Day 46

October 25th, 2020
Walkies with Grandma Nina

Alice doesn’t remember swallowing a beach ball and yet….here we are.

I can feel little fluttery movements I think, but they won’t really start running around in there for a few more days. She’s eating, sleeping, going for walks. All appears to be as it should be so far. We shall see what the blood tests this week show…

You Have To Laugh

October 24th, 2020

So after yesterday’s reassuring call from Dr Gray, I relaxed.

And then this morning I checked Alice’s result from IDEXX, expecting it to be in the same ballpark as the one run at Dr Gray’s and….IDEXX says she’s at 6 ng/mL. Since supplementing is recommended at 5 if there’s more than a week to go (we have 2 1/2 weeks to go), it’s a conundrum.

So Monday we’ll do a fasted draw first thing in the morning and I’ll take half to the repro vet and send half to IDEXX.

And IDEXX is rerunning my sample from yesterday to see what’s up.

Alice? She’s fine. She loves that she gets lunch now, she’s snoozing a lot but also always up for a good romp or walkies even though she is now officially Large.


October 23rd, 2020

So after a sleepless night after Alice decided to nest a little bit and then be a bit restless (likely because she is getting pretty large and uncomfortable), I drew more blood this morning, I sent half to IDEXX and drove half to my repro vet.

Just off the phone with my repro vet and she’s back up to 10.4 ng/mL on their in-house machine. She talked me down: this is not a high risk pregnancy, Zhora would have held her last litter even though we did decide to supplement, she only needs to stay above 3 to hold the pregnancy and we only need to supplement if she is below 5 with more than a week to go, this is the problem once we know a bit and start testing, it’s normal for progesterone to fluctuate as we get towards the end etc. And Renee the tech there also spoke to me earlier and helped me calm down.

She has a puppy bulge on her left side!

My overall anxiety level is so much higher right now and I’m rarely able to be 100% rational about my own dogs at the best of times.

Svelte mama Zhora in front, podge Alice in back.

She’s gained a bit more weight than I might ideally like (she was 27 pounds last Friday, which is pounds over her fighting weight, and she was 28.6 today), but as long as she doesn’t get swollen feet/legs or a swollen vulva (which could be a sign of maternal hydrops), it’s fine. Doc recommend retest next Friday (unless she starts acting weird) but I will do Wednesday since that’s when we need to draw for her nomograph anyway.

Now all I need is a good night’s sleep, a peaceful rest of her pregnancy, an easy whelping, and the current administration to be voted out.

ALL the foods please!

Sometimes It Seems Like Stress Is My Job

October 22nd, 2020

So I decided to spot check Alice’s progesterone last Friday (day 37), and it was 10.7 ng/mL. Super great. I decided to do weekly checks because we ended up supplementing Zhora’s progesterone because it got lower than ideal (as it turned out, she would have held her litter, but much better to be safe than sorry).

And since I know I’ll need to do a blood draw next Wednesday for her nomograph to help determine when the optimal time to vaccinate the puppies will be, I decided to do this week’s blood draw yesterday since then we’ll just do a bigger draw next Wednesday and save having to poke her twice.

My awesome repro vet said to let them know if it drops below 8 ng/mL.

So I woke up this morning and checked the lab results. 7.1 ng/mL.

I about had a heart attack. In general, it’s recommended that you supplement if it drops below 5 ng/mL with more than five days to go. 7.1 seems awfully close to 5. And we have just under three WEEKS to go.

My repro vet was awesome and said “7.1 is perfectly high enough to maintain a pregnancy”. And while I know intellectually that they say that you really only need to be over 3, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed. However, I have an awesome and knowledgeable team on my side.

Alice, meanwhile, is perfectly content. She is loving the fact that she now gets 30% more food since we entered the last three weeks yesterday. I’ve been ordering supplies for whelping and puppies. And she is getting a bit unwieldy on the stairs so we will be moving into the guest room downstairs this weekend (I usually move downstairs two weeks out, so only a few days early). She has lots of energy but sleeps a lot. And she is getting LARGE. She looks like a furry grey eggplant from some angles now!

I’ve seen published data that discusses that many bitches may naturally run low, and that there are several anecdotal cases of bitches dropping to 3 ng/mL for the last couple of weeks and holding their pregnancy just fine. I never tested Nina so for all I know she ran low-ish too. I only tested Zhora last time because we suspected she may have resorbed her first pregnancy (even though we never 100% confirmed she was pregnant that time), and while she did drop low enough to hit the supplementation threshold at day 50, when she hit 5.4 ng/mL, and we started Regumate on day 51 when a repeat test was the same, she actually never went below 3.6 ng/mL until the expected drop to initiate labor. So maybe Vallhunds in general or my lines in particular run low. Maybe they’re just in cahoots with the lab so I have to run a bunch of tests.

Either way, we’re monitoring it. I will test her again tomorrow and take some of the blood to my repro vet for them to test in house by way of comparison with our lab (IDEXX).

Alice yesterday (day 42)
Alice (and Nina) last weekend (day 39)

The Embiggening Already!

October 11th, 2020

Today was day 32, a day when many breeders say they can start to see the beginnings of a “bump”. Well wouldn’t you know it, Alice accompanied me into the bathroom (because I might get lost or something) and as she was lying there I realized that her waist is disappearing and she has a little belly pooch starting!

