Dance Stars Prologue - A slew of stars is born... even though Dance is named after a character in a series of mystery books, her call name just lent itself to a theme involving dance. Right on schedule Dance went into labor this morning (11/24/2015) and had her first puppy at 9:09AM. She delivered 5 more by 11:30 then took a break and had the last one at 1PM. She did an outstanding job of whelping and is being a model mother. These pups are being given litter names based on famous dancers from varying venues.
1. Misty Copeland, "Misty" is a black/tan F with a white patch on her chest and white toes on her back feet. Misty Copeland is a ballerina.
2. Mikhail Baryshnikov, "Bari" is a cream M. Baryshnikov is my very favorite ballet dancer!
3. Charo is a cream F. Charo is a character...singer, dancer, guitarist...she was a blonde firecracker on stage!
4. Debbie Allen, "Debs" is a black/tan F with just a little white on her back toes. Debbie Allen is a choreographer, director, and dancer who has worked on such projects as Fame, West Side Story and Sweet Charity.
5. Derek Hough, "Derek"...is my Mom's favorite on Dancing With the Stars (the finale is tonight!) so just had to name this handsome little blonde after him.
6. Lena Horne, "Lena" is a black/tan F with no white at all. Lena Horne, more commonly known as a blues singer, was also an outstanding dancer.
7. Eleanor Powell, "Nora", was one of the all time great women tap dancers!
The babies are pretty uniform in size, ranging from 5.8-6.8 oz. Interestingly enough, 2 of the 'cream' puppies have distinctive markings but these will likey fade to unnoticeable within a few weeks. Nora has a fawn patch on the right side of her head and several fawn patches on her back. Bari has a tan backskull/ears with a white stripe in the middle. Hard to see in photos! We are looking forward to watching these puppies grow and to help mold them into talented stars. Tomorrow we begin superpuppy exercises...superstars! Maybe we'll include stretching and barre work...grin.
Newbies...with great potential.
Chapter One - Baby Ballet Begins... The Dance Stars have begun the exercises to help prepare them for the coming classes in classical movement and rhythm. Superpuppy exercises now include stretching so little legs will be flexible and breathing for stamina...grin. The positions include head up, head down, supine and tickle toes!
The week has gone by so quickly. Dance has proven to be a superb mother. After that easy delivery she settled right in to take care of her babies. There were a couple of days of fickle appetite during which we broke out the sardines and steamed chicken and she was happy to be spoiled. Now her appetite is excellent. This morning, for example, she downed 1/2 lb of Darwin's Natural Selections Beef along with a 1/3 cup of minced chicken in broth, a 1/2 gastropub (Probiotic/herbal supplement from Pawtree) and that was after joining the rest of the girls for crunchtime (communal Pawtree kibble feeding frenzy.)
The little forest room continues to serve us well as a whelping room as it's quiet and with a gate, safe and secure. Dance has the whole bedroom during the day as I simply close the door to keep the other dogs out. At night, the gate on the closet is closed so the rest of the dogs can sleep in their regular place...my bed. Next week Dance and the Stars will move out of the forest into the grooming room where she will have free access to the outside and where the puppies can graduate to when ready to leave the whelping box.
Yesterday they got their first pedicures. Dance thanked me. The light puppies in the group have developed intensified colors/markings this week. When they were first born they looked cream but now it's become apparent that they are more interesting than 'cream'. There are fawn/gold markings on the heads of Bari, Derek, & Nora along with white blazes and, for Bari, white stripe on the back of his neck. While the markings on the legs are not obvious, the color of the pads tells me that we have a number of white feet as well. Charo is more solid colored, her front pads are already jet black, but her back pads are pink so assuming white feet in the back. Her pigment is coming in quickly. In fact all the light kids are developing nice pigment. They were so reddish/pink at birth I thought about calling them Rudolph I-IV! They are all growing well and plumping up. Their weighs this week range fro 8.2-10.6oz.
Into the woods...
So adorable already...starlets!
Chapter Two - Warming up at the barre... The Dance Stars have been diligently doing their stretches and poses this week in the form of the super puppy exercises we began on Day 3. They will continue for 2 more days through Day 16. One at a time now...head UP...head Down...on your back...tickle toes and kick! a one and a two...wobble to the left and wiggle to the right! We are getting quite mobile and when Dance enters the box activity is feverish until everyone has found a docking station. With 7 puppies there is significant competition for prime real estate and there isn't a slouch in the bunch.
All eyes are open and I think there is a glimmer of hearing happening. And there is the beginning of up on feet walking...doesn't last long and isn't real efficient but definitely noticeable when trying to take portraits now. Blocking them with a squirrel ended up producing some adorable shots!
