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Storm and Pepper Litter – Week Seven

“Private Dining” The dining experience in the whelping box has evolved from a free-for-all around a ring which is really just a round trough of sorts to private dining where each pup gets their own little bowl. The perceived competition means that they all eat their food at a reasonably fast pace, all except Mr. Crème Brûlée that is. He does eat most of it but then gets distracted by potential playmates around him. As he meanders off, the portly Mr. Blueberry Cobbler tries to clean up the abandoned bowl. Not so fast! We have rules here you know, so the bowl gets whisked away for Pepper to clean up.

The gang went for a car ride today to visit our friendly veterinarian and received great reviews as expected. They were even well-behaved in the car, but no doubt relieved to return to the safety and comfort of their whelping box with their mom anxiously awaiting their arrival. Pepper has been a stellar mom who dotes on her puppies, checking up on them frequently to attend to their every n…

Storm and Pepper Litter – Week Six

“Equipment Malfunction”Since the pups are well on their way to being fully weaned, they always have a fresh bowl of water at their disposal. To this end, we use a spill-proof bowl. Every now and again, a litter of puppies decides to test that theory with some experimentation. This was no exception. While there’s an insert that helps prevent most of the water from spilling out, we can’t count the number of times we have to retrieve the bowl to refill it and replace all the wet towels in the whelping box.
From day one, these little guys were quite confident and completely comfortable with their outdoor surroundings. Some litters are very tentative as they venture out, but not this one. They immediately went off to explore the grass, the rockery or munch on fallen twigs. Others used the vastness of the yard to engage in sporting activities with their siblings. A popular activity is the game of tag in which each puppy exhibits a burst of energy in succession. Another popular sport involves…

Storm and Pepper Litter – Week Five

“The Christmas Ornament”This was a week of adjustment as Pepper and her mini pack have now been relocated into the living room which is like a V.I.P. room for moms. She has both a sofa and a love seat to stretch out on for her ultimate relaxation while being able to keep a watchful eye and ear on her brood. What’s more, she has a private yard for a little walkabout which her puppies will use as their playground.  In the meantime, that’s where she and her two partners-in-crime, seven-month-old Dutch and Tulip consummate their digging projects. Pepper is so good-natured that she doesn’t mind that her two furry friends use her space as a thoroughfare en route to the backyard.
Since Pepper has been enticed by the comfort of the sofa and no longer sleeps in the whelping box, we’ve removed the pig rails altogether. We also added an extension which expands the space from 4x4 ft. to 4x8 ft. Despite the plethora of real estate, the pups still choose to bunk in one side of it, all sandwiched tog…

Storm and Pepper Litter – Week Four

“The Jigsaw Puzzle”The pups are spending a great deal of time playing and interacting with their siblings, so we’ll be expanding their living quarters very soon. In the meantime, they have gym memberships thanks to an elaborate play station and numerous plush toys at their disposal. While all of that is certainly fun, one of our favourite things is to watch them sleep. They have the most unique sleeping arrangements from the standard sibling pile where they’re all piled up in a heap to being interlocked in the most elaborate of jigsaw puzzles or Rubik’s cube to synchronized sleeping where they lie front to back, front to back and so on.
To help the puppies continue to bulk up, they had their first raw feeding of hormone and antibiotic-free meat with organic vegetables, pro-biotics, vitamin supplements including vitamin C, bovine colostrum and Puppy Gold for eye and immune system development, goat’s milk and plain yoghurt. With their inaugural bowl, no one needed a second invitation. M…

