Thursday, 31 October 2013

1 week update

One week old - we made it!

Actually, that's a bit unnecessarily dramatic (a circumstance that you know I can never   rarely   only occasionally   oh, ok, frequently be accused of).  In fact, this has been the most uneventful of weeks as far as a new litter of puppies goes.  There have been no traumas apart from the occasional indignant squawk of the squished or banished as referred to in yesterday's post

Tuuli has been a model mum.  She has performed so much better than we expected.  I thought there could possibly be a little over-protectiveness.  But on the contrary, Tuuli is so proud of her puppies and pleased to show them off.  She doesn't even panic or even worry when I pick one up for a cuddle or to be weighed.  She is attentive and wants to know what I'm doing, but she's not worried.

I also thought it could be possible that she might resent having to spend her time with the puppies and miss out on what is going on with the rest of the gang.  There are occasions when she runs downstairs and leaps onto the sofa hoping for a game with Maija, but she is more than happy to head back upstairs and she really seems to enjoy spending time with her puppies.

You can see from her photos how content she is with them and what lovely care she is giving them.  I couldn't ask for more from her.  She is absolutely perfect as a mum - what lucky puppies!

And so to the one-week-old portraits.






Wednesday, 30 October 2013


The puppies are just about to reach the first milestone of their young lives.  Once they hit the one-week mark they are pretty much out of the woods in terms of the mysterious, often fatal, conditions that new puppies can develop.  I can relax a little bit more now knowing that not only are they all eating well and growing as they should, but that Tuuli is less likely to plunk herself down on top of one and smother him.

Were you wondering why I don't get much sleep during the first week?  One reason is the frequent wail of a puppy at the receiving end of mum's big rear end when she doesn't look where she's sitting.  This is a bigger problem for the first couple of days when mum is particularly tired and careless and, as in Tuuli's case, inexperienced.  With her litter of 9, Neka became remarkably adept at lying down while simultaneously scooping the whole litter into her belly and not squishing anyone.  Now that they are bigger and stronger, the Pippuri puppies can usually wriggle their way out before they are completely squashed.

The primary and loudest cause of puppy vocal complaint is when someone finds themselves on the wrong side of the body from the milk bar.  Woe is the puppy who is lost in the hinterland behind mum's back when she lies down to nurse the family.  The puppies can motor around the box surprisingly quickly, but asking them to navigate all the way around to the other side of a reclining mum is expecting a bit much, apparently. 

So in addition to Tuuli's frequent loo trips, there are many instances through the night for the first week when the humans come rocketing up out of bed to the sound of a puppy in dire distress.  By day 4 or 5 you're on your feet and halfway to the puppy room before you are even awake.

By day 7 the puppies in distress are pretty much on their own as it takes a truly life-or-death situation to actually wake you up.

If you would like a few more day-to-day photos of the puppies, you can join us on Instagram (@infindigo_jennifer) or Twitter (@infindigo).  If you are not so inclined, here are a few examples of what's been going on over there during the puppies' first week.

Brand new babies  -  Gentle new mum with Socks
Tiny new Tuulen  -  Tiny new Tito
Tiny new Mini  -  Clever Tuuli making a comfy pillow

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Ah, what could be cuter than puppy toes?

There is one day in the care of puppies that I just hate and yesterday was that day.  The horrible day when the rear dew claws are removed.

Vets are increasingly reluctant to remove these claws.  I have to say that I can't blame them - after all, "removing dew claws" is a polite way of saying "chopping off toes".  So it came to pass that with the Riemu litter, my new vet was one of those who would not do the procedure.  As it was, there was only one puppy with a rear dew claw - and she had it on only one paw.  So I took advice.  I spoke to other Lapphund breeders both in the UK and abroad.  There were several breeders who either didn't bother to have them removed or who were in the same position that I now found myself - their vets would not do it.  And they had never had problems.

In Scandinavia it is actually illegal for these claws to be removed - like tail docking here.  And that was the fact that finally made up my mind.  And, after all, the only thing worse than handing over these tiny puppies to have their unnecessary extra toes chopped off would be handing them over for this procedure to someone I didn't already know and trust.  So I made the decision not to have that single claw removed from that single puppy.

And what happened?

Before that puppy was 2 years old, she ripped that blasted dew claw and had to have it removed under general anesthetic.  And that is the reason for having them removed at 3 or 4 days old.

So this time, although my regular vet still won't remove them, I did find a vet I do know and trust who was willing to do so.  And so yesterday I took Mini with her single rear dew claw and Tuulen with his pair of rear dew claws, to have them removed.  Chopped off.  Aw, poor puppies!

