Puppy Progress Week 7 - A Great Big World

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Puppy Progress Week 7 - A Great Big World

In my week 6 update I wrote about how much more interactive the puppies had become and then, a few days later, I summarised their first trip outside into the big wide world en route for their first vet visit. Well, in this seventh week of their lives (alongside the trip to the vets) I have to say that both their world and circle of friends has continued to expand at pace. And if there was ever any doubt about just how fast they are changing I got to see it first hand as I spent 4 days away on a UK visit. The mini-dogs I said farewell too had vanished by the time I returned to be replaced by apparently much bigger, more boisterous and even slightly more obedient versions.

For the first 6 weeks I started every post with an update on how fast the puppies were growing but I've decided to dispense with that this week. Partly this is because I initially added the numbers to my posts to show how staggeringly fast they were growing. Now, even though they are still growing by roughly the same amount per day, the rate of change is less surprising. Also, the reason we weighed the puppies in the first place was to provide an easy health marker when they were really tiny and vulnerable, to check they were getting enough milk etc. Now, although we do still weigh the puppies it's no longer every day - partly as they are much more robust but mainly due to the fact that trying to weigh a fidgeting, playful and excited 2kg+ puppy pretty much rules out being any more accurate than within 50 grams or so.....which means every 3 or 4 days is sufficient to check they are growing and getting enough food.

Speaking of food, week 7 saw the transition to solid food get close to completion. They do still have a suckle on Leela when she stands still long enough, but judging by how tiny and saggy her teats have become we doubt they're getting a lot of milk. Mostly it seems to be a habit or a comforting thing to do, a little like sucking a dummy.

Leela, for her part, seems quite relieved by this change. Plus, we did have some bad news when she was diagnosed with bladder stones this week. She had, as we'd expected, had bloody discharge for several weeks after the birth but that had pretty much stopped and then suddenly appeared to start again and even increase recently. A urine sample revealed crystals in her urine and she has been put on a restricted diet and antibiotics to treat the infection that likely caused it....all of which made us more relieved when the organic puppy kibble we had ordered online arrived just in time and the puppies willingness to eat it even more timely.

Other than the stones, however, we definitely feel we're seeing the return of the playful and excited one year old we had a brief flash of when she first came to stay. In fact, to be more accurate, she is even more playful and excitable than we ever saw before especially around the puppies. The bigger and more robust they become the more she seems to treat them as mini-dogs for playing. Teddy in particular relishes a good playfight with his mum. It sounded terrifying to us at first but his tail was wagging and he was nipping in and out with his little teeth showing us that he was enjoying himself and put us at ease. It definitely helps him sleep well.

The many visitors have continued, humans and dogs, as we increase our efforts to socialise the pups. Now that they have had their first vaccination we are trying to strike a balance between exposure to new situations/people and the risk of infection. This is another hot topic in the world of puppies with no definitive answer. Some say exposure to new situations is most important for a well adjusted dog instead of keeping them isolated until almost 3 months old. Other say the risk of infection is not worth it. We're just doing what feels right to us....exposure to vaccinated dogs etc.

Several new dogs met the puppies during this week and so far they seem completely unfazed by it all. They do have a tendency to try and suckle female dogs though which isn't always well received. They do seem to be learning a bit more respect from the slip ups though.

Visitor wise we humans have also received a lot from the people coming to say hello. During my 4 days away in the UK visiting family we were both very touched by the number of people that both provided and offered their support and help and not just to Esther while she was on her own but for the weeks ahead as well. From people providing moral support and encouragement to practical help of puppy sitting, puppy training visits and Leela walking we have received a lot of kind words and offers from people in San Jose. Thank you.

And it certainly seems to be working. Thanks in no way to myself at all and entirely down to Esther's tireless work and the advice of some good friends not only was I amazed by the size of the puppies when I got back but by the fact that they could 'sit' on command and came en masse to the call of 'Puppies'. Wow! Their set up had changed in line with training, they pretty much only went to the toilet on the puppy pad OR incredibly and just occasionally outside the door during their brief steps outside. That's right, Esther and our good friend Ina, even took the pups outside the back door on leads and they loved it! There were also lots more toys around and they loved playing with them. It was beautiful to see. I'd had a sneak preview during the puppies first ever international video call when they got to meet my grandparents and see me sat in the UK, but seeing it in 'person' was very moving.



It feels like we are moving to a new phase of puppy development.

All of which says absolutely nothing about just how good it felt to come home to see everyone. I felt excited all the way home, not just at the thought of seeing Esther but about Leela and the pups as well. I actually arrived home while Esther was walking Leela so got my first glimpse of them as they approached the house. She couldn't see me at first but as she stepped out from behind a car she spotted me, recognition dawned and she bolted towards me with her entire body wagging. (Leela was quite excited too). I got a similar reception inside with a puppy pile on.

It was a wonderful homecoming.

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