A Journal of a Breeding
by Sharyl Mayhew
These are my collection of posts surrounding and pertaining to my most recent litter of Swissies. I posted them to the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breeder's internet discussion list and I'm offering them here for anyone interested in what a breeder goes through to produce quality, healthy, loving Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this Journal and please ask permission to copy or forward anything other than the entire link. I can be reached by email at email@example.com
Okay, as most of you know I haven't had a Swissy litter in over 3 years. My last litter
was out of Sean and Rika and one of the puppies I kept from that litter was Rosalee who is
now 3 years old and (not jinxing) looking quite pregnant (PLEASE no jinx). I want to do a
"playbyplay" of everything on this list if you guys won't be too annoyed. I want
to have it be like a "Journal of a Breeding" so that I can use it later to
refresh my memory and/or whatever, it also might be cool to start people comparing and
contrasting their experiences and what's worked for them and maybe help me as my memory
has faded (older, lingering lyme disease, older yet, etc.) since Rosalee was born.
Here's the start: Rosalee is a Champion (finally), she's OFA-Excellent, Elbows normal, eyes Cerf'd normal/normal. She's a blood donor and has a normal thyroid count, no tick diseases, and normal blood chemistries and normal heart, patellas, etc. and so on. She's a happy, silly, bouncy girl just like her mother was, won't fight with other dogs and loves ALL people. Quick to bark a BARROOOOO announcement, but equally quick to bounce all over someone in greeting. We comment all the time that she's a LAB in a Swissy SUIT because she is NEVER in slow motion. She's medium sized (95 lbs pre-pregnant) She's got great bone and topline (her mother sagged in the middle) and good front and rear, GREAT movement if you can keep her feet on the ground -- stronger in the rear than front, slightly light eye and a narrow, crooked blaze and no white on her tail, dark dark undercoat, slightly loose feet. She has the boxy, cheeky, short-muzzled head that *I* like a lot (Sean has and Rika had very similar "rottie-like" heads).
After a lot of comparing offspring and pedigrees and deliberating with myself and my co-owner I bred her to Nox, Colleen Murray's Champion male (proven sire, OFA, CERF, etc.) He's big and dark and typey, he's also got the kind of head *I* admire but that isn't really in vogue this generation (judges are favoring the more houndy, longer muzzled, mathmatically correct to the standard choices). His topline isn't perfect but he doesn't sag, POWERFUL well balanced, front and rear, great movement, although he'll crab a little if going too fast, NICE NICE FEET. Excellent temperament, he's the kind of male who'll look in the face of a fighting/attacking dog and do a playbow and dance away. He's strong as shit and can and will pull full grown adults on their faces if he's headed in a purposeful direction. He's produced some very pretty males and some nice females that I've seen. Sound, happy, bouncy.
The breeding itself was very amusing, since Nox is a PROVEN sire I figured this would be a piece of cake, wrong, no one ever let him actually breed a bitch before, so he's quite talented at humping the air about four feet away from the actual vulva (so that someone can collect the sperm without too much effort) ....... We rolled around in the dirt (COLD DIRT HERE IN VA) and worked on teaching this 6 year old "stud" dog how to breed a bitch but eventually I broke down and did it "HIS WAY" so that I could go home. That was last month.
I hope to do an Ultrasound in the next week or so to know for SURE before I plunk down any money to get the WhelpWise stuff -- which I think I want to do this time (it wasn't available for my last litter seeing as I'm so prolific and all).
This might be a very very short "Journal" if there are no puppies, but I wanted to get it started nonetheless. If you guys think this is a stupid idea please tell me now.
YIPPPEEEE!! We did the ultrasound yesterday and there are at least four live fetus'
with normal heartbeats and they measured them crown to rump at about 8.5 centimeters which
is quite large I think for puppies who have almost another month to go before being born.
I'm going to order the whelpwise stuff on Monday and I'll let you all know all about it
when it comes and I get a chance to read the instructions.
There is one "lump" of tissue that they could see on the ultrasound that they believe may be a "mummy", i.e. a puppy that is reabsorbing for whatever reason. He said that without the U/S we'd probably not even know of it's existence and it won't be more than a small lump of unrecognizable tissue if anything when the rest of the puppies are born. He didn't think it was infectuous and it wasn't interfering with the live fetus' so he said not to worry about it. The WhelpWise stuff should allow me to monitor fetal heartbeats I think, so I'll be able to know if anything changes as time goes on.
Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for me, my heart and soul is riding on this litter, it's been so long since we've had Swissy puppies here to spoil and show and socialize and stand out in the cold to potty train and stay up all night to watch them breathing, and oh my god.... .have to build a whelping box and find the cot to sleep on and look for the puppy scales and the neo-natal stethescope, baby bottles, heating pads, you'd think I never did this before:) (GRIN).
Sharyl (dancing on air)
Rosalee (just dancing......"ping" did you feel that?? there might be some aliens in my tummy, kicking and dancing themselves!!!)
