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rustinandkim@hotmail.com
208-733-1848

Monday, April 28, 2008

Here we go...


We are a family that loves dogs. I don't think we ever planned or expected to find ourselves permanently attached to a little four-legged, hairy, wet-tonged, big eyed girl. But we did. Every last one of us. Molly is our 2 1/2 year old beagle.

Our five children were very young (8,8,6,2,1) when Molly joined the chaos so we went in search of a training method that even our little Benson could help with. We stumbled across
clicker training during our "this dang dog just peed on the floor again!" stage and we have been forever thankful. Benson's first three words were "sit, good girl" and it didn't take but a couple of days to have our little puppy sitting all over the house to earn a treat from anyone who would look at her. And yes, Molly is completely, reliably house trained.

We don't claim to be expert trainers in any sense but we continue to make constant steady progress. We love and have been working with
the training levels program outlined by Susan Ailsby. It' s a great step-by-step training program that is easy to use and understand.

Molly is a happy dog who doesn't just tolerate the kids but actually seeks them out. She doesn't complain when Jenna (our only girl) dresses her up as a "princess" or when Benson straps all of his star wars guys into her collar so they can "have a ride." She never fails to tuck herself in to the twins beds at night time and she is Austin's favorite pillow in the morning.

So, it is with extreme pleasure that we will welcome our first litter of puppies on or around February 16! Check back for more updates about progress of pregnancy and all the fun preparations we have in store!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nesting.

Saturday, February 15, 2008



Molly has apparently taken it upon herself to make a suitable whelping box. I put the little boys' blankets and sheets in the wash and Molly completely tore up the mattress pad and wound everything up into a big nest. ugg. She is looking giant and is definitely uncomfortable. We are at day 62 so we should have pups any time. She started panting last night which kept me up half the night wondering if she needed my help.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The clock is ticking...

Thursday, February 13, 2008

We are down to the last 48 hours or so before puppy day. Molly is bigger every day and definitely feeling the drain of a belly full of babies. Like a true pregnant girl she spends most of the day hanging out on her favorite spot on the couch with her feet in the air. The kids get a kick out of feeling the kicks and trying to guess how many pups we will get. We have just a few last details to finish with our whelping box and supplies. The kids are out of school for the next three days so I am sure to have lots of "helpers." Can't wait!

We have babies!

We have six cute little, wiggly, squeaky babies. Four girls and two boys. Labor and delivery went great. Molly started panting on Friday night. She was clearly in early labor all day Saturday as she could barely walk up and down the stairs without her belly rubbing. She kept asking to get up on my bed--a place she is not usually allowed--and she wanted to be scratched constantly. I have to admit that I gave in to the little cutie. Who can resist those big puppy eyes at a moment like this?



I originally planned to let Molly whelp the puppies in my room where she is most comfortable but she wasn't interested in the box we prepared. I still wasn't sure exactly when the pups would come and I fell asleep at about 1 am. I woke up with a start at 3:30 to the surprising sound of three squeaky little baby girls. Molly took it upon herself to "nest" in the big bean bag in the downstairs family room. Unfortunately this was fatal to the life of the bean bag which is now on its way to the dump. I of course woke the kids (Dallin was awake and waiting for me--Benson stayed asleep.) We tried to move Molly to our prepared box but she seemed to become disoriented and very anxious so I just put down some towels and flattened out a big spot and let her do her thing in her chosen spot.

I am a mother of five and a registered nurse. I was sure that Molly would require my expertise in the birthing department. I had my scissors and pads and towels and bulb syringe all ready. I have once again been humbled by the beauty of Mother Nature. I quickly realized that Molly was completely in control and required very little help from me. In fact it turned out that I was the nervous momma. We helped a little by trimming the umbilical cords and keeping the tiny ones warm while she took care of each new arrival but that's about it.

The pups had all clearly arrived by about six. I smoothed out the bed turned off the lights and cleaned Molly a bit. I took my little ones back up to their much needed beds and everyone promptly fell into happy "puppy dream" sleep. I threw away all the icky pads and put a load of towels and blankets into the washer. Molly settled down with all six squeaking pups. They each found a spot to nurse and quieted right down. Molly looked up at me with half closed eyes and curled around the babes and went peacefully sound asleep.

I was truly amazed to witness the beauty of life. What a pleasure.



Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day three

Our house has been struck with the flu which is keeping me pretty busy around here. Molly keeps pulling the bedding into big nest-like piles and I have been finding trapped puppies all day. I got up several times last night ( I couldn't breathe thanks to sickness!!) and I could hear whining and I was worried that someone was trapped. "Underdog" managed to get himself wrapped in an elastic under the pad that Molly keeps dragging into the box. Thankfully no harm done. Tonight I took the big heavy piece of cardboard out of the bottom and wrapped the blanket around it so hopefully Molly can't get it up (thanks for the idea Tiff!). And I did a thorough check for any other strangle hazards.

The puppies are at day three so we started the "bio-sensor" program which was developed by the government to develop healthy and highly trainable dogs. Each of the boys will take two of the pups (with my supervision) and go through the program one time per day. We will start with only one second per stimulation for now. The each have names (of course!) according to their markings.

Molly has been a great mom and has proven her gentle temperament yet again. My friend had puppies a few months ago and her dog bit every one of her kids when they got to close to the puppies. Molly hasn't growled or snapped or anything of that nature. She definitely gets agitated if we take the puppies out and she hops right out to make sure she knows where each one is. She seems to be ravenously hungry even with her puppy chow and water right next to her box. I gave her a packet of wet food tonight and she loved it. I think we'll keep it up until she's done nursing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Week




Mom and babies are still doing really well here. Between the kids' flu and the puppies I am doing a lot of laundry! Thankfully Molly really does all the work for the babies. She has eaten more food and water in the past two weeks than she did in six months previous. She looks great. Coat is nice and shiny and she seems happy.

The babies are nursing less and sleeping longer making it possible for Molly to leave them more often. We even went for a good long walk yesterday. We are starting to see more differences in both size and coloring in the babies. The smallest is a little girl called "Mo" and the largest is the last born, "Little guy". One of these days I will get ribbons on them so we they are easier to identify in pictures. The kids can tell them all apart at a glance.

For now we are just waiting for their little bright eyes to open!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Let there be sight!


Sleepy-eyed "Sparrow" poses for a picture


We have had a busy week around here. Illness still plagues us. Just as we finished the stomach flu we were hit with strep throat (yes, all five got it at once!). Our youngest was hit the hardest developing Scarlet Fever. I've been spending most of my time holding sick kids. I couldn't do it without my husband who is a huge help. Thankfully, we have great antibiotics and all will recover well. I may spend the rest of the week finishing laundry---sheets, blankets, pillows, puppy blankets, more pillows, clothes... You'll understand if I am slow to get these cute pictures uploaded. I also intend to tie some ribbons on each puppy so they can be more easily identified in pictures.

The puppies are growing like little weeds! They started opening their eyes on Saturday and they are making adorable attempts at walking. Very sweet. Molly is still a great mom and is taking care of their every need. I'll keep those great pictures coming. The puppy in this video the kids call "Arrow" because of the obvious markings on his neck. He's one of the two boys.
video

Monday, April 21, 2008

All is well

I believe we are finally well around here. Hopefully we can keep it that way for a while! I just read a very interesting article from the New York post. It's written by a journalist who was assigned to study exotic animal training. She took the positive training ideas and applied them to her life. She has now written a book about the whole experience which I can't wait to read. I find myself absolutely fascinated by the intricate way we can change and shape behaviour of everything and every person we interact with. I first stumbled across Karen Pryor's book called "Don't shoot the dog" (which seemed prudent advice at the time--dealing with another dog, not Molly) years ago. I have been slow to really incorporate the principles into all aspects of my life but it has changed the way we parent and interact with each other for sure! Anyway, I hope some of you can be inspired, too.

Puppies are healthy and growing. They are starting to interact with each other a bit (more than just piling on top of each other). Rustin commented last night, "They look like dogs now!" Very cute.


Two of the little girls, "Mo" and "Sparrow" resting on their brother

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Week three



Pups are now three weeks old. We've definitely entered the toddler stage. We have teeth erupting and lots of playing. This is an important stage for the puppies as they are learning how their teeth affect the world around them. They will learn from each other and from Molly how hard they can bite without causing damage. They are also discovering their voices. They sound like a bunch of gremlins/guinea pig combos with their little growls and squeaks.

The kids still interact with every puppy every day. The puppies love to be held right in the soft warm spot at the bottom of the neck. They aren't ready to leave the box area as they and Molly get really anxious if separated from the litter. The boys took them all out of the box yesterday and put them on the hard floor to see what would happen. Most of them cried. Some cried and stumbled around (Little Guy and Arrow and Freckle) one sprawled spread eagle and whined (Underdog). The other two, (Mo and Sparrow) cried and tried to find litter mates or kids to lay on. We put them all back on their nice soft pad where they quickly piled together.

