Friday, July 8, 2016

Our Friend Flicka

As I posted, back in May (here), we had been preparing for the arrival of another puppy from Hungary named Fricska. Well, after a series of delays for various reasons, we finally were able to make the arrangements for her travel to the US. The 4th of July weekend was coming up, and since we would all have an extra day off, I thought that would be a perfect time to bring in a new dog. So I made the arrangements with the pet shipping company to have Diana drive Fricska to the Vienna airport, where she would fly to SFO with a brief stop in Zurich.

Fricska winning a Baby Best in Show
the weekend before she flew to us

The puppy would be flying with Swiss Air Cargo, the same airline that Rietsu came on, and their shipments always arrive at about 4:30 pm. Since it was a holiday weekend, I I took a half day off at work so we could leave early and not get stopped in bay area traffic (I didn't want the puppy to have to sit in the cargo warehouse longer than necessary).

We made it into the city fairly quickly, and with several hours to kill we decided to grab something to eat and do a little window shopping in Milbrea while we waited. There just happened to be a pet store in the same strip mall where we were eating, so we stopped by to grab a new toy for our new arrival as a sort of welcome present.

When we had about an hour before the plane landed, we drove back to the airport and waited, but by the time 4:30 rolled around I suddenly realized that we were in the wrong area. Apparently Swiss Cargo had moved it's receiving station, but thankfully not far from where it had been before.

Happy to be out of her crate!

Nevertheless, we needn't have rushed, because it took almost an hour for the cargo people to collect the necessary documents for us to take over to the customs office before we could actually claim her. Add to that a silly mistake with her paperwork, and it took almost another 20 minutes to actually collect her. When we were finally allowed to take her out of the crate, she was all wiggles and happy smiles!

We led her to the closest place we could find to see if she needed to go to the bathroom, but it was apparent that she had already soiled her crate, so I wasn't surprised when she didn't do anything.

Relaxing in the yard

We then drove over to my friend Shannon's house where we waited until the early evening before departing back home. Fricska explored Shannon's yard and mingled with her Dachshund, Renley, like she had been here her whole life. So far, she had not met a stranger and was happy as a clam.

Flicka and Shannon

Her friendly ways have continued ever since, and we could not be happier with her. She is a real gem! Because her given name is too difficult for our American tongues to pronounce, we decided to call her Flicka, after the beloved horse in the popular 1950's television series.

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:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend: LGRA

My boys: Pi, Gil, and Yumi

Every year, RCRA hosts race meets over Memorial Day Weekend. I have not attended in several years, for various reasons, but this year we promised that we would go and support the club. I was getting a little worried as the date drew closer, because the weather reports were indicating it to be a hot weekend. In situations like this, I am always happy to pull my dogs out of competition if I think it's getting too warm. So, I packed up plenty of water, a small kiddie pool, and some sponges in case I needed to cool them down.

Thankfully, the venue we were running at had plenty of shade, and it was surprisingly cool if you weren't standing in direct sunlight. Combine that with a gentle breeze and the ambient temperature throughout the day wasn't too bad.

I decided to enter all three boys; Gil, Pi, and Yumi. Gilly had an unfortunate string of bad luck starting in October of last year, so he has been lame on his left front every now and again. I anticipated him coming up lame either right before the meet, or after the first program, but he surprised me and was sound all day.

One thing I like about running with RCRA is that they are one of the few clubs that have starting boxes big enough to accommodate the MAs. The only problem on this particular occasion was that only Gil has had any serious box training. Nevertheless, I figured if the other two were going to learn, it was now or never.

Below is a slow motion video of the beginning of one of their races:

Both boys put up a pretty good struggle when it came time to box them, but we muscled through it and they were noticeably better as the day went on. Pi's break got a lot better too, although not as good as Gil's. Yumi is either a slower learner, or he's just stubborn (I think probably the latter), so his breaking skills may take more time to come around. His slow exit from the boxes cost him a second place finish in the first program, but he got it together well enough by the end of the meet to finish second overall behind Pi. One more GRC point down, 7 more to go!

I'll report on the NOTRA meet in a separate post to come. Stay tuned ...

Friday, May 27, 2016


I realized a few days ago that I haven't done a formal introduction of Tilly, the other MA that was brought over from Hungary with Yumi.

Tilly as a puppy

Tilly is the much beloved companion of her owner, Joanna, as well as Joanna's husband, Tim. Before Yumi came to live with me, he lived with Joanna and Tim briefly until his behavior problems became too much for them to manage.

Joanna and Tilly

Anyway going back to Tilly, while I don't have the complete story behind either of them, I've been able to piece things together here and there, so this is it.

