Archive for the ‘awesome’ Category

Contraction!

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Skip this if biology isn’t your thing, but I took this short video of a really good strong contraction during Monday’s “best whelping ever”. If you’re interested, I gave a subcutaneous calcium injection once we had strong contractions per my repro vet’s advice, Pedialyte with glucose given a couple of times to keep her strength up but honestly this was just so smooth and easy, she kept contracting like this throughout and didn’t get exhausted at all.

The puppies nursing helps with oxytocin release which also helps strengthen the contractions (calcium helps support the muscles doing the work), which is why I don’t understand when breeders take the puppies away until labor is finished – if you have a bitch who is moving around a lot while she’s laboring you can put the puppies in a safe warm box in the whelping box area to keep them safe if needed, but then put them back with her as much as possible. Alice was very chill throughout so the puppies stayed right on her the whole time. It’s much more natural this way and it all helps both her AND the puppies (she gets the oxytocin to help with labor and bonding and they get colostrum from nursing and stimulating from her cleaning them).

If every whelping was as perfect as this one I’d never worry about it!

Day 2! Meet The Lucky Sevens!

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Everyone did great overnight, Alice was much more settled other than the usual post-whelping diarrhea (improving but still a few trips outside overnight), and getting up for overnight meals (she has kibble available all the time but I am feeding her meals of canned gastrointestinal food, mother’s porridge and tripe).

Good morning!

Just after lunch she wanted to go out and DEMANDED to play some fetch. It was nice to see her shift out of mom mode and into Alice mode, then she shifted right back and wanted to come back into the puppy room. She had a great time running around again, she hasn’t been able to run normally for several weeks because she was so huge.

I’ve been enormously impressed with how easily and quickly Alice settled into mothering. Usually a first timer can get a bit panicky with the first puppy or two, but she’s such a steady dog in all respects that this was no different, she took on mothering just like she’s taken on everything else. No muss, no fuss. Being a good mother is so important, there are breeds that tend to be awful mothers and I can’t imagine how much more work that is for breeders. Most Vallhunds tend to be great mothers and my lines certainly are.

The world pretty much stops when a litter is born here, at least for the first few days. As nice as it is to think about time off work and nesting in with the puppies, it’s actually a lot of work, especially at the start. I was so sore yesterday after spending most of Monday on my hands and knees crawling around on the floor, and I have a rug burn on my elbow from getting puppies suctioned and cleaned up.

We put collars on the puppies today. Usually I don’t because they’re easy enough to tell apart with markings, but even though we have some really flashy markings in this litter, two of the females AND two of the males are similar enough that it was making me anxious that I couldn’t reliably tell them apart, and that really matters for weight checks since you need to know if someone isn’t gaining as they should. Just like last time, the collar colors are not gendered and are simply rainbow colors in birth order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and pink). These are breakaway collars but even so, someone is in the room with them just about all the time just in case!

So without further ado, meet the Lucky Sevens (in birth order):

Alfa (red collar) female with four white feet and a white chest and belly with a black stripe on her white belly. Birth weight 213 grams, weighed in this morning at 246 grams!

Alfa
Alfa

Bravo (orange collar) male with no white on his front feet, a tiny white stripe on his chest and white back toes. Birth weight 205 grams, weighed in this morning at 231 grams!

Bravo

Charlie (yellow collar) female with a white neck spot, all four feet white. Birth weight 173 grams, weighing in this morning at 194 grams.

Charlie
Charlie

Delta (green collar) male with a white chest with a white stripe to his belly, four white feet. Birth weight 220 grams, weighing in this morning at 257 grams!

Delta
Delta

Echo (blue collar), male with no white on his front feet, and a little white stripe on his chest. Birth weight 176 grams, weighing in this morning at 206 grams.

Echo
Echo

Foxtrot (purple collar) female with four white feet, white from her chest to her throat and a black spot on her umbilicus. Birth weight 213 grams, weighing in this morning at 256 grams.

Foxtrot
Foxtrot

Golf (pink collar) female with no white on her front feet and tiny white back toes. Birth weight 225 grams, weighing in this morning at 249 grams.

Golf
Golf

The puppy room is our guest room off the family room, so the puppies get the sounds (when they can hear) and smells of the household while still being in a secluded spot so mom doesn’t get stressed. We have a baby gate across the door to keep the other dogs out. Grandma Zhora and Great-Grandma Nina are fascinated, and Zhora cries when the puppies are squeaking like she thinks she needs to come in and tend to them.

Grandma Zhora and Great-Grandma Nina
Keeping vigil

I am very lucky to have an awesome husband who, while he won’t touch puppies before they’re born (he thinks feeling puppies moving in the womb is “gross” and “probably aliens”), he spends a lot of time cuddling with them once they’re born. He will probably hold one of his Zoom lecture classes from the puppy pen.

