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SoftMaple N HunterBay
Fall Litter

Week One
(Days 1-7)
+ 90% of time spent sleeping
+ 10% eating
+ Susceptible to heat/cold
+ Instinctive reflexes: crawl, seek warmth, nurse
+ They can right themselves if placed upside down
+ Needs stimulation for urination/defecation
+ Rapid development of central nervous system
+ Need constant care from bitch
+ Rectal temperatures 94-97 degrees Farenheit
+ Pups may lose 10% of weight after birth, but should start gaining again
+ Weight should double by end of week

Day 1

The pups are pretty much the same weight now. Just over a pound

Bailey is a real good mom. She doesn't like to leave the whelping box or the pups. I had to take her outside on a leash so she could go to the bathroom. She did get out and eat while I was out of the room. Since she needs a lot of fluids to make milk, and is not getting out enough, I offer her water and pedialyte throughout the day while she nurses. Her food is also mixed with water pedialyte and yogurt. The pups can not regulate their temperature, and a chilled puppy can not digest the milk. I keep the puppy room very warm. Which is ok with me, since its snowing outside!

It is normal for a dam that has just delivered to have a vaginal discharge. That needs to be monitored for signs of infection. I will also take her temperature twice a day to make sure it doesn't go up, which would be another early sign of infection. You should also check the dam's teats several times a day. Make sure that one isn't getting hot or hard. This could be early mastitis. I watch the pups nurse, making sure everyone is getting a chance, and that no one is blowing bubbles out their nose....which could be a sign of a cleft pallet. There is a long list of things that can go wrong in these early days. (Eclampsia, mastitis, metritis, fading puppy syndrome, bacterial infections, to name a few) I have the whole week off to watch the new mom and babies. You can't be there all the time, and a careless mom could lay on a pup in a split second, but I feel better taking the time off.

Day 2

The pups will change so much physically over the next weeks. One of the biggest changes is the head. Right now the pups look like wrinkled old men. The eyes are closed, the ears are sealed shut. Curly heads can vary a lot. Some are blocky, almost lab like heads. Some are pointed with small noses and round eyes. This is what the AKC Standard says about the curly head:

The head is a longer-than-wide wedge, readily distinguishable from that of all other retriever breeds, and of a size in balance with the body. Length of foreface is equal, or nearly equal, to length of backskull and, when viewed in profile, the planes are parallel. The stop is shallow and sloping. At the point of joining, the width of foreface may be slightly less than the width of the backskull but blending of the two should be smooth. The head has a nearly straight, continuous taper to the nose and is clean cut, not coarse, blocky or cheeky. Expression--Intelligent and alert. Eyes--Almond-shaped, rather large but not too prominent. Black or brown in black dogs and brown or amber in liver dogs. Harsh yellow eyes and loose haws are undesirable. Ears-- Rather small, set on a line slightly above the corner of the eye, and lying close to the head. Backskull--Flat or nearly flat. Foreface--Muzzle is wedge-shaped with no hint of snipiness. The taper ends mildly, neither acutely pointed nor bluntly squared-off but rather slightly rounding at the bottom. Mouth is level and never wry. Jaws are long and strong. A scissors bite is preferred. Teeth set straight and even. The lips are tight and clean, not pendulous. The nose is fully pigmented; black on black dogs, brown on liver dogs. Nostrils are large.

Below you see the heads of the pups mom, dad and grandparents.

Jet and his parents, Loki & Betty . . Bailey and her parents, Tarras & Ripple

The pictures of Jet and Bailey with their parents also demonstrates a little about how the color of a curly works. Both Jet and Bailey have a black father and a liver mother. In Jet and Bailey's individual litters, there were only black puppies. Both Tarras and Loki are black dominant dogs. They do not carry liver genes. Since Betty and Ripple are liver, they passed a liver gene to every pup. So Jet has one black and one liver gene, just like Bailey.

Liver is the recessive color in the curly. Black is dominant. To produce a liver curly, both parents must carry the liver gene. You can breed two black curlies and get liver pups. You can also breed a black curly to a liver and get all black pups.

