It's a whole new world for the wolf pups! Wolves are born with their eyes and ears closed, relying on their sense of smell and the feel of their surroundings to navigate and explore. Their eyes open at 10 - 12 days old, but sound doesn't enter the picture until roughly a week later. The older pups are just now hearing for the first time, and their ears are finally starting to stand up. At three weeks old, the eldest pups are developmentally right on track, and with their auditory senses up and running, every experience is new again.
This is especially true of howling! These pups have been able to howl, at least a little bit, since their first day of hand-raising at 12 days old. Those howls were un-solicited and went un-answered, disappearing into the universe because no pup could hear the call. Now that their ears have opened, that's changed! Puppy nannies are able to howl to their charges, and get howls in response! This is critical for the pups' development, not only to learn about howling as a communication tool, but also as a method of bonding. When the pups are older, howling will be a catalyst for pack rallying, drawing the pups together with any adults (human or canine) that may be in their lives. It's a vital tool in a puppy nanny's tool box!
In addition to open and upright ears, some facial markings are starting to appear, making the pups look less like gophers and more like wolves. Still, at such a young age, the pups are difficult to differentiate between without a little help. To make sure we can keep track of each individual, we shave small patches of fur on each pup. Various locations used include both shoulders and hips, the base of the neck, the base of the tail, and mid-back. Unlike nail-polish, there's no risk of suddenly losing the mark through regular pup wear-and-tear as they eat and play. The shaved patches slowly regrow, giving the nannies plenty of time to re-fresh them. With each pup getting a unique shave mark, we're certain they all get equally handled and cared for.