Eight hearing dog puppies are born
Posted by Matt Sadler
Volunteer Nicki Johnson shares her photo diary as she discovers what it's like to foster hearing dog mum Charley and care for her puppies at home for their first eight weeks.
Charley was exactly on time with her whelp and she had her first pup at 8:15pm. The labour lasted roughly six hours, which is usual for a litter of this size, and I think I got about 45 minutes sleep that night before my son excitedly came in to discover more puppies than he was expecting. We were expecting six, but ended up with eight! My son said it was the most special night of his life as he saw the second pup being born.
We already have names for Charley's angels, they are: Warwick, William, Wendy, Wilbur, Wallace, Watkins, Wynter and Winnifred. We had to pay special attention to one of the pups who dropped weight the first couple of days, although he has bounced back like he should now, so we are happy that everyone is progressing nicely.
Weeks two and three
Charley is doing a great job. Attentive but relaxed. When I have to handle the pups she doesn't mind, but keeps a very close eye on things. I can't believe how much energy she has already, and she looks like her pre pregnancy self - if only it were the same for us human mums!
The pups’ eyes are open and they are exploring the box more now with their first wobbly steps, climbing over the toys and each other. It is amazing how quickly a perfectly snuggled heap of puppies becomes a hive of activity when Charley arrives.
We have had to upgrade the box to the taller front as we had our first escapee yesterday when Warwick wanted to join Charley and me for a cuddle.
My son and I had some fun decorating the whelping box. They may be the first litter with a Mario themed bedroom! We caught Wynter sitting having a good look at Mario as if deep in thought (little does she know she might have ended up with a brother called Wario).
The pups have discovered the lawn and are getting more confident at meal times.
I’ve been willing on the early arrival of some nice dry and warmer weather. The pups are just not keen on this British winter weather. It is a bit nippy.
They love their tunnel, and particularly so when it went outside with them, as it provided shelter. Almost as good as my coat was the previous day. I thought the litter had turned into a bunch of ferrets as they disappeared inside until I had to unzip it to safely carry them back inside. I can take a hint.
The snow has come! Charley loves the snow, and the pups had some fun too. They're not feeling the cold quite as much as the previous week bizarrely, but we still didn’t stay out for too long.
Weeks six and seven
Hmmm... I'm going to say this out loud. I love, love, love all the puppies, but some are just a teensy little bit more equal than others. Don't worry though, I won't say the 'F' word - that would be outrageous!
It is getting chaotic balancing energetic puppies, young son and husband, but slooooow down time, I am rather enjoying all this.
We are at the end of the final full week and it is all action in our house. The pups went for a record number of awake hours last Sunday afternoon. Although that was unusual, they are certainly now very active during their waking hours.
Thankfully we have had a couple of warmer, drier, sunnier days (hooray) to finish up our time, which has meant burning off some of that extra energy in the garden. Charley has had much more of a chance to play with the pups and enjoy them as well.
My son has thoroughly enjoyed showing the pups to his friends this week as we have taken one with us to every drop off and pick up from school in the car.
They have had their grand day out to The Grange, which is where Hearing Dogs is based, and are now all microchipped and vaccinated. We are preparing for their departure. They will be spread far and wide across the country so I hope we get some updates in the future.
It was an emotional day saying goodbye to the puppies as you do get very attached to them, but we always knew we would be giving them up and they have a very important future ahead of them. The last two weeks had been pretty intense as the pups were so energetic and playful, so it's nice having a bit of peace and calm again.
Charley was absolutely fine when the puppies left. She was so relaxed about everything from the pregnancy, to the birth and beyond that she made a lot of things easy for us.
For a couple of days after their departure she would make the turn for home on our local walks and really speed up. She had been doing this previously to get back to the pups. However, I think she enjoyed the extra one-to-one attention so much that she was quickly happy to move on. I guess dogs live in the moment.
I've already had several updates about the puppies and it's lovely to know that they've settled into their new homes with their volunteer puppy trainers so quickly.
You can find out more about fostering a hearing dog mum here.
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