Archive for the ‘puppies’ Category


Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

When you have a newborn litter, the days seem much the same, you don’t have to do much except make sure the dam is looked after, keep the whelping box clean, and handle, weigh and monitor the puppies. With this litter we had to do a bit more because Popcorn (now Cora) was struggling at bit at first, but overall, they grow, they eat, they crawl around. And then, all of a sudden, their eyes are open, then they’re walking, then they’re moving to the big pen, they’re learning things, and now, somehow, we’re almost at the point where they’ll start leaving to go to their new homes and now….now we have to figure out how to let them go. I love this litter so, so much, they are exactly what I was hoping to get from this cross so far. And while I am SO looking forward to following their adventures out in the world, I am also going to cry….a lot…as they leave me.

Today we took them all to the vet (where I work) for their first doctor exam, microchipping (we use a local anesthetic so they don’t mind that big needle), and since Cora is scheduled to leave on Saturday, she got her first distemper/parvovirus vaccination. The others will get theirs next week.

Cora getting her checkup (with a snack) from Dr Julie.

Everybody was healthy! No heart murmurs, everybody who should have testicles has two, and nobody who shouldn’t have testicles has any. Bites were good. And they really did very, very well. They played, nobody was really worried about being up on the exam table, nobody cared about their local anesthetic injection OR their microchip. Cora was very brave with her vaccination and didn’t even notice it. They wrestled and played in the exam room and then played tag up and down the hallway with the staff.

Licensed Veterinary Technician Simone and Chex

There are many reasons I love working where I do. We have an awesome staff who are dedicated to making sure pets have a good experience at the vet, we’re a certified Fear Free clinic and we work hard to make the vet fun if possible! I love the doctors and staff I work with and seeing how they all interacted with the puppies was awesome. We have Adaptil diffusers in every dog examination room, we play music specifically intended to help dogs feel calm and comfortable, we use food and low stress handling techniques, but even so, I was very happy with how the puppies did! They played, they ate, they wagged and barked and socialized!

Simone and puppies

Simone getting the bities from Alfie (formerly Orson):

“Sorry Jan, she knows how to bark!” (Cora, wearing the blue collar):

Veterinary Assistant Jason had LIVER….they liked liver AND Jason


7 Weeks Old (and thereabouts)

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

SO MANY THINGS happened this week! The puppies took their first ride in the car (to visit my work, since they’ll be getting their microchips next week, I wanted their first visit to a vet clinic to be all fun), they started eating meals in crates, many different enrichment things, they’ve been going out onto the deck…

We played with paper and an apple at Amanda’s work!

The cool kids are outside!


Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Nicole came over with a sheepskin for the puppies’ enrichment item. They were in HEAVEN! They leaped on it and shook it and tore fleece off it (they most definitely would have been excused for excessive gripping in a herding trial). They wiped themselves out they played so hard. What a GREAT idea for them – new smells, new textures, new things to bite! They are real little dogs now.

Puppies vs Egg

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Yesterday three of Jim’s graduate students came to visit the puppies. We had them sit on the floor in the living room and let the puppies have to come out of the pen to greet them. I realized that most of the socializing has been taking place with the puppies IN the pen, so we wanted to change things up. No worries, they were thrilled to meet new people and find new fingers to bite and hair to eat!

They are getting fitter and their stamina is increasing. Just a few days ago a jaunt outside the pen for zoomies would tucker them out in just a few minutes. Now they need several real world zoomie adventures a day before they’re tired.

They’re real little dogs now. They’re looking quite pudgy so I expect they’re gearing up to grow some more.

I’m feeding them a variety of things, and so far they love everything. They’ve become excellent eaters as Vallhunds usually are, and clean their plate in record time. They’re eating Primal raw (a variety of protein types), kibble, canned food, various chewies, and people food (they’ve tried popcorn, cheese, baby food, various meats, and eggs). I will start feeding them in crates in the next few days. They now have a treat ball filled with kibble in the pen, and they’re gradually learning how to make it dispense the food.

One of our favorite enrichment activities with puppies (we got the idea from my dear friend and mentor Ulla Gamberg at Vastgota Swedish Vallhunds) is giving them a hard boiled egg to figure out.

Ironically, even though this litter took forever to start eating, they made very short work of the egg and figured out it was food immediately (past litters took a while). This morning’s zoomies and the egg tired them out (for now).

So here, without further ado, our magnum opus: Puppies vs Egg. (Spoiler alert, the puppies win, the egg was harmed….oh my….).


Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

How did we get here so fast? The first few weeks seem to pass so slowly, but now they’re changing nearly every day and when you think you should do something with them you blink and they’re already doing something else!

What’s happened recently?

Several more visitors.

One puppy pierced Jim’s ear. Now they’ve tasted human flesh we’re all doomed…

They’ve had various different enrichment items, including a beach ball!

They get to run around the downstairs when I clean their pen. This makes for some interesting monitoring….

They spent some time on the deck today since it was warm out. The grass is soaking wet so I haven’t had them on it, but at least they got some new smells in a new location today!

They’re eating wonderfully, they LOVE their raw. They’re eating two raw meals and two kibble meals a day. I want them to eat a variety of things, not only because I think it’s probably healthier over time, but also because I want them to be willing to eat whatever their new people want to feed them. My own dogs eat one kibble meal and one raw meal a day.

We started charging the clicker (finally!) last night with baby food. We also took their first set of individual “stacked” pictures. I am very pleased with this litter so far, they’re well built and all have lovely temperaments so far. Chex already has two ears standing up! I expect they’ll fall again when they grow, but it’s really cute.

They had new visitors all the way from Connecticut today!

They’ve slept in the big pen all alone the last three nights, with Zhora and I next door.







Various videos from the last few days:


Friday, October 27th, 2017

Clockwise from top left: Popcorn, Ruffles, Chex, Orson, Frito

…and it was NO thanks to me!

As you know if you’ve been reading along, the puppies haven’t been all that interested in solid food. Well between my friend Lynn Uram of CastleGate Shelties (who suggested the Answers goat milk), and Jim, who just happened to offer them straight kibble today instead of soaked mush, THE PUPPIES ARE EATING LIKE REAL EATING PUPPIES WHO EAT! Mush is for babies, I guess.

This is truly my “it takes a village” litter!

They have the cool chewies suggested by my friend Megan, and they’re extremely playful and interactive (or “obnoxious”, depending on your point of view and/or mood and/or if they’ve just demolished the potty area you just finished cleaning). They still sleep probably 80% of the time (that’s when they grow after all), but when they’re awake, they’re very, very busy.

Yesterday I snapped open a garbage bag next to the pen and startled the bejeezus out of them, it was loud enough that they actually ran away, but then they came RIGHT BACK to see what it was. Can’t hope for more than that!


Thursday, October 26th, 2017

They celebrated by getting their nails Dremeled for the first time. Baby food was the reward. They mostly complained about having to hold still, none of them seemed to care about the actual Dremeling.

They’re eating a bit better but still prefer mum. I’m starting to keep her away for periods of time so they’ll be hungrier and eat more. I don’t normally do this but Zhora can only keep up with so much demand and they’re BIG and HUNGRY. They drain her in a very short amount of time now. I’m adding Answers raw goat milk to their kibble/mousse/tripe mush and they seem to really like it.

I think they liked the baby food enough that I can use it to at least charge the clicker, I’m champing at the bit to start clicker training but with them not really caring that much about food, it’s been impossible.

They visited with Sue on Tuesday and had a wonderful time. They got dried duck feet as their enrichment item on Tuesday, yesterday it was a different toy, and today it was various different chew things suggested by Megan (who works at Pet Supplies Plus).

Yesterday we separated them from each other and the other dogs for 2 1/2 hours so that we could do their cheek swabs for the Animal Health Trust DNA test for retinopathy. Again, caution is the key here, remember that there is a LOT we don’t know about the retinopathy, almost no dogs go blind if they have it, and dogs who are genetically “affected” can still have normal eye tests (Nina is one of these, she had yet another normal eye test this year at the age of 10). But still, I think it’s important to test and know what you have, so I opted to test this litter instead of doing eye examinations. They were surprisingly (or not) wonderful for this – just some fussing but mostly they just snoozed. I was very impressed considering they’ve only been apart for considerably shorter periods. They did NOT like the swabs, poor babies. Their soft little mouths must be so tender. But it’s for a good cause.

They are definitely baby dogs now, they’re looking very attractive and they’re so outgoing and so BITEY….oh lordy they’re bitey…sitting in the puppy hot tub is an exercise in trying not to be eaten alive too badly just now. They definitely tell each other off for biting too hard, and they’re NAUGHTY – part of the problem with all this enrichment is that everything is something to be explored and experimented with and dragged around, including the potty patch (not mentioning any names…RUFFLES), the litter box (not mentioning any names ORSON AND POPCORN), the TOWEL THEIR WATER BOWL IS ON….not mentioning any names CHEX! Frito is a perfect angel except when he tried to pull my sock off and run away with it….poor Zhora can’t be enjoying nursing them. I keep waiting for her to kick them to the curb but she’s still gamely in there feeding them of her own volition. Definitely going to start pushing the food though.

