Friday, Oct. 17
Pumpkin’ seven puppies celebrated their fourth week birthday by continuing to mature in terms of feeding and exploring.
Pumpkin still nurses two or more times a day. The look on her face is a blend of love and resignation. More and more of the puppies’ food, though, is from pans holding puppy chow soaked in warm water.
The pups have evolved from crawling to staggering to waddling. As they explore into the back yard farther and farther away from the dog house, they look like seven, happy little drunken sailors exploring one bar after another.
Yipping that sounds alternately happy and irritated emit from the six black chunkies and one brown chunky while they roam across the grass and tussle with one another.
As he continues to foster the young family, Mike the Midwife muses that he had evolved to Willy the Wet Nurse and now he feels like Bubba the Baby Sitter. In addition to regular feedings, he spends spare time on the grass letting the puppies crawl over him and chew on his pants legs. He says he has a better idea how the main character in Gulliver’s Travels felt when the Lilliputians tied him to the ground and crawled about him.
Friday, Oct. 10
Pumpkin’s seven children are three weeks old today, and their foster parent, Mike the Midwife, has begun the weeks-long weaning process. As per his veterinarian’s advice, he’s been feeding puppy chow to Pumpkin so she’ll pass on the high amounts of nutrients and vitamins to her puppies through her milk. This evening, he began the puppies’ gradual switch from their mother’s milk to puppy chow.
He soaked the hard pieces in warm water for about10 minutes, then poured it into a cake pan. H didn’t know how quickly the pups would take to this new way of feeding and was delightfully surprised when each of the seven dove right in after he carried them to the cake pan and set them down with their noses in it.
Mike has been letting Pumpkin into the rest of the back yard with the family’s four other dogs. She seems to enjoy this time away from her seven pups and enjoys lying in the shade with a smile on her face. Call it a form of “Mother’s Afternoon Out.”
The puppies have matured a lot in the past week. Their little eyes are now open. They’re walking a lot more (though “staggering” probably is a better word since they teeter and wobble around, stumbling over one another and flopping over when they trip on a rough place in the dirt). And, their mewing has been replaced by growling.
Mike is fairly sure there are three females and four males. He’s new at this puppy business so he’s not 100 percent sure yet. Once he knows this is the demographic breakdown, he’ll be figuring out what to name them. Any suggestions?
Friday, Oct. 3
Pumpkin’s seven puppies are two weeks old now. They’ve transformed from scrawny little moles in appearance into plump little pups, scrabbling about the dog house and scrambling onto the ground in front of the entrance. They frequently emit high pitched squealing and meowing when they’re not busy nursing or sleeping, their two primary activities at this time.
This morning, foster parent Mike the Midwife weighed three of the puppies on a mail scales. Their combined weight was seven pounds. That’s 2 1/3 pounds apiece. All seven in the litter are the same size, no apparent runts at this time.
Pumpkin is packing away her thrice-daily feedings of puppy chow augmented with homemade chicken and vegetable stew, and is drinking copious amounts of water. Mike has to refill her water bucket at least twice a day.
The folded over throw rug on the floor of the dog house is remarkably clean. Pumpkin definitely doesn’t allow her responsibilities as a dutiful mother prevent her from being an excellent housekeeper.
Mike’s two other large dogs were excited and curious when Pumpkin first arrived. A chain link fence separates that section of the yard Pumpkin is in from the rest of the yard. Whenever Mike went through the gate, the two dogs tried squeezing through with him to check out the newcomer. But, they behaved themselves after he threatened to ship them off along with Pumpkin to the circus as a dog act, and call them “Pumpkin, Bumpkin and Lumpkin.”
Friday, Sept. 26
It’s been seven days since Pumpkin gave birth in the backyard of the Humane Society volunteer who is fostering her. (We’ll call him Mike – Mike the Midwife.)
At first, Mike thought the Labrador retriever/Staffordshire bull terrier mix had given birth to five puppies. That’s all he could see in the darkness of the doghouse. On Saturday he counted nine pups. By Sunday afternoon, two of them hadn’t made it. He buried them under a tree just a few feet from their seven siblings, who are doing just fine.
At first, Pumpkin and Mike the Midwife disagreed on where the puppies should stay. When Mike went out to check on the family Saturday morning, he discovered that Pumpkin had moved her litter from the doghouse to a hollow she’d dug against the house and privacy fence. Mike returned the pups to the comfort and security of the dog house. Pumpkin sat and watched. When he returned to the back porch, he watched as Pumpkin disappeared into the doghouse, came out with a puppy in her mouth, carried it to the depression she’d dug, then returned to the house to bring out each of the other pups one at a time.
Convinced that the dog house was better than a depression in the dirt for a cleaner and more protected environment from rain, wind and sun, Mike again moved all the puppies back into the house. Again, Pumpkin returned them to the depression she had dug.
After giving the situation careful thought, Mike moved the doghouse to the corner of the yard Pumpkin had chosen. Pumpkin accepted that compromise, and mom and kids are now settled in comfortably.
A folded-over throw rug provides extra padding from the plastic floor, and a card table placed in front of the house offers extra protection against wind and rain reaching the litter as they nurse and sleep.
This is Mike’s first litter of puppies to care for. He’s following veterinary instructions to keep a bowl of puppy chow and a bucket of water under the card table/front porch so Pumpkin can eat and drink whenever she wants.
Several times after moving the house, he discovered a puppy squirming and squeaking on the ground just outside the doghouse entrance. Since the two-inch lip across the bottom of the entrance obviously wasn’t high enough, Mike cut a five-inch-high piece of plywood to fit across the inside front of the house. By the time the puppies are big enough to get over that barrier, he hopes they’ll be old enough and smart enough to climb back in.
Friday, Sept. 19
When Pumpkin came to the shelter, this sweet-natured Labrador retriever/Stafffordshire bull terrier mix was already in the family way. In order to provide her with a quieter and more comfortable environment in which to give birth, a volunteer agreed to foster her … and not a minute too soon.
Pumpkin moved into her temporary quarters in a quiet, shady back yard on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18. Somewhere between 3 and 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 19, she gave birth to five puppies.
Here are two photos of Pumpkin and her quintet, taken about six hours after the big event. We’ll provide a photographic update of the family every Friday evening in the weeks to come, so you can watch the puppies as they grow and begin checking out the world outside their doghouse.
We don’t know the sexes of the five pups yet. Nor do we know the breed of their father, since dogs don’t arrive at the shelter carrying briefcases containing family trees. However, if the five are anything like their mother, they should combine some pretty impressive characteristics.
The Staffordshire bull terrier was first bred in the 1800s when coal miners in Staffordshire, England bred bull dogs with small local terriers similar to the Manchester terrier. The result was a very courageous, obedient and highly intelligent dog. Combined with a natural compassion and affection for its family, especially children, the Staffordshire bull terrier makes a sweet-tempered member of the household. They do require a firm hand in discipline due to their strength and determination.
Labrador retrievers were first bred in Newfoundland, Canada to assist fishermen in hauling in nets and catching fish that had escaped from the lines. Labs rank as the most popular breed in the U.S. due to their keen intelligence and eagerness to please. They’re affectionate and playful, full of energy and playfulness,