Lucy seems to be doing fine, though she is quickly losing interest in motherhood. She much prefers to be out of the x-pen, lounging around the house, than looking after the pups. I also suspect she may not have enough milk, even though her teats look full. The pups nurse for only a few minutes before moving off to try elsewhere - including constantly trying to nurse from their brothers' privates!
This is normal behaviour in young pups, but more common with those that don't have the real thing close by - ie orphaned pups. The danger is that it can cause skin infections and sores - and the biggest offenders happen to be the biggest, strongest suckers in the group. I noticed it happening a few times yesterday, but it has been continual today. I keep removing them and putting them back on the mom - when she will stay in her box.
This evening I resorted to supplemental feedings for some of the pups to see if that can break the cycle. It is important to encourage Lucy to nurse them so I am only offering formula when all other options fail and they won't leave each other alone. I think I need one of those cloth dashshund draft-stoppers I've seen at craft fairs - but with a row of puppy pacifiers sewn in!!!
Lucy is doing very well on her homecooked diet, and today I started the process of re-introducing kibble. I have been soaking it for several hours in chicken broth, and then mixing just a very small amount into her homecooked meals. So far so good. I have been using the kibble I feed my own dogs - Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Venison - as it has a much lower fat content than puppy kibble, fewer ingredients to cause problems, no grain, and she did do well on it during her first week or two here. Once I know she is handling that okay, I will slowly add in a bit of puppy kibble each feeding. I anticipate this will be a two week process - slowly moving her to kibble, and then slowly increasing the ratio of puppy kibble so that by week three or four, when puppy demands are the greatest for the nursing mama, she will be getting the higher calorie, higher fat diet that she will need.
Yesterday, the first pup opened his eyes - he was the tenth to be born and is now the largest of the pups. After having a look at the world, he decided he prefers keeping his eyes shut most of the time. Two more pups opened their eyes a wee bit today too. I am not taking pictures of them just now as they need low light (and no camera flashes) while their retinas adjust to the light.
Along with their newly acquired vision, they are all becoming much more active and very, very close to walking. They walk a few steps and tumble over, then walk again and tumble over. It is quite funny to watch all of them doing this at once, though a bit scary to think of the chaos ten active puppies will cause. I will try to get some video of them sometime in the next couple of days.
Time to put everyone to bed - including myself.