Creation, the Stars are born - in the beginning...
With travel so uncertain these days (seems flights are too often delayed, or canceled, traffic makes us late, etc) that having a trip begin so smoothly and right on time is such a joyful experience. As you may know, we use progesterone testing to pinpoint ovulation so we can time breeding and predict whelping dates. Star was due within 24 hrs of today (9/28/12) and, with an uneventful and easy delivery beginning at 9PM and finishing at 10:50PM last night, the trip was perfect. A first time mother, she handled the delivery like a pro and has been an attentive mother so far. The puppies are quiet and content. This was a very consistent litter ranging from 6 - 7.9 oz. Three girls, two boys. We chose Jefe to sire this litter (and the one we expect next week with Lark) in large part because he carries a rare and special Y chromosome which dates back to the earliest Costa Rican imports. We feel that this Y chromosome is worth preserving in the Silk breed so will be watching the boys closely with an eye to keeping one to carry on (only the boys get a Y chromosome...I know, sounds sexist, but that's genetics!) In addition to the cool Y, he is sound, has a gorgeous coat, was a polite and gentle lover, and has great breed type!
Jefe's been color tested so we were prepared to have black or black/tan puppies, with varying amounts of white or pied pattern. So, no surprises. We did get one Irish pied, a little girl. The theme for this litter is, since both parents carry 'Star' in their names, Stars. There are many, many songs with 'star' in the title, also movies, probably books, etc so it should not be hard to find a registered name containing 'Star'. All names begin with "Elfin" and then continue on up to 36 characters/spaces. Examples: Elfin Star Spangled Banner, Elfin Starry, Starry Night, Elfin A Star Is Born, etc.
Their call names, until permanent names are chosen, are all names of stars...here are the little Stars!
Star has been an outstanding first time mother and her little ones are thriving and growing. We've begun the super puppy exercises although Star is not a big fan of having her puppies picked up and run through the rotational positions involved with super puppy (head up, head down, supine.) On Sunday, we removed their dewclaws, and trimmed their nails, while Star was outside so she would not be stressed by the little bit of crying they did. They were VERY good...barely a whimper. Their black coats are sleek and shiny and the pink toes and Mira's pink nose are filling in with black.
This morning Star gave me a start. When I woke up there were only two puppies in the whelping box and Star was no where in sight. Apparently I caught her in the middle of moving the puppies to a bed under the wire shelves in the back of the utility room. As landlord, I did not approve this move! So, back she went and we compromised...I redecorated the whelping box with a clean rug and the circular bed Star originally approved as a suitable whelping site. Then I blocked access to the back of the room. So far, peace reigns...may it always be so. Star has been eating mostly raw, Darwin's Natural Selections. She has rejected my sardine offerings for the last few days but the Darwin's is balanced with ground bone so it is not an issue.
Here are the Bright Stars at one week of age.
Chara - her white feet are hidden!
Altair - the smallest girl
Rigel - the largest boy
Mira - the largest girl
Vega - the little brother
****************************************************************************************************** Eyes in the Skies - Week Two...
Did you ever wonder when you raise your head to look to the heavens if anyone is looking back? I love week two as that's the first week when you look at a puppy and it looks back at you with those shining, innocent eyes. The little stars have completed their super puppy exercises and continue to grow and thrive with sleek coats and fat little tummies. While it may be early to make predictions, I think they are going to be carrying on the mellow, excellent temperament with which the 5 generations before them blessed this house. I didn't happen to have any help this week when it came time to trim nails (I usually have an accomplice -- at least that's the way the puppies see it!) holding puppies for me but these kids were just great. A little wiggling then they settled right down and relaxed while I trimmed all their nails.
Star continues to be a great little mother with one notable exception. Once a week she decides that she wants to move the puppies under a wire shelf in the back of the room. Fortunately I have been home when it's happened and the sounds of puppies protesting alerts me to the heist. I have increased security again...today was actually pretty funny cause the puppies are getting too big to easily carry so she was sort of pushing, shoving, dragging Rigel across the floor trying to get him to the 'spot' where she'd already put Altair. The dogs do NOT allow me to ever be bored at home. Here's looking at the little Stars...