This week the whelping box will be divided into bed and bath with the introduction of piddle pad portion and a big bumper bed. Dance is spending less time in the box with them (except when trying to dodge a bath...then she's glued to the box and very busy nursing her babies!) Yesterday, during lovely weather, Dance went out with the rest of the girls and had the best time runninglikehell around the back yard. The Dictionary definition of joy de vive should be illustrated by Dance ducking and dodging.
Pigment on the light puppies is developing nicely...smudgy faces and darkening noses now. Pads are more varied...like Nora who must have 4 white feet still has all pink pads. Charo, who doesn't have the white on her face or front feet has black pads and darker pigment on her face. One thing you will notice now that their eyes are open is that they all have lovely almond shaped eyes...excellent! Coats are just starting to show a hint of plush...they are just the cutest lot of puppies...so easy to get lost in watching them. They got their 2nd pedicures last night...wiggly bunch...moving targets!
Charo & Nora...snuggle sisters!
Misty...up on her feet!
Two weeks and the cute level is off the chain!
Chapter Three - Baby Ballet...We are growing up, not big, but strong and taking our first steps on the path to doggiehood! Yes, we can walk...sort of. And our horizons are expanding. Whelping box? Gone...we needed the room to stretch and exercise and give us a better shot at hitting the potty. And guess what!?!....We DO. Yesterday Derek climbed out of bed, walked over to the potty and POOPED on his own. Doc was so excited she was going to take a picture but then she decided it'd be smarter to pick it up before Little D lost his balance and sat in it...GOOD choice, Doc!
We are expressing ourselves in multiple ways because we intend to be SO talented that we won't just be dance stars, we'll be everything stars. Some of us have been practicing our singing...see below! This week we are going to embark on a migration out of the forest and into the 'city center' part of the house so we can grow up amid all the hustle and bustle of a country kitchen during the holidays. MMmmm...can't wait to smell the cookies baking!
We've been having a good time with visitors coming to see us...we even got children already and they have been very respectful and gentle, especially cause mama Dance stays close and gives them the stink eye if they move too fast. Will be interesting to see how Dance adjusts to having us out and about...we know WE are looking forward to it!
Believe it, or not, the two beds are exactly the same size. We have SO much more room now!
Lena, warming up her pipes!
Going to need smelling salts for Doc if we get any cuter!
Chapter 4 - We move into the studio...this week brought BIG changes! First, Aunt MaryEllen came to visit on Thurs and we got our paws and butts trimmed and our nails cut. Next we moved out of the forest and into the middle of the city, out of the playpen into an ex-pen (that stands for 'exercise' pen and they ain't kidding! If you think dancers lead a life of leisure, you need to think that over again cause it's a lot of work to develop muscles and coordination, not to mention bladder control.) So we had a mini preview on Friday with a trip to the grooming room where we stayed for about 10 minutes, practicing our vocals, whining Christmas carols in 3 part harmony. Then Saturday afternoon Benjamin came home with Doc & Nana Pearl to spend the night. He's 6 (Doc's grandson) and he just loves us a LOT so we went to the kitchen so he could play with us. He's very gentle and was careful not to scare us. We went back to the forest to sleep and we were very tired!
Sunday morning, we moved into the kitchen for good! Oh, cannot lie, we did whine and our Mom whined...we said, "where are we, why are we here, it's different, who's that, what's that, oh oh oh! Then Mom said, are you sure they're all here? Are you sure you didn't forget one? What if you forgot one and he's all alone in the forest and might get eaten by a bear!!" This anxiety only required 10 trips to the forest to check behind every tree and under every bush to be sure no babies were still there. Sunday afternoon we had visitors...more kids. We like kids, they are yummy and fun. Dance thinks it's her job to put on an educational display when children come to visit so she stretches out on her back so they can get a good view of 'how puppies eat!" Sunday night, we STAYED where we were...wow, and Mom stayed with us and she wasn't sure this was a 'good' thing so she went back to the bedroom every couple of hours, woke up Doc, asked to come in, checked the forest, joined the rest of the girls in bed, rested for 3 minutes then had to come back to be sure we were ok. It was a long night but we all got through it and then it was all good cause we like it here and there's lots to do and see and hear and smell.
Monday we had MORE visitors...grown ups and kids...jackpot! Guess what...and we know this will not surprise you...everyone just LOVES us! And we do our best to be cute...we play growl and wrestle, we totter and fall over and pick ourselves up...join in the nursing mother display (yup, she did it again for the kids on Monday...can you say "exhibitionist"? I thought you could!) Then Hey Jood came to visit. She and Doc have been friends since before dogs were invented and she's going to take one of us home next year and is going to spoil her puppy rotten (in the best way of course!)
