Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Oh, you lucky people! I just happened to be puttering around in the puppy room yesterday when they had their very first group play session. And Jay just happened to be conveniently next door and able to pass me the video camera.


In case you are wondering where Taika was during all this, she was watching from the safety of her spot outside the box. There is an occasional glimpse of her ears & nose on the right.

Monday, 29 March 2010

2 weeks old weights

As Ian said on yesterday's update - they sure are growing fast. Here are their weights at 2 weeks old together with birth weight and last week's update followed by the chart - ta-da!

I look at these numbers and they don't really mean much to me, except that the weights are not quite doubling each week and all puppies reached 1 kg or more by the age of 2 weeks. Simple-minded, maybe, but I like to see things in picture form (double-click for a bigger, clearer view):

Just for fun, I dug out the weights of Neka's first litter (Taika's family) for comparison purposes. And it just proved that birth weight bears little resemblance to litter size or eventual adult size. Neka's first litter - Taika's family - was 7 puppies and the average weight for the litter was lowest of all even though all the puppies grew to a good size, including Taika & her sister Keksi, both of whom are actually bigger than Neka.

The second litter - Maija's family, the 'Monta' litter - was 9 puppies and so I really expected the average litter weight to be much lower than the first litter. But, no, it was higher. And the majority of those puppies grew up to be on the smaller side, including Maija who we affectionately call our 'miniature Lapphund'.

And this litter who I am calling the 'Tuisku' litter - higher again, although I was thinking that some if not all of these puppies would also be somewhat small, given their sire's compact form. Not that anyone expects Dino or 2Toes to ever be mistaken for a miniature Lapphund when they grow up.

Unfortunately I can't find the weight information past the birth weight for the first litter, but here is a chart showing the relative average weight per litter. Useful? Not particularly. Interesting? Well, I think so.

And now, because you have been so patient wading through all this stuff, here is your reward: a video showing Butterfly and 2Toes taking their time to settle down this morning. In this one little video you get puppies crawling, puppies walking around (or should I say staggering), some barking and other cute noises, puppy discovering the water bowl, and pay attention at about 40 seconds when poor little Butterfly gets startled. I can't figure out whether she barks & gives herself a fright or whether it's 2Tone next to her squawking in his sleep. Either way, it's funny stuff. Unfortunately you also get a bit of unsteady camera holding from yours truly as I try to sort out the light. Sorry 'bout that.

Next I must capture evidence of them barking & growling like they were this morning when I was cleaning the box - quite hilarious.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

poll result

So I finally got you! Or the puppies did, anyway. Although Dino was third to open his eyes, the first 2 were actually the twos: 2Toes and 2Tone. Of course, they are all blinking at the world now and I really must get a video of one or two of them trundling around the box crashing into things as they learn to master their legs, because that's the cutest thing ever.

In the meantime I'll think up another poll. I had a message from Stéphanie to say that she was voting for the puppies having their father's head - just in case I was going to run a poll on that. For some reason the message disappeared without publishing, so sorry about that on behalf of Blogger.

I could run a poll on who made the biggest mess when I tried to worm them for the first time today. That won't work as a poll, though, because they all made an enormous mess. Poor little things. They expect only yummy stuff (i.e. Lactol puppy milk) to come from syringes inserted into their little mouths. They get quite a shock when it actually delivers wormer. Apparently it tastes pretty bad. So they have told me, anyway.

More cute photos tomorrow & maybe a video if I get good light in the morning.

2 weeks old

I was going to just post the poll result and the weight update today, but that would be just too mean. So without further ado, here are the puppies at 2 weeks old today.

2 Toes - At first I couldn't distinguish her in the photos so I had to go and take some more of her. Then I spotted this one in the original bunch & there were the 2 white toes in the bottom of the shot. Not to mention that typical little sideways look, which I really should have recognised the first time around.

2Tone - Looking a little bit sleepy, as usual. This boy reminds me of his uncle Taito - utterly chilled at all times. Usually to be found on his back, oblivious to all going on around him.

Grey Wolf - We really did have to go and get another photo of her. Not because I couldn't recognise her but because - unusually for her - she was kicking up such a fuss (I'm hungry and I want to eat right now!) that we couldn't get a reasonable pic earlier. Here she is her normal placid self with full belly and starting to drift back off to sleep.

Dino - Looking every inch the gent already. There are some eyes in there, but the fur around his face is so long that his eyes are usually obscured by fur visors.

Butterfly - This is my second attempt at a photo of this little mite. Unfortunately it's one taken with flash which is not my favorite way as it distorts the colour of their coats. Alas, it was the best we could manage at the time. At least you can see her little white chin.

I'm really looking forward to seeing as they develop which ones look more like their mum & family and which ones look more like their dad. Obviously the sable colouring will make them resemble Albmi, but I can already see lots of similarities with Taika's relatives too.

Check back later for the poll result & weight updates tomorrow.

Friday, 26 March 2010


Has anyone been wondering why there has occasionally been a book or two in the puppy box? Perhaps this will give you a clue:

Yes, the puppies burrow underneath it and it makes me nervous. What if they suffocate? What if Taika jumps in the box, doesn't realise someone is underneath and really squishes them? One day I went into the puppy room, looked in the box and saw only one puppy. The rest? In a heap under the mat.

