Thursday, October 3, 2013
EARLY PUPPY LIFE: A REPORT AT FIVE WEEKS OF AGE
Schöne’s puppies were 5 weeks old on Monday, so an update on their progress seems to be timely. The eight puppies, four boys and four girls, have temporary names (pending the desires of their new owners) now. They were named for a variation on a theme from the TV show “Wheel of Fortune”, the category of “before and after”. The first theme is the movie “Pretty in Pink”, a logical extension of Mom’s name, “beautiful” in German. The fused “after” theme is the band, “Pink Floyd”. We thank an owner of the puppy’s Uncle Bruce for suggesting this theme.
Nights and when we’re away from the house for any length of time the puppies have a “penthouse suite” set up in the Great Room, which allows sleeping space in an open oversized dog crate, a shredded paper-filled litter box for learning how to be paper trained before they go out into the real world, and generous play space on newspaper covered floor in between these “rooms”. The entire “suite” is surrounded by two conjoined exercise pens, so the pups can see and smell the entire world around them, including Mom’s, grandma’s, and great-grandma’s crates where they eat and sleep.
Grandma Jolie’s milk has come in, so she’s intermittently assisting Schöne in nursing the litter. That’s only fair as Schöne wet-nursed Jolie’s last litter for several weeks a year or so ago when her half-sisters and half-brothers were born. The “suite” also has a nearby boom box playing a CD of sounds for puppies---train and airplane noises, thunderstorms, shotgun blasts, and all of the sounds they might hear during normal daily life to get them accustomed to what might otherwise be “scary” noises.
This is also a time for intense socialization of the puppies both indoors and outside. We encourage multiple visits from friends and neighbors, as well as the new owners, to get the puppies used to being handled by people. Especially welcome are children, and they’ve had handling and pat-pats from literally dozens of youngsters age almost one to the teens. They get talked to and hugged on the way outside in the morning and inside in the evening by both Elaine and me, and whenever they’re moved for “suite” cleaning. They also get to play with Schöne, Vinia, and Jolie to get accustomed to being around larger dogs.
They are starting to get a bit of obedience training, with hugs and praise as the reward for responding appropriately to “come”. Next on the agenda will be “sit”. Next week will be basic testing for prey drive and interest in birds. Week seven will be vaccinations and second test for birdiness, as well as ranking pups for predicted conformation showing (that’s when the “pick of the litter’ gets decided) and for which buyer would be the best match for which puppy. At week eight they go to their new homes and we get to relax a bit.