Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The A-List

The puppies are officially one week old today. Ah memories.

Blue boy is officially about a half pound smaller than the largest puppy and several ounces smaller that the rest. He is a great little guy in every way except he's small. Chances are when they are eating solid food he'll catch up but for now he's the little fighter who doesn't give in when the milk bar is open.

The loudest puppy (as in the one who complains the most) is Miss Maroon. if something is wrong she doesn't hold back. Whether she can't get to the milk bar, is lost and turning in circles in the whelping box, or can't get comfy, you'll hear about it.

Mr White is steady and solid as a rock. He plods along eats his fill, doesn't complain much and sleeps like the dead. He's a trooper alright. He was first out so he may actually think he's in charge.

Miss Pink is Miss Independent. She has no time for nonsense. Get me to the bar and now. She refused to be topped up with supplement event tho she was looking a little ribby and fought her way through the fray to get her share.

Mr Green has a squashy face and is a lot like White. He gets the job done, doesn't make a fuss and is possibly the roundest puppy I've ever raised. He is quick to the bar but once filled he doesn't hang about he just slides off and falls asleep.

Miss Yellow Rio. Big girl. She's the bully of the bunch. Elbows everyone out of the way, not afraid to steal a nipple, shoves her siblings aside to get the best and warmest spot. She doesn't take no for an answer.

And little Miss Orange. The second smallest puppy. The only blonde in the bunch. She is as demure as she sounds. She has been supplemented a bit because she was not gaining like I wanted and was happy to have a little extra.

Halo is being a much better mother to this litter than the previous two - she is attentive, careful, calm and conscientious ... a nice change. I think the last litter had her in over her head with quantity and she was so over-whelmed she just said "Here. You do it." This time it seems she is saying "Phew, I think I can handle this."

In the Heat of the Night

I use a warming box whenever I'm not at home or if I want them to sleep after gorging off Halo. It's a Walmart special, clear and large enough to accomodate a good sized litter. I put a warming pad on the lowest setting under the towel and they fall asleep really quickly. They fall asleep faster if you put a towel over top of them ... it's like a magic spell. I take the towel off once they are asleep so they don't over heat.

This is Leeloo seeing what all the fuss is about. Halo has had a change of heart and now lets Leeloo have a sniff quite often. Leeloo was very concerned when I was trimming their nails and they were crying in frustration. I think she will make an excellent puppy nanny.

This is what I found when I got home from work today, besides Halo having escaped her crate and ripped up a dog bed to make it more 'comfortable'. Guess at which end is the heater.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Handle With Care

Not much change to report except that little Blue Boy - the one who was requiring extra feeds to catch up - is now caught up enough to fight on his own. He's nice and chubby at 20 ounces, a few ounces still behind his siblings but a huge improvement over the last couple days. The other puppies are all close to a pound and a half so he still has some way to go yet.

Don't want to exclude the other dogs from a mention. They have been very patient, Halo doesn't mind Raimi looking at the puppies, she even lets him look closely while she's nursing them. I held one up for a sniff and he poked it ... typical Raimi. She keeps a keen eye on Leeloo though when the little blonde bombshell pokes her head in. Leeloo is funny, she sniffed a puppy and is now smitten. They whine and she's immediately "Anyone concerned about this? Should we be concerned? Maybe you should check. Want me to check? I can check. I can make them happy. Everyone loves me."
As evidenced by ...

Blue Crush

Ah Green Boy - showing off his crowd surfing - they grow up so fast. (sniff)

The puppy who was the largest at birth is now the smallest. I've been supplementing Blue Boy for the past few feedings as he's not plumping up like his siblings; he had a rough start and the anesthetic could account for some lethargy and a slower uptake. It never hurts to give them a bit of a boost especially since some of the puppies are up over 20 ounces now. It doesn't seem like a lot but it makes a big difference when you're that small.

Puppies, well, most newborn critters, tend to lose for the first couple days, gain it back slowly at first and then an ever increasing rate. If a puppy is not gaining after the third day, or has lost significantly in the first couple then it's time to intervene. It is so important to weigh them daily especially if they are looking ribby ... a puppy that tiny loses so fast.

As long as they stay active and squirming you know they are doing alright but a slipperly slope is made much more slippery when your life is so brand new. Puppies have so little to draw on in reserves, they cannot maintain their body temperature on their own, they need to be fed at regular intervals and they are extremely delicate.