And it's not like they are cold - the room is very warm and they usually spread out as far away from each other as they can get because they get too hot. It just goes to show how the instinct to seek a den affects even week-old dogs. That explains why most Lappy owners have a shrub or 2 in the garden which has been thoroughly dug under and around - the need to make a safe, dark den.

Here's another of someone emerging from underneath:

The problem is with the corners of the mats. Because they shrink a little with washing & age (bad design flaw, people), the corners curl, creating a perfect space for puppies to burrow under. Of course, they always find these gaps because their instinct, even when they are blind before their eyes open, is to crawl face-first into the corners.

So we put a couple of heavy books on the corners to flatten them and stop the burrowing. Of course, that just means the puppies burrow into the book instead. You've seen Dino learning to read, well, Butterfly reckons that whatever he can do, she can do better.

And here's Grey Wolf enjoying her snooze from the dizzy heights of her book-platform:

And, finally, today's news: Grey Wolf, petite lady that she is, is the only puppy under 1 kilo this morning, but I have no doubt that she will break that barrier tomorrow. As yet, we still have only 3 puppies with their eyes open. Two more days to vote, folks. And, no, you will be getting no hints.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


You poll voters are just too good - Butterfly was indeed the first to attempt a few steps with belly lifted off the floor, and she was quickly followed by Grey Wolf and 2Tone.

The next milestone is quickly approaching, as last night 2 puppies opened their eyes - already! And this morning a third has a little squint as well. This is when they really start to look like tiny puppies instead of mice or guinea pigs.

By the time of the 2-week photos on Sunday, most if not all of them will have opened their eyes, so a quick poll between now and then: Who were the first to open their eyes?

random photos

Pretty Taika today with her HUGE babies - just look how they've grown!

You can see just how much bigger Dino is than 2-Tone, but they are clearly very close nonetheless:

After sorting out the puppies, Taika wastes no time in completely trashing the newspaper stash and then flaking out to enjoy a job well done:

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

licking bottoms 2

The Colic Story

Around about Wednesday night or Thursday morning of last week I was thinking everything with Taika & the puppies was going great. Everyone was sucking well and growing well. Even 2Toes, who had suffered a little setback, was catching up. Taika was learning the ropes of being a good mum and had finally twigged to the necessary cleanup job.

Then on Friday the puppies were starting to get a bit noisy. Jay & I were making fun of them, and wondering to each other, "Were the previous litters this noisy?" Of course, no two litters will be the same in their personality and development, so I try not to read too much into differences. However, they were definitely causing a noticeable amount of noise with their squeaking, squawking and whining, and at least 2 of them weren't settling but kept waking up to do circuits of the box. That should have been my second clue, really, but who knew?

By bedtime, 2Toes and Dino were constantly crying and nothing I did could comfort them. Taika wasn't bothered, but I didn't know if that meant there wasn't a problem or that she just didn't really care if there was a problem or not. I thought perhaps they were constipated from possibly not getting enough bottom attention from Taika, so I spent 2 hours trying everything I could think of and everything likely I could find online. I spent a lot of time 'licking' their bottoms with warm, damp cotton wool with only limited success. I rubbed their bellies, I massaged tiny amounts of olive oil into the tiny anus of 2Toes, who was by far the worst affected. In the meantime, Grey Wolf had started to cry as well.

Nothing was helping and the cries were getting worse and worse until by midnight I truly feared that they were going to die.

Into the hot water box went the 3 crying puppies and off we went to the emergency vet who only that morning had seen Taika to check her wound was healing as it should. Two hours later we were on our way back home. The vet could find no clear evidence of a problem, so we hoped it was colic and she gave the worst 2 an injection of anti-spasmodic pain medication. Can you imagine my relief when it started to take effect? By 3am they were settled and snuggled back in with mum and the following morning all was well once again.

What causes the colic? Don't know. It's possible Taika doesn't have as much milk as we would like and so the puppies suck a lot of air when they're nursing. Similarly, it's possible they are getting air from drinking too much, too fast (hear that, Dino & 2Toes?) So I'm just hoping it's the latter problem and that Taika's milk will last until I get the babies weaned, which should start in a week or so.

The puppies are now on occasional gripe water & belly massages plus a bit of extra Lactol here and there in addition to mum's milk just in case they're not getting enough to satisfy them. Oh, and I'm back to my regular bottom licking. One-week-old-puppy farts are surprisingly stinky.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

movie stars

In the news today: at this morning's weigh-in, Dino breaks the 1 kilo barrier.

For the very occasional individual who tunes in to see photos of cute puppies rather than to read my amusing stories, don't worry, I haven't forgotten you. Also, for Kate who is missing her little brown dog, here is a little video of the gang at breakfast this morning.

Butterfly is the only puppy who hasn't been afflicted by colic at any time. I'm wondering if it's because of her, er, energetic sucking style. She's always on her back, wiggling and punching the air while firmly stuck onto the milk bar. You go, girl.

