Almost the end of the first week since putting the clocks back (here in the UK anyway). I always find it disorientating, and the dogs must do too.
They can't understand why we suddenly get up an hour later and it must be quite worrying for them, being totally reliant on our time keeping and good will. The computers re-set themselves (luckily) and I've finally changed the time on my 'phone, but still haven't plucked up the courage to tackle the clock in the car. (I tried to do it last year and got very confused - I eventually gave up entirely. The time was correct, but I had to learn the Portuguese for "Boot open" and "Fuel level low" because I couldn't face trying to find the English text again.)
These much-photographed puppies are starting to take the camera for granted. The black and white puppy on the right is called Ronnie - and he has a blue eye.
To accompany the dark evenings the weather's changed too, and it's really starting to feel wintery. Not long 'til Christmas...
Speaking of Christmas, the last few days of October were hectic because we were getting the "Still Off Duty" DVD finished and ready to ship off to Amazon, already stocking up for the inevitable Christmas rush (that we hope "Still Off Duty" will be a part of). Our deadline for the first shipment was November 1st and we sent out the first orders on October 31st - I don't think we've ever been ahead of schedule for anything before!
I last sat down to write a blog when the puppies were two and a half weeks old, fully intending to photograph them again at three weeks, but where did that fortnight go? Suddenly they're four and a half weeks old and I seem to have missed two entire weeks of their childhood.
At a little over three weeks the litter were starting to become aware of each other - you can tell because they start barking and growling at each other, and getting into highly uncoordinated fights where the aggressor wriggles him/herself carefully into position, takes precise aim, and then launches itself with all the force it can muster at its littermate. At this age the pup's as likely to go backwards as forwards, and often finishes up sitting down with a bump, and looking very surprised, while its would-be victim wobbles away, completely oblivious to the intended attack.
The mother has been leaving the puppies for progressively longer periods of time, but the first day we opened up the pen so that the puppies could follow her out into the yard, Mum judged it to be too soon. She lay across the doorway for the entire day, allowing her pups to climb all over her and pull her ears and tail, but not letting them wander away. Either she had a plan or she got bored, because the next day she allowed them out. They don't go far, of course. It's a gradual process, but by their four-and-a-half-week birthday they were starting to choose to come out to go to the toilet, and to wander over to one or two of the other dogs to say hello. They're already learning to understand what the big dogs are telling them, and to recognise, for instance, that however doting Uncle Max may seem, he isn't nearly so friendly when his breakfast's just been delivered.
The puppies are very aware when we bring their meals now and dive in with enthusiasm, and they're keen to come to see us when they hear us in the yard. (The puppy food is just supplemental, introducing them to solids and giving them something to bite on. Timing the actual weaning is always left to the mother.)
The smallest flower pots are proving popular (nice and light to pick up and carry, or useful to stand on) and a very long, woolly red sock is a great tug toy (when there isn't someone curled up asleep with it).
So everything's going well, and according to plan. Of course, there's always one puppy who stands out, is first into or out of everything and by sheer personality attracts attention, even at such an early age. In this litter it's Ronnie. He's already secured himself a place here and, although puppies change from day to day, a pup who shows such precociousness usually goes on to be a strong character (not necessarily an easy character, but a strong one).