The Puppy Palace
Take a tour of the little room
In the Fall of 2003, I designed and built a small room inside of our garage. The room is designed to be a safe and comfortable place for the birth of our puppies, and where they can spend the first few weeks of their lives. Since we stay with our puppies almost 24/7 during the critical first week after birth, I've built in a few special features to make spending time in "The Puppy Palace" an enjoyable experience.
Here's our daughter, Sheri, snuggling with an armful of puppies.
The upper bed, with the red sheets, is for the humans. Because we stay with the puppies during all hours of the day and night during the first week after birth, it's important to have a comfortable place where we can rest.
The lower bed, with the green sheets, is for the dogs. Here's a better look at the lower bed...
A few things to notice in this picture:
A wooden barrier confines the puppies to the far end of the bed... this way they don't accidentally fall off the end of the mattress and on to the cold cement floor. We've left that cement floor exposed on purpose... so the mother dog can lie down on it if she needs to cool off. You can see our PuppyCam on the tripod on the left side... this allows our web site's visitors to see what the puppies are up to. The tripod makes it easy for us to move the camera around for different views depending on what's going on.
Here's how things look when an actual delivery is in progress. Kellyn is helping to deliver the puppies, and Sheri is taking down notes about the order that the puppies arrive in. The WebCam is moved down in to position for a good view of the delivery.
Here's Sheri sitting on the upper bed and showing off a couple of puppies. Notice the thermometer on the wall. It displays two temperatures... the temperature at ground level, where the puppies are... and the temperature there at human level. Because hot air rises... the difference is sometimes 5 degrees or more. Keeping puppies at the proper temperature during the first few days is absolutely critical.
Once the puppies are about 4 weeks old and able to walk around well, we remove the lower mattress and replace it with newspaper and a small sleeping area. Puppies have a natural inclination to want to pee and poop somewhere other than in their own bed, so this takes advantage of that and helps to get them trained to pee and poop on newspaper. The wooden barrier keeps them confined to an easy-to-clean area, and also allows the mother dog to get in and out as she pleases.
At about six weeks of age we take the barrier away and let the dogs go in and out of the Puppy Palace as they please. To teach them how to use the doggie door, we start with it propped open for a few days. This allows them access to a fenced-off area directly outside the Puppy Palace that is covered with newspaper. As the puppies get older, they gradually learn to prefer to pee and poop in the area outside of the Puppy Palace. It requires no training on our part, it's just a natural instinct of theirs to want to pee and poop as far away from their bed as possible.
The flexibility of being able to have the lower mattress in or out, the wooden barrier in or out, the doggie door up or down... is part of what makes the Puppy Palace perfect for the puppies as they go through their various stages.
If your head was on the pillows of the upper bed, this is what you would see. The TV on the top shelf has a built-in VCR, and it is also connected to a digital video recorder on the bottom shelf. The computer monitor on the middle shelf shows us what is happening with the PuppyCam. The room is wired for high speed Internet for both the PuppyCam computer and also for a laptop computer, if we want to bring one in. If you're going to spend 24/7 in this room, it's got to have all the comforts of home! Plus, when we have puppies, I get huge volumes of email... so it's important to be connected during those long periods inside the Puppy Palace.
The walls of the Puppy Palace are filled with some of the best Cocker pictures I've taken over the years. Here's Molly, one of our puppies, meeting her new owners, Jim & Alicia, for the first time.
Here's Abby sitting directly outside the Puppy Palace. A doggie door allows her to get in and out for potty breaks, without letting all the heat out. Outside of the view of the camera is fencing that keeps Abby restricted to this particular section of the garage. The temperature here in the garage is typically in the low 60's, and Abby likes to come sit here if she gets a little too warm inside the heated Puppy Palace.
When the puppies are about six weeks of age, this is the area that they prefer to pee and poop in. It's very interesting to see their natural instinct to want to pee and poop well away from their bed.
This shot shows what's off to the right of that last picture... it's a wooden enclosure we call the Cocker Castle. The section that's open to the air is just an area for potty breaks... the enclosed area behind the Cocker Castle sign is basically a dog house big enough for four or five dogs. Our adult dogs sleep here at night.
Moving a little further to the right of the last picture, this is the view you would see from our driveway when we have the main garage door open.
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