Archive for the ‘awesome’ Category

Thirteen Days Old!

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Mr Pink is first to have eyes! A couple of others look like they will open their eyes in a day or two, but he’s first:

Soon the super fun “Mr Magoo” stage will start. We’re also checking a couple of times a day to see if they can hear yet. One of the most important things I learned from Puppy Culture is that there’s a period of about a week when puppies have a startle reflex to sound, but don’t have a fear response yet, If you can trigger that startle reflex several times during that period, the puppy may grow up to be less sound sensitive. Anything you can do to help a puppy have a better life is worth doing!

Now that they are quite mobile, I have added a little bumper mat as a bed for them. It’s also something novel in their environment!

From days 3-16 I perform Early Neurological Stimulation on my litters. This is a “can’t hurt/might help” thing, since they get a lot of handling anyway, but I’d always rather err on the side of having done something than wish I’d done it later. Orange Girl didn’t start until day 5, because I felt she had enough stress just gaining some weight.

There are five exercises designed to stress specific things and hopefully help the puppy develop a more robust response to stress as an adult. It’s like astronaut training for puppies, although we usually call it their ritual abuse. Tactile stimulation (a Q-tip on the pads), vertical position (head up), head pointed down, on the back, thermal stress (a damp towel that’s been in the fridge).

Here is Purple Girl with her ENS today:

Five Days Old!

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Orange Girl is caught up now, she’s big enough that you can’t immediately pick her out of the group. Alice went for her first walk today since they were born. We’re continuing Early Neurological Stimulation. Their vocalizations have expanded, until the last day or so all their sounds basically boiled down to “help I’m stuck” and “damn this milk is tasty”. Now they make a wider range of sounds, including what sound suspiciously like proto-barks.

The PuppyCam will hopefully be up and running tomorrow!

Purple Girl

End of Day Three!

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

I weigh puppies twice a day for the first couple of weeks. It’s “noisy data” as Jim says, so you get the overall trend much more clearly with more information. Ideally you want an average of a 10% gain every day, the average and the trend are more important than the single details.

Here are this evening’s weights and trends:

  • Red girl: 283 grams (16.94 % gain)
  • Orange girl: 150 grams (!!!!!!) (20.97% gain – I can’t even tell you how much this makes me happy, and this is WITHOUT supplementation, just with some private nursing time)
  • Yellow girl: 208 grams (7.77% gain, but she had a 12.21% gain yesterday)
  • Green boy: 297 grams (16.93% gain)
  • Blue girl: 281 grams (17.08% gain)
  • Purple girl: 311 grams (CHONKETTE 13.50 % gain)
  • Pink boy (AKA Mr Pink): 286 grams (13.49% increase)

Alice makes very good milk, and I supplement her with mother’s porridge, which is steel cut oats, whole milk, Karo syrup, eggs, and whole milk yoghurt. She is being an excellent mother.

Finally, here’s a cool video of “activated sleep”. Baby puppies pop like popcorn in their sleep as their muscles and nervous systems come on line (you can see little Orange underneath Purple here, and you can see that she is really filling out and developing a bit of pudge, everyone else turned into beanbags quickly, while Orange looked like she was at lean agility weight until today!):

Three days old!

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

Today we start Early Neurological Stimulation.

Tiniest puppy Orange Girl finally made back her birth weight plus a gram. I didn’t tube feed her yesterday because she was holding her own, and she not only held her own overnight, she gained a gram!

She’s energetic and feisty, just tiny.

Here are biggest puppy Purple Girl and smallest puppy Orange Girl at the milk bar this morning:

One Day Old!

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

Everybody did well overnight, I was up every couple of hours to check on them and rescue anyone who was stuck behind Alice (the puppy room is our guest room right off our family room and I sleep right beside the whelping box). When I weighed the little Orange girl yesterday afternoon she’d lost more weight than I was comfortable with (you expect some weight loss in the first day, but she was already so tiny and looked really scrawny even for a neonate), so I decided to supplement her a bit with tube feeding.

Tube feeding is an invaluable skill for a breeder. I learned how when I was helping Popcorn in the C litter get over a difficult birth. Often tiny puppies like Popcorn and Mouse the Orange puppy end up burning more calories net than they take in because nursing burns calories and sometimes the teeny ones have to work harder to get the milk to let down. Tube feeding is a relatively simple procedure once you get over the initial anxiety of doing it, and it gets calories directly into the puppy without any need for the puppy to expend energy getting them.

This is one of those things that breeders can disagree vehemently about. Some say you should let nature take its course and truthfully MOST puppies who are tiny and lose weight early WILL come back around and be OK eventually. But for me, it’s relatively trivial to take out some insurance and get the extra calories in to help them stay on top of things rather than letting them catch up, as Dr Marty Greer says: “nobody starves to death in my house”. Mouse already looks plumper and less scrawny, and she actually gained a tiny bit overnight. I also supplemented the Yellow puppy since she lost a bit and I was doing it anyway for Mouse.