The Big Bang Theory is one of my favored TV shows and the opening into of that show is reminding me of these puppies...their universe is expanding! As they have developed into little dogs, toddling around, urinating on their own, playing and wagging their tails, we have divided the whelping box into a bed and bath! We added a piddle pad and covered it with potty park grass strip. Course at this stage the pee is pretty random still but I expect the dampness will migrate primarily to the grass pretty soon. Personalities are beginning to emerge but, so far, they are all pretty uniformly enthusiastic about people! We clipped their nails today and they spent the whole time kissing Nancy's nose while I trimmed the little dagger nails (Star says, THANK YOU!) Size differences are also emerging. Rigel and Vega were pretty close when born but Rigel is definitely the big brother now. Altair remains the smallest puppy but all are shiny, vigorous and plump.
Speaking of universal expansion...this weekend we will set up the puppy pen in the kitchen and give them their first outing. They're not ready to make the move full time yet but we will be gradually acclimating them to their new digs. The whelping box will come out of the playpen so they have more room. Star & Lark have been very funny this week...they are fascinated with each other's puppies...each wanting desperately to visit the other's pups but each equally determined that the other will not visit their pups. They just have the worst time trying to be in two places at once. All I have to do to get Lark back to hers is rat out Star. "Star's looking at your babies!" and she comes roaring back...too funny.
Big changes this week as the Stars' universe expanded exponentially. At the end of last week, the whelping box was divided into bed and bathroom so the pups could begin differentiating and start the housebreaking process. A piddle pad with an artificial grass strip over it was placed next to a sherpa bed. At first elimination was pretty indiscriminate but, as the week progressed there was way more pee in the bath than in the bed. Usually we transition from playpen to expen at 4 weeks (today) but yesterday when I got home, two of the stars were wandering the utility room, having made good their escape from the whelping box...so, I set up the new digs last night and moved them in. Usually there is a period of angst, with whining and 'where AM I???" confusion but not with these babies. They LOVED the freedom of the new pen and took right to it. The angst was confined to the mommies because this move involved swapping rooms. Lark had been in the kitchen and Star next door in the whelping room. They did not appreciate the swap. So, I took Lark's babies and put them in the expen, too...and Lark and Star both jumped in and the whole family got acquainted. When everyone settled down, Lark's babies went back to their whelping box...and Lark accepted the new digs. I am allowing Star & Lark to hang together and visit all pups as long as I am here to supervise and, eventually, I will try to integrate the puppies into one community.
The other big changes included the First Supper and the First trip outside. Again, the puppies were amazing. A first meal usually involves puppies walking in and generally making a mess of a plate of food. Not the Stars...the dove into their first (and on second meal cleaned the plate!) like pro eaters. The first meal was simply canned chicken/rice food. We don't start with cereal or mush but go straight to meat based food. In the coming weeks they will be introduced to freeze dried, dehydrated and steamed organic foods as well.
We are so fortunate to be having a summery week here...80 degrees and sunny so their first trip outdoors was delightful and they had a good time. Their coats are starting to grow and they are so soft, plush, and silky...lush! Here are the Stars...
Week 5 is not only the half-way point in the maturation process, it is probably the most olefactory week in the whole shebang. When the pups first moved into the new galaxy, there were piddle pads over the entire floor. The babies toddled out of the sleeping crate and, where ever they ended up, there was a potty. One by one, the extra pads have been removed until there is only the grass potty and the one piddle pad in a holder. Now, any minor mistakes become magnified as puppies pass throught pee spots...oops. The good news is that there have been ZERO poop accidents this week. 95% of the poos are done on the grass, the other few on the piddle pad. The pish spots have diminished decidedly...but, in the meantime we have some puppies with 'stinky pinkies'. This means that they are going to experience their first baths this weekend so they will be socially acceptable. After today, all future pictures will be apres bath. These puppies have very plush coats...at this stage there are cowlicks and waves as coats literally POP into place...Vega started with a hair 'horn' on one side, now he has one on each side. Rigel and Mira have ruffles.
