Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pattigators! (Puppies)

The new family

Patti and Gator's puppies, whom I will be referring to as "Pattigators", were born on Wednesday, June 8th. I arrived at Tom's house on Tuesday evening, and Patti was clearly in the early stages of pre-labor. She was restless and panting heavily all night, I felt so bad for her! Finally, around 6:30 the next morning, I was awakened by the sound of her shredding some of the blankets in her whelping box. I looked over at her belly and sure enough she was having contractions.

The first puppy was born a few minutes later, a dark brindle particolor bitch with high white markings. She delivered the pup easily, and after I cleaned her up I put her on a nipple and she latched right away. Patti mothered up instantly, like a good girl; washing her puppy and taking care of the afterbirth.

Red Girl

The second puppy came about an hour later, a dark brindle (although not as dark as the first) particolor dog with heavy markings. He was bigger than his sister before him, but still delivered very easily and took to nursing on his mom like a champ. At that point since we had two puppies, I decided it would be prudent to put colored puppy collars on them in case any subsequent puppies were dead ringers for the first two. The first born female got a red collar, and the boy got a blue collar.

Blue Boy

The third puppy took a little longer to make an appearance - about an hour and a half to two hours after the blue boy, and Patti actually had a rather difficult time passing the puppy through the birth canal. I could see the tip of the puppy's nose, but it didn't seem to be making much progress with each successive push. Finally the puppy's head got all the way out, but at that point things sort of stopped. Patti pushed and pushed with every contraction, but the puppy would not budge. I started to panic, as the puppy's little face and tongue were turning blue, so I stuck my fingers as far into her vulva as I could to try and see if I could grab the puppy. Of course, with the puppy all wet and slimy it was almost impossible to get a firm grip on anything, but I was finally able to pull out a little arm, which relieved the tension in the canal and allowed the rest of the puppy to pass through. The puppy was another beautiful particolor bitch, high wight markings, and she was definitely the biggest of the three at birth. We decided to put a yellow collar on her.

Yellow Girl

The fourth puppy took about two hours to make an appearance, and when it came there wasn't much labor involved at all. Almost as soon as I saw the tip of the puppy's muzzle the rest of him just fell out. A quick birth can be problematic in that the process of labor is what kickstarts the puppy's reflex to latch and nurse. As such, puppies born in this manner can have a hard time eating and gaining weight. I had experienced this problem once before with a Dachshund litter that a friend of mine had bred, and sure enough this little puppy did not want to latch right away. He was a beautiful light brindle particolor with heavy markings, but he looked almost half the size of his brother and sisters. Adding the fact that he wasn't eating well, I was pretty concerned, so while we waited for the next puppy to arrive I had Tom go out and buy a bottle and some puppy formula.

Green Boy

As soon as I got the little runt puppy on the bottle he ate very vigorously, so I was pleased to see that he at least had a healthy appetite. We decided to put a green collar on him, and since he brought us up to 2 boys and 2 girls even, we dubbed him "Even Steven Green."

Green Boy learning how to latch

As far as the x-ray indicated, we had at least one more puppy coming, so after the birth of the little green puppy I eagerly awaited the next set of contractions. I waited, and waited, and waited, but they never came. Patti would seem to get restless at times, like she was about to start having contractions again, but nothing ever progressed beyond that. I started to get worried, so I called the vet and asked about it. The doctor said that it can take 3 to 4 hours for the last puppy to work its way down the uterus and into the birth canal, so she told me to just wait and see.

We hit the 4 hour mark and there were still no contractions. At that point it was decided that we needed to take Patti down to the vet to investigate. So, we loaded her and the puppies up into the car and off we went down the mountain to the vet's office.

Concerned daddy, Gator, watches from the screen door

The first order of business upon arrival was to take an x-ray. The first film, taken from the top looking down at her belly showed nothing, so we flipped her over on her side and took a second image. At the very bottom, high up into her rib cage was a very faint outline of a puppy. It was so faint, that we thought it might be a mummy, or at least partially resorbed fetus. At that point, Patti had already received 3 cc's of calcium injections, and it had been over 4 hours since the birth of the previous puppy. So with those factors in mind, the vet decided it would be best to do a c-section.

Poor Patti was very distressed about being separated from her puppies, which made it difficult for them to get her sedated. We waited for what felt like forever, until one of the techs came to tell us that the last little puppy didn't survive. While we were very disappointed to say the least, we were not surprised by the outcome and were very happy to have the four healthy puppies we already got.

Once Patti was awake enough to stand up, we loaded her back into the car and headed home. It was a relief for her, and me, to not be in active labor anymore, which allowed her to relax a little bit and just enjoy her puppies. So, all in all it was an exhausting whelp, but we ended up with four beautiful new Agars!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Patti's X-Ray

The arrow points towards each puppy's head

Patti went in to the vet today for her prenatal x-ray. I always like to do x-rays before a whelping so that I have a more accurate estimate of how many puppies to expect. I've heard too many stories from friends about "surprise" puppies, so I don't want to take that gamble.

Anyway, while the ultrasound originally showed 6 to 8 fetuses, the x-ray confirmed only 5. The doctor says that a sixth one may be hidden somewhere, but she wasn't sure. In any event, five puppies is a good number as far as I'm concerned! Now all we have to do is wait patiently for their arrival next week.

Memorial Day Weekend: NOTRA

Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

The second day of RCRA's Memorial Day weekend race meets is dedicated to NOTRA. It's been a really long time since I've run my dogs on the oval, and every time I attend an oval meet I wonder why I've been keeping myself, and them, from this awesome sport!

After the LGRA meet the previous day, Gilly was pretty tired, and a little bit sore, so I decided to leave him home and just take the other two boys, plus Hattie Greyhound. Looking back now, it was a good idea to leave him behind, even if he had been feeling up to it, just because of the nature of oval races. Oval racing poses risks that sprint racing does not, because you have several dogs running as fast as they can and turning around a corner at high speed. Traffic is common on the first bend, and if a dog is not very experienced it can be difficult and dangerous for them to navigate around the other dogs, and if they are not accustomed to turning they often run wide. Since Pi and Yumi had never run NOTRA before, it was safer for me to keep the entry low, so as to reduce traffic and risk of injury until they got the hang of it.

Breaking from the boxes
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

Boxing the boys was easier this time around than it had been the day before, and Yumi was breaking a lot better, although still a bit late. Nevertheless, Yumi ran fantastically. Oval racing is very different from sprint racing in that a dog does not necessarily have to be the fastest in order to win. Many dogs who do not have a prayer of winning a sprint racing meet find themselves victorious on the oval if they have that special combination of speed and the unique and seemingly inborn talent to run the track strategically.

Yumi hits the rail from the outside box
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

The best oval dogs are the dogs that know how to move towards the inside rail and stay there for the duration of the race, even when they have the disadvantage of drawing an outside box. In my limited experience, this is not something that can be trained into the dog; they either do it or they don't.

Yumi, NOTRA meet winner
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

A good rail dog is a sight to behold, and Yumi certainly has that quality. Twice, he drew the outside box, and both times he hit that rail and ran with it. He won two out of the three programs, which means he won the meet and took home his first ORC point. The only race he lost was the last program, where he was either really tired or perhaps a little bit cocky, which allowed Pi to surge past him at the last moment on the backstretch.

Yumi says, "You won't beat me again young whippersnapper!"
Photo by Alicia Bienenfeld

Overall it was a great day, and I was super proud of all of my dogs. I promise to make a greater effort to attend more NOTRA meets from now on! To close, here's a video of the very last program where Pi managed to pull off a win: