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Kivisilmän T - litter puppy blog

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Kivisilmän T-litter 1 day old

The whelping
Ruuti's whelping was an easy one, as if straight from a text book. This was absolutely great, since Bettina had left Ruuti with Virva-Riitta and her brother Jussi at the summer cottage with the other dogs while taking Merita and Ariel to shows in Estonia. Ruuti wasn't supposed to be due until Sunday/Monday, which should have given enough time for her to get back to aid with the whelping process. Unfortunately when Bettina & Ariel's crew got off the ferry in Tallinn on Friday night, Virva-Riitta called to let them know that IT was happening; temperatures had dropped and Ruuti really had started seriously digging for a den. The ultrasound vet had estimated the numbers to be around 5 +/-1, letting us expect that the delivery Should be normal and no interventions should be necessary (unlike during Ruuti's last litter when one puppy was not enough to trigger the start of contractions, and complications were to possibly be expected).

The following morning at 8.20AM Ruuti's water broke. The first puppy to see daylight was a female at 14.25PM. The following puppies arrived at 15.23PM, 18.24PM, 21.34PM, 00.14AM and 5.30AM. Especially the last two were great surprises in the early morning. Virva-Riitta who was manning the whelping had been trying to calm Ruuti down (no need to dig anymore!) until she realized that a few more were to come. All the puppies were in a superb shape right from the first instant, strong suckers and very evenly weighed. The weight ranged from 570-650 grams.

Week 1
Day 1 - Bettina returned from the show trip (with great results!) and was immediately put to puppy watching duty for the night and morning. Luckily I (Bettina) had had enough time to catch up on the long desired sleep in Estonia, so I was ready to really see what the puppies looked liked. We have up until now always, always evaluated the puppies the minute they were born, so getting to look and evaluate them when they were dry was proving somewhat challenging. Especially because the only nailpolish colours that we had brought along with us from Brussels were silver and red, and so instead of having a colour each, the location of the colour was just as important as the colour on the pup. It was proving difficult trying to figure out which ones were which - trying to match the notes to the colours on the pups, so the first moment V-R woke up the next morning (Monday) the plan was to re-code the puppies and give them actual working names so that it would be easier to distinguish them from each other. The re-coding was done using blue and red collars, and colouring them with the nailpolish.

Placing the puppies on the ground, evaluating how they moved and used their limbs, evaluating their "temperament", and structure, we were able to match the puppies to expectant families (working vs. shows vs. pet dog). There wasn't a whole lot of variety amongst the puppies, but just enough for us to be able to do this. After that the puppies were named after their owners' (Jackie, Karppinen), while others given names the families had already told us (Myrsky, Radar) etc.

Naming the puppies instead of just calling them by where the colours were located, gave the puppies personalities and allowed us to really start watching them and distinguishing them from each other while on the teat suckling. It is always very interesting to see their personalities develop; for example "Karppinen" is the smallest boy (by 50grams) but the most stubborn and persistant; he'll power through and find the teat if he wants to. "Radar" on the other hand is the biggest boy and the hungriest; the first one to whine and want to get on the teat and the last one to finish.

Overall the puppies are all very balanced and temperamental. It is nice to see such an even litter where there is no "runt of the litter", and even the "pet" is more of "the least show dog" rather than being a clear for sure pet-quality dog.

Ruuti is eating quite nicely and drinking extremely well. She drinks fresh water after, during and before every feeding, and steals some off Baron and Merita's water bowl outside every time she goes out to stretch her legs and walk around a little bit. She for some reason loves to go into the fenced area we have for the dogs rather than just walking around the whole garden. With regards to her appetite, she prefers kibble over anything else. She will eat her own food also which is superb, because it means that we don't need to mix anything into it, and it'll keep better between meals she choses to ignore. She is eating the kibble, some minced meat, canned dog food and some chicken. Over the next week or two she should gain her normal appetite back.

"Ross" next to the Teddy we'll start taking the weekly photos with.

Ruuti is a SUPERB mum. She knows what is expected of her and she knows that she doesn't necessarily need to rush over and jump up every single time a puppy makes a sound in their sleep. BUT she also is stuck to the side of the baskets like glue - and only really starts to relax and snore when she feels a puppy suckling next to her. And most of the time we do leave the puppies there to snuggle against mum even after they've finished eating. They and she are all enjoying each others' company.