This morning, since we turned 4 weeks old, we got to check out FOOD. Dance ate her breakfast (Darwin's Natural Selection beef) in our pen so we were able to check it out. Course she ate it all so mostly we got just a few crumbs and the residue of Mom spit but still...very interesting! This week we will begin to get our own portions which will really help Mom out cause 7 puppies take a lot of food to grow. Our pen will grow with us. Now it's small and covered with piddle pads which will be removed one at a time until we learn to get farther out of bed before we potty. We have a cozy crate to sleep in which also acts as an entry for Mom to get in and out (see below) and maybe by the end of the week we'll take our first trip outside. It's WARM for winter...lucky us!
The studio - 1st incarnation
Checking out "Mom food"
Dressed in Holiday Finery.
Chapter 5 - Expanding Horizons...wow, big doings this week! When we left off last week, we'd just moved into our new studio in 'town' and had our first taste of solid food. Well, our little studio grew today, almost doubled in size and now we are learning to walk a little further to the potty. We have a real potty park as well as a ground level pad, a washable piddle pad and no more paper. We have lots of floor space and are quickly figuring out that if it's bare, it's for playing/eating, not peeing! We've had 4 solid days of visitors and love company. Today we did THREE shows for visitors. That's what we call it when we perform for an audience. You should have heard the cheers when we went potty in the right place. You've just been the best audiences!! We've especially enjoyed the young visitors. They've been gentle and careful and let us gum (that's how you chew before you get teeth) their hair and fingers. We're enjoying this while we can cause we were told that when we get teeth, human parts are off limits.
We haven't been able to get outside yet, though...the weather has been icky...rain, rain, enough already! For now we'll just have to make due with our toys and growing play yard. You would not believe how well we are eating. We love our Darwin's and are very glad we get it cause Mom is starting to get grumpy with us. She comes to see us but when we rush to line up at the milk bar, she leaves...what a tease!
We've changed so much this week...turning into little dogs! Our coats are growing, and we have cowlicks and waves and ruffles and flourishes. And cute? Are we ever! Our markings are still distinct and Lena, Debs, and Misty's tan points are getting more obvious. Nora's head markings are getting darker and Bari & Derek's blazes are still easy to differentiate. We are individuals but what we have in common is that we are all sociable and love visitors!
This week we expect to have some teeth starting to peek through and hope we can get outside. This weekend we're getting more company and they are staying for 5 days...we expect to get a LOT of attention!
Derek, Charo, Nora...check out those markings!
Check out our new expanded digs!
See our sea theme?
Chapter Six - we are ready for our close ups... well, talk about new and interesting experiences! Today we met the hair stylist/make up artists and had our first shampoo and blow dry sessions. It was great! First Auntie Helen (that's Doc's brother's SO) held us ever so gently for pedicures, paw trims, belly trims derriere trims. Then we went under the sprayer with luxuriant bubbly bath and then under the dryer. It was amazing...for Doc, that is, cause we didn't fuss...we took pity on her and made it easy cause she's had company here for 5 days and we didn't want to wear her out. After that we had a snack and took a nap so we'd be fresh for our photo shoot. Doc said something about needing velcro for Bari cause he wouldn't sit still.
We are eating more and more of our solid food cause Mom's been spending less and less time with us. She jumps in and we barely catch her before she starts growling and jumps out. What is wrong with Mom? Maybe it has something to do with our teeth...which are now sticking out of our gums so maybe we need to learn to ease up on the milk bar. Patty and Ada spend more time with us than Mom does. Yes, you read that right...no more isolation for us. Mom doesn't care if all the other girls come visit us and Ada just loves jumping into our pen and playing with us. Patty comes in sometimes and plays, too. We enjoy learning to socialize with all the other dogs and visitors. We have lots more visitors coming...every day this week! The only thing we have not yet been able to do is go outside but I think we'll get out there before the end of the week when it warms up a little more. It's either been raining or freezing...crazy weather!
Enjoy our videos and portraits...wish we had smell-o-rama...we smell SO GOOD!
Look at us, soft and fluffed!
Chapter 7 - Dance Stars 1st Play...we've been in rehearsals all week for our very first play. We've had test audiences visiting almost daily and they all agree that we have great talent! On Sunday we had our dress rehearsal (see video below) playing in the play room with our play gym and our play mates! So much play!