The Embiggening Begins!
Alice & Co gestating in her favorite dog bed

Schrödinger’s Puppies

October 6th, 2020

I’ve spent the last three weeks “is she or isn’t she”-ing. And SHE IS! Today was Alice’s ultrasound and she’s pregnant! My awesome repro vet Dr Claudia Gray thought she saw six and one resorption site (she says that is totally normal and not a concern).

I’d been leaning more towards “she is” over the last week or so after being pretty sure she wasn’t. Just in the last few days she’s been more sucky and cuddly, has seemed a bit nauseated or “urpy” (although she’s eating like a Labrador), her nipples were pinker and larger, and she’s been a bit snarky (for her, which is not very snarky) at the other dogs.

Hurdle one was getting the breeding done (go me! My first AI worked!).

Hurdle two was finding out if she was pregnant!

Now we just have to hope for an uneventful and healthy pregnancy and then an uneventful and easy whelping!

X-ray is booked for November 3 and the official due date is November 11 plus or minus a day.

Now we wait!

The Thinking Thing

September 14th, 2020

Nina was such an easy dog to breed that I started out breeding Vallhunds with the idea that they were super easy and it was a doddle.

Then came Zhora.

There are many things I did in terms of breeding Zhora that I regret and wish I could go back in time to do differently.

I wish I’d started earlier with her. That’s the single biggest regret I have. She produced spectacular puppies and was a great mother, and it’s looking likely that her one litter was the only one she’ll have. I’m still hedging my bets on this because I want to see how it goes with Alice but…

I wish I hadn’t used mibolerone. I was told by a high profile repro vet that it was advisable to use it in any intact bitch to preserve her uterus from unbred heats. I do think that this was in good faith at the time, but I also think that the thinking is different now. I don’t know that this had anything to do with her issues, but…

Her issues maybe weren’t as huge a deal as they are in my memory. She missed or resorbed on our first attempt but I am convinced that it’s most likely that we bred her too late. That was fresh chilled and I thing we were a couple of days too late for success thanks to a weekend getting in the way. That was a very stressful breeding!

I think the same thing happened when we tried to do a TCI when a natural didn’t happen the third time I tried. I also think we may have been a tiny bit late that time by the time we actually got the breeding done.

Both times she failed to have a litter were with AI when extender was used. I know “they” say that extender doesn’t cause a problem but…

I wish I’d just bred her last winter when she came in just in time for me to have to skip the Invitational, but I was so excited about going to the National Agility Championship in the spring….I wasn’t to know that COVID would cancel THOSE plans.

So I decided I was going to breed Alice for the first time at around the same age I bred Nina for the first time. Nina was 2 1/2, Alice is almost 3. This gives me much more time in her breeding life to plan and adjust as needed, and more wiggle room for how many litters she can have (2 or 3 instead of 1). I think she is a pretty amazing dog and an excellent example of the breed in many ways.

But the heartbreaks with Zhora have for sure given me “once bitten twice shy” syndrome. I keep analyzing the timing for this breeding we just did. I am reasonably certain that at least the Saturday breeding was within the window. Even if she ovulated late Tuesday, the eggs wouldn’t have been ripe until Thursday, and they live for at least 2-3 days, which puts Saturday within the window.

Plus it was my first AI attempt. So we will see. I booked her pregnancy check for October 6 (that’s day 28), and I will just have to bite my nails until then. I am glad that she is young and healthy and I was so impressed with how she handled the indignities of the AI (she is like that about everything though, she takes everything in her stride, plus cookies help).

I wish I’d just done an AI on Friday, and I wish we’d actually started Thursday. But it is what it is! Fingers and paws crossed.

The Deed Is Done!

September 13th, 2020

Ollie arrived Friday evening, we nearly had a tie but just couldn’t quite get it done. So Saturday Kat and I sat and watched several videos on how to collect and inseminate (thank goodness I took Renee the repro tech’s advice and picked up two AI kits on Friday!), and then we collected Ollie and inseminated Alice. We were pretty sure they could have managed a natural breeding yesterday but after three near misses we decided to just get it done one way or another.

I am fortunate that Ollie has been collected several times, so he knows what it’s about, and I was really impressed with myself that I managed it!

I think our timing should have been good (today is most likely the last day of the window). We got one AI done yesterday and another this morning. So hopefully we were well within the window, hopefully I did it right, and hopefully all goes well.

I am so grateful to Kat for driving here to make this happen. Fingers crossed for a healthy Alice and a pregnancy!

Ollie is such a lovely dog, so happy and friendly and easy-going, I am really excited to see how this cross turns out!

Dog breeding is not for the faint of heart, not many people can say that they spent their weekend learning how to collect and AI dogs…


September 11th, 2020

So she was at 2.5 ng/mL on Tuesday Sept 8 and jumped to 11 ng/mL yesterday September 10! That means she likely ovulated on Wednesday! Ollie is coming to visit us tonight. Fingers crossed all goes well!

Alice Progesterone

September 5th, 2020

We started progesterone testing! Remember per Dr Gray “Identifying day of ovulation requires documenting a rise in progesterone beyond 4-8ng/ml with ideally at least a 2ng surge/jump over a 24 hour period.”

Day 5 Wednesday September 2: 0.3 ng/mL

Day 7 Friday September 4: 0.5 ng/mL

Day 8 Saturday September 5: 0.9 ng/mL (thank you for coming in on a weekend Linda, and thank you to another vet clinic that allowed me to drive the sample over to them to go out in their lab pickup!)

Going the right way for sure! And she has been just spectacular for her blood draws so far.