Archive for the ‘awesome’ Category

Still Five On Board!

Tuesday, 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).
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.


Day 49 – Somebody’s In There!

Thursday, 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 47

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Current status:


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!

Monday, 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 33

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Zhora has gained a pound and a half! Some of that is weight and not puppies because I increased her food before breeding to get a bit more plush on her (she’s not fat, just not agility lean, like from a 4.5/9 to a 5/9 body condition score, Dr Gray said her weight was “perfect”),but some is hopefully grublets! She has a bit of a tummy starting and is losing her waist. She is eating well most days, although sometimes in the morning she is a bit nauseous (a couple of ginger snap biscuits seem to help and she usually eats her breakfast with gusto a bit later). One thing that has been very interesting is that Zhora is usually a Labrador when it comes to food, she eats everything in her bowl in a matter of seconds. The last week or so she is still screaming for breakfast, but then either nibbles and walks away, or eats quite slowly. I have been adding a bit of canned food and that seems to help her get going.

I normally feed one meal of kibble (breakfast) and one meal of raw (dinner), but I decided to take her off raw during the pregnancy just in case. Calcium especially is a concern in later pregnancy, and it can be difficult to keep calcium levels low enough with raw (too much calcium in the diet before whelping can predispose the dog to eclampsia), especially if you feed a commercial raw diet, which I do (I feed Doggone Raw, which is locally manufactured and awesome!). She will go back on the raw after the puppies are born.

We are doing everything we can to keep stress low (there’s no evidence that stress causes resorption, but why risk it?). Zhora is wearing an Adaptil collar (Adaptil is a synthetic copy of a calming pheromone that mother dogs emit while nursing puppies, it can help with many behavior issues but also just generally helps with relaxation and feeling good, and we also have an Adaptil diffuser in the room the dogs are in most). She’s stopped agility (I decided to be really cautious and she hasn’t seemed to mind) but is still playing fetch and going for walks (staying fit is very important for her physical and mental health, and also for increasing the chances of an easy whelping). She is definitely sleeping more than usual.

Thursday is day 35, which is the end of the first phase of gestation (embryogenesis). On Thursday the embryos become fetuses! They start really growing after day 40 or so, and that’s when they gain almost all of the weight and size they will have at birth. ¬†They have eyelids now, and their toes will start to separate over the next few days!

We will increase her food next week (but then only by about 30-40%, you don’t want her to get fat, as that can make whelping harder), because that’s when the puppies really start to grow!

We have not yet decided on the naming theme for the C litter, we don’t want to tempt Murphy by naming our puppies before they are hatched! Stay tuned!

Bert goes home in two weeks, we will miss him! He is part of the family now.

Skip this bit if you don’t want to know gross dog stuff. This time around things have been markedly different, which leads me to wonder a) if she was even really pregnant at all last time or b) if there was only one embryo. This time her vulva didn’t go back to pre-heat size, it stayed larger and softer (this is how you know you’re a crazy dog lady, you talk about your dog’s lady bits on your blog). She slowed down quite a bit quite early. She had the clear stringy vaginal mucous last weekend which is one of the hallmarks of pregnancy in dogs (she didn’t have that last year).

Day 28! Grublets On Board!

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Day 28, ultrasound done. Our first time at Alliance Animal Hospital and I was very impressed (plus they’re a full service repro clinic, which is awesome!). Dr Gray was pretty sure she saw five!!! She palpated Zhora first and smiled at me and said “she’s pregnant”, and I nearly burst into tears.

Ultrasound showed all about the same size (which is good), all good heartbeats. Ovaries looked good, both had appropriate corpus lutea (which produce progesterone). She did suggest checking progesterone weekly to be sure it stays up since she resorbed the last litter.

So it’s only the first hurdle, there are more to come, but this was a big one, and she’s over it!


Sunday, July 30th, 2017

The last time we showed to judge Howard Etzel, we had a no Q weekend. This time Nina earned her MACH, earned QQ #21 (#1 towards MACH2), and had a perfect day today! Her tally for the weekend was two QQ’s (one of which earned her MACH), two Premier Jumpers Q’s, a Time 2 Beat Q and a Master FAST Q. Her best weekend to date.

I was crying so hard when I went to hug the judge I could barely see. This MACH has been a long and amazing and educational journey and there were times I thought that we might not get there, and that would have been fine anyway!

