Thursday, June 23, 2016

Eve's puppies reach their first birthday






Hi everyone,

I had really hoped to share an update on puppies with all of you earlier in the week. However, by the time I got off work the past several days and got all of the fur babies taken care of, I found myself falling asleep trying to type. So much for thinking I'd caught up on sleep!

The first news I want to share is unfortunately sad news. Despite my efforts and hopes, Tiny girl did not make it. Early Sunday morning, I had been sleeping on the couch so I could stay close and to keep a regular check on everyone. I had last looked in on the babies at 2:30 am. At that time, everyone was nursing and I was able to make sure that Tiny girl was holding her own at the milk bar. Just prior to 3:30 am, I awoke to hear Eve crying and rushed over to find Tiny girl cool to the touch and not moving. I frantically worked to warm and stimulate her. While I was working over her, Dave woke up and after a bit, he took over trying to revive her. However, after a significant period of time, we finally had to accept that Tiny girl was not coming back and we said good-bye to our spunky little fighter. I don't know for sure why she died, but I know we did everything possible to give her her best chance.

Good-bye, sweet girl.
I've taken the loss of Tiny girl hard, but also realize that it was probably for the best. We don't know if she could've had other problems beyond her belly. I also do know that I am blessed to still have five chunky, sassy, bossy puppies to raise. Every time I peek into Eve's crate, I can't help but smile. Eve is relaxing somewhat and is fine with me picking up puppies as long as I don't take them all the way out of the crate. This means I now get to give them lots of kisses, which I just have to do given that they they are so stinkin' cute and smushy!

The line-up
Each one of the puppies has begun to show little signs of their personalities. Blue boy and Green girl are the bossy, demanding puppies. They cry if they don't get their way and sometimes for apparently no reason at all! More than once I have dashed over to the crate because I heard squeaks and cries, only to find those two nursing and fussing all at the same time. They just seem to be talkers! (And they remind me of their sister, Patience, whom repeatedly made me say "Grant me patience!" when she was a puppy.) Now I just laugh and roll my eyes when I hear them.

Blue boy (left) & Green girl (right)

Green girl (left) & Blue boy (right)
Yellow girl and Pink girl also make me laugh when they are nursing. Why? Well it's because they are such little piggies! They tug away at mom like they are eating their last meal. They make feeding look like exercise, which for them, probably is. It must also be exhausting, as they are the puppies most likely to pass out after finishing dinner. May I submit the following pictures of Yellow girl as evidence...?

Just after she fell asleep and slipped off the milk bar...


Curling up...

And assuming her final napping position!
Not to be left out of my descriptions, Tan & white girl so far is the laid back one. She is more likely to do her own thing, doesn't cry much, and certainly isn't as demanding as her siblings. Despite the fact that she doesn't try to be the center of attention, Tan & white girl really stands out with her beautiful coloring.

Look at those chubby legs and cute puppy butt!



Well, everyone, it is getting late YET again. I think I need both more energy and more hours in the day to get everything done! I'm going to sign off on the writing, but I'll still add some more pictures for your viewing enjoyment.

Blue boy snuggles into Green girl.

Blue boy (Second to be born)

Green girl (Third to be born)

Green girl

Group shot... and there's Tan & white girl on her own.

Puppy pile!

Pink girl (First born)

Pink girl

Tan & white girl (Sixth to be born)

Tan & white girl

Yellow girl in the mix!

Tan & white girl with Yellow girl

Friday, June 17, 2016

Puppies are here and apparently, girls rule!

Eve's second litter, born 6/16/16, right on time!
Hi everyone,

Puppies were born yesterday morning going into early afternoon and I am finally getting a chance to post now that I am caught up on sleep... somewhat.

Things began on Wednesday night. I took Eve's temperature in the evening and it had dropped to 98.3 F. Earlier, in the morning, Eve's temperature was 99 F and for several days prior it had been around 99.5 to 100 F. Why was this temperature drop so important? Well, in the majority of expectant doggy moms, temperature monitoring is a reliable way to determine that puppies are coming within ~12 to 24 hours.

You may be wondering how this neat trick for predicting when puppies are coming works. To understand this means having an idea of what is going on at the hormonal level. Progesterone is the main hormone required for an expectant mom to maintain her pregnancy. A series of hormonal changes in the time period leading up to whelping (another term for canine delivery) leads to a drop in progesterone. Once progesterone reaches a certain level, a message goes to the hypothalamus in the brain and it tells the pituitary gland to release a spike of the hormone prolactin.

The hypothalamus is essentially the part of the brain that serves as the body's control center for routine functions that we don't need to think about, such as breathing, heart rate, metabolism, and hormone release. It is also responsible for maintaining body temperature, so when the progesterone level drops and prolactin release is activated, we simultaneously see a short term drop in body temperature by 1-2 degrees. This means that the "cool" thing about the way the body works (yes, bad pun) is that it also provides us with an easy way to check for the imminent arrival of puppies.

