“Let’s Stick Together”
Heidi treated us to one of those rare daytime deliveries. In fact, she worked on the basis of a regular work day in that she started heavy contractions at 1:00 p.m. (after our lunch) and before long Mr. Granite made his debut. He was followed by Miss Chestnut, Miss Peach, Mr. Thistle, Miss Meadow, Miss Mulberry and Miss Sky who capped off the work day at 5:00 p.m. Heidi jumped right into overtime and wasted no time getting to work. Apart from nursing, her other task in the immediate was to stimulate her newborn pups to eliminate by licking them – something they are unable to do on their own at this stage.
While most Goldens have ten teats and our Bella has eleven, Heidi has been endowed with eight of which only six are functional. And those six are enormous to the point that the little newborns had extreme difficulty fitting them into their tiny mouths. Fortunately after some mouth exercises, everyone got the hang of it. We were also delighted that the group of seven was able to work out their own rotation at the milk bar and all started gaining weight right away. We weigh the puppies at least twice daily for the first couple of weeks to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity. Mind you, Heidi is an experienced, focused and loving mother so everyone doubled their birth weight by the end of the first week.
Littermates tend to be very close throughout their formative weeks, but two of them took it to an extreme one day. Somehow the tip of Miss Meadow’s Velcro collar had lifted and caught that of Mr. Thistle. After the two of them rolled around once or twice, they were a neat little bundle of fluff all velcroed together that we needed to extricate.
Since the gestation period in dogs is short, the tradeoff is that puppies are quite helpless at birth. Biologists refer to species that produce immature dependent offspring as altricial, which means “to nurse, to rear or to nourish”. It refers to the need for the young of these species to be fed and taken care of for a long period of time. The puppies are born functionally deaf since their ear canals are closed. They are also blind, since their eyelids are tightly closed, but both will open during the second week. Newborn puppies are also unable to regulate their own body temperature and for the first three weeks, their temperature climbs one degree until it reaches the normal range. When mom is on her break, we use a heat lamp to keep everyone warm and cozy, but when mom’s around, they’ll either snuggle up with her or lay intertwined with their siblings – sometimes even velcroed.
That’s it for now, but be sure to join us next week for another enchanting installment of “Puppy Tales”.