We were very fortunate that, for the most part, Hurricane Sandy bypassed us but the babies were stuck indoors Monday and Tues. They were very happy to get out again after the grass dried off. They have had visits from their cousins, the Song Stars, but the age difference is enough that the Stars are a bit overwhelming for the youngsters at this stage. The Stars are uniformly outgoing and very sociable...they have mastered the fine art of tail WAGGING and have just started attacking the outside stairs...within the next couple of weeks they'll be up and down like pros.
Next week we have a big event happening. Wed we go to National and the babies are going, too. This may result in a delay in next week's updates depending on schedule, internet connection and photo ops!
Mira's commentary on sanitation!
Bright Shining Stars!
What Happened to Week Six?
Apologies for the lack of update for week six but we all went to the HSDAA National Specialty last week, leaving on Wed and not returning til Sun evening...took all 8 pups (Lark's, too) and my 6 dogs so there was no time to breathe let alone turn on a computer or get photos. Updates will resume this week on Thurs with Week 7. Pups are getting cuter every day and the entire litter has a very mellow temperament dynamic...they traveled great, and adapted to hotel living with good humor! We were all glad to get home, though!
Wow, talk about expanding universes! Last week we took our first road trip...in the big grey Cocoon Sprinter van. We went all the way to VA Beach to the National Dog show. And we were the very best, quietest puppies ever...not a peep the whole way there. Then we did an elevator and got set up in our new digs with an ocean view. Very exciting! And we had so many visitors and they were all nice and held up and smiled and talked nice (to our faces, anyhow...behind our backs there was a lot of talk about how stinky we were...phew!) Seems that Doc forgot that canned food makes us poopy so she spent a LOT of time cleaning our potty grass and us...and finally even sort of gave us a semi bath so people wouldn't be offended. Guess she learned a good lesson cause when we got home she switched us to Darwin's Natural Selections (raw food, but lightly browned the way WE like it!) and we've had the very best poops ever since! But, we digress...our mommies and aunties and cousins ALL went to the dog show and they had such a good time...and let us know every time someone walked in the hallway. Oh yes, they did. And they went down and trotted around the ring and brought back ribbons and prizes and score cards and copped big headed attitudes, too. We had a really good time and we slept all the way home.
Home...so glad to be home! The weather was so nice on Monday that we got to play outside a lot and we learned how to run up and down the front steps to the porch so our mommies have a much harder time getting away from us. We attack like a pod of killer whales, surrounding them and nursing despite their lack of cooperation. Our real Mom has pretty much washed her paws of us...guess it has something to do with these teeth we are cutting...all good things must come to an end (says a wise, philosophical puppy.) Our cousins, the SongStars, are living full time with us...they're the 'little' kids and kinda wimpy but Doc says we have to stop beating them up. No fun! I'm not being a tattletail but Travie's a bedwetter...well, not really a bedwetter but he did pee on the floor, he did. We are all SO good at PottyPark...100% on pooping in the right place and we almost always pee there, too...at least *I* do. Speaking of pee, did I mention that we ALL got a real bath on Tues...oh, we smell like roses now and we were SO excellent and good about being bathed...and then our pictures got taken. NOW you know why we are all giving the camera the baleful eye (in case you were wondering!) Next time Doc should let us get over the bath before asking us to SMILE! But, she says we are very, very good little puppies and she's so right! We're shining stars...what can I say!
