Ever wonder what it’s like to be me? A breeder? And raising a litter of pups? I’ve been at it for 35 years now. I never tire of the wonder of the whole process!! Let me let you peer into MY life with a litter of pups so you KNOW! Since I’m a fiction writer, I’m going to write it from the perspective of the puppy! (I could give you some long technical description, but what fun would that be???)
Week before I’m born:
“It’s a bit crammed in here… there’s seven of us! But boy is it warm. Every once in a while I feel a movement against me, but I’m use to it. My second Mom, we’ll call her “Momma2”- Donna, is completing a special diet for my Mommy that will help her milk come in this week, and to be sure she is well prepared to feed us all from the time we are born. I’m feeling hungry… Momma2 has turned on our heating pad in preparation of our box to keep us at the perfect temperature the first two weeks while we cannot control our own body temperature quite yet. Momma2 spends a lot of special bonding time that she swears is “instinctual” with each Momma dog she works with so that she feels especially connected to her needs during birth and ‘parenthood.’
“Something is happening. I’m a bit dizzy. Mom is digging and nesting and throwing us around a bit in here—good thing we are snug. Uh-oh, my ‘bubble’ is moving…I’m….whoa…….what was that? Hey! Its cold, what is this? My nose is cold—my chest is doing something funny, is this air? I cry because I’m startled at my new surroundings. They aren’t warm like inside Mommy, but I crawl and use my new ‘sniff’ to find my way to her so she can keep me warm! She nestles up to me and suddenly there’s something in my mouth—ooooo—milk—and its WARM. I drink deeply—my rumbly belly settles.
Momma2 is still rushing around, setting up our “Nutri-drops” and probiotic and vitamin B12 we all get when we come out so we have lots of energy to nurse and get all of that colostrum that we need which is only produced for the first 24-48 hours. She’s getting the room prepped, checking on her supplies for the birth (scissors for cutting umbilical cords, dental floss to tie them off, iodine to sanitize, oxytocin (only if needed), baby bottles, and supplement (goats milk). There’s gentle music playing. There’s soft talking and singing. The lights are low which makes Momma feel more secure and ready to finally let us out. Momma2 drags her cot into the room and lays down with Momma. Momma relaxes. Momma2 is settling in for the night (which is when we usually like to be born).
About twenty minutes later I get nudged off the nipple I was enjoying as Momma jumps up to have what Momma2 calls ‘contractions’ –they help move us down the birth canal—each in our own little warm water sac. I smell to find Momma and stay close by as I smell another pup nearby. I have a sister! She and I smell and find each other and stay close to each other and to Momma. Momma2 sings and talks softly to my Momma letting her know she is there. Momma relaxes again. My sister and I nurse some more. My tummy is getting full. I’m warm. I’m happy.
Momma2 writes down each birth and time and time in between births and contractions to make sure Momma is doing well, and none of us get stuck or have a hard time coming either. Momma2 knows to change Momma’s diet a week before so we are not TOO big, and don’t get stuck—all the while keeping up Momma’s and our nutritional needs. Momma2 and Momma know stuff. I’m sure glad they know what they’re doing. I just like this milk! This whole nursing and sleeping thing seems to go on for a few hours as our group grows. Now I can crawl as far as I want into the ‘fluff’ of the others and stay warm and comfy. Our temperature, humidity, and “whelping box” are monitored by the minute so they are perfect for us to thrive.”
I pretty much sleep and nurse all day long. Momma cleans me and keeps our box tidy and clean along with Momma2. I like the feeling of her gently licking me. She nudges me back to a nipple when she is done with my bath. It’s warm, I’m hungry, and I sleep. Momma has upped her food intake now and is eating TWICE what she did before we were born—she needs to be eating for eight!!! Momma2 is sure to feed Momma morning and night so she is always hydrated and strong to feed us. Its her only job right now. Momma2’s job is to watch us like a HAWK and make sure we get as much to eat as possible without anyone getting kicked out of the way (I do have a brother who is HUGE and sometimes knocks me off my nipple. I just find another!) Soft music plays. It’s quiet. The room is peaceful. Momma2 checks in constantly.
Not much to update you on. I’m nursing and getting pretty big. I can tell because I have to work harder to crawl where I need to go! I use my nose to know which direction my Momma and littermates are. I’m supposed to open my eyes this week which can be anywhere between day # 11 and day # 16. At first the corners open and I can’t really see much. Then each day they open more and more and I see light! This is new! For now things are cloudy, but I look in the direction of sounds because my ears are opening too, and I can tell which direction sounds come from. I still don’t know much about Momma2 since she only picks us up to check on us, coo to us, gently, introduce us to different ways of holding us. I still can’t see her. When our eyes open she looks at each of us smiling, and exclaims, “Welcome to the world!!!” I like that. Over the next week I’ll start to see shapes and faces. I can’t wait!” At the end of week 2 we can maintain our own body temperature too!
