Today Kate told me that Bronte was still looking thin.
I said, “Oh dear – what is she eating?”
“Everything I can get into her!”
“Well, I don’t know; that concerns me a bit,” I said, worried. “She should be putting on a lot more weight now that the puppies are weaned.”
“Oh, no, she’s still nursing them,” she said.
“She IS? Well, that’s OK, nursing a couple times a day shouldn’t be draining her that much.”
“Oh, no, they nurse about every hour,” was Kate’s reply.
At this point a high-pitched wheeze escaped me. “Are you serious? But she doesn’t have any milk still, does she?”
“Well, they were nursing earlier, and the one underneath got all soaking wet because the milk dripped all over her head.”
That bitch is still SUSTAINING eight puppies at eight weeks old. Fifty pounds of puppy off a 33-lb bitch. They are at about 500 calories a day now, so even with the food they’re eating she’s probably giving them a couple thousand calories every single day. NO WONDER she’s still thin. And holy heck, she is the most giving brood bitch I’ve ever seen.
I’m bringing back from NY the puppies who belong here on the coast; they’ll be meeting their owners on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. The plan has always been for me to take Bronte home with me as well, to get my own hip x-rays for her (she was already checked, but I am building a library of hips and I want every Cardi who lives or has lived with me to get a film at my vet’s, so I know they’re consistent). The thought was that I’d bring her back to NY within a few days, but Kate and I have decided that poor Brontosaurus doesn’t know what’s good for her and she’ll probably NEVER wean as long as she has access to her puppies.
So Bronte is coming back with me to go to Club Med – I’ll make sure she’s dried off safely (with that much production I’m worried about mastitis), we’ll feed the heck out of her, we’ll pamper and massage and play with Clue and have long conversations about puppies. When she’s well back on her feet and gaining not only weight but bulk, we’ll meet Kate again and get her back to NY. I think it’ll be a really good vacation for everybody – I get Bronte back for a little while, Kate’s puppies have to learn to look to her and not to Bronte, and everybody sighs and sits back and relaxes after the incredible frenzy of looking after puppies so intensely for so long.
I’m really looking forward to it, probably more than I should :D.
Many, many pictures to come, of course!
(PS: Kate didn’t do anything wrong by letting her continue to nurse – if anything, it was poor mentoring on my part because after Kate started solids with them I told her to just follow Bronte’s signals and to increase their feeds as the nursing decreased. The only problem is that every other bitch I’ve ever even HEARD of dries the puppies off pretty much by force by six or seven weeks at the most. I had one that still let my keeper puppy nurse for a few moments at a time after 8 weeks, but that puppy was just sucking on skin by that point – there was no milk there. Bronte is not only still letting them nurse, she’s standing patiently until they’re completely done. Next time, we’ll know better and we’ll stagger the weaning and separation more deliberately.)