It happens several times throughout the day when Olivia is off on one of her well-deserved breaks. She spends her free time in the adjoining ensuite where she lies on the cool tile or atop our bed. As soon as Olivia comes anywhere in proximity of the pups, they sense her presence and begin cooing like a flock of pigeons to express their need for nourishment and motherly love. Olivia never fails to oblige them and their enormous bellies are a testament to that fact.
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, 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 twelve pups, it’s getting kind of crowded in there already!
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 and eventually the pups will try to do the same! Miss Topaz was the first to breach the barrier by stepping on the back of a sibling. We think it startled her because she didn’t stray very far and we quickly “airlifted” her back to join her siblings.
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 activity resembles jousting or bumper cars at the fair. 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. Cuddling is learned at a very young age!
That’s it for now but be sure to join us next week for another nail-biting instalment of “Puppy Tales”.