“Can you hear me now?”
One of the most exciting events for us is when the puppies’ eyes open. Many of the puppies’ critical organs including their brain are not fully formed and they will spend several weeks developing rapidly. Since the gestation period in dogs is short (63 days), 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. Puppies are born with their eyelids tightly shut because the eye itself is still developing and is extremely fragile. The closed eyelids serve as a barrier to protect the eyes from potential damage. Now that their eyes are open, it will take a few weeks before their eyes mature and their eyesight begins to approach normal. The puppies are also born functionally deaf since their ear canals are closed. While their ear canals begin to open at around the same time, the ears are much more fully formed than the eyes and their hearing will be quite acute within a week or so.
Unlike many other moms who share in the relentless pursuit of trying to excavate new homes for their puppies, Princess Whitney has come to appreciate the finer things in life and has abandoned this practice. She has even been taking some “me-time” away from her brood to chew on a bone, relax on a dog bed, a cool tile floor or join us on the bed for belly rubs or a cuddle. Meanwhile back in the whelping box, the puppies were participating in spa week. This consisted of some warm facecloth wipe downs to get the spots that mom might have missed and pedicures all around without the nail polish, of course.
At first glance, it may appear that the puppies spend all of their time sleeping since they’ve bulk up to a weight of nearly three pounds. This is largely true, but they also spend a good deal of time exercising. This may not be readily apparent but as they lay there asleep, they are constantly twitching. These involuntary actions, referred to as “activated sleep”, help strengthen their leg muscles and begin to build muscle mass. This allows them to plod around on all fours when they’re in search of their mom for a snack. Fortunately Whitney’s a good sport and keeps the milk bar open twenty-four hours a day.
That’s it for now, but be sure to join us next week for another riveting installment of “Puppy Tales”.