Day 59 – Preparing

September 17th, 2017

Massive pile of clean laundry. Towels, bedding, facecloths etc. Unpacked the supplies bin, washed everything in unscented detergent, folded. Ready to go.

Made a batch of liver water (OMG my whole house smells like boiled liver). Then made a batch of Myra Savant Harris’s puppy formula. Froze the leftover liver water and the formula in ice cube trays. All now in labeled Ziploc bags in the freezer. Better to be prepared. Plus Zhora can drink it!

I will make Zhora some mother’s porridge (steel cut oats, goat’s milk, eggs and other stuff) to help support her lactation once everybody has arrived.

Tomorrow night is her last dose of Regumate. Then we wait. I plan to be prepared from Tuesday night on (it takes a while for the Regumate to leave her system, most of what I can find says 36 hours at least before anything gets going but you never know). I will go to work Wednesday morning, Jim will stay here and call me if it looks like anything is imminent.

As of today, they are officially cooked enough to be likely to survive even if they’re born early (and remember “normal” is 63 days from ovulation plus or minus a day, which puts us Wednesday-Friday).

As much as I love planning breedings and raising puppies, I am not a fan of whelping. Even though 90% go just fine with no intervention at all (and how many dogs whelp in back alleys and do ok?), and there’s all that miracle of life stuff that really is amazing, it’s always stressful until everyone is out, and really until everyone is a few weeks old, to be honest.

I do feel much better with a repro vet on call. And I’ve reviewed my books and feel about as prepared as I can be. After tomorrow evening, it’s up to Zhora.

Still Five On Board!

September 12th, 2017

Doctor Gray’s count via ultrasound at 28 days was bang on the money! Five on x-ray today (our original x-ray appointment was tomorrow but we were there for ultrasound today so did the x-ray a day early). On ultrasound we saw hearts beating over 200 beats per minute (which is what you want), on at least three of them. I was asked about why only 3, and the answer was that Zhora was being a pill about lying on her back with a big pregnant belly (and also because she has Opinions), so we didn’t want to wrestle with her and stress her out. Because all 5 are quite uniform in size, we were pretty comfortable just spot checking.

One is lined up ready to go! All a nice uniform size at this point (we’re calling the 21st her likely due date).

Here’s the email I sent to Renee and Dr Gray today, and I’ll put Dr Gray’s answers at our appointment today in bold (as best I remember them):

I decided to opt for the ultrasound today just to set my mind at ease, I will bring blood for progesterone too. Zhora is doing well, discharge remains watery-to-egg white consistency and clear to opaque white, and there is not very much of it (there was a tiny speck of green when I wiped this morning but I think it was a bit of grass since she’d just been outside and she’s a low-rider when she urinates). She was a bit restless and uncomfortable for a few minutes last night but the puppies were quite active then (I could feel them moving quite a bit and I would not be surprised for any bitch to be a little uncomfortable at this stage). I didn’t feel anything that felt like a contraction.
She has really done NOTHING so far that would make me think anything other than normal late pregnancy stuff is going on, but I’m paranoid every time she scratches her ears! She is eating well, energetic and bouncy, going for walks, and seems comfortable most of the time. She is perhaps a little more clingy than usual since yesterday and seems to have a little indigestion once in a while (occasional burping and gurgly stomach, it hasn’t affected her appetite at all, but she has always had the appetite of a Lab).
Meds:
Regumate 0.3 ml SID PO (at 5 pm daily)
Panacur-C 3 g SID
Catalyst Chews (DHA/EPA supplement) 1 SID
FortiFlora 1 packet SID
B-50 vitamin with folic acid BID
Diet: Pro Plan Sport 30/20 1/2 cup am, 1/4 – 1/3 cup lunch, 1/2 cup pm (this is about 40-50% more than her non-breeding amount,and I have gradually increased it as advised)
I did have a few questions that I wanted to ask, so I thought I’d email in advance in case time is short today. I did a bit of reading on VIN (not Dr Google!) and just wanted to clarify a few things for myself about the Regumate:
1) masculinization of female fetuses – is this a concern for us (starting at day 51) or is this issue more related to supplementing too early, too high a dose, or when not needed?
Dr Gray’s answer as I recall it: given how short a time she’s going to be on the Regumate, how small a dose we’re using, and how late in the pregnancy we started it, this should not be a concern.
2) milk production – is there a concern that she will take longer to produce milk and/or not produce adequate milk? Should I be looking into ordering some fresh frozen plasma or spinning down some blood in case she doesn’t produce colostrum? I will have formula ready to go just in case.
Dr Gray’s answer as I recall it: …was to express colostrum from Zhora right then and there…so not likely to be a problem – she has colostrum over a week from her due date, we should be fine. They gave me some suggestions for supplements to use to help with milk production: fenugreek, sunflower lecithin, mother’s porridge (which contains steel cut oats, which help the body produce milk).
3) c-section – I know there is a slight increase in the likelihood of Zhora needing a c-section. I have never scheduled c-sections in the past, but would it be the best choice for this situation? Zhora is my first priority, the puppies are second. If this were your dog, or Dr Gray’s dog, would you be scheduling a c-section or waiting to see if she needs one? I am worried about having to go to an e clinic in the middle of the night where I don’t know the vet’s skill level and where they aren’t breeder friendly, don’t have advanced neonatal care options, and will want to spay everything with a uterus…I would feel far better having you do it if she needed one.
Dr Gray’s answer as I recall it: there’s no reason to think she won’t be able to deliver normally. We’re stopping the Regumate after her dose on the 18th, which gives her plenty of time to let the hormone cascade happen. Also Dr Gray gave me her home and cell phone numbers and will be in touch with me regularly once I let her know we’ve started stage 1 labor. She sent me home with some injectable meds (calcium, to start as soon as we have serious contractions starting, and tiny doses of oxytocin, she will be walking me through when to give those), and a list to be doubly sure I have everything I need. If we do need to intervene, we have a plan in place. I feel MUCH more comfortable and prepared now!
So now we just keep doing what we’re doing, make sure we have everything we need, and get ready to hunker down for whelping next week! She’s 31 pounds today! Just over a pound per puppy of weight gain and in perfect body condition per Dr Gray, not fat, not thin, right where she should be!
Progesterone was 4.1 today so supplementing was the right choice! Recheck Friday and quick heart rate check too just so we’re comfortable going into the weekend.