Weigh in:

Ruffles – 3.7 lbs/1680 grams (birth weight 216 grams)

Orson – 4.5 lbs/2050 grams (birth weight 189 grams)

Chex – 4.2 lbs/1892 grams (birth weight 180 grams)

Frito – 3.8 lbs/1720 grams (birth weight 179 grams)

Popcorn – 2.7 lbs/1247 grams (birth weight 158 grams)

30 Days Old – More Visitors!

Saturday, October 21st, 2017


Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s been coming to visit, we’re averaging at least one new visitor per day just now and this is exactly what we want!

Today the puppies met 6 year old Abigail (they already know her mum Caroline), and her grandma Sharon, who kindly brought her cane and wheelchair so they got to see those too!

Mum Zhora came in to provide refreshments

30 Days Old – Collars!

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Usually with Vallhund litters there’s enough variation in markings, tails (not in this litter obviously), etc. that you really don’t need to put unique markers on the puppies at birth. And I’m paranoid about collar safety. However, they do need to wear collars eventually so today they took them out for a test drive! These are breakaway puppy collars but still, they will only be wearing them while we’re in the same room just in case.

As with the last litter, I’ve purposely tried to avoid anything other than relatively neutral colors to avoid influencing my opinion (or your opinion) about the puppy. Just like in Reservoir Dogs, everybody wants to be Mr. Black.

Collar colors:

Ruffles – red

Orson – orange

Chex – yellow

Frito – green

Popcorn – blue

29 Days Old – THE BIG HOUSE

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Here is the Ruffly Speaking post I referenced in an earlier blog post. I love this post.

After Orson’s escape yesterday, Jim set to work building the 6 x 8 Big House. Jim put a lot of thought into the building of the Big House this time around. In the past, when puppies were ready to move into bigger digs, we just put an x-pen around the wooden box a friend kindly made for me years ago. The problem was that the puppies didn’t have quite enough square footage, and much more importantly, they could get to the x-pen. Now I don’t know how it is in other breeds, but standard x-pen wire spacing is precisely the right size for a Vallhund puppy to get their muzzle through (as they all do), and then get stuck. It happened with both our previous litters and once a puppy got REALLY stuck and we had to work as a team to unstick him. This was traumatic for all concerned (the puppy was fine, we were freaked out).

Jim solved this problem ingeniously this time around. This time the x-pen is inside a wooden frame and there are clear acrylic sheets attached to the inside of the x-pen. The puppies can see out, but they can’t get to the x-pen.

The Big House is in our living room (taking up approximately half the space, we’re a bit cramped in here!). We have a sheet of linoleum on the carpet, on top of that are two large indoor-outdoor rugs (for grip), on top of THAT are various different surfaces for them to walk on – hospital pads, towels, upturned bath mats, plush VetBed. There’s a comfy bed and various toys will be rotated through. There’s a large Wee Wee Patch with a pee pad with an attractant in it under the turf. They’re right next to the sliding glass doors onto the deck, so they can see OUTSIDE, and they’ll be right in the heart of the house, with all the noise and comings and goings.

Fully renovated with ensuite potty turf and floor to ceiling windows looking onto the living room and back garden.

They spent their visit with Nicole today taking the grand tour of their new home, they got the zoomies (AKA the staggers), and they tuckered themselves out.

Brand new comfy bed!

They’ll still be sleeping in the Dura Whelp box in the guest room at nights for now, since Zhora needs to be able to get in and out to feed them regularly. But they’ll spend more and more time in the Big House.

They’re real puppies now, they play and invite each other to play. They bite and wrestle and argue. They complain if someone bites them too hard. They run (sort of) and jump (kinda). They ate some baby cereal and goats milk today (thanks Michelle).

Today’s enrichment (other than exploring the new digs and all the new surfaces in there) was a GIANT ropey toy AND the Enormous Purple Octopus toy. There are a couple of Very Special Toys they will get when they truly graduate to living in the Big House full time. And our awesome and much-loved friend Zap built us a frame for an Adventure Box – we need suggestions for things to hang from it! Send em in!

I have most definitely noticed that these guys are very, very curious. They startle like any puppies will, but then their first reaction after startling is to go and find out about what startled them. This is EXACTLY what we hope to see!











The Fab Five minus Orson, who was schmoozing with Nicole