In keeping with the theme of the body telling us about what is going on, this is where the rest of the story for the hormone prolactin comes in. Once a large amount of it is released from the pituitary, it circulates the body telling it to prepare for the babies. It has the main job of stimulating milk production, but it also causes mom to start looking for a place to have her babies and she engages in behaviors such as pacing, restlessness, and nesting (digging at blankets, shredding or tearing paper, etc.).

Just as you might expect, then, shortly after her temperature dropped, Eve started panting and pacing on Wednesday night. She would lay down in a spot, start digging and shifting positions, then get up and move to another spot and repeat the process all over again. She also refused to eat her dinner, another sign that puppies were on their way soon. (Yes, the hypothalamus controls appetite, too.)

Around 11 pm on Wednesday night, I went to sleep on the couch hoping to catch a little bit of sleep. Shortly after 2 am on Thursday morning, I woke up to Eve pawing at me and licking my face. She was having the first of her contractions. So what did this mean at the hormonal level? Well, one of the reasons why progesterone helps maintain pregnancy is that it prevents the uterus from having contractions. Once progesterone drops below a certain level, contractions begin. Eve had started into labor. Not knowing how quickly things would progress, I stayed up with her to keep an eye on things. However, it wasn't until after 8 am in the morning that she finally started to push and eventually delivered her first puppy - a little girl who now wears a pink collar.

Next to follow the first puppy was boy, who now wears a blue collar. The following hours saw the births of five more girls. I was pleased that Eve was able to deliver naturally with only some assistance, but the news wasn't all good. The last puppy, a very large tan and white girl, was stillborn and despite doing everything we knew how to revive her, we were unsuccessful. Unfortunately we will never know why she didn't survive.

Puppies include 1 tri-color boy, 4 tri-color girls, and 1 tan & white girl.


Upset as I was by the loss of the last puppy, I needed to turn my attention to the rest of the babies. I had noticed that one of the puppies was a runt, significantly smaller than the rest of her siblings. Something also didn't look quite right where her umbilical cord was attached. I was worried that she had a severe umbilical hernia or a mild form of something called an omphalocele. An omphalocele is a type of hernia where the abdominal skin and muscles don't close properly around the umbilicus. Instead, the area is covered by a thin membrane that allows the internal organs such as the intestines to protrude. I was extremely worried that the baby could be fatally injured just by mom grooming her too aggressively and there was a possibility that she may have other abnormalities associated with her GI tract.

Tiny girl's birth defect. Time will tell how this heals.
Luckily, I work in the right field, being a veterinary technician, so I reached out to my veterinarians to find out what they thought needed to be done. Despite her birth defect, the puppy was feeding well, moving around well, and had all the right puppy reflexes. Given that this tiny little girl was a spunky one, I wanted to give her her best chance at survival. I packed her up and headed to the vet to be examined and to potentially have her belly stitched up... all on her first day of life.

Tiny girl on her way to the vet.

At the vet's office, the doctor put on his magnifying head gear to get a closer look at tiny girl's belly. After careful examination and consideration, he felt that her muscle wall was closed and it was just the skin that did not properly close. The shiny membrane that covered most of the defect was likely to be connective tissue. I breathed a sigh of relief and almost broke out into tears. Tiny girl was still the runt. She would still be at a disadvantage due to her size and would need to have help competing for food against a brother and several sisters who were nearly twice her size. I would have to keep her belly clean to avoid infection. However, she had a chance. We didn't have to perform any kind of surgery. Tiny girl and I returned home, where she promptly nursed, then snuggled in with her brother and sisters.

Tiny girl currently is not wearing a collar but is easy to identify since she is half the size of her siblings.


Since returning home yesterday evening, I have been keeping a close eye on everyone and all seems to be going well. Eve has been a terrific mom. So far, she has kept the crate and the puppies meticulously clean. She seems to know every puppy by scent and gets upset if one of them gets too far away from her. A wandering puppy is gently picked up in her mouth and brought to stay close to her. 

Because Eve is so protective, I've minimized my handling of the puppies to keep from upsetting her and it will probably be several days before I can get individual puppy pictures. I mainly put my hands on top of each puppy to gauge if they feel warm enough (a puppy who is cooler to the touch than the others is exhibiting warning signs that something is wrong). I apply a chlorhexiderm solution to tiny girl's belly and periodically assist her in getting prime real estate at the milk bar. 

Even though Eve doesn't want me picking puppies up, she also doesn't want me far away. She actually cries if I go into another room for any length of time. At one point today, Eve asked to be let out of the exercise pen, jumped up on the couch and came over to me crying, then jumped back down and cried some more until I followed her back to the crate. Once I sat on the floor outside of the crate, she climbed back in and began to nurse the babies. She just wanted me to hang out with her. While this is inconvenient for the time being, I expect she will settle down over the next few days. Besides, I have to admit, it feels nice for her to want me around.