And this is the scene after breakfast. Taika abandons ship ASAP and leaves the babies to snuggle down for their morning snooze. In this light you can really see the sable colouring developing on their faces and the tops of their heads. Keep an eye on Grey Wolf at the top of the box sucking the vetbed in case anything was spilled - or perhaps that was 2Toes, which is quite likely. And, on the left, 2Tone gives a big yawn.

licking bottoms 1

The Poo Story

And I don't mean Winnie.

When a bitch gives birth by Caesarian section, it is said that there can be a little something missing in the instinct to care for her babies.  She can completely reject the puppies and refuse to nurse them or, even worse, try to kill them.  Usually, when she hears them crying, it speaks to something in her instinct and the maternal feelings kick in and then away she goes doing all the stuff she's supposed to do.  Or when the puppies start to suckle, the bitch is flooded with the mummy-hormones.

I didn't find any of this to be precisely true for Taika.  As I've said before, she didn't reject them, as such, she allowed them to nurse and she didn't abandon them.  However, for the first 2 days she also didn't take much notice of them.  When they cried, she ignored them; when they screamed, she just looked at them.  She didn't wash them and she didn't lick them or even poke at them with her nose the way Neka used to.  I wasn't surprised by any of this.  Quite apart from the fact that she just hadn't had the proper opportunity to bond with them, she had had surgery and she was probably feeling pretty rotten at first.

Unfortunately I didn't really notice the lack of vital licking until the second day.  After eating, the single most important function the puppies need taken care of is what is often euphemistically referred to as elimination.  Wee & poo to you & me.  Infant dogs are unable to get rid of their urine and faeces without help and the licking action of the dam stimulates them to eliminate.  She also cleans up all the stuff she produces this way (i.e. she eats it).

Neka, for example, kept all her puppies scrupulously clean.  I had to rush to beat her to cleaning up the tiny poos.  Of course, this attention to detail had it's less fortunate flip side.  Ever after, Neka has been the poo-eating champion of the south west.  Sheep, cows, cats, she's not fussy.  The phrase 'given with one hand, taken away with the other' springs to mind.

So the poor puppies were filling up on milk but for a full day no one was attending to licking their bottoms to empty them out again.  Eventually they started to explode!  There was pale yellow poo everywhere and I suddenly woke up to what was happening - or not happening, as the case may be.  The job became mine.  With cotton wool soaked in warm water, I simulated the motion of the dam's tongue to get them to wee and then poo.  There was a lot of poo.  And I didn't know how often to do it.  In the end I would go to work with the cotton wool when I heard them start to make the distinctive whiny, complaining noises.

But as it turned out, that wasn't often enough and then disaster struck: the puppies started to get diarrhea.  And what happens to anyone with that problem?  Dehydration.  And how fast do you suppose dehydration can kill a newborn puppy?  Exactly.

So I started to 'lick' the bottoms (with my damp cotton, you understand) every hour and I would get the puppy started and then present them to Taika to take over the licking, trying to teach her what to do.  She caught on to that pretty quickly where urine was concerned, but when I presented her with a dirty bottom to clean she looked at it then looked at me as if to say "You have got to be kidding," and turned her face away.  With a bit of patience and determination, I got her to work on both functions equally well.

Within a day I had the poo problem under control except for one puppy, 2 Toes, whose diarrhea continued a bit longer.  Worrying?  Oh, yes.  So out came the Lactol puppy milk and feeding equipment (tiny syringes) so that I could keep her topped up and hydrated.  You can see the effects of that day in her weight which actually dropped from 450g on day 2 to 435g on day 3.  But by day 3 she was getting back to normal as well, so I wasn't in a complete panic.  And I had had experience of hand-feeding a puppy before, so that didn't strike dread in my heart.  Well, not too much.

And then Taika started to really get the hang of things and would instigate the licking herself without any interference from me.  While the puppies were gathered around the milk bar, she would dip her head and push her nose into one after the other looking for likely bottoms to lick.  So what did I do?  I let her get on with it, that's what.

Two days later I regretted it, but that's another story.

1 week old weights

Having conquered my technology failure on the puppies' one-week anniversary, I am now able to provide not only tables, but also colourful graphs to illustrate the wee ones' progress. That is what they call a result. Wh00p!

And, the picture (which will be easier to read if you double-click):

Monday, 22 March 2010

milestone - new poll

I've posted a new poll in the usual spot, top right. You have until sometime on Friday, so get voting. Today, at the ripe old age of 1 week and 1/2 day, the first puppy heaved itself to its feet and took a few wobbly steps before falling on its face and continuing the journey to the corner of the box crawling on its belly, as usual.

The question is, who was the first to take those first few steps?

1 week old

Yesterday the puppies clocked up their 7th day of life and we celebrated by cutting their nails for the first time.  And taking one-week-old portraits as well.  The natural light wasn't great, so the puppies were all photographed with a flash.  Shame, as that doesn't do justice to their ever-developing sable colours.  However, you get the general gist.  And did I say?  Turns out that Dino is actually a brown-sable-tosaurus.  Well, whaddeya know.