Here is demonstrated the color combinations that occur in a breeding. To have a liver dog, the gene match up has to be bb. Either BB or Bb will produce a black dog. The BB will be black dominant, only producing black puppies. The Bb will carry the recessive liver gene, and may produce liver pups if combine with either another liver carrying dog, or a liver dog.

each pup in the litter has the same one in four chance of having each of the gene combinations.
It is not an exact 25% split

A black dominant dog (BB) to a black dominant bitch (BB)

produces all black dominant dogs(BB)

A black dominant dog (BB) to a black bitch with a liver gene (Bb).

produces all black pups, two of which would carry a liver gene(Bb)

Black dog with a liver gene (Bb) bred to a black bitch with a liver gene(Bb)
produces one Black dominant dog (BB)
one liver dog (bb) and 2 black dogs with liver genes (Bb)

Black dominant dog (BB) bred to liver bitch (bb)
produces all pups black with recessive liver gene (Bb)

Black male with liver gene (Bb) bred to liver bitch (bb)
produces 2 black dogs that carry liver (Bb) and 2 liver pups (bb)

A liver dog (bb) bred to a liver bitch (bb)
Produces all liver (bb) pups

Day 3

Morning chores.
The pups are taken out of the whelping box while the liner is changed. For whelping box liners, I use yards of fleece material. I get it at the fabric store, when I find it on sale. It gives the pups good traction, but is a bear to wash! It holds a lot of hair, and creates a lot of lint. It creates a lot of laundry when you can only wash one liner at a time, and you may change it a couple of times a day, depending on how big the litter is, and how clean the mom is!

Today the collar bands are put on. When they are born I take a marker and put a number on their bellies, but that soon fades with all of moms licking.

The liver girls have blue, green and pink. The black girls are yellow and pink. The boys are blue, green, red and yellow.

It is a big day for the pups today. Dewclaws are removed this morning, and later in the afternoon, the pups are put through the Bio Sensor exercises.

Methods of Stimulation

The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called "Bio Sensor" was developed. Later, it became known to the public as the "Super Dog" Program. Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual.

The "Bio Sensor" program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises, which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in nor order of preference the handler starts with one put and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

1. Tactile stimulation - holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds.

2. Head held erect - using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds

3. Head pointed down - holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds

4. Supine position - hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep struggle. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

5. Thermal stimulation - use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. Do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

These five exercises will produce neurological stimulations, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises, others will appear unconcerned. In either case a caution is offered to those who plan to use them. Do not repeat them more than once per day and do not extend the time beyond that recommended for each exercise. Over stimulation of the neurological system can have adverse and detrimental results.

These exercises impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected. The result being an increased capacity that later will help to make the difference in its performance. Those who play with their pups and routinely handle them should continue to do so because the neurological exercises are not substitutions for routine handling, play socialization or bonding.

Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises:

    1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
    2. Stronger heart beats,
    3. Stronger adrenal glands,
    4. More tolerance to stress
    5. Greater resistance to disease


In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.

Day 4

Morning pictures

Day 5

If pups are cold, they will all huddle in one big pile, trying to get under their siblings to keep warm. If the room is too warm, they will spread out. You want to see smaller piles or lines of pups. A healthy pup will twitch in his sleep.

You can see some of the pups under the pig rail in the whelping box. The rail is to help prevent a careless mom from trapping a pup against the side of the box.

Why we are doing this litter, and why we are doing this litter at SoftMaple?

Day 6

Day 7

Morning pictures

SoftMaple Curly Coated Retrievers
Mark and Cathy Lewandowski
8282 Soft Maple Road
Croghan New York 13327

Jet and Bailey

CH SoftMaple's O'Dark Thirty MH WCQ CD CGC TT HOF CR-536G27M-T OFA cardiac, CERF
and SoftMaple N HunterBay's Poetic Justice CGC, PennHip, CR-CA158/21F/C-NOPI, CERF 2004

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