Steele X Sparkle Puppies – 4 weeks old

The big move!

The big move!

The most exciting event this week was the puppies’ big move to the sunroom which is located just off of our kitchen area.    The time has come where they have outgrown the confinements of the whelping box and the puppies seem very happy in their new space.    They have much more room now to scamper and play and have enjoyed exploring their new surroundings.    They have also already picked up on “paper training” and most of the time will do their potty duties on the papered area we have provided.    Utlimately they will learn to go potty outdoors – but this is at least one step in the direction of keeping their bedding and living area clean.

The puppies are spending more time awake and get quite enthusiastic about their play time with each other.    They also are enjoying their human company more and more every day and love to be cuddled and held.    They are now weighing between 5-1/2 and 6 pounds with not much variation amongst them.

The pups also had the exciting introduction to “mush” this past week which is a transition from the nutritious milk supply that has been provided by mum Sparkle to the world of solid food.    The puppies are always pretty hilarious at the first few mush meals as they inevitably walk through it, lay in it, sleep in it, play in it – and at some point hopefully manage a slurp of it.    At this stage puppy mush simply consists of goat’s milk, yogurt, honey and oatmeal.   It did not take them long at all to develop a liking for the delicacy and now get pretty excited when they hear me scraping the mixture into their dinner dish.

Hopefully this week the mosquitoes will die down a bit and we can venture outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine!!   In any event we will have a great week ahead and it is always exciting to watch how these little wonders mature a little more every day.

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Armani & Nina Puppies (Day 57 Pre-parturition)

Waiting patiently...

Waiting patiently…

Our lovely Nina is trying to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of these last days before the responsibilities of motherhood begin.    We are heading into the final week of her pregnancy and she is slowing down slightly with the extra load she is carrying, but continues to love going on our walk (or more like run) through the woods and especially loves to paddle around in the lake.   Her abdomen is now measuring 93 cms and her tummy seems to get bigger overnight.    We can easily feel the puppies moving when she is laying down and I often wonder what she must think when she feels a multitude of little puppy paws prodding and poking away!      At this stage the fetuses are very developed and the majority of energy will go into weight gain during this last week.    Today I will be adding the final touches to make sure the whelping box is ready to go and all the towels and blankets are fresh and waiting – but hopefully we still have a good week before the pups make their grand entrance.  The gestation period for canines is 63 days and most mums go completely to full term.

We will do everything to keep Nina spoiled and pampered during this last week.   She doesn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable or tired at the moment so it will be an easy task to keep her happy.     We can hardly wait for the big day to get here!

Steele X Sparkle Puppies – 3 weeks old

Ready for anything!

Ready for anything!

Sparkle’s puppies have had an excellent week.   It always amazes me how much the pups change from one week to the next – sometimes it seems like from one day to the next.    They now spend more time each day engaged in active play or interaction with each other; they are also more aware of Sparkle as she comes and goes, and of our family.   This past week I started giving some of the puppies extra meal support via goat’s milk in a bottle (sometimes with 10 famished mouths to feed it can be hard for a mum to keep up) so the puppies have become especially more interested in my presence and whereabouts.     Fingers, toes and any exposed skin have become a target for what is thought to be a source of milk supply as the puppies must think now that all humans are a source of food if they just look hard enough!!   Fortunately we will be starting “puppy mush” any day now so that should ease the meal burden on Sparkle immensely.

The pups are all gaining well and are weighing in around 4 pounds.   There is not much variance as even the girls seem to be keeping up to the boys’ hefty appetites.   They are getting much more curious and inquisitive regarding the world around them and although we have added toys to the whelping box I have a feeling that will be too boring for them shortly.   We will plan on moving out to the sunroom this coming week (which is just off of our kitchen area) so the pups have a much larger space and we can bring in some other toys and amusements for them to enjoy.

At this age there is really not much division yet as far as personality.    The pups are all quite contented and easy-going – but the finer aspects of personality will only start emerging over the weeks to come.     It will be exciting to watch how each of them blossoms into their own.

We will look forward to a great week ahead and all the cuddles and snuggles that are waiting!

Armani & Nina Puppies (Day 49 Pre-parturition)

Enjoying the sunny weekend

Enjoying the sunny weekend

Nina has been enjoying our Canadian Victoria-Day weekend and is making the most of these last carefree days before the arrival of her babies.     Her abdominal area has grown from her usual svelte 70 cm to around 86 cm and will continue to increase markedly over these last two weeks of her pregnancy.    The gestation period for puppies is only 63 days so there are monumental changes that take place during each week of the pregnancy – especially the last trimester.    The puppies actually gain 75% of their birthweight in the last 3 weeks of gestation – so Nina’s bikini-body days are just a memory for awhile!

At this stage the puppies organs are mostly developed, they have claws and whiskers and now their coat is beginning to grow.   Their bones are beginning to ossify which means that if we did take Nina for an X-ray at this stage, you would be able to see each individual puppy skeleton; skull, spine and limbs.     However we avoid doing x-rays on our pregnant mums unless we have reason to believe there is an issue or need for concern.    To date, Nina has been her happy, easy-going self so we will just wait for Mother Nature to take her course with the arrival of her pups.

