The Litter's Early Life, Week 1

Note: The following information, unless otherwise noted, is taken directly from the Web pages Cathy created for this litter. It is reprinted here with permission.

October 10, 2001

Week One (Days 1-7)


  • 90% of time spent sleeping
  • 10% eating
  • Susceptible to heat/cold
  • Instinctive reflexes: crawl, seek warmth, nurse
  • They can right themselves if placed upside down
  • Needs stimulation for urination/defecation
  • Rapid development of central nervous system
  • Need constant care from bitch
  • Rectal temperatures 94-97 degrees Farenheit
  • Pups may lose 10% of weight after birth, but should start gaining again
  • Weight should double by end of week

Not much needs to be done with the pups. Gabby spends her time feeding and cleaning them. A newborn puppy cannot eliminate without stimulation, so Gabby licks them to stimulate them.

I check her mammary glands twice daily to make sure she is not getting mastitis or sores. To produce milk, she needs to drink a lot. Gabby drinks a mixture of chicken broth, pedialyte and milk several times a day. I have to keep an eye on her vaginal discharge, and continue to take her temperature twice a day, to make sure she isn't getting a uterine infection.

I weigh the pups daily to make sure each is gaining. (don't laugh at my old scale!) I check how the umbilical cords are healing, and check if any have umbilical hernias.

I change the fleece liner in the whelping box every day... more often if needed. The whelping box has "pig rails" so that a careless mom doesn't accidentally pin a puppy against the side. My whelping box has no bottom, or I should say the bottom is not attached. This way I can wrap the fleece liner around the bottom and set the frame on it to keep it from sliding. This keeps the mom from digging up the bedding and having a pup crawl in the folds of a blanket and getting crushed when the bitch doesn't see it.


Cathy's personal notes:

The smallest pups are now white collar black bitch, yellow collar black bitch, and red collar liver bitch. Red collar liver bitch is almost hyper. She has a high pitched whiney cry. She will get knocked off a teat, roll away, and instead of trying to find her way back, she starts hollering, expecting Gabby to roll her back. Her voice is easy to pick out, and she doesn’t mind using it! White collar black girl nurses upside-down most of the time. Wasting a lot of energy waving her paws in the air like eggbeaters. All are gaining. The largest female now is Orange collar liver girl. I nick named her Moose already. She eats, she sleeps and she is good at both! Blue collar black boy likes to sleep draped over one of Gabby’s legs. Many times I look in and the liver pups have all congregated together in their own little pile.

October 11, 2001

Dewclaws are removed today. The dew claw is the rudimentary first toe. They are often injured and the nail can grow into the skin causing considerable inflammation. The dog can easily catch them on different objects because they just hang on the side of their paws. When very young, puppies barely give a squeak when having dew claws removed, however it is quite a painful operation to have an adults dewclaws removed. I have known several people who have had an adult dog tear a dewclaw part way off, and after seeing that, they were definitely in favor of removal at 3-4 days old. If done at the proper age there should be very little if any pain and bleeding. The CCR standard states “dewclaws are generally removed” To the right you can see one of the pups with his dewclaw still on. The pups also have sharp hooked little nails now. I will trim these every few days so they don't scratch Gabby while nursing, and scratch each other.

I gather the things I will need to remove the dewclaws and trim the nails. Gabby of course does not like this one bit! I take her out and load her in a crate in the car, turn the radio on loud so she can't hear the pups! Not a very good picture, but you can see the discolored areas where the dewclaws have been removed. Now I apply some "Kwik Stop" styptic powder to stop any bleeding.

The pups are weighed, any collars that are too tight are replaced. The liner in the whelping box is changed. Another load of wash goes in. Gabby comes back to check and make sure all the pups are all right. We started stressing the pups with what is known as the Bio Sensor or Super Dogs method of stimulation. More about that, and pictures tomorrow. (when I have my handy photographer to help!) This will go on from day 3 through day 16.

Personal notes:

7:00PM... and then there were 10.

I had to go into town this evening to do some shopping. I stopped by my parents house before I headed home. My father told me my Uncle Bob died today. He was 87 and lived alone. I didn't know him that well. You know how it is when a relative your not close to dies. You don't know if you should feel sad, or indifferent. He lived a good life.

At about 8:20 pm, during the presidential address this evening, I heard Gabby whining. Thinking she had to go out, I went to the whelping box. She was nudging the orange collar liver girl and whining. Orange collar girl looked fine, but wasn't moving. She looked like she was asleep except she didn't do the little twitches a healthy puppy does when it is asleep. She was still warm, but she wasn't breathing. I buried her out front by the big rock next to little pink girl from 96. No one will miss this liver girl. She didn't win any ribbons, or retrieve any birds. She didn't set any records or raid any trash cans. She didn't have the chance.

I will lend to you for awhile a puppy,
For you to love him while he lives
and to mourn for him when he is gone.
Maybe for twelve or fourteen years,

Or maybe for a day or two or three.
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

Should his stay be brief
you'll always have his memories
as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise that he will stay,
since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught below
I want this pup to learn.

But should I call him back
much sooner than you've planned
Please brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.

