Billy has become a slug - fact. The cutest, most scrumptious slug EVER, but a black fat slug nonetheless. He has a very different look to any of my previous puppies at this age, with a broad head, chunky legs & thick coat (very much a boy already!) - he also loves his milk and with multiple pumps to choose from, he can usually be found propping up the milk bar! Now talking of the word propping, this leads me nicely onto this blog post and the subject of walking, or lack of. See, usually at two weeks my pups are attempting to walk, well wobble - Billy No Mates at 17 days is biding his time, well it requires a great deal of effort to lift that fat belly off the floor and dragging himself is clearly soooo much easier than actually putting weight through his legs .... With the milk bar to himself without any competition, it's my job to present him with a few challenges, such as occasionally knocking him off a teat or using soft toys to simulate siblings to clamber over - life at the moment is a little too easy for Billy (and we all know that life isn't fair!), so I decided to present him with an undulating terrain to encourage him to get off that fat belly of his! Hopefully it's a nice little obstacle course to encourage Billy to start walking - or so I thought...
I'm delighted to report that both Fiia and Billy No Mates are making excellent progress, although it has been a pretty worrying time. Not only did Fiia develop an infection within 24 hours of her C-Section but her body also started to reject the suture material resulting in her wound breaking open over a period of a few days until the vet was able to remove all the material. I have been meticulously cleaning the area and airing it; it is an impossible site to have a dressing stay in place, so it has remained open to the elements (or rather sandwiched between her mammaries as she's lying on her side to feed!) so I regularly make her lie on her back, legs akimbo for cleaning; one end of the wound has closed and the remaining open area is developing granulated tissue so is on its way to closing. Last weekend Fiia was left at the vets as they were going to staple the wound shut, but upon closer inspection they found the surrounding skin too thin so I was left with no option but to leave it as it was, tend the wound and hope for the best.
Poor little Billy hasn't emerged unscathed either. Thankfully after two milk top ups last weekend, he has thrived on his Mother's milk and today weighs over 800 grams! However he developed a little skin infection (no doubt caught from his Mum) and had to have a patch of fur shaved to let the air to the sore area which I am also bathing daily.
I'm sure all our troubles are now behind us and we can relax a little more. Fiia has been a star throughout, never once being anything other than gentle and compliant - we have been to the vets almost daily and yet she still walks in and wags her tail! Yesterday was a breakthrough day - no need to see the vet for a whole week - woohooo!!! I want to say a big thank you to those who have kept in regular contact enquiring how we all are, your contact has been a great support.
I will be bringing Billy downstairs once his eyes are open so that he can be amongst the bustle of family life and then the fun can really begin! :-)
Today I read a deeply moving poem, clearly written by a breeder who knows full well the anguish and heartache involved when things go wrong. It brought a tear to my eye and I think provides a real insight into what a good breeder puts into each and every litter and puppy - summed up beautifully in the last line.
You'll love your little puppy, she'll make your house a home.
She'll be your very best friend, you'll never feel alone.
She'll make you smile, she'll make you laugh,
She'll fill your heart with love.......
Did she come from a breeder or did she fall from heaven above?
If you've never been a breeder or seen life through their eyes
as you hold your little puppy, please don't criticize.
You don't know of all the anguish and the times that bring such pain.
When we lose the battle with a little one and the tears flow like rain.
Sometimes we sit the whole night through waiting for babies to be born.
Oh the stress and trepidation when they're still not here by dawn.
Or the panic of holding a tiny baby in our hands
who weighs but 60 grams
Do I do this instead of that or that instead of this?
Alone we fight and hope we won't give him his last little kiss.
We pray he'll live to bring some joy and make a house a home
We know it's up to us and we fight this fight alone.
Formula, bottles, heating pads, we have to get it right
Two hour feedings for this tiny guy thoughout the day and night.
In our hearts we know we are probably going to lose this epic fight
but we keep trying to save him because God willing we just might
Day one he's in there fighting; we say a silent prayer
Day two & three he's doing well, with lots of love and care
Day four & five.....he's still alive, our hopes soar to Heaven
Day six he slips away again, dies in our hands day seven.
