Gracie’s puppies – the first week

Friday (one day old):

Gracie was reluctant to leave her puppies that first day, even to eat and drink or go outside for a quick potty break.  I brought her water bowl to her and she drank eagerly.  I offered her small amounts of food at a time, knowing that having eaten 10 placentas she was fine on nutrition and calories for a while. 

The puppies were almost always nursing.  I watched them for a long while several times that day, ensuring that they were all latching on well.  The distinctions between their markings were subtle.  I ordered some break away collars for young puppies, knowing that I would need them in order to accurately track their weights.

By late afternoon, Gracie still hadn’t been outside to potty since the night before.  When the puppies were all satisfied and sleeping, I clipped the leash to Gracie’s collar and firmly encouraged her to get up and come outside with me.  She was eager to get back to the puppies, but quickly peed (what seemed like gallons!) and had a very runny poop.  I knew that mother dogs could get diarrhea from having consumed the nutrient rich placentas so I wasn’t too worried about her.

Gracie rushed back in and curled around her puppies. 

That evening, she ate and drank more (but only when I fed her by hand and held her water bowl right in front of her) and I took her outside once more, against her wishes.

Saturday (2 days old):

This was the day of the soccer tournament.  Three of my children were competing in soccer games throughout the day in Bowling Green, Ohio, about an hour’s drive away.  Ryan was working all day.  I was happy that Gracie was not in labor, but I was anxious about leaving her for the day.

Early in the morning, I gave Gracie food and water and had to actually carry her out of the pen to make sure she had the opportunity to potty before I left.

I let the pet sitter (a former shelter employee) know that Gracie had recently delivered.  I asked her to come twice that day, at noon and at 4pm, to offer Gracie food, water, and a chance to go outside.  I explained to the pet sitter that she may have to clip Gracie’s leash to her collar to encourage her to leave the puppies to go outside, but to listen for Gracie’s cues and her own comfort in deciding how much to push. 

Needless to say, I fretted about Gracie all day, through soccer victories and losses.  The pet sitter texted to say that Gracie hadn’t eaten or drank or gone outside despite the offers.  That evening, I hurried back hoping that Gracie and the puppies were okay.

Gracie wagged her tail upon seeing me.  For the first time since delivery, she got up voluntarily and walked outside with me.  She peed and pooped (more diarrhea) and ate and drank heartily. 

Sunday (3 days old):

The collars arrived!  The kids and I prepared to give the pups individual once overs, determining the genders, weighing them, and choosing names for each. 

Gracie eyed us warily as we handled her still very new puppies.  She was distressed when one of them would cry.  Her anxiety rubbed off on me and I tried to adjust and fit each collar and take my weight and gender notes very quickly.  (I will need to reference this level of stress later to explain a mistake…or two!)

The kids took turns picking a puppy to name and a collar color to match.  Each kid picked 2 puppies to name.  Ryan and I named one of the remaining ones and my aunt Peggy, who was visiting, picked the name of the final pup. 

Puppy nameCollar colorGender
Blast (Dane)YellowM
Thunder (Dane)TanM
Buddy (Nora)Bright blueM
Rose (Nora)RedF
Ruby (Mae)PurpleF
Blaze (Mae)Light blueM
Avalanche (Andrew)OrangeM
Tulip (Andrew)Hot pinkF
Beau (Devon and Ryan)Dark blueM
Cobalt (Peggy)BlackM

Monday (4 days old):

Gracie was settling into a routine of voluntarily going outside with me 3 times each day.  While I offered her more opportunities, I listened to her about her desires to stay with the puppies 23 hours and 50 minutes of every day.  With 10 pups nursing on her, she was constantly in demand from at least a couple.

Tuesday (5 days old):

The kids helped me weigh the puppies and change the bedding in the whelping box again.  Each puppy gained some weight, which was a huge relief.  10 puppies is quite a large litter and it would not have been surprising for a pup or two to have less success feeding and thriving. 

Wednesday (6 days old):

Gracie continued to have diarrhea.  I had expected her stool to get firmer a few days after delivery and started to worry.  I was also concerned about her weight.  Now that the roundness of pregnancy wasn’t disguising her midsection, I could see Gracie’s spine and ribs prominently.  I emailed these concerns, and some pictures, to the foster director at the shelter to pass on to the vet.

Thursday (7 days old):

At one week old, the puppies were continuing to grow well.  They were becoming more mobile too, squirming all over the whelping box. 

For the first time, Gracie was eager to go outside whenever I came to visit her.  She even wanted to go for a 10 minute walk around the cul-de-sac.  Gracie loved to eat and I indulged her by feeding her 2 cups of dry food mixed with a half can of wet food four times each day.  She had dry food readily available at all times, but only finished it overnight. 

I received word from the vet that we could try adding pumpkin puree to Gracie’s food to firm up her poop.  Also, we could reduce or eliminate the wet food to see if that had an impact. 

I decided to try the dry food only diet for the day and then pick up pumpkin at the store the following day to try as well.  Fingers crossed for this hard working mama to get her digestive system sorted out so she could absorb as many calories as possible while feeding this huge brood!

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