Archive for the ‘breeding’ Category

The Thinking Thing

Monday, 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!

Sunday, 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…

Alice Progesterone

Saturday, 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.

Alice Day 1

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

Sad news about Lisa, then exciting news about Alice. I’d felt she was getting close to going into season and today turns out to be day 1!

I will start progesterone testing later this week, which will tell us when it’s time for Ollie to make his way here.

So exciting!

LOBO!

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Jan and Lobo are in training for his Water Rescue Dog (WRD) title, which is the next step up from his breed-first Water Dog title. Water Dog is generally only done by Newfoundlands, and the titles and trials are offered through the Newfoundland Club of America. These test exercises are intended for a breed that weighs 100-150 pounds, bred specifically for this kind of water rescue work. Swedish Vallhunds weigh 20-30 pounds and are bred specifically for farm work: herding, killing vermin, etc. Many Vallhunds love to swim, but…Lobo qualified for his Water Dog title when several Newfies did not. (here is the post with video of Lobo’s Water Dog title test)

Jan sent me some videos of his training session yesterday and…holy crap.

Here’s what Jan says:

“Here are 3 YouTube links of Lobo’s work yesterday.  The gentleman who took the videos was the rower for the Take A Line/Tow A Boat so there was no recording there, but you have seen him tow a boat.  The only difference is he has to take the line to the boat so they can grab it and then tow it to shore 75′ instead of 50′ like in the WD.”

The order for WRD is:
Double Retrieve – didn’t practice yesterday.
Retrieve Off A Boat  https://youtu.be/DjUtQTdWvqY
Take A Life Ring  https://youtu.be/nPRzr2YnINM
Underwater Retrieve – didn’t practice due to steep dropoff.
Take A Line/Tow A Boat – didn’t record
Rescue  https://youtu.be/35jGuLftYbg

(shared with permission from Jan Robles)

Retrieve off a boat:

Take a life ring:

Rescue:

That’s some INCREDIBLE work for Lobo and some amazing training from Jan. Lobo has several breed firsts, including being the first Swedish Vallhund to earn a drafting title, the first to earn a Water Dog title, and the first to earn the Open Barn Hunt title.

Lobo is a Swedish Vallhund Club of America Versatility Champion and the first Versatility Champion to earn all his points on performance and companion events only. He has titles in herding, agility, obedience, Barn Hunt, drafting, Water Dog, FastCAT, Trick Dog, Farm Dog…. His name with JUST his AKC titles is Alkemi Beowulf Del Roble Ls UD PT FDC AX AXJ BCAT RATCH CGC TKA. He is a Tempest x Nina son from the B litter (my “pupsicle” litter from frozen semen) and is litter brother to Ollie, Cricket, Colby and Zhora.

Lobo and Jan are an incredible team. Jan was getting a female puppy from my B litter after waiting for 2 years. I asked Jan to evaluate the litter for me (Jan has evaluated guide dog litters and is a very experienced trainer and former breeder of Malinois), she was staying with us for a week to get to know the puppies and I was pretty sure I knew which puppy was going home with her (the puppy who would become Zhora, actually). Lobo (then known as Aniston, since he was the first born puppy in our “Jennifers” litter, where all puppies had “Jennifer” names since they were born on my sister Jennifer’s birthday) was first to be evaluated, Jan hadn’t seen any of them yet and she likes to evaluate in birth order. I heard her say “hello puppy” in a happy voice after I placed him in the evaluation room and left…and then I heard her tone change and she said “oh…HELLO puppy” and I just knew she wasn’t taking a female puppy after all (which was fine by me, since I’d already fallen in love with Zhora and was miserable at the thought of her leaving me, but I’d promised Jan a puppy and she’d been waiting for so long…). Then in the car on the way home from where we tested them, she said “So…are all the puppies spoken for?” and I said “That first male puppy huh?”.

I’m not someone who believes in fate really, but Jan and Lobo were just meant to be, Lobo would do Jan’s taxes if she asked him to. They’re incredible.

Jan also has Cora, who was Popcorn, from the C litter.

Riley

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Ten years ago a young couple contacted me, interested in a puppy from my very first Vallhund litter. They were newly married, had just bought a house, and this would be their first dog. As it happened I had a male puppy available after his initial home had fallen through, but this puppy was very special, if he’d been female, I’d have kept him. I’d already turned down two other prospective homes for him. I wanted to be sure that he found the right home. So the first thing I said to this couple was that if they wanted to meet me, they could drive all the way to an agility trial I was at in Farmington. Even though they lived quite close to me. Because I’m a jerk.

So they did.

They were very nice, polite, funny, intelligent. I liked them. My dogs liked them. But I was a nervous nelly about my precious puppy and I still wasn’t sure.

So I told them they needed to get this book and that book and read them. Because I’m a jerk.

They did that too.

Eventually I decided that they’d jumped though enough hoops, and they just might be a good enough home for my special little Triangle Boy, last born in his litter, and one of those special puppies who stole my heart and whom I so wished had been female. They were thrilled and Triangle Boy became Riley, AKA Alkemi Aston Martin LS.

Riley when he was Triangle Boy

What a jerk I was for doubting what a great home they’d give him. In fact, they were such an awesome home that when they tentatively asked about a puppy from my next litter, three years later, I told them they were in the class of “PLEASE take another puppy”. Their Vallhunds are truly a part of their family. They played agility (Riley earned his NA and OAJ titles, and he ran fast and crazy like his mother Nina). They shared pictures on Instagram of the fun their dogs had, the awesome lives they led, their Sunday Funday walkies. They are excellent owners and truly love their dogs.

“Nothin’, just Riley stuffs”

Last year Riley had a growth on his hind leg. We took the growth off (they come to the vet clinic I work at), the pathologist suspected it was an apocrine clear cell ductular carcinoma, but the margins were decent and no further treatment was recommended, just monitoring. Then in February of this year, Riley had a rash on his belly, and his people needed to shampoo his tummy a couple of times a week. So it just so happened that because they were giving him these belly rubs so regularly, they found a lump. The lump seemed ominous so we decided it should be removed. During the surgery it became apparent that it was this was a nasty-looking tumor with tendrils everywhere and we found weird little skin masses near it and we just knew it was something bad. The first pathology report said it was likely a clear cell carcinoma, but they recommended additional testing. Additional testing didn’t shed any more light so they recommended additional additional testing. It was a rare and unusual tumor and even after three rounds of testing and several different experts weighing in, the pathologists still weren’t 100% certain.

Given how weird the diagnosis was turning out to be, and how diffuse the mass was, we recommended they see an oncologist, ideally one at a facility which had advanced surgical and radiation therapy options. So, being the awesome owners they are, they made an appointment at Guelph, and also at Cornell, and were hopeful that either would be able to move them up the list and see them sooner. I reached out to a friend who’s a vet at Cornell, and he said he’d speak to the oncology department to see if they could move him up.

And then COVID happened, and both appointments were cancelled. So they went to a local oncologist without advanced radiation options. This doctor wasn’t very hopeful but started him on chemotherapy. Then he went lame, and we found the cancer had spread to his bones, it was in three out of four of his legs. The oncologist basically said there wasn’t anything else that could be done for him.

We started pamidronate infusions, which can slow the progression of bone cancer and improve comfort, and Riley felt quite a bit better. My boss, being the pain management guy that he is, designed a pain management plan for Riley to keep him comfortable. And, being the awesome vet he is, he also reached out to a friend of his who is an renowned oncologist, and they came up with an aggressive cancer suppression plan. Riley’s people were all in, so we started on this plan.

Riley in his stroller

They got him a stroller so he could still enjoy walks even on the days his legs were bothering him. They built him a ramp so he could still see out the window and snoopervise the neighbors when he couldn’t comfortably stand up on his hind legs for long enough to get a good look. They fed him the right food, they gave him the right supplements, they did everything they could. He had everything he wanted.

Riley with his gator (and his brother photobombing)

And you know, he did really pretty well for a while. They paid real attention to his quality of life. But then he started panting more and x-rays showed it was in his lungs. And his mouth. And all over his skin.

And so on Tuesday they called me and we cried together on the phone. They said on his tenth birthday in January they were thinking about how they should hopefully have 5 more years or so at least with him. It turned out to be five months. They asked me if I wanted to visit him to say goodbye (because they’re that kind of thoughtful). I was so glad that I’d been able to spend some time with him on his frequent visits to the clinic, I snuggled him and told him he was loved and that while I might have been the first person to love him so many more people loved him now, and that his people loved him most of all and that they would do what he needed them to do. I told them it was better to let him go a bit too soon than too late. I knew they would make the right choice for him. They asked about how to help their other dog through the loss of his brother. They said that while COVID meant they didn’t get to see the oncologists they’d wanted to see, it also meant they’d been able to spend so much more time with him than they would have otherwise, since they were both working from home.

That’s the kind of people they are.

And then today I got a text from them that said: “We let Riley pass today. So peaceful, he was ready. Had the best walk out on his favorite trails this morning. Give your pups an extra hug from us.”

Nobody could have given Riley a better home, or taken better care of him. And I am so thankful that they included me as they did.

Rest easy beautiful boy, you were so loved.

(all pictures except “Triangle Boy” courtesy of Nichole & Chris Buryta)

Cora!

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Beautiful Cora earned her NA and OAJ titles this weekend with Jan Robles! Cora is the Zhorabert formerly known as Popcorn and is also known as Alkemi Corona del Roble LS CD NA OAJ BCAT RATS

CHAMPION ALICE!!!!

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Yesterday (10/12/19) under judge Dr Steve Keating, at the Kennel Club of Buffalo show in Hamburg, Alice became CHAMPION Alkemi Clear Air Turbulence LT NAP NJP XFP! She is my second home-bred champion and my first Bred-By Exhibitor conformation Champion (Zhora earned the Bred-By Exhibitor medallion also when she earned her MACH). Alice was entirely breeder owner handled and finished with all her points (and three majors!) from the Bred-By Exhibitor class.

To say I am thrilled would be an understatement. She also earned two Owner-Handled group 4ths, and got a strong look in the regular group twice, and earned her first Grand Championship point today with another BOB win. I am so thankful for Jim and Ruth being willing to bring Orbit again so we had points available so Alice could finish.

Next weekend we’re back to agility!

Thank you so much Bethany Allsop for sitting ringside and taking some awesome video and pictures!

Alice Owner-Handled Group 4 10/12/19

Lobo!

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Oops, they did it again! Jan Robles and Lobo (Alkemi Beowulf del Roble LS) have just earned yet ANOTHER breed first! Lobo just earned his Water Dog title through the Newfoundland Club of America! I don’t even know what that entails, but Jan says she’ll explain it. Jan and Lobo are an incredible team, it seems like there is nothing they can’t do when they put their minds to it. Lobo was also the first Swedish Vallhund to earn the Senior Barn Hunt and Master Barn Hunt titles, the first SV to earn a drafting title, and he is currently the only Swedish Vallhund Club of America Versatlility Champion who has earned all his required points from performance and companion events only. He also has his Silver Crazy 8’s title in Barn Hunt, his UD in obedience, his PT in herding, his BCAT in lure coursing, his advanced trick dog title and his AX AXJ in agility. His official name (with AKC titles only!) is Alkemi Beowulf Del Roble Ls UD PT FDC AX AXJ BCAT RATCH CGC TKA. Lobo is Nina’s son (with Tempest, AKA Mystarz Baileys Blazer) and Zhora’s litter brother. Jan also owns Zhora’s daughter Cora (formerly Popcorn), who is racking up titles of her own already! Jan was getting a female puppy from the litter Lobo was born in (the Tempestninas), until I heard her greet him when she was doing the puppy temperament assessments…she said “hello puppy!…oh….HELLO puppy!” and I knew right then something magical was happening. Jan is an incredible dog trainer and she and Lobo were just meant to be. It’s an amazing feeling as a breeder to know your puppy is truly living his best life, not only does Lobo (and Cora) have a wonderful, loving home, they also get to DO ALL THE THINGS. Thank you Jan! 

Jan says “

This email may be longer than you wish to receive, but my heart is so full right now with gratitude for those who have helped us on this journey.

As background you remember that Classy, my last Malinois, was my once in a life time dog and I never expected to have another.  Lobo clearly dashed that belief the instant we met.

Aside from how special he is and and what an incredible bond we have, I give huge thanks to my Berner connection.  After I got Glory, her breeder moved to NC from Colorado.  Shortly after our move to NC in the fall of 2016 one of woman who bought one of Glory’s puppies contacted Eden Jonas (Glory’s breeder) and told her I had moved.  Eden then contacted me and invited me to join a group of primarily Berner folks, but also a Newfie person, for some draft practice.  This was the beginning to me pursuing Lobo’s ANDD as well as DD titles as well as building friendship in our new home.

Sidebar here:  As we were preparing for his DD last year, Eden had serious doubts about whether Lobo could do the  1/2 mile freight haul pulling 60#.  He was a super star.

The token Newfie was Ariel and her owner Debbie Dennison.  Aside from some draft practice, we were just casual acquaintances.  Then earlier this year I took Cora to a building to get her used to an obedience ring prior to her CD and Debbie was also there working her Newfie.  As we were chatting afterwards a woman came up to Debbie and asked her about water tests.  I expressed an interest and Debbie said Lobo could do it.  Once the lakes warmed up, we started training in May.  The rest, as they say, is history.

A ‘coin’ is flipped to determine if a life jacket or boat cushion will be the dropped article to be retrieved.  Almost universally people hope for the life jacket.  It can be as small as possible as long as it is Coast Guard Approved.  Boat cushions are considerably larger.  For the Newfie test the coin toss was life jacket.  Debbie was standing next to me and said, “You were hoping for boat cushion, weren’t you?”  Yes I was.  Lobo is very impressive bringing that in.  What I didn’t realize is that there would be a separation coin toss for our test.  The coin toss came up boat cushion and I was thrilled.  Debbie and I rejoiced.  The judges thought I was crazy.  But as you watch this video, you will hear that the spectators got progressively more enthusiastic as Lobo’s test continued by the time he retrieved the boat cushion.”

Lobo is one of only two dogs who passed.

Nobody Home

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

So the ultrasound was today, and while it wasn’t Dr Gray doing it (she’s off this week), and wasn’t a repro vet, we didn’t see anything.

There are very rare cases where there’s one or two puppies who aren’t seen on an ultrasound at this stage, but it’s unlikely that this is the case.

Our timing should have been good, the breeding should have been good (although they did use extender on the semen for some reason). Just wasn’t meant to be this time.

I am debating what to do, but I am leaning towards trying again on her next heat. Stay tuned.