youngest girls along with their “Uncle” Storm nudged the barrier aside so they could stand by the whelping box and simply watch them. Never one to be shy, Haydain our gentle giant plodded right into the whelping box on numerous occasions to examine the puppies up close and personal. This must have confused the lot when they realized that this model wasn’t equipped with the usual milk apparatus.

When they weren’t eating, sleeping or playing, Bailey’s litter spent some of their time this week product testing. Since we are giving the puppies progressively drier food over time, we are also giving them water to drink to help keep them hydrated. W…

Sierra and Storm’s Litter – Week Five

“It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood”
It was a beautiful fall day on the weekend so Sierra’s litter had the opportunity to experience their inaugural outing. As we carried them out and placed each one on the lawn, they were a little bit apprehensive about the big green carpet at first. The feeling didn’t last and before long, they were overcome with curiousity as they darted off in all different directions to explore this great big space. Mom was never far away, so they kept circling back in the hope that the milk bar was open for an afternoon snack.

On top of being siblings, it’s evident that the puppies have also become fast friends as they frolicked in the yard together. Everyone settled into a variety of activities. Some were curious about rock climbing, but didn’t actually summon up enough courage to try it, while others settled in with a nice little twig, either alone or with a friend. There were a few who favoured wrestling, jousting or playing rugby without a ball. Of cour…

Whitney and Storm’s Litter – Week Six

“The Conspiracy”
Like the Navajo code talkers before them, their communication was cloaked in secrecy so the collaboration went unnoticed. They chose a cool, misty morning to put their plan into action just as the household was beginning to stir. We are unaware of exactly how the conspiracy unfolded, but somehow Mr. Cinnamon Twist from Whitney’s litter and Mr. Lifesaver from Sierra’s litter managed to escape from their respective whelping boxes in tandem for a rendezvous in the living room. The two were safely apprehended and placed in the custody of their mothers, but to this day, no one is talking.

This week, we managed to get the group outside for playtime. Just like their introduction to solid food, this group embraced the outdoors on their first outing like they’d done it a hundred times before. There was no hesitation as they all scurried off in all directions in search of treasures. It’s as though gathering up sticks and chewing them is part of a puppy’s DNA. Some of the gang eve…

Bailey and Frank's Litter – Week Four

“Food Fight”This week, the gang began to wean and was introduced to mush: a canine smoothie comprised of moistened puppy food, oatmeal, goat’s milk, supplements, probiotics and honey. The convention with mush when it’s introduced to a new group is that the puppies typically sniff at it, shake their heads or walk away until we dab a little on their mouths to coax them into trying it. When the bowl was placed in the whelping box, Mr. Sparkle made a bee-line toward it and began to chow down as though he’d been doing it for years. The rest of the mini-pack followed without hesitation. The unsettling part of their mealtime was that they have achieved the title of messiest litter ever because they walked in it, skated across it, sat down in it and even swam in it.

Mealtime may be a scene out of National Lampoon’s Animal House, but it’s still a bit of a reprieve for Bailey as each of the puppy’s twenty-eight razor sharp teeth are coming in. Not yet ready for retirement, she still dutifully b…

Sierra and Storm’s Litter – Week Four

“Keeping up with the Joneses”
Sierra and her brood also had an enjoyable visitor’s day. Since they’re right next door to Whitney’s group, they had the added benefit of being cuddled by anyone who happened to be in the room! This lot was perhaps not as animated as Whitney’s litter, but then again, they’re a week younger and they still need lots of beauty sleep. That certainly didn’t hinder their participation for the big event and they were equal crowd pleasers. Bailey’s litter which is younger still, slept through most of the festivities nestled in the arms of their future families!

As much as this lot enjoys their leisure time, they are also getting their fair share of exercise and to this end; an extension has been added to the whelping box. This is the beginning of a key socialization period for the puppies. When they’re not sleeping or eating, they spend more time playing with one another. Now that they’re gaining strength and coordination, they scurry around at top speed. They poun…

