We’re past first 72 hours (also known as the “Thank You For Not Dying” stage) and we’re beginning to enjoy the puppies more, rather than hovering over them watchfully. A friend of mine commented that she has no memory of any of her litters before 3 days old and I have to agree - there’s something about the first 72 hours that generates manic feelings of instinctive protectiveness rather than actual bonding. Now they’re more like “real” puppies instead of half-baked embryos that we have to protect, and we can start relating to them as individuals. We’ve even given some of them names. It happens that this change in our emotion toward the puppies corresponds with the time that the bitch’s real milk (as opposed to colostrum, which is lower in calories) normally comes in.
Now that Pippi’s milk is in, there’s more than enough to go around so I’m no longer supplementing (for now, at least).
OK I need to come clean here and tell you that when I was weighing the puppies on the first day, I was having difficulty matching up the puppies with the IDs on the whelping chart, and I eventually figured out that one of our all white girls is actually a boy. Pippi's show name is GCH Madcap Jump The Broom ROM and all the puppies will have "Jump" in their show names. So this little guy's registered name will be "Madcap Jump to Conclusions." He actually doesn't have a call name, yet. People wanted me to call him "Pat" but that's not fair as he's a perfectly masculine little guy that we just messed up IDing because the next puppy came so quickly that we did not have a chance to take a good look.
Regarding tiny puppy names, they almost never stick and puppy families generally have their own ideas about names. We tell everyone they can call their puppy whatever they like, but we chose the show names. I've got no problem if you want to call your dog Beau, or Misty, or Shadow, or any of the other ubiquitous pet names out there, because it's your dog and it pleases you and that's all good. But I'm not walking into the ring with a dog named "Madcap We Luv U Pup-Pup." I'm just sayin'.
This is also the time when our bitches start with the heavy panting, and also some restless behavior. I’ve never had children but I’m told that the first time your milk comes in it’s uncomfortable (that’s medical-speak for PAINFUL) and just producing that milk has to be an effort, so it’s not particularly surprising that the bitches begin to pant and want more support to stay in the box.
In any event, this means that, if you're a Bull Terrier breeder, you'll need to man the whelping box 24/7 and probably actually be touching their brood bitch for the first two weeks. And it also means you won't be getting any REM sleep for a while, which truly does make you hallucinate.
All that having been said, at the end of the day Pippi is shaping up to be a gem of a brood bitch. She's produced beautiful puppies and tons of milk and she's taking really good care of them. She's learning to be careful where she steps, she adores the puppies, and she adores her humans, too. She just needs a little extra coaching, which is the least we can do for her, given what she's done for us :o).
We do everything we can to make our dams more comfortable and want to stay in the box more
Pippi is eating prodigious amounts of food. We feed raw, so she’s getting approximately 4 pounds a day of meat/bone/tripe plus two complete batches of Mother’s pudding (recipe below) - that means 2 packages of vanilla pudding, 8 cups of goat milk, 10 egg yolks (I add extra yolk) and a cup of sugar each day. That’s easily 6 times her normal intake but that’s about right - producing milk is a calorie and calcium-intense proposition.
Her liquid intake is equally impressive - from the time she started whelping to through the first day of the puppies‘ lives, she drank almost two gallons of goat milk and at least two quarts of water. Most of that was offered to her in the whelping box as at that point (the first two days) she was not voluntarily leaving her puppies.
Speaking of food, I’m going to back track a bit to whelping preparedness. Please do have something nice to eat (and drink) on hand when your bitch goes into labor. You’re going to be sitting there for many hours, and there’s no reason to suffer more than you have to. In an ideal world you should also have a few meals set by for the first week. It’s bad enough to be curled up in a whelping box with a fussy maiden bitch - don’t make it worse by eating sad food.
Here’s the recipe for mother’s pudding - great source of calcium, fat, and protein for lactating bitches, plus quick energy from the sugar. Bitches love it and will (in our experience) gladly lap it up even when they’re being finicky about their regular food. Our 55-65ish pound bitches will consume two batches per day when lactating.
Pudding Recipe for Nursing Mothers:
1 package vanilla pudding (VERY IMPORTANT - do not use instant pudding!!! It has an additive that can give the puppies diarrhea. Use the kind of pudding that has to be cooked.)
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups milk (I use raw goat milk but pasturized goat or cows milk is fine if that's what you have)
4 egg yolks
Cook on low heat to a pudding consistency.
I offer it to my bitches and let them pretty much have as much as they like.
It's basically the recipe on the pudding box with twice the amount of milk and extra egg yolks.
If you don't have a package of vanilla pudding on hand you can mix the following in a saucepan and cook to pudding consistency.
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk (or one can evaporated milk plus equal parts water to make quart)
4 egg yolks
3 teaspoon vanilla
Jane Messineo Lindquist (Killion) is the director of "Puppy Culture: The Powerful First Twelve Weeks That Can Shape Your Puppies' Future" as well as the author of "When Pigs Fly: Training Success With Impossible Dogs."