These cute little ones now have week one under their belts - that's a lot of eating and sleeping checked off their to-do list! Though these little ones may look similar to their introductory photos, they are nearly double their birth weight. (Kudos to Tachi on that achievement!) Below are their photos at one week. Click on their pictures to go to their individual pages. At the bottom of their pages, I add new pictures each week.
So, what did their first week of life look like? Puppies are born with fur and nails, but no teeth. Though they cannot walk, see, or hear, they can propel themselves quite purposefully on their little bellies. They instinctively propel towards warmth and food. Usually within a few minutes of birth, they are nursing from their mother. When they are not eating during the first week, they are piled up with their siblings sleeping. As they sleep, they do an adorable twitching motion. When we had our first litter of puppies many years ago, we were a bit alarmed by the twitching. After a quick online search, we were delighted and relieved to find twitching is a sign of healthy puppies. Researchers think healthy puppies twitch due to activated sleep that helps with their muscle tone and brain connections. Whatever the reason, we know that twitching while sleeping is a good sign.
The photos at the very beginning of this post look deceivingly peaceful and sleepy. However, when I wake them up to take their photos, they instantly start searching for food and warmth. They are on the GO! I have to make them feel warm and comfortable to lull them still enough to capture their cuteness! So, though they are somewhat helpless at this age, God has given them strong instincts to help them survive.
For a bit of size perspective, I took pictures of Gordon and Theodore by an 8 ounce stick of butter. Puppies should double their birthweight within 7-10 days after birth. All the puppies, except Theodore, were 8oz at birth. James has reached the doubling milestone today at 1lb. Eddie (15oz), Gordon (14oz), and Peace (14oz) are quite close to the doubling mark as well. Grace, Mercy, and Benny are 13oz and Theodore is 9oz. Theodore, though small, is vigorous and healthy! We knew from the get-go that it would be best for Theodore and Tachi if he could nurse with everyone else. I'm pleased to report he has done that in his first week and gained 3 ounces! He only has to reach 12oz to double his birthweight at 10 days, and I predict he will do it with his drive to wiggle in the pile and get his fair share.
Our care for the puppies during the first week is making sure they have a clean, comfortable place to rest and making sure their mama is properly cared for. Tachi, as well as all our dogs, has constant access to fresh water. She also has Life's Abundance food available at all times. Free-feeding (leaving food out all the time) is something we only do during the end of pregnancy and lactation. Otherwise, our dogs are fed on schedule. In addition to her food, we supplement her with a Life's Abundance vitamin, Life's Abundance Pork & Venison canned food, and goat milk from our goats. Tachi spends nearly one hundred percent of her time with her puppies feeding and cleaning them. At the one week mark, she does leave them for periods of time to rest and to play outside, but she's always eager to go back and check on them.
The puppies are handled several times a day by me. The children are only allowed to handle them when their eyes open up. I handle them to weigh them and change their bedding. You may be wondering why all this focus on weight. Someone once asked me as she was peering into the whelping box watching them competing for a spot to latch, "How in the world do you know if they all nursed?" The answer - by weighing them. You cannot know just by watching because it's hard to tell them apart when they are in a pile and it's hard to know how much they are getting. Weight gain is an overall good indicator that all is well.
Since sleeping and eating are the main events of week one, here's some sleeping and eating pictures. Notice in the photo of the puppies' entire area how Tachi has a "nest" to take care of her puppies, a place to rest away from them, and food and water available at all times. She's a busy, but contented Mama!
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!
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