I use Myra’s Formula for tube feeding, it’s a very calorie dense and balanced formula and is easy to make at home.

Alice is an excellent mother just as she was last time. I gave her a quick rear end bath this morning since her hind end was a nightmare after whelping and the normal lochia she is passing. She is eating very well, basically she’s on Hobbit rations now: breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses… Actually she’s eating four meals a day of her usual Pro Plan Sport food, plus some i/d canned food to help her stomach recover from the inevitable post-whelping diarrhea, plus some Mother’s Porridge (steel cut oats, egg, whole milk, yoghurt, karo syrup), which helps support lactation. She also gets one sunflower lecithin capsule twice a day to help prevent mastitis, one Oxy Momma tablet, and a calcium supplement to ward off eclampsia and support lactation.

They’re HEEERE!!!

Monday, January 3rd, 2022

We welcomed the E litter pupsicles (from 10 year old frozen semen) last night (in the wee hours of this morning). Five girls and two boys. One of the puppies (orange girl) is the smallest I’ve ever had in Swedish Vallhunds (131 grams, like a mouse), but so far she seems vigorous and is nursing well. We had to talk to Dr Gray when things seemed to stall, and I gave a micro dose of oxytocin, after that she got down to business. Purple girl was upside down (feet first or head first is fine as long as the puppy has its legs stretched out like a diver and as long as it’s facing downwards, upwards is going against the shape of the canal it has to get through so can be sticky). She was not only upside down but she had her front legs along her sides instead of in front of her. I had to work a finger in behind her front legs to get her legs out so she could be born. Alice decided she wanted to be on the bed, so I covered it with hospital pads and it was easily the most comfortable whelping I’ve ever done, usually I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck the next day. This morning I’m just tired.

They have a seedling mat with a thermostat set to 95 in addition to the heating pad under one part of the box (the seedling mat is insurance, it’s cold here).

Collar colors are rainbow colors in order, not gendered. Here are their birth weights

Red collar girl – 188 grams

Orange collar girl – 131 grams

Yellow collar girl – 165 grams

Green collar boy – 199 grams

Blue collar girl – 209 grams

Purple collar girl – 228 grams

Pink collar boy – 213 grams.

Everybody lost a bit since birth (expected), now we keep a close eye to make sure everyone is gaining going forward.

Lucky Number 7!

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

X-ray today (approximately day 58) showed 7! She’s a bit too lean growing these things so more food for her (you don’t want fat but you don’t want to be too lean and have trouble lactating either). No visible tooth buds or calcified toes yet so likely a couple of days or so to go. They’re starting to line up!

She still has a waist so they haven’t started moving down yet. She and I moved into the puppy room this past weekend. She insists she can jump and run and chase squirrels still even though she’s huge!

The goals in order are: healthy Alice, easy whelping, healthy puppies.

Schrödinger’s Puppies

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

So there’s a kind of limbo you’re in between breeding and confirming pregnancy. You obviously treat the bitch as if she’s pregnant regardless, but (even though I’m not a particularly superstitious person) you don’t dare hope too much or bank on it having worked, to insulate youself from disappointment. Having had two breedings not work out, I know how sad and upsetting it is.

Alice waiting for the ultrasound and/or snacks

So even though over the last week or so I’d been seeing signs that made me think Alice was pregnant (she was drinking more, her nipples were firmer, larger and pinker than usual, her vulva stayed larger and softer than usual after she finished her heat, she was starving hungry and very cuddly and needy, she had a doe-eyed, introspective sort of look about her), I reminded myself that all female dogs have the same hormonal response after a heat. whether they’re pregnant or not, all female dogs have some degree of false pregnancy.

But today was the ultrasound day! Dr Gray came in and said “I’m so nervous, are you nervous?”, we actually talked shop for a bit because she wanted my thoughts about how to handle abusive clients (a sadly all too common occurrence these days), then we went into the ultrasound room. She said “oh my God!” as she saw the first vesicle with a puppy inside. Then she found an empty one (about 40% of fetuses are resorbed early in gestation, it’s very normal), then she found another fetus….then she found another….then she found another…and another….and another. She said “you have a litter!”, then said said “you usually expect a small litter with frozen, not this time!”. We think there are six or even seven in there! I texted Michelle (Zar’s owner) first, then Jim, then work, then Facebook. I AM SO EXCITED!

Those dark blobs are vesicles and the lighter blobs inside are fetuses!

