Monday, February 28, 2011

Precocious Ppups

Petunia, Panther, Puma, I think

The ppuppies have gotten precocious. Pandora has gotten out of the box twice today and Xita is a bit distraught. They were clamoring and swarming all over the box, obviously hungry and Xita just wanted me to fix it all. So I made her lie down and feed them and stroked her head and told her she was wonderful and then the oxytocin buzz kicked in and her milk let down and there were 8 gulping babies moaning in happiness. (#9 was Primus, the black boy, who was sound asleep in the corner--guess he got his belly filled earlier!)


I've been watching and thinking about the service dog puppy training videos--they have very young puppies learning complex commands--such as to carry and tug. They do very prescriptive handling routines (like the military "bio-sensor" program for puppies) to stimulate the puppies every day. But then their puppies are born and spend their first weeks in a kennel situation. There's quite a bit of daily exposure that my puppies get just from being in the same room with me for 8-12 hours almost every day (my at-home office).

Petunia is very serious about her food!

 But I was intrigued by the early puppy training and decided that I would play with seeing what we could teach very young puppies. So I had my friends Andrea (my puppy picture hand model!) and her husband D. and her mother come for a visit on Saturday. I mixed up some puppy gruel and we all proceeded to feed puppies off our fingers.

Petunia is really into this hand-feeding thing!

Peregrine has Andrea in her sway.

The puppies loved it and we humans got ridiculous amounts of enjoyment from interacting with the puppies and having them try to toothlessly devour our fingers. Almost immediately, we could see their response to us change--they were moving toward us more and climbing on us to get to our fingers. Yesterday and today, I can tell that this has carried over--they are more active and moving toward me. So, I am sold on at least some of this.

We will continue! Next Saturday will be another "training" session--we'll see if we can get the 3-week-old pups to do some baby sits and climb over some obstacles. Who knows what they'll be doing by 8 weeks!

For most of the puppy finger feeding frenzy, Xita was crated with a bone, but she let us know after about 30 minutes that she needed to make sure her puppies were OK.

Puma (aka "Piglet") is not going to let that finger get away
Xita is extremely protective of her puppies, and even with Andrea and Daniel, whom she likes very much, she was wary. She only allowed them to interact with the pups according to her rules. Some of those rules are that you're not allowed to stand up near her, and you're not allowed to leave the room and come back, and you're most definitely not allowed to have a puppy crying. She doesn't get frantic or bark--she gives extremely direct looks and will growl very clearly. For a dog without language, she is remarkably clear in her communications.

Pele, the solid black female, worn out!

If you're following the rules but she thinks you're paying too much attention to the pups, Xita will "hug" you--that is, she leans her chest against yours and puts her head over your shoulder. It's very affectionate--and very good at keeping you away from the pups. She lets me do anything with her and the puppies (she's never, ever growled at me or given me that hard look), but even I get the the Hug of Doom sometimes, when she thinks I should stop messing with the pups.

Panther, the black sable male

I was reading someone's blog and they talked about having "Puppy Potlucks" for those interested in helping to socialize the pups--I think that is a wonderful idea. So I am hoping to implement that for these pups. By the time the pups are 4 weeks, I think Xita will be less intense about guarding the puppies, and it will be good for more people to come visit and help us in our puppy training and socialization.
Pollux, the red sable male, is crazy handsome--he's got a huge head and rich red coloring already
Primus--solid black male. We decided after these pictures that he should really be named "Playboy"
Primus, aka Playboy
Pagan, black sable girl

Peregrine, aka "Pippin"

Just a note: I have been having problems with my ISP--some websites won't open for me, namely, Facebook. If you need to reach me, please e-mail me directly.

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