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Howie and Pepper Litter – Week Three

 


Ain't No Mountain High enough.....

“The Hoover”

The pups reside in what’s called a whelping box: a 4 ft. square enclosure which we’ve lined with mats and towels, not to mention that nasty rolled-up towel that now serves as a headrest or leaning post for the little ones. There is an opening at one end of the whelping box that allows mom to get in and out at will to deal with her mini-pack or venture out on her well-deserved breaks. There are 4” high removable slats at the opening which serve to contain the pups. We start with one when they’re born and insert additional ones as they grow so that now we’re up to three so the pups can’t get out on their own. That said, the other day we discovered Miss Mars on the bedroom floor some distance from the whelping box. Apparently, she was latched onto Pepper’s milk receptacle with a super-vacuum, so she was whisked away and deposited onto the carpet where we had to rescue her.

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, which are there to help prevent mom from accidentally squishing one of her kids. At some point during the next couple of weeks, 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. We usually add some stuffed animals into the box to create an obstacle course but with ten pups, it’s getting kind of crowded in there already!

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 plod around the box and are beginning to get acquainted with their littermates. They 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 limits and learning the difference between hard and soft biting and they also take turns sleeping at the top and bottom of the sibling pile. When mom is on her break, the kids pine to be together in their furry little huddle.

Pepper is a stellar mom. While she does her due diligence in looking after her offspring, she relishes her time away from them, stretching out on our bed or the cool tile floor to take a much-deserved break. We still catch her scouting for alternate accommodations for her pups in the outdoor run. On more than one occasion, we’ve interrupted her quest to excavate them a new den under a rockpile. It’s a lovely gesture, but we think we’ll keep them all inside.

That’s it for now but be sure to join us next week for another nail-biting instalment of “Puppy Tales”.



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