Now we just institute the pregnancy bubblewrap lockdown and worry quietly every time she blinks funny for the next four weeks. She is officially due on or about January 2.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN A PUPPY from this litter, please contact me. If this litter turns out the way the parents indicate it should, these should be working dogs. This is NOT likely to be the litter for you if you want a couch potato. These puppies will probably need a job to be happy (or they will make up their own, and you will likely NOT like what it is). All Vallhunds should have an off switch, but there is a range of working drive and desire, and while I expect these puppies to be stable, sane and able to switch off, this litter has been bred to be dogs who want to work, and they will need an outlet for that drive. If you don’t want that, you don’t want an E litter puppy! Needless to say, I am prioritizing performance homes for this litter. If you want a dog for herding, agility, obedience, nosework, tracking or whatever, this is the sort of litter you want.

UpState Kennel Club UKC Show

Sunday, November 14th, 2021

What an awesome weekend! We don’t do much UKC but we do try to attend this show when it’s held twice a year. Alice is in hopefully-pregnant bubblewrap lockdown so I didn’t show a single dog all weekend and STILL had an awesome time!

Ruth with Nebula and Orbit, Melanie with Enzo

Enzo (Alkemi Desperado LT TKN RATN) and Melanie made their show debut and did AMAZING! Enzo took Best of Winners at all four shows, and got Best of Breed in Show 2 on Saturday and went on to take a Group 3! Not bad for a gangly adolescent who just turned 1. I am thrilled with how he is growing up so far, and it’s so awesome that Melanie is showing him!

Ruth and Orbit (U-CH CH Alkemi Cosmic Curiosity LT RN) had two group placements (a second and a first), and as always Ruth showed him perfectly.

Saturday Show 1: Orbit BOB, Group 2, Enzo BOW. Judge Stanely Matsumoto

Saturday Show 2: Enzo BOB, Group 3. Judge Matthew K. Proctor (who told Melanie that Enzo was the “nicest Vallhund he’d ever seen”)

Melanie and Enzo in group (potato quality because zoomed in from video)

Melanie and Enzo, Ruth and Orbit

PLUS, in Canada, Enzo’s sister Daisy (Alkemi Daisy Bell LT), who is owned by Lynda Morgan in Prince Edward Island, took Best of Breed over a class bitch and a DOG SPECIAL (a dog who’s the only Vallhund ever to win a Best in Show for that matter!) under Judge Jeremy Browne and THEN went on to take a GROUP 3!!!

Sunday Show 1: Orbit BOB, Group 1, Enzo BOW

Sunday Show 2: Orbit BOB, Enzo BOW

Ruth and Orbit wating for Best in Show

As always, the most important thing is that my puppies have great homes with owners who love them. But I’m so grateful to have people who are willing to co-own with me, so I don’t lose these dogs to my breeding program. And who also go above and beyond to help prove how awesome their dogs are!

What an amazing weekend!

The Waiting….

Sunday, November 7th, 2021

….is the hardest part.

A second TCI yesterday with the good ICSB semen (which was collected when Zar was 3 years old, and has 85% motility) and we’re done. Renee did it again yesterday, Alice’s vaginal walls looked softer than Friday, Renee said that ideally you inseminate on the prime day (which seems to have been Friday) and the day after (which was yesterday). So it seems like we’ve done everything we can to make this happen. Two good breedings, with good semen, and good timing. The last frozen litter I did (the litter Zhora was born in) was a surgical AI, but TCI was so much less stressful for Alice, so much faster, and the success rates are as good as, or better than, surgical (depending on the vet).

I will schedule her pregnancy check ultrasound for day 27-30. Now we start counting days from ovulation instead of days from the start of her season. Ovulation is considered day 0. Dogs, unlike humans (and most other mammals for that matter), have a pretty weird reproductive cycle. Dogs ovulate, then the eggs take 2-3 days to mature, or in science speak: “Primary oocytes are ovulated and cannot be fertilized until the completion of the first meiotic division to form the secondary oocyte, which takes a further 2–3 days. Ovulated oocytes may be fertilizable for 2 to 5 days; however, there may be breed differences.” And unlike humans, in dogs you calculate the due date from ovulation, not conception. Regardless of when breeding actually takes place, the due date is always 63 days from ovulation +/- 3 or so days. So since we are calling November 1 ovulation day, her “official” due date will be January 3!

I so hope this works. We’ve used up half of the good semen collection from Zar, there are only 2 breeding units left of that collection, which is realistically one attempt, since ideally you breed twice. I am honored that Michelle (Zar’s breeder and owner) likes Alice so much that she really wanted this to happen as much as I do. Thank goodness for technology that allows us to collect and freeze semen from a dog in his prime, and then implant it 10 years later when the right opportunity presents itself. Keep your fingers crossed!