|Paige is such an attentive momma.|
“Just a Quick Look Around”
Paige 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. Paige didn’t need any convincing that this was a good deal.
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. There are 4” slats which fit across the opening to prevent the pups from escaping. As they grow, we add additional slats. The moms just step over them to enter and exit, except that Paige stepped on slats causing one of them to pop out. Mr. Bluebell seized the opportunity to follow his mom out and enjoy his five minutes of freedom, however we’re certain he was relieved to rejoin his siblings afterward.
It’s always 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 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.
That’s it for now but be sure to join us next week for another riveting installment of “Puppy Tales”.