As folks who casually read this journal, or anyone anywhere who’s seen my Twitter feed, is no doubt aware, shortly before Christmas we had a litter of standard poodle puppies. zaiah‘s dog Emma had seven teensy little puppies, three brown and four black…and by “teensy little” what I mean is “approximately the size of a monster truck.” To this day, it still boggles my mind, and creeps me out a bit, that she was able to store them all inside her body. (To be fair, though, there’s quite a lot about biology that I find somewhat disconcerting, the less said about that the better.)
I love kittens. I am very happy to have a life through which kittens pass on a regular basis. I do have to admit, however, that it is at least theoretically possible that tiny little puppies might–just possibly might–be even cuter than kittens.
The proud father found the whole thing quite fascinating. He’s actually been a pretty good dad so far, albeit in fairness the bar is set fairly low; in dogs, “being a good father” seems to stop at somewhere around “not eating your own young.”
Newborn puppies are quite possibly among the most helpless forms of multicellular life ever given birth to by this fantastic universe They come factory-equipped with only two abilities, “eating” and “sleeping.” And when I say those are the only two abilities they have from the start, I’m not kidding; “breathing” isn’t a capability installed at the factory (it takes a bit of work to get them to do that when they’re born,” and neither is “peeing” (the mother has to prompt them to do that after they feed–like I said, biology is disconcerting).
However, the sleeping is very sweet. The snuzzle up against whatever warm surface is available and go all limp, and when they sleep, they dream.
They turned out to be rather a lot of work; for the first several days of their lives, they needed to be tended to and to feed every two hours. Since I work from home, it fell largely on me to take care of them; for about three or four days, I set my alarm to go off every two hours on the spot, and slept only in snippets between. In the wild, of course, dogs don’t have human beings to look after them with this kind of diligence; but then again, in the wild, a dog might have a littler of eight or ten pups, two of which survive.
There are lots and lots more pictures and commentary below. Click here to see more pictures of puppies and go ‘Aww!’ a lot. Caution: Management not responsible for diabetic attack.
When Christmas came knocking ’round the door, bringing with it vague and dire threats of home invasion by bearded men heading up gangs of elves, we thought it might be a good idea to get some Christmas-themed pictures of puppies. And by “we” I mean “zaiah,” since at roughly this time I got a very nasty bout of some sort of stomach something and was in bed being violently and rather colorfully ill.
The results (of the pictures, not the illness) were as cute as you might imagine.
Standard poodles tend to have a strong affinity for humans, which is not a bad trait in a domesticated species. The mom comes from a line of therapy assist dogs, so that trait is even more pronounced. The puppies seem to have inherited this trait; they love, and I do mean love, snuggling with people.
It is a little-known linguistic fact that the collective noun for a group of puppies is a “disarray,” as in “There is a disarray of squirmy little floor sausages scattered all about!”
They twitch a great deal in their sleep. Often, even before they’ve learned to walk, they can be seen trying to run while they dream. I wonder what it’s like to be inside the head of a sleeping puppy. Are they dreaming of chasing prey across the tundra–dreams prompted by instincts that they lack the context to understand?
Siblings make the best pillows.
At this point, if you don’t go ‘Aww,’ something’s wrong, and you should see a doctor at once.
I snuzzled all the puppies and told them all “Welcome to life! Isn’t it amazing? Just you wait–the universe keeps getting more and more full of wonder!” Sometimes, all that awesome can get pretty exhausting.
We’ve informally started calling this one “Sweetface.” She is incredibly precious.
They opened their eyes pretty quickly–well, all except the biggest male, who resolutely refused to do so for days after all the other puppies were looking around with their newfound I-can-navigate-by-reflected-electromagnetic-radiation gear.
Little-known fact of biology: A bottle-fed puppy can consume 14 times its own body weight in a single sitting. They hunger, oh yes, they hunger. And they must feed. Their appetites must be slaked.
This, by way of contrast with the picture up above, might be considered an array of floor sausages.
They soon outgrew the wading pool we’d housed them in during the first part of their lives, and if there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s a containment failure when dealing with a disarray of puppies. So we set out to build a larger enclosure for them.
All the options we found seemed pretty unreasonable in terms of price, so we headed down to the architectural salvage yard to see what might be on offer there. We ended up getting two standard six-foot closet doors, one short four-foot closet door, and one short four-foot pocket door for about eleven bucks, from which we built this puppy containment apparatus. The front folds down to let mama in and out, and folds up when the puppies get too big to be held back by it. It’s currently occupying a great deal of prime real estate in the basement–a six-foot by four-foot enclosure is larger than you might think.
It quickly got the puppy seal of approval. You will notice the tennis ball next to this disarray of puppies. It may be larger than their entire head, but that doesn’t stop them from playing with it. The one with the yellow collar in particular likes to roll it around and then chase after it, even though he can barely fit it in his mouth.
These little guys will be ready to go home around Valentine’s Day, and honestly, I’m going to miss the little tykes. We already have homes for four of them, but there are still a few who are available to a new home.