 

You Know…

September 12th, 2017

Patting puppies that are still in the womb is pretty cool.

They are quite active tonight and they’re making Zhora a bit uncomfortable.

We’re going for an ultrasound tomorrow just to make sure everything is ok in there. I can feel quite a lot of kicking and squirming.

Day 51 – Regumate

September 9th, 2017

So progesterone was 5.4 again this morning. Not lower, which is good, but not higher, so presumably yesterday’s number was real and not a fluctuation.

So we are starting Regumate, which is a synthetic progesterone that they use in horses. It should hopefully help maintain the pregnancy until the puppies are cooked enough.

She is so close to full term now I want to be sure I am doing everything I can while it still seems to be in her best interests. With that in mind: Zhora is acting totally fine, eating well, lots of energy, seems comfortable even though she is large.

I am very grateful that Dr Gray was willing to text with Renee and the other techs here while out of town so we could make a plan and decisions sooner rather than later. I am also glad that we have options which can help and a vet who is up to date on their use!

It does seem that lower levels can be normal for some bitches, and they can even carry to term with “too low” levels, but I’m following Dr Gray’s advice.

Hopefully ultrasound and x rays next week to make sure everything is still ok in there.

I expect my hairstylist is going to be covering a lot more of my gray hairs soon… I will be lucky not to get an ulcer. This is not for the faint hearted.

Day 50….ugh

September 8th, 2017

…so her progesterone is 5.4 today. Perilously close to that 5 number where we need to supplement to try and hold onto the litter. Plan is to retest tomorrow….she is acting fine, eating great, going for her walks every day. And we saw puppies on the ultrasound when we were playing around with it at work today.

Day 49 – Somebody’s In There!

September 7th, 2017

I just felt somebody moving around in there on her right side!!!

(Jim, as usual, declined to feel it, since he feels that they are aliens, like the facehuggers in Alien, until they are born)

Day 48 – The Box!

September 6th, 2017

Well, two weeks to go (+/- a day or two), so time to set up the whelping box in the guest room off our family room so Zhora has a chance to get used to it and get comfortable with it. We put a pile of old towels in there for now, for her to dig in, there are nice comfy fitted pads to go in when the time comes. We can also hang a curtain around it for more a “cave like” feeling. I dug out my supplies and took an inventory and made a shopping list.

Nina helped check out the new digs:

What’s this up here?

Inspecting….

 

What do you think, mum? All as it should be?

OK! Everything seems to be in order! The Zhora stamp of approval!

Day 47

September 5th, 2017

Current status:

Zhora: 

Colossal squid:

She is MUCH larger in person than in photos still. She has to kick one leg sideways to accommodate her puppy tummy when she sits. She wants to eat ALL THE THINGS and thinks her lunch needs a lunch. She is happy to go for her walks, we try to go for at least a mile or two almost every day and she has lots of energy when she’s doing things but when she’s not, she’s snoozing. She still jumps around and runs, but is much more sedate than usual. Still very content. We start daily Panacur (fenbendazole) this week, and they are due in TWO WEEKS!