Peaches (oh sure,now what, we have to kiss Rosalee's ass routinely??? I'm the boss bitch here and don't you guys forget it)
Chuck E.and the rest of the boys (bitches, just do what they say and nobody get's hurt)
Okay, just for sh*ts and giggles, I want to start a tally of what this breeding costs,
but you ALL have to promise that my husband will NEVER see this sum nor any part of the
mathmatical progress to the final sum. I'm doing this off the top of my head so if anyone
thinks of things I've missed please let me know and I'll add them in, this might be a way
to show people WHY it's important to be prepared and not dilusional about being a breeder,
it might change some people's minds about the sanity of this "art"form/hobby.
First, Rosalee is from my breeding originally, so I didn't have to "BUY" her, but that doesn't mean that if I didn't keep her I wouldn't have had any money for selling her. Let's be very conservative in this and say $1,000 only because I did try several times to give her away to other breeders when she was a puppy so that they would raise her and that maybe I'd be able to get a puppy back from her when and if THEY bred her, but alas that didn't happen, for better or worse she's mine (you guys know who you are-grin).
Second, she's been very very healthy (knock wood) and her veterinary care has consisted of vaccines, heartworm prevention, routine check ups and one fall from Ellyn's spiral stairs which required an office visit and a shot of anti-inflammatory and a short crate rest. She's three years old and I'd estimate she's had about $100 per year for all her normal vet care (again this is a conservative estimate as I work for the vet so lots of stuff costs less for me than for a normal person).
Third, She's fully tested, hips, elbows, eyes, heart, patellas, etc. Let's say $500 total for that including registration fees and the free testing she gets because she's a blood donor for the Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank, i.e. thyroid, tick titers, vonWillebrands, Brucella, CBC/Superchem, etc. are all included in what they run before and during the time you can donate blood.
Fourth, I tried to breed her once before and she didn't get pregnant, we did vaginal smears on her, and a sperm count on the stud dog (he's old), but no stud fee since there were no puppies and I did an ultrasound that time that showed she was empty. $30 smear, $30 sperm count, $75 U/S. That's $135, plus at least $15 in gas and dog food for the time I kept and transported the stud dog for the breeding, no charge for sleepless nights due to whining as I have my own dogs that do that for free:)
What are we up to so far? $1,950.00
Oh, hmmmmm she eats every day:) Let's estimate that each Swissy eats one 40# bag of kibble per month (low ball price is $25.00 per bag) and there are 12 months in each year so that's $300 per year, so she's eaten $900.00 worth so far and she eats fruits, veggies, meats, etc. in addition, let's round up to say another $150 total (very low estimate), so that brings her to about $3,000.00 so far.
Hmmmmmmm, she's an AKC Champion and she's been to a number of training classes-- obedience, herding, show-handling, puppy socialization, etc. I don't even know what to estimate? At least $500.00 to $1,000.00 for the entry fees alone over the years, I always show her myself or maybe send her in with Ellyn or some little kid so there are NO handler charges, but still it takes gas to get there, time off work, etc. But the Championship isn't necessary to breeding, it just helps show that she's a good candidate TO be bred and that she's at least got a normal gait, temperament, conformation, etc. So we can either add that or not add it, but call it $1,000 for argument's sake.
Speaking of Temperament, Rosalee is a TT, CGC, TDI and a SCMET tested dog, I know the TT was free from Auto Foundation, the CGC/TDI was $20 at a show and the SCMET was free from Auto Foundation, so roll that cost into the showing cost as part of that figure.
Have I missed anything up to now?
Now for the more recent/pending charges. I paid $75.00 for this ultrasound which showed that she is pregnant, there is a $1,500.00 Stud Fee pending should she have an actual litter of live puppies and there will be at least some vet charges pertaining to the whelping. I want to do the Whelpwise thing, which is I think something like $300, there will probably be an xray to be sure she's empty and a shot of Oxytocin afterwards to help clean her out. Hopefully there will NOT be a C-Section charge but you have to be prepared for that possibility, and the assorted charges such as dewclaw removals, puppy CERFS, shots, wormings, etc. which we can add as I go along.
If anyone notices any glaring ommissions or if anyone wants to take out the figure pertaining to showing or whatever let me know. Anyway, if nothing else it will serve to remind us that we are NUTS to breed dogs and that if we didn't do it for love of the breed and to perpetuate those qualities we so adore in these guys, we'd CERTAINLY realize that it isn't for anything else!!!
The Whelpwise stuff came last night and I got it to work today (took the dog, the
equipment and all the instructions with me to the clinic so I had help to shave and get
started). I did the first monitor of the uterine action, but haven't sent the info to the
company yet due to all hell breaking loose at work as we were ready to close. Friday
nights........hmmmmmmmm I was only able to get about 15 minutes of uterine action recorded
anyway before the emergency cat fight victim arrived and caused Rosalee to be UNABLE to
sit still for any more minutes:)
Anyway, I have the carting seminar to do tomorrow in Philly and then Sunday I'm going to draw some more blood for the epilepsy study from a Swissy kennel in NJ and I'm really reluctant to leave Rosalee home with Gary and Norman to supervise or even try to do the monitoring, so I think I'll take her with me, she travels well and should relax enough on a road trip (maybe better than at home) to try to do another monitoring and sending of info.
