Hello from Russell Homestead! Things have been busy around the homestead as the puppies aren’t the only new life – we had some goat kids born on February 19 and 20; including a set of triplets!
The puppies are growing and changing! The first 2-3 weeks are the “sleepy weeks” where the puppies pile together and snooze their days away. They are only awake for very short periods of time. Then, as their eyes and ears open around two weeks old, they are suddenly aware that there is life beyond the whelping box walls. Our children enjoy this stage when the puppies are awake and aware, but not chewing and bounding yet. It’s especially fun to cuddle them during this time because they love feeling warm and safe. (You will notice in the photos at the end of the post how the puppies like to snuggle in the crooks of arms or in blankets.)
As I mentioned before, we weigh daily to make sure the puppies are getting all they need. Picket & Benny remain the largest puppies, while Jo and Jax are the smallest. With such a large litter, the demand on Tachi for milk is high and peaks around 2.5-3 weeks before the puppies can begin lapping and getting any nutrition on their own. We noticed that over the weekend of the 18th-19th, Jo was not gaining weight. He had almost tripled his birth weight at the time but was starting to stall. He remained active, but his weight showed he needed some extra nutrition. We began offering him goat milk in a bottle as a supplement, which he took to immediately. The milk we give him is like a snack, as he remains with the litter and getting milk from Tachi as well. Once he started his snacking, his weight started to go back up.
With nine being a large litter for a miniature schnauzer, we monitor Tachi very closely to be sure she has all she needs. A mother dog provides all the nutrition for her puppies for the first weeks of life. Our way of “feeding” the puppies at this stage is to feed Tachi well. Although we do not free feed our mini schnauzers, a nursing mother is the exception. Tachi gets all the dry kibble she wants, and we make sure it is high quality. We chose Life’s Abundance because it is packed with nutrition rather than corn and wheat fillers. It’s made here in the USA, and there’s never been a recall on their food. We like and use Life's Abundance products so much that we are representatives for the company, and you can buy their products through us (ID 20249934).
In addition to dry kibble, she gets a Wellness Supplement and Fish Oil, both Life’s Abundance products. The supplement gives her an extra boost while the fish oil helps her coat and skin stay healthy.
Since Tachi has never had a large appetite (which is somewhat unusual for mini schnauzers), I also add some whole foods to her kibble to encourage her to eat. I add cooked ground venison and fresh goat milk provided by our very own ladies in the barn. With these added "encouragments" on her food, Tachi consumes enough calories to make milk for her crew. In the next week, we will begin the weaning process by offering goat milk and then Life’s Abundance Small and Medium Breed Puppy Food soaked in goat milk. If you are wondering why we use goat milk, it is because goat milk is gentle on stomachs. It enjoys a reputation as a milk that can be substituted for various species.
As you will see from the snapshots at the end of the post, socialization has begun in earnest! The children couldn’t wait to get their hands on these puppies. We make them wait to tote them around the house until their eyes and ears are open. Since that has happened, they are now allowed to carry them around to experience different parts of the house. Other than sleeping, eating, and being toted, the puppies are now beginning to play with each other and move around their whelping area. They are able to sit and take tottery steps. With the ability to move, comes the beginning of house training. We use the Misty Method to lay a solid foundation of the understanding of a place to sleep, play, and potty. At this stage, we put a potty box with newspaper right outside of the puppies' sleeping area because when little puppies wake up, they need to GO. They naturally try to potty by themselves, which means by instinct they will wander away from their siblings. We arrange it so that when they wander, the only place to go right now is the potty box. As they learn to go in there, we gradually open up the whelping area to include a play area. (You can read more about our house training process here and here.)
Thanks for stopping by; have a blessed week!
Hello from Russell Homestead! It’s been many months since we heard the adorable squeaks and chitters from little puppies, but our house is once again graced with those sounds times nine. Yes, nine! Our sweet Tachi has given us yet another large litter of puppies, and this time it is two girls and seven boys.
Since this is Tachi’s last litter and we want to continue her and Cooper’s bloodline here at Russell Homestead, we will be keeping one of the girls. So, without further ado, here are the little cuties. Remember to click on their pictures for more photos and information.
Picket is the largest puppy in the litter. He is a gorgeous salt & pepper with some white on his chest. He’s named for the main character is a book series our family enjoys called the Green Ember. He was named by CJ, age 11.
Meet Benny – a black & silver male about the same size as his brother Picket. Benny was named by EJ, age 6, after one of his favorite book characters – Benny in Boxcar Children.
Next up is one of the gals – Valentine. Valentine, named by MJ, age 7, was named for the holiday in her birth month (even though we know the real Valentine was a boy). She’s a salt & pepper.
Here’s Violet. Sweet violet (sweeter than all the roses, if you know that song) was also named by MJ. Next to her sister, she has more peppering in her coat. Both she and Valentine were four ounces at birth and have maintained about the same size.
Jo has the honor of being the little guy on the block. Born at three and half ounces, he is a little tot. With Tachi’s incredible nurturing skills, even her littlest puppies thrive. Jo, named by JJ, age 9, was named in honor of another Green Ember character, Jo Shanks, who is a famous archer.
Alongside Jo in birthweight, there’s Jax. Jax was named in honor of yet another Green Ember character who, in the beginning of the series, was a small baby. We took liberties with the spelling, but pronounce it like the story.
Meet Simon – a black & silver boy who has a teeny-tiny dot of white on his chest that helps me tell him apart from his brothers. In every litter, we pick one Bible name because we honor God as the creator and sustainer of all life. This litter, we picked Simon because two of our children have memorized John chapters one to six as part of MACSA Bible quizzing. In the passage, they memorized verses about “Simon Peter.”
Then there’s Theo! Named by AJ, age 12, in honor of Theodore Roosevelt, Theo is a black & silver boy with a white triangular shaped mark on his chest.
Waiting patiently until last, there’s Oliver – a salt & pepper boy with a thin white mark on his chest. Oliver is named after Oliver Vanderbeeker, another favorite character in a book series. (Can anyone tell we do lots of family read-alouds?)
That’s our happy little crew! We are very pleased with the puppies’ growth. We like to see them double their birthweight by 7-10 days. At eight days old, all but Benny has doubled their birthweight. Benny, the second largest in the litter, is just one ounce shy of doubling his birthweight.
As with our other litters, I will be posting periodic blog posts as they grow. I aim to blog about every ten to twelve days with pictures and information on the puppies. As a special wrap-up to this week’s post, here are two videos that showcase puppy twitching – video 1 & video 2. If you’ve read my past blogs, you know that two things we look for to know the puppies are doing well is sleeping in a pile and twitching while sleeping. Researchers are not one hundred percent sure why they do twitch, but it’s a sign of healthy puppies! And quite adorable!
Thanks for stopping by!
The puppies are LOVING the spring sunshine! I took some video clips of them today in our backyard for your viewing enjoyment. As I say in the video, the reason you will see the puppies sitting and scratching is that we put on their new Lupine collars this week. They are getting used to the feel of them around their necks and scratch often to see what that new thing is! The puppies go home with their Lupine collar, which is the 6-8 inch size. It will last them for several months, but they will need a new one as they grow. I have the videos listed in the order they were taken. You'll get to see the puppies meet two new objects. You'll also hear some of the background noises they are accustomed to. Though it sounds a bit windy at times, it was not - my device was extra sensitive to the spring breezes today. Enjoy!
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Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
Independent Field Representative