I see EVERYTHING now—I can see Momma!—so I try to chase her now! I sometimes “jump” slightly at a face real close to me because this ‘seeing’ thing is new to me. I am beginning to nibble on my brothers and sisters as my teeth begin to poke at my gums. We start to play with each other’s ears, tail, and legs. We still nurse… but someone (I suspect Momma2) put a bowl in our box with some milk! It was hard to navigate lapping instead of sucking but I tried it and it was good! Momma2 says, “It’s time for ‘big dog’ food soon. This is just a start.” As I get teeth in this next week, and my nails grow too, Momma begins to notice and Mother Nature tells her it’s time to start to wean (she can get shredded and red and infected if we scratch her too much at this age—we don’t want that). Momma2 watches the signs too and helps Momma do it GRADUALLY so it’s easy on us and her, and so she does not get mastitis. I’ve had my first “fecal test” to be sure I don’t have any parasites. Momma gets checked too. That way we all stay healthy and we get good and fat, and all the nutrients out of our food.
Hello from the whelping box! We are tumbling, playing, barking, growling (play growl) all day long and sleeping. What fun! We are in a bigger box now—so we can PLAY!!! Sometimes the puppy teeth are sharp and when the underside of my ear gets bitten in play– it hurts! I yelp and my sister gives me a look that almost says “I’m sorry.” We learn that biting others makes them go “OUCH!” We don’t want to do that! Momma2 runs in and checks us all over. We stare at her. She smiles, says something in a sing-songy voice, and goes and washes the dog dishes at the sink. We started eating some softened food this week, Momma2 puts it in our box each day to get use to it while we start to wean from Momma. We are eating out of a bowl and still nursing now. But we are liking the food bowl because we can sure eat a whole lot faster that way!” Food, food, food. That’s what I want. Oh and snuggles. I talk to Momma2 all the time now and bark whenever she walks by—she ‘might’ have food.
We are ready to really wean in this next week or so! Momma comes in to give us a ‘sip’ now and then. She knows we love our food now. But she is getting sore from our sharp teeth and nails so she is looking forward to us being weaned. This is natural and normal. We aren’t hurt. We will like seeing Momma, but now we like playing with each other more—and with a few people that come to visit now that we are a bit bigger (family, friends and staff)—our immune systems are still developing and we have not had our vaccines yet, but Momma2 is already building our immune systems with what is in that bowl. I don’t know what it is but I’m getting BIG!!! My ears and feet are growing now. I look like a Teddy Bear. I love to be held. I love food. (I just found out I’m a Lab—now it makes sense… LOL)
We wean this week and the rest of our time together is spent learning new noises, objects, running on new surfaces, getting exposed to new things to play with and navigate around. My world is expanding and although I’m ready for the ‘big world’, I have to get my first shots before I can go to my new home. The vet will be visiting to check us over soon! I’ve again, been checked that my belly is healthy and my vet appointment is scheduled. I’m barking, but have learned that Momma2 won’t respond when I do that. She already showed me that being quiet gets her attention and she pats me on the head and calls me “good girl!” Some of us have nicknames—she even makes up songs with our names in it and sings it while she makes our food and cleans our room—we love that and dance while she sings! If its warm, we go outside on days over 65 degrees for short periods of time. If it’s really nice outside we get our shaded “hut” and grass yard for a couple hours in the nicest time of the day. Oh what SMELLS! Oh how fun to run and run and run! I see birds and other animals, too, and am so curious. I’m not allowed to bite. I get corrected by Momma2 and you’ll learn how to do this too! Play biting is just something I can do with my littermates—but not with your toes or fingers—I’m learning.
Looks a lot like week 6, only my world gets bigger and more interesting as Momma2 exposes us to more new things little by little. I love this new world. We all move to our ‘big play pen’ this week so we have a large play area indoors most of the day (or in bad weather) but our time outside is limited and in a safe ex-pen so we don’t put the wrong stuff in our mouths, Momma2 says. I’m taught to ‘be quiet’ this week, and that barking won’t get me picked up. Momma2 is training us and has been for almost 3 weeks. We just didn’t know it! (pssst…she’s trying to make your job easier!)
I’m ready for my new home and can’t WAIT to meet my new family! Although Momma2 will be a little sad, she knows I’ll get more attention as the ‘only one’ in a family than trying to give attention to all seven of us. So she reassures herself we are going to be going on a new adventure and my new family has been screened and waiting for us for quite a while. Sometimes six months or more. Now the next chapter in my life starts. Maybe it will be with YOU!
*Note: As you’ve probably already read on our site, over the years our EML program has grown- and Donna has taught others how to properly raise puppies so that we can accommodate more of you looking to grow your family, all the while not burning out the breeder! 🙂 This process you read above is the way any of our puppy raisers raise litters! Whether it be our Felicia, Lindy, or other dear friends throughout the years. 🙂 So not to worry, every Endless Mt puppy is raised and socialized properly and lovingly, to best prepare them for their forever homes!