2 Toes


Grey Wolf



Sunday, 21 March 2010

weight update

The first week in a puppy's life is the most critical.  Every little thing can affect them and so many things can go wrong.  They can so easily pick up an infection, they can have feeding problems, they're not yet able to regulate their own temperature so even a draft can kill them.  It's a stressful time for us under normal circumstances (whatever 'normal' is).

With the first litter, Neka had no complications and was an excellent mum and 6 of the 7 puppies were fine and thrived with little or no input from me.  That was a lucky break, though, because the 7th puppy had a tough start in life.  He was difficult to resuscitate, couldn't suck, and I had to hand-feed him every 2 hours for the first week and every 3-4 hours for the second week.  Round the clock.  That was hard, hard work, but I was able to do it because Neka and the other puppies needed so little from me.

With the second litter, again Neka did a great job, although it was a constant low-level concern for us that she keep enough milk flowing.  And we were also very fortunate that none of the puppies had any problems at all.  They were all strong, healthy and vigorous.  All nine of them.  So, that was the difficulty with that litter - the sheer volume of the workload made everything tough.  Much, much more cleaning and double everything else. 

With these puppies, this week has been a rollercoaster ride.  Some had some problems, some didn't.  When it comes to tiny puppies, every little thing affects their progress, and so they didn't necessarily follow the pattern of weight gain that we might have expected.  At their weigh-in this morning, Dino was the heaviest, of course.  And the poll winner was ... 2 Toes!  So, not a shock result, but she's had more than her fair share of problems this week and there was a day when Butterfly overtook her, but she caught up again when she started to feel better.

Here are their current weights compared to their birth weights. Because I like pictures, I was going to insert a chart illustrating their relative weight gains, but for some reason I can't get it to work like I used to in the old days.  I'll figure it out for later.
                  Birth   1Week
2 Toes        418      778
2-Tone        327      682
Grey Wolf   327      645
Dino           467      840
Butterfly     361      740
I've got a trickier poll for next week for you clever things who played it safe with your votes.  Watch this space.

Tomorrow I'll have the first week updates and new photos.  In the meantime, here are some puppies doing their baby Lapphund thing.

Grey Wolf


2-Tone Again (spends a lot of time on his back, this boy)

Someone found a nice spot for a snooze.  It's just typical of a Lappy to claim the highest place available, even if it is only a 1-inch book.

Just to prove how advanced he is, Dino is learning to read.

Friday, 19 March 2010

poll hint

Oh, not a hint really, as such.  I can see why you're all picking 2-Toes, really I can.  After all, she was the biggest of the girls at birth - by a long way.  And, yes, it's true that puppies will normally gain about 10% of their weight each day and that at the end of the first week they will have approximately doubled their body weight.  Approximately.

And it makes sense, too, to pick 2-Tone because boys are usually bigger than girls and will often gain more weight more quickly if they are small to begin with.

It just goes to show that these things are not set in stone and so many factors will affect the growth rate.  For example, you haven't even had the poo story yet (for which, perhaps you're grateful?)  Does it help if I tell you that at their daily weigh-in this morning, but for 1 gram, 2-Toes was the same weight as Butterfly?  No, that's not much help, I guess.  See, isn't this fun?

One more day to vote!  In the meantime, this is what was going on at breakfast this morning.  Halfway through you can hear Lenny the cat yowling outside the door for his food too.  And you also get a glimpse of how a puppy can come unstuck, get lost and need a little help finding their way back to the milk bar.

A note on the sound:  all the grunts, squeaks, squawks, yelps, squeals & screeches are made by the puppies.  The creaking sound that is similar to wood pigeons cooing or a woodpecker in the forest is something the video recorder does, for some reason.  

And the books in the corners of the box?  That's a story for another day.

presents & other bribes

Heh, just kidding!

Before you get too excited, these puppies have been spoken for for quite a long time - in fact, they have been spoken for several times over.  So I'm afraid that no amount of bribery will work.  On this litter, anyway.  There is always, of course, the next litter.  I'm just saying.

Today I was thrilled to get one of these from Kate & Jerome as a present for wetting the babies' heads.  Now, I'm not much of a drinker, really. (If you discount the odd medicinal g&t, that is.  Ok, I've been known to consume the occasional bottle or 2 of pear cider as well.)  But I'm not one for Bailey's or beer and I've even gone off wine a bit.  So, what's so great about this stuff?  Well, it's Lakka - Lapponia Cloudberry Liqueur, made in Finland.  Lapponia - get it?  As in Lapphund, Lapland, etc.

Even that's not what's so great about this stuff, though, and the best thing is that Kate & Jerome will have had no idea when they picked it out.  Have you ever had a cloudberry?  Thought not.  They grow in the wilderness of the northern hemisphere, but I've never seen one or heard of one in the UK (maybe Scotland?)  Where I come from we call those berries 'bakeapples'.  Don't ask me why, I have no idea whatsoever.  They have nothing at all in common with apples, but believe me when I tell you they are the single yummiest little fruit that ever grew wild.  We eat them right off the bush, make them into jam, put them in scones, on ice cream.  Some people even make wine or sherry with them.  They're gorgeous in everyway, even their colour.

