Chapter Nine

Seven Weeks Old

The weeks pass so quickly when there’s a new litter to raise. And all too soon, the puppies are seven weeks old, and only days from heading out to their new homes. This last week at the Adlers’ is full of socializing experiences, all geared to preparing each puppy for his future life.



When you look at a litter of newborns in the whelping box, it seems impossible that they will ever be ready for their new homes in a few short weeks. But, by seven weeks old, there’s no doubt that the puppies are fully functional, supremely confident little guys.



Their mother has altered her nurturing behavior, adapting to their changing needs. Now she encourages their independence. She also imparts important lessons of what they may and may not do. Her rules are clear, and they are enforced clearly and dispassionately.



Sometimes a particularly brash puppy feels he’s above the rules. That feeling of entitlement doesn’t last very long at Sweetbay. The adult Newfs know how to convince a young one that a particular infraction must never be repeated.

Don’t worry. Those scary teeth didn’t connect. They purposely missed by a hair. But the young one thinks he barely escaped with his life. And the lesson is learned.



Feeding is done entirely by pan. Even the most loving of mothers has had enough by now, and her teats are off-limits.



Every adult Newf at Sweetbay is an individual, and each relates to the puppies in a slightly different way. Because everyone intermingles freely, the puppies become familiar with other dogs’ cues, and they learn how to get along.



Every puppy is an individual, too. This brave little guy is determined to claim that pink rubber fetch-toy. But he isn’t going to succeed. And he will have learned a vital lesson.



Puppies are so charming, people would fall in love with them regardless of their looks. But it certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re unbelievably cute.



At Sweetbay, the environment is awash with possibilities. Seven-week-old puppies display confident independence, investigating whatever catches their fancy.



That deck the Adlers demolished came in very handy. Ellis also built a set of wooden risers just outside the puppy kennel. These bleachers serve as seating for the many visitors who come to play with the pups. But the puppies also employ them, testing and increasing their motor skills. They trundle back and forth on the slatted seats, and climb from level to level.



The bleachers also provide wonderful hiding places. The big dogs can’t fit under the seats all that easily, so it’s a perfect puppies-only haven.



Scrabbling up onto the bleachers is fun. Getting down again takes a bit more coordination. The pups quickly get the idea, and only rarely make a three-point landing (front paws + nose).



During week seven, the socializing activities continue apace. The visitors arrive in droves. The puppies and the big dogs mingle freely. And everyone has a ball.



Fifteen pounds is a lot of puppy to cuddle on one’s lap, but the visitors never seem to mind.



New behaviors sprout up, day by day. A week ago, the inverted kiddie pool lid was pretty much ignored. Now it’s fascinating. That rope attached to the rim provides a great chewing and tugging opportunity.



When a playful human joins in, the game becomes even more fun. This early experience will come in handy later in life, especially if the puppy’s owner is interested in water training.



Sweetbay puppies are natural retrievers. They’ll grab and carry everything they find. This canvas bumper must be a real treasure, because everyone wants it!



A sturdy kiddie pool filled with water is always popular in the warmer months. Its high sides make getting in a little difficult, but that just adds to the fun.



The hose that’s currently filling the pool is a pretty good toy in itself.



But then, hoses are fun even when they’re inert.



What’s happening over there? Looks like fun. Better go see!



The sociable pups enjoy each other’s company. Whether playing or napping, they frequently band together in pairs.



But as much as they enjoy each other’s company, they find people even more fascinating. Eye contact and attention, so important to future training, come naturally to Sweetbay puppies thanks to selective breeding and fulsome nurturing.



Daily house time is even more important at this age. Sometimes the entire clan comes in; at other times, each puppy is invited by himself. The house-training is going well. By now, the wall-to-wall newspaper in the kitchen has been reduced to a small area, and each puppy purposely heads there to pee or poop.

From the moment the pups are born, everything the Adlers do contributes to the puppies’ training. Keeping their environment scrupulously clean and dry inspires puppies to want to live in clean, dry conditions. Their eventual owners will be delighted at how easily and quickly housetraining is accomplished.



Each puppy gets frequent, brief grooming sessions. Fur is brushed, nails are trimmed, and fuzzy feet and ears are neatened. The pups quickly learn to cooperate.



By now, the pups relax and cooperate when Judi trims their toenails. It’s been a regular part of their lives, and they enjoy the attention.



During their first six weeks, the puppies were always with their littermates. But at seven weeks old, the puppies are ready for solo adventures. Judi and Ellis take each puppy for short on-leash walks down the block. Many cheerfully leave their siblings behind, and they trot along happily. Some need a bit more time to relax and enjoy the experience. A few balk like mules, needing a little extra convincing. But every day, each puppy goes a little further. The Adlers’ immediate neighborhood features burros, llamas, sheep, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, and the occasional pig. Lots of novel experiences for curious puppies.



Educators know schoolchildren benefit from field trips. Sweetbay puppies do, too. A visit to the neighborhood park brings added bonuses: a car ride (and time in a crate), more leash-walking, a brand new place to explore, plus lots and lots of kids to meet. This park’s sandy digging area, with its streams of water flowing through, is a favorite gathering place for kids and pups.



The slides are fun, too!



Summer puppies score trips to the water. This local park’s sandy beach has a gentle sloping water entry that’s perfect for youngsters. The calm river water always proves irresistible.



The Adlers often bring an older dog, too. It never hurts to have a good role model along.



When that experienced Newf heads out after a bumper, sometimes the wee one can’t help but follow. And another happy swimmer is born.



Winter pups miss out on trips to the river. But there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had when snow blankets the ground.




The week seven calendar always contains one additional outing: a trip to the veterinarian/cardiologist for that all-important puppy check-up. The exam is thorough, and includes a screening for genetic heart defects. When the pup is pronounced 100% healthy, he is all set to head out to his new home in a week’s time.


Look at that face. There’s no question that this puppy is ready for his new home. He has the world in his pocket, and he’s confident that life will be great.


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