Musings Part 8 – Time Flies

Well it’s finally time to pick up where we left off before Chelsea and Savannah’s story. All I can say is that if I thought time dragged and dragged while waiting for puppies to arrive, boy does it fly after they get here. As my dear friend Patience said on one of our updates on the whippet boards it’s “amazing the time which can evaporate while you watch little things breathe!” Never was a truer word spoken.

After the trauma of the birth and the worry of the first 24 hours, and finally getting our last boy to suckle, all is well. Mum and babes settle in and I am in awe! I spend hours with the laptop, sitting on the bed next to the whelping pool just watching them. They all get their whelping box names, the first boy and girl are the Double Diamond Twins as each is very similarly marked with a diamond blaze, so we call the boy DDB (Double Diamond Boy) and the girl DDG (Double Diamond Girl). The girl with more white we call Little Miss Party Girl (a play on Parti-colour and on her personality) and the final boy we call BFB (Tracy calls him Big Fat Blaze due to the size of the blaze he has). However he quickly gets a new name and for most of his small puppyhood we call him Bruiser because of the bruise on his nose from his birth – though the name also suits his size as once he learns to suckle he is rarely away from the milk bar!

We are very lucky that we have homes for each of them. Their prospective owners are excited about the news, and we are VERY lucky that the couple who are having one of the girls is happy to wait a few extra weeks till we make our decision on which one we are keeping. I feel so blessed! There are lots of phone calls, texts and emails, photos being sent, and both registered and everyday names being decided on.

They are a happy little family, and clever babies right from the get go. There is no stepping into the whelping pool without checking first as they LOVE to burrow under the vet bed. Bruiser spends most of his time sprawled out on top of the heating discs which are hidden under the vet bed while Little Miss Party Girl likes to crawl under and then stick her head out – curled up like a little person under the covers.

Teya is a great and fantastic mum! She loves her babies and takes wonderful care of them. She is happy to show them off to a couple of friends who come by and peek at them over the gate, and she’s quick to attend to all their needs (even if Chelsea doesn’t think so).

A week and a half after birth they are starting to take their first steps. It’s amazing how fast they go from crawling to finding their feet, though obviously until their eyes open they are unsteady. Bruiser is the first to show signs of an ‘eye opening’ slit – and although he was last to be born, he shows that he will be first at most everything else! Party Girl is the first to have both eyes open and she gives her brother a run for his money in the bossy ‘wants to be first’ department! Diamond Boy, though first born, is last to open both of his. By two weeks everyone has open eyes and they are almost walking properly.

This coincides with Teya deciding that she is torn between wanting to be a good mum and wanting to just be Teya. She desperately doesn’t want to miss out on anything that might be going on downstairs so she starts to spend more time away from the pups than is comfortable. Although we hadn’t intended to move everyone downstairs till 3-4 weeks we decided to build the pen and see if she’s any happier if they’re moved. Within minutes of everything coming together and the pups being brought downstairs Teya is relaxed, and happy and back in with the pups. She’s just too social to want to be separated from everyone. Now if it was Queen Savannah, she’d be thriving on being waited on hand and foot in her own chambers….

In the evenings we still move them upstairs for the night, and the clever critters are already trying to climb out of the whelping pool to poop outside it. I’m amazed at the instinct that these little ones have to keep clean.

We change from the pool to a dog bed with an opening so they can get out to do their business. I have decided to try the ‘litter tray’ method of training them as I know it’s worked for many whippet breeders, so I have a tray with wood pellet litter in it and pop them in it when I see them coming out. Over time they start to use the trays on their own, and we praise them whenever we see them doing this, which reinforces their use of them. This is definitely a method I would use again.

3 Weeks

As 3 weeks comes around they start to come out of their bed more often for short play sessions in the pen, and we see their little personalities start to develop. Diamond boy is affectionate, but also quite happy to amuse himself. They have little tiny puppy size squeaky toys and he is happy to entertain himself killing his baby squirrel (the whippet instinct is there already!). If we are in the pen he is happy to curl up beside us while the others scramble for attention. He likes to be close, but waits his turn and when it is his turn he thrives on it. Diamond Girl is the snuggler. I put her down to give someone else a turn and next thing I know she’s curled back up in the crook of my arm. Party Girl is exactly what she is – she bounds and leaps and wants to chew your hair, and Bruiser thinks the whole world should revolve around him!

