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English Labrador Retrievers: Weeks Three and Four
Their Third Week of Life
On Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 the girls turned two weeks old; On Monday April 21st they are walking. Well, stumbling along if you must know. At any rate, when I went out to visit them after work today I found them sleeping comfortably in their whelping box beneath the warming light. Abbie, their mother, was resting outside in the sunlight but came inside to see me when I went into the garage. I let her out and loved on her for a bit before going inside the area and looking closely at the girls.
Ziva was the closest so I cradled her closer to me and carefully ran my fingers along her head, saying her name softly. She woke up and began to whine a bit before rising up onto her feet and staggering in the direction of her sister. Upon closer examination I saw her eyes were open slightly so I suppose she is now able to see something. I watched as she maneuvered her way along the bedding area in search of her sister. Once she located her sister she settled back down and went to sleep.
Not one to leave well enough alone, I picked Kate up and loved on her for a bit before setting her back down. Within seconds she too was up on her feet making her way around the enclosure in search of Ziva. Within a short time they were reunited and lying comfortably against one another again.
The whole world awaits. It will not be too long before they outgrow their little world and I am forced to add to it. We are taking them out into the grass and letting them get a feel for it. In addition we have taken them to their daddy's area to meet and visit (through the fence of course) Duckie. He is so excited to see them! He gently sniffs and licks them through the wire, and I swear you can see the love in his eyes as he gazes at his daughters.
At this age we gave them their first dose of worming medicine. 1/2cc at two weeks old, then another 1cc at a future date. I am taking them to the vet, along with Abbie on the 28th of April for a checkup. That will make them right at three weeks old.
Middle Of Their Third Week
By Wednesday, my chosen weigh-in day, both girls have continued their impressive growth. Ziva weighed 4 pounds 8 ounces while Kate tipped the scale at an even 5 pounds. Both girls are ahead of even Duckie's weight out to almost 4 weeks old; he weighed 5 1/2 pounds then. I am sure they will slow down at some point, but when?
Friday morning Tina went out to check on the Labs and saw something truly funny. Both puppies are walking around their area fairly well now, albeit staggering unsteadily. Kate stood up and walked in front of Ziva, placing her hind end directly in Ziva's face. She then took a couple of small steps forward and pooped! Right there in front of Ziva! And Ziva did not like it at all! She barked and howled, even growled a bit to let her sister know she did not appreciate the gesture.
Both girls are still feeding heavily off Abbie, and Abbie is a great mother. She loves on them, licking and consoling them constantly. As this is my first time being involved with newborn puppies I am decidedly loving all parties. We take the girls out to see their daddy every day or so, allowing him to gently sniff and lick them. Abbie is torn at times; she wants to be with them constantly so when we take them out for a walk she is concerned. But at the same time she is relieved and always lays in her favorite spot in the enclosure, basking in the sunshine and enjoying a few stolen moments from motherhood.
Friday evening our son Caleb, Tina and I went out to play with the puppies and love on Abbie. Caleb wanted to sit inside the enclosure with Kate and Ziva so we brought Abbie out of the whelping area and he went in and sat down. Almost immediately Ziva wagged her tail and made her way to him, crawling partway up into his lap. His face lit up like the brightest day as she wagged her tail again and wiggled around. I cannot think of a better moment in life than a happy puppy wagging its tail while sitting on a little boy's lap while he smiles a smile a mile wide. This is one of those magical moments in life we are meant to enjoy to its fullest.
The next morning I went out to feed Abbie. As I opened the door I could here puppy barking inside the garage. Actual barking! I was smiling as I went in and approached the puppy area. Abbie was waiting on me, tail wagging furiously side to side. She is such a loving Labrador. I pray the girls get her personality, although Duckie's is almost as sweet just with a little more stubbornness thrown in. I think we males are a tiny bit more independent overall, don't you?
Sunday dawned with the threat of thunderstorms, wind, hail and possible tornados. Before all of this hit I went out to feed the crew, give them some love and hugs, and weighed the girls. Continued steady growth with both girls outweighing their parents by a good margin. I suppose there is something to a small litter of pups getting all of Mother's Milk; these girls are growing fast!
By Sunday evening, which marks the completion of their third week of life, Tina and I had the girls out on the grass near Abbie's area letting them wander around a bit. They are walking better now, with all of their bodies up off the ground as they meander along in short ventures around us. As we were hugging on them at one point, Tina noticed that Kate has two teeth coming in. Both of her upper canine teeth are breaking through, meaning they will be dropping into place shortly. Ziva's are not quite there yet but I am sure they will be in the next couple of days. Of course, this means two important things: first that they will be able to begin sampling moist food shortly to supplement their mother's milk. And secondly, they will soon begin making their feeding forays on Abbie uncomfortable as those teeth begin to come into contact with her teats and will signal the beginning of the end of their feeding solely on her milk.
Are Labrador Retrievers your favorite breed?