Storm and Skye Litter – Week Seven

“On the Road Again”A mere seven weeks ago, they were all chipmunk-size nuggets – all squirmy with little pink feet and noses. They evolved from helpless little bundles to real going concerns that are desperate for backyard time and curious to know what each and every little sight and sound represents. It’s interesting to witness the pups’ growing independence as they venture into the far corners of the yard either on their own or in small groups. How time flies.
This week, the gang got to go on a road trip to visit the friendly veterinarian. This is typically when many puppies start wailing but not this group. They were very quiet on the drive. Of course, once inside the clinic they made many hearts melt and were a bit hit with the clinic staff. Their examinations were all stellar and so was their behaviour. And not a single pee or poop on the floor during their entire time there. We’ve had some rowdy groups there in the past! The ride home was equally calm but we’re sure that the pups…

Storm and Pepper Litter – Week Three

“Riding the Rails”The pups reside in what’s called a whelping box: a 4 ft. square enclosure which we’ve lined with mats and towels, in order to accommodate the puppies’ rapid growth, we’ve had to raise the pig rails up a notch. These are rails around the inside of the whelping box, that are there to help prevent mom from accidentally squishing one of her kids. At some point during the following week, the rails can safely be removed altogether and an extension to the box will be added which will give the gang lots more room to play in. To enhance their experience, we’ve put stuffed animals in the whelping box as an obstacle course of sorts as well as fluffy playmates to cuddle with. 
Now that their vision is established beyond simply being able to detect light, dark and movement, the puppies are becoming increasingly curious about their surroundings and each other. They’re staggering around and beginning to get acquainted with their littermates. They can often be seen standing in a gro…

Storm and Skye Litter – Week Six

“The Teasing Game”The gang is growing steadily and is now getting three meals a day, supplemented by Skye’s still frequent offerings of dessert. Their muzzles are lengthening and are beginning to look a bit more like the adults they will eventually become. Their emotions are becoming apparent too, so they whine to show fear, whimper if they’re hurt and bark when they are excited, want attention or are ready for dinner. And they seem to be ready for dinner a lot! We are spending time alone with each puppy, playing gently and teaching them to relate one-on-one in a safe, trusting situation. The best part is that we get to repeat the exercise each and every day and this group is particularly affectionate.

From day one, these little guys were totally comfortable with their outdoor surroundings and they’ve since had many opportunities to enjoy the yard. Their first priority is to see if mom is willing to oblige them with a snack. Once that been determined and fulfilled, they immediately rus…

Storm and Pepper Litter – Week Two

“The Little Temple”Pepper’s little ones are doing very well – almost too well in fact.  Since there are only five in the litter and their mom is in overdrive and loaded with milk, they’re growing and developing in leaps and bounds. They now resemble mini Buddhas with their plump little bellies, so we’ve had to try to limit Pepper’s nursing time before they explode.

It’s exciting for us when the puppies’ eyes open at around the 10-day mark. 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 itse…

Storm and Skye Litter – Week Five

“Busting Loose”This was a big week for Skye’s young family. We removed the pig rails in the whelping box that help keep the little ones safe from being accidently squished. As we were doing that, several of the pups came over to investigate resulting in a great deal of hand nibbling and cuddling. We also added an extension which has doubled the size of the whelping box from 4x4 feet to 4x8 feet. How luxurious! In one corner, there’s now an area with paper shredding which the little ones are learning to use as a litter box of sorts. This is the first step toward potty training before they can access the yard.

The dynamic in the whelping box is evolving. This is the beginning of the most influential socialization period for the puppies. They’re learning to communicate with each other and with us by wagging their tails. With the increased control over their facial muscles, they are making expressions and are beginning to reveal their personalities and communicate their opinions. The pups …

Storm and Pepper Litter – Week One

“Joy and Pain”We never really know what to expect when our moms-to be are in the latter stages of their labour. Typically, puppies are born in the wee hours, but every now and again we catch a bit of a break so when Pepper gave us the paws up signal at 5:00 a.m., we happily sprang into action. We welcomed Mr. Blueberry Cobbler at 5:14. It was a bit of a bumpy ride, but he managed. He was followed by Mr. Orange Creamsicle at 6:01, who despite our best efforts returned to Heaven as an angel. Little Mr. Lemon Meringue made his debut at 6:58 and was quickly joined by his sister, Miss Strawberry Shortcake at 7:15 who apparently was in a hurry. The remaining two boys were much more casual with their timing as we were joined by Mr. Crème Brûlée at 8:02 and Mr. Rice Pudding at 9:05.