Whitney and Storm’s Litter – Week Five

“The Evacuation”There were several practice runs that lead to this moment. Well-rehearsed; well-coordinated, but this event was unlike anything we’d ever witnessed. Early in the week, Mr. Snowball and Miss Candy Cane departed the whelping box for a little walkabout. Around midweek, Mr. Snowball, Miss Mistletoe and Mr. Plum Pudding took their turn, unfazed by the violation they had committed as they calmly studied their surroundings. On Monday morning, it became apparent. These were all dry runs for what came next. As we approached the living room that houses Whitney’s litter box, the entire litter of eight had evacuated their dwelling to go for a leisurely stroll around the room. They all surrendered peacefully and without incident, but this latest breach has underscored the necessity for stricter security measures.
Notwithstanding their occasional lapse in judgment, the group was all fairly well-behaved as they received visitors over the weekend. Everyone received a major dose of cudd…

Bailey and Frank’s Litter – Week Three

“This Masquerade”There are two things that Bailey does not lack: cunning and determination. For instance, Bailey is banned from the backyard until she comes to the realization that the whelping box is much better lodging for her puppies than the giant hole she has excavated under a spruce tree. Whenever we let various dogs out into the yard, Bailey stealthily mixes in with the pack by keeping her head down and pressing forward so she can continue with her quest outside. Despite the fact that she bunks in the library with her puppies, when it’s bedtime for the big dogs, Bailey pretends to be one of them and happily enters an empty crate because she knows the routine that a treat is sure to follow. Every morning at a time of her choosing, she makes a pilgrimage down the hall to jostle our bedroom door to advise us that it’s time to get up. What all of that amounts to is one smart lady. And we’re sure her pups are lucky to have her as a mom. In fact, Whitney and Sierra’s puppies are luc…

Sierra and Storm’s Litter – Week Three

“The Drill Sergeant”
She heard the commotion from across the foyer and went to investigate, walking with her usual confident swagger. To her, the hubbub was unacceptable. She marched right up to Bailey’s dorm (aka the whelping box) which housed Bailey’s eight chirping minions and barked, admonishing them to keep the noise down. Sierra promptly swung around and returned to her own group to nurse them. So unusual were the antics of all the moms this past week. Whitney napped in front of Bailey’s box while Bailey tip toed into Whitney’s; likely just checking for more toys to steal for her collection but also nursing Whitney’s puppies while she lingered. Sierra snooped around in both of the other whelping boxes, occasionally pausing to nurse some of their inhabitants. It’s apparent that all three are not possessive of their broods and trust one another implicitly. In true Golden fashion; everyone is welcome.

The group now has a great deal more room to stagger around in since we’ve added the…

Whitney and Storm’s Litter – Week Four

“His Majesty’s Feast”
This week saw the introduction of the puppies to gruel or mush:  a healthy concoction of oatmeal, kibble, honey, goat’s milk and vitamins, all fit for a king, to supplement the feedings they get from their mom. It’s always interesting to see how things take shape during the inaugural feeding. They’re usually a little apprehensive about consuming something their mom didn’t deliver, but that certainly wasn’t the case with this group. Mr. Coal and Mr. Cinnamon Twist needed no second invitation and their message to the rest of the group was clear. One by one, the puppies descended upon the bowl to see what the fuss was all about. Toward the end of the feast, unrestricted by etiquette, both Miss Mistletoe and Mr. Sugar Cookie were walking through the bowl and even laying down in it. Whitney also enjoys mealtime because she gets to finish the left-overs (if there are any) and lick the sticky mess (also known as dessert) off their faces. Of course, the milk bar is stil…

Bailey and Frank’s Litter – Week Two

“The Toy Drive”
Toy drives are generally thought of as philanthropic deeds designed to bring some measure of joy to the less fortunate among us. Apparently Bailey does not subscribe to this notion. During the week, she started sneaking into both Whitney’s or Sierra’s whelping box stealing toys, one at a time. Every so often, she would work out a self-concocted exchange program of sorts whereby she would enter their whelping box with an already well-used marrow bone and “exchange” it for yet another toy. But it didn’t stop there. Later on, we witnessed Bailey sneak into our bedroom where there is a small stash of dog-toys for the rest of the pack and steal some of those as well. We managed to track Bailey down to her lair where we found she had stashed all of the toys like a canine hoarder. We even caught her cuddling them during her breaks. Humbug, we say.