Fourth Week of Life
Week 4 began with a trip to the vet's office; just a checkup for Abbie after her C-section. She had developed a mild infection from the incision and her not being able to reach it to lick it and keep it clean allowed it to progress farther than it would have. We had sprayed it with a spray given for this during the first ten days or so but that proved to be insufficient so we took her in for the antibiotics. Today's checkup was a formality as everything was hunky dory. It also gave the vet her first look at the pups since birth and she was impressed. Big boned, she called them saying they were going to grow up to be beautiful examples of the breed. Ziva took the opportunity to pee on the vet for her compliment.
The vet had the pups stand on their own, to which she smiled at their ability. She checked their teeth and told us again how beautiful they were. Abbie's incision is healed up and looking great so we were sent on with nothing but good news and the knowledge that no further medication was needed after we completed the current dosage.
Later that evening I went out to give Abbie her evening dose of that antibiotic and I saw those little girls standing up on their hind legs, front feet hanging over the barrier between their area and Abbie's! I guess tomorrow after work I am going to have to adjust the doorway between the two areas in order to hold them in a few more days. Three weeks old and already they are looking to escape.
Wednesday evening is another weigh-in. Tina and I went out to see the girls and check on their progress. As I let Abbie out of the enclosure and entered it, both girls were standing up and walking around. I knelt down and began to call to them by their names. They both looked at me, and Ziva began to wag her tail. Her head was up and she was looking directly at me. Kate was a bit more shy, walking over and sitting down in the corner. Not Ziva; she came to me and began to lick my wrist and face, giving me those sweet puppy kisses. We took them out and played with them, hugging and loving on them as we do daily. It is going to be incredibly hard to allow them to go, should that end up being our decision. At this point, I truly do not know what to do.
End of their Fourth Week
I took the girls outside with our children to play and take some pictures. They are developing their personalities and it is fun to watch them as they do so. Ziva is more outgoing, wagging her tail and wandering from one to another while Kate is a bit more inhibited and shy. She prefers to stay with one person, and remain on their lap if possible. I wonder if this will continue into and through adulthood?
Ziva has a brilliant white "Harry Potter" stripe on her chest. I have researched this and found that it is not uncommon for purebred Labradors to have this type of marking. The AKC accepts this as a part of the Breed Standard and while unusual, it is not a cause for disqualification. I don't care if she has it; she is a beautiful example of the breed.
Kate is developing a slightly heavier head and neck to go along with her body. From the beginning she has been a bit larger than Ziva and she has maintained this size as they grow. I am sure at some point they will be very similar in size but who can say?
I am interested in knowing if only having two babies and them having access to all of that milk will make a difference in them as they grow. Will they be larger; stronger; faster? Will they be smarter? Will there be any discernible difference? Time will tell.
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Friday evening I came home from work and found that Kate had been the first to leave the nest, albeit unintentionally. Seems she had stood on her hind legs and propped her front legs over the lip of the entryway from the mommy area to the baby area. Evidently she has some rock climbing skill sets that I was unaware of and up and over she went. Plop and she was on the other side, one step closer to the Great Outdoors. That was enough of an adventure for today as she waited patiently until Tina arrived to check on them a bit later.
She scooped Kate up and soothed her before setting her back in with Ziva, who was sure glad to see her! Kisses and licks all around as the two sisters greeted one another after a harrowing experience.
Caleb and I spent more time playing with them out in the newly mown grass after that. It is one of the greatest feelings in my life to watch him play with those little girls; giggling and laughing as they give him puppy kisses.
By the end of their fourth week Abbie is beginning to slow down on feeding them. I wonder if it is because it is time and somehow she just senses it, or is it because they are becoming more boisterous? Could their teeth, which are coming in nicely, play a part? Are they making her nipples sore with the constant abrasion? I can't say but I can say we will be starting them on soft food shortly.
They are really beginning to show their personality now. Playing and growling, barking at us when we are in the garage and don't come over to see them as quickly as they want us to.When we do peek over the railing at them they are there, looking up at us and barking, tails wagging furiously. It is heartwarming to say the least.
Both Kate and Ziva escaped their little enclosure a couple of times on Saturday. I had to stop replacing siding on our house long enough to raise the side of their area high enough that they can't reach the top and install a ramp for Abbie to get into and out of it easily. It won't be long before they are outside and in the fenced area; probably a few days at most. World, here they come!
Sunday dawned and it was their four week birthday. We decided to begin introducing other food to their diet and after some research on the internet I found a seemingly decent bridge from mother's milk to other foods: baby cereal. Yes, baby cereal mixed with milk. Makes sense to me.
I added a bit of baby oatmeal to a few teaspoons of warm milk and mixed it thoroughly. I pulled Kate out first and tried to introduce her to this wonderful food. After dipping my finger in it and brushing it against her lips, I watched as she tightened those little lips and turned her head away. Another dip, another brush, another turn of the head.
So I put Kate away and brought out adventurous little Ziva. I felt certain she would gobble this concoction up. Nope; act two brought the same results. Well, maybe they weren't hungry at the time. I'll try it again tomorrow.
Later in the evening we brought them outside and placed them in a little pen while I worked at removing the step between their area and their mother's in order to allow them free roam between the two and to give them access to the outside world via the doggie door Abbie uses.
I wonder how long it will take them to find their way out through it?