Okay, whew, the little boys are three weeks old! Yay! Major milestone achieved!
See the gleam of open eyes? Huge advances in development are taking place right now. The eyes and ears are beginning to function, yes, but the most important advance is the invisible shift toward being able to control their own body temperature. At three weeks, they are considered immune to the most deadly infectious disease that strikes puppies — canine herpes, which is a respiratory virus, harmless to dogs once their body temperature is close to 100 degrees F, utterly deadly prior to that time. They’re also much less prone to getting chilled and therefore getting pneumonia.
But the eyes and ears do matter, sure, and what we’re seeing now is the shift from the vegetative state, in which the brain waves of puppies are practically identical whether asleep or awake, toward the development of real puppy behavior and individuality. Do they have personalities yet? Ha ha ha, no. But they are up on their feet (barely) and showing the very first signs of play behavior. Since they’re baby predators, this is grab-and-shake behavior directed toward toward their mother’s ears and each other. Very incompetent so far, with much falling over. Nevertheless, they are now cute enough to be distracting, as it’s now tempting to sit and watch them. Luckily they stay awake for only a minute or so after nursing before falling asleep.
For the first time, I’m fine with no one being there every minute, an ear tuned for puppy distress cheeping. It’s now fine to leave the house and just glance in at them every half hour or so. I’m still going to have them in the bedroom at night for a bit, which normally I wouldn’t bother, but Tiny Boy 4 is still tiny and I want to keep a closer eye on him than usual at night. He is, by the way, the smallest puppy at three weeks I’ve ever had. One pound two ounces. But you know who was the second smallest? His mother: One pound four ounces. Third smallest? Her littermate sister: One pound five ounces. So there you go. Just like this little boy, I supplemented Leda and her sister right up to weaning. They both cooperatively started showing interest in food extremely early — at three weeks and four days — so hopefully this little guy will also be willing to wean very early. Weaning is the next major milestone, and in fact once the puppies are eating well, I practically quit worrying about them.
The biggest puppy in this litter is one pound nine ounces, by the way. The biggest puppy I’ve ever had was over three pounds at this point, but that was a litter where every puppy was big at birth and gained immediately.
Oh, look, there are going to be two more chapters in Invictus than I expected! Wow, what a shock that is.
I have a one-sentence note about what happens in the next chapter, several paragraphs of notes about the chapter after that, and THEN the denouement. I think. It’s a bit difficult not to just have a couple of sentences where someone says, Gosh, I’m glad that all worked out after all. I’m almost always more interested in the denouement, which are about relationships, than in the climax, which is about plot. That means I’m rolling my eyes a bit: FINE, I GUESS I HAVE TO SHOW THIS NEXT BIT EVEN THOUGH NOTHING HAPPENS EXCEPT THE PLOT GETS SORTED OUT. Well, whatever, I’ll wade through it. At least I do know what happens here in the endgame of the plot. I think I do, anyway.
Good thing I gave myself till the end of May to finish this book. At the beginning of the year, that seemed extremely generous. Now it seems, if anything, a bit on the short side. I still do think I’ll probably make it, but if so, just barely. Well, fortunately, it’s a self-imposed deadline, which means it doesn’t matter whether I meet it or go over a bit. Except it would of course be nice to write The End and pick up something else.