The puppies are now eliminating without Molly's help. This is creating a tremendous amount of laundry. Interesting note--even at this tender age they are leaving their soft pad to pee elsewhere in the box. In a couple of weeks we will introduce the crate. Hopefully that will make their transition to new homes a bit easier.

Freckle gets a bath from Mom...

and then finds a warm spot to snuggle.
Freckle and Underdog. Underdog goes to her new home in Rexburg today. That leaves us with Freckle and Gus (Gus goes to Nevada on Friday)for another week.


Freckle soaking up the sun



Yesterday Gus wouldn't stop trying to nurse Molly. She hasn't let them nurse for quite a while so I don't know why he keeps trying. Molly clearly lost her patience with this impertinent little boy and she pinned him to the floor where he squirmed and yelped. After a minute he gave up and laid quietly. Jenna and I were watching the whole thing. When Gus finally gave in, Jenna started laughing, "Look mom, Gus is in time out!" I thought it was cute. Incidentally, the puppies are all sleeping through the night now only waking up at around six.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Growing up!

Sparrow--girl

Little Guy--boy

Arrow--boy

Underdog--girl

Freckle--girl

Mo Hawk.--girl

Exploring...


Testing out the carpet...






Must have a snack,

and time for a nap!

Friday, April 18, 2008

A whole new world.



The puppies have breached the whelping box. We were awakened at 5:45 AM Saturday morning to the sound of a crying pup who discovered that the big wide world was not so much to his liking. I laid in bed for a minute hoping my husband would run out of patience before I did. He just muttered "why do I think this is just the beginning?". We are newbies in the puppy whelping/raising world. We have a feeling we have a few fun things in store.

It's time to move the puppies out of the laundry room. Thankfully we have an unfinished room in the basement that is perfect. We used a couple of long lengths of plastic lattice (the holes are too big in just one) and we divided the room in half. We put a chair on either side so Molly can easily get in but the puppies can't get out. Then we cut the side down on the old whelping box so they can easily get in and out. They cried for about half an hour when we made the move. Once Molly joined them and opened the 'snack bar' they settled right down. They are busy learning to run around. It is, of course, adorable.

We are amazed at how the puppies are instinctively drawn to people. We haven't fed or otherwise treated the puppies with food but the minute they see or hear us coming they rush to the edge of the box. The kids are doing a great job of only picking up the pups who are not crying or are sitting. It's amazing how much they can learn at such a tender age. So far the puppies all love to be held and they will definitely be well socialized!



Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Easter!

We had a visit from our cousin's (my sister Jui) this weekend. The little girls had a ball playing with the puppies. We had cute bows and little baby blankets.


Mo, Underdog, Sparrow and Freckle

They had their first romp outside.




Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eating and Learning



For the last few weeks we have been feeding the puppies a slurry of wet puppy food mixed with some rice cereal. We click for each puppy as they start to eat the food. This will help them to start associating a click with the nice feeling of a full belly.

Last week I started adding a handful of dry food to the mixture. On Tuesday I decided to put out one bowl of dry food and one of wet. To my suprise the dry was the absolute favorite!

They are eating and drinking very well. It's amazing that such tiny bodies can make such huge messes! Molly has weened them to one or two nursings a day. We are seeing lots of playing and learning.

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We have been working on sitting to say please. They absolutely love to be picked up and mob the gate when anyone enters their room. The boys and even Jenna and Benson are really good about waiting to pick the puppy that gives up the yipping and jumping and sits down. We will start working with them more individually this week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Little escape artists...

Houdini, Spiderman, David Copperfield, wonder woman...These are all the names we should have named these puppies. The little escape artists have successfully found every possible means of escape from their little room. They can climb, push, crawl etc. their way to the nearest back scratcher surprisingly well. I think I actually managed to block all the areas today. They are worn out from 'playing baby' with all of Jenna's little friends. Actually all of the pups seem to love being wrapped and held.

Molly has pretty much weaned the puppies. Much to their displeasure. Last night (at 1 am) Molly hopped in with them to get a drink and they all immediately made it known that they "needed" a midnight snack. They put up quite a noisy fuss when she refused. Thankfully (for those of us trying to sleep)she finally went in with them and let everyone nurse for a second so they would quiet down and go back to sleep.