The fetal heartbeat doppler gadget is going to take some practice, I got a couple of puppies located but I don't know if I'm listening to the SAME puppy over and over again from different angles or if the heartbeats are from different puppies squirming around in there. I know it picked up the lower heart rate of a SLEEPING fetus that once we nudged it a little the rate rose dramatically. Very interesting concept though and I think if I can outlast the wiggling Rosalee (late some night -- no doubt) I'll be able to map out where the puppies are situated. They say you can isolate each individual by the heartrates and locations and even make an accurate count that way, I think I'll break down and do an xray, and cover all the bases:)
Other than that, Rosalee is FAT, she weighs 112 (she normally weighs about 90-95) and she has HUGE nipples and lots of milk already. I'm worried she might have them sooner than we'd expected and that's another reason to take her with me.
Anyway, off to bed for a couple of hours before leaving for Philly. I'll post again when I get home on Sunday.
Rosalee enjoyed her trip to Philly and NJ, she played with lots of people and even
played fast and rough with some dogs at Maryjane's house until we made her go back for a
nap. She was running crazy at one point and plowed into two big males and the impact sent
her flying, if all the puppies on that side have kinked tails I know who I'm going to
We are getting closer, today is the first POSSIBLE due date and Friday is the last possible normal (63 days) due date as I did three breedings every-other-day in early December. I'm getting better with the Doppler, heartbeat finder and I finally got the gadget to work so I could send in uterine activity information over the phone and have it interpreted for me. It is very cool, KNOWING what's going on, as opposed to guessing or wishing or thinking you know.....
The uterine activity recorder is little box attached by a cable to a little disk that you hold against her belly by strapping it to a harness. Rosalee likes to have the harness on (duh!) but she can't stand the idea that she has to stay STILL with the harness on. Rosalee can't stand the idea of being still for any reason, it's just not in her genes -- all of you who knew her mother Rika will attest. This will be the hardest part about having Rosalee puppies!! I'll probably have to sit on her to keep her in the box.
I managed to get a 1/2 hour of data, in which time she had one contraction, which is normal resting (not in labor) activity. The heartrates of the puppies are good, all over 200 (normal for unborn puppies). I was still having trouble deciding if I was hearing individual puppy's hearts or the same puppy over and over, so I wimped out and took a lateral xray so I could see where to aim the dang thing. That way too, I'd know exactly how many were inside.
The xray shows four ENORMOUS puppies. I'm a little afraid she won't be able to expel these "aliens". They are the biggest I've ever seen on a film and I'm sure it's because there are only four of them. I have films to compare from Rika where there were 12/13 puppies inside who were all normal good sized puppies and which look to me to be about 2/3's the size of each of these. Dr. Jackson joked that he could evaluate the hips on the two facing the right direction!! I told him I didn't care what prelims showed:)
Thankfully, the Whelpwise will take the decision-making data for me and I won't have to guess when or if to seek surgical intervention. I've always fought with myself about going for the C-Section. In previous litters I've ranted in my head....first.... did I wait too long? could I have saved one of the dead puppies?, then second..... I should have let her try longer, maybe I killed one of the dead puppies by exposing it to anesthesia, maybe I'm risking all of them and her too from the surgery, etcetcetcetcetc... my mental arguments with myself have become horrible during long labors of large litters, going over all the shoulda, woulda, coulda scenarios of that litter and litters past.
I'm sooooo relieved to have this technology to guide me. It is a little tedious to be slave to the monitor, doppler, wiggly bitch and the phone and so forth, but I can say that I can go to sleep tonight and monitor again in the AM fully rested. Whereas in the past years as a breeder, this would have been my first sleepless night due to the girth of Rosalee and that the puppies have dropped down away from her spine, that she has copious milk already and that she's "grunting" more (discomfort?). Which has in the past meant, alternately, nothing in a pregnant bitch OR it means they are in heavy labor but that's all they're going to do and no puppies will come out.... either way, no sleep happens for usually 2-3 days before they are born and there you are during a long whelping (or during the C-Section) and aftercare of bitch and newborns functioning on no sleep and nerves of barbed wire and your ability to make any decisions sucks, let alone the life or death ones you might be faced with.
Another luxury I'm thankful for that most breeders can't have is that I'm taking Rosalee to and from work with me every day, I can watch her there easily and if something starts to happen I can just take care of her and it's still better for the clinic to have me "in-house" but not really working than to have me take several days completely OFF where they can't even ask me questions or snatch me away for some emergency or some fast procedure or whatever. Thank goodness they are as excited about my impending brood as I am. Rosalee has surely made a few extra friends in the last few weeks. It's rare that I go to check on her and not find her snuggled up in a hug with one of the clinic employees -- granted, not everyone is getting work done very fast with her there, but she's not being left out of ANYTHING.
