Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

I think what we have here is a case of "Be careful what you wish for" all done up like one of those Russian babushka dolls -- a wish within a wish within a wish. We wanted puppies. Okay, we got 21 puppies (two litters, quite unintended -- see previous post). Wanted blues and blacks. Got three blacks, a blue brindle and two blue and white partis in the first litter, and the second litter looks like a black and white TV program on the webcam. Three solid blacks, a black and white parti, three solid blues, a blue fawn, a blue fawn parti, three blue and white partis. (Also in the first litter are a gorgeous fawn brindle and white, fawn and white and a red brindle -- bonuses, for sure even though I didn't ask for them) And finally, I wanted girls. Out of 21 puppies (good grief!) we have only eight males.

We're very fortunate that these puppies already have homes. Well, there may be one or two not spoken for, but I don't know for sure till the deposits come in or don't come in this week. People's plans change and sometimes they forget to let us know until we actually ask for money!

Above is the "set-up" -- mamas have gotten along great. That's Party inspecting. She is like the old maid aunt who has a ton of advice on how to raise your kids. Meanwhile, here's how the day goes.

6:00 am -- I'm up to feed Kara, pictured below, who has a cleft palate (more on her later) and has to be tube fed. Feed Chippy's litter -- they are on pureed Purina ONE. Clean both boxes (change pads, dump litter from the litter box trained ones -- the second litter is too young -- wash out litter box and put in fresh litter, which is actually, by the way, pelleted rabbit food)  feed both moms, let all dogs out and back in, change moms' water and puppies' water bowls. Feed all the dogs. Then I usually go back to bed for a couple of hours.

9:00 am -- Walt is up, starts laundry, moderates email lists, general housework.

10:00 -- Walt feeds Kara and I get up again. Both of us check email, answer as much as we can. Clean puppy boxes several more times throughout the day as they need it. If there's a vet trip to be made, this is when I usually do it --there have been several a week with these litters. Chippy had some mastitis with a ruptured cyst, xray for Kara's leg and general check up once a week, there was the Juliet debacle wherein I thought thunderphobia was eclampsia, pick up feeding tubes for Kara, that kind of thing. Weigh Kara every day and the rest of the pups every week..

12:00 -- Puppy pictures, snuggling, getting them out of the box for stimulation, catch up on phone calls,  More laundry for Walt. I fold and put away as it comes off the line. The puppies are still responsible for about four loads a day. We have hospital pads in the bottom of the boxes, and though the older ones are pooping in the litter box, they're still peeing on the pads, so that means changing them three or four times a day. The younger litter is still mostly being cleaned by Juliet, but their pads get wet too -- we change them about twice a day. Take all dogs out again. Feed mama dogs. Feed older pups. Grind puppy nails every three days to keep them from scratching up mama.

2:00 - Feed Kara, and I usually get a nap while Walt babysits, doing dishes and laundry in short bursts..

4:00 -- I'm back up to clean boxes, work on some email, maybe file a puppy report to the email lists (Timbreblue Pups is for our current owners and Timbreblue Pupwatch for anyone who is interested in keeping up with the litters)  Straighten puppy room -- it is small with two big whelping boxes in it and everything has to be in the proper place or it gets crazy. Take mommies outside. (A whole lot of food is going through them!)  Walt gets outside work done -- gardening, mowing grass, etc. This weekend he built the two litter boxes. If he has errands to run (he does the grocery shopping), now's the time.

6:00 One of us asks for ideas for dinner and eventually someone gets around to fixing it. Sometimes we grill out, more commonly we eat something from a can. No time for major cooking these days! Time to feed Kara again and clean boxes. Take dogs out again.  Feed all dogs and change water.

