Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pile of Pups

We like to remove the pups when we replace the rug in their whelping box home each day. If you recall the photos from three weeks ago you'll see that where there once was ample space between pups is now all pups all the time! We mark the pups by the tail to individually identify them.

Three Weeks of Fun

The pups continue to grow and grow. As the photo shows, mealtime is now a sit down affair for Mom, and a free-for-all for the kids. Somehow they all find what they're looking for!

Bromley continues to be Supermom, a role she's enjoyed for four years (whether the pups are hers or not!). She faithfully feeds the pups 'round the clock but since the first week now sleeps outside the whelping box. She's not shy about reminding us to feed her--when we let the other three adult dogs out to do their business Bromley will elect to stay behind, waiting for us to head back to the kitchen and the feed bowl. The calories she consumes are immense! She's regained a bit of weight since the kids were born but most of the excess calories continue to flow through to the pups.

Their eyes opened and they began walking right at two weeks. Now they've discovered their voices. Yips and growls are new explorations and this is a vocal bunch! We'll post more photos in the days ahead.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Week, Twice the Fun

Now a week old, Bromley's pups continue their exponential (it seems!) growth. Each has doubled in size and weight, from about 16 oz. at birth to rotund, squirmy puppy tipping the scales at two pounds or more. They undergo interesting changes even in the first week of life. Little pink footpads and muzzles have turned black, and little ear flaps extend to twice their original size. Mother's rich milk is constantly in demand leading to plump and blind 'slugs' whose noses work like magnets to find their next meal. Of course, this means Bromley's fuel tank is always in need of filling: her mealtime has gone from a normal twice daily feeding to five or more meals per day. We even supplement those with added ingredients like fresh eggs and cottage cheese. The eggs, straight from our chickens, can be added raw; even the crushed shells can be consumed (an excellent source of calcium). Even with all the extra calories it will be weeks before Bromley's weight returns to previous levels.

Voracious appetites by mother and puppies is normal. Sadly, one of the puppies (Peony) had an apparent birth defect and could not adequately take up food, even when we tried to feed by hand, and it passed away on Day 2. Such occurrences are not uncommon and help explain why dogs have rather large litters. Fortunately, the remaining three girls and three boys appear to be healthy and are developing normally.

We'll post some new pictures in the days ahead; around Day 14 the puppies eyes will open and they'll take their first steps. In the meantime, pictures of 'slugs' just aren't that exciting!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Spring! Puppies!!!

Bromley began giving birth a little after noon today. So far the deliveries have been without incident. Three girls and two boys with at least a couple more to come. Our theme for this litter is "Spring Flowers". Thus, we have the first born, Crocus (F), followed by Dogwood (M), Daffodil (F), Dandelion (M), and Peony (F). Unfortunately, a sixth puppy was stillborn--not unexpected in large litters but still somewhat saddening... we'll post again when Bromley's deliveries are complete.

This is an all yellow litter but as you can see the yellow spectrum can range from fairly white to a foxy red. The dark reddish color of Dogwood is partly due to wet hair from his recent birthing. All are weighing in at a healthy one pound. In the past, we've seen puppies range in weight from 5 - 18 oz, with 14-15 oz the average weight of a lab pup.

It's Gotta Be Today (Bromley's litter)

Yesterday, March 10th, was Bromley's earliest possible due date (62 day gestation) and though she is HUGE she made it through the night without any signs of giving birth. She was reluctant to eat her entire meals yesterday, with her stomach crowded out by all those pups. Today is likely to be the day: she did not want to eat at all, initially, and then only after her sibling rivals were sniffing around her dish did she grudgingly finish her small serving of kibble.

As dogs approach the birth phase they will get into a nesting mode and will try and find places to dig a den. This morning when we took her outside to do her business Bromley found a suitable den site and began digging under two large boulders, clearing out leaves and dirt. Once, one of our other dogs that was expecting, Sedona, returned repeatedly to a place under a bush next to our house over the course of a week. Before she was done, Sedona had excavated a hole two feet deep! Fortunately, we got Bromley to stop after a minute or two of digging in the dirt. Now back inside, she's taken to digging through a pile of blankets. At least it keeps her mind focused!

Our experience with birthing puppies over seven years has been that most litters are born at night. We have had two that occurred during daylight hours. My guess is she'll start giving birth sometime later this afternoon.