For many years I really thought that they didn't even exist outside of Newfoundland & Labrador, since they didn't have the profile of, say, a raspberry or blueberry (both of which also grow wild there).  So, imagine my surprise when I went to Finland a few years ago and on a visit to the Lumiturpa kennel was served bakeapple jam with our afternoon tea.  I was thrilled & delighted.  Perhaps rather more than was strictly necessary for a fruit.

I'm off to the shops for ice cream.  What do you mean it's breakfast time?  Your point?

Puppies... oh, yeah.  Pics later and maybe even a little video if you're very, very lucky.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

super granny

Mum and babies are looking great today, don't you think?  The early stresses are behind us, I think, and now I just need to concentrate on making sure all the puppies get equal time at the milk bar and that I get some sleep.

The first night home after the birth, when Taika wasn't feeling quite so perky as in this photo, she lay down, conked completely out, and allowed her puppies to nurse.

Later that night she had some food, some chicken soup and a trip to the grass then happily returned to her brood.  She sat up in the corner and allowed them to nurse again and then she proceeded to fall asleep.  She didn't lie down, but her head kept getting heavier and heavier, dropping lower and lower.  She resisted all my attempts to coax her down until sometime after I had started to doze myself.

She finally decided to lie down, since she was obviously going to be stuck with these puppies, and so she just plunked straight down where she sat - right on top of the nursing brood.  This is not unusual - bitches often lie down on their puppies and they just squirt right out from underneath.  However, Neka was always a little more careful and at least tried not to trap anyone as she lay down.  Poor Taika, of course, wasn't completely committed to the well being of her family just yet, and the combination of exhaustion, full belly and recovery from the anaesthetic were just too much to resist any longer, so down she went.

The puppy screams brought me rocketing to my feet from my spot on the inflatable matress on the floor, even though I know that the volume and urgency of a Finnish Lapphund puppy's scream bears little resemblance to the gravity of the actual pending danger/injury/suspected slight.  And then who should appear in the doorway (of the door I thought securely closed) but granny Neka, ready for action, ready to take over, ready to rescue anyone who needed rescuing.  All that was missing was the superhero cape.  I guess she didn't pause long enough to don the cape in her haste to scale the barricades at the bottom of the stairs.

This is how that looks now (with Keskiyo checking out the squeaks he can hear coming from the puppy room).

Somehow, Neka scaled this to get to the puppies.  She has told me on a number of occasions that she's the one who does puppies around here.  She just cannot believe that she's not allowed to go to them.  Even before Taika moved into the room, Neka was trying to get in there - I guess it was the irresistible combined smells of cardboard and newspaper that did it.  As soon as the puppies arrived and started squeaking, she has been positively frantic to get in there.  Poor Neka!  She goes to work with Jay each day to lessen her distress.

So over time we have been adding things to the barricade at the bottom of the stairs until we thought that surely she couldn't get past.  Well, turns out she can get past anything if she wants to badly enough.  Mercifully, most of the time she leaves it alone.

Two days ago when Taika wasn't doing all she should have for her litter, I admit I was tempted to hand them over to granny to get on with it, but sometime in the very small hours of Tuesday morning, the maternal instinct finally kicked in and now Taika is doing a great job.  With the nursing, with the cleaning, with the wees & poos - the whole shooting match.  What a relief!

I know I promised the poo story, but that will just have to wait for another day.  Will these do intead?

Here you can see 2 Toes's namesake on her back right paw.  She also has a vertical stripe of white on her chest.

This is 2-Tone and his bright tan legs.  With his flashy white face markings and tan legs, I guess you can see why I originally thought he was black & tan.  But then I caught a glimpse of his head - you can even see it in this photo - wolf sable through and through. 

Here you can see almost all of Butterfly's butterfly chest markings.  I'll have to try to get a better one at some point.  Shouldn't be too tough as time goes on since baby Lappies seem to spend most of their time sleeping on their backs.

Grey Wolf top, random wolf sable puppy bottom.  Finally managed to get a shot where you can see the difference in the coat colours.  She also has white toes on all paws and a big white arrow on her chest, so when her colour changes I've got a backup identification plan.

weight poll

Instead of telling you the puppies' relative weights, I decided to run the first poll.  Saves having to type so much as well, so there's my ulterior motive.

So, I'm leaving the baby dinosaur out of the equation, because that would just be too easy.  On Sunday the puppies will be a week old and I'll be doing their weekly update.  The question is this: on Sunday's weigh-in who will be heaviest?

As always, the poll sits on the top right of the blog & it will close around midnight Saturday.  Happy voting.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


In case you're wondering, that's about as much sense as I can muster verbally at the moment.  I did, however, get a good hour of sleep, thanks to Jay.  Thanks, Jay!

Today's mum-and-babies portrait.  If you're thinking Taika is looking tired, don't fret, she gets very heavy-lidded and dozy when the puppies are nursing.  She's actually quite bright-eyed now and you'd almost never know she had just had surgery.  Also, by necessity for the well-being of the newborns, the puppy room is hot, hot, hot and Finnish Lapphunds don't really do hot.