The actual purpose of the toys is to provide obstacles for the puppies in their whelping box so they need to climb over them in ord…

Sierra and Storm’s Litter – Week Two

“The Mobile Salad Bar”
A mom’s job is never easy. To add to this challenge, Sierra contracted mastitis this week; an inflammation of a mammary gland which is an infection caused by a little bite or scratch. This is not uncommon and not serious when diagnosed and treated in the early stages. We opted for two courses of treatment: the medical solution of a regimen of antibiotics coupled with the homeopathic one of strapping a cabbage leaf to the affected area. While the cabbage patch mom’s malady is improving very rapidly, the rest of the pack has been very curious about Sierra’s mobile salad bar.

The puppies have all gained well with everyone more than doubling their birth weight. That’s quite an accomplishment considering Sierra is only firing on nine of ten cylinders. Sierra is a very attentive and loving mother, looking after the needs of her little family with every whimper, never straying very far from them or for very long. She does however find a moment for her frequent ritual of …

Whitney and Storm’s Litter – Week Three

The Hat Trick
It begins as a tiny little chirp. And then again. It’s followed by a retort, albeit amplified. The little puppies are beginning to find their voices and it’s fun to watch some of them as they seem to startle themselves when they emit a mini-bark. Yes, they’re growing up…but not too quickly yet.

There are three key things that puppies do. They eat and they sleep and they also work out. Their exercise regimen may not be readily apparent but as they lay there asleep, the puppies are constantly twitching. These involuntary actions, referred to as “activated sleep”, help strengthen their leg muscles allowing them to stagger around on all fours like the last guests at a sorority party. We’ve also added numerous stuffed animals to the whelping box which forces the little ones to climb over the obstacles to reach their target (usually the milk bar or a sibling to sleep on) thereby building muscle mass.

Now that the puppies can see and hear, they are beginning to get acquainted with…

Bailey and Frank’s Litter – Week One

“The Wet Nurses”
For the weeks leading up to the birth, a mother-to-be knows she’s going to have a litter. When puppies are delivered via C-section, it’s a bit confounding for her because somehow the babies have miraculously appeared. We welcomed: Miss Bubbles, Mr. Hangover, Miss Champagne, Mr. Crystal, Mr. Firecracker, Mr. Sparkler, Mr. Tuxedo and Mr. Balloon. It can take a while for mom to come to the realization that these are her babies, but in the meantime both Whitney and Sierra came to Bailey’s aid by helping to nurse some of her puppies.

Part of mom’s job description is to stimulate her newborn pups to eliminate by licking them. In this regard, Bailey’s maternal instincts kicked in fairly quickly and she became a very focused and loving mother, attending to the needs of her little family with every whimper. The puppies have all gained well and easily doubled their birth weight by the end of the first week. We weigh them at least twice daily for the first couple of weeks in order…

Sierra and Storm’s Litter – Week One

“The Roadblock”

We knew it was going to be a long night, but as night turned into day, it became evident that Sierra was going to need a little help in delivering her puppies. While she was lying on our bed experiencing contractions, the funny thing was that Sierra somehow managed to maintain her trademark wiggle lying down. Since she was expecting a litter of only five, the pups had grown so big that the first one in line created a roadblock, necessitating a C-section. The procedure went well and before long, we were graced with the births of five not-so-tiny babies: Miss Cotton Candy, Mr. Jellybean, Miss Lollipop, Mr. Gumdrop and Mr. Lifesaver.

Any time puppies are delivered via C-section, there is an ensuing period of adjustment. The mother-to-be knows she’s going to have a litter, but then she goes to sleep and wakes up with these foreign little beings demanding her attention. It takes mom a while, sometimes several hours and sometimes a couple of days, before she comes to the real…

Whitney and Storm’s Litter – Week Two

Change of AddressShe just wouldn’t take our word for it. Since our Sierra was expecting her litter this week, we moved Whitney and her pups out of the bedroom and into another whelping box that we’d set up in the library. Everything was identical to the previous setup in the bedroom and her puppies were already settled in their new surroundings, but Whitney wasn’t convinced. She kept coming back to the bedroom to perform numerous inspections to make sure we hadn’t left anyone behind. After a little coaxing and several treats, Whitney was satisfied with the new arrangement. After all, this room featured a sofa that she could use to lounge on when she was on her breaks. In time, Whitney relished our regular cuddle sessions with her on the sofa as well. In fact, Whitney seems to enjoy it there so much that she has abandoned any notion she ever had about relocating her brood to a spot under the spruce tree in the backyard.

