Thursday, September 10th:
During their very first night in the world, the puppies of the B Litter, the Canadian Trees managed to lose their identifying ribbons - well just half of them. So today, after sorting them out based on weights, we made ID cards. When they lose their ribbons the next time, it will be easier to get them back in the right coloured collar.
For each of the puppies, we have a photo of their facial markings. When you look closely, you will notice that some have a broader stripe on their forehead, or perhaps more of a curve than a straight line.
Sometimes the stripe tapers to a point toward the neck, like Spruce, below. Other times, it may flare to the top, like Maple, to the right.
In some litters, puppies may have a white patch on the back of the neck. This is called a "Swiss Kiss". None of the B LItter puppies have this marking.
The pups are also unique in the white on their legs and feet but this is less obvious as newborns. You will notice that at the moment, their feet are bright pink!
The second picture shows the puppy's belly. Entlebuchers have a 'tuxedo' marking on their belly which is also unique to each pup.
The belly marking typically is wide at the shoulder, and narrow going up towards the chin. It also narrows going down toward the navel. This shape is referred to as the "Swiss Cross" in the Entlebucher world.
Bright pink feet and noses let us know that the temperature is just about right for the puppies in the whelping room. They like it quite warm and when it's correct, they will eat and sleep quietly, with just little happy grunts as they fall asleep. When it's too cold, they have a piercing, sharp and almost continuous cry.
They don't like it too hot either, but their comfort range is far above mine. We monitor the temperature in the room and in the whelping box. at 26'C, which is 79'F, they are happy. I just pretend it's the height of summer and dress for a hot day at the beach.
Our B Litter includes one little pup, Spruce, that has an underdeveloped forelimb. We are not sure why this happened. It could be something environmental in the womb at the specific time that limb was developing. It may be that the umbilical cord was wrapped around this part of the fetus and restricted its growth.
Sometimes congenital deformities occur and are linked to other invisible abnormalities which may impede growth and survival.
For now, we are just going to wait and see how Spruce manages and watch her weight gain carefully.
We have had all of the pups examined at the vet's office to be sure that they are healthy. The vet assures us that Spruce's deformity is not causing her any pain or discomfort. She seems to be able to move just as well as the other pups in the whelping box. Movement in the shoulder is totally normal. She appears to flex the wrist and put weight on the foot as she moves.
Depending on how Spruce manages in the next days and weeks, we will develop a plan that best meets her needs for a happy and healthy life. Pups with severe abnormalities are commonly euthanized within the first day and seldom spoken of, but these congenital defects are not all that unusual. At the moment, Spruce is doing well. We will continue to monitor her and assess her progress.
If Spruce continues to be pain free and able to move, there are two likely possibilities. The limb could be amputated if it is just in the way or could be retained if it is useful to her. Any surgery of this nature requires general anaesthetic and is not safe on young pups. The earliest that the surgery would be performed is likely 6 months of age.
For now, we will wait and see. As one of our vets remarked, "Even with an amputation, she still would have one more leg than you do." and "These dogs generally get along very well and often become the favourite in the litter." We will hope and pray for a happy outcome for little Spruce. At the moment, she is wriggling and squeaking just like the others, taking her turn at the milk bar and sleeping peacefully.