Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Population Explosion

The puppies were due on Friday, but Rob had a three day business meeting starting Thursday morning, so I needed help. I called my Aunt and Uncle, Winston's parents, and they agreed to come early Friday to help. Several years earlier, their Airedale had thirteen pups, so they were experienced.

The whelping box was in the library and we had a double gate system across the hall leading to the library and across the door to the room. The other dogs wouldn't be able to bother Samba or her pups. I put a mattress on the floor next to the box and planned to sleep there with Samba for the next week. Samba would have nothing to do with that box. She wouldn't set one fat paw in it. She would, however, sleep on the mattress with me. Samba sleeps on her back and snores loudly.

Wednesday night Rob was working in o
ur home office putting some finishing touches on a report for the meeting. He would have to leave the house at 5AM, so at 10:30 Samba and I went to bed. I read for awhile and Samba stretched out next to me, turned onto her back and started snoring. Around 11 I turned out the light and lay thinking about my plans for the next day. Just as I was starting to fall asleep, I heard an unfamiliar noise in the room. I turned on the light. Samba was still asleep on her back, but there was a puppy.

Somehow, I got Samba and the puppy into the box, supervised her cleaning the pup and yelled for Rob to help me. He came running. Puppy # 1, a black and white wavy girl weighing 9 ounces was born at 11:11. Samba was very excited and was being rough with the pup, so we put her in a war
ming box and tried to calm Samba.

Rob had to get some sleep for the next day, so he called a friend E. She must have jumped right in the car because she arrived just as puppy # 2, a black and white wavy boy weighing 8 ounces arrived at 12:28. Samba was still too excited to have the babies so we showed them to her, but kept them away.

Rob took the other adult dogs and went to bed. E and I prepared for a long, hot night. At 1:25 puppy # 3, a black wavy girl weighing 9 1/2 ounces arrived. Samba was having easy deliveries and not showing any distress. After the third pup, she started to realize what was happening and she calmed down enough to let the pups nurse. From that time on she was very gentle with them.

At 1:58 puppy # 4, a black wavy girl with white chest and feet weighing 8 ounces arrived to join the others. Samba was enjoying yogurt between deliveries and taking an interest in her new family. E and I were suffering. It was so hot in that room and we were both spending a lot of time on our knees leaning over the edge of the box. We would both feel stiff and sore for several days to follow.

At 2:17 a black wavy girl weighing 8 ounces arrived.

At 2:36 a black and white wavy boy weighing 8 ounces was born.

At 3:08puppy # 7, a black and white wavy boy weighing 6 ounces arrived. So far everything was going very smoothly. Samba was having easy deliveries and the pups were all active and started nursing right away.

Then we ran into a problem. The pups had been arriving at pretty regular intervals, but now everything stopped. We waited over two hours for the next puppy and when he came we knew there was something wrong. At 5:18 he arrived in a big gush of blood. His sac was partially gone and his umbilical cord was torn close to his body. He was bleeding pretty badly. I snatched him up before Samba could get to him, cleaned him up and got the bleeding stopped. E toweled him and held him wrapped in a towel. He was making awful moaning sounds. We tried to get him to nurse, but he wouldn't. I warmed a bottle of formula and tried to feed him, but he refused. The bleeding started a couple times, but we got it stopped each time. Every time we put hi
m down, the moaning started again, so E just held him close to her.

We were worried about the last puppy that still hadn't been delivered. Finally, Samba had a couple of hard contractions, the first time all night she had shown pain. At 6:40 puppy #9 a black and white wavy female weighing 10 ounces put in an appearance. I was worried that there might be something wrong, but she was a big, strong healthy girl and started nursing immediately.

We put all nine puppies in a box, wrapped them up and took Samba and her babies to visit our Vet. He x-rayed Samba to be sure all the puppies had been delivered. He examined each puppy and pronounced eight of them healthy. Puppy # 8 was in trouble. He cauterized the cord to stop the bleeding, but felt there was fluid in the little guy's chest. We needed to get him to nurse as soon as possible.

We went home and I put in a stressful day. Th
e adult dogs were very excited. They knew something was going on and refused to settle down. Samba liked her puppies and enjoyed standing outside the box looking at them, but didn't want to be left alone with them. If I sat next to her and stroked her, she would nurse them. If I moved, she would get up and jump out of the box. Puppy #8 was still making his terrible moaning sounds and still refused to nurse. I tried the bottle again , but he refused it. Samba was very concerned about him and spent a lot of time nuzzling him.

Somehow we got through the day and night. The next morning puppy # 8 had stopped moaning and I noticed that Samba was pushing him away when she was with the pups. I called the Vet and he said we should try a feeding tube. I rushed him right in, but it was too late. He was having trouble breathing. I had him put down.

