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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Three days in one!

I know. Tomorrow passed without puppy pictures.
To make up for the Nearly Unforgivable Sin of late puppy picture posting, today you are getting 3 days worth of posts in one.

Because it's been an interesting couple of days.
And for blog reading sanity, I put them where they should have gone, because it seems as if it would make more sense that way.

Last night's adventure.

We have a kinda movable pig pen.
We have 4, 16 foot cattle panels, firmly fastened at the corners to make a square. We anchor it down with Tposts and have a tarp semi-permanently and firmly rigged over and down a corner for shade and rain protection.

This is adequate, as the pigs will be at Camp Kenmore before they need anything more substantial, like protection from cold.

But it would be pretty durn small and muddy and dirty and gross if it always stayed where it was. So every day or two we yank Tposts, move it over and anchor it down again. The pigs greet the move with great delight and much rooting, even though they just got the old spot comfy when we move it.

This is a pretty easy job for two people, but varies from deserving a cold ice tea after to needing a far stiffer beverage when done alone. So unless they have really ripped up their old spot and need moving now, I wait and do it with Handsome.
  This has an added benefit. Handsome is bigger and stronger then I, so he pounds the Tposts back in. Which is great, because it really is a lot easier for him then for me. I am, uh, vertically challenged so I can't even lift the Tpost driver up and over the top of the Tpost. My arms don't reach. I have to lean it over, slide it on, then straighten it up, but can usually get the driver off without having to step on a handy rock once the Tpost is in the ground.
  It is an especially chivalrous gesture because Handsome hates driving Tposts.

This hatred is why he was rushing last night. He was lifting the driver up very high and slamming it down really hard when he lifted it a little too high and instead of slamming down over the top of the post, the edge of the driver caught the lip, flipping it - with the full force he was putting behind it- down on top of his head.
  I was turned away to get him the next Tpost when I heard a thud, curse and crash and turned to see him staggered so hard I still can't believe he kept his feet. I helped him inside where he was ready to sit down and rest it off. But men don't get that luxury with a woman around so soon the EMTs were here.
  Handsome didn't fully split his scalp, but he did bloody it up pretty good. The EMTs weren't worried enough to just pick him up and throw him in the ambulance, so I let him stay home. But that meant both of us staying up For the next 12 hours (all night), him in case of concussion and me to watch him, catch any slurring or anything and drive him to the hospital if he took a turn for the worse.

He didn't. Handsome is fine, besides a very sore and bloody scalp and a 6 inch long knot on his head. It looks like someone tall took a baseball bat and swung it straight down on him. I did manage a couple of hours sleep and he's sleeping it off right now.

I think I've had all the interesting I want for the rest of the week. Bring on the boring!

I must have a sign

Because look what came running up to me, crying And just where have you been???, as I unloaded everything from the car after the massive, all day event that was taking Spud to his developmental assessment.
  Which brought the very good news, btw, that while he is behind, he is not on the autistic scale. Yay! Behind - that's nothing. This kid is already 7 different miracles for being born 3 months early (and every time you read that, please think about it just for a second. Three months early. That's 6 months pregnant. That's "Is she pregnant or just getting fat?") Compared with all the problems we could have been facing, behind is nothing.

Anyhoo, my brand new long lost friend,
Isn't she pretty? She's between 3 and 4 months old and I've no idea where she came from. None at all. Punkin is calling her Natasha. Like many strays, she goes cross-eyed with purriness if you so much as look at her.
In honour of yet another foundling, one of my favorite poems. This poem is commonly found on the internet as "To Love Again" and attributed to Anonymous. And, for some reason, he is changed to a she. But here is the original, unglamorous title, substantial author and everything.

by Francis Witham 
Oh, what unhappy twist of fate
Has brought you homeless to my gate?
The gate where once another stood
To beg for shelter, warmth, and food

For from that day I ceased to be
The master of my destiny.
While he, with purr and velvet paw
Became within my house the law.

He scratched the furniture, and shed
And claimed the middle of my bed.
He ruled in arrogance and pride
And broke my heart the day he died.

So if you really think, oh Cat,
I'd willingly relive all that
Because you come forlorn and thin
Well...don't just stand there...Come on in!