My sister lost her 11 year old Irish Setter Cillian suddenly yesterday, it’s a terrible shock and we are thinking of her.

 

Bon Voyage Bert!

September 4th, 2017

So yesterday I spent the day in the car, driving Bert the first leg on his long journey back to Arizona, and my brain got to thinking, as it occasionally does. I’d like to write a little Academy Awards speech here, if you’ll indulge me, as this whole episode has really cemented a few thoughts for me.

First, I want to thank Bert’s owner and my friend Michelle Fromm at Caliente Swedish Vallhunds, who became my instant friend when I met her at the North Carolina National Specialty in 2011. Michelle’s dedication to keeping working drive alive, in structurally correct, well-tempered, typey dogs, is exemplary. This breed needs people like Michelle. This is a working farm dog, it needs to retain the ability to be a working farm dog. Michelle’s generosity in lending me Bert for the summer was enormous, and her trust was, I hope, not misplaced. Breeders working together is vital to the health of this awesome breed, especially with a careful eye towards not ending up with a split breed as has happened in so many others. There should not be “show type” and “working type”, there should just be “Swedish Vallhunds”. A correct Vallhund should look like it’s supposed to look AND be able to do what it’s supposed to do, and it should have a temperament you can live with easily. You lose what you do not breed for.

Second, I want to thank Bert’s breeder, Wendy Amon, in England at Pepperthyme Swedish Vallhunds, if Bert is in any way representative of what Wendy produces and raises (and he is, by all accounts), she is doing this breed a huge service. He is sweet, friendly and stable. He’s at home wherever he goes. He is handsome and correct. And he has working drive to spare, including the sometimes-elusive “sticktuitiveness”, which to me means he isn’t afraid to be wrong, and just try again. This is a testament to how he was raised, but also to his innate temperament.

Third, I want to thank Dawna Sims at PSR Stockdogs, for helping Bert get here and back. And Pam Abrath at Fantasi Swedish Vallhunds, who drove all the way to Ohio to take Bert to Purina Farms to meet up with Dawna on his way home. Thank you so very much both of you, for going out of your way to help.

Finally, my tolerant and awesome husband Jim, for becoming Bert’s foster dad for the summer, and my family and friends and work family and friends, for helping and listening and tolerating me in my crazy dog lady mode. Thank you guys!

Now we just wait and keep our fingers crossed. Bon voyage Bert!

Day 43 – The Pudgening Begins

September 1st, 2017

Zhora Day 43

So unlike almost everyone else on the planet, the camera actually SUBTRACTS weight from Zhora. In person she looks quite pregnant and round, her belly is almost touching the floor when she sits, and she is so long and lean I described her to a friend as looking kind of like a snake that swallowed an antelope. But in pictures she manages to look quite svelte still. She weighed 28.2 lbs today (her agility lean weight is 24.5), and the mothering hormones are in full swing since her blood draw for her weekly progesterone check today was the easiest, most laid back blood draw she’s ever had (she is a bit of a beast for blood draws, ask Simone). She is very content these days, happy to go for a walk (we just returned from one, in fact), but also happy to just snooze. She is snoozing a lot.

Her progesterone today was 10.2, still perfectly normal and safe number per the repro vet, so retest in a week unless something changes I don’t like. Fluctuation is normal too she says.

Poor Nina has confirmed pancreatitis (we had an ultrasound with the awesome Dr Linda Homco in Rochester yesterday and she confirmed that Nina’s insides mostly look quite healthy, but her pancreas is unhappy). She had a GI panel sent to Texas A&M last week which came back as consistent with pancreatitis, and she was painful in her upper abdomen so we were quite sure, but best to check there’s not something else brewing (I’d planned to take her to Dr Homco for a screening ultrasound soon anyway, since she turned 10, just to make sure there wasn’t anything I needed to do something about, so this forced my hand).

So she continues on her regimen of low fat food (she loves the Royal Canin one), famotidine (Pepcid) 10 mg twice daily (for indigestion), gabapentin 200mg three times daily (for pain, it’s quite painful, she was squirming when the doc was pressing on it with the ultrasound probe), Galliprant 20 mg once daily (for pain and inflammation) and simethicone as needed for gas (her digestive tract is unhappy). She seems to be feeling better and more herself today, so that’s good. She enjoyed her walk and was demanding treats like usual. We’ve been treating it for two weeks now, and the doc thinks it may have started, then started to heal, then come back, and may have been going on for 4 weeks. Poor Nina! She will get the best care.