It's day three (Wednesday) and the puppies have been moved from their baskets to a larger "playpen". They seem very mobile for their age, and just in general very well developed. They're all gaining weight at roughly the same speed, the range being from about 810-960 grams.

Ruuti's started eating everything well. It's a relief since she has a large litter to take care of, and it's not really good for her to just snack on dry kibble (the cheapest dog food brand in the store - normally used as training "treats" for the other dogs). She's eating tripe, fatty mince and especially the broiler chicken thighs and turkey wings. She enjoys being pampered and hand fed.

To try to counterbalance the attention we're giving Ruuti and her puppies, Bettina and Merita took the evening off and went to waterwork trainings with pup Ariel (K. Salapoliisi). It ended up being a two-hour training session, with both preforming extremely well. Ruuti got her fare share of swimming also by disappearing while on the "around the property" -walk into the lake. She only managed to wet her paws (and attempted to drink the whole lake dry), before Bettina caught up with her!

Day 4 - We had to remark the puppies with nail polish because it was already wearing off. The colours are:
Karppinen - red ear
Cabot - Silver and red behind
Maple - Lilac behind
Jackie - Red behind
Ross - Blue behind
Myrsky - Silver behind
Radar - Silver back


                        "Cabot"  - Kivisilmän Tutkimusmatkailija                                  "Karppinen" - Kivisilmän Trieeri                                                    "Myrsky" - Kivisilmän Taifuuni

                                   "Jackie" -  Kivisilmän Telegrammi                                               "Maple" - Kivisilmän Talassologi

                          "Ross" - Kivisilmän Trademark Nana                                                           "Radar" - Kivisilmän Tutkamajakka

Maple was the first pup to try to scratch her back with the back paws on day 4. Usually when one starts, the others follow, so we should see some back scratching from the others during the next few days also. They are all moving at quite the pace already. Jack was the first to already start balancing on all four, although he, too, still falls to front drive for the forward motion. It definitely was a good decision to move them into the pen to allow them to move more and practice "walking" (i.e. crawling forward).

We added some new toys into the pen today (day 4), just to give them something else to climb up on, and also new smells to get used to. We were quite surprised when they weren't phased at all by them, but took them as normal furniture and started pretty much immediately climbing on top of them. Usually puppies (especially young ones that can't see or hear but rely only on their sense of smell), can be a little cautious going to explore new things, because for example a newly changed towel will smell different to their own towel that they've laid on for longer. It would usually take them a try or two before they felt comfortable enough laying on the "new". Not these ones though, they went to the "new" immediately. 

A few days have passed again and the puppies are moving about by lifting their whole bodies up on all four feet (although wobbly!) and yawning already. Their teeth haven't started to break the gums yet, but the pups have started to be quite "rough" on Ruuti. Ruuti is producing quite a lot of milk, but just enough for everyone to get a belly's full, not more. This is good news because only Myrsky and Radar have over eaten, and them too only for the last few days and only a handful of times. Ruuti herself is drinking and eating very well, she likes sleeping outside just because it is so much cooler there.

Radar was the first one to wag his tail today at 12 days
Jackie and Radar were the first ones to initiate play (growling and gnawing each others' faces)
Maple was the first to pass the 2kg body weight mark
Jack was the first to get on all four and wobble around
Jackie was the first to "run" across the puppy pen
Koda was the first one to really start sleeping on his back with all feet pointing up
Myrsky was the first one to drink, drink, drink to a too full tummy!
Cabot was the first one to go outside for an "extra sip" next to mum

I can't remember whose eyes they were, but on day 10 we noticed that they'd started opening up. By day 11 everyones' eyes had started reflecting light; some kept the eyelids more open than others, but everyone had definitely started to "see" lights and shades. Today (day 12) everyones' eyes are completely open. They can't see much yet, but definitely at least a little. This was confirmed by Maple waiting for her turn to get to Ruuti for feeding. She was clearly sitting and watching the movement by the puppy pen.

