Monthly Archives

August 2011


Individual pictures – Clue’s Eight

These are the All Hallows Eve puppies, so they all get names of saints.

Bridgid (arrow on the back of her neck, medium blaze)

Hedwig (wide collar with black spot)

Ignatius (wide collar with speck)

Bosco (was entirely too wiggly – collar wide on show side and narrow on off side)

Felix (collar and narrow blaze)

Zeno (narrow but full collar, narrow blaze)

Bernard (big fat tri or bright brindle-pointed boy – collar wide on off side and narrow on show side)

Sebastian (lots of white, big collar, small body splash)


And now we sleep.

Clue’s eight and Juno’s six are gorgeous and wonderful and perfect. We thought Juno was going to give us one more but she settled beautifully through the night and says she’s done. We think what we were feeling was the uterus clamping down on a bunch of placentas (she still owes us a couple). She has three girls and three boys. Our scale was giving us fits but they’re all big. The “little” girl is 8 or 9 oz; everyone else is 11 and 12. I am sending Doug out for a better scale today so we can start the weigh-ins, but I am not at all worried. Both moms have milk flowing already and Clue’s kids are fat toads. Juno’s babies just started gulping a little while ago and in a few hours should be round as well.

Hours after we dried off puppies and checked palates we found that two of Juno’s have tail kinks at the ends – nothing to worry about, just big puppies so squished in a small mom that tails got stuck in a corner. One is so minor that once the hair comes in you’ll never know it; the other is going to have his white flag pointed a little wonky. And, wow, if that’s the worst thing that happened in that DREAM of a whelping, I am more than content.

Tons of pictures, I promise, after I sleep for a while. I got to doze for a couple of hours yesterday before Juno got going but the last time I did more than that was Friday afternoon. I am just a wee bit incoherent right now.


Juno in progress

Six puppies so far and we think we can feel one last one working his or her way down. She had the six in about two and a half hours, all big (11-12 oz, most of them) and healthy. Blacks and tris, of course (so far just one tri, a flashy bitch) and colors ranging from virtually no white – I think he’s going to lose even the face white; think Jimmy the agility Cardigan to get an idea – to one lunker of a boy who has a huge blaze, white ear, collar, and a connecting stripe over his back. No mismarks, but fat white boy may need to be named “Barely Legal.” All is well; she’s been taking a break for a couple of hours while the last one moves into position.

Clue is waking up more and more as the evening goes on, and taking great care of her puppies. It’s obviously easier for her this time than it was last time; the instincts are kicking in fast and she hasn’t been disoriented, just sleepy. Every time she looks over and discovers a puppy she grins.

More once we know Juno is done. Every time I think about getting impatient I mentally slap myself – she’s relaxed and not straining at all, so she can take all the time she needs.

Oral-Cal-Plus (calcium) has been fantastic for both bitches, Clue for nursing babies and Juno for good contractions. Juno’s whelping has been so slick and easy it’s ridiculous; every 20 minutes she’d push a couple times and a gigantic puppy would appear.


Clue’s lovely bunch

First: Juno is in good labor but no action yet.

Next, the big good news: I am very, VERY thankful to say that Clue did not have a dozen little babies – she presented us with eight healthy BIG babies. Weights ranged from 9.7 oz to somewhere way up in the 12s.

There are six boys, two girls. One blue – a boy, of course – and seven blacks and tris (I think we have two tris, but there may be a third one waiting for some shading to clear). All are nursing and doing all the things they should.

I am also very thankful that Clue knew what she was doing and the babies were ready to come out. They had all the signs of wanting to be born today – placentas separated easily and babies have good coat all the way to their toenails.

They’re all flashy and irregularly white. No mismarks but some crazy puzzle pieces and islands of color and one boy with a lovely body splash.

Clue already has milk and they’re swallowing and getting bellies. She is totally my hero.

And now she is DONE. She was spayed with the section (that’s why she looks so gaunt in the picture – she lost a whole bunch of insides with this one). I wanted to grand her – she deserves it – but completely silent heats = next time it would be Godric. And WOW does the world not need Papigans. So now she can boss everybody around the way she likes and her daughters will have to do the hard stuff.

More updates after I lie down for a little while. I haven’t slept since a few hours yesterday sometime. Sarah is here and holding down the fort and making me feel all relaxed and good.


clue, Juno

Puppygeddon begins!