Mom is still letting us nurse...we are so lucky that she's still willing cause we attack like a school of piranha whenever she gets close enough. Other than that it's been an easy week for us...no baths...we did our best to stay clean! And our coats are growing and so pretty! Auntie Jood's coming to visit tomorrow and (shh, don't tell her) she's going to be drafted to hold us for pedicures!
The weather's been totally uncooperative so we have not yet gotten to see the 'outside' world yet...arctic winds are blowing out there so we're not in a big hurry to go out and turn into pupsicles! Maybe next week...which is going to be a big week for us. Auntie Anita comes to help torture, er, soap us, and Auntie Stephanie comes to do our Puppy Aptitude Tests...we're sure we're all gonna get A's cause we are smart, we are beautiful, and we are important!
Sit back and bask in our glow!
Milk Bar is open with limited hours!
Look, we found a boy child!
Chapter Eight - SATs?, PATs, SOAPS...This was a VERY busy week for us. We had company, we had excursions outside, we had our college prep, er personality type tests, and the dreaded soaps ordeal. We had old friends and new parents come visit, and brand new people who wanted to see if they liked Silk Dogs and we did our very best to convince them that Silks are the best dogs in the entire universe AND...they believed us cause we are just THAT good! We were cute, we were charming, and we were clever. We dance, dip, and dive, too. Check below for the video of us playing outside...oh, what fun that is! If the weather would just cooperate we'd love to get out more but a giant snowstorm is coming Friday. Fooey!
Yesterday morning Auntie Stephanie came to visit. She was fun, mostly but she has a funny way of playing with puppies. She took us, one at a time, to the bedroom, where we'd never been before, then put us down and called us ever so sweetly. So of course we ran over to her...I mean people are fun and nice. Then she got up and walked away and called and we followed cause she was nice. So what did we get for that trust? Um, she flipped us over on our back and held us down forEVER (30 seconds)! Not fun but we survived. Then more sweet talk, do you forgive me? Ok, lick, lick, wag. Oh good, then we get picked up and held just off the ground forEVER (30 seconds)! Sigh...what is with this woman?? Next, she gets a little crumpled paper ball and says, look what I have, it's fun, she tosses it away and says 'go get it!'. Most of us humored her and went and got the paper ball AND we brought it back to her. That made her so happy that we did it a second time cause, truth be known, she has a radiant smile. So here we are having a good time and all being happy then she pinches our toe to see how long it takes us to say, Ouch! To make a long story short...we put up with loud noises, umbrella being opened in our faces, rags being dragged in front of us...and we were cheerful, tolerant, good-natured, and irrepressibly happy. Doc called it our PAT (puppy aptitude test) and apparently we are very apt cause she was very pleased with us.
Our Auntie Anita came yesterday afternoon and spent the night with us. She played with us and admired us and told us how wonderful we are. We thought she was the nicest but she was just fooling us (as you will shortly see.) Our Mom, Dance, was very glad to see her. In fact, last night Dance snuck upstairs to sleep with her! We do our best to make guests feel welcome. So, just when we thought Anita was great, she conspired with Doc to make our lifes (briefly) miserable, even coming up with a new and diabolical means...she sprayed us with shampoo and slicked our hair down and then expected us to stand proud and tall, ha, made her work for that!...so did Doc rescue us? Nope, she took pictures while we were being tortured! Someone call puppy protective services, please! Ok, so we are being a wee bit melodramatic...well, we are performers, aren't we? Then, Doc tried to drown us, ok, she rinsed us off, then handed us back to Anita who aimed the dreaded dryer at us until we were dry and fluffy (scream protest in key of C, please...sopranos, you're up!) Worst 20 minutes of our lives, so far. Fortunately we are resilient cause after a short rest, it was portrait time. Delusional Doc thought she'd get us to all line up and sit together for a group shot (see below) but we burst that bubble right away...still it was fun jumping around on the couch watching them scramble to try to get us all looking in one direction AND sitting in birth order (slight OCD there, Doc.)
After the photo shoot and lunch, we had the rest of the day off...whew, so we just got to play and have fun...and sleep cause all that work was very tiring. We got together this evening to rehash the day and here is what we decided. All our trials and tribulations are designed to help us get ready for life in the big world outside. I mean if everything here was sweetness and light, we'd never want to leave. We've overheard talk that there is a little more meanness in our future...something about needles in our head for BAER test and a microchip (we are techie pups) that is inserted with a needle the size of the Alaska pipeline. I think we're going to be glad to leave here when the time comes...very clever these people.
Look, they gave us another kid!
Uh oh, did we wear it out?
Um, I think she wore US out!
Came through all the testing and still smiling
Mom still loved us until today...sigh.