On a lighter side of educating all of the clinic staff -- One of the newer receptionists made me burst out laughing the other day, she was apparently talking to a client about where to find a new puppy -- (they wanted a medium to large dog and had been to the shelter and wanted to know more about different breeds) -- and she flounced back to find me in the surgery (I was scrubbed in, cap, mask, gown, gloves-- only my eyes showing) and she asked with a perfectly straight face "when will you be ready to get rid of Rosalee's puppies?" and I must have looked at her strangely as I was trying to let what she had said sink in, and before I could say anything she said "You'll be giving them away at about two months, right?" and I just burst out, I couldn't stop laughing.... She was befuddled, but someone else quietly told her that I was going to keep these puppies and that if any were to go to new homes that I had them lined up from before Rosalee was born... it took me the time of two cat neuters and a fistula repair before I could compose myself.
I thought that was priceless. She knows now to be careful about giving my puppies away, maybe I'll give her a copy of the first post on this subject, listing all the costs UP TO NOW, just to see how pale she gets:)
Add the Whelpwise $300 to the total, and it's money well-spent and I'm thankful to be part of this new science, what a load from my mind. Talk to you all soon, keep your fingers crossed for Rosalee and her gigantic alien crewmembers.
Sorry to keep you all waiting...... They're HERE!!
Three girls and a boy born yesterday (2/9/01) throughout the day. Details are as follows....
Last I wrote (Chapter 4) it was Monday night (2AM Tuesday really), Tuesday was about the same, monitor, transmit information, check for heartrates. Rosalee was panting more but eating like gangbusters and otherwise acting normal -- or as normal as possible for ROsalee:) Took her to work with me and monitored there as well, she was really loving all the attention, my boss was starting to wonder if any employees planned to work this week due to frequent Rosalee breaks for everyone, especially a couple of younger kids, throughout each shift. This entire week was JAM FULL of procedures and office visits, plus we had two in-service lectures from drug reps which slowed us down when we are trying to get surgeries moving, etc. It was probably a rough week for me to be distracted and "distracting" to the rest of the staff, but then again, when would it be a good week!?? Again I thank God for this bonus of working for a kind and compassionate and understanding vet who allows me these privileges. As he said, it's better to have me "half" there, than all the way off and at home.
Wednesday was about the same, each uterine monitoring session was a battle because Rosalee doesn't stay still for 5 minutes, let alone for 60 minutes--they suggested I put the harness and monitor on her and put her in a crate -- I asked how much the monitor would cost to replace after she bounced it off the walls, floor and ceiling of a crate for one hour... they didn't laugh--I thought the mental picture was sort of funny:)
Each night, however, I was immediately reminded how wonderful this technology is for a breeder, because as I monitored at about 11-12 pm and sent in the information for them to tell me that she was not yet in Labor (i.e. that she had normal "resting" uterine activity/contractions less than 5-10 per hour), I felt the great relief that a good night's sleep was imminent. I know that without the equipment and ability to KNOW what's going on, I would have been up all night or most of the night AT LEAST from Tuesday onward, due to panting, frequent potty breaks, etc. With the heartrate monitor for the puppies and the uterine monitor for Rosalee I could sleep (IN MY BED) right up until I was needed for supervision and Rosalee could be comfortable in the whelping box or on the couch or wherever she wanted because I didn't need to separate her from the others just yet (big plus in her world).
On Thursday AM, I put the monitor on her while still in my jammies and during her fidgeting "stillness" I stopped petting her briefly and she put one giant foot up and pawed me down the front and.... well.....hmmmm how shall I say this??.....well..... Let's just say that we are now even in the injury department as I suppose this was a "PAYBACK" for the clipper scrape she got on one nipple while she was being shaved for the monitoring. Luckily I won't be needing my "equipment" for nursing puppy purposes, I don't suppose it hurts much more to have one pierced but ------ YEEEEEOUCH!!!!
That morning after recovering enough to get dressed for work:), I put the harness back on her and loaded her into the van for the trip to work hoping she'd ride nice like she normally does and not beat the crap out of the electronics. She did and that's the way we did most of the rest of the monitoring (much safer for me-Grin). So yes, I could put her in a crate IN THE VAN, but not in a crate in the house, so we were both right:) Her temperature dropped to 99 on Thursday morning and was right back up to normal (101.5) by the time I got her to work.
Thursday night her monitoring showed a marked increase in contractions, indicating that labor was revving up and they suggested I monitor every two hours, so I slept in small naps throughout the night, she was very calm (except when I tried to keep her still for the monitor-grin) and showed no outward signs of labor. No nesting, no panting more than she'd been due to the big belly and she was still eating like all of my ravenous beasts. She had some soft stool, but then again she'd been eating EVERYTHING here and all sorts of "gifts" she'd been given by everyone at work.
At 3AM she was in labor according to the equipment but not pushing and no strong contractions yet. At just before 6 AM, same thing.
See next Chapter for the rest of the day....