About this same time we start them on little bits of solid food. We make little bullets of mince, and after a few pushes with their noses, they start to eat and most think this is wonderful. Diamond girl is the first to really catch on and we call her a little carnivore Bruiser is quite happy with his milk thank you very much – this chewing stuff is just way too much work, though he soon comes round.

Diamond Girl gets brave and starts playing with her mum instead of the other pups. I am in awe at Teya’s gentleness with her. Teya was nicknamed the Teya-rist as even from a tiny puppy she was just the bossiest meanest pup in the bunch and she isn’t known for playing too gently. But with her own baby she gently mouths and pushes Diamond with her nose and plays back. My heart about bursts.

Between 3 and 4 weeks we have our first session with a bowl of puppy milk. I don’t think I need to expand much on that – it’s probably just as everyone imagines. Feet and milk and splash and soaked puppies, and me sitting soaked in the middle of it in tears, losing my mind and thinking that I’m just a total failure as a puppy parent and obviously I can’t do anything right…. While knowing this is how it goes for everyone. A couple days later we try again and things go MUCH better.

4 Weeks

At 4 weeks they get their first visits from their prospective families. Teya is a proud mum and is happy to show off her babies, but still watches to make sure her babies are being handled carefully (after everyone has first paid her the attention she deserves, of course!). Although we have spent hours on the phone and sent dozens of emails it is the first time we’ve met two of the couples and our instincts are confirmed and we are very pleased with all 3 families who are having our babies.

They are now working on proper solid food. We invested in a product that has individual bowls in it for the pups rather than using a single bowl. We are actually really impressed as each pup stays at their own bowl till they’re almost finished. Bruiser is no longer shy about eating solids, he is the first in and first finished. And even better news, they are about 75% using the litter trays during the day and we have our first clean night at 5 weeks! Good Good Babies!!

My time is still being wasted away; I keep intending to write my musings, to update the boards, to post photos, to brag on my sweet, smart, wonderful babies. But I can’t drag myself away from them, though for more reasons than how wonderful they are. During this time I have had 2 pieces of very sad news. Around the time of their birth a very dear friend from back home in Canada (I now live in the UK) passes away from colon cancer, then a few weeks later a dear friend here passes away from breast cancer. Both way too young and both after a brave fight lasting several years. My heart is breaking and the puppies are a good distraction. In addition, my friend here has left me her whippet to rehome.

5 Weeks

Enter Brenny! Brenny is a regular member of the family, and stays with us often, so it’s not like a strange dog is coming, and now that the pups are older Teya is much less stressed, so we hope that it will be ok, but if not we have contingency plans in place. Brenny has a home ready and waiting for her, but she needs time to adjust to the loss of her human in familiar surroundings, and her new human needs to wait till she has some time off to spend with Brenny when she takes her home. Fortunately when Brenny comes home with us Teya just shrugs and says, ‘yeah it’s Brenny’ and gets on with things. Brenny is quite perplexed by these little bundles who rush to greet her from the other side of a pen! They are BRAVE babies to take on Cousin Brenny!

They are now exploring ‘outside’ the pen. They are allowed out for brief periods of play while being supervised. They ADORE their Auntie Chelsea who gently teaches them manners. She eventually goes to curl up in her snuggle sack while the babies climb on the outside and Miss Party burrows in to snuggle with Auntie Chels.

Savannah still does not acknowledge that these ‘things’ exist. She has been actively ignoring them for weeks – only casting slight interested glances out of the corner of her eye when things get really active in the pen, and only when she thinks no one is watching her. She stays protected in the back corner of the sofa, still pretending they are not there, although towards the end of the week she does investigate them from behind while they’re playing with Auntie Chelsea, but quickly retreats when the camera comes out. She will NOT have photographic evidence! Teya desperately wants to be a playmate rather than a milk bar, but the babies still want to suckle, so she puts herself up on the sofa hiding her ‘bits’ from them, while leaning over and playing with them with her nose, mouth and front paws. She watches forlornly as Auntie Chelsea plays with them without having her ‘milk bar’ attacked.

