Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pups Are Here!

I was hoping for weekend pups arriving on day 61, but Fern had other ideas and the pups arrived Thursday night on day 59.  Although I love raising pups, I really dislike whelping litters, and it's a chore I never look forward to.  I particularly dislike dealing with stillborn pups, cords that are cut too short and bleed when mom continues to fuss with them, and wondering if everything is OK or if I need to put a call in for veterinary advice.  You'd think that after 45 years I'd be immune to the pain of losing a pup and have all the answers to whelping difficulties, but that's never the case.  Fortunately we had none of those this time around.  Thank you Fern!
Eight pups, all delivered healthy, only one requiring some extra work (he was "juicy" and took some massaging before his breathing was normal).  Fern cut the cords perfectly, tore the sacks off the puppy heads in a timely fashion, and accepted the pups right away.  She got a bit nervy between pups four and five and had some trouble staying organized.  Dal girls don't like their pups taken away for safe keeping and insist on having them in the whelping box, so I had to keep them out of her way when each new pup arrived.  Some bitches lay quietly on their sides when the new pups arrive, but Fern was up and about, pushing hard and rearranging blankets.  Although I missed whole night's sleep, pups were delivered promptly with no long gaps in between.  Whew.
4 boys and 4 girls, 5 blacks and 3 livers.  Originally thought there were only 2 livers, but the boy I was unsure of ended up being liver.  P:ups are a day old now, and all are doing well.  Several pups were rather thin at birth, but all have plumped up a bit already.  Fern is doing a good job, and keeping them clean.  She doesn't tolerate the heat lamp though and get stressed when it is on.  I've used heat lamps for 40+ years, and this is the only time its been a problem.  She wins, of course, and I'll just keep the basement warmer.  Good thing most of my fish are TROPICAL fish.
Still haven't checked back on my list of "puppy people".  Guess I'd better do that this weekend.  Have a number of inquiries I still need to respond to as well.
Fern's cousin "Gemma" also has 8 new pups, 2 boys and 6 girls.  They live with my daughter Jessica and are co-owned by Gemma's "other mother" Heather.
Both Fern and Gemma are show dogs as well as beloved family members.  Both are Champions in the breed ring, were bred to top quality Champion males, and all four adults have their CHIC #s because they have had all of their appropriate health testing (hips, elbows, eyes, hearing, thyroid).  Both litters will be raised in our respective homes, properly socialized, be BAER hearing tested, will have thorough Vet check ups and first shots, and will be sold with comprehensive written guarantees.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Won't Be Long Now

Whew, we're finally ready for puppies.  The basement whelping area is cleaned, rearranged, and the flooring has been redone.  Our pups are raised in the house of course, and the basement gives Fern some privacy at first.  Because my fish room is in the basement, as well as the laundry room, we are up and down a lot but it's easy to keep the other dogs from checking in on all the activity.  Max obviously wants to be a part of all the excitement.  He'll be a great puppy sitter eventually. 
Today is the 58th day, the earliest a litter is likely to be whelped, but earlier than I want pups to arrive.  61 days is more typical, and weekend pups would be nice since our Repro Vets have someone on call for whelping problems on weekends and at night. 
Tonight I'll start taking Fern's temperature as there is normally a drop in temperature before the pups arrive.  It doesn't tell you when, but a normal temperature generally means that pups will not be arriving in the next 24 hours - assuming you are taking the temperature regularly and didn't miss the drop.  Some bitches stop eating before whelping, but that does NOT include most Dal girls!
For now, Fern is back in her favorite spot, behind the family room chair.  She'll eat breakfast in the pen, and spend part of the day there.  This evening she will move to the pen and start sleeping there as well.  Won't be long now!

Monday, August 18, 2014

One Week To Go

"Please feed me", says poor Fern.  She's ravenous right now.  Hasn't taken to stealing from people, but she'd certainly steal from the other dogs if given a chance.  Fortunately the dogs eat in their crates, so the slowest eater Argus can finish his dinner in peace.  She just stands and stares at his bowl.  Although Fern gets twice as much as any of the other dogs, she finishes her meal first.  She's normally a bit fussy and takes her time to eat - 3 minutes, instead of the 30 seconds that is typical of this pack of chowhounds.  Now she starts eating and the bowl is instantly empty.  Amazing!
Fern follows me around and sits in front when I stop so she can make eye contact and send me thought waves.  "Feed me, feed me".  If she catches my attention she may fling herself on her back for a belly rub.  I always take a bit of extra time to feel the puppies kicking.  Never get over the excitement of feeling the pups kick for the first time.
Fern standing at a crate, waiting to check it for crumbs.
Fern is still getting her evening walk, but because it was so warm and humid yesterday evening, we cut it short.  She's been lagging back on her walks recently, except of course when she sees a rabbit - then she's all business!
My weekend was spent redoing the basement.  My hundred year old house is not really optimal for a litter of pups, as there's no extra room on the main floor, and it's too wild and crazy anyway.  The basement is NOT totally finished, although it is divided into rooms and the front room is normally used for pups.  Up until recently it also contained seven fish tanks, but now contains only one that actually has fish.  I sold/gave away a number of aquariums last week as I am trying to cut back on my fish addiction.  Removing the tanks, including a 55 gallon, gave me the chance to replace the floor tiles and rearrange the other items.  Tonight I will just finish putting things away, and get the whelping box set up so Fern gets used to it.
I need to touch base with the people on my list too, to see who is still interested.  Several of them are keeping in touch, and I know they are interested.  It's not a good idea to promise too many puppies at least until after they are born, and we know on color and sex.  Later of course there's the issue of which (if any) will go to show homes, and which will be companions or performance dogs.  Hearing is also a big issue that affects puppy placements, as are the individual temperaments and personalities.   Busy times ahead!