This is Maroon giving a "high 5" in agreement. However, they are also incredibly reslilient and given half a chance they bounce back fast if they have slipped a little. A fading puppy is every breeders nightmare and often there is no rhyme or reason to it but if you catch a fader early, know what to do and act on it you can save your future Best in Show dog or someone's devoted companion.

That said ... look at how much bigger they are. For now I'm keeping a close eye on Blue Boy and watching everyone else for signs of decline but Halo, despite the noxious gas that you'd think would be the puppy's biggest threat, is doing a very fine job.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pursuit of Happyness

I feel in a daze ... not enough REM sleep. Had a nap this afternoon but it wasn't enough. I shouldn't complain, everyone is still alive, I've supplemented a couple just to get them nice and full and to try to catch up to this monster:

Green boy is like a Raimi clone. He's a big guy and already pushing 20 ounces after his post-birth weight loss. Looks at his little Yoda ears!

He was snuggling with his Momma earlier today. Eventually they all end up in a Momma embrace but he's the first I've caught for posterity.

And little yellow Rio. She already has a home and a name. She is latched on to one of the best nipples - they are prime real estate when you are fighting for life against your siblings.

This is what you want to see. A nice fat tummy and a content puppy fast asleep amongst her siblings. I know these guys are happy because they are quiet. An unhappy hungry puppy cries and cries and cries ... so far ... silence is golden.

Do the Right Thing

Dewclaw removal was something I did not do the last litter and was not sure I'd do this litter but ultimately decided I would. I'll be honest, I just like the cleaner leg. Deb, a friend who has Pulis, came over to lend a hand and although she'd never done such a thing she was a great assistant.

This was the first time I'd removed dewclaws without my parents there to supervise - eventually a girl's gotta fly on her own right? It was a simple process but I changed the technique from how my parents do it. They use a small pair of scissors but I couldn't find them at any store so I used the clamp method.

Hold out the puppy's leg, press the vein above the dewclaw to stop the blood flow, slip a Kelly clamp under it nice and tight to the leg and then quickly clamp it shut and lock it. The puppy squeaks a bit but it's a pretty swift process. Then I snipped the skin with sharp scissors and the nail fell off(apparently you are supposed to be able to just scrape the nail off with your fingers but whoever said that never tried this on a thick skinned Ridgeback puppy). Tapped some styptic powder onto the incision, waited a minute and released the clamp. There was very little blood and the whole litter went to sleep quickly in their warming box.

It took us some time to work out a good technique and a bit of trial and error but the over all result was a success. They are all scabbing over nicely and some of the snips are so clean there will be hardly any scarring.

There are arguments that the dewclaws are used by the dogs, that they are an all natural breed ... whatever, I prefer the look and I do it for my own edification. Although, if the second puppy we did had been the first he would have been the only! He was a squirmer and squirmers bleed!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Star is Born

Because I've been alone for the birth of my previous two litters I was not able to get any pictures of the puppies being born. With Adine to help I finally have some photos of Halo giving birth.

This is White boy making his entrance into the world. He is not in his sac, it followed him out, and he was breathing before he hit the paper. He's what you want to see; a puppy coming out kicking and screaming.

I have a cloth ready to catch them as they come out mostly because they are slippery little suckers! Then you spend some time rubbing them and making sure they are breathing while the bitch tends to the rest of the discharge and the placenta.

Here he is safe and sound. You can see his sac and halo eating the placenta - she's quick ont he draw with that! I picked him up to stop Halo over-working the umbilical and started the vigorous rub to get him breathing and the blood flow going.

Here is the second puppy, pink ribbon girl, coming out still in her sac. Halo chews the sac to break it and I'm grabbing her to keep tabs on the progress. The fluid pours out of their lungs and the best sound ever is their first cry because you know they are getting enough air to complain.
When the vet removed Blue Boy from Halo she handed him off to the technician, they started to work on him and a few moments later he let out a big squeak. The vet said it was the best sound ever since she had only given him a 50/50 shot at being alive. I do think if we'd waited any longer, or just allowed Halo to struggle and give birth naturally he would not have come out alive. Another successful litter whelped from the most amazing brood-bitch ever.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Safe Passage

We've come out the other side with everyone alive(so far). Halo's temperature dropped Monday morning and that gave us a 24 hours window in which she would eventually produce her last litter.