While she did not share this with us, it was apparent that poor Pepper experienced a certain amount of discomfort from delivering her pups. This left her in a somewhat fragile state, so she didn’t immediately begin…

Storm and Skye Litter – Week Four

“Sound the Alarm!”It was early in the morning. Off in the distance, a couple of mourning doves were singing their melancholy song while the finches were chirping cheerily. A gentle breeze made a slight rustling sound as it caressed the leaves of the large locust trees in the yard. While it’s not unusual to hear a dog bark in this household, there was a perceptible urgency in its tone. It increased in volume, so we went to investigate. Ever the good mom, Skye was alerting us to the fact that Miss Sprinkles (Pink) had escaped the whelping box and was headed toward the step up to the kitchen from the sunken living room. Mind you, for a puppy that size, it would be like trying to scale the side of a three-story building. The crisis was quickly averted with Miss Sprinkles being gently airlifted back into the whelping box.

Skye is exceptionally good-natured. She doesn’t mind sharing her space in the living room with Faith who was recovering from spay surgery and in need of a little quiet tim…

Storm & Skye Litter – Week Three

“On the Road Again”
Now that her mastitis is under control, Skye and her new family were relocated to the living room from our bedroom this week which is a pretty regal deal for mom. She’s got both a sofa and a love seat to stretch out on, not to mention some carpeting and some sections of cool wood flooring for lounging. There’s also a walkout to the backyard for private bathroom breaks or birdwatching. Skye didn’t bat an eye about being transplanted - she knew this was a good deal.

With their vision established beyond simply being able to detect light, dark and movement, the puppies are becoming increasingly curious about their surroundings and each other. They are beginning to get acquainted with their littermates and can often be seen standing in a group gently colliding or rubbing their noses and heads against one another whether awake or asleep. This is the beginning of a key period for the puppies as they are developing rudimentary social skills. They are testing each other’s li…

Pepper, Day 56 days (pre-parturition)

Our cuddly Pepper hasn’t skipped a beat. She continues to happily hang out with the pack and enjoys cooling off indoors in the air conditioning. She has however excavated a lovely den in the backyard for her pups. Since she’s due next week, we will introduce Pepper to a lovely clean warm environment known as “the whelping box” for her to house her puppies in. 

Pepper is loving her three meals a day. Usually a very slow eater, she now devours her meals which consists of a nutritious and “unprocessed” raw meal of veggies, meat/bone, raw eggs, beef liver, pre and probiotics and vitamins.  Today she is enjoying a spa day with lots of pampering in preparation for the big event. 


At this stage, the puppies have a full coat of hair and can be felt moving around in her tummy which measures 33 inches or 88.8 cm. The coat is one of the last organs to develop along with the intestinal tract. The majority of a puppy’s growth in size takes place the last couple weeks of gestation.

Pepper is shedding …

Storm & Skye Litter – Week Two

“Feast or Famine”To add to the challenge of nursing nine puppies, Skye contracted mastitis this week - an inflammation of a mammary gland which is an infection caused either by a little bite or scratch or in this case, an overabundance of milk. This is not uncommon in larger litters 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 basting the wound with saline solution and the incredible healing properties of honey. For a bit of relief, we put a little wading pool out in her run for her to use to cool off with or treat her to some hydrotherapy in the shower.

