All right, so I talk a good game – the pups just had their two week birthday yesterday, and I promised scads and scads of photos and daily updates on their progress… and here I am, just trying to catch up.
For those of you just tuning in, this is Chelle “Chel” Griffith, reporting from The Puppy Room at Aria Borzoi, where I’m watching the Encore x Zen litter enjoy a nursing session with Zen. These little guys are making the cutest noises! Nothing in the world sounds like the chug-a-lug sound a bunch of nursing puppies make when they’re really hungry and chowing down. Zen is living up to her name this moment. She has this peaceful, half-lidded zoned-out look to her eyes.
This evening, I’m watching the little guys go about the serious business of eating, sleeping, pooping and growing while (impatiently) I wait for all the photos and video clips I’ve been taking to download into Dropbox so I can begin the great puppy photo share-a-palooza.
Sleep tight, everyone! Just like the little guy above… isn’t he adorable?
:ast post I told you all about Zen’s labor and delivery and that whopper of a last puppy. That happened about a week ago, so let’s fast forward and talk about current topics a bit.
Ever since the pups were born last week, mornings bring the same routine, and it’s come to be a routine I welcome. First of all, I’m still sharing digs with Zen and the pups, so hey, who needs an alarm clock? In fact, who needs sleep? Little Mama Needlenose and the Chorus of 9 start my day with a tag-team – a cold nose poke, accompanied by the junior hound ensemble singing me the “song of their people.”
But sometimes, she let’s them sleep in…
First up? Potty breaks! Madame Zen drinks a lot of water, and while she uses up most of it in milk production, she still does need to get outside. While she’s out, I gather up the little guys into a basket so they are safe and out of the way while I clean up their box, police their bedding into the laundry and generally tidy up. I’ve been changing their bedding once or twice a day, depending on how nasty it gets. I don’t know about the rest of you, but sleeping in the same room as the whelping box is HIGHLY motivating to keep it smelling clean and fresh!
Oh, and here’s a quick product plug. No, I’m not getting compensated to endorse this stuff, but I’m so happy to have discovered it, I can’t wait to get back home and see if they carry it in Nebraska. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi Surface Everyday Cleaner . Love it. I’m sensitive to chlorine, it makes me sneeze my brains out, so bleach is problematic for me. It’s nice to be able to have clean surfaces without the chemical smells.
When Zen comes in, I crate her a bit now, to keep her out from underfoot for a few minutes. She likes to poke that long nose into my business… especially when it’s puppy business. For the first few days, crating her for even an instant was HIGH DRAMA… all the screaming and carrying on! But, now that the pups are about a week old, she’s a lot more mellow about it. In fact, she might even be enjoying the break, some cold water, and breakfast in bed. The last couple days, she’s just been laying there watching me, silent as a sphinx. She was a little anxious as a new mother, at first, and I’m sure I’m at least partially to blame. After all, it was my first time at this, as well. But we’re in a good place now.
So, it’s time to get to work!
Rita likes to get everyone weighed and evaluated around the same time every day, give or take, and that’s a tradition I’m trying to keep. Zen’s making it easy – I can almost set my watch by her. As I take each pup from the basket, it gives me the chance to interact with them one-on one, look them over, weigh them to see how much they’ve gained, and see if they’re vigorous and feeling good.
Also, I began the Avidog Early Neurological Stimulation Exercises, to get them used to being handled in many different ways. Handle their feet, get them to accept restraint in several different positions, a 5 second exposure to a cold surface, etc. Then I take notes on their daily disposition and how they respond to these stimuli.
This helps each puppy achieve their full potential and grow into the most successful and confident canine competitor and companion they can possibly be. Also, over the weeks of doing the neural stimulation exercises, you can get a pretty good feel for who each pup is, as an individual… and what kind of home might be the best match for them in the future.
Moments like this are just an added bonus!
This may sound like a LOT of work to some people. It’s way too much work for someone wanting to sell cheap purebred puppies, but that’s a topic for another time. Maybe tomorrow?
I woke up last Tuesday, July 5th to Zen, tap dancing around on my legs, in the full size bed of guest bedroom I was sharing with her. Even though her enormous Dura-Whelp whelping box was all set up and ready, she preferred the bed… ’cause, well, who could blame her? Besides… she’s borzoi. They seem to be born feeling entitled to ownership of some of the furniture real estate… especially the comfy spots! So, yeah. Zen had shared the bed with me the previous couple nights, sleeping on my legs like my own bitch Mimi does, at home. But the difference here was there was a big waterproof blanket between Zen and me.
I was very glad of that fact! As I was groggy enough to feel out of sorts, wondering for a second where I was, and how Mimi had gotten so HEAVY, it took me a second or two to realize her water had broken. The show was about to begin.
