Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Puppies

The first puppy, Emerald, arrived at 3:51 pm the 22nd of September.   She weighed 412 grams.  Kora took great care to clean her up and get her moving.  Within minutes Emerald was trying to nurse colostrum from her mother.  I spent some time helping Kora clean up. 

Emerald is solid black like her dad.  Of all the characteristics in a dog, color is one of the least important to me.  If you breed dogs for structure and temperament, the color sorts itself out.  In the case of German shepherds, the standard for color is broad.  Obvious undesirable qualities, such as a pale coat, blue or liver tones, and varying amounts of white, can usually be avoided when breeding GSDs. 

The coat hair itself is important.  A dog bred with the original intent to assists sheep herdsmen to herd and protect the flocks must have a coat durable to the elements and without hindrance to the dog.  German shepherd dogs have a thick grey undercoat that prevents water from reaching the skin.  Certainly handy in Ketchikan, Alaska.  The outer coat is dense and coarse.  It provides a good protective shield.  The length varies over the body - short on the lower legs, face and ears, bushy on the upper-legs, neck and tail.

The S.V. (The German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany) standard accepts a longhaired version of the coat as well.  The dog’s working ability is reduced with long collie-like hair especially in colder climates were snow and ice accumulate on the coats.

Emerald and her littermates all have the standard GSD coat. 

Emerald also lost weight through the first two days of her life.  On the third day, we started supplemental feeding to give her a boost.  She has become the most accustomed to human handling as a result.

She and her other littermates like, Pink and Halo, all have good food drive.  Feeding nine puppies to their satisfaction is a tough task for mom.  So the pups stay a little hungry as a whole.

Pink was whelped at 4:43 pm, and right behind her was Halo at 4:49.  Kora was getting busy now.  There was a lot more to do with three girl pups.

Lots of cleaning:  Licking a sopping wet puppy dry take time.  I was proud of her mothering.

Pink weighed 394 grams.  Unlike her sister, she was born bi-color.  A bi-color coat in a GSD is similar to a Doberman Pincher, or Rottweiler.

Pink will most likely not stay that way.  I suspect the black will saddle and she may sable like her mom.   Either way, she has some feisty in her like mom too.  But she is a sweetheart, and she set litter records for single day weight gain a few times so far.

Halo’s whelp weight was 411 grams.  Her weight was the median for the litter.  She is also solid-black.  She was named for the appearance of a piece of ivory colored yarn used to identify her.  A week before the puppies were whelped, the youngest daughter suggested Halo in place of Ivory for a name, because it looked like a halo resting on the couch. 

I disagreed, but was out voted.

So Halo she is, and no longer needs to wear her halo because her right rear paw hairs are white.

She is definitely one of a kind, and grows like one of the boys.  Now that the pups are standing on all fours, seeing with blurry eyes, and hearing, she is always at the front of the line.

At 5:25 pm, came Plum.  A welcome male after 3 females.  He was born bi-color.  His whelp weight was 447 grams. 

Plum may sable and saddle in age, as well.  One-upping his sister, he has set the single day greatest growth record to date for the litter.  Presently the feeding is taking on a new dimension.  Even though I have clipped the pups nails every week, mother is feeding them periodically rather than regularly.  So it’s time to prepare for weaning.

Plum was one of the first to get a go of lapping up whole goats milk from a tray.  It should be comical, but the mess tempers the humor a bit.

Under his lead, the others were feeding in a whole new way.  It is certainly a relief to know that they can now feed in this manner.  It gives mom a huge break and is easier than a baby bottle.

Nearly two hours later, at 7:17 came Gold.  The smallest male who I think will be Kohl’s size as an adult.  Gold and the remainder of the litter where born solid black. 

He was the last to take to bottle-feeding.  But he and I have a special bond.  I could see the epiphany in him when he finally took to it. 

I almost renamed him Cold, because he seemed the coldest to the touch of the group.
He stays strong though and keeps pace with his brothers when compared to whelped weight.

Over 100 grams heavier, and only five minutes after Gold, Steel was whelped the biggest at 480 grams.

He was born hungry and fed from mom in minutes.  He is also the first to complain when hungry. 

Kora continued to clean up and I continued to help.   The puppies where doing well so far, and a 6-puppy litter is about right. 

The wind started picking up and drafts where cooling the whelping room down.  I worked to battle that while mom tended to her task at hand. 

My childhood German shepherd whelped 3 litters.  The first litter was eight and whelped on my birthday.  Her second litter 12 and her last 10.  With this in mind, I wasn’t going to leave Kora for long just yet. 

And it was a long three hours later when Aqua arrived.  Whelped at 10:28, she was the litter’s smallest at 347 grams.  Aqua also has had the steadiest gain. 

She is nothing close to shy though.  She smartly slides in the gaps at feeding and rolls her bigger brothers away. 

 At 10:58 pm, Rusty was whelped.  He weighed 386 grams.  He is also a steady gainer.  From the time mom’s milk came in to the present, he has always gained more than a half-ounce in a 24-hour period.  He has a bold demeanor.  He doesn’t complain he just makes things happen.  He is also the first, and only, to scale a 12-inch barrier between the whelping box and the rest of the whelping room.

The last pup whelped at 11:03 pm.  All I had was a red piece of yarn left to identify him.  I couldn’t call him “Red”.

He went nameless for a day.  Stormy seemed appropriate for the less than perfect timing of nature.  Vader he became after his father, Vader Kohl von Ruhl.  His whelp weight was 463 grams and two weeks latter he was nearly 300% bigger.

Vader doesn’t care about anything unless it has to do with food.  Once he discovers food is not involved, he’ll simply go back to sleep.  But he is one of the busiest when food is near.

Later, when giving the pups German names, vader translates from the Dutch to German as vater, and to English as father.  The German names for the others are:  Smaragd, Rosa, Halo, Pflaume, Gold, Stahl, Wasser, and Rostig.

In describing individual personalities at their age I find it hard to discern differences.  They all are walking well and now that they can hear, they quietly look, smell and listen before snapping to judgment.

They exercise their voice boxes with the usual crying and whining from time to time, but the barks and growls are being practiced too.

They have learned to use a designated area of the whelping box to relieve themselves. It is certainly great news for the maintenance crew.

Today they will be 3 weeks old and they already play amongst themselves.  Whereas in week 1, I could only describe them as worms.

Next:  Dog work.

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