The first day Samba had not wanted to be alone with the pups. Now she wouldn't leave them. I had to leash her and drag her outside to eat and relieve herself. Finally, that afternoon, she decided that she wanted to be with me and the other adult dogs and that she and I would visit the nursery about every fifteen minutes. We would check on her babies, she could feed them and I could sit beside her and talk with her while she was busy. Then I could clean up the box and do whatever maintenance was needed. This is the routine we used for the next three weeks.

The first night I had slept in the room with Samb
a and the pups, but I had forgotten how noisy newborn pups are, so after that I would put Samba in the room with the pups and close the gates. I would leave the doors open so if she needed me I could hear her, then I would sleep in my own bed. I found it amusing that she slept on the mattress except when she was nursing the pups.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hot Fudge To The Rescue

The year was 2005, Samba was three years old and we were waiting . She would come into season again in August and we planned to try to breed her again with Dog B. One morning in April I opened an e-mail from Dog B's breeder. She had an idea for me to consider. She had a litter of three pups and thought one looked outstanding. Would I be interested in growing my own stud dog? She would convert the stud fee to a purchase fee and he would be mine. She enclosed this picture.

I was a little disappointed that he was brown. Both Bentley and Samba were black and I preferred that. She sent along his pedigree and I was amazed. I checked the AKC site to be sure the pedigree was right, then I called Rob in to take a look. The father of this pup was Dog C, the grandfather was Dog B and the great-grandfather was dog A. All the dogs I had chosen to breed with Samba were combined in this pup. This would set our breeding back a couple years, but we decided to take him. Four days later we met his plane.

He fit right in with the pack and made other dog friends quickly. We named him Deerpark's Chocolate Legacy and called him Fudge. He was born on Valentine's Day so the name suited him.

Samba seemed to enjoy his company, although she was jealous of my attention. They played all day and I referred to them as Batman and Robin.

Fudge was developing very nicely and I decided to show him. He performed beautifully in the breed ring and we took Best of Breed. We waited around all day for Group judging and when the time came he trotted around the ring with his tail up, looking great. He stood nicely for examination, then the judge told us to go down and back. Fudge decided that was the perfect time to show everyone how well he could jump. He jumped all the way down and all the way back. He would not stop and the more I tried to stop him, the higher he jumped. As we came back to the judge, he had his hand over his mouth to hide the laughter. He just shrugged his shoulders and that was the end of our day.

We did Fudge's genetic screening and everything looked good for breeding. I had decided not to breed Samba after the age of five, so time was becoming a factor. We planned to wait until Fudge was two and had his hips certified, but after discussions with his breeder and our Vet, we chose to get a preliminary reading on his hips and try to breed when he was 18 months old.

In August of 2006 Samba came into season. We were ready and put our two Portuguese Water Dogs together. At first Fudge didn't know what to do and would roll around in front of Samba, but he finally figured out his role in this matter and we had two matings. Now we would wait and see if it worked.

At the appropriate time we excitedly walked into the Vet's office. He would tell us how many pups to expect. I could tell from the look on his face as he examined Samba that something was wrong. He said he didn't feel anything, but it might be too early and we should try again in a week.

The next week he still didn't feel anything. We decided against an ultra sound. She was either pregnant or she wasn't and we would know eventually. A week later the doctor still could feel nothing.

Two weeks before what should have been her due date we went back. Her body had changed slightly, but she had previously had two false pregnancies and her body had changed then, too. The doctor could not feel any puppies or detect any movement. He said Fudge was still pretty young and immature and would know better what to do next time. Then he started talking about fertility tests and treatments. I was terribly disappointed and he felt badly for me.I took Samba home. That evening she was sl
eeping on the floor near my chair. None of the other dogs were in the room. Suddenly she jumped up and looked around as if someone had kicked her. How strange !

One week before what should have been her due date we went back to see the Vet. There was still no sign of pups or movement. To prove to me once and for all that she was not pregnant, he agreed to do an x-ray. Samba trotted off to the x-ray room. A short time later I was called into the exam room. The Doctor had the x-ray on the light box and was shaking his head as he counted skeletons, seven, eight, nine. Samba was very pregnant. In a week we would have nine puppies.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Boo's Legacy

With Bentley gone, I was going through the routine of each day, but the joy was gone. I needed something to make me laugh and what better than a puppy doing stupid puppy things to make one laugh. I decided I should have a chocolate Lab and started searching. As fate would have it, there were no chocolate Lab pups available locally at that time. One morning Rob suggested we take a look at one of the local shelters and see if they had any pups. That very morning a woman had turned in a litter of nine week olds. The mother was a Husky and the dad was a Lab- Chow mix. There were five of them, one yellow, two black and two chocolate. As I reached for one of the brown ones, a black pup looked up and we both reached for him at the same time. He was the fuzziest one of the litter.

We named him Tsar in honor of his Siberian ancestors and everyone told me what a cute little guy he was and how he wouldn't get very big. I knew better. I could picture him as a large dog lying at my feet in my library, and he didn't disappoint me. He grew very quickly and is now over 60 pounds.