8:00 Usually we are settled back into the puppy room for the evening and turn on the webcam. When I have time, I try to join in the chat -- this is all at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/timbreblue-whippets and the password is whippets. Often though, I am busy with email (lots of puppy buyers with 21 puppies!), doing the usual puppy chores -- cleaning, changing water, feeding, etc. Walt often does puppy updates now and I update the record books. Each litter has one, with a page for each puppy and an overall litter page, as well as details on the breedings and whelpings. It's very useful to go back to these when I'm panicking about something with a litter in the future!

10:00 pm Walt feeds Kara and heads for bed and I finish up with cleaning, feed the older pups and mommies one last time, take my shower and settle into my bedroll on the floor. We  discussed my actually going back to the bedroom now -- the puppies do not need 24/7 supervision -- but since I have to get up at two and six to feed Kara, we decided it was best if one of us got to sleep through the night uninterrupted by an alarm clock. Somehow getting to bed takes me till midnight and a couple of times I have been stupid enough to stay up till two so I can get Kara's feeding done before I lie down.

2:00 am Feed Kara, take mommies out.

4:00 am - Walt gets up for an hour or so, checks on us (on a good night we are all asleep!), moderates the email lists and does some correspondence. He has always done this -- goes to bed early, gets up at three or four, goes back to bed around five, and sleeps till nine. So this is not really part of the puppy schedule unless he sees something that needs tending -- water bowl empty, puppy distressed about something (though that usually wakes me up immediately!)

6:00 am -- And it starts all over.

Have I mentioned how much I love breeding? I really do, and even with a schedule like the above, there is nothing as much fun as sitting in the middle of the floor with a lap full of whiplets! (Remind me of that in four weeks when they are all out of the box and finding new and creative places to use the bathroom)

And please forgive me for being a little sentimental, but the best days of all are the ones when these puppies go home with their new best friends. For someone to choose us as a breeder is the highest compliment we're paid, and we take our responsibility very seriously. The goal is to create happy, healthy pets, dogs that look and act like whippets, and for every litter to be a bit better than the one before. We don't presume to say we are breeding to "improve the breed" -- I believe it is close to perfect as it is! -- but we do strive to improve the health of the breed and preserve the type, and above all, do no harm.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's Give Your Vet a Laugh Day!

One of the many scary things that can happen to a mama dog is eclampsia, what the old-timers called milk fever. Because of the demands from the puppies nursing, she loses calcium at such a rate that she can go into seizures and even die. The early symptoms include panting, pacing, extreme nervousness, shivering...you get the picture. It's most common in small to medium breeds with large litters.

So last Tuesday when Juliet began panting, pacing, being extremely nervous, and shivering, I got scared. She was  completely irrational, trying to climb between the whelping box and the wall -- there's about an eight-inch space between them. She was even stepping on her puppies in her frenzy. I've never had a dog with eclampsia, but as a breeder, I live in fear of it (as well as about 100 other things that can go terribly wrong!)

I called the vet in a near panic (eclampsia can be fatal very rapidly) and rushed her to the clinic. As I was getting her out of the car, thunder rolled. We'd had a storm earlier and it had apparently not moved entirely out of the area. Juliet and I entered the vet's office, and as I was describing her symptoms, I suddenly stopped in the middle of a sentence. I pulled out my cell phone and called my daughter Jo. Juliet lived with Jo for the past couple of years and came back to me last fall.

Jo answered with her usual, "Hey, Mama, what's up?"

"Is Juliet, by any chance, thunder-phobic?"

"Oh yes, she's awful. She paces and pants and shivers and tries to climb..."

"Into small spaces?" 


Since Juliet had been with Jo in the summers, I'd never had here during storm season. I looked at the receptionist and said, "I think I just rushed Juliet over here for being afraid of thunder."

After she stopped laughing, I added, "Since we are here, why don't we run a calcium level?"

We did, the vet and vet techs had a good laugh at my expense, the calcium level and the rest of her bloodwork was totally normal, and about $120 later, we were home and she was settled back in with the puppies.

Yes, I guess lack of sleep really is getting to me... 

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