And so today the gang went off in their hot water bottle warmed box to have their hind dew claws removed.  In our first litter, only about half of the puppies had hind dew claws, of which one was Taika.  In the second litter, all nine had them.  In this litter, not only do all the puppies have them, one poor little mite - Grey Wolf - had double rear dewclaws!  What's in store for the next litter, all with doubles?

Double dewclaws are actually required by the breed standard in some breeds and they're not completely unheard of in Lapphunds - Neka's dad Pacsha had them, for example.  Grey Wolf says, "thanks a bunch, great-grandpa."  I did manage to get a quick photo of them but the paws are pretty small and the photo is pretty poor.  You can just about see the tiny white dot of the second one pointing towards the back of the leg.

Oh, I hate the dewclaw removal event.  It's horrible to take those gorgeous, fat little wigglers and inflict pain on them.  I'm a complete and utter coward and I hide in the waiting room with my fingers in my ears lest I hear a squawk while the vet and nurse assistant get on with it.

However, having seen what can happen to these claws on adult dogs if they're not removed as puppies, I do still think it's worth it.  I even wrote a little article about it for the SFLS newsletter.  Since then I have had another conversation with my vet about it and he had some interesting observations.  He has noticed that since tail docking was banned, many breeders who would in the past have had tails and dewclaws removed now no longer bother with the claws.  And he has seen a quite noticeable rise in the number of dew claw injuries. 

So, off they came and now I'll add bathing the wounds in warm, salty water to my list of daily chores.

Today's photos:  a selection illustrating some of the reasons puppies suddenly start to scream blue murder and you have to run to extricate them from some dire situation or other.

Dino leading Butterfly into the temptation that is the corner-under-the-guard-rail tiny spot to get wedged in.  You can see I've stuffed the very corner with newspaper in the hope of keeping them from getting too badly stuck.  The rails are designed to give the puppies an escape route when their dam accidentally squashes them against the sides, but with each litter I'm thinking more and more that they do more harm than good.  The puppies just can't seem to resist wrapping themselves around the rails.

 Usually at this age the puppies are too small to get wedged in, they just crawl underneath and are fine.  But that was before the Brown-tosaurus arrived.

I'm guessing this is Butterfly again getting herself the aforementioned well and truly stuck by using Dino for a leg up.  He fills up that space completely and in a couple of days I'll either have to get rid of the rails or grease the brown pup so we can get him out.

In every litter there seems to be one puppy who can't leave the water bowl alone.  I guess they like the cool metal, but there is always a puppy who likes to sleep with head in bowl.  Here is Dino practicing already.  Frankly, he's so big and strong I'm afraid he'll fall in and drown.  I never dreamed any of them would be able to reach the rim of the bowl at this age. 

Tomorrow a weight update, the Neka Superhero story and everything you ever wanted to know about puppy poo.  I bet you can't wait, can you?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

day 1 portraits

Two Toes
Puppy 1
Sex: Female
Colour: Wolf Sable
Time of Birth: 16:15
Weight at birth: 418g

Named because the absolute only distinguishing feature she has from her littermates is 2 white toes on one of her back paws.  She's got eyebrows, she's got a little white chin, she's got tan arms, she's got rear dew claws on both paws.  Same as everyone!  But she has only 2 white toes and they're both on one paw.

Puppy 2
Sex: Male
Colour: Wolf Sable
Time of Birth: 16:20
Weight at birth: 327g

The name is awkwardly similar to the 1st puppy's, it's true.  But this one had his name first - the second to be named, in fact.  Chosen for the colourful stripes of colour on his front legs.  This is a dangerous identification, however, because the one thing we know about the wolf sable colour is how much it changes as the puppy grows and develops.  So this little guy could end up losing his most clearly identifying feature in a matter of days.  In my defense, when he was named I thought he was black & tan.  (Is that a defense?)

Grey Wolf
Puppy 3
Sex: Female
Colour: Wolf Sable
Time of Birth: 16:25
Weight at birth: 327g

Again, I find myself with a puppy named for the very thing that is likely to change dramatically and often.  Oh well.  She was named because when the puppies are all lined up side by side, she looks grey instead of black.  Difficult to tell in these photos, of course.  Interestingly, she was exactly the same weight at birth as 2Tone and they have both increased by exactly 20g since yesterday, so still the same weight.


Puppy 4
Sex: Male
Colour: Brown & Tan
Time of Birth: 16:28
Weight at birth: 467g

No, contrary to what you might expect, he wasn't the great hulking monster who was blocking up Taika's birth canal.  He is, however, the largest puppy in any of our litters, and he was next-to-last in the birth canal.  When he came out he was enormous and looked twice as big as everyone else.  He was the quietest and slowest to come around and needed to be swung to clear his lungs.  The way you do this is to hold the puppy securely between your hands and swing it down fast from over your head.  The centrifugal force clears the airways.  However, he was so big he wouldn't fit in my hands.  Luckily Jay was there with his extremely long pianist's fingers and so he resusitated this boy.  In addition to being dinosaur-sized, he also had a very long neck at birth.  Luckily all the bones are settling where they should now, so his weird long neck is no longer in evidence.  However, when I pointed out these features, Jay promptly named him the brown-tosaurus, but as that's a bit of a mouthful, we'll call him Dino in honour of the dinosaur in the Flintstones.