Once they’ve been out a couple of times these quick babies learn that when door to the pen is open it’s time to make a dash for freedom! And boy are they fast. Chelsea plays goalie and tries her best to help keep them corralled while we grab them and put them back in.

For some strange reason the pups decide that they don’t want to sleep in the bed in the back corner of the pen any more, and we often find them sleeping in the front corner by the door on the piece of vet bed we have there, so we move their bed to the front of the pen and they start to sleep in it again.

Teya is now torn between mothering instinct and self protection. She wants to go in and lie with them, but suckling hurts as well as the fact she’s starting to dry up. She asks in and within seconds is flying back out. It’s sad to see her wanting to be with them and not being able to. I have been so pleased with her mothering instinct. She is such a self oriented dog that I wasn’t sure how she’d take to it, but she’s been wonderful.

6 Weeks

We venture outside to the back garden. I take them out in pairs as I’m on my own and not willing to risk 4 at once. It’s chilly and wet, but sunny. The girls wander around a bit and pee, then succumb to the cold and sit and shiver. The boys are much more adventurous and follow the ‘big dogs’. Savvy decides that if they’re outside then pups can be acknowledged, and she surprises us by doing some play bows and spins, but once inside the pups are back to not existing.

We have more visits from new owners and during one Miss Party buries herself in an empty snuggle sack. It is the first time any of the pups have figured out how to get in when there hasn’t been an adult inside. We are not too surprised since she was the one who most often tucked herself under the vetbed as a newborn.

I am upstairs one afternoon when Savvy comes racing into the bedroom wanting refuge from the noise of those evil savage puppies who are fighting in their pen. She lets out a sigh and relaxes, but then the pups start again and she hears them through the baby monitor I have set up in the bedroom… I am the recipient of the ‘Royal Stink Eye’ as she stares at the monitor and then back to me in disbelief and cries ‘Oh NO – they’re up here too!’

7 Weeks

A couple of days later Savannah brings herself to let the puppies play gently with her while she is sitting with me on the sofa. They are getting big enough that they can be acknowledged on occasion. And really, well, maybe they’re not THAT bad…..

I put a small cat igloo in their pen, and they think that running in and out is the greatest game. They entertain themselves (and us) for hours playing both in it and on it. One of their favourite games is to flatten it into a bed, then try to crawl into the opening with others sitting on top. Another game is for three puppies to be inside keeping the fourth one out.

When the pups are out of the pen playing they start hopping back in to use the litter trays to do their business!! Good Clean Puppies! Bless the Wonderful Puppies!! I LOVE my puppies!

Puppies now happily play in and explore the back garden. They make a game out of jumping off the side of the deck. There is a small drop that I worry will hurt them (a step for you and me, but a drop for them), so I put down vet bed in case they fall. Miss Party discovers it first. She jumps down, thinks that was a wonderful game, and runs back up to jump down again. Before long all the puppies are playing ‘jump from the deck’ and patting themselves on the back for how brave they all are.

I’m very pleased with my confident crew of four. I’ve watched them grow into little individual personalities, and agonized over matching everyone with the right family. I love watching them play and interact. They are very good with each other and with the other adults. Nothing phases them. They have been to the vet for their pre-leaving health check, and although they weren’t too impressed by the car ride they were very good at the vets’ office.

I wish I could document every second of their lives to this point, but I would bore you and I was too busy living it and now I’ve left it too long. I’m sure there’s so much more I wanted to share, but it just went by SO fast! From the highs and lows of the day they were born, to the first smell of puppy breath, opening their eyes, first steps, watching their first proper ‘dog shake’ which then sends them falling over, worrying that we’ve done everything wrong, feeling proud when we see what we’ve done right. I just hope that we’ve done everything we can to prepare these wonderful little beings to go to their new homes.

click HERE for Part 9

© Wendy Jones, 17th September 2008

All Photos © Copyright Chelynnah Whippets and/or their respective photographers and may not be used without permission

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