Where's Waldo? Tiny girl is front and center. Can you can find her?

As for me, I am still pretty exhausted but catching back up. Three hours of sleep Wednesday into Thursday followed by 22 mostly waking hours isn't enough to get by on. Plus, yesterday was quite stressful. I'm just glad that everything finally seems to be going smoothly and I'll do all that I can to make sure that continues. I will keep you all updated as things progress with the babies, so stay tuned! I plan to post again in another couple of days.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Eve & Bruce are expecting 7 puppies!

Expectant mom, Eve

Dad-to-be, Bruce


Hi everyone,

It was just a couple of weeks ago that we took Eve to the veterinarian and a canine pregnancy test checking a hormone called relaxin confirmed that Eve and Bruce were expecting. Shortly after we received the good news, Eve began to show a bit of a baby bump. Now, with a week to go in her pregnancy, it is abundantly clear that Eve has more than a few buns in the oven!

Look at that saggy belly!

Yesterday we took Eve into the vet for x-rays to find out just how many puppies she is expecting. Dave and I had our guess, based on her size in comparison to her previous pregnancy, but that was, after all, just a guess. We could've taken Eve in sooner to count puppies - after all, puppy skeletons can be seen on radiographs after 42 days into the pregnancy. However, there are benefits to waiting until a little bit later in pregnancy to do x-rays. Yesterday was Day 56 of Eve's pregnancy and a typical canine pregnancy is approximately 63 days in duration from the time of breeding. Taken this late in the final trimester, radiographs can more accurately help us to determine the number of puppies to expect, as puppy skeletons are more defined and easier to see, but additionally, we can look at the size of puppy skulls in comparison to the pelvic opening to make sure that we don't see any potential issues with any given puppy being so big as to cause a difficult delivery.

Eve gets some lovins' just prior to x-rays.
Eve's radiographs can be seen below. As you can probably see, counting babies isn't as easy as one might expect, but requires careful examination of the x-rays. The official count, as best we can assess, is 7 puppies! Everything looks good and fingers crossed for an uneventful delivery.

 

 

Eve was so good for the radiographs and it is exciting to know how many babies to look forward to. Now it is just a waiting game. I'll keep everyone updated on progress once it seems like Eve is ready to deliver. Stay tuned!

 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Puppies are 6 1/2 weeks old...


Hi everyone,

I hope everyone is doing well and getting excited about getting closer to bringing puppies home! I've been busy taking care of babies and am already working on making sure everything is in order for when the puppies leave. Top on the list has been making sure the puppies get plenty of socialization. Top experts recommend that puppies should meet at least 100 people between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks. These meetings should be positive interactions with people of both sexes and all ages. This is one reason why we encourage you to come out to visit - you help us socialize the puppies, even as we get to know you better. However, since the puppies need to meet many more people, I have also been taking the puppies on excursions outside of the house and property. I avoid places like the dog park and busy times at Petsmart (where puppies never touch the ground) due to the unknown health history of the dogs that go there, but my family members' homes, Home Depot, and Tractor Supply have been good low risk places to expose the puppies to a lot of people. 

As I'm sure you can imagine, no matter where we go, the puppies are a hit. This past weekend at Home Depot, I made it about 20 feet inside the door before the puppies and I were surrounded with eager visitors. The puppies handled it all in stride! On Tuesday I took the puppies in for their first vet visit, where they all got good check ups and impressed the vet with how brave and outgoing they were. After our trip to the vet, we visited my sister's house, which made my little niece dance and squeal with glee! (Of course, then she cried when she found out she couldn't keep one!) Everywhere we've gone, I've been so proud of how quickly the puppies have adjusted to their environment and the people in it.

So now that we are at 6 1/2 weeks, I'm sure you are anxious to find out who Dave and I have selected. After much careful consideration, we have decided to keep the girls with the turquoise (formerly green) collar and the purple collar. I will work with each of you over the next week to help you select which of the remaining puppies would best suit your family and lifestyle. Please let me know if you would like to come out to visit again. In the meantime, here are some pictures to enjoy and to tide you over for now.

 

Turquoise girl & Yellow girl


Red boy


Turquoise girl


Blue boy



Yellow girl
 

Red boy & Purple girl



Yellow girl & Purple girl

 
Red boy, Turquoise girl, & Purple girl

 
Yellow girl, Blue boy, & Pink girl



Blue boy



Blue boy (back left), Pink girl, & Red boy


Turquoise girl, Pink girl, Red boy, Yellow girl, & Purple girl



Turquoise girl & Yellow girl



Yellow girl



My niece, Kaiya, with Pink girl