Puppy 5
Sex: Female
Colour: Wolf sable

Time of Birth: 16:30
Weight at birth: 361g

This girl was the prettiest puppy at birth of any we have produced.  If I may speak candidly, newborn anythings are not traditionally lovely in any aesthetic sense.  However, Butterfly had the sweetest little heart-shaped head, which makes a nice change from the wedge-shaped heads that usually appear after being squeezed down the birth canal.  Again, the shape of the head changes dramatically, so I'm not expecting this to be identifiable.  Instead, she was named for the lovely and distinctive pattern of white on her chest (which, unfortunately, is not visible from the photo.  Sorry.)  She was the other puppy I originally thought was black & tan until I got a good look at her today, dry and in daylight.

So, there you have it: 2 dogs, 3 bitches; 1 brown, 4 wolf sable.  Not the rainbow litter I was expecting after all.  But they'll do just fine.

Monday, 15 March 2010

we have puppies

Yesterday was a tough day.  The book says that "the most skilled part of whelping is deciding how long it is safe ... before asking veterinary assistance and assessing whether the bitch is in trouble or if she is just having a rest."  Well, the sum total of my experience of whelping puppies was gleaned during 2 litters of puppies prior to this one.  Kittens don't count.  So my experience was severely restricted to what I've read, what other, more experienced people have told me, and what I have witnessed with Neka.  Cue much wondering, weighing up alternatives, phoning for backup verbal support, etc.

Taika & I had 2 sleepness nights together on Fri & Sat, and all day Saturday I was completely convinced she would have her puppies that night.  She kept moving in and out of Stage 1.  By 'Stage 1' I mean heavy panting, restlessness, digging and shredding paper.  This is the stage during which the puppies are getting ready for action.  When the bitch is lying on her side, you can even see the puppies moving.  So there was plenty of all this starting Friday night and continuing through Saturday and then Saturday night.  Here she is happy as a clam in her box doing her digging and panting.

I wasn't too worried at this point, because this stage can come and go for a few days, really.  And then at about 4 am on Sunday, Taika stopped panting and settled down.  I braced myself for the contractions to begin signalling the beginning of labour & arrival of the first puppy.  Instead, Taika went to sleep.  Huh.  So I did too.

Sunday morning she was acting as if she had no intentions of giving birth for another week or so.  She had her breakfast then asked to go out so we had a little stroll down the park.  She did all her business, including 2 unusually large poos then dragged me back into the house and straight upstairs.  Within an hour the first tentative contractions started.

At noon, following a few strong contractions, her 'waters broke' (for want of a better term) and she threw up her breakfast.  5 minutes after that there was another rush of fluid and the strong contractions continued regularly.  Based on my experience with Neka, and what the books say, I was expecting a puppy before 1pm.  Nothing.  Then I was expecting the first puppy by 2 pm.  At 1:30 Taika threw up again.  I got my surgical gloves and Vaseline out and had a little root around but couldn't feel anything.  And, frankly, I was nervous of sticking my fingers too far inside since I didn't really know what I was doing!  The thing is, if you can gently grasp a puppy and very slightly shift its position during a contraction, that might be all that is required to get things moving.  But I couldn't feel anything.  I called Toni who has a wealth of experience and has always been on hand with great advice during each of my whelping experiences.

At 1:50 I called the vet and while waiting for him to return my call, what appeared to be a puppy head presented itself at Taika' vulva.  Spoke to the vet, we agreed if the head was there everything would probably go normally from now on.  When there was still no progress after a couple more contractions, I got busy with my Vaseline again but there was actually no puppy in reach - just the bag, unbroken and sticking out like a balloon.  At 2:45, almost 3 hours after the start of labour, I called the vet and told him we were on our way in.  We arrived there at 3:10 pm with Taika no further along and with our hot water bottle box to collect born puppies.

I won't even go into the stress of getting Taika out of the box, down the stairs, into and out of the car.  She's heavy.

After an hour of observation, the vet decided the puppy wasn't moving further down the birth canal in spite of Taika's strong contractions and the fact that it didn't feel like a particularly big puppy, so at 4pm Taika went off for a Caesarian section.  Jay & I stood by in the recovery room and resusitated the puppies as the nurse passed them through.

So, we made it.  Taika & puppies were back home by 6 pm and while the babies settled down for a feed, Taika caught up on some much-needed sleep.

C-section births are notorious because the bitch can reject her puppies, since she has no idea where on earth they came from and does not have the experience of ripping the sacs, stimulating them to breathe & cry, etc.  So, while Taika is not exactly being the absolute best mum ever just yet, she's doing a great job.  At first she did glare at the puppies as if to say "What the %&£!  Last thing I remember I was trying to have a big old poo, the next thing I know my box is full of these strange wiggling, squeaking things that smell funny."  I still can't quite convince her she has to clean them and to lick them to stimulate expulsion of waste, but all in all it's going well.  She's happy to let them nurse, she rushes back to them when she's been out for a wee, and she hasn't tried to kill them - well, not on purpose anyway.  Phew!

