Monday, August 29, 2011


We are beginning to wean the Roseannadannas.

Force-weaning is unnecessary, and frankly a bit barbaric. Unless a bitch cannot nurse her pups -- mastitis is commonly the cause -- there's almost never a reason to pull them cold-turkey off her milk.* Mother will wean, and the gradual process is part of their physical development and education as social beings.

Rosie feeds her babies when she feels the need to now, not whenever she is with them and they are hungry. This means that she is starting to tell them no. Sometimes Hell No. She's got the clawed breasts and chewed nipples to justify it.

I was reflecting on the advice we trainers all give to owners -- the injunction to, above all else, be consistent.

But Rosie -- their first teacher -- is not at all consistent. Sometimes she will let them nurse, sometimes she won't. Sometimes she just exits stage left, sometimes she is quite forceful and scary in her nipple-denying tactics, even seeming to practice entrapment by not choosing to walk away when she easily could do so. Downright erratic.

Is Rosie then a bad mother? Or are dog mothers a bad template for teaching things to puppies and dogs? Shouldn't we throw out Nature's horribly flawed schematics and adopt the cold perfection of the Skinner box and the dolphin tank?

This begs the question, what is Rosie teaching her pups?

If the lesson was meant to be "You can't nurse anymore," then Rosie would be a mercurial tutor.

What if the lesson is something else?

Perhaps "You are no longer a helpless blind hamster; your needs will not be met before you are even aware of them, ever again. Deal with it."

Or, "You will ask before invading the personal space of a superior being."

Or, "Because I'm the Mommy, that's why."

Or even, "Don't let the door hit ya in the ass on your way to your new home." (Extended goodbye version.)

I think it is the pinpoint edge of the general principle that leads from infancy to full social adulthood: Love, she is conditional after all.

I think unconditional love ends for every mammal the day she bites Mommy's nipple hard enough to hurt. From that day on, we need to control our selfish impulse to atrocity in order to merit care and acceptance. This is a good thing.

So Mommy starts saying no, and we humans, who will (collectively) continue to nurture and guide long after her crucial job is completed, take over a little of her first role as food-givers and contingency-enforcers.

This will be the second litter I have weaned on raw meat, hand-fed. I found the conventional kibble-derived puppy-gruel to be unsatisfactory in several ways -- the mess (smelly, crusty puppies), the excessive competition among the pups, the repeated salvos of attacking yellowjackets, and the gawdawful diarrhea that my vet prescribed "special" food to correct.

I start them for the first few days on "satin balls" -- a rich firm mixture of ground beef (our dog beef has heart and liver in it), eggs, cereal, and some nifty supplements (recipe below). Puppies quickly discover that they love meat, and also that I am made of it. The hand-feeding is an opportunity for them to learn that I love them, but that this love does not extend to allowing them to feast on my living flesh. (For starters.) They don't learn to sit for a cookie or take a treat politely at four weeks of age -- they learn the groundwork for those and every other shred of good manners they will later acquire.

I mentioned posting the recipe for satin balls in the clip. This is the one I use, with a nutrient analysis. The Knox Joint Gelatin /Osteo Bi-Flex is harder to get than the TEN packets of gelatin in other versions of this recipe, but much cheaper.








Ground beef, 70% lean



1361 g

651 g


1089 mg

Total Cereal

Box (12 oz)





1134 mg


Box (18 oz)






Wheat germ

Jar (12 oz)





133 mg

Olive oil (vegetable oil)

1 1/4 cup





3 mg

Unsulfured molasses

1 1/4 cup





1872 mg

Raw Eggs

10 large





265 mg

Knox Joint Gelatin

(Osteo bi-flex nutrajoint)

3 oz **






Flaxseed Oil

1/4 cup














15# mixed


1,813 g

980 g

932 g

4496 mg

Amounts per pound


121 g

65 g

62 g

300 mg

Per one-ounce ball


8 g

4 g

4 g

19 mg

Whiz the cereal in the food processor or smash it up by stomping on the inner bag. I like the cereal to be very fine, and even food-process the dry oatmeal.

Mix all ingredients in a really big bowl. Get in there with your hands, a spoon will not do it. Add some more eggs or a little water if too stiff.

Roll into little balls and freeze, or freeze big clumps in ziploc bags.

Puts weight onto sick, starved, parasitized, and recovering dogs, and poor keepers. Good during times of stress -- such as nursing, hunting, SAR missions. Not for fat dogs!

* I have been reminded that it is common in certain breeds to take Momma away from her own offspring before she kills them. Literally. I consider this a flashing neon sign of rather vulgar proportions in the window of Nature's shop that says "DON'T MAKE MORE OF THESE."

** The analysis for the Osteo Bi-Flex Nutrajoint / Knox Joint Gelatin is not quite on -- when I did this analysis all I had was Knox plain gelatin, which is what you see in many satin balls recipes. This stuff has more calcium and less protein than plain gelatin. I had a hard time finding it, finally sent PC to a K-Mart in Ross that had it.