One of the most exciting events for us is when the puppies’ eyes op…

Whitney and Storm’s Litter – Week One

Marionettes

Despite the fact that he volunteered to be first out, Mr. Coal may have had some second thoughts on his way through the birth canal since he needed a little assistance with his extraction. The remainder of Whitney’s labour was relatively uneventful as one by one, her puppies popped out. Miss Candy Cane was close behind, followed by Mr. Sugar Cookie, Mr. Plum Pudding, Miss Mistletoe, Mr. Cinnamon Twist, Mr. Snowball and finally Mr. Shining Star. All of the puppies made their debut in and around the one pound mark. Whitney embraced motherhood with tremendous zeal. As several of the puppies were attached to the milk bar busily nursing, Whitney was licking them with such enthusiasm that they were flopping up and down like little marionettes. We were doing our utmost to keep the newborns dry and warm while Whitney was taking us to task by cleaning and stimulating them until they were all drenched again.

Apart from nourishment, a mom’s milk contains antibodies vital to the puppies…

Sierra, Day 59 (pre-parturition)

We’re in the home stretch with our happy girl Sierra who is getting bigger with each passing day. She may be carrying around lots of extra weight but Sierra continues to wiggle with delight throughout the day and tip toes around to keep an eye on all the activity around her. She now measures 34.5 inches (87.6 cm).

We are monitoring Sierra’s temperature twice daily as any significant drop would signal the onset of labour. At this point, the fetuses are fully developed and can be born safely. The puppies have basically finished their development and are just growing bigger now. They are born without the ability to see and their eyes don’t open till about 10 days after birth.

We will make our girl as comfortable as possible over the next week as we look forward to the big day!

Stay tuned….

Bailey, Day 58 (pre-parturition)

Unlike most other pregnant females, our Bailey inhales her meals. She has an appetite like we’ve never seen before and is eating four times daily. Bailey continues to blossom as her tummy has expanded to a massive 36 inches (91 cm), so she has quite a bit of extra weight to carry around!

Heading into her final days of pregnancy, Bailey is pretty much just enjoying lying around and watching her fellow pack-mates frolic in the yard. The whelping area has been prepared for the big event, but our biggest challenge is monitoring Bailey’s activity outside. She has begun the hunt for a den to have her puppies in. Like many of our other moms, Bailey likes to dig under one of our spruce trees. We’re not sure why they all seem to prefer a cold, muddy hole to a comfy, warm and clean den in our bedroom.

The puppies can be safely born anytime now, but Bailey typically goes full term which is 63 days from the time of ovulation. It is easy to feel the puppies moving around as they are growing rapidly…

Whitney Day 57 (pre-parturition)

We have less than a week to go until the big event. Whitney’s abdomen has continued to expand and is approximately 34.5 inches (87.5 cm). She weighs 76.4 lbs. (34.6 kg) which is up from her usual weight of 64 lbs. (29 kg); the difference of which would be her litter of puppies.
Whitney has definitely slowed down this week, however her appetite has not waned. She is currently eating 3 times daily and next week we will increase to 4 times daily.
Our expectant mom is now on a mission to find a location to have her pups. Her favourite spot seems to be under a spruce tree in the back yard, but of course we have other plans. So, this weekend we will introduce Whitney to the ever-so-cozy and spotlessly clean whelping box, lined with freshly washed linens and towels.
At the moment, Whitney seems to be most comfortable on the dog bed in front of the fireplace in our bedroom. She is still managing to join us on the bed for belly rubs and cuddles but we think by Sunday she will no longer be able t…

Sierra - 45 days (pre-parturition)

This is an exciting time for all of us as it seems like an eternity since we have had puppies in the house. Sierra hasn’t experienced any morning sickness at all. She knows exactly when meal times are and is the first to remind us if we are late with meal service! She goes outside for brief bathroom breaks but usually arrives back at the door within minutes demanding to come inside. We believe she uses a code which consists of 3 barks a pause followed by another 3 barks followed by 2 barks, a pause and repeat. Sierra is a very happy girl and always shows her enthusiasm but her distinctive howl and her uncontrollable tail wag which is more like a full body wag are her trademark. 

At this point, the embryonic sacs are a little over 4 cm.  Although several sacs were detected during the ultrasound at day 30, it is still difficult to determine exactly how many babies Sierra will have.


At day 39, the puppies head into a huge growth stage. Their heartbeats can easily be detected with a steth…