When a puppy dies, sometimes the bitch will push it away. Usually if this happens there was something wrong with the pup. Sometimes a pup gets stepped on, or squirms under the mom and suffocates. Sometimes a puppy just fades, and you never know why it didn't make it. If the bitch has pushed the pup away, you can usually just take it out of the whelping box and she will not care. Other times she will be upset if you take the pup from her, and she will want to look for it. Dogs can't count. One way to remove the puppy is to take two puppies away. Go out of site, then return with one. She will be happy that you brought her puppy back, that most of the time she will not realize one is still gone. This is how I took Orange girl away.

I don't know what saddens me more tonight. The fact that we have to have a Presidential address because of the state of the world. The fact that Orange girl passed over the Rainbow bridge. Or the fact that when I hear my Uncle died I don't know what to feel, but when I bury Orange girl tonight, I can barely see the house because of the tears. I never got to name her. Maybe Uncle Bob will meet her at the Rainbow bridge and give her a name.

October 12, 2001

At SoftMaple, we have adopted the Bio Sensor method to start our new pups off. The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called "Bio Sensor" was developed. Later, it became known to the public as the "Super Dog" Program. Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual.

The "Bio Sensor" program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises, which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in nor order of preference the handler starts with one put and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

  1. Tactile stimulation -- holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds.
  2. Head held erect -- using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds
  3. Head pointed down -- holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds
  4. Supine position -- hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep struggle. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.
  5. Thermal stimulation -- use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. Do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

These five exercises will produce neurological stimulations, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises, others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered to those who plan to use them. Do not repeat them more than once per day and do not extend the time beyond that recommended for each exercise. Over stimulation of the neurological system can have adverse and detrimental results.

These exercises impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected. The result being an increased capacity that later will help to make the difference in its performance. Those who play with their pups and routinely handle them should continue to do so because the neurological exercises are not substitutions for routine handling, play socialization or bonding.

Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises:

  • Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
  • Stronger heart beats
  • Stronger adrenal glands
  • More tolerance to stress
  • Greater resistance to disease

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.

Personal notes:

Put the 10 pups through the exercises again today. (See pictures) The red collar liver girl did struggled the most, and was the most vocal. Yellow collar liver girl was very passive- almost to the point of sleeping. She didn't like the cold wet towel though. That woke her up! The boys all reacted about the same. Later all the pups are weighted to make sure they are gaining. The whelping box liner is changed, and another load of wash is started.

October 13, 2001

Not much different today. Gabby got a bath! She is more comfortable spending longer periods away from the pups. It was a beautiful warm day, so Gabby had a bath, a bit of a trim and got to relax on the deck and dry off. She was anxious to check out her family when she got back inside. Her appetite is picking up, and she has plenty of milk. The lactating bitch should be fed 1.5 times maintenance for the first week, 2 times maintenance for the second, and 2 to 3 times maintenance amounts for the third week of lactation. I always keep milk replacer, bottles and feeding tubes on hand in case the mom doesn't have enough milk, and has trouble keeping up with the growing pups. I haven't needed to intervene. If the litter was so large, or the mom didn't have enough milk, besides the pups not thriving, the bitch would be in danger of Eclampsia. Eclampsia or Milk Fever is caused by a deficiency of calcium. Some people make the mistake of giving high doses of supplemental calcium to a pregnant bitch. This can backfire, and actually make them more prone to Eclampsia. Eclampsia can result in the death of the bitch if not treated.

October 14, 2001

We continue with the routine. Weigh the pups. chart the progress. Change and wash the linen. Put the pups through the Bio Sensor exercises. And the most pleasurable part..... just watch the pups grow!


  • Look and feel vibrant, vigorous and strong
  • Twitch while sleeping (activated sleep)
  • Nurse with great energy
  • Have tongues that are pink and warm
  • Have skin that returns quickly to normal when it is pinched
  • Have tummies that feel full, but not bloated

Puppies are born with eyes and ears closed. Eyes and ears open around day 10. The reason a healthy puppy twitches is to strengthen its muscles.


  • Look and feel unthrifty, limp and flaccid
  • Stop twitching in their sleep
  • Rattle when breathing
  • Cease nursing, show weak attempts at nursing or cry while nursing
  • Have a tongue that is not pink colored and is cool to the touch (sometimes looks ruffled)
  • Cry most of the time
  • Double up in cramps
  • Have skin that stays creased when pinched
  • Have diarrhea and/or vomiting

Well, today is the last day of the first week of these young puppies lives. we have:

  • Black boy with blue collar
  • Black boy with green collar
  • Liver boy with blue collar
  • Liver boy with green collar
  • Liver girl with red collar
  • Liver girl with yellow collar
  • Black girl with red collar
  • Black girl with yellow collar
  • Black girl with white collar
  • Black girl with orange collar

I will put some traits I observe in a color chart for easy reference. note, the colors may change when the pups move from the paper tab collars to the larger web collars. If the pup didn't do anything that stands out, I will just leave the space blank. The traits and observations may change from day to day as the pups enter this period of rapid physical and neurological growth.

Liver Boys Black Boys Liver Girls Black Girls
Green Collar Green Collar the most vocal during Bio Yellow Collar
Blue Collar Blue Collar passive during Bio easily pushed aside while nursing
Red Collar
Orange Collar


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