Clue's puppies are now nine days old!
They are all doing well; with such a large litter I am extra vigilant but so far weights are looking wonderful.
Just in case anybody thinks it might be fun to be a breeder, here's what every day has been like since last Friday (and what I do is not in any way unusual for good breeders - I was "trained" by someone who has done this for 30 years):
- The puppies are never left. They have at least one human next to them 24 hours a day, and often it's several of us. The older kids spell me so I can get 4-5 hours of sleep in the afternoons but otherwise I'm on duty. I make sure they are safe, are nursing well, don't get lost in the blankets, etc. I will be able to leave them for short periods in another few days but I will not leave for more than an hour or two until they are 3-4 weeks old.
- They are weighed between two and ten times a day to ensure that they are growing. The scale is the first indicator that something might be wrong, and the best indicator that all is well. Every puppy should gain an ounce a day (or sometimes a little more), so if one looks like she is lagging behind I will make sure she gets extra nursing and then weigh her after every feeding to ensure that she is taking in enough milk.
- The box is kept at 72-75 degrees and the puppies also have supplemental heat in the form of heat discs. The discs must be re-warmed five or six times a day to make sure they're the right temperature.
- Clue is checked constantly and fed 3-5 times a day, whatever she will eat. For her breakfast I made her sirloin tips and oatmeal; last night it was raw chicken and eggs. Several times a day I make sure none of her mammary glands are feeling swollen or hot, and I check her discharge to make sure it's normal. Her c-section incision is also checked.
- On hand I have sub-q fluids, glucose, amoxi drops, feeding tubes, syringes, and the ingredients for formula. I can basically take care of most emergencies until I can get to the vet in the morning. The only thing I don't have is oxygen but that's because she had a section and the vet has it in the office. Ordinarily I would have it here.
They will be wormed every two weeks from two to eight weeks; they will start getting supplemental feedings at about 2.5 weeks or whenever Clue can't maintain their weight gain. At three or four weeks, or whenever they're climbing out of their box, I move all the furniture out of the dining room and string together four ex pens to create an enormous puppy environment. Inside are balls, toys, beds, a teeter, a tunnel, etc. That's when I start having visitors, with the goal of the puppies meeting between 50 and 100 people before they go to their new homes.
Oh, and so far this litter has cost me about $2500, virtually all of it going to the vet. At least another couple thousand will be spent on feeding, worming, shots, health clearance for each puppy, microchipping, temperament testing, puppy evaluations, etc.
So there you go: If you'd like to be a breeder, get ready to lose a week of work (at least), two weeks of sleep, your house goes to absolute heck, and you spend about five grand! After all is said and done, IF every puppy is perfectly healthy and I have no more vet bills than the minimum, I'll sell the group (keeping two, one for us and one for a co-own) for $6300, for a grand total of $1300 "profit." Two weeks after the pet puppies leave, I will go to Cardi Nationals (again, if all goes well) to have the show puppies evaluated, where I will spend about $2000 on car, hotel, and entry fees. Grand total profit for a litter of nine puppies? Negative $700. And that's GREAT. Most of the time I have much smaller litters and take a huge bath on it. I am not kidding that we have to save up for a year to breed a single litter; we've never made a penny.
If you've made it this long, here's your reward: