Archive for the ‘breeding’ Category

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.

Day 16

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Today is day 16 (from ovulation) and I see what I hope are promising signs (ultrasound appointment is July 9)! I’ve been looking back over my notes and posts from the last litter.

Zhora is very, very mellow. Happy to go for a walk and bouncing around all over the place when we are getting ready to go, but otherwise snoozing most of the time.

She is very, very affectionate, especially with Jim.

She has that cow-eyed, lovey look all the time.

It’s important to remember that her body is going to behave more or less as if she is pregnant, whether she is or not.

If she is pregnant, the embryos will be implanting very soon (roughly day 18-21). This is called “nidation”. Right now they are little blobs floating around free in the uterus after having migrated down into the horns over the last week or so.

She is eating her normal food, and getting her usual probiotic and Omega Fatty Acid supplement, plus folic acid. Normal walks and fetch in the yard but no agility.

WNY Twin Valley Cluster

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Friday Orbit took the point, bringing him to 14 points with one point to go for his AKC championship!

Saturday was Alice’s turn, not only did she get the point under judge Krista Hansen (bringing her to 14 with just one to go for her championship), Ms. Hansen also gave her an Owner-Handled GROUP 1!!! And then Dr. David Hansen gave her a Bred By Exhibitor Group 3! What an amazing day this was! Standing in the OH Best In Show ring was incredible. We had to do three groups in quick succession, we got the OH group win, then I handed her ribbon to Ruth and ran over to the Bred-By Exhibitor group ring, showed there, then ran to the regular group ring, entered late, and showed there. The show superintendent kept stopping by the various rings and telling me what was going on, that she’d alerted the ring steward and that they’d let me in when I got there. It was SO COOL!

Alice Winnings
OH Group 1 and the treat jar trophy that went with it, BBE Group 3. Alice 6/22/19

Sunday Orbit took best of breed to become my very first home-bred champion. I couldn’t be more thrilled, and Ruth has done such an awesome job training him and handling him. He has a great home AND he stays part of my breeding program. It’s just amazing!

AKC CHAMPION Alkemi Cosmic Curiosity LT! 6/23/19
Ruth, Jim and new Champion Orbit. Thank you!

And then they went on to be awarded his SECOND Owner-Handled Group 2!

Orbit OH Group 2 6/23/19

What a weekend! My first home-bred champion, Alice within a single point of becoming my SECOND home-bred champion. Orbit two best of breeds and two Owner-Handled Group 2’s. Alice one best of breed, an Owner-Handled Group 1 (someone asked me today what it was like being in the OH Best in Show ring….the answer? IT WAS FREAKING THRILLING) AND a Bred-By Exhibitor Group 3. The Zhoraberts are proving to be as awesome as I hoped.

The deed is done!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

The awesome Bekka met me Sunday night to do another blood draw. I drove that sample to my repro vet Monday morning first thing and also sent some of the same sample to the IDEXX reference lab. I got the call about 10:30 that it was 10.9 per my repro vet’s machine and 10 per the reference lab, so we needed to breed Monday night into Tuesday for ideal timing. Thanks to my awesome co-worker and friend Caroline, I booked it out of work, ran home, threw some things into a bag, and Zhora and I hit the road for Massachusetts!

Ollie’s owner Kat had come up with an awesome plan for a location. I was asking if she had a quiet room at her house or, failing that, we should probably do it in my motel room. She had a better idea. We met at her campsite, out in the country and very quiet. Plus! We stayed there!

Now Zhora is a strong-willed dog with a lot of personality, and that, plus her being more mature than Ollie, meant that I think he found her a little intimidating. She snarked at him a bit (as many do), and he took it personally (she also snarked at Bert, but Bert is experienced and comfortable being assertive). He was very interested, but very polite. So we didn’t get a natural breeding Monday night. I’d made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon with a local repro vet as a backup plan, and I was VERY glad I did! Tuesday morning we drove the dogs over to Kat’s training center, where they could run around together and have some room. Zhora was very flirty and I think if Ollie had been a tad bit less polite they’d have managed a natural, but this is his first time being bred and I REALLY didn’t want her to put him off the whole idea so….off to the repro vet we went!

We showed up at Slade Veterinary Hospital in Framingham, where we met with Dr Gatlin. She and her staff (all breeders) talked us through what was going to be done. Kat commented that this was the weirdest thing she’s ever done in the dog world. Poor Ollie was horrified, then thrilled, then horrified again, then he wanted a sandwich and a beer. His semen was excellent (92% motility (“are they moving?”) with over 88% progressive motility (“are they going somewhere?”), it was also a large sized sample for a smaller breed, so yay Ollie. We did a vaginal insemination and then I agreed to take part in a study which required a blood draw, so I decided to run another progesterone while we were there to decide if we needed to try a second breeding the next day. The progesterone came back at >20, which made me panic until I asked if it was an IDEXX in house machine, which it was. Dr Gray had told me (and others on my repro groups also said) that the IDEXX in house machines can be very inaccurate with the higher numbers.

I emailed Renee and Dr Gray with the details, and Renee sent me a pregnancy calendar (due date is August 11), and Dr Gray said not to worry about that progesterone number at all, that she’s seen colleagues report >20 on the in house with reference lab numbers closer to 7. So we should have been comfortably in the window (Tuesday would have been day 2-3, which is well within the ideal window).

So now we wait. I have some planning and thinking to do, but first we will see if she’s pregnant or not. That will be around July 7th.

I am so grateful to Kat for all her help, for her hospitality, and her company. We had an awesome time talking dogs dogs dogs for a day and a half!

Ollie and Zhora 6/11/19

2.5!

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

Zhora’s progesterone was at 1.3 on Thursday (day 6), which was higher than I expected that soon (she ovulated on day 14 last time, but day of ovulation can vary wildly from season to season, as any repro vet will tell you, Nina didn’t ovulate until day 21 when we did the frozen semen breeding for the B litter!), and then late yesterday (day 7) she was already at 2.5, which is associated with the LH surge, which happens before ovulation. So we could be looking at breeding as soon as Monday (eggs take 24-48 hours to mature and live for about 5 days after they are ovulated).

So the plan right now is to do another blood draw late tomorrow (Sunday, of course), drive it to my repro vet (the awesome Alliance Animal Hospital) in addition to sending some out to IDEXX so we know whether or not the numbers match. And then we may know about travel plans (one of the reasons Vallhunds are tough to breed sometimes is that you generally have to travel, or ship dogs or semen, to get the breeding you want).

Even when I have my ducks in a row, this time-critical stuff is always stressful!

Southern Tier Area AKC Show Cluster

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

We had EIGHT Vallhunds competing, super exciting, including the #2 (#1 until recently) dog in the country. So grateful to everyone who came and showed! Rebecca James, Pat Ray, Becky Lueth, Kat Klein and Ruth Travers!

Friday May 31, 2019 Judge Mrs. Murrel Purkhiser: Alice Winners Bitch for 3 point major, Orbit Best of Winners for the crossover major

Saturday June 1, 2019: Judge Dianne P. Miller. Alice Winners Bitch for 3 point major #2, and Orbit BOW for the crossover major again for major #2!

Sunday June 2, 2019: Judge Donna Conod. Alice BOS for a FOUR POINT MAJOR (3 point major for WB and then another point for beating the bitch special), Orbit BOW again for the crossover FOUR POINT MAJOR! What an incredible weekend!