“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Puppies almost 3 weeks old

Ruby's puppies are 3 weeks old tomorrow. They are incredibly cute! They have grown so much, we can't weigh them in my kitchen scale anymore because they don't fit in the pan and wriggle around too much. They all have their eyes open now, and are walking on all 4 legs. The female with the blue yarn was the first to open her eyes, and has the most coordination of them all. Their mobility has become a problem, because they are now able to climb out of their box using the rail on the inside of the box to lift themselves up to the door (see photo above). We found 5 of the pups out of the box this morning, sprawled across the floor of the room. I think they were hungry, and Ruby was lying on her bed just outside the door. She won't go in to nurse them unless the box is clean, and the pups had wet the papers in the night. We're not getting up in the night to feed them any longer, and this is why they are hungry. Darin has removed the inside rail and we will have to start closing the door at night.
The pups in these photos show them in "food coma" mode. They eat, sleep, and eliminate- that's about it. In the past few days, they've been vocalising more sounds and louder. 
You can see that we have both newspaper and towels on the floor of the box. The towels or fabric are so that the pups have some grip when they get their feet under them. The newspapers are too slippery to walk on. Ruby and the pups move them around, so we regularly spread them out again.
The next step will be to wean them.
In acknowledgement of the fact that their adorableness is temporary, and that we will probably not breed Ruby again, I bought a fancy new DSLR camera- the Nikon 5000D. The above photos were taken with my Cannon PowerShot, which is a sweet little thing, but I wanted something with more guts. It is much bigger and heavier, but has so many more options. The option that got me to choose this camera over a Cannon EOS 550D is the monitor/viewing screen folds out and rotates. I also really like that a lot of photo editing can be done in the camera, before you ever download to your computer. Below is a link to a video of Ruby nursing her puppies.
Ruby's puppies
I've arranged with my employers to work only 3 days a week- Tue, Wed, and Thur. It's been 2 weeks so far, and I have to say I LOVE IT! Unfortunately, I'm not getting as much done as I thought I would (gardening, sewing, cleaning...). Maybe that will change as the pups get a bit older. Feeding the pups with the bottle takes about an hour, and we're on our 4th box of milk replacement powder (about $39 NZD a box!). We were feeding 3 hourly, but changed to 4 hourly and no getting up from sleep to feed. Indeed, it's time again for them to be fed.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Rottweiler puppies born 27 September 2010

Ruby gave birth to 10 puppies, all within the span of 2 hours.  Unfortunately, the first one was blocking the way for the others, and due to the malpositioning of his body, Ruby was unable to deliver him.  She started labor on Sunday night, and we stayed up all night with her, waiting for the contractions that never came.  Monday morning and still no puppies, so Ruby's breeder Rita said to get her to the vet. I immediately thought the worst, and expected all of Ruby's pups to be dead, and/or requiring a C-section. Waiting in the parking lot, she started her first contraction since the previous night. When the vet arrived and got her into the exam room, he examined her and extracted the first pup, a boy, dead on arrival. This was very painful for Ruby- she really screamed about it. The vet thought he was going to need to give her an episiotomy, but managed to avoid it. The next puppy was delivered within 10 minutes, a girl, and we decided to take Ruby and her pup home to finish delivery there.  She delivered the next puppy, a girl, next to me in the back seat of our car, on the short 12 minute drive. There were no other problems with the delivery, except that for an unknown reason, pup #4 (another male) was delivered dead. Ruby did't seem to notice, she was working too hard.  Darin and I had to keep moving the pups into a basket for the delivery of the next pup, then returning them to her to get cleaned and warmed.
Ruby seemed to relax finally, and all 8 puppies (3 boys, 5 girls) seemed to be well.  I called the vet's office to let them know, and made an appointment to have the tails docked (must be done within 3-4 days from birth). Here's what they looked like with their tails.

I didn't anticipate the tail docking to affect me the way that it did. I don't regret that I had it done, but it was difficult. The puppies cried, Ruby vomited, and the vet didn't put in a suture (apparently this is acceptable practice, I suppose to get them done quickly). All 8 pups were to the vet and home again within 30 minutes, but they cried another 20 minutes after our return home. I really hate crying, be it puppy, kitten, infant, child, or whatever. Fortunately, these puppies are well cared for by Ruby so there is very little crying. 
Unfortunately, she is not producing enough milk for the puppies. This was only detected after I mentioned to Ruby's breeder that the pups appeared to be "sucking her dry". The pups seemed to be working very hard to get milk, and she looked uncomfortable and not swollen or engorged. Still, they appeared healthy and content, so with our lack of experience, the pups could have started to fade away before we realised the problem. The solution is to buy canine milk powder to mix up for supplemental feeding every 2 hours. 
This can be quite challenging, when the pups prefer their mother to a plastic nipple. Some are easier to feed than others. You may  notice in the photos that we have colored yarn on the puppies to identify them. We are weighing them daily, and they have been gaining since we started supplementing. There is a large difference between birth weights of the puppies, and this has continued. It is fun to hold the puppies and pet their soft fur. Ruby is cool with it now, but initially she was concerned about us taking her pups away.
Ruby has become noticibly calmer now (5 days since birth), as have we.  I will continue to worry about her lying on one of them until they are weaned. She is very careful, but she's also tired, and they are tiny and there are 8 of them to keep track of.  Though we had some anxiety and challenges, the outcome and experience certainly could have been worse.  We are really enjoying watching the gorgeous pups grow. 
I am going to work only 3 days a week until the pups go to their new homes, and it is spring, so there's much to appreciate.