This is what the whelping box looked like when I set it up - the cat is demonstrating where the puppies go.

And here's what she did to it Monday afternoon. So cute.

Adine arrived to witness the birth since she is planning on breeding Halo's daughter Karma. Leeloo made herself comfortable.

Halo spent the night being restless and at 5am I was up and preparing for the inevitable. She spent some time rearranging the paper again and making the nest just right.

An hour later she produced White Ribbon Boy. He has a little white spot on his throat and on his bottom, something I haven't seen before. Isn't it cute?

Five more puppies came in the next 4 hours and we thought we'd be done in time for lunch. They were all healthy and thriving, no assistance required and all ridged except one girl came with twice her allotment of crowns.

Halo settled down, nursed the babies, had contractions every 10 minutes or so and we figured she was moving the puppies along in there so we waited. And waited.

Raimi and Leeloo waited too on the other side of the gate ... poor kids. They were so good and only ate a dish of jujubes ... Raimi's sweet tooth always gets the better of him.

After 2 hours with no results I called Halo's breeder Erin for advice. Wait a bit. I called my mom too for a second opinion(no offense Erin!) and she said she'd wait too.

So we waited. And waited. At 2pm I called the vet. What do we do? Bring her in just in case. So we packed up the puppies in their warming box, Adine rode in the back with Halo who was still contracting and we arrived at the vet. We forgot the camera much to our annoyance.

Halo became very anxious about me and her puppies but was an incredible trooper. We x-rayed her and found to our surprise one single GIANT puppy who was no where near the exit. He was still safely entombed mid-abdomen.
So we decided on Oxytocin to get things moving a little faster. He moved a little but not enough. Another shot. Another wait. No progress. We decided to send in a rescue mission.

At this time the vet asked if there were complications or anything was a spay okay? I said spay her anyway, this is her last litter, and I was going to do it regardless.

Halo was in surgery for two hours while they extracted a very large puppy. He wasn't breathing but there was a heart beat so they started to work on him and he came around very quickly, his tongue pinked up and he was yelling. Hooray! A ridged boy who is now Blue Ribbon Boy.

Halo came out of anesthetic very quickly and we headed home about an hour and a half after surgery. She was very dopey at home, unable to keep any water down, and clearly exhausted. I put the puppies in the warming box and fed them goat's milk, made Halo get them to poop and pee and went to bed with my alarm set for 3 hours sleep so I could get up and check everyone.

Today we are recovering nicely and Halo is with them now. It's been a learning experience and I don't recommend this to everyone ... certainly Adine is now thinking twice about breeding Karma!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fatal Attraction

Okay - if you have a weak stomach read no further.

Remember the lead incident where Leeloo ate an entire lead except the clip and I pulled it out of her stomach? Or the time she ate three of my socks and threw them up on my living room floor? Well, since I've removed all the 'small' things she likes to consume I thought I was safe. Until Friday.

Friday after work I let the dogs out and returned to their room to check what had been destroyed and to put the dog beds back where they belong. I spotted the "skinny" rabbit Raimi got from his brother Rory last year for his birthday - it's a toy that has no stuffing in it ... so just the skin. The rabbit was one of Leeloo favorites, she liked to suck on it and played tug of war quite a bit.

There was now only half a rabbit. The back half. The front half, after searching, was entirely missing. Well, missing typically means that you don't actually know where the item is ... I was 99.9% certain I knew where the front half of the rabbit was.

So I had visions of a vet visit and blockages but was hopeful the rabbit would appear one day with the urka gurka preview. Sure enough yesterday morning shortly after breakfast Leeloo leaped off the couch and hacked up a pile of dog food and couple of very tidy pellets of something which was not dog food.

I pulled her away from the pile and told her no. She wanted to go back and retrieve her breakfast. Tellign her no repeatedly I backed away toward the kitchen to get a baggy to clean up the mess and she took her chance.

She darted in and snatched up ... what else? The bit of rabbit fabric was gone down the gullet again in a microsecond. I cleaned up the rest of the mess and found another piece of a dog toy which I couldn't identify. What else has this damn puppy eaten?