With an elevated temperature, Skye’s milk production virtually stopped so we had to begin bottle feeding her mini pack. Once her temperature dropped, she was able to nurse a bit again, at least the ones who weren’t so keen on hitting the bottle. We have to keep part of Skye’s “equipment” bandag…

Storm & Skye Litter – Week One

“Tornado Warning”We thought we were lucky. After a lengthy preamble, Skye rewarded us with one of those rare daytime deliveries since puppies are usually born in the wee hours. Mr. Grape (purple) made his debut at 4:55 pm on Sunday afternoon. But then we waited, and we waited until Miss Sprinkles (pink) was born at 6:28 pm and so it went on with Mr. Praline (beige), Miss Strawberry (red) and Miss Chocolate (brown) at 9:15 pm. Then Skye “tossed us a bone” by producing Miss Pistachio (green) a scant 13 minutes later at 9:28 pm. Of course, there’s payback so Mr. Sherbet (orange) didn’t arrive until 10:55 pm followed by Mr. Lemon (yellow) at 11:39 pm and finally Miss Vanilla (white) at 12:55 am on Monday. By the time we got everything straightened up it was 2:00 am but of course, sleep was out of the question as we now had to tend to Skye’s precious little bundles. Skye wasted no time in assuming her motherly duties to stimulate and clean her puppies by licking them. Despite her best eff…

Skye, Day 56 (pre-parturition)

“The Final Countdown”As Skye heads into her final week of pregnancy, she is very much focused on finding the perfect den in our backyard to have her puppies. This morning she dug a hole that she can pretty much fit herself into along with Pepper, her partner in crime! It is her natural instinct to find and prepare a den to birth her puppies however, she’ll actually have them in a nice warm and sterile environment known as the whelping box. We keep puppies in our bedroom for the first 3 weeks and over the next week we will make all the final preparations for their arrival. 

Skye is still extremely interested in food and will almost take your hand off when offered a treat. She inhales her food in about 4 seconds flat and is now receiving 3 meals daily, but we may increase that to 4 or 5 meals as we move closer to her whelping date. Her abdomen measures a whopping 35.5 inches or approx. 90 cm.

Skye has a cozy dog bed or our king-sized bed to sleep on but prefers the cool tile floor in our …

Skye, Day 47 (pre-parturition)

Sassy Skye continues to be as active as ever. She enjoys being in the air-conditioned house when it is so humid outdoors. The occasional bird or squirrel has her preoccupied outdoors, but she quickly realizes that it’s too hot outside and she’d rather just come inside to cool off and enjoy a bone. 

Diet is so important at this stage as the puppies are beginning to grow rapidly now. Over the next few weeks as her abdomen expands, Skye will obviously begin to slow down.

Skye has always had a voracious appetite and she certainly continues to eat her food in record time and is always looking for more. She is enjoying an unprocessed raw diet including all the natural vitamins and minerals required along with folic acid, prebiotics and probiotics daily.  As her waistline expands, she will have less room for food so we will increase the frequency and reduce the size of each meal. Skye’s abdomen now measures 76.2 cm or 30 inches. 

At this point, the embryonic sacs are a little over 4 cm.  Althou…

Chapeau and Chanel Litter – Week Seven

“Nature’s Charcuterie”The weather here finally cooperated suitably for the puppies to get outside. While a little tentative for the first two and a half minutes, they wandered over to the milk truck, aka Chanel who provided them with a little snack al fresco, despite their twenty-eight razor sharp teeth. After that, there was a huge free-for-all. The pups ran off in groups of two or three or sometimes solo. As their confidence grew, they explored the yard in ever-widening circles. They scaled rocks and little mounds of snow and chased one another around a big cedar tree in a seemingly endless game of tag. When they were ready to wind down a bit, a sampling of nature’s charcuterie followed. This consisted of sampling a variety of twigs with a chaser of a mouthful of snow.


Most of their neighbours, namely the pups in Faith’s litter departed for their forever homes over the weekend. We used the opportunity to give everyone a bit more room by putting the five boys in Faith’s whelping box a…

Chapeau and Chanel Litter – Week Six

“UFC Takedown”The days are getting longer but unfortunately, they’re also getting soggier as Mother Nature peels back her snow covering and reveals our nemesis, namely mud. Accordingly, we’ve had to resort to some indoor playtime. We tossed a plush 6 ft long caterpillar onto the kitchen floor and let the gang loose on it. At first the mini pack sniffed it from end to end and then they worked on subduing it until they were satisfied it no longer posed a threat.

