December 6, 2009...right on time! In the wee hours of Dec 6, right on schedule, first time mom, Penny, made it look easy. She did a perfect job of whelping 6 healthy, black is beautiful puppies...4 girls, 2 boys. All puppies have some white markings. Because Penny and her mom, Posy, have nursery rhyme names, we decided this litter theme would be nursery rhymes.
Elfin Starlight, Star Bright. Female "Star" (because she has a white star on the back of her neck)
Elfin Old King Cole, Male "Cole". Tragically, this beautiful boy somehow got under the bolster bed the puppies were in, was trapped there...and perished. Heartbreaking to lose a puppy like this...in 18 years of breeding, this is the first puppy lost to accident. He had a perfect little black heart on his white chest...and we mourn his loss.
Elfin Itsy Bitsy Spider, Female "Bitsy"
Elfin Jack Be Nimble Male "Jack"
Elfin Little Bo Peep Female "Peep"
Elfin Claire de Lune Female "Claire" (While this is more of a song than a nursery rhyme, it just seems to suit this dark beauty.)
Penny has been doing a great job with the babies...she's in full coat so we worked out a 'hairdo' for her to keep the coat out of the way...very chic. After losing Cole I decided to remove beds from the whelping box and have, instead, given Penny some small towels and wash clothes to nest with and moved the heated, foam bed under the box so the pups stay warm.
Penny in Braids
Midweek update... Reconfigured the whelping box last weekend and all seems to be working well. I lined the whelping box with a soft, but heavy, rubber tray then added a thick, but lightweight piece of synthetic sheepskin (thanks to friend Mary Jane who lent me two pieces) and wrapped the ends under the tray. This way the puppies have a soft surface with good traction. I gave Penny back a bunch of wash clothes so she has something to rearrange. The puppies are growing and getting plump with shiny black coats. Penny's doing great...eating three squares/day to keep up. Will get new pix and update out this weekend.
One of our favorite puppy Aunties wrote a poem for Penny's Poem Pups.
5 babies all snuggled in a row,
Drinking Pennyís milk so they will grow
Lucky little puppies yes, you are,
Later some of you might travel far
Now, eat, drink and be merry,
In time you will be nice and hairy
Soon you will frolic and have lots of fun,
Nothing scary just play, jump, and run
Some day you might go to a dog show to win a prize,
After you reach the right balance, proportion, and size
For now Doc and friends will just watch you grow,
And everyone loves you donít you know! ---Cathy Foldesi
Week Two - 2nd verse... Well, this has certainly been an interesting week in Elfinland. I received a call on Wed evening to meet my daughters at the hospital as Dvora was going to be admitted to deliver my first grandson. So, I came home, fed the dogs, made sure everyone was ok and comfortable, gave each a rib bone that my friend, Marsha, had given me that very day, then headed back to town...never suspecting that I would not get home again until 2AM Fri morning. Little Benjamin finally arrived just before 10PM Thurs night, by emergency C-section. I managed to get in touch with my wonderful puppy sitter, Carol Ann, on Thurs afternoon and she went straight out to feed Penny and check on the puppies. She said everyone was doing fine and I was relieved. The dogs were very happy to see me when I finally got home and they had been SO good!
Mother and baby are doing well...of course he's adorable...and brilliant! But, we are here talking about puppies. The little Poems are doing great. Star and Claire have opened their eyes. Bitsy, Jack and Peep are thinking about it. They are plump with very shiny black coats which are starting to show a bit of ruff. They got their nails cut for the second time (Penny says thanks!) Penny is doing a fantastic job...it's really lucky that she is one of my more self-reliant dogs and has taken my 'flexible' schedule in stride.
The other bit of excitement is that we have received a recordbreaking 14" of snow from a huge winter storm...after a harrowing 3 hour trip home from Richmond yesterday, we are HOME for the duration. Little Dancer bopped out the dog door this morning and plowed right into a 16" snow drift...surprise! I shoveled a path for them out the deck and down the steps and around to where they can get under the deck. It's times like these that I am grateful that they are dual trained to use indoor potty parks...and that we have a whole house generator just in case of power loss. We are snug and warm and safe and the dogs are happy to have me home....camera ready!
Penny's Poems - Verse Three... It has been a lovely, uneventful week in the nursery. The little poems are growing so well and their lovely, black silk coats are coming and are so shiny. Penny is doing an outstanding job of mothering. She is attentive, keeps them clean and very well fed as you can tell from those pudgy little bellies. All have crossed the 1lb mark in weight with great uniformity with less than a 2oz spread among them.
This is the week when they begin to toddle around and are responding to my voice and touch. Claire was the first one to give kisses today. I'm going to enjoy this week of relative ease in anticipation of next week when they move into the kitchen and begin eating solid food!