Continued from Chapter 5, this is the rest of the whelping portion:
At 8:45 AM on Friday morning 2/9/01, I had just finished monitoring. Rosalee ate half of her breakfast (unusual) and drank some water and I had the phone in my hand sending the information to Whelpwise and was standing in my kitchen with Rosalee with me. As we were sending the info, she started to grunt and push and then she threw up some of the water she'd just had, and just as the machine instructs me to "pick up phone-talk to nurse" I was grabbing two towels, one to clean up the water/barf and another to try to catch a puppy, the Whelpwise vet heard ".... I'll call you back .... there's puke and a puppy" and Rosalee gave two more pushes and out came the most beautiful bitch puppy, big big puppy. I caught the puppy in a towel and she was squeaking already and Rosalee immediately started to lick her and clean her off. The cord was already torn as this puppy came out without a placenta/sac. We then headed downstairs to where the whelping box is and got Rosalee and the puppy settled in. I stayed with her for 20 minutes or so to make sure she was okay with this squeaking guinea pig puppy and the puppy immediately latched onto a nipple and drank her first breakfast.
I went to feed and potty the rest of the dogs who were agitated that *their* breakfast was late and that there seemed to be a lot of activity going on behind closed doors.....Angelica was sniffing my pants and hands like crazy and didn't even want to go outside, she was so intrigued by the "puppy" smells! I called work to say that I'd be "MISSING" today and that the puppies were coming, they were not surprised and were very understanding.
I came back into the puppy room (which the rest of the time is my office/catroom) to check on the puppy and Rosalee, they were fine and Rosalee was curled around her new daughter very protectively feeding her and thumping her tail about it. The old cat Patches, who has been displaced from half of the room, sat watching from the safety of the computer desk with a look of bored annoyance on her face (all cats specialize in *that* look). Luckily Rosalee doesn't view her as a threat so they are living peaceably in the same room with the puppies. Patches is enjoying the ambient toasty warmth due to the baseboard heater and whelping pad -- very uncharacteristic for this room which normally is quite chilly since it is practically underground (remember I have a split-foyer type house).
I checked the heartbeats of the remaining unborn puppies and found that they were all still in good shape, monitored Rosalee again and sent in information and they said she was still having contractions but they were weaker, "wimpy" is the word they used. An hour had passed since the first puppy, so we took a walk outside and Rosalee strained and pushed but nothing came out. I checked heartrates again and they were all still good (over 200) and the monitor again for 30 minutes showed she was slowing down, rather than gearing up.
This is probably the most frustrating thing with breeding Swissies, Debby and I talk about this all the time, that the bitches get one (or two or three) puppies out, look at them, see that they like them and then shrug their doggy shoulders as if to say "Cool, pretty puppies, I'm done".... I sent in the information again to Whelpwise and the vet there said, you have to start to give Oxytocin. I answered that in my experience and with my bitches "I do not give Oxytocin unless and until I'm standing next to a surgeon who is washing his hands".
Oxytocin stimulates contractions and causes the puppies to detach from the uterine wall, so if you give it and it does what it is supposed to do, if the puppies don't come flying out of the bitch (one way or the other) they will die due to being disconnected from their umbilical oxygen/blood supply. Normally, Oxytocin is given IV, at least 1 cc with these big dogs, wait 30 minutes to see if any puppies come out, give it again and if no puppies come out naturally you start to prepare for surgery. That's been the way I've seen it and done it, it's what the veterinary books call for, it's what my boss does and recommends (up until maybe yesterday that is!!!)....
Also, if you give Oxytocin and there's a puppy that is blocking the pathway out, the rest of the puppies have no where to go and can and do frequently BURST through the wall of the uterus, you can also cause the uterus to twist or start to bleed out. What's scary is that Oxytocin is used sometimes very casually by breeders who maybe don't know what risks there are. Because I've seen what it can do and I do know how dangerous it is, I was very leery about using it without being ten feet from the operating room.
The WHelpwise vet said that the doses they recommend are tiny and pose no danger of any of those problems....being the doubting thomasina that I am, I said, "great, but I'll still be going into the clinic before I give any". She said go on then, get going. My biggest fear was that I'd give it and then still have 40 minutes to drive either with a puppy coming out (bad) or my bitch's uterus ruptured and bleeding to death (very bad) etc. So, we packed up the new little girl and Rosalee (with monitor on her body) and called work to say we are coming in, but not planning to work:)) my office manager, said, "what would make this different than any other day?":) (GRIN)!! He's such a "funny" guy:) He doesn't know my mood after no sleep, but he will:)
I got there and set up a kennel run with the whelping pad and Rosalee and the one puppy. Told them all to please stay out of the run, because sometimes bitches will be stressed and/or protective over newborns and I didn't want any kid to reach in for the puppy and be bonked into next week. I sent in the monitored data and again she advised me to give Oxytocin and the dose she recommended was ridiculously small. In an insulin syringe I pulled up 1/2 unit of Oxytocin, NOT 1/2cc but 1/2 a unit which translates into .025 of a cc. In otherwords, not quite a drop of Oxytocin, my vet looked at me like I had two heads, he said "why don't you just wave the bottle over her head like the absent vermouth in a dry martini". He said, "do what they say, if it works -- great, if it doesn't you need to make a decision fast because by now it's been 3 1/2 hours since the first puppy and no more puppies have popped out". I agreed.