Tsar presented us with some real behavior problems. I had never crated any of my dogs, but I did have a safe room for them to spend time in when I was away from home. In this house it was the laundry room. Monty and Morgan had both accepted this well. It's a spacious room with a window and only the washer and dryer. I would put their beds, water bowl and toys in there and they would play happily until I came home. Tsar, however, was claustrophobic and panicked if I shut him in the room. He would try to claw his way out and scream until he was rescued. Then he would sob for a long time until I finally got him calmed down. Confinement obviously wasn't going to work with him.

As long as we were home with him, Tsar was a great pup and very calm, but if we left the
house, he went wild and started destroying things. First it was anything of mine that he could find or anything I had recently handled. Then he moved on to larger items. He chewed the cushion of the love seat. We were able to repair it and turn it over, but then he chewed the other side and it couldn't be hidden. Soon he had chewed both cushions and started on the arms, then the sofa cushions, then the carpet. We didn't know how to handle this and discussed whether we could keep him, but I wasn't ready to give up on him.

We adopted Tsar in January. He did exactly what I needed him to do. He made me laugh, but soon I was looking at pictures of Portuguese Water Dog puppies on the internet. It wasn't planned, I just loved looking at them. Then one day I contacted a breeder and told her about Bentley. She was very sympathetic and offered to sell me a pup. I thanked her, but declined. Then I found myself contacting another breeder and the same thing happened. I wasn't planning to buy a PWD pup, I had four dogs and one was a puppy. Then I contacted another breeder. This was a Portuguese couple who spent part of the year in Portugal. Their dogs were from Portugal and they had a litter born the day before. I talked to Robert and sent them a deposit. She sent me a picture and asked which pup I was interested in. There was one all black one that looked like Bentley. I chose her.

The day she turned eight weeks old, we met her plane. After an eight hour flight she was ready to run and nip. When she met Tsar she was very happy. They were only four months apart in age and loved playing together, and getting into trouble together. We named her Boo's Legacy Samba Dancer and she reminded me so much of Bentley , both in looks and actions that I was totally happy with her.

She loved the water and loved the snow and she snored like a Portuguese sailor.

Unfortunately, she enjoyed joining Tsar in his rampage through the house in our absence. We had to do something. After consulting our Vet, we put Tsar on drugs for his anxiety and enrolled both pups in obedience class. I took Samba, who had immediately become so attached to me that she wouldn't let me out of her sight, and Rob took Tsar. We went through eight weeks of classes and saw big changes. Tsar loved class and would run to the car every morning hoping it was school day. As soon as he saw me pick up the equipment we used in class he would start dancing around the room. In class, however, he resisted every command. Finally, after six weeks, he went down on command and the whole class cheered and told him what a good boy he was. He ate it up and decided it might be OK to obey, at least some of the time. Obedience was a big self confidence builder for Tsar. Two weeks after classes ended we were able to take him off the drugs and he has not destroyed anything in the house since. Now we can walk out for hours at a time and know that Tsar won't touch anything. He is calm and quiet and a perfect pet.

Samba did well in class, too, and the two partners in crime are now great house dogs. I began making plans for Samba about this time. I decided to enter her in the next local dog show.

Neither Samba nor I enjoyed the dog show. I was nervous and couldn't believe I was actually doing this and Samba could feel my tension and just dragged around the ring. We did manage to win breed, but we were both so stressed out that we didn't stay for group and went home, curled up together and slept for three hours. I decided not to put her through that experience again.

When I was three years old and shopping in the city with my
mom, I saw a woman walking an Afghan Hound. It was love at first sight and I always wanted an Afghan. I was never able to get one, conditions were never right. Now suddenly conditions were right. I had the space, the time and the funds, but now my heart belonged to a different breed, the Portuguese Water Dog. Bentley had been a great ambassador for the breed and I loved their enthusiasm and their happy attitudes. These dogs almost never had a bad day.

Soon Rob and I began to talk about breeding Samba. Ever since my first accidental litter, many years ago, I had wanted to breed a planned litter. I had always thought it would be Afghans, but now we had a beautiful PWD. We had different ideas going into this, however. Rob thought it would be neat to sell the pups and have some extra income. I pictured a little pack of PWDs running through the yard and playing in the water together.

We did all Samba's genetic screenings and everything seemed fine. I started studying pedigrees. At night, instead of reading a novel in bed, I read pedigrees and the stud issue of the breed magazine. I narrowed my choice to three. I contacted the breeder of dog A and we started negotiations for using her stud dog for breeding. We went around in circles for weeks. Every time I thought we were making progress, she would ask for the same information I had already supplied and we would start over again. I realized we were never going to come to an agreement and moved on to my next choice. This breeder owned both dogs B and C. She offered me my choice, I chose B, and we signed a contract and waited. We were going to try artificial insemination, so the timing was very important. We waited and waited through Christmas and New Years and finally the big day came. There was a big storm that day where the stud dog lived and power and phones were out. I couldn't get in touch. Timing was crucial and we were two days late. It didn't work. We'd have to try again in six months.