Do I regret it?  Well, no.  Does it hurt them?  Frankly, yes.  So how can I not regret it?  Well, it takes a second to remove a claw, it only hurts them for that second, and then they have a lifetime of not risking the excruciating pain of injuring it as an adult. 

Below you can see the little mark where Mini's was removed.  That is followed by some random shots of irresistible puppy toes.  

Monday, 28 October 2013

milk time

For the first few days after birth, the bitch produces colostrum to feed the puppies a mix of nutrients and antibodies to set up their immune systems.  On or about day 3 after birth, the milk comes down - or at least you keep your fingers crossed that it does.  If it doesn't, then you have a hard fortnight or so of hand-feeding the puppies every 1-2 hours, 24 hours a day.

In Neka's and my very first litter one puppy couldn't suck properly and so I had to hand feed him.  With one puppy it is hard work.  Very hard work.  Especially at about 3 am on the 3rd, 4th and 5th days.  Et cetera.  I cannot imagine the workload trying to feed an entire litter.  Although for the skilled (or brave) there are easier ways than by bottle or syringe, like sticking a tube down the puppy's throat.  Needless to say, I didn't do that.

Luckily that isn't an issue for the Pippuri puppies.   They are all sucking well, growing fast and today the milk arrived.  How do I know that?  I can see it.  And the puppies really start to stick into the milk bar, sucking so hard you think they are going to swallow Tuuli whole.  They also suddenly grow round bellies, start to get physically stronger and - cutest of cuteness - start to wag their little tails as they nurse.

In the first video you can see them contentedly wagging away as they nurse until one greedy little one (looks like it might be Tuulen) sucks hard enough to flip himself over, causing mayhem at the milk bar.

With such aggressive sucking, it's no wonder they get a touch of indigestion from time to time.  In the second video Tito has hiccups.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

fat and fast

The first job of the morning every day for at least the first week is to weigh the puppies.  You have to be sure each puppy is growing at an adequate rate and no one is getting left behind or - horrors! - losing weight.  Although I have never known it in a normal puppy who had no problems, it's apparently not unheard of for puppies to lose a little weight in their first 24 hours but then start to grow normally.  As a rule, though, if they are losing weight, then there is something wrong, either with the puppy or with the milk supply.

I am relieved to report that all these puppies are gaining weight.  Phew!  I look for a daily increase of approximately 10% of their body weight.  By monitoring everyday I can tell who the greediest and strongest (most determined, er, stubborn, dominant...) puppies are.  They tend to muscle their way to the best, most productive teats at the rear and they grow the fastest.  So what do I do?  I perform one of my mean puppy-abusing duties.  I pull those puppies off their cosy rear spot (with a great noisy liquid pop as the suction breaks) and replace them with the smaller puppies.

In some cases, if one puppy is getting left too far behind, I give him 10 or 15 minutes alone at the milk bar first thing in the morning so he doesn't have to compete with his brothers and sisters.  The puppy getting this treatment can change from day to day.

So who is getting special treatment at the moment?  Socks.  He is the smallest, and although he is gaining weight, it is not as fast as his siblings, so he gets some solo time at the milk bar each day.  And although she is not the biggest (yet), Mini is the one who is, shall we say, in no danger of going hungry.

As you can see, at only 24 hours old the puppies may be deaf and blind, but they can motor around even on the slippery paper and they have no problem at all finding the milk bar.

Friday, 25 October 2013

eeny meeny miny mo

As soon as puppies are born I always feel the need to remind everyone who is having one of them not to get their heart set on any one particular puppy.  For one thing, I am always the one who makes the decision about which puppy will go where.  I base those decisions on many factors, including the personality of the puppy.  And those decisions are never made until the puppies are 5 or 6 weeks old.  By then we know (ok, we can have a guess) at which ones will be suitable for showing and by then the personalities are developing.

I find that puppies swap characters over the weeks as they grow.  One week one puppy is the quiet one while another is the brave one and the following week it's two different puppies.  Lots of puppies change once they get to their new homes and get their paws under the table, so the one I thought was dominant in the safety and security of the maternal home amongst littermates becomes a mild pussycat and the one who was biddable and quiet becomes a little tearaway.  But I do my best.

Getting people not to grow attached to one puppy or another is very difficult when they are all different colours.  It's almost impossible not to have a preference when there are 3 or 4 different colours and patterns to choose from.  When they are all black, it's much easier.  I can tell someone that they will get a black boy.  Or they will get a black girl.  Or they will get either a male or a female, but he or she will certainly be black.  Since all puppies are beautiful, I am finding that this is working fabulously well.