Nina continues to play and swim with the other members of our golden family without hesitation.     She remains active and loves to spend time out on our walk or in the lake — all of which is good as it keeps her in the very best fitness for the demands of giving birth in around 2 weeks’ time.    The only real difference lately is that she is much more affectionate and wants to be glued to me most of the day – and she is eating more!!  Of course the very best nutrition is vital at this stage.   This morning her breakfast consisted of fresh cod, ground beef with bones and organ meat, some ground veggies, a scoop of yogurt and a light sprinkle of a supplement containing kelp, flaxseed, Vitamin C, E and other trace vitamins and minerals.   We aim to give both Nina and her puppies all the best support for the days ahead.

We will try to pamper Nina as much as possible over the next 14 days and look forward to the big event with great anticipation!!

Steele & Sparkle Puppies – 2 weeks old

Sleeping beauties

Sleeping beauties

Sparkle’s puppies have had an excellent week.   The most exciting development has been that they have now opened their eyes! (which is always my favourite part of puppy development).   Even though at this age their vision is still very blurry at best, it is amazing to watch their little gaze lock into yours when you speak to them.    I know somehow they are trying to understand every word that I say to them 🙂

The puppies are also becoming much more mobile in the whelping box and can scurry at quite an unbeatable pace when they know that Sparkle is entering their area for mealtime.  10 hungry little mouths can mean quite a flurry of activity and a mad rush for the “milk bar” but it is amazing how the cries of excitement soon turn to gulps of satisfaction within seconds.    Sparkle still spends much of her time right in the whelping box with the pups or laying just outside it’s door to keep a close watch on her babies.   However, she is starting to take more interest in spending time again with her adult golden friends and loves to get out for a walk or a swim when she needs a break from the pups.

The puppies are all weighing around 3 pounds now with not much variation in weight from one to the next.   Even the girls are keeping up with the boys and they all seem to have endless appetites.    The amount of demand on Sparkle in terms of milk supply is huge right now – so one of my biggest jobs is to make sure that Sparkle receives multiple, nutritious meals throughout the day.   Right now the majority of her meals consist of raw meat and bones, sardines, eggs and a veggie mix with goat’s milk or yogurt.   She also gets one meal a day of oats, rice and honey and the odd meal of tripe so she is enjoying the never-ending smorgasbord of food that comes with nursing 10 puppies!

The puppies still spend the bulk of their day sleeping but the time spent in dreamland will lessen over the upcoming week.   We look forward to watching their awareness of the world around them grow and can hardly wait to see how they will mature over the next 7 days.

Steele & Sparkle’s puppies – 1 week old

To sleep or to eat? That is the question!

To sleep or to eat? That is the question!

Sparkle’s puppies have had a super first week!    Of course at this age – the average day for a puppy consists of sleeping, eating, sleeping some more, scurrying around the whelping box trying to find mum, and then eating and sleeping again.   Sparkle has been an excellent mum and is very watchful of her puppies.    When a mum has 10 pups to feed and care for it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming – but Sparkle has remained calm and devoted through it all.    Whenever she is laying in with the puppies and one wanders off and is out of her reach she whines and cries until I come and retrieve the puppy and place it back beside her.    She has also developed a bit of a quirky habit in that she won’t even go in and lay in the whelping box until everyone is moved to one side…. she is so overly cautious of not wanting to step or lay on anyone.

The pups have all gained really well and are weighing in now at just under 2 pounds.   Their eyes are still closed and they cannot hear yet either — so their entire world consists of smell, taste and touch.   The sense of smell seems to be the strongest sense of all at the moment; their voices rise to a symphony of cries whenever they can smell that Sparkle is near — as this surely must mean dinner’s ready!!     Sparkle is a good sport about all of it and only ventures out of the whelping box now in these last few days when things start getting too warm or when she knows it is time for our daily walk and swim.   As soon as she approaches the whelping box on her return she is greeted with a steady song of hungry puppy cries.

My biggest job at the moment is to make sure that Sparkle firstly is well fed and fed often.    It is important especially when caring for 10 puppies for the mum to have the very best dietary support.    Keeping Sparkle happy and out for her daily run and swim are also high on the priority list.   I also need to make sure at this young age that the puppies are all safe and in a good position whenever Sparkle enters the whelping box (no matter what time of day or night) so that a puppy isn’t laid upon accidentally. I also monitor every puppy’s weight daily to make sure that everyone is getting their fair share at the milk bar and that the boys aren’t monopolizing things (as boys sometimes do). Lastly I get to make sure that all bedding is kept spotless and puppy nails are kept trimmed so that Sparkle’s belly doesn’t suffer during the excitement of mealtime.

We are looking forward to the week ahead as the puppies will open their eyes (my favourite part) and start to hear – and become more aware of the wonderful world around them.

Steele & Sparkle Babies – We’re here!!!

All here safe and sound!

All here safe and sound!

Not to be outdone by the Duchess of Cambridge and the arrival of the royal baby, our own sweet girl Sparkle delivered 10 very special babies of her own today; 6 lovely girls and 4 beautiful boys.    Sparkle did very well through the deliveries and only took a brief pause twice for some highly desired vanilla ice-cream with honey.   The puppies all weighed-in between 410 and 430 grams (just under a pound) and are doing very well under Sparkle’s loving care.    This is Sparkle’s final and third litter so she is a bit of a pro when it comes to being a mum and has embraced her maternal duties whole-heartedly.   We can hardly wait for the great adventures that lie ahead with these sweet babies 🙂