So now it was another waiting game. When would the rabbit reappear? It felt like a twisted magic show. I went off to work and came home ... no rabbit. I went to a birthday party that night and came home ... no rabbit.

Right on cue at 3am the urka gurka started and Leeloo leaped off the bed. I followed just as she retched up what I hoped was rabbit. I grabbed her to stop the inevitable re-consumption and turned on the light to find two tidy pellets of rabbit on the floor.

Oh hooray.

So I dragged her back into my bedroom and shut the door, cleaned up the rabbit and crawled back into bed. Leeloo hopped off the bed again and went to find her missing rabbit. No joy there. She came back to bed, threw herself down and went to sleep.

I can't begin to imagine how many times her tummy has tried to rid itself of that damn rabbit over the course of the previous 24 hours. I bet it was more than the two times I saw it come up.

So now I have to absent the dog room of all soft toys except the large and durable ones and even those, once they begin the inevitable decline of the dog toy, I will have to remove them.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have never owned or met a dog quite like Leeloo. I should have known that a dog who comes with a face this innocent was going to be trouble.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rebel Without a Cause

I'm sure Leeloo is a rebel. Just as sure as I am that she can read the sign that says "Slope Revitalization - Please Keep Off". She's just that smart.

She looked at me like I put the sign there just to spite her. If she could, she'd totally jump that fence and revitalize the crap out of all that lovely long untouched dead grass.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A River Runs Through It

I am SO cautious about the river in winter. I have this well grounded fear that they will fall through the ice and either not be able to get out thus suffer hypothermia and drown or get pulled under the floe and drown. I've always had a thing about water ... ironic I'd get a breed that doesn't like water sport (I actually didn't know about their aversion to water when I got Halo, I just thought it was a cute Halo thing).

Now that the water is flowing with minimal ice along the edges and I know the dogs could walk in it if they need to we head to the river's edge for a little peace and quiet.

Raimi is so funny. I threw a rock into the water when he wasn't looking and he just about jumped out of his skin. He was completely baffled so of course I did it repeatedly for giggles.

He spotted ducks across the water and spent a long time looking at them with his nose atwitch. The ducks floated by cautiously waaaaaay over on the other side of the river. It would look like this in Hell before a Ridgeback would plunge into 3 degree water to catch a live duck ... much less retrieve a dead one.

Raimi seems to really appreciate the soothing qualities of the riverside. I'm sure he'd make a great fisherman's companion. Too bad I don't fish.

Leeloo's attention was held by the river itself for about a microsecond and the balance of the time was spent picking berries off the hillside behind us. Beauty is wasted on the young.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Place to Grow

So we go to the park now that the weather has decided to stay above zero for the most part. The dogs are beyond happy as you can tell.

There is a section we go to now where the grass is exposed. Leelo hasn't had much of a chance to enjoy long grass since she was born in September and got here when winter had pretty much started.

The warm weather also seems to add a bit of a tickle to their feet. In horses they call it getting the wind under their tails. Leeloo has learned to corner quite well ... even on snow.

And now that she's older and wiser she can really give The Boy a run for his money. "Come get some."

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The weather of late has been pretty darn nice so we've gone to the park several days in a row, much to Halo's disgust. Although she does her fair share of sniffing she is less than tolerant of the rambunctious 'kids' than in days past.

An embarrassing thing Halo does (besides expose herself on the couch) that is not her fault(besides the throat closing gas) is the boobie pop. You know the clopping noise a horse hoof makes on pavement? That sound happens when Halo's boobs swing and smack together. It's super weird. And a little charming. And I try to avoid people at the park because of it. Try explaining that to the uninitiated. Pop pop pop pop pop ...

I know I own a pregnant dog that looks more like a cow than a Ridgeback. If you squint you can totally see the resemblance. But really, how proud am I of that topline? A longer dog would be sway backed by now. It bodes well for showing her as a veteran or in broodbitch classes. Except the boob thing ... it's a bit distracting.

So here we are a week away. I don't think it will be a week. I have a good feeling about Tuesday. Halo has a good feeling about *right effing now*. We'll see who's right.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Animal Farm

I wasn't going to show this picture. Halo has been humiliated enough really. She definitely doesn't deserve to be hung out to dry. But really, if you have a photo like this, you just can't not show it. Day 54 has Halo just laying it out there for all to see and it's hard not to feel replused and fascinated at the same time.