The Bean puppies are 4 weeks old today!
The puppies have grown from newborns to toddlers this week. They are exuberant about life, wagging at every bit of attention they get. Their tails wag so hard sometimes that it sweeps them off their newly functional legs.
You guys, I take way too many puppy pictures (if that’s possible!). The following slideshow are pictures of just one puppy, Fava Bean, over just a few days.
Mama Beans is offering “walk-through nursing” only, in which she passes through the whelping box cleaning each puppy’s face and rear and the puppies leap up, grab a nipple, and devour as much milk as they can while she works. They follow her, hopping along on their back legs like a circus performance gone awry, occasionally knocking off a less balanced sibling who tries to scramble back into the mix as quickly as possible. Beans looks so disheartened during this process, almost like she is being forced by her own beloved offspring to endure 60 razor sharp claws and multitudes of needle like teeth grasping her sensitive nipples. After only a minute or two, Mama steps back to the freedom side of the whelping box, the puppies craning their necks for one last drop, nipples and necks extending beyond any possibility of comfort until POP and the nursing session is over for the time being.
Some of the puppies are clearly more coordinated, motivated, or lucky in this pursuit. Offering the puppies regular meals of puppy gruel these past few days has resulted in a narrowing of their weight gap (at least in percentages!). Zulu is still hanging onto the lead weight at 7.82 pounds and Vanilla is still the peanut of the group (though no runt by any definition!) at 6.42 pounds. All the puppies are growing very well and have caught on to eating solid food quite quickly.
As the puppies approached the 4 week mark, I glanced back over some weight charts for previous litters. The largest pup in the last litter we fostered (a litter of 10 German Shepard mixes, with a 70 lb shepard mama) was 4.84lb at 4 weeks. I have the pleasure of knowing him now; he is an 80lb 9 month old. I know that all puppies grow at different rates, influenced by both their genetics and environment. But just like a pediatrician can estimate a child’s adult height based on their growth charts, veterinarians have attempted to develop somewhat accurate puppy growth charts as a tool to estimate their adult sizes.
Out of curiosity, I pulled up a puppy growth calculator and entered the stats on these giant Bean puppies. The formula is pretty simple: take a puppy’s weight in pounds and divide it by the puppy’s age in weeks then multiply by 52. The answer predicts the puppy’s ideal adult weight. (Keep in mind that the prediction for our former foster puppy referenced above would have been 65 pounds – off by 15 pounds, if he’s even done growing – which demonstrates the fragility of the model… or the impact of a few steak dinners!)
By these calculations –
Zulu: 7.82 lb/4weeks x 52 = 102 pounds as an adult
Vanilla – 6.42 lb/4 weeks x 52 = 83 pounds as an adult
And the rest of the Bean puppies fall somewhere in between.
I hope that whomever adopts these puppies is prepared for some large lap dogs! The father of the puppies is a Great Dane mix, but it is still difficult to imagine these lovable littles as dignified giants.
Mama Bean is a lover of food, so it’s no surprise that her puppies are as well. I coordinate her walks with their eating so they can actually get a taste. Once she has access to the puppy pan, whatever food is left is vacuumed up into the great abyss of Beans within seconds. If we return from a walk and the puppies are still eating, I occupy Beans with a round of the “practice your tricks for treats” game. She readily sits, shakes, comes, and lies down for treats. Beans also loves fetch and snuggle time but only the promise of treats distracts her from the puppies’ food dish. She works fast and knows when I am out of treats at which point she shifts her weight back and forth, back and forth by the puppy pen, emitting a whimper, waiting for access.
Lest you begin to feel sorry for the poor, hungry girl, keep in mind that she is not only eating her regularly scheduled 4 meals a day (each comprised of 2 cups of dry food plus a half can of wet), she also has unlimited access to dry food, helps clean the puppies’ extras, and is rewarded with treats throughout each day.
On Sunday, while Mae and I were playing with the puppies, Pinto was the first to scale the seemingly insurmountable side of the whelping box! Mae caught him before he landed on the other side the first time, and he tumbled out onto blankets the second time. We put him back with his siblings (it’s easier to climb out of the box than back in due to the pig rails on the inside), but were thinking he would be back out in no time.
Pinto’s feat must have been a fluke, however, because despite his desperate attempts to get out again and gain the coveted access to Beans, he hasn’t scaled the sides since.
His brother, String, happened upon the correct combination of body movements that result in access to a private nursing session today. I heard a ruckus not long after feeding the puppies breakfast. I continue to adore the pet cam, as I can quickly and easily peer in on the group. What I saw was String nursing hungrily on Mama Beans while the rest of the puppies cried pitifully as jealous witnesses.
String looked so happy and Mama Beans was letting him nurse despite having the arm chair to climb up on if needed, so I left them together and the other puppies gradually settled down as they realized today just wasn’t their day.
I returned String to the whelping box the next time I let Beans out and he hasn’t snuck out again…yet. I know it won’t be long until all the puppies are hopping out of the box at will.
Soon, I will move the whelping box out of the puppy pen and replace it with a cozy dog bed that everyone can get into and out of easily. And add an extra gated area at the front of the pen, a way that Beans and I can get in and out without 6 puppies running wild through the house. Because 6 puppies are surprisingly messy…and destructive…and disarmingly cute!
I realize that Bean Sprout and Zulu Love Bean are underrepresented in my photo journaling. In reflecting on this and looking back over my camera roll, it is because they are too wiggly! My pictures of them tend to be blurry. But I will make a concerted effort to get better pictures of those two in the coming days, never fear!