Being so accustomed to rainbow litters of puppies recently with the Persikka and especially the Riemu puppies, I was feeling a bit visually bored by the sea of black and the lack of variety, but now I'm warming up to it.  I am definitely being wooed by not having to worry about someone falling for the 'wrong' puppy.  If you are having one of this litter, then rest assured you will be getting a very beautiful black puppy.  Of one sex or the other.  See?  Easy-peasy.

Mum and babies are tired today.  Or at least mum is tired.  Not tired to the extent that she falls asleep sitting up as Keksi used to do, but she's been snoring her head off while the puppies nurse.

Clever Tuuli lies on the cooler paper while rucking up the
vet bed to make a comfy pillow

And, by the way, if you are wondering how to pronounce 'pippuri', it's with the accent on the first syllable.  So it sounds rather like 'peppery' but with an 'i'.  Sounds obvious now, right?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

the 'pippuri' litter

I've decided to give these puppies the name "pippuri" which is Finnish for "pepper".  For one thing, Pepper is Tuuli's nickname.  Also, it's strange for me to have a litter of nothing but black puppies.  I haven't had one of those since the Devon Nine all those years ago.  It's already MUCH easier to keep track of 5 black puppies who all look alike than it was to distinguish between 9.  So these are my 5 little black peppercorns.

The first one appeared 1 hour and 50 minutes after the start of contractions and then the rest arrived more or less 20 minutes apart with a little break before the last two.  Textbook stuff, and mercifully stress-free.  Apart from the screeching bit obviously.

Tito - Puppy 1

Sex:  male
Birth Time:  04:50
Birth Weight:  370g

This boy's markings are so much like his dad - bright white face, big white front paws, tan legs front and back.  So he is the Teeny Taito, shortened to Tito (pronounced tee-toe, Spanish fashion). 

Socks - Puppy 2

Sex:  male
Birth Time:  05:10
Birth Weight:  380g

This boy is a mixture of both his parents - white front socks like his dad, tan legs and face with a little white chin like his mum.  Although not the biggest puppy I've ever had, he was one of the biggest of this litter - no wonder poor Tuuli shrieked as he came out.

Fiia - Puppy 3

Sex:  female
Birth Time:  05:30
Birth Weight:  380g

When you're expecting only 4 puppies and the first two are boys, you start to worry for those people who are waiting for a bitch.  But then came the first girl - phew!  Named Fiia which is the Finnish variation of Tuuli's kennel name, Fia.  You guessed it - she has markings like her mum: tan face and legs with white tips on the toes.  Not forgetting the little white chin.

Tuulen - Puppy 4

Sex:  male
Birth Time:  06:17
Birth Weight:  355g

The smallest of the bunch, but still a very good size.  Tan face & legs - check; white toe tips - check; little white chin - check.  This boy is also named for his mum.  He's so much like Fiia except he has a little more white on his toes.  And, well, he's a boy.  Tuulen is Finnish for "the wind".  And before you ask, no he does not suffer from flatulence.

Mini - Puppy 5

Sex:  female
Birth Time:  06:55
Birth Weight:  363g

The bonus 5th puppy is a little mini-Maija, who is half-sister to dad Taito.  She has a tan face, white around her nose and chin, bright white front legs, and although you can't see it in this photo, her entire chest and belly are also white and she has a tiny white tip on her tail.  Just like Maija.

Welcome Pippuri puppies.

Can I have a nap now?

they're here

As expected, Tuuli delivered her puppies throughout the wee small hours of the morning.  In the end, it was all over so quickly!  Usually the Stage 1 of labour, which involves much digging, ripping up of paper and deep, deep panting, can go on for 24 hours or more.  Or less.  In the past I have had at least a day (or night) of Stage 1 to prepare myself for the big event but Tuuli had other ideas. 

She has been sleeping upstairs in the whelping room for a week now but refused to settle without a crate so we set up a small crate in there for her.  Last night, for the first time I left the door open and the crate uncovered and when she was restless after going to bed, I put it down to her being unhappy with the open door. 

After a couple of hours she called for me, so I went and discovered she had vomited in the whelping box.  Now, that really should have been the clue that things were going to start happening.  After all, each litter of puppies I have had has been preceded by the unfortunate return of the bitch's dinner, whatever it may have been. 

Somehow, without the telltale hours of digging, I missed the hint.  I just cleaned up the mess and went back to bed.  I'm not sure if my eyes had even closed when Tuuli called me again.  This time she needed to go out, so out we went and she had a very hasty poo.  Another clue - every litter of puppies I've had has also been preceded by a hurried poo.  Basically, bitches tend to have a big old clearout - first stomach contents and, er, related things, and then the puppies.

