|Skye very proud of her nine puppies!|
“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 efforts being a new mom, she was a little off the mark, so we provided some assistance along the way.
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. Since Skye was a couple of days behind schedule, she had an abundance of milk to provide to her mini pack. Think of it as having Thanksgiving dinner seven days in a row, so after three days, we abandoned our protocol and opted to weigh the pups only once daily. At the one-week mark, everyone’s weight has pretty much doubled and since most gyms are still closed, we had to give the little ones probiotics to help them with digestion.
Skye spends most of her time tending to her pups in the whelping box which is a 4 ft. square enclosure lined with mats and towels that both mom and her babies reside in. Virtually all moms demonstrate some form of nesting behaviour. This may mean searching for or creating a den outdoors by digging a massive hole. In Skye’s case, whenever we’re out of the room, she digs up all the towels into a massive heap that looks like it was hit by a tornado so much of our time is spent remaking their bed and restoring order. This may be why Miss Vanilla took it upon herself to attempt an escape from the whelping box and make her way along the bedroom carpet to an unspecified location.
Puppies are born without sight or hearing, and their eyes don’t open until sometime during the second week, so for now their sense 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 is on her break.
That’s it for now, but be sure to join us next week for another beguiling installment of “Puppy Tales”