We take this little angel and bury him alone:
With aching heart and burning tears and an exhausted groan
We ask ourselves "Why do this? Why suffer all this grief?
To help them live to grow up strong is such a great relief.
So when you think of breeders and label them with "GREED".
If you have a healthy puppy it's cause they filled his every need..
When you buy a puppy, and with your precious dollars part,
You only pay with money.........we pay with a piece of our heart.
With only one puppy on board, I knew that the whelping of Fiia and Mika's puppy might be rather stressful. Sam the Scan confirmed the week before that indeed there was just the one pup but that it was an average size - so all I could do was hope for the best and hope that Fiia went into labour naturally and delivered without any problems. I was buoyed up by the fact that Fiia's sister Kaija had herself had a singleton pup last year and went into labour & delivered 'Little Pickle' with no problems. As this litter was the result of chilled semen inserted by AI, I knew exactly the due date as Fiia had been progesterone tested. Three times Fiia's temp dropped and she displayed signs of early stage labour, but it would come to nothing. I was liaising closely with my vet during this time and when a shot of Oxytocin brought nothing more than half a dozen half hearted contractions, it was obvious that Fiia was suffering from Primary Intertia (inability to progress in labour due to insufficient hormones released, a relatively common condition in the case of a singletone pup) and a C-Section was now the only alternative. I've never had a bitch need a C-Section before so it was a little nerve wracking to say the least, but it wasn't long before the puppy was brought into the consulting room where we'd been waiting, swaddled in a blanket with just its little face sticking out. Welcome to the world Billy No Mates! Once Fiia had been stitched up, she too was brought in and Billy allowed to suckle whilst we waited for Fiia to come to.
Five and a half hours after arriving at the vets, we were able to leave with Fiia and Billy. Fiia was a bit of a zombie for many hours afterwards, so we were having to stimulate Billy No Mates to go to the toilet using wet cotton wool - thankfully he got the hang of feeding although he was noticeably whingey for another twelve hours. Later that evening Fiia seemed mostly over the anaesthetic and was able to take over her maternal duties.
Sadly the following day things took a turn for the worse and Fiia developed an infection and soaring temperature. I'm not going to go into details but suffice to say it's been a very stressful time with intermittent sleep and round the clock nursing. It has been gruelling with endless vet visits and one problem after another - poor Fiia, she's been so unlucky. Billy No Mates failed to gain any weight (although really strong and vigorous) and so yesterday he was 'topped up' after his feeds with goats milk. Small wonder Fiia's milk has been lacking after the amount she has been through.
A Lappy temperament is a sight to behold, Fiia has been so stoical it's unbelievable - the vets have been most impressed. Totally compliant at every stage, she has moved us to tears with her beautiful nature - it's really been an exceptionally emotional time. My heartfelt thanks to my friend Mary of Starlapps Finnish Lapphunds who initially came for a weekend and ended up staying over a week, offering both moral support and hands on help as each crisis hit. Fiia's co-owners have also been amazing and it was wonderful for them to visit a cheerful and proud Fiia as her condition improved - Andrew even got to hand feed Billy, awwwww that was a tear jerker.
I'm pleased to report that Fiia is now healing and loving being a Mummy Dog again and Billy No Mates is eating well and growing. What a special little boy he is (not to mention rather expensive!!!!). There is always a massive investment in each litter, both prior to the mating (researching pedigrees/health etc) and then once the pups have arrived, copious amounts of time and love are poured into each - but I have to say, this one is a record breaker on all counts! I think we're going to have lots of fun with this special little chap - it's going to be agony to part with him but I'm not thinking about that just now.
Despite being a brilliant Mummy and a beautiful bitch with a temperament to match, Fiia will not be bred from again - I love her far too much to ever risk the same thing happening. Instead I shall look forward to seeing what her gorgeous son Roope will produce in the near future - if they are anything like her, they will be special pups indeed :-)
Here's a little video of Billy No Mates taken yesterday at three days old - I'm afraid it's very dark, but just look at that little tail wagging!!
