Proud mama Tia with her new family
The big day we were waiting for has finally arrived and Tia is now the proud mama of 7 sweet baby girls. Shortly after dinner on the evening of Thursday, May 29th, Tia decided that the time was right for her new family to enter the world and by 10:30 pm. the first girl had appeared. The rest of her babies made their way over the next 5 hours and into night and Tia was a great sport through all of it. She did in fact also give birth to twin boys – TRUE twins — which is extremely rare in dogs. There were two fully developed and beautiful boy puppies that were delivered in one single sac (making them true twins) halfway through the birthings — but unfortunately they were not breathing and could not be revived. Tia seemed to completely understand the situation and also seemed saddened with the loss. After the delivery of the boys she took a bit of a break from whelping and slept for approximately an hour and a half before delivering the rest of the litter. She very quickly and lovingly stepped into her role as new mum and was busy cleaning the puppies and caring for them as they headed directly to the “milk bar” for their first meal. At birth, newborn puppies are blind and deaf so they rely completely on the sense of smell to lead them to their mum (and the dinner table). Tia needed to be strongly coaxed to leave the puppies even for a minute for a bathroom break; she quickly hurried back to her little family as fast as she could.
It was very heart-breaking to lose the two precious boys, but I am reminded again of what a miracle each and every life is. We will rejoice in the sweet 7 sisters and look forward to watching them grow and develop in the weeks to come.
Sparkle with puppies from her 1st litter
Sparkle is not far behind Tia as they head into the exciting chapter of motherhood that lay ahead. Above is a photo of Sparkle with her first litter of pups in 2012. She was such an amazing mum — always wanting to spend time and play with her puppies right up until the day they left for their new homes… We can’t wait to meet her new family and welcome them into this world.
Sparkle is already getting quite a waddle to her walk, however she still loves her walks and will never turn down a chance to swim in the lake. She is eating well and we are of course trying to maintain the absolute best diet for her as she enters into this last stretch of her pregnancy. Nutrition is paramount at this time as the pups do a huge amount of growing during these final 3 weeks. The groundwork for organs, limbs and general structure have been laid but puppies gain up to 3/4 of their birthweight during this last stretch. That is monumental!!
Sparkle is much more attached and affectionate these days, always seeking out an extra hug or pat or attaching herself to your closest body part. She has the benefit of experience under her belt and knows exactly what will be coming up in the days ahead…. still – extra snuggles and cuddles are the order of the day and seem to give her the reassurance that we are all in this together and everything will be fine.
Sparkle is measuring approximately 86 cms at the abdomen — so she has definitely lost her bikini figure for now. Fortunately she has remained very active so any weight gain so far is all puppy — and we hope to continue on that path so that she can have a safe and easy delivery.
Steele of course is just passing away the days in typical Steele fashion: enjoying the spring and keeping an eye on all the comings and goings of everyone on the lake (ducks, geese and loons included). I am sure he will be ready to hold Sparkle’s paw when the time comes…. He is always a great dad and enjoys his puppies very much.
We will look forward to keeping both Sparkle and Tia comfortable and content until the big day arrives !!!
National Geographic image of a golden retriever pup at 60 days
Tia is enjoying every moment of her pregnancy and is still bounding through the woods on our walks and swimming in the lake like a young pup herself (despite her growing figure). She has perhaps slowed down a little bit – but the biggest change overall that we have noted has been her desire to be very close to me and anyone else in our family at all times. For some reason this pregnancy has given her the impression that she is a lap dog — so quite often she tries to put as much of herself and her belly full of pups on top of me as possible! She is very clingy and affectionate these days and seems to know that something very different is in the air. I am sure with her natural instincts she realizes that pups are on the way – but with this being her first litter she seems not quite sure what that all means…. Maybe Opal and the other girls can give her some notes to ease her mind.
At this point the puppies (or puppy fetuses) are well developed. Most of the major groundwork is in place, organs are developed, limbs and features are in place, fur is forming, even nails are taking shape. It is simply amazing the amount of growth that goes on in such a small amount of time. When we took Tia for her ultrasound at day 30 of her pregnancy — the pups were mere shadows of a puppy shape in a sac, with heart beats just beginning to be detectable and spines just starting to form. Now the puppies are reaching the last stages of their development in utero — their dog characteristics are well in place and the biggest area of growth right now is in size. 3/4 of a puppy’s birthweight is gained during these last 3 weeks of the pregnancy.
