Monday, August 31, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Dog Breeder

Most people think my days are filled with contented dams
and cute pups
I often get notes expressing jealousy over the wonderful life I am able to live breeding and raising dogs.  Those notes are sent with so much love and joy that I accept them graciously.  I know most people think my days are filled with contented dams and cute puppies.  Occasionally do I chuckle over those emails after I've just done Poop Patrol, made yet another run to my vet's or answered a late-night emergency call from a worried owner. But yesterday was a day that I think needs sharing because it's an experience every breeder has but few other folks know about.

Yesterday, we almost lost Mr Purple.  He has been our smallest puppy since birth and hasn't kept up with the other pups' weight gains.  And yesterday, four days into his life, he crashed.  We had been watching him vigilantly, 24/7, since his birth.  And when I say 24/7, I mean every minute of every day someone has been with the litter, monitoring him and ensuring no one got chilled or squished by a sleepy mom.  Needless to say, we are all a little tired...especially me :-).

Mr Purple had lost weight on Saturday night so the next morning I went to work checking his vitals-- temperature, blood sugar, urine pH and hydration.  The puppy room looked like a hospital ward.  He had a very low-grade fever and was slightly dehydrated so I gave him glucose solution, one drop at a time.  Puppies can't gag so it's easy for them to choke if you go too quickly.

The puppy room looked like a hospital ward
He rebounded enough for me to take a nap but when I awoke late yesterday afternoon, Puppy-sitter Extraordinaire Noelle told me she was worried about him.  She was right!  He was limp and weak so I started emergency measures.  I tube-fed him fluids, which entails sliding a narrow feeding tube down his throat into his stomach.  Yes, it's a scary thing to do but essential when puppies are too weak to nurse.  The other option is taking them to the vet for IV fluids but it was Sunday night so that wasn't easily done.  And like most breeders, I worry about taking a newborn puppy to a vet clinic where they may come in contact with bad bugs from sick dogs.

Despite my efforts, nothing was working!  His temperature climbed to 101.5 F (normal for a one-week old puppy is 96-97 F). He was so dehydrated that I couldn't get blood to test his blood sugar.  He was flacid and limp.  Bottom line, Mr Purple was dying.

I started sub-cutaneous fluids and called my vet for antibiotics.  What kept me going this whole time was how annoyed he was with everything I was doing to him.  He fought tubing and the sub-Q fluids so hard that he stabbed me with the needle.  Yay!  I was thrilled he still had enough strength to resist my efforts, even if they were well intentioned.  He had no way of knowing that and just knew I was making him uncomfortable.

Today, Mr Purple is robust and vigorous
My wonderful vet (shameless plug...Dr Jim Zgoda, Otterkill Animal Hospital, Campbell Hall, NY) called in a prescription for antibiotics, Noelle came back to puppy sit and at 10 PM last night I got home with the drugs. We ended the night with another tube feeding session, this time with formula since he still wasn't nursing enough.

Although I didn't sleep last night, apparently Mr Purple did...and he nursed!  Today, he is robust and vigorous.  He gained weight overnight and is nursing actively.  He is still very annoyed with me but I know he'll get over it if I can just keep him alive.

My breeder friends are probably reading this post, thinking, "So what?  We all do this."  I agree but I don't think other dog-lovers have any idea what goes into raising a litter of healthy, stable puppies. Yesterday was just one of many challenging days and thankfully, it ended well with Mr Purple rebounding.  So today, I am again lucky to be a dog breeder!

P.S. The Puppy Cam went down yesterday morning but I should have a new one here and installed sometime tomorrow.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Sixpack Plus! The Beer Litter Has Arrived

Newborn Beer Litter
The Arrival.  The Beer litter arrived earlier than expected on Wednesday, August 26.  Glee went into labor on Tuesday evening and at 3:44 Wednesday afternoon, gave birth to Mr Purple.  What followed was the second fastest whelping we've ever had!  Six more puppies--Mr Blue, Mr Black, Mr Green, Miss Raspberry, Mr Brown and Miss Yellow--all arrived by 5:25 PM.  We barely had time to weigh and name them before the next arrived.  For a first-time mom, Glee handled the whole experience beautifully, cleaning each pup, cutting its umbilical cord and starting it nursing without much help from us.

Her last pup was a stillborn, born just half an hour later.  Despite our efforts, we couldn't revive him.  Those are always difficult moments but once Glee had said goodbye to him, we focused on her seven healthy pups.