And even Neka, amazingly good mum that she turned out to be, chucked her first 2 puppies out of the box when they were born, one of which was Taika herself.

Here is Taika today, much brighter, with the babies gathered around.

Tomorrow individual pics, birth weights and stuff.  Oh, and how Neka came to the rescue when Taika lay on the puppies and squished them.

Friday, 12 March 2010

crufts 2010

Yesterday I missed going to Crufts because I was otherwise occupied supervising the ever-growing Taika.  So, it was all for a good cause and everything, but I did spend all day searching for news and feeling left out nonetheless.  We were thrilled x 3 (or more!) when the Postgraduate Dog class was stuffed with Taika's Infindigo brothers.  Taito was 2nd and Karhu was Reserve and half-brother, the young Tarkka, who is only 19 months old, came 3rd.  Then, to top it all off, sister Keksi was Reserve in Postgraduate Bitch.  Wow, what a great day.

Yet another place in the Postgraduate Dog class was awarded to Keskiyo's son Arianrhod Kirrinkurri who was VHC.  Click here for full results for Finnish Lapphunds.

Inko and Rauhan were both there too, although I hear they left their coats at home.  Carrying on the family tradition - their mum Neka, apart from Crufts 2009 when she placed 3rd in Open Bitch, never ever managed to get the timing right and was always either in season or out of coat or both when March rolled around.

Dogs shows are certainly not the be-all and end-all.  In my book, they're just for fun.  The be-all and end-all are happy, healthy dogs who live with families who adore them.  But we do (in the main) have a great, fun bunch of people on the Finnish Lapphund show scene and so we have a terrific social time when we go.  Crufts is always a special show, with more dogs turning out looking their absolute best than at any other time the whole year.  We always have a top breed specialist judging too, and that's what makes it especially exciting to do well.

So yesterday was a great day.  If you'd like to watch the agility, obedience, flyball and other fun stuff, there is a live stream showing all day, in case you didn't catch any of my many, many Twitter updates yesterday.  And today I'll still be keeping half an eye on things as Neka & Keskiyo's breeder Toni will be competing in the Crufts breeder competition.  Go Team Elbereth!

In the meantime, we're gearing up a notch now that Crufts is out of the way for another year.  Last night Taika did a little bit of digging around and started investigating good dens, so she's getting ready too.  The cardboard & newspaper floorcovering is now down.  Lactol is in the cupboard.  Scales are ready & waiting.  So are we.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

puppy shopping 4


For a puppy, any soft brush is best until they get used to it and their coat grows enough to warrant proper brushing.

As adults, they will need 2 or 3 different grooming tools. (Although it goes without saying that some of us have 12 or 13 different ones. Ahem. No, not me. Of course not.)

Stiff bristle brush like a Mason & Pearson. Being the best, these are expensive! About £50-£60 for a medium size one. However, you can get them a bit cheaper than that at the bigger dog shows. These days mine is a cheaper brand of bristle & nylon mix after having good ones stolen from my bench at a show.

Another necessity for the fine hair around ears and under the legs is a comb. I prefer those with varying length teeth, sort of like these. I can't actually find a link to a comb that is like my favorite one, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's no longer available. You need to personalise it, of course - mine has authentic puppy teeth marks all over the handle, making plastic points that are uncomfortable to hold. Ideal.

Finally, for when they moult a rake is the tool of choice. A brush also works, but the rake does it faster & easier. This is not a product like the Furminator! That doesn't only remove dead hair, it cuts the fur. What we use for Lappies is designed to remove undercoat that is already loose without damaging the outer coat. The type with a double row of rotating teeth is best.

Collar & Lead

As advised to me back in the day, I now advise that a Lappy puppy's first collar & lead should be the soft nylon cat collar type. It will take a surprisingly long time for a Finnish Lapphund puppy to outgrow this little collar. It can take a day or two for puppies to get used to a collar & lead, and one of these is much lighter & more pleasant for them to get acclimatised to the idea of being restrained and no longer being free to run amok.

Other Stuff

Bowls, obviously. I use stainless steel - easy to clean & can't be chewed. Keskiyo, however, makes quite a racket with his when he flings it around on the patio or in his crate to get attention.

Nail clippers (yes, it must be done). The guillotine sort are easiest to use & are widely available.

Monday, 8 March 2010

mama has arrived

I collected Taika yesterday and brought her to Devon and she settled right in. Unfortunately Keskiyo thinks she's just about ready to be mated and Maija thinks she is muscling in and trying to take over the position of top dog. However, Keskiyo will calm down when the puppies arrive and Taika moves completely upstairs. At the moment she is only going up to her whelping room to sleep. As for Maija, a couple of walks together will sort out her nose joint.

As you can see, the whelping room has improved enormously. All that's missing now is a bit more cardboard and newspaper for the floor.

And here is Taika showing off her belly. It looks remarkably small here, although if you double click to get a closeup view, you can see her teats which appear fit for function & ready to go. In the second photo you get a better sense of just how chunky she is.