Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Very Happy Birthday, part one

A year ago about this time, we were helping our sweet Chippy bring her first litter into the world. First to arrive was Photon (then named Sailor) and he was a big bruiser of a puppy at nearly a pound. Chippy had a lot of trouble delivering him, and after he was born, almost as an afterthought, came Kara. She was tiny compared to Photon -- just five or six ounces, if I recall. She was lifeless at first, but with a little rubbing and blowing ir into her mouth, she finally began crying and scrambling to get to her mama. Small as she was, she was a fighter, so we weren't too worried about her at first. She had a tiny heart on the back of her neck.

The next six puppies came along without incident, and what a rainbow Chippy and Daddy Blue had given us! A red brindle boy (Skiff), two black & seal girls (Siren nd Kara), two blue and white boys (Photon and Ensign, now Spencer), a blue brindle boy (Fathom, now Rocket), a fawn and white girl (Sparrow, now Shelby), and a lovely black and white girl, Tempest (now MooMoo). Then came the hours that every breeder dreads -- the minutes, then hours with no puppy arriving.

We began to realize we had a problem, The ninth puppy simply was not coming. We knew Chippy was carrying ten puppies (we'd done an xray the day before) and the "stuck" puppy was endangering itself, number ten, and mama, for that matter.

Of course it was after hours for our regular vet (isn't it always?) so we bundled up everyone and headed for the emergency vet in Lynchburg, about 45 minutes over the mountain. We put all the pups in an incubator at the clinic (the vet sort of shook her head over Kara) and settled in for a long, tense night in the waiting room.  Several other emergencies came in: a Border collie with heat stroke, another c-section (a Cocker spaniel), and a puppy who had eaten a bar of chocolate.

It seemed hours, but I'm sure it was not. Finally we got the word that Chippy was fine, the ninth baby had definitely been stuck and we'd lost her, and the tenth, a little brindle and white girl (Bonnie, now Moka) was just fine. I had the usual breeder's guilt; Did I wait too long to bring her in? Was there more I could have done at home.

We brought everyone home, including our little lost girl, who was buried next to our beloved Babs (We warned the new pup not to get on Babs' bad side, as she did have a temper!)

The next few days were stressful. Chippy was a great mom, but try as we might, we could not get little Kara to nurse. Chippy took care of her, she crawled around and climbed on top of the other puppies, behaving like a normal, if a bit weak, newborn. We began to tube feed her after it became obvious she was not going to nurse. Every three or four hours we'd pass a tube down her throat and syringe a little formula directly into her stomach.

Thank goodness daughter Johannah had arrived! We traded off the nighttime feedings, with Walt taking a few as well, I warned Jo not to get attached to this one. I didn't really hold out a lot of hope for her unless she would begin to nurse. But she was such a fighter we had to give her a chance. The fact that she had not gotten any colostrum was a problem. I ordered fresh frozen plasma to give her.

On Day Three, we took the litter in for removal of dewclaws. Dr. Missy thought Kara was too weak to tolerate even the little snip it involves, so we left hers alone. She got some fluids and some puppy vitamins.
Kara went downhill for the next few days, and on bout vet visit number three, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Our wonderful vets gave her some oxygen and prescribed a tank for me to pick up from their supplier and take home, We used the "blow by" method, and whenever she looked a little blue, we'd give her some oxygen. Jo actually made some videos of Kara's first few days and here's an oxygen treatment she loaded on Youtube...

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