I actually met Tilly for the first time in March 2013 when I attended a meetup at a local park, organized by some of the local adopted Greyhound community. Shortly after I got to the park, Joanna arrived with a beautiful young white hound. At that time, Tilly was still basically a puppy, and her immaturity was obvious. Young pups tend to stand out in the crowd because most adopted Greyhounds are at least 2 or 3 years old when they go to their new homes. While I was busy throwing a frisbee for Pi, I overheard Joanna say that Tilly was not a former racing Greyhound, and that she got her from a family who brought her over from Hungary. Of course, upon hearing that little bit of information my ears really perked up! What are the chances that two dogs from Hungary would meet each other by chance at a local park?

Tilly, the day I first met her

It wasn't until about a year later that I ran into Tilly and Joanna again. Joanna had contacted me about the possibility of attending one of our race meets, and I of course encouraged her to come, which she did. She arrived in the late morning with Tilly and stayed briefly to let her watch. Tilly didn't seem all too interested in the lure, but a lot of dogs can start out that way if they've never seen a lure before.

Fast forward a couple more years, and that's when I got the phone call from Barbara at Greyhound Friends for Life telling me about Yumi. At that time it didn't even occur to me that Yumi and Tilly were connected. It wasn't until I went up to the kennel to meet Yumi that I was able to talk to Barbara about him at length that I got the rest of the story.

Tilly enjoying some down time

Shortly after Tilly went to live with Joanna, Yumi's former owner contacted her about taking his other, older male dog, "Yummy." Of course, given how happy Joanna was with Tilly, she accepted and he went off to live with her. It is my understanding that Tilly and Yumi were originally purchased with the intent that they become a breeding pair. Given how similar they are in type, I'm assuming they came from the same breeder in Miskolc. For whatever reason, they were never actually bred and Tilly was given to Joanna.

Joanna was devastated about having to surrender Yumi to the GFFL, so when she found out I was fostering him she contacted me to offer whatever assistance she could, and asked if I could please keep her informed about his progress.

Since then, I've kept in fairly close contact with Joanna and she loves hearing updates about Yumi's new life with me. She and Tim even came out to see us at our Nationals last October, which was a nice little reunion for Tilly and Yumi.

Yumi and Tilly at NAMAA Nationals 2015

So in sum, that's the whole story as best I can tell. Tilly has a wonderful life with Joanna and Tim, getting to go for long walks and hikes everyday and basically being Joanna's shadow. Hopefully we will get a chance to meet up with them again soon.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A New Arrival: June 2016

Photo by Diana Komaromi

We are extremely excited about the upcoming litter between Patti and Gator, but I don't want that to overshadow another very exciting bit of news. Last year, Remy's owner (Remy is Gil's litter sister, for those who might not remember), Diana, informed me that she was planning to breed Remy one last time, to a very accomplished and prepotent hunting dog named Vándor. She had acquired Vándor as a mature adult, as well as Vándor's sire, Finom. Given the outstanding nature of this potential litter's pedigree, and the fact that we are terribly short on breedable bitches here in the states, this was an opportunity that we just couldn't pass up. So, we told Diana that should a litter be born we would be very interested in taking a puppy, preferably a bitch puppy. To our delight, and hers as well, she happily agreed.

Remy and Vándor
Photo by Diana Komaromi

So we waited patiently for Remy to come in season, and when she did she was bred to Vándor a single time. Now all we had to do was wait. Given the size and success of Remy's first litter, I had little doubt that she would conceive, but given her age there was always the possibility of a miss, or at the very least a small litter.

Photo by Diana Komaromi

Come February, Remy's belly was growing larger and larger by the day, and on February 6th she finally popped. A total of 8 puppies were delivered; 6 girls and 2 boys. We were thrilled, and very happy that there were so many girls to choose from.

Photo by Diana Komaromi

As the puppies grew, Diana kept in touch with me and always asked if there was any particular puppy that I had my eyes on. At that early stage, there wasn't any particular puppy that stood out to me, so I kept on waiting and watching intently as the weeks went by.

Look at that face!
Photo by Diana Komaromi

By the time the puppies were 7 weeks old, Diana was able to give me a better idea of what their individual personalities were like. We narrowed it down to two of the girls, one named Fesztivál and one named Fricska (this is the Cserihegyi F-litter). Just based on their photos, Fesztivál appealed to me because she has a black mask that makes her look a bit like Gil, but I never want to make decisions based on color or markings. According to Diana, Fesztivál was more laid back that Fricksa, but both were very nice puppies. I told Diana that my preference was for a bolder, more confident puppy, so that meant Fricksa was the winner!

Photo by Diana Komaromi

Fricksa means "Flip" in Hungarian, which I think is an adorable name for a spirited little Agar puppy! In order to prevent a lengthy quarantine, we have to wait until Fricksa is 4 months old before she can be shipped to us here in California. However, with Patti's due date looming in early June, we decided to wait until late June to have her flown out. So, we will be waiting patiently for our bundles of joy to arrive next month. All of them :-)

Photo by Diana Komaromi