Day 11 was when we introduced Merita to the puppies. She will be the next "mum" hopefully later this year, so we thought it might be a change for her, and for the pups to get to know each other. We had sneaked Cabot and Jackie outside for Ruuti to feed and called Merita along to have a look. She was absolutely baffled. She didn't quite understand what the little ones were, but clearly was very very interested. It was very nice to see how careful she was sniffing them. Ruuti kept an eye on Merita, but let her get to know the little ones. The next day (12) we let Baron and Merita again have a sniff at Myrky. Baron wasn't interested (he was more interested in the hot momma Ruuti!). Merita had the same baffled expression on her face again and you could just about see her brain ticking wondering what creature it was.

Merita wondering what the pups really are - Ruuti and three pups (day 12) being fed outside - Ruuti's loving it :-).

The last few days our task has been to clear up a storage cottage and make it our puppy house/room. The "junk" has been sorted and the room has been "puppy proofed". Tomorrow we'll move the puppies and Ruuti there so that puppies get a larger area to run around in. The plan is to also fence an outside area so that they can get to/from the cottage and outside on their own. It'll be fabulous when it's done :-).

On day 13 the puppies moved from the sauna cottage into our first cottage on the property. It's about a 9m2 room that we “puppy proofed” by removing all the furniture (apart from a bed and high up cupboards) and by reflooring the cottage with vinyl flooring that reaches up about a half a meter along and up the walls. It's absolutely perfect for the pups.

The puppy cottage

For the first day we restricted their area with a little fencing, but soon after opened it up for them to use all of it. It was after Jack had escaped a dozen times (by pushing against the corners that weren't secured), and team Koda & Radar had tipped it all down. While making the gate for the doorway, Cabot was the first one to try to escape from that. Luckily they're not That quick and we managed to get him before he was too far off ;-). These last few days we've also been pushing sand against the terrace to make it into an easier slope for the pups and fencing a outdoor area for them to access directly from the house. Since removing the divider from inside, they have kept their sleeping area pretty clean. The two spots where they do tend to move towards for relieving themselves are directly in front of the gate & the far back corner. It's great that they're already learning to keep the nest clean.

On Sunday (day 14) Koda's owners came for a visit. Now both Myrsky & Koda have been visited by their families. It's great that the owners got to see him at such a young age, because it really is unbelievable how quickly they grow up. In just two weeks from blind and deaf, crawling “slugs” to seeing, walking, hearing “terrors”. [the collective name for this T-litter is the “terrors”, because we do expect them to like that if we can predict anything from their current behaviours ;-) ]

Monday (day 15) the puppies have really grown tons. They're all over 2kg's now, really standing up and walking around. They are also starting to recognize each other and have started to have little play sessions in between meals. It's a lot of fun watching them gnaw at each other (and us!) when they play.

Day 16 - all the T's and Ruuti

Tuesday (day 16) the puppies got their 1st deworming paste. They sure did not like the taste of it, but were soon satisfied again after drinking mum's milk. The pups have been drinking mostly only outside for the last few days because it has been such great weather. Occasionally even during the nighttime I've kept an eye on them in the darkness. Today was the first day we offered them something solid to try – a pork rib to gnaw on. The puppies don't have any teeth yet, but they were clearly looking for something else to do so we decided to give it. Cabot was the first one to head to it and try to suck it whole! Luckily it was too big of a piece and so he only got the “juices out” ;-).

Most of the puppies can see, but some still have the blue glare over the eyes. Once they all see, we know it'll be (great) chaos with them running around in circles. They sure are active pups :-). Today was the first day that the pups took about 3hrs between feedings (it has been 2hrs exactly for the last week).

Day 17 (Wednesday) – the puppies got their first try of tripe. They sure loved it – especially Myrsky stuffed himself like he'd never seen food before. Cabot, Radar and Koda followed but not to the same extent (luckily). Maple, Jackie and Jack knew to limit themselves and save themselved for the tasty mum's milk dessert instead. Maple was the only one to lap water, the others just head dunked, with Jack doing a full plunge into the water bowl.

The pups are starting to become more entertaining to watch and play with, since they do have actual play sessions between meals. They play for about a half an hour before eating, then eat, sleep and play again. The play sessions mostly involve rolling around, trying to climb over each other and gnawing on each other. They do sometimes wag their tails, but it's mostly Cabot (and mostly only towards Ruuti).