On a happy note my daughter and grandson are both doing well...can't wait til he is old enough to help socialize puppies!
Santa has been very good to us!
Penny's Poems - Verse Four... Well, the puppies made the 'big' move today. They've moved out of the whelping box into the kitchen expen where they had a rapt audience of Silk admirers. At this stage the entire floor is covered with piddle pads which serves two purposes. It gives them better traction AND they can't make a mistake and miss the pads. In a few days I'll start removing them, one every day or two, until they are only in the holders. I usually begin supplemental feeding at 4 weeks but Penny's doing such a good job keeping them plump I'm going to wait a bit longer.
Their coats are growing...they are funny at this age...little cowlicks appearing at random as the hair grows. And they are a quiet, laidback little bunch of pups...other than a brief chorus of whining when first moved into the 'Where are we and what are we doing' place, they just go with the flow!
The main attraction!
Poetry in Motion
Penny's Poems - Verse 5... Just when you think they can't get any cuter...they DO! This is the week that puppies learn to play. Little wind up toys play with each other and also with their ardent admirers, Karma, Lark and Dancer...who spend hours playing footsie and trying to kiss the puppies through the bars. In fact, in this week's montage, you'll notice plenty of furry background as the three muskateers just had to help me with the photoshoot.
Penny, one of my most decisive dogs, decided that it was time to wean the puppies. Done, over, outta here. Oh, she still wants to visit them but only at feeding time, and only to feed on their dinner! So, the pen has been reconfigured to block access and the pups are on their own...except for me, chief cook, bottlewasher and poop scooper. They really enjoy canned proplan mixed with greek yogurt! Even the cats are jealous and occasionally sneak in to help out if the pups are napping.
This week my puppy sitter, Carol Ann, will be coming over daily to feed, clean and play with the babies. They might even go outside for a bit as soon as we get that midweek warm up...to 50. It's been too cold to go out yet. Next weekend they get their first bath...that ought to be fun!
Penny's Poems - Verse Six... What a difference one week can make. The puppies are simply blossoming as their personalities continue to mature. We were fortunate to have cooperative weather last week and they had SUCH a good time outside. Lark is their official nanny...the pups adore her and she is wonderful with them. They just run and tumble and romp and play.
Potty training is coming along...we're down to two framed piddle pads and the litter pan. No more loose piddle pads...they found them irresistable...for playing. There are still some accidents (or 'on purposes'?) on the floor but it is getting better. At least whoever it was who was pottying on a bed quit...I never caught him or her.
So the puppies were slated for their first bath on Sunday. Saturday my daughters and grandbabies and in-laws came for dinner and the girls and babies stayed over. Dvora helped me trimming feet, butts, bellies and nails on Sunday. It rained ALL day so we were stuck inside and, by the time the girls left (after 6PM) I was just too tired to start bathing puppies.
This morning (Monday) I took them to work with me and my trusty assistant, Liza, bathed them all for me and Steph, my tech, helped me with their 6 week portrait photos. So, first road trip, first bath, first party...the pups were fantastic! They traveled the 25 miles each way quietly with no carsickness...usually there is at least one screamer on a first road trip. Not the Poems...oh, a few were quietly reciting verses (or maybe prayers but I really tried to drive gently...grin) but not with any intrusive volume. The bathing/drying was accepted without ANY fussing at all...they went outside to play (the back of my hospital is fenced for my dogs) and all pottied outside. When we got home they played in the front yard and were just as happy as can be. So far, I'd have to call them mellow, playful, and very sweet. They are also very uniform in size and appearance...could have called them the pea pods. They're just wonderful!
Bitsy & Star play with Lark
6 weeks and freshly bathed!
Penny's Poems - Verse Seven...
Puppies come and puppies go, Puppies play and puppies grow. Watching them is so much fun I can't get ANYTHING done!
We had a good time in Elfinland this week...with some good weather the babies got to run and romp outside in the front yard which is completely puppy proofed. Their trio of nannies, Lark, Dancer, and Karma, go with them and are so good with the puppies as they teach them the ropes. We had lots of company over the weekend and it was great to see how they interacted with new people...no hesitation, wagging tails, happily taking whatever comes in stride. They were very happy to visit and play with Jan & Judy from Charlotte and Uncle Les and Aunt Cathy (who brought them a nifty new toy) and Steph (my tech) and Marvin (her fiance) who were here putting in a gorgeous flower and fairy mural upstairs, for my grandkids. Speaking of which, they have also been introduced to Katherine, my granddaughter who is a couple of days shy of 1 year. In the past I've had to scramble to find children to visit to socialize puppies...soon enough, I'll have grandkids on call!