  1. I think unconditional love ends for every mammal the day she bites Mommy's nipple hard enough to hurt. From that day on, we need to control our selfish impulse to atrocity in order to merit care and acceptance. This is a good thing.

    One of the things I find compelling about your blog is the possibilities for double entendre in the title. We are "Raised By Wolves", not in the feral sense, but in the sense that deeply understanding dogs truly elevates us.

  2. Also, the exasperated look on Rosie's face is priceless.

  3. I don't blame her one single bit for not wanting them chewing on her while nursing!

    I'm going to re-type that recipe and stash it away for safe keeping, I don't EXPECT to ever need it, but you never know....

  4. Sorry about the formatting mess on the satin balls formula. Will fix.

  5. i reeaaallly want to know which breeds need to be removed from mom before she kills them.

  6. I wonder if there have been any studies about pain from feeling full vs pain from being would certain leave any momma conflicted.

    btw watch out for the infection control peeps since you're handling raw meat and wiping the goo (fancy technical term) on your pants!

  7. Anne -- the breeds about which I have heard this -- from the breeders, not from "haters" -- all have the words "bull" and/or "terrier" somewhere in the breed names, if I recall correctly.

    mcappy -- yeah, I saw that when I reviewed the video. Changed my jeans. Lady Gaga may get away with the meat dress, but meat pants don't really appeal to me, especially in yellowjacket season.

    Have been out of paper towels for days and cannot remember to buy them.

  8. Just raised my first raw fed litter. Actually "first" litter of any kind. After going to see other folks kibble fed litters in the past, was so pleased at the little "tootsie roll" leavings of my babies. The others seem to poop constantly, large smelly obviously corn fed! Ick! Just one of the many benefits of raw. Around here, morning was the only 'sure thing" when it came to trying to nurse after 6 wks. Tina

  9. I think there is something of a consistency, in Rosie's not being consistent...

  10. Actually instead of stashing it away....

    I have an 8.5month old Tibetan Mastiff pup, who just doubled his food intake after taking the summer off (normal for this breed) so he's probly about to hit another growth spurt, might have to make up a small batch of this and see what he thinks of it mixed in with his regular stuff (he's on a half grain free kibble, half dehydrated raw diet, but I like to supliment with real raw so he doesn't eat as much kibble).

  11. Appreciate sharing the Satin Ball recipe and nutritional analysis Heather :^)
    Over the years I have liked to start my pups on warm raw goat milk as soon as their eyes open and they can lap. While they definitely are still nursing on mom, this helps with their increasing demands for 'more' and less frantic action on mom ;^)
    So, I am getting my milk from my own Nubian Dairy does, otherwise, it would be quite expensive to purchase in the store. All I've seen in the stores anyway is the canned and pasteurized goat milk. The milk has lots of 'good' things in it too and very little lactic acid so easily digestible. I call it my little puppy probiotic ;^)
    I don't start making 'gruel' until about a week after they are lapping well, and then it is just to start adding in 'something' that is 'thicker' yet has a bit of nutritional value, but bland, like cooked rice. Next day I'll add another 'item' such as cooked meat, like your satin ball meat.
    I like to add a new food about every 3 days, watching for any loose stools and if all ok, then keep adding things like chopped cooked egg, tiny bits of cheese, etc.
    Mama dog also brings her little live raw baby rabbits, drops them into the litter. Is very 'sad' to watch but she 'learns' them to 'hunt' this way.
    My adult dogs have been raised on both raw and kibble and I raise my pup litters the same way so that once they are ready to leave here at age 8 weeks, they will readily eat either, based on what new puppy owner wants to feed.
    Frozen raw chicken legs are great for teething. They get either raw beef, venison or poultry added one thing at a time and they also get a nutritional Puppy kibble. When I first introduce the kibble, it is softened in the raw milk. I also do not stick to ONE certain kibble brand, deliberately switching brands weekly. Have had great success with this with feedback from new owners that their new pup can eat anything without tummy problems.
    Great point to hand feed :^) I do the same with tidbits but also like to promote pups to eat side by side and discourage any that 'growl' at brother or sis. IMO, this helps deter any food aggression issues right from the start when they are so young and impressionable.
    Pups here are fed 4 times a day, I supervise to be sure everyone is getting their fair share! Yes, it CAN get messy if I supervise as some will try to walk into the middle of the large pizza platters that I use! But they soon learn to stick to the side like they should, after picking them up and placing them back there! lol
    I'm printing out your recipe, thanks again!

  12. Forgot to mention that I give pups here 1/2 of a chewable Pet Tab daily. Mom gets at least one tab a day throughout her pregnancy, while lactating and I'll continue giving while she is 'recuperating'.
    Mom also gets an Osteo Form tablet each day while nursing and once pups can chew well, they get it instead of her, based on their age/weight.
    And, wanted to share that another breeder once told me that I could add a little (like maybe a tsp or two) of Saflower Oil to mama's meals each day to help with her coat (since they usually blow their coat after whelping) and I've found that it does help it come back in faster and give it a nice luster!


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