This time I thought I had better stay with Tuuli, as she was obviously unsettled.  So I moved my air mattress, duvet and pillow in and settled down next to her.  I wasn't actually going to get to enjoy much in the way of comfort and relaxation, though, because within 2 hours the first puppy had arrived. 

In her nest of ripped up paper

All of my experiences of bitches giving birth have involved some amount of noise.  There are grunts, little yips during the strongest contractions, even a little howl from Keksi.  None of that prepared me for Tuuli.  During the births of the first two puppies she screeched.  Throughout the 2 or 3 contractions it took to squeeze the puppy out, she emitted a series of loud, panicked shrieks of pain and distress.  It was just awful.  Awful

But I couldn't do what I wanted to do (which was, frankly, to cover my ears and run away).  After all, I got her into this mess, so it was my job to see her safely out of it too.  My job during contractions is the same as any birthing partner - encouragement and cheerleading.  So as she squawked and cried, staring at me in confusion and fear, I soothed her and assured her that everything was going to be ok.

I could see that everything was ok - the puppy's head was at her vulva waiting to come out.  All normal.  Her distress was just pain and shock at what was unexpectedly happening to her.  And when I weighed the puppies I wasn't surprised she was in pain because they are all so big and strong.

After the first two were born, everything actually was ok and she grew calm and just knuckled down to the business of giving birth.

Similar to Neka's birthing style, Tuuli popped one out every 20 minutes, so it was all done and dusted very quickly indeed once they started coming.  And I was over the moon when she produced the hoped-for 5 puppies instead of the promised 4. 

So, we have 5 black, tan and white puppies, 2 bitches & 3 dogs.  One of each sex seems to have markings like their mother and one of the dogs has markings like his dad.  The other bitch resembles my Maija with white legs and tan face, and the other dog is a bit more of a mix of his parents with his dad's white socks and tan legs and his mum's tan face.

Individual puppy photos later.  In the meantime, everyone is doing well and I could never have guessed what a good mum Tuuli would turn out to be.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


In the days leading up to Tuuli's due date we have been taking the dogs on all their favorite walks.  Actually, they are our favorite walks too.  Tuuli will have a boring puppy-centric time once they arrive, so out we have been going for lots of good fun. 

There was some beach fun and, as you can see, even just days away from popping, Tuuli might have slowed down a little, but she is still running, jumping and even horning in on other dogs' games (not pictured as she always runs miles for this embarrassing stunt). 

And there have also been several woods walks in various places which, for Tuuli, always includes a paddle or two.  It will be interesting to see whether these puppies resemble their dad who prefers to keep his paws dry and pristine or their mum who is a complete water baby. 

And perhaps when the puppies arrive there will be space on the sofa for a human or two.  You can see Keskiyo in the doorway wondering where he's going to fit.

And, finally, we turfed Gink the cat out of the whelping box that he was convinced we installed for his benefit.  Tuuli is wondering what this giant cat bed has to do with her.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Sometimes your Lappy gives you a big fright.

When Neka was about 8 months old, I was walking alone with her on a rather lonely and unfamiliar heath.  We happened upon a lady with a pack of greyhounds that we knew from ringcraft training and so while the humans chatted, Neka played with the greyhounds.  Then, suddenly, I heard Neka yelp, and when I turned around to see what the problem was, she was nowhere to be seen.  The 4 greyhounds were milling around, and I waited a minute thinking she was in the midst of them and would pop out any second.  But she didn't.  She had apparently just disappeared into thin air.

I spent a frantic 45 minutes searching the heath for her, calling her name, calling for help, and I even checked under the bushes all around the area for holes that she might have fallen down.  All to no avail.  She was nowhere and I didn't know what to do. 

The greyhound lady helped look for a while, but then she had to leave.  10 minutes later she returned with Neka on a lead.  She had found her in the car park, circling my car and barking.  That was the first, heart-stopping, time that Neka returned to the car during a walk for some reason, but unfortunately it wasn't the last.

As Neka got older and I got more experienced, I stopped panicking quite so much on the handful occasions that she disappeared.  As long as I knew we were a long way from a road, I didn't worry too much because Neka would invariably make her way back to me after she had finished chasing the deer, following an irresistible scent, or just noseying about in the woods.  On a couple of occasions she did return to the car - and what's fascinating about those times is that she would get to the car approximately the time we should be getting to the car if we hadn't stayed in the woods waiting for her.  You see?  Lappies are just too clever.

And, thankfully, they are so clever.