Fleeting fun in the sun.
Law and Disorder!
Chapter Nine - Snowbound, spellbound, cabin fever... so, when last we spoke, we'd just finished our Puppy Aptitude tests and soaped evaluations and we were looking forward to a relaxing week, maybe getting out again and having fun. But, dear Mother Nature had different ideas for us. She shook her skirts and dumped about 20" of snow on us...'sno fun for little puppies...we would have gotten buried out there. Even the big dogs had to stay in after Aunt Patty went out and brought in 5lbs of snowballs...she could hardly walk. And then Doc pulled a muscle in her back and turned into a sailor (potty mouth) every time she moved. We had to cover our innocent little ears and you are all lucky that we are not parrots or we'd never be socially acceptable.
Still, we've had a pretty good week running back and forth from one room to another and we've gotten used to the system of chutes and ladders, or locks and gates. In the morning, we get 'crunchies' in the grooming room so Doc can pick up all our overnight poo without us 'helping'. She does our laundry, mops the floor, gives us clean bed and toys and then we head back to the kitchen for breakfast while she cleans the grooming room. Did we mention we poo alot...very healthy puppies! Unfortunately, in our enthusiasm, we don't always look where we walk so we all got bathed again today...phooey.
Guess what else we all got? Our forever NAMES. We feel SO special now...our portraits this week have our new names but we are all in the same order so, if you feel disoriented, just scroll up to see who we were. Bari's keeping his name but the rest of us are learning just who we are now. Not that we don't know who we are...we are the cutest, best puppies in the world, tha's all.
Patty, Ada, Dance...all dogs were confined to quarters shortly after this was taken
That's SNOW behind our portraits! Lots!
Chapter 10 - Graduation Day...we knew this day would come, when all our hard work would pay off and all the social skills we've learned and the dances we have perfected would make us ready to join our new families and step out in the world. We have grown from little furry slugs into strong, agile, fun-loving little dogs who will spend the rest of our lives loving and being loved. We will be there for you when you need us and we will learn what you need from us and we will do our best to be there for you.
Last week we had our BAER tests and got microchipped. NOT our favorite day...but we can all hear just fine so if we ignore you when you tell us to do something it's NOT because we didn't hear you. Yesterday those of us leaving this week got vaccinated. Not as bad as microchipping but we were miffed. Some of us more sensitive types may take a few days to forget the owies but no one is worse for the wear. Diesel and Lola skipped yesterday since they're not leaving yet...they'll get vaccinated later...lucky them!
The weather finally cooperated and we get to go out a lot now...I guess waiting a while didn't hurt cause we learned to do the steps in a flash and runlikehells have been perfected. We have our own version cause ring around the steps where we run round and around the steps, sometimes ducking under the bottom step in a 'fool ya' move. Then we dart out and surprise each other, woof! We've learned a few things running with the big dogs...like no means NO! And Mom and Ada keep knocking us over and holding us down. Enough already, been there did that with the PATs...we want to run but it seems it's the big dogs' job to keep us from having TOO much fun....everything in moderation.
We have to say that we were on our best behavior for today's portraits...we sat like little statues while Doc snapped away...'cept for Diesel...you should see the 33 outtakes...haha. The cool thing is that we are not all leaving at once, but we're going to be dribbling out of here one at a time. Bella's mom is here from Florida, spending the night and will be leaving tomorrow. Piper's going home tomorrow, too, but she's staying near by so will be back often. Maple leaves on Thurs but she's also going local so she and Piper can have playdates. Madison is leaving Friday and Bari on Saturday, both to Northern Virginia. Diesel is staying on an extra week before leaving for MN and Lola is staying til the end of the month then moving to upstate NY.
But, this will be the last update for the Dance Stars...once one leaves, it just isn't the same. I have to say I have enjoyed these kids a lot...they have an irrepressible good humor and a zest for life that makes one happy just to see them having fun. And they have been great at learning the routines and cooperating with morning clean up, etc. And, they have great homes waiting for them...it's all good!
The time has come for us to leave...to pursue our careers...Dance Stars Rule!
PS: Diesel left after Valentine's Day after staying on a week to keep Lola company. Since Diesel left, Lola's been running with the big girls and learning manners, housebreaking, and teamwork. She sleeps in a crate on our bed with the 7 Elves and has just been an outstanding puppy. She's easy to live with, cheerful, adorable and smart. She's learning like a sponge, watching the others and, hopefully, only learning the GOOD things. She'll be leaving in a few days for her new home in upstate NY and I know Ada especially, is going to miss her. They are buds.
Diesel on Valentines Day, just before leaving for home.