This has been a busy week for the Stars...they continue to grow and mature and blossom into happy, confident, inquisitive little Silks.Two weeks ago we went to the National to meet people. Last weekend LOTS of people came to visit us. We had all sizes and shapes of people come to visit and they were so happy to meet everyone! Wagging tails, puppy kisses for everyone. Thursday we went to White Stone for Thanksgiving but the dogs & puppies had to stay home...we weren't gone all THAT long...unless you were a dog or puppy in which case we were gone WAY too long. We got a very enthusiastic greeting...along with Where is our FOOD???
The days of carrying a basket of puppies outside has ended...now I open the pen and call the puppies to go out. Only once have I succeeded in getting all 8 puppies to follow me out in one lot but I can usually get half of them in the first pass while the rest frantically try to get one of the girls to hold still just in case there is any milk left in the bar (there is not...grin) but it sure beats carrying that heavy basket. Coming in is very similar...about half of them come running then there is the straggler round up. Even when it's cold they go out...they run and play and then come in to warm up. If my timing is right, there is lots of outdoor pottying happening now!
Yesterday the Stars had their Puppy Aptitude Test and they were pretty typical of Silk puppies in personality type. One interesting dynamic is that all but one of the puppies were clearly not interested in returning the crumpled paper ball to the tester...all except Rigel decided that the ball belonged to them and they were going to keep it, period, end of story. Another interesting thing about Rigel that I just learned today...I was pronouncing his name to rhyme with "regal" but it turns out it's pronounced to rhyme with "nigel" with a long I and a soft g - rhi-jel. For the rest, they were mostly 3s & 4s...again, typical friendly, stable pups with medium activity levels.
Today Helen & Frank & Les & Cathy & Nancy all came over to man the soaping/bathing/evaluating puppy assembly line. The Stars were superstars at being bathed and dried and not half bad at stacking. I'll be reviewing the soaps in the next few days to help decide on puppy placement. Thurs the Stars will get their BAER tests, microchips and first vaccinations, along with their well puppy exams.
There comes a time in every puppies life when NOT NICE things happen. Sometimes there are owies and this week the Stars learned about passing through security on their trip through the universe. We were inspected, injected, and subjected to silly sounds. Thursday we went to Cardinal Animal Hospital and had BAER testing (hearing test that involves getting three little needles in your head and annoying beeps played in your ear so the machine can record your brain waves in response to hearing the sounds.) And then came the first vaccination (I mean anyone who plans to travel to 'foreign' lands has to get shots, right?) for distemper and parvo. And then the well puppy exam...poking, prodding, listening...the good news is that we all passed everything...healthy little puppies. Then, the bad news...alien invasion...got microchipped...with a needle the size of Venus...deposited the little alien pod under our skin. And the other good news is that, except for little sissy girl Altair, we were all perfectly well behaved stoical little Starship Troopers. No squeals, screams, or squirms. We were totally super cool. You have to forgive Altair...she's the baby of the family and should have been named Sara Bernhardt. Good thing she's cute. Today some of our people are coming to visit us. And some of us have new big puppy names. Mira became Abby and Vega is Simon. Rigel says he's big enough to keep his name and Altair sounds better than WeenieButt so, so far, she will stay Altair. Chara's folks are coming today and may bring a name to try on to see how it fits.
Like shooting stars, traveling through the universe, the diaspora has begun. Lolly left yesterday, Abby today, Rigel's new mom comes tomorrow and he will be leaving on Tues. Simon is staying until next weekend, assuming he can be contained. Tonight the puppies were raising a ruckus and, even though it's not Christmas Eve, I got up to see what was the matter. Seems Simon had moved the step stool to the side of the 18" part of the ex-pen and he went over the wall. Thanks to his roomies for ratting him out, he was quickly restored to confinement. It might be time to raise the walls to 24" as I hate to take away the foot stool...they love playing king of the hill and also hiding in the cave underneath.
Altair will remain here, representing our 6th generation of Elfin dogs. We were very pleased with the Stars overall, sound puppies with great temperaments, very tuned into their surroundings, moderate energy levels, a pleasure to raise.