We are thrilled to have these beautiful Buster x Glee puppies!  For those who are interested, here is their pedigree.  

Beer Litter 3 Days Old
The First Three Days.  The pups are three days old today and are doing very well.  Their days are filled with nursing and sleeping. Oh, and getting cleaned by their mom.  A LOT!  They complain about it but she doesn't care, scrubbing them harder.  Clearly, cleanliness is next to doGliness!

They also get weighed and examined each day.  Everyone has gained weight, with Mr Green now at 1 pound, 4 ounces.  Mr Purple is the smallest so he gets lots of time with his mom.  We have a range of colors from very light to very red.  Tails started wagging yesterday and pigment came in today so they are really looking like little dogs.

Glee continues to amaze us with her mothering skills and patience.  She is very aware and careful of where the pups are which makes our lives easier.  We are still with her 24/7 but are confident that she will take good care of her babies.

Dreamer and Una are quite dejected since Glee does not want them in the puppy room yet but she has welcomed human guests.  The pups have met Noelle, Joe and Vicki with more visitors tomorrow.

Training Starts Tonight!  Really!  We start Early Neurologic Stimulation and Early Scent Introduction tonight and will continue until the pups are 16 days old.  I'm considering doing it live on Periscope one night so let me know if you would like to join me.  If there is some interest, I'll let you know which night.

24/7? I've had some questions about whether we are really with the litter and their mom 24/7.  We are for the first 7-9 days.  Until the pups' eyes open around the 9th day, they are vulnerable to two major threats--getting too far away from Glee and thus getting chilled, and being under her when she lies down.  Baby puppies cannot control their body temperature so need their mom or each other to keep themselves warm enough.  If you watch the Puppy Cam, you might see Glee reach her nose out to puppies that can't find her.  That's so the pups can find her using their ability to detect her smell and her heat.

Sadly, the loving moms themselves can also be a threat to pups this age.  Tired moms can easily lie on and accidentally squish their babies.  Lots of puppies diet that way so we stay very close to avoid this.  

Puppy Cam!  We've got our puppy cam running already so please enjoy Glee and her babies.  I'm trying to keep it live as much as possible.

FLASH!  And just like that, Una and Dreamer were allowed in with the puppies for a short visit.  It's so interesting to watch the dogs communicate.  Dreamer is over the moon about the litter but Glee would prefer if she were a little calmer.  Una isn't too interested but wants to be with me so hopefully she'll be allowed in for longer periods soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Off They Go!

We have had a wonderful 8 weeks with the Light litter but it's time for them to head to their new homes.  Four left yesterday and Miss Red heads out tomorrow.

Sending our pups home is a production.  First, everyone gets a bath, trim and blow dry.  Then we gather lots of goodies--collars, leashes, food and supplements, toys, chews and treats.  We put together our "Puppy Book," which is now 122 pages long.  Finally, we give lots of kisses and hugs to our babies since we may not see them again for many months.

When our new owners arrive, we go through the paperwork, registering the puppy and it's microchip. We've already gone over feeding and care instructions in the webinar we held a few weeks ago but we discuss any updates.  We go for a woods walk with the new owners and their pup, showing them how to hide from their pup should he get distracted.  After that, we show them the training we've done so they know how their puppy is doing on crate training, etc.  We snap some photos and send them on their way.

From what we have heard, the trips home, whether driving or flying, and the first night in their new homes went smoothly.  Yahoo!  All of the work is worth it when everything goes well.

Here are our newest Gaylan's family members:

Linda and Switch
Mike and Switch
Mr Brown headed to Ohio with Mike and Linda MacDonald.  He will be Gaylan's Lights On At Hy-Bar.

Lee, Dave and Ti
Miss Yellow is now Tioga or Ti for short.  She has joined Lee Clark, Dave Carpenter, Brew from our Magic litter and buddy Tripper.

Betsy and Casino
Mr Green is now Casino or Cas for short.  He stayed pretty close to home, moving to NJ with Betsy Scapicchio.
Kathy and Kindle
Mr Blue is now our second pup named Kindle. He flew out to Ohio with Kathy Sutliff and will be known as Gaylan's Light My Fire.

Miss Red or Aurora is still with us and will head to her home tomorrow!  Till then she's been supervising errands and chores.

Peach has headed back to her owners.  Our thanks to Al and Irene Lamphere for again loaning us this fabulous dog!  On top of her other talents, she is a great mother.

We are now looking forward to a few weeks' vacation before Glee's litter arrives.  Stay tuned!