Consequently diet for Tia is extremely important at this point. We make sure that Tia gets a mixture of a top quality holistic kibble and a fresh supply of raw meat, fruits and vegetables. Tia loves just about anything you ever offer her — from bananas to broccoli — and at this time in her pregnancy she never turns down a bite of anything.
Tia’s tummy is now measuring 93 cm — she is visibly carrying puppies. Her body that is always very slender and sleek is now quite marked with puppies on board. She seems to get bigger overnight….
We look forward to preparing for the pups over this next week; setting up the whelping box, preparing puppy supplies and making sure Tia is comfortable and ready for the big day. We can hardly wait !!
Memories that last forever
Hard to believe that this will be our last entry for Hudson and Opal’s puppies…. For 8 weeks these little beauties have been the focal point of our family. We have watched them grow from tiny, blind, defenceless bundles of life into strong, happy, out-going pups. They have captured our hearts and woven themselves into our everyday lives….
The pups had a good final week here — lots of rain still in our Muskoka spring – but whenever the skies cleared the pups were able to get out and romp around to their heart’s content. They love being outside and love to explore. I don’t think there is any inch of the garden that hasn’t been explored by each and every one of them this past week. It never fails to amaze me that even when I think I have gathered up every stick and tempting piece of debris in the area — the pups still find some little tidbit of something to amuse themselves with.
They also had a very social week with lots of visitors and also our visit to the vet clinic. The pups were of course the main attraction and everyone wanted to stop and spend time cuddling and greeting the pups… Everyone had a super exam and it was also very appropriate that my vet who had helped deliver these youngsters into the world could now see them well on their way into goldenhood at 8 weeks of age. Everyone in the clinic was quite impressed by the pups’ extremely easy-going demeanour and sweet character.
Opal has been spending time with the pups right up until now — and also continues to offer a little snack to go whenever asked….. so I know it will be a big adjustment for her to have life without the puppies once they start to leave. It certainly has been a grand adventure — and we hope that each and every puppy continues to live a rich and full life — and brings indescribable joy to their new family and all those they meet. We will certainly miss you puppies….. May goodness and sweetness follow you for the rest of the days of your life.
Bathed and ready for bed….
Lots of indoor recess this past week as the skies would just not stop their “April showers”….. perhaps someone should tell Mother Nature that it is indeed May now!! For most of the days it rained without letting up. On those days that it did let up I would no sooner get the pups outside and the clouds would come from out of nowhere and soak us all. Even though the pups do have a little sheltered area to play in outdoors — it was simply to cold and damp to leave them outside for long. So we had lots of fun this week playing in the kitchen and the puppies sure loved being able to spend as much time as possible with Josh.
The pups have all been gaining well and are now only receiving one little snackaroo a day from mama Opal. Opal would gladly offer more– but it’s important that the pups start to rely on her less as we get ready for them to head to their new homes. Opal still of course loves to play with her pups every opportunity she gets 🙂 She is such a super mom!
The puppies have become a bit more “chewy” this past week and are clearly teething and looking for any kind of relief they can find. Fortunately they are easily re-directed…. so when someone starts to chew on something they shouldn’t I happily hand them an elk antler or a beef bone (second hand after the adults have eaten most of the meat and marrow off of it) — and they gladly switch their fascination to something suitable for puppy chewing.
The pups have also really enjoyed balls this week. I know that may sound funny as they have had rubber balls in their play area all along – but they have started to express a whole new appreciation for the larger cantaloupe-sized plastic balls that we have and are much more engaged and excited to chase them around the kitchen. The pups are quite hilarious to watch.
I was very fortunate that Sarah, the daughter of a good friend of mine, came over on Saturday to spend the day with the puppies and help me make some assessments. Sarah is a super young lady who hopes to go into small animal medicine someday and she has been involved with our puppies on many occasions. So together we bathed the whole crew, trimmed nails, microchipped everyone and just enjoyed the sweet smell of puppy breath. The puppies enjoyed EVERY single minute with Sarah… I think she had all 9 on her lap at one point.
The pups all have very easy-going and confident personalities and it has been great to see them continue to grow and mature over this past week….
Hopefully we will have some sunshine in the week to come…. We will have our big vet visit later in the week and lots of time together as we approach that bittersweet day where the pups head out to their new homes.