Across the land, the call rang out – HER TEMP IS DOWN! HER TEMP IS DOOOOO-OWWWWWN!

And many touseled heads raised off their pillows. And eyes blinked. And the question came – “It’s Saturday. What happened to Monday? Oh, well, sod it then, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

The answer is I don’t know what happened to Monday. I was taking temps as usual last night, both girls at 100.3. Decided to check Juno again at 3 AM because she just looked off – 99.3. By 6 AM she was at 99.0 and panting.

The calls and e-mails have gone out. The troops are preparing to gather. My adrenaline is running high.

And, just for fun, I check Clue again. 98.6. Oooo, ha ha, thermometer malfunction, I think. And check it again. 98.8.

At that point I just exploded and fell down as ash. Doug swept me up later.

The end.

OK, well, honestly, at that point I started shaking really badly. A scenario where I have to leave a laboring dog to do another dog’s c-section is pretty much my absolute worst-case disaster horror story. And I’m terrified that it’s early for her.

But, one more time, friends come to the rescue. The vet is prepping for the c-section now; it’s scheduled for 11:30. Juno is gearing up (shaking, panting) but nowhere near delivery; I can safely leave her while Sarah and Linda are on their way up. I’ll come back with Clue and babies and hopefully get a few minutes’ sleep while they care for Clue. Then we catch puppies and try to keep track of who is who. Kate will be here tomorrow night.

We covet your prayers and thoughts – especially that Clue’s babies are born strong and well-cooked.

It’s on like Donkey Kong.


5 days left

This was 26 days ago.

And today. Similar issues with owners who haven’t used a weed wacker.

So you can see the belly hair on the ground :).

Don’t worry – Juno is getting spoiled too. She just doesn’t know stand-stay for the camera like Clue does, and when I try to point it at her she gets all embarrassed and comes and sits in my lap.

I am pretty much in a constant low-grade panic right now. Are they comfortable? Are they eating? Are they showing signs of premature labor? What was that noise? Why is she panting? Are the babies still moving well? What was THAT noise?

Puppygeddon (defined as 61 days post the first breedings) minus three or four days for Juno, four or five days for Clue.

If I survive it.



clue, Juno

Pregnant dog update

Clue and Juno are doing great; they have five or six days left and seem comfortable and happy. I was really worried about Clue a few days ago because she was panting and whining, but then the puppies seemed to shift and today she actually RAN up the hill toward me after she was done going to the bathroom. Both of them are eating as well as can be expected, small meals of high-calorie Orijen and high-fat raw ground beef and vegetable mix. I am happier with their condition after adding that much raw back in, and they like it too.

This afternoon I went out and got a bunch of new towels and soft blankets for the whelping box, and new sheets for my bed in case Kate and Sarah and Linda come up (or down) to help me and end up sleeping over. You three should take that as a definite hint. Puppy scale and feeding tubes are on their way; oral calcium and puppy colostrum supplement are here waiting. I just need to go out tomorrow and get spring clamps, pedialyte, and a thermometer and we’re good to go.

My guess (GUESS) on numbers is that Juno has five or six and Clue has… more than five or six. Juno’s belly feels like a pile of puppies wiggling, and Clue’s belly feels like the Million Man March is going on in there. Looking at Kate’s Ella pictures (Ella had five) I may change my mind, because Juno is definitely bigger than Ella was, but Juno is also a smaller bitch. But not heroic numbers in there, for sure. Clue – well, true to my prediction, her belly hair is dragging on the ground. When she lies down she looks like a dog lying on a pillow; she can’t even straighten her back out because they’re so big under her.

I have been afraid to take pregnant-dog pics in case the next snap is my camera’s last and then I can’t take puppy pictures, but I am going to try to get some of them in the next few days. Meanwhile, I am working my little tail off so I can take a few days “off” when puppies come, so no news is good news for now.

More later,


Dog Health, Responsible Breeding

Esterisol (Neutersol) back in the US – soon!

This is very, very good news.

Here’s the background: For a very long time scientists have known that sperm production in mammals is actually pretty fragile. The structure of the testicles is a lot like a huge mall parking lot; in each of the parking spaces baby sperm grow. As they mature they back out of the parking spots and join others in the narrow aisles, moving out to the larger roads and then to the superhighway and then hopefully into the great dark world to make some puppies.

