Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Short Stop and Slider - Determination Comes In A Small Package












Short Stop and Slider - Little Guys - Big Hearts


Slider is on the upper left and Short Stop is on the right curled around one of his "full size" litter mates.

While most of our litters, particularly in recent years have been very uniform, that is really too much to ask in a litter of ten. For many reasons, where they are attached in utero, crowding, etc., puppies particularly from large litters can be born at various sizes. This was the case with Short Stop and Slider.

While their littermates were all born at 9 to 10 ounces, Short Stop and Slider weighed in at just 5 and 6 ounces respectively. They looked very small. And, while a differences of 4 or 5 ounces does not seem like a lot, it is when you competition is nearly double your size. Make no mistake nursing is a competitive sport when there are only 10 place settings and there are 10 puppies.

The first few days are critical for all puppies but especially those with low birth weight. We weighed them two to three times a day. Their progress was painfully slow. An average Keeshond puppy born at 9 to 10 ounces can be expected to gain 1 ounce per day. But, a 5 ounce puppy can't do that, as 1 ounce would be 25% of his total weight. They would gain 1/4 to 1/2 ounce per day.

We had to say one thing though for Short Stop and Slider, they were feisty and they were determined. They always had a strong sucking reflex. So much so that it almost caused Shorty's demise when he insisted on holding on so strong that when Windy stood up he was still there and fell off outside the whelping box at least 4 times. His fall was cushioned by the quilt on the floor but he was very indignant about the whole thing and screamed very loudly for someone to come and rescue him. This, of course, saved him from getting chilled.

He would also let out an outraged cry at 3AM if one of his littermates pushed him away and he could not get a good place at the table. I would stagger out bed and place two or three of his obese littermates in a willow basket for 20 minutes so that Short Stop could have his dinner uninterrupted. As the smallest puppies you always find Shorty and Slider smack in the middle of their littermates in the very warmest spot. Sitting watching them you will see that they work to get to that spot where they will be the warmest. Concerned that they were not gaining as fast as they could I had them checked by our veterinarian hearts, and lungs were okay, reflexes excellent, well hydrated - just small.

Supplementation did not work for them, they disliked the bottles and never cried except when they were frustrated in their attempts to nurse.

Slider is 1 pound now and Short Stop is just 2 ounces behind him. The 1 pound mark is the critical point where you can not worry so much and also see much faster progress. We could all probably learn something from Shorty and Slider - be determined no matter what disadvantages you have - it is the only way to survive and always stay in the middle of your friends.





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