A few weeks ago I had a call saying that Sybil, one of Maija's sisters, had gone missing from a walk.  The animal protection people of the area contacted the Lapphund club to get some information about the breed and the club contacted me.  It's good to have a strong network.

Anyway, I got straight on the phone and got the details.  Sybil's owner had gone away on holiday, leaving the two Lappies in his brother, Nick's care.  On a walk one day, Sybil took fright and ran away and by the time I got in contact, she had been gone for more than 24 hours.  Of course, Nick was beside himself.  He was worried about Sybil and what could happen to her, and he was worried about what his brother would do when he found out that one of his precious dogs was lost.

Everyday I was on the phone with Nick, checking for updates, and I bombarded him with text messages everytime I thought of another avenue he could pursue in trying to find her.  One thing that occurred to me was that if she was afraid, then she might only be moving around in the night time so I suggested that Nick leave the garden gate open at night and when he went out.  That way if Sybil came home in the middle of the night, she would have a safe place to go.

The next morning - 5 days after going missing - when Nick got up, there was Sybil in the back garden.  The clever little thing had found her way back home. 

There are several morals to this tale, apart from illustrating how clever Lappies can be.  Not least of all is the whole kennel issue.  You may think that it is cruel to leave your dog in a kennel when you go away.  For Sybil's older brother, whose health isn't great, a kennel wasn't an option.  But for most Lappies, a kennel is a perfectly acceptable - and very safe - holiday home.

Furthermore, this story gives me a great excuse to bang on about my pet subject: puppy socialisation.  The very best insurance you can give to ensure that your adult dog is confident, independent and fearless in the face of new challenges is to give him adequate socialisation as a young puppy.  Everyone who has an Infindigo Lappy has had it drilled into them until they are quite sick of me:  these lessons that puppies learn during their first crucial weeks will set them up for the rest of their lives.  It's that important.  And you never get that time back. 

It was a bit of an extreme way to get them, but I took full advantage of the situation and used Sybil's crisis to get a few up-to-date photos of her.  No, I didn't have her kidnapped.  Honest.

With her brother Basil

 In other news...

With a mere week-and-a-bit to go, here is how the belly is looking today.

For the purposes of comparison, this is what Keksi looked like carrying 7 with one week to go.  Tuuli is still a half-week or so away from this stage, but you get an idea.

And this is Neka carrying 9 with one week to go.

I dare say Tuuli is rather pleased she's not carrying 9.  I'm certainly pleased that she's not.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

this & that

After the great Tuuli/Taito event, I had a few opportunities to see some other members of the family.

First, there was the Richmond Championship show where Finnish Lapphunds were judged by Valerie Foss.  Taito was 2nd and Kuura was 3rd Limit Dog and Kiittaa was Reserve Postgraduate Bitch.

 Kuura hanging out at the benches

 Kiittaa looking gorgeous - photo Blake Bower

Taito concentrating hard on standing - or on the sausage I'm
holding in front of him - photo Blake Bower

After that there was a brief overnight visit from Taika and Minna and then a visit for me with Neka and Tuuli to Jane and her fur-gang.  Somehow I managed to take no photos of either of these events.  The first one was a very short stay, and we spent most of our time getting everyone walked.  With the second, I spent most of my time trying to keep Neka from all the joyful and embarrassing activities she specialises in when visiting other people's houses, viz running upstairs to investigate the bedrooms, opening cupboards and rummaging around to see what she can find, sticking her head into the rubbish bin for the same reason, breaking and entering into the garage in search of the pussycat ensconced there.  And one or two other things.  Embarrassing, yes, but she does make me laugh.

And I've had some new photos of Bo enjoying her new hobby of haystack climbing.

Bo on a haystack - photo John Dobbie

Finally, the belly update.  We are now about 2-and-a-bit weeks from puppy arrival day.  Tuuli is starting to slow down on her walks - i.e. she doesn't do quite so much flat-out running.  And for a week now she has been on daily worming.

You can see she's a bit dubious about all this posing malarkey this morning.

The other newsworthy event in relation to all things puppy is that the new whelping box has arrived.  That width equals half of the floor dimensions.  I wasn't happy with the recommended "Border Collie" size as I remember how little space the litter of 9 had in a "medium-sized" whelping box by the time they were 3 and 4 weeks old.  So I went for the size up and it is going to be enormous!  Lots of space for mum to stretch out and excellent for growing puppies to exercise.  But it will take up approximately half of Jay's office in the back bedroom so he will be needing some kind of rope and pulley system to hoist himself from the doorway to his desk.  Rest assured I will have the camera at the ready.

 Neka is hoping the whelping box isn't for her benefit