I have to say right here at that moment, I was VERY skeptical. I would have elected to do the C-Section at that moment IF I didn't have the heartrate monitor and the uterine monitor and someone very confident at Whelpwise telling me what to do to try to make it work without surgery.
I gave the drop of Oxytocin IM and also 5 cc's of 10% Calcium Gluconate SQ as they recommended. I put on a glove and did a vaginal exam, in less than 5 minutes after the drugs were on board I could feel Rosalee pushing and having strong contractions, she had maybe three or four and I could feel the next puppy against the tips of my fingers. With the gloved hand you push up against the top of the vaginal wall (toward the spine) and press -- occluding some nerves and blood supply which also causes them to push--normally a wiggling puppy causes that stimulation so this just helped her to concentrate on pushing. In a minute or so, the second beautiful BIG girl was born, pink and squeaking and hungry right away. I was amazed. The placenta and sac came out behind this one and Rosalee cleaned that up fast. I cut the cord long and she "fixed" it.
I called Whelpwise and humbly praised them!! I checked the heartbeats of the other puppies but could only hear one. They said that could mean that one puppy had "checked out" or that one puppy was so deep into the birth canal that I couldn't hear it from where I was pressing. They said to wait a few minutes and monitor again and I did. After reviewing the contractions they advised that I give the "spit" of Oxytocin again and take her out and mechanically help like the last time. Which I did and in another 15 or 20 minutes later, she was pushing quite hard and I could feel the next puppy who was opening and closing his mouth against my finger tips, I could tell he was slightly turned to one side and that was slowing him up. I got Rosalee up and walked her around a little and she pushed and strained. Whelpwise recommended that I give one more Oxytocin injection.
I did so and I again put the gloved hand inside to try to help her push and soon she pushed very hard and got this puppy's head outside but the rest of him was still stuck, I took a hold of his scruff and just held it until she pushed again so he wouldn't slip back inside. She huffed and puffed and finally managed to get him out, he IS HUGE, we weighed him at 27.5 oz. That's one pound and 11.5 ounces. No wonder she had to work so hard. The others were big but this one is 1/4 bigger yet. He was wiggly but not as pink as the others at birth, a little purple even, we gave him a little drop of dopram and he squealed and pinked right up and latched onto a nipple for his breakfast.
At this point, Dr. Jackson and I were both amazed that these little "spits" of Oxytocin were working, we talked to Karen at Whelpwise who must get tired of explaining this to EVERY vet in the world. She kindly humored us and went on to explain that the way we gave Oxytocin (up until NOW) was because it was titrated down to dogs based on weight from how they give it to horses. Well, it makes sense... A horse has usually one foal and a vet can usually stick his arm in up to his armpit to feel where the foal is positioned and give the drug and just get outta the way as that one foal will fly out (hopefully). But dogs have usually many puppies and they aren't necessarily in the right position to be "flying" out.
Nobody (until now) has actually monitored what Oxytocin does to a dog's uterus and that at Whelpwise they've proven that the little amounts they recommend just "jump start" labor and cause contractions but don't "blow out" the uterus or risk the integrity of the uterus or the puppies by causing them to detach and bunch all up. She said that when people give the big doses 1-3 cc's IV of Oxytocin they effectively "Shrinkwrap" the puppies into the uterus and that the most likely thing would be that they'd come out by C-section newly, freshly dead. Doesn't that sound familiar?
Well, at this point we had three vibrant, beautiful, healthy, hungry puppies out and a fourth still inside that I couldn't hear the heartbeat from, so I was a little worried but less worried about a C-Section. With the monitor on, we gave TWICE the Oxytocin dose (still not quite a whole "drop"), so now .05 of a cc, or one full unit IM and 5 cc more of the Calcium Gluconate SQ. In 10 minutes she started to push and I again put the gloved had inside and could feel the nose of the puppy and I could tell she's alive. She pushed two or three more times and out plopped the last. She was wiggly but also a little purple like her brother and she had some poo smeared on her face (probably from her brother) so I did "swing" her (she was the only one I swung--compared to other litters when I would be swinging practically everybody) and gave her some dopram....She pinked right up and squealed and went to eat right away as well.
The warwhooop that came out of Dr. Jackson probably rattled the walls, he was thrilled we were not going to need to stay for a C-Section and he couldn't believe it but he is so great about the "learn something new everyday" business. He said he didn't know how to "charge out" injections of Oxytocin that didn't add up to even ONE dose:) Including the "clean out" shot which was a full (he he) 1/4 of a cc. I took an xray to be sure she was empty and we all breathed a sigh of relief (especially Rosalee)!! I did give her 4cc of Amoxi SQ because of all the vaginal exams to help prevent any infection from that and she drank a little and had a little snack of canned food.
