“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 her motherly duties. The task of stimulating the puppies to eliminate was therefore left to us, armed with a small mountain of towels. After a few days, she finally came around with a vengeance that if she stimulated them any more, she’d be licking off their fur! It seems like she was making up for lost time. The little ones do eventually learn to eliminate on their own after a week-and-a-half or so.
Apart from nourishment, a mother’s milk contains antibodies vital to the puppies’ survival for the first several weeks of their lives. We weigh the puppies at least twice daily for the first week to ensure that everyone is getting equal access to the milk bar. At the one-week mark, everyone’s weight has pretty much doubled which is clearly a testament to Pepper’s newfound abilities as a mom and the fact that she had an abundant supply of milk.
Puppies are born without sight or hearing and their eyes don’t open until sometime during the second week, so for now their senses of smell and touch are what guide them to their target. They use their tiny forelimbs, coupled with great tenacity, to propel themselves around as they seek out their sustenance and warmth. Since their body temperatures will not have been regulated until after week three, the little gang relies on their mother and each other for warmth. Of course, we have a heat lamp at the ready to use whenever mom’s on her break.
That’s it for now, but be sure to join us next week for another beguiling installment of “Puppy Tales”.