Because everything depends on those little tubes, if you damage them they can’t make the baby sperm. And it turns out it’s very easy to damage them with a mild caustic agent, something that’s not very harmful to anything but those fragile little cells.

Rsearchers figured out that a perfect solution was zinc gluconate. Inject zinc gluconate into a testicle and two things happen – sperm production is drastically reduced and the sperm that are produced have poor motility (which means they can’t fertilize eggs) AND – because testicle tissue also converts the hormones the pituitary gland sends out into testosterone – the testosterone production of the dog dropped by 40%-50%.

This is, honestly, a fantastic thing. The dog can’t make puppies, but he’s still producing 50%-60% of his vital testosterone. The drop in testosterone is why so many serious dog people keep dogs intact even if they have no intention of ever breeding them. It’s just simply healthier. If we can remove the possibility of puppies without removing all the testosterone, it’s a great thing.

The zinc injection that was discovered was put on the market as “Neutersol” in the early 2000s – and promptly taken off again.

Neutersol was taken off the market not because the product didn’t work but because (in their opinion) it was such a breakthrough method that people didn’t adopt it fast enough and (in my opinion) because it was stupidly marketed. Most owners in the US don’t worry about the health problems of neutering; they worry about the price. Most serious dog people don’t worry about the price; they worry about the health problems. Neutersol was positioned at the same price as a surgical neuter, which was ridiculous – they wanted to use it as a cash cow even though nothing about it justifies the price. It’s a zinc gluconate solution in a syringe; you don’t need to use anesthesia. And at that time it was positioned for use only in a very narrow age range of puppies. So vets didn’t offer it as a low-cost alternative and most owners never heard about it, and by the time show breeders and performance owners were ready to say that a male had proven that shouldn’t have puppies (typically over a year old) the product was unavailable.

Esterilsol, which is the same thing branded by a different company, has been promised to solve both problems. They say they’re positioning it at 1/5 the cost of a surgical neuter and that it’s no longer age-specific. If that’s the case – if they can make this work – it’s a process that show breeders and performance breeders should JUMP ALL OVER.

I am hoping their promises are true; if they are, this could be a huge game-changer.

By the way, I happen to have access to one of the (comparatively) few dogs that was Neutersol-castrated; when we pulled my sister’s dog Wilson from the Hartford Pound and had him groomed we discovered that he had been Neutersol-injected. So I can tell you from experience that it leaves dogs with small but intact testicles; there’s no way (because I can hear this question coming) that a judge would think he was normal, but they do still exist. And Wilson “feels” more like an intact male than a neutered one, both physically in muscle tone and width of chest and pelvis and behaviorally. He can (and has) breed and tie but is not enthusiastic (with the exception of Ginny who, in her one and only heat cycle with us, drove Wilson to feats of manliness that shocked even him) and obviously no puppies come of it.

I’ll be watching for more news, and hopefully updates in the fall.



One morning in Maine

When Meriwether, Tabitha, and Zuzu (and their cousin Mcaela) went up to Maine with their grandparents, I sent my camera along with Meriwether; I knew it was dying and wanted some last-hurrah snapshots from it.

I haven’t done a thing to these; they are as she shot them. I loved the cool greys and greens because they’re just the way the coast of Maine really feels. The long-suffering Rottie is my parents’ wonderful Sunny, who was adopted in Maine as a young dog and been a mystery to me ever since (she’s a pretty nice Rottie, leading to many questions about how the heck she ended up there and what happened between then and being dumped at the Machias Animal Shelter as a two-year-old with signs of having recently whelped).

And, yes, to my everlasting and hopeless inferiority, the shot of the tea party on the porch is not only real, it’s what my mom does every single day, using special antique dishes just for kids that she’s thoughtfully accumulated over the last thirty years. It’s like being parented by the Food Channel.

My kids came back after twelve days, taut and tanned and sleeping from 8 to 8. This was a situation we immediately ruined because while they were gone, thanks to our fury over Netflix raising prices, we had gotten DirecTV for the first time in two years and had DVRed every episode of the Upside-Down Show, which had to be watched immediately. After an orgy of Australian miming they were pretty much back to normal.

And, somewhere, my mom sighs deeply and beings planning next year’s interventions.