Yesterday the puppies were all crying to get out and play when they suddenly became quiet. I came down to check it out and found Jenna sitting in the middle of the floor "singing the babies a lullaby". It worked because they all went to sleep.



Sleepy Little Guy--look at those long ears!

Cute pics...

Mo


Sparrow

Mo, Underdog, Sparrow and Freckle

Mo

New puppy training basics

Apologies ahead of time. Once I get an interested audience on this subject I have a hard time stopping!

Some of you that are getting our puppies are interested clicker training and some of you are just curious so I'm going to put some links here to the sites that I found to be most helpful when I first got started. Fifteen tips to get started with clicker training is a good beginning. If you are a visual person and need to see training in action then click here. The dog in the video is learning to push a button on the floor. The trainer is using shaping to gradually get him to do what she wants without the dog becoming too frustrated. Keep in mind that the dog in the video is advanced.

For those first few hours at home I love Melissa Alexander's description of how she handled her dog. She also has a great section about bite inhibition that we found very helpful for those extremely sharp puppy teeth! I also love to read Sue's description of what she did with her puppy here. What a great trainer.


Some other really helpful articles are on my favorite dog training web site, www.dragonflyllama.com . The first article explains basic positive reinforcement theory and is a great story. Another article that I love from there describes how patience is a big part of training. From there the articles on Dominance and on Sue Eh?'s training rules are great to read at some point as well.


I do think it's important to take the puppy straight to the potty area first thing and to try to have the atmosphere be calm. Let the puppy smell and meet you before all the noise and excitement of kids.

The easiest nuts and bolts example of how to train is found on Sue Ailsby's web site (dragonflyllama.com) here. Start with Training levels, the book. Just start with the 'Puppy come game' and move from there. You can read and get answers to more FAQ at the Clicker Training site HERE as well.

As far as training goes here's what helped me the most. First--you aren't going to say "sit" and expect the puppy to sit. He doesn't speak English. With clicker training you are going to get the behavior you want (ie. catch them sitting) and then you are going to click and treat to encourage that behavior to continue. Once you can predict that a sit is going to happen THEN you can start to say the cue just before or as the puppy sits. Eventually you won't need the clicker.

Second--avoid the temptation to repeat yourself. You can actually teach your puppy that the cue to sit is "sit, sit,sit." If you yell 'come'as the dog is running away and you have no chance to stop him, then you will have a dog that takes off every time you say come.

Third and most important--be patient. This is a learning process that is supposed to be fun. I didn't even find a training method until Molly was three months old and we have done great!

Here is an example of the treats I have been using

I slice it up into cm cubes. I think it's a great idea to use the dogs kibble as well. If we're working on something really hard (like come) then I sometimes use a higher value treat like left over roast beef or chicken.

There is a wealth of information available and there are several chat-type discussion group sites that have really expert people giving real live advice. Of course I am always looking for a fellow training enthusiast as well so don't hesitate to call!

Monday, April 14, 2008

We're down to four...

We sent Mo (now Harrley)and Sparrow (now Sammy) to their new families this weekend. My camera malfunctioned so I will try to get more pictures later. Both families are fantastic and will provide great homes.

Our four here at home are growing and learning by the minute. We have been taking them outside to run three to four times a day. They all had their first baths and had their toe nails trimmed again tonight. Both Arrow and Underdog have figured out how to use the dog door.

Here are the updated pics...
Arrow--weighed 6.0 lbs when shots were given. Very playful--loves to chase balls and sleeps in the kennel.


Freckle--our tiniest puppy of the litter at only 4.2 lbs. She is adept at finding the smallest holes to get out of and immediately seeks out a warm body to snuggle with. She plays and sleeps in equal amounts and with equal enthusiasm.



At 5.2 lbs Underdog is a classic beagle beauty. She has a beautiful square head and quite a bit of white on her neck and legs. She is very curious but also easy going.


Little Guy is our biggest boy at 6.3 lbs. He is definitely the clown of the group and loves to be played with. Benson continually lugs this one around. He (Little Guy) doesn't seem to mind at all. This little one will probably do very well in a house with other dogs and/or kids. And I can't get enough of his almost-basset-hound ears.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Snow Dogs


We had a snow storm the other day. I cannot figure out why it is snowing in April but our drought stricken area will take all it can get! The puppies (and kids!) loved the snow!