Alice keeps a close eye on things but doesn’t mind

Day 1

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

(I call the birthday day 0 which makes today day 1)

We had a bit of a rough night, what can sometimes happen is low calcium can cause restlessness and anxiety, and that’s what happened overnight. I’m so thankful to have the amazing resource of the Canine Repro group on Facebook. So I was up all night getting calcium into Alice until we reached the level that relaxed her. Since about 5 AM she’s been calm and mothering perfectly. Today I’ll make her some special food (Mother’s Porridge) to help support her milk supply and calcium levels in addition to the Doc Roy’s Healthy Bones I’m using (they’re a balanced calcium/phosphorus supplement and they’re tasty too). She’ll stay on the calcium supplement until the puppies are weaned, and then I’ll gradually wean her off it. She may not need to be on the amount she’s on right now, I will try reducing it gradually after a day or two to find the sweet spot. Short term calcium supplementation is safe, and dogs (especially with large litters) are at risk for eclampsia, especially around the week 2 and week 4 marks, which is when the puppies really grow and put a lot of demand on her.

In addition to the calcium she’s getting 1 sunflower lecithin capsule twice daily to help prevent mastitis, plus her usual DHA supplement and probiotic.

She’s got a bowl of her regular ProPlan Sport food available at all times and I’m giving her Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Puppy canned food, which should be easy on her system (they often have diarrhea for a few days after whelping, and she also ate the placentas), so far she hasn’t even pooped though!

The lucky sevens all did GREAT overnight, everyone gained which is very unusual (usually they lose a bit in the first 24 hours then start gaining again). The average weight of the litter at birth was 194.7 grams (I weigh them in grams because I’m from Canada originally and because it’s easier to track small changes in grams), average weight this morning is 211 grams and average weight gain was 6.45 %. I have a nerd spreadsheet that calculates all this stuff for me, because math.

I generally don’t like to put collars on at birth and usually you get enough markings etc. to keep track of who’s who, poor Jim is the note taker while sleep-deprived I calls out what sex they are and what markings they have. Unfortunately this can mean that you end up with descriptions that can fit more than one puppy. I try to refine this on day 1 now that they’re dry and plumped up, so that even if I mixed up puppies between birth and day 1, it’s at least accurate going forward. Tracking weights is important because it can give you an early warning of someone not thriving who might need some extra help. I will hand feed them all a bit eventually anyway because I think it starts them feeling good things about people early on (thanks to my Rottweiler breeder friend Diane Richardson who does this and who told me about it)

Day 61 – Stage 1!

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Starting around 7 this morning it looks like Alice is in stage 1 labor. She did some nesting overnight, didn’t want breakfast, vomited and has been progressively getting more restless. Episodes of panting, digging/nesting and whining now. She is having little contractions to start moving the puppies down into position to be born. This stage can take several hours. Normal whelping occurs between days 61-65 of ovulation (often larger litters earlier in that window and smaller litters later). So day 61 is perfectly normal.

At 12:47 we welcomed the first of the D litter, and the last at 2:22. The fastest whelping I’ve ever had, and during the DAY too.

She was a rock star. I was pretty sure she’d spend the day in stage 1 and start delivering just as my repro vet closed (even though I have her home and cell numbers, I’d rather not have to use them). She’s being an amazing mother.

We have four girls and three boys.

Everyone born, box not yet cleaned up

Getting Close!

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

Progesterone this morning was 3.95 ng/mL. Repro vet says she could go into labor within 36 hours. Doing last minute bustling around just in case she DOES go in tomorrow night!

While we did have terbutaline on hand to stop premature labor if needed, we won’t be using it, we’re close enough that it should be fine.

Alice ate breakfast and lunch today but very slowly. She is very large.

This was last night:

And today’s news (huge sigh of relief, thank freaking goodness):

Set up!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

Whelping box all set up! See that stain on the carpet at bottom right? That’s from where Alice was born three years ago…

I’ve been sleeping in the guest room for the last week and now we’re all set up for next week. I’ll make up some Myra’s Formula and freeze it over the next day or two, then we’ll be about as ready as we’ll ever be!

All Is Well On Day 49

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Alice’s progesterone is 6.6 ng/ml today and she weighs 29.8 pounds! It was 5.6 ng/mL on Monday and she weighed 29.3 pounds then. It’s normal for it to gradually taper off as we get closer to her due date, and going slightly up and down is normal, but the rule is under 5 with more than a week to go means supplement. But we’re good so far! That’s a relief. We will recheck Friday or Saturday. She has gained a lot of puppy weight (we only increased her food last Wednesday and then only by 30%, so that’s puppies and placentas, not Alice). I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more than 6 on board, x-ray next Tuesday for a puppy count!

Today I sent off some of her blood (serum actually) to the University of Wisconsin for nomograph testing. This will help determine the optimal time to vaccinate the puppies to hit the sweet spot between where their maternal antibodies are waning (their own immune systems won’t make antibodies while their maternal antibodies are still at a high level) but before they’re completely unprotected. This is my first time doing this and I’m excited to see the results!

This weekend I will make up and freeze some Myra’s Formula to have on hand just in case. That was one of the things I was most thankful I’d done last time when I ended up having to tube feed Popcorn/Cora for a few days. I will also pull out all my whelping supplies and make sure everything is still working properly.

TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY is her official due date. So a day either side is in the zone!

The Embiggening Already!

Sunday, 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

Tuesday, 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 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…