Their pen was reconfigured this week...crate removed, fence closed to other doggy visitors (Penny only wanted to enter to take their food.) They still have 2 piddle pad stations and their litter pan. They are making progress to limit pottying to the right places but there are still occasional wayward puddles (which is why they need weekly baths.) Speaking of potty training, the other day I let all the pups loose to mingle with the adult dogs and three of them jumped up on the Potty Park and one of them peed on it...exciting. I don't put the Potty Parks in the puppy pens cause they tend to pull on the grass at this age so need supervision.
Today we had our weekly road trip to Cardinal Animal Hospital for baths and BAER testing. Liza reported that they were, again, excellent for their baths and I can tell you that I have never had a better litter for BAER testing. I got one squeak from one pup when one electrode was inserted and that was that. They just sat through the exam politely, all have normal hearing, and all enjoyed a little piece of freeze dried beef liver afterwards. We always try to end any session with something positive so the puppies remain positive towards veterinary visits. Again, they rode beautifully...no car sickness, no hollering. There was some whining this morning and when we arrived I noted that someone had peed on the towel so now we know why. This evening, before leaving, we took them outside and all peed and pooped then were quiet all the way home.
The Poetry Corner
The Potty Park
Now Playing...Penny's Poems!
Penny's Poems - Week Eight... Nature has been the big news for week eight. The only visitor we had was Mother Nature and her foot of SNOW. It was an indoor kind of weekend, for sure. Very thankful for the geothermal heat pump, which kept us toasty warm inside, and the whole house generator which, while unused, gave us peace of mind. We got to run with the big dogs inside, since we couldn't go out, and we needed an outlet for puppy energy. We got to use the Potty Parks just like the big kids! We are getting the hang of housebreaking and now have 6 venues that we are familiar with so we will be so adaptable when we go to our new homes...litter pans, piddle pads, Potty Parks, grass, concrete and SNOW. Yes, we finally got to go out in the snow and we LOVED it! Doc was so stunned, she didn't even haul out the camera.
We went to town yesterday to get our soaped pictures and, while we are great in the bath, great under the dryer, we are NOT very good at stacking while wet and soapy. We're going to try again with a space heater next week. Mr Stinky Weatherman is calling for ANOTHER major storm this weekend...enough is enough!
We continue to develop our personalities and we are all very much on the same page. Mellow, outgoing, relatively quiet...we travel very well with a minimum of protest and face life with enthusiasm. On Thurs we'll have our PAT (Puppy Aptitude Test) and I know we are all going to be little geniuses.
The height of the storm
Buried in snow
Elfin Starlight Starbright
Elfin Itsy Bitsy Spider
Elfin Jack Be Nimble
Elfin Little Bo Peep
Elfin Claire De Lune
Penny's Poems - Verse 9... Hard to believe that this Ode is almost over. This has been the busiest week yet for the Poems. On Thursday Marsha came over and did the PAT (puppy aptitude test)...which revealed that the babies are as uniform in temperament as they are in type. They are socially attracted, sound, touch and sight stable, with a streak of independence (which they come by naturally via their dam, Penny.) An example is that, when Marsha first called them, they all came readily, happily to meet her but then soon decided that she was not as interesting as the floor...which must have had the most interesting smells! And that little paper ball? Hey, she threw it away, must not want it, it's MINE!
Because the weather continues to be miserable, the pups have been running in the house instead of the yard...except for brief romps in the snow, which they love, but can't stay out long because it's too cold. They have been really good at integrating with the adult dogs...they behave properly...submissive at the right times and have learned to be very appropriate in dog/dog and dog/cat interactions. They all are champs at running to the potty parks when they need to relieve themselves and are also much better in the pen, too, using both piddle pads and puppy litter. So versatile...you name it, they can pee on it...grass, concrete, snow...the list goes on!
Today (Feb 8, 2010) we braved the ice and cold and took another road trip to Cardinal Animal Hospital for baths, well puppy exams, vaccination and microchipping. Every time I think I can't be more impressed with these pups, they prove me wrong. They have been perfect for bathing, drying, trimming, nail clips...but they were just as good for their vaccination. Other than a couple of delayed "owies!", they barely noticed. The microchipping elicited a brief yelp, then they were fine. I have to say I really hate microchipping puppies because, to me, the needle looks like the Alaska Pipeline...just makes me cringe, so I'm always surprised when there is so little objection from the pups. They are such a happy bunch of good kids. Now, they are all sound asleep...a long day and, it's OVER.
This weekend, they begin to leave home...to new adventures and I know they will bring a special joy where ever they are. I will miss these kids.
Epilogue...the Poems have gone to their new homes, except for Star, who is staying on so I can watch her grow. It was a pleasure to raise this batch of wonderful puppies who are getting rave reviews from their new homes. They truly spread out ranging from FL to AK.