This week, the puppies experienced their first examination by Dr. Matt, the friendly veterinarian. Considering the number of puppies in our household requiring their checkups, it made more sense for him to make a house call. We had the pups on the kitchen floor while the checkups were being conducted and they were completely oblivious to the goings-on. They played and ran laps around the kitchen island. On more than one occasion, they were entranced by Dr. Matt’s colourful socks, but they thought better of challenging them. When …

Storm and Faith Litter – Week Seven

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”The pups had an absolute blast outside this week. They were just a bit tentative on their first outing, but it didn’t take long for them to step up to the challenge. They were unfazed by the mounds of packed snow and what surely seemed like mountains and moguls. Of course, the mounds are somewhat slippery, but this determined bunch quickly found their footing and conquered the summit. Some even found a few cedar twigs to nibble on while others either scurried about or simply meandered, taking in the vastness of the yard, the sunshine and the cool, crisp Caledon air. It’s interesting to witness the pups’ growing independence as they venture into the far corners of the yard either on their own or in small groups.

Faith is both a mom and playmate extraordinaire. She lures the pups into play mode with the “will you play with me stance” leading them on chases over the snow-covered terrain. Then, she rolls around in the snow while some of them try to cop a snac…

Chapeau and Chanel Litter – Week Five

“Nibbles”The dynamic in the whelping box is evolving. This is the beginning of the most influential socialization period for the puppies. They’re learning to communicate with each other and with us by wagging their tails. With the increased control over their facial muscles, they are making expressions and are beginning to reveal their personalities and communicate their opinions. They spend longer periods of time awake and they use it to engage in some manner of play with their siblings whether head butting or wrestling. They’re also craving a lot of attention and affection. 
Since the little ones are getting more accustomed to eating solid food, their food is being prepared a bit drier and they are drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated. Now that the food isn’t as messy, fewer clean ups (in that department) are required. Of course, Chanel still nurses the puppies to supplement their diet.
This week we removed the pig rails from the main part of the whelping box. Now that the puppie…

Storm and Faith Litter – Week Six

“The Experiment”It was just a matter of time. Since the pups are well on their way to being fully weaned, they always have a fresh bowl of water at their disposal. To this end, we use a spill-proof bowl. Every now and again, a litter of puppies decides to test that theory with some experimentation. This was no exception. While there’s an insert that helps prevent most of the water from spilling out, we were too trusting and had opted to leave it out for the moment. Strike one and lesson learned.
We would have loved to be able to get the pups outside this past weekend, but mother nature hasn’t been very agreeable these past few days. We have snowbanks up to six feet in height and the snow throughout the yard is up to a foot and a half. That said, our biggest concern was losing a puppy in the snow. In the meantime, the party is indoors and the group is unfazed because they’re having a blast getting to know each other. There’s a lot of squawking and chirping when playtime really ramps up,…

Chapeau and Chanel Litter – Week Four

“Determination”This week, we added an extension to the whelping box which has doubled its size. Now that the puppies are getting even bigger, they need a bit more space to allow them to pick up speed to scramble from end to end. The little ones are developing their strength, co-ordination and cognitive skills as well as learning how to engage in an activity with a littermate, even if it’s just bumping heads. Since their hunting and chasing instincts are emerging, they practice with their siblings or their plush toys.

Kids always find ways to get into trouble. The other day Mr. Aramis (brown) and Miss Shalimar (blue) managed to escape from the whelping box as Chanel was on her way out for a break and chased after her unless they were just trying to get a better look at the living room carpet. We cured that by adding another slat across the entrance…or so we thought. A short while later, we discovered Miss Opium (red) in the middle of the living room carpet enjoying a private nursing ses…