Last month Salo and I enjoyed a Search & Rescue Taster Day with Kathrin Tasker who is not only an Agility Queen (infamous in the South East for her successful agility classes Millbrook Agility Dogs) but who also owns two fully qualified Search & Rescue dogs. It was a super day blessed with perfect sunny autumn weather - pictured below Salo posing for a photo after finding Kathrin the Misper (missing person) who had been hiding in the woods on the log and Salo being trained to approach and touch a Misper, initially we used dummies (photo Debbie Palmer).
It was so much fun that I thought it would be good to organise my own, so a date was put in the diary for Janine with Stig and Impi (both TabanyaRuu Lappies) and Mary with Ilo and Tykky to join me with Salo and Sisko to do some training in my garden.
Although Janine had also done the taster day with Stig we thought it best to start again at the beginning for the benefit of the dogs who hadn't done it before, beginning with the 'pleased to meet you' exercise. This involved one dog at a time being called to each of us, given a treat and a stroke and then being recalled back to its handler for another treat - you can imagine how much a Lappy hates this exercise seeing as they dislike both treats and affection ;-)
We then progressed to training the dogs to approach and touch a Misper lying on the ground.
Then we let the dog watch the Misper run off and hide before releasing the dog to find them.
And then finally each dog had to find the Misper over a longer distance by following their nose, initially using ground scent and then air scenting. Each of the dogs did really well and clearly enjoyed themselves.
We then broke for a spot of lunch and scrummy cake made by Janine followed by a lovely walk for all the dogs through our woods and a romp in the field. It was lovely to watch Stig and Salo running loose together, they are agility mates and meet every Monday evening at Merrist Wood. You can see them in the video below - Salo is in the distance in a silver jacket trying his luck at scenting deer .......
It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday in November :-)
In September 2009 Ellie & I flew to Finland for a romantic liaison (no, not between us!!!), between Peppi & her beau, the very handsome Fin Ch Cantavia Leijonamieli (Jeppe). Ably assisted by Jeppe's owner Minna and his breeder Petra Palukka of Cantavia Kennel, the result was a fabulous few days away and of course five gorgeous puppies born five years ago to this very day.
And here are the Finnish Kids at five years of age.
You can see Fiia's 'Nalle' litter here and Kaija's 'Little Pickle' here. Fiia is due to become a Mum again very soon and a litter from Kaija is planned for 2015.
I hope all the Finnish Kids have a fabulous birthday - each and every one is an absolute joy & loved to bits by their families - it makes me so happy :-)
I wasn't too sure about this when I first saw Anco Naturals Deer Hide in the pet shop - it seemed rather weird to be giving a dog a piece of deer hide as a chew treat? I left it, but next time I visited curiosity got the better of me (good job I'm not a cat!) and I bought it and put it away. Well today was to be their lucky day. I got it out of the larder & they were interested immediately, jumping up to sniff the packet. I then proceeded to cut it into four strips with scissors (according to dog size - handy!) - no smell at all & yet they were all as keen as mustard. It did make a bit of mess with hair dropping everywhere as I cut it, but they each eagerly took their 'slice' & ran off. This was to be the moment of truth - will I have wasted £4.50 or not? I'll let you be the judge.
Suffice to say, it got a big 'paws up' from my gang of four, even Zinty who isn't a
mad keen 'chewer' is still gnawing away at it. The Lappies chewed & chewed, never moving from their spot so it didn't last long and Scrabble demolished his in private (glad my lovely new outdoor kennel is getting used for something!). I shall keep a close eye on the effect it has at it makes its way out the other side - will they have hairy poos? ;-) It's always good to discover a new treat and with bonfire night just around the corner and the need for 'distraction' high, I thought I'd share this in case any of you fancied giving it a go. One word of warning though - it doesn't half make a mess!!