By the time the last was born it was about 4:30 pm, I didn't want to drive home in a Friday Rush Hour with newborns so I waited a couple of hours to let them nurse and wait for the traffic to disperse. There was some sort of band party next door at the restaurant/bar and it was loud and you could hear it in the kennel and the night shift at the vet's came into work and were too interested in looking at Rosalee and the puppies and they were making her fidgety, even growled at a couple whom she didn't really know who got too close to the kennel door and crouched down, so by 6:30 I opted just to load them up and go. It was an intriguing distraction so I know they meant well and were just curious, but it's just too much for a bitch to have to deal with lookyloos for her first litter only hours old and unless I sat back there to prevent it, they kept finding something they had to do that took them past her. It's hard to explain to people that the bitch that was loving on them and snuggling with them for days this week would be suspicous and even growly just because she had her puppies. I know it's normal but I think some of the kids were a little startled. Oh well, the'll get their full dose of puppies when they are older and Rosalee will love everyone again.
The trip home was uneventful and Rosalee has been the MODEL brood bitch. She's eating well, drinking well, curls around her brood and has them eating all the time. They are SILENT, fat little contented babies and I hope that continues. I'm sleeping on the floor next to the box but probably don't need to do so, she is such a competent mother. I woke up this morning to find her sniffing my head and the cat sleeping on my feet. I took her outside early in the morning and she did her business on the run and flew back up the front stairs and danced at the door to get back to her babies, pounding me with her feet for not moving faster to get her inside again. This instinct I know she got from her mother Rika, who was the best mother, thank goodness some of these good instincts came through along with all the wild, silly Rika-like instincts we see in Rosalee--GRIN!! I've had to catch myself from calling her Rika in the box, it brings back lots of memories (snif).
I went this morning to the post office to express mail the Whelpwise equipment on to the next waiting customer in CT (curious as to what breed he has-I'll have to ask) and I bought some of the refrigerated Lactobacillis, available at our big new GIANT grocery store in Gainsville, to give to Rosalee and to the puppies to combat any problems the Amoxi may cause to setting up good intestinal bacteria in the babies. Otherwise, we've spent the day sleeping on and off because both of us are tired, the puppies have been angels and are getting fatter and fatter.
Thank you all for your good wishes and thoughts. I thank God for this easy and healthy litter and for everyone at Whelpwise and my boss and everyone else who's helped make my first litter in over three years one of the easiest I've ever had here. I thank most of all my co-owner/co-breeder Debby Figiel who I share Rosalee with and to Colleen Murray who owns Nox who is the fantastic sire of this extraordinary litter. Good luck everyone at Westminster, I'll miss you this year. Rosalee's beautiful brother, Rover, will be there with Debby so everyone be sure to kiss him on the lips and tell him he's an uncle and congratulate Debby too.
More to come as time goes on, this Journal won't end with the whelping. I haven't thought of what to call them yet or even of a theme but there's time for that after we get some good sleep. The puppies, three bitches and a dog, are all beautiful and perfectly marked -- no kinks in their tails and they all have dot-heads:) only two have rear dews and we'll take those off on Monday morning.
Good night, Sharyl.
DEWCLAWS = HORRIBLE
I HATE this part. Thank god we don't have to cut anything else off of Swissies. The male puppy had HUGE doubles in the rear and big honking suckers in the front. The first born girl had little tiny rear dews and normal smallish front dews. After we did the two of them, I almost passed on doing the fronts of the other two girls since they didn't have rear dews so I almost just let them be.
In the past I always left fronts on without a second thought, and then there was Peaches who had two eye surgeries back to back (first one to repair a bite wound and the second to repair subsequent entropion caused by heredity?, the trauma?, her own feet?, or a combination of all three). We had her front dewclaws removed with the second surgery because she kept rubbing her eyes with her own big feet and could hook an elizabethan collar off with the dewclaws like you've never seen before!! SO I swore after her toe AMPUTATIONS and hideous bandages and pain (because it was done when she was an adult) that I'd never leave them on puppies again, but I waivered today.
It's been three years since I'd done this and I'd forgotten how horrible it is when they shriek. The first little girl puckered her lips in an "O" and said "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRR" and I was already crying! The male said somthing like RRROOOOEEOOORRROOWEOOOOERRRROROROWE and his big monkey-like feet, of course, bled and needed a stitch in each of the hind feet-- MORE screaming. My boss was very sympathetic, he was saying, "I'll do whatever you want, if you wan't them off, let's take them off, if you want to leave them on, we'll do that, if you want someone else to help, I can do that" Meanwhile, EVERYONE else had scurried out of earshot because they didn't want to hear little puppies crying EITHER!!!!
Rosalee was far enough away that I don't think she could hear them, but she did look at me funny as I brought each newly mangled puppy back and took a fresh one out. The expression on her face was priceless, it was like "sure, take another one to make it bleed, and weren't you the one telling me to lay off of licking the umbilicals????--At least I'm not biting off their FEET!! -- Freaking humans, what will they come up with next".