Maple  walking around day 17

On day 19 the puppies' teeth came through, their lower molars haven't quite yet (day 24) punctured the skin, but they're getting there. They still try to sucke the chicken legs, although the pups have been having quite serious sounding growling-fights with the chicken wings during the nights.. The can just about get some taste off, but not quite rip pieces off yet. For the last half a week the puppies have been on three-four solid meals a day, plus of course the liquid meals coming from mum after every solid meal and in between meals. Now that the puppies are eating solid foods, it keeps the hunger away for a sligtly longer time, pushing the feeding intervals to up to 5 hours. It doesn't seem much, but it's a definite change from the 2hrs they had when still only on liquids. Ruuti loves it too, because it lets her sleep for longer. She's knackered, but a true trooper with the pups. She knows what is expected of her, loves her pups and really takes good care of them. She enjoys just spending time with them, even after the pups have finished draining her.

The puppies are much more active than what they were a week ago. Their gait is much steadier (not so wobbly) and their speed is quite fast. Sometimes though their thoughts are quicker than their feet and they do stumble over! They are also much more playful than what they were a week ago. They've started to engage in play not only with each other, but also with us; eating our feet and fingers, tugging at our pant legs. After every feeding (and before every feeding) they play for at least 10-20 minutes before dozing off. They love spending time outside and exploring the area they have. The pups aren't quite confident enought to go alllll the way to the other end of the outdoor area yet, but they're getting there! The pups are also figuring out how to keep the nest area clean by most of the time going for a little wonder before relieving themselves. It makes our job of keeping the indoors clean very easy!

Big-sister Merita has been visiting the puppies for the last week almost daily. She doesn't quite understand how they can be so so so tiny. She's very curious though, and very careful around the pups. It's a pleasure to see how "motherly" she is with them. We just joke that they are more of her own age-group that the others ;-).

Markus loves being with the puppies, but not only because the household laptop is located in the puppycottage ;-). He's great company for them, and the pups enjoy getting to know him too. In general the pups are being handled a lot and they do enjoy it. They respond to a "recall" very well and do come towards the happy excited voice. They always first stop to listen where the sound is coming from, and when they see us, they run as quick as possible. It makes gathering the pups closer (for example for feeding time) easier. And it's just good practice for them to learn to associate humans and voice with food (reward).
The puppies' eyes have opened and they have great big blue eyes. They'll start changing colour towards the black-ish brown as they grow up. They all see well as puppies should :-).
We put collars on them today just for our ease to tell them apart for us to continue following them as individuals, not just as a puppies.The colous are as follows:
Jackie = black, Maple = pink, Cabot = grey, Myrsky = blue, Radar = yellow, Koda = red, Jack = purple

Just as we finished taking the first standing photos of the dogs (in the gallery), our camera broke (battery?) and so we have mostly been taking videos of the puppies. The videos can be found here.

As the puppies mature and develop it is important to start shaping their behaviours towards what is expected of them as adults. If the expectant family desires for example a working dog, it is important for the breeder to surface that puppy's play drive and develop it further. It is important to play "hold", "retrieve" and chase games with many different objects.
The puppies change each and every day. At 31 days the puppies were getting praised for only holding sticks:

(Jack holding a stick and being praised and patted for doing a good job)
Lydia holding a stick at 31 days: video
Lydia and Radar playing while being emphasized "hold" at 31 days: video
What you can do with pups: tease them with the toy, let them take a hold of it and thenjust praise by petting the whole body and head (only while he/she is carrying it). If he spits it out, give it again (or let him pick it up from the ground) and praise for holding by petting thebody. You can play tug of war games also (with short not too strong tugs letting the puppy do most of the tugging rather than you pulling the pup around the yard). It is important to let the pup do most of the tugging so that you're allowing him to surfacehis play drive. If it's only you who is tugging the toy, you're not allowing the pup to develop his play behaviour. It is really important to also let the pup "win" the toy/stick every now and then when you play the games. While you are playing, let him "win", when you're done playing, have him give it to you (one final time). Do not give him the opportunity to takeit and hide it away from you (leash the dog or the toy to prevent this). Just remember to have FUN!

Only a few days later at 35 days they have started to become more interested in "rougher play": video and tug of war games: video
The puppies have also started looking for things to take and pull and "kill" in their yard as Koda is demostrating a "tow a boat" at 35 days: video Remember that you can use any ropes for the tow (thin, thick, different colours, different materials) and remember to also let the dogs tow from the rope, not always from the bumper. The onland boat can be anything from a car tyre to a milk carton to a child's toy boat.