Every single run with Nina is a joy, Q or no Q, and I try very hard to never forget to feel grateful for each and every one, thanking her for the privilege of her effort is part of every run). So very, very proud of this little dog.

At 10 years old she is running faster and smoother than ever, she loves this game more than anything, she is still bouncing with excitement at the start line, and she was a qualifying machine this weekend. This might have been our best qualifying weekend to date!

She is just an amazing dog. And I think HER favorite part of her MACH was that she got another turn to run!

Bert was awesome too! He earned his first NAJ (Novice Agility Jumpers) leg, and is really starting to get the hang of the game! He goes home in September and I will really miss him, I look forward to seeing how he progresses!

Nina Friday FAST (Q):

Nina Friday Premier Jumpers (Q):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (MACH part 1):

Nina Saturday Standard (MACH!!!):

Bert Saturday Standard (NQ, but really coming along nicely!):

Bert Saturday Jumpers (first Jumpers Q!):

Nina Sunday Premier Jumpers (Q):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ #21):

Nina Sunday Time 2 Beat (Q, bonus scritches at the start):

Nina Sunday Standard (part 2 of QQ #21!):

It’s Done!

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Zhora’s progesterone was 1.7ng/mL on 7/17 (day 8), 4.5ng/mL on 7/19 (day 10), and 8.1ng/mL on 7/20 (day 11). So she likely ovulated somewhere between Wednesday the 19th and Thursday the 20th.

A dog’s eggs take about 48 hours to “ripen” (they are not able to be fertilized immediately after ovulation). Zhora wanted nothing to do with Bert on Friday (Bert, however, wanted quite a bit to do with Zhora…). As I was course building at an agility trial in Erie, I drove back and forth to try and get this breeding accomplished. Because Zhora was being disinterested to hostile to Bert on Friday, I spent much of Saturday morning at the trial on the phone trying to find a vet or fellow breeder who could manage an artificial insemination for me just in case Zhora wasn’t going to allow a natural breeding.

Saturday night I spent over an hour on the floor trying to help them get the deed done. Bert was willing, Zhora was…not.

And then this (Sunday) morning at 4 am, Zhora woke me up and asked to go in with Bert and got things done like she’d done it many times before! I guess she prefers things on her own terms.

While I’d have been happier with more than one tie, I am very grateful to my breeder friends who assured me that the timing was good and that many, many litters are born from single ties (in fact, many breeders only EVER do one breeding, on purpose). So now we wait. Assuming she ovulated on the 19th or 20th, puppies would be due September 20-21 (dog gestation is 63 days from ovulation, one week in a dog pregnancy is roughly equivalent to one month in a human pregnancy). Fingers and paws and eyes all crossed, because now all we can do is wait.

2017 Invitational, Here We Come!

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

My girls did it again! They are such amazing dogs and they run their hearts out for me every time, and they LOVE the agility game so, so much!

Zhora qualified in first place again, Nina in fourth. This will be Nina’s fourth year in a row being invited, and Zhora’s third in a row (she’s only been in Masters for three years).

SO proud of my girls! And huge congratulations to my BFF and training/traveling partner Sue Verbocy, who also qualified with her two Vizslas! Orlando here we come! Look out!


Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Zhora’s progesterone was at 0.6 yesterday (day 5). She ovulated on day 9 last time, but it’s important to remember that ovulation can change from cycle to cycle in the same bitch. Average is about day 14, but that can change.

Zhora was on mibolerone (formerly Cheque drops) for 6 months at Dr Hutchison’s suggestion (he’s the repro vet who did the frozen semen surgical artificial insemination that resulted in the B litter, of which Zhora is one!). He thought one of the reasons she reabsorbed last time could have been that her uterine lining was too thick, and the mibolerone will help thin things out (every unbred heat is damaging to a dog’s uterus). Average time to come into season after stopping this medication is 70 days, Zhora went 77.

Further bulletins as events warrant! Please keep fingers and paws crossed that things will work out this time!

Again, I have a waiting list but I do not do “first come first served”, I match puppies to homes. These puppies SHOULD be very nice performance prospects, as both parents are high drive dogs with lovely work ethic (and lovely off switches). I will be giving priority to performance homes, mainly because if the puppies take after their parents (as I hope they will), they will really thrive in homes where they have a job to do. Both parents are very nice dogs to live with, but they do need an outlet for their working drive.