When they were done, they went right back to nursing and seemed very content. My nerves are shot for the day and I'm checking their feet every second to make sure there is no new blood and that Rosalee's not licking them or worrying the stitches. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH. So far, so good.
Aside from being tortured on their third day in this world, they are doing great! How do human mothers suffer circumcisions? This is the only thing I can think of that possibly compares to the anguish. Another good reason to not have human kids:)
Several days have gone by, the babies are now VERY fat and very big, they are 10 days
old already and so far, so good, they are doing really well. Rosalee is a gem of a mother
dog and, like her mother before her, is doing EVERYTHING at this point. These are some of
the strongest Swissy puppies I've had here, they are mobile, they are practically silent
except when they are searching for a milk faucet (hrrrrrhrrrrr hrrrrr
hrrrrrrrruuuuuuurrrruuuuur). If you hold them up to your face they will suck your nose,
your ears, your cheek. They are greedy little fat toads. When you old them up they look
like mostly belly, with big round heads and four fat legs sticking out, more like
tri-colored guinea pigs than anything else.
For the first several days I've kept this room pretty toasty warm, about 75F (the rest of our house is kept at about 65) but for the last several days I've turned the added heat off during the day and only have it on at night for them. This room stays pretty cool so I've always added baseboard and heating pad heat for litters of puppies -- but this litter is warm, they disperse and sleep on their backs away from each other to stay cooler. At night when they start gravitating back to a puppy pile, I turn on the baseboard on a low setting, but by morning they are spread out all over the box trying to cool off. Rosalee prefers it much cooler, she was really panting the first few days.
I have tile on one side of the box (for Rosalee) and bath mats with rubber backing covering the other side (for warmth and good footing for the puppies), but some of the puppies even seem to prefer the cooler tile already!! This is a hot-blooded litter!!!
Rosalee is making the most of her brief times out of the whelping box, she's playing and romping with the Havanese and our old mix, Duchess. After a trip outside to do her business the first three or four days she DASHED right back into the house and down the stairs (nearly trampling old Rex, and Duchess and the Havs) to get to the puppies, jumping on me to hurry to open doors. But now she knows they are okay, so she spends more time outside doing her potty and then she plays with the little dogs and romps around, sometimes flying upstairs to the couch to poke the big male cat (Dogger) once or twice before remembering her babies and passing me on the stairs to get back to them.
I've kept her away from the rest of the crowd (especially bitches) except for a couple of individuals playing in the house or front yard, just to make it easier on her, but I'll start to let her interact with them soon. I've just been letting the herd of dogs out into the back yard to play and potty for a while each time I want to take Rosalee out and then running Rosalee with the little dogs and geriatric dogs out into the front yard. The rest of the dogs are dying to see her and are very curious about the new smells and the RRRRUuuuRRUUUUUuuR noises they've heard under the door. Rosalee is pretty high up on the "leadership" ladder with the other dogs so there shouldn't be any friction (Alpha bitches are supposed to have puppies) but still I like to keep girls apart until the puppies are eating solid food -- better safe than sorry.
Right now, she's curled up around her fat little babies and she is looking at me like she'd like to do something fun and fast, but she's just too tired right now. It's a similar look she gives when standing in the show ring looking at the judge:) She is eating a lot, mostly a good quality kibble but some extras too, she likes fruits (especially bananas) and veggies (especially squash) and gets yogurt and some ground meat. Not much different from her regular diet, just much more than usual.
Thank you to everyone who's been telling me they're enjoying the Journal. I promise to get some pictures up soon and some accurate weights on these babies for future reference/comparisons. I told some of you that I'm superstitious about taking photos of newborns because of my first litter, what happened is there were three males and one bitch in that litter and we were all so excited we took pictures of them practically as they came OUT and so I had a roll or so of these puppies the first day and then two more rolls as they grew each day. We'd named them and people had been to see them and I knew where they were all going to live, some of the buyers had named them!!! etcetcetcetc.... and at day 8 the only bitch puppy died of aspirate pneumonia and it practically killed me and looking at those photos hurt too much. My friend also took a picture of the first Havanese ever born here (would have been Mercy's sister), over my objections because of what happened before, and that puppy too died at 3-4 days old of who knows what. The reality is, newborns sometimes die and I'm just too hurt by that reality to have photographic evidence of that pain.
HOWEVER, these Nox/Rosalee puppies are looking great, so I'm getting over my nervousness and I promise I'll take some pictures soon, but still I won't commit to any names and I won't promise any puppies to anyone until they are several weeks old and we can evaluate their personalities, etc.
I've only missed a few hours of work and I was able to visit briefly with some of you at the Baltimore Show yesterday, so far, this has been a wonderful experience and I know a lot of credit has to go to Rosalee and still I believe that without Whelpwise to guide me I would have for sure chosen to do a C-Section and I know I'd be doing more work then for both the puppies and for Rosalee, so once again I thank God for that opportunity to work with them, I don't think I'll ever try to do another litter without them. I can't imagine not knowing again after seeing the light!
More later, Sharyl.