The puppies are very sensitive to recalls and always come joyously towards voices: video It is perfect practice for a "recall": video Remember to be more exciting than the environment (tone of voice!) and always remember to reward for the recall (we always make sure to touch, pet & praise them, and always practice the recall before every feeding). At this age there is no differentiation in the boys' and girls' working capabilities and drive. We ourselves try not to differentiate on how we handle the boy & girls of the litters. The only differentiation that comes from us is dependent on the families; if they're going to working families we do slightly different things than if they are going to pet homes.


A lot has been going on since the last update. It has been extremely tough, because lost two puppies, Cabot and Jack. Cabot passed away at 5 weeks without any warning signs in my arms and was sent to EVIRA to be autopsied. While waiting for the results we rushed everyone else to the sauna cottage for a few very nervous days, writing up every time the pups ate, peed and pooped. We had no idea of what could have taken Cabot away from us. After a phone call from EVIRA, it didn't take our concerns away, but we were able to breathe and move the puppies back into their cottage and out door area. Cabot had passed away from SAS (subaortic stenosis). It IS quite a common disease in Newfoundlands, but something we had never encountered before. After calling up several cardiologists, we were able to book a doppler ultrasound appointment for the rest of the puppies a week away (age 6 weeks) at Animagi Jyväskylä, a three hour drive away.

Having to drive Annina & Dave (who had been looking after the puppies while I was away at a watertest with Yrjö & Ariel) to the airport, the car journey ended up being a 9 hour one + vet time. Luckily the puppies are good passengers and didn't make a peep.

We did not want to “just” auscultate the puppies, because auscultation is extremely dependant on the veterinarian and his/her hearing. I couldn't justify “just” auscultating and in the worst case sending an ill puppy to a working home. We had made the decision together with myself, Annina and Virva-Riitta, that if any of the puppies was diagnosed with SAS, he would have to be euthanized. Jack had that fate. Knowing that all the families we had lined up (and us also!) wanted working, physically able dogs, and that a SAS puppy's life would be short, restricted and painful, we made this decision. Luckily all the other puppies cleared the doppler (and will undoubtedly be dopplered again at a later age at maturity) and cannot develop SAS.

In short SAS is a blockage (remnant of embryonic tissue) at the opening from the heart to the aorta. It obstructs blood flow from the heart to the body. The body can compensate to an extent, but is put through a heavy burden, shortening the lifespan of a dog (with mandatory exercise restrictions).

Once we had just about been able to breathe again, just yesterday Koda (who has supposed to go home today!) injured one of his legs. We rushed him to the on call vet yesterday (Saturday), who X-rayed him and put him on anti-inflammatories. Koda's hip socket, placement and bones look perfectly normal and well developed. He is now on bed rest and will wait another week to go “home”. [A later addition to this: Koda was X-rayed and examined a week later by an ortho vet and was diagnosed with mild panosteitis. He was kept on restricted exercise and anti-inflammatories for 2 weeks and is now a perfectly healthy agile puppy again, with no further sign of pano. He was placed with his new family and no further or future issues are to be expected with this, thankfully!]

On a lighter note we have let the puppies swim in the lake. What we always do with really young puppies (and also sometimes smaller adults that are even slightly uncertain about entering the water) is carry them until swimming depth and let them swim to shore first. After they know how to swim back to shore, we try to get them to swim parallel and away from shore (towards another person calling or to a toy etc.), and finally when they're slightly older (when the five steps from the beach until swimming depth doesn't feel like a five mile hike to them, both physically and especially mentally  ) we let them come to us on their own, starting from shore. 

1st swims (girls) 6 1/2 weeks:
Tick (was Maple): 
Lydia (was Jackie): 

1st swims (boys) 7 weeks:

Koda: http://youtu.be/HyGuADX6SDQ
Radar: http://youtu.be/_rUrhd6dT-0
Myrsky: http://youtu.be/opKLnqXwBsI

We never use treats during water training. In general we don't start using treats with puppies until they're about a half a year old (there are exceptions of course eg clicker training). For the first 6 months or so we mostly only reward them with praise (verbally) and/or with play (with and especially without toys).



(c) Salmelin