First Journal Entry: 7/5 7:10am Water Broke
(Yay for waterproof blankets!)
As I watched Rita make her first entry on the first page of the notebook she’d set aside for this purpose, I tried to wake up, and ask her some good questions. After all, this was the first whelping I’d ever had the chance to attend, and in a few days I’d be here by myself with them. Although I had a lot of great reading resources from Avidog, I’m a person who really prefers the hands-on experience, and I didn’t want to miss a thing.
“So, what happens now? How long until we see a puppy?” I asked.
Rita prepared her supplies, while she filled me in. I found out that, once the water broke, serious contractions would begin soon. In Zen’s case, contractions began in earnest at 7:25am, and Rita logged it. We knew could expect the first puppy within a few minutes after that up to 4 hours. Any longer than that was a medical emergency. Fortunately for us, there was no emergency. I didn’t even have time to ask many more questions before the first puppy landed in Rita’s hands.
7:49am #1 Girl.
So it began.
One of the things that surprised me about the process was Rita’s meticulous level of note-taking. Did we really need to know which puppy was born in the placenta, and which wasn’t? Which had it’s umbilical still attached? Is it crucial to know what placenta textures were like, or whether or not Zen ate ate them? Was it important to note the exact times of each set of major contractions, or the time when each puppy arrives? Facinated by the process, I just watched, helped where I could, and took it all in.
8:26am Temperature 102.2F
After that very first puppy, it seemed that hours and hours passed. Zen was down flat with contractions, then up and pacing, obviously stressed and uncomfortable. Anxiety built and built, and I was wondering how many hours would need to pass before the second arrived before it was an emergency. Two hours? Four? It seemed a lifetime. And then…
9:18am #2 Boy
Less than two hours passed between the first puppy, the second puppy, but – and here’s the kicker – time is subjective, especially when you’re under stress. Those two hours, from my perspective, seemed to take the better part of a day. If I didn’t have a way to tell time, or know when she started, I could have literally been panicking over nothing!
Once that second puppy made her debut, the rest of them started coming along pretty quickly.
9:46am #3 Girl
9:47am #4 Boy
10:29am #5 Girl
11:15am Zen started fussing and squirming, moving around her box rapidly. We put the pups in a basket with wrapped heating pad set for their for their comfort and safety, and took her for a quick walk on a leash. After a that little potty break, she was ready to get back to business.
12:06pm #6 Boy
12:34pm #7 Girl
12:50pm #8 Boy
A lot of breeders that breed for profit, rather than to improve the breed or put the highest quality animals out there skip a very important step in the neo-natal process – the pre-birth Xray. But that’s a bad idea, and this is a perfect example of why.
After the 8th puppy was born, Zen relaxed, grouped them all together and began nursing her litter. Contractions stopped. She gave every appearance of being done. A significant amount of time passed… and then?
1:49pm #9 Girl
Fortunately, Rita gets all her pregnant bitches Xrayed to get a feel for litter size and to screen for any possible obvious complications. Sometimes labor will cease, and a puppy will remain unborn, in the uterus. Without an XRay, you wouldn’t know to intervene, until the bitch was ill.
I’m one of those people who can be a little allergic to paperwork, but months of talking to Rita about what goes into planning for a litter, studying up on the Avidog materials, and observing this whelping session has really opened my eyes. Now, I have a good understanding of why detailed logging is so important.The more you know, the more weapons you have in your arsenal against the unexpected. This can mean life or death in a medical situation.
This is part – one of the many pieces in the puzzle – that separates breeders who breed truly excellent dogs from breeders that breed “good enough” dogs.
On the 4th of July, while everyone else was waiting for fireworks to pop, we were waiting for PUPS to pop! As soon as the dawn’s early light of July 5th, Zen was ready to put on her own little show, delighting us with a litter of 9 fiery redheads – 5 girls and 6 boys!
I’m C.T. (“Chel”) Griffith, and over the next few weeks, I’ll be here at Aria Borzoi, holding down the fort. I’ll also be blogging – yes, with pictures! – about these pups and lives as they grow from furry little speed jellybeans into happy, vigorous, well-adjusted pups ready to begin their successful futures in the field, show ring, and homes of the families who will love them. In addition to being the “foreign correspondent” for a few weeks, I’m also chief cook, bottle washer, hound hugger, and pooper-scooper… so, while I take my job as blog lady seriously, I’m a bit behind on the first few days of their lives. There’s been a lot of interesting things going on, and I’ll be typing like crazy trying to get everything logged and the pictures all loaded.. Tune in tomorrow for details on Zen’s big event, and the BIG surprise she gave us at the last minute!
Watch this space! There is more borzoi puppy adorableness to come, so keep your eyes peeled…