Lucky Number 7!

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.

The Embiggening!

December 17th, 2021

Just over two weeks to go and the puppies are in their most rapid growth phase. Alice is notceably bigger than last week. Eating very well, going for walks, content. She is a happy pregnant dog. She has a little bit of egg white-like mucus which is normal at this stage. She’s big enough that she has to fidget a bit to get comfortable, but overall she’s doing great.

This weekend we will get out the whelping box and get set up, do an inventory and see what we need to replace.

Getting close now!


December 10th, 2021

I felt a bit of fluttering in Alice’s left flank yesterday, and The Pudgening has begun! She’s definitely rounder. Just over three weeks to go!

She’s eating well as always. More mellow and cuddly but still up for anything. Going for walks Chased a rabbit. You know. Alice stuffs.

Schrödinger’s Puppies

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

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….

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!

Day 14 & 15 – TCI!

November 5th, 2021

So yesterday (day 14 of the season, day 3 or day 4 after ovulation) we scoped Alice to see if we thought she was ready. Dr Gray said she thought we should wait. You want the vaginal walls to look “crenellated”, which means the folds look sharp-edged/angular and white/cream in color. Yesterday they were softer than ideal. However, since we were in there anyway, I suggested we use the semen collected when Zar was older, that was of lesser quality, just to cover our bases. That semen was analyzed at 60% but Dr Gray thought that number was “generous”, it really wasn’t great.

Today (day 15 of the season, day 4 or 5 after ovulation) we went back and the walls were much more crenellated, even I could see the difference. Yesterday the folds looked like hills, today they looked like mountains, and were paler in color. Dr Gray was much happier with how they looked today, so we used the good semen from when Zar was 3. Dr Gray said that collection looked great! And looking at it myself there were a LOT of happy, active little swimmers! The plan is to do another tomorrow. Tech Renee did the insemination today with Dr Gray present (Renee has done it several times). Let’s hope she has the magic touch! Many people do a single breeding, and if the timing is right, that’s all you need (that’s all we did when I bred Nina to Tempest, and we got 5 puppies, that was with a surgical AI). But since we have the option to do more than one, more is better. I’m so thankful that Zar’s owner Michelle is so invested in this litter, we’ve worked together three times now, our lines cross well, and I’m so happy she likes Alice so much!

Judging by how things looked, and the progesterone testing, we are calling November 1 ovulation day (that’s day 0). We weren’t sure if it was late 10/31 or 11/1, but we’re calling it 11/1.

Alice is a rock star. She was paid well with cheese and Charlie Bears.

After tomorrow, all we can do is wait.

Day 12: 12.4!!!

November 3rd, 2021

Renee the repro vet tech said “she didn’t mess around!”. We’re calling Monday 11/1 ovulation day. The Witness LH test at the repro vet from Saturday’s sample was inconclusive. I ordered an LH test on that same sample at Idexx, we’ll see what that says but it could take a couple of days so we’re going with late Sunday/Monday for ovulation day.

The plan is to breed tomorrow 11/4 and Friday 11/5. Think fertile thoughts!

10/22/21 day 1 (afternoon)

10/25/21 day 4 0.4 ng/mL (AM)

10/27/22 day 6 0.6 ng/mL (AM)

10/30/21 day 9 1.8 ng/mL (AM) (Alliance machine), 1.7 ng/mL (IDEXX reference lab), Witness LH negative to inconclusive, IDEXX LH pending

11/1/21 day 11 7.8 ng/mL (AM) IDEXX

11/2/21 day 12 12.4 ng/mL (AM) IDEXX


November 2nd, 2021

Alice’s progesterone from 11/1 was 7.8 ng/mL! So we’re running the luteinizing hormone test on her sample from Saturday. Seems likely that she ovulated Sunday (to me, but we’ll see what the repro vet says).

1.8! Getting There!

October 30th, 2021

Alice’s progesterone was 0.6 ng/mL on Wednesday, and 1.8 today (Day 9). This was on the repro vet’s in house machine, we also sent some serum to IDEXX so we will see how they compare when we get that back. The in house machine is pretty accurate but it uses a different technology than the IDEXX reference lab uses (meow meow science meow).

We are also freezing some serum from each blood draw so that once we know she has ovulated we can go back and test it from the relevant day for lutenizing hormone, that gives us a much more exact date to go by. Because frozen semen is quite delicate (“compromised” as they say), once it thaws you only have a few hours for it to get where it needs to go and do its thing, so the closer to perfect you can make your timing, the better. With live cover or side by side AI, you’re actually better to be a little early with your breeding, since fresh semen can live for 5-7 days inside the female, so it can just hang out and wait for the eggs to be dropped and then ripen (ripening takes roughly 2 days). The more compromised the semen is, the shorter its lifespan, so chilled lives far less time than fresh does, and frozen lives the shortest time of all (just 12-24 hours).

Awesome repro tech Renee said “if I were a betting woman, I’d put money on next weekend being go time, so clear your calendar”. So we will see!