Monday, May 5, 2008

Growing Pains

Now my work really began. Samba was a great mom and we worked together raising the puppies. They were very active pups. Each morning I shut the adult dogs in the bedroom and went to the nursery to let Samba out. One morning, shortly after their eyes opened, I found puppy # 9 standing at the gate with her mom waiting for me. She was letting me know in a number of ways that she was my dog and not to even think of parting with her.

At four weeks they were climbing out of their whelping box so we moved them to a pen in the kitchen and also started feeding them a mixture of formula, baby cereal and ground puppy food. They loved it and started telling me when they thought they should be fed. Samba continued to nurse them part time until they were eight weeks old.

At four weeks Samba started regurgitating food for them once a day. The first time she did it, I cleaned it up and wouldn't let the pups near it. She started taking them to the back corner of the crate where I couldn't reach or if we were outside she would take them to the far corner of the yard. She continued this once a day until they were twelve weeks old. The pups acted as if she was bringing them a pepperoni pizza. They loved it.

It was now that the adult dogs met the pups for the first time. Lucy and Morgan ignored them. Fudge wanted to play with them. Tsar was interested in watching them, but Monty decided they were his. He spent hours sitting by their pen making friends. He seemed to know that Samba had to be with them, but he didn't want the others anywhere near his babies. When we took them out of the pen he would lie on the floor and lat them crawl all over him. He was always gentle with them.

I had no idea how I was going to teach each of these puppies their names and how does one housebreak eight puppies at once? Well, they each learned their names. Holding, cuddling and repeating the name over and over works. We had a mild November and December, so we were able to get them outside and housebreaking was pretty easy after that. It was quite a scene watching eight fat puppies race down two flights of stairs to go into the back yard. Unfortunately they didn't have enough control to always make it all the way outside, so we set up a pen in the garage. They had their crate, blankets, toys and were just a few steps from the door to the yard. This worked much better and we were making amazing progress with training.

I watched Samba give her babies some important life lessons. The first was how to play with a tennis ball. She lined the pups up on the hill, picked up a tennis ball and ran back and forth in front of them. Then she ran around the yard with them following. Next, she gave the ball to each of the pups in turn and ran around the yard with the pup carrying the ball. A couple days later she repeated the lesson using a stick. I told Rob about these lessons, but a few days later he witnessed the lesson with the frisbee, Samba's favorite toy. He was able to get some pictures.

This is a frisbee. You carry it like this.

Now you try.

Sky, puppy # 2, is very independent. He doesn't always listen when Mom is giving a lesson. She sometimes has to speak to him about paying attention.

We were doing well until January 12. That day we had a major ice storm. The electricity went out and stayed out for twelve days. The pups were eight weeks old. They couldn't go into the back yard because trees were falling. We had damage to the house and the fence. It was too cold to keep them in the garage so we moved them back to the kitchen. We had installed a gas stove in the basement so the house stayed about 60 degrees, but it was very dark. They were kept in a pen in the kitchen and several times a day were allowed to run around the kitchen. Our housebreaking was set way back and I spent most of my time mopping. I don't recommend having eight, eight week old puppies running around the kitchen with no way to get them outside. It can get pretty stinky.

We experienced double three dog nights as all six adult dogs piled into bed with us for warmth. We did have one casualty. Buddy, our male cockatiel died. He was overstressed by the situation.

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