My sign says Welcome.

Puppy Pictures!

With their eyes open, the puppies look much more like puppies, and less like fat little sausages.
It's not just the eyes. They have reached the Week of Great Change. over the next seven days they will change more then at any other time of their lives. It's pretty amazing. It also marks The End of Life As I Know It for me for the next few weeks. By the end of the week, I'll have had to overhaul my living room to give them Spud's old play yard and will have started feeding them solid food. Most of which they will wear and I will do roughly my body weight in laundry every day.
Some little things that I have wondered about are resolving themselves. Judd has definitely got some shading in his coat. He may be a dark sable, or even fade quite a bit, like some German Shepherd pups do. Kimon will definitely be the smallest, Judd the biggest.
But many, many more things just become greater mysteries. The shape of their faces change by the day. Just how much will they change? The father could be anything, or 3 different anythings. Hopefully none of them have inherited Katie's bite. Poor girl. If her adoptive owners don't feed her right, she could easily become one of those 5 year old dogs already losing teeth.
However they turn out, some things are certain. They are wicked cute, and we are happy to have them here and safe with us. The lady who has spoken for Trapp is a great person. Kind, caring, responsible, big-hearted and fun. Now to find people as good for the rest of them, and work to make sure the pups will be great pets for them.

Did I mention wicked cute? Look at this!
I can walk, kinda

Monday, September 19, 2011

They can see me!

At least, Judd and the re-named - and spoken for !!! WOOT!!- Trapp, formerly Sandy, can SEE us out of their brand-new-to-the-world eyes!
Doubtless little Kimon will be joining them by morning. I'm sure that little fellow won't be left behind for long in anything.

I'll have to get photographic proof in the morning as well. We are all wasted. We spent the day driving 2 1/2 hours to have little Spud evaluated by an developmental expert and he is NOT autistic!! She said from what she can tell the early intervention work we did with him brought him from borderline to not even on the charts. WOOT Again!!!!!
There are still more questions to be asked and answered and speech therapy may be in his future but as of now we are very relieved. If insanely exhausted.
Except for Spud himself, who's day consisted of a meal, a bath, a really long nap in the car, another meal and a long play session with a Very Nice Lady, followed by another long nap in the car and then a meal. That boy is raring to go!
And I am still up.
At midnight.

This is not as fun as it was when I was a teen

Friday, September 16, 2011

Puppy Update

 Up until now, there hasn't been a lot of puppy updates. Not that there hasn't been anything going on, just that unless I pose the little squiggle worms next to a ruler, it's hard to tell they are bigger, fatter sausages then they were before. See?

Fat little puppy sausages. 

But 9 days do make a difference. Especially to these guys. It seems like once they were no longer crammed inside Katie they could finally GROW. And grow they have. Picture of little newborns;

Compare that to a picture from last night;

Holy Exploding Growth of Puppies Batman!!!

They eat and sleep and grow and Grow and GROW.
   Katie has all the food she can eat. She has a bowl always down for her of the best kibble I could find, liberally supplemented with fresh goat's milk, eggs and raw meat. She isn't gaining weight, but she isn't losing any either, which is a win as far as I'm concerned. I mean, just look at the mass of the puppies this poor girl is feeding.

  Katie's getting less and less impressed with them.She doesn't neglect them, but she is less then thrilled with the whole mothering thing. She feeds and cleans them, then jumps up on the bed or goes out to the living room. She doesn't want any other critters in the bedroom and has to supervise any time a puppy is being handled. She worries and licks him and jumps in to check on him when you put one down - then jumps right back out again.

Here they are, from left to right, Kimon, Sandy, Judd.
Wait, Sandy's buried. Let's try that again;
There we are, one second later Sandy has bulled his way under Kimon and semi-flattened Judd.
This is a more typical pose for them.

And they're off! 
They can't see yet, and barely hear much but by Jove no self-respecting puppy is going to just stay still and make picture taking easy!

  An advantage I've found to the BioSensor work is that because you are handling the puppies in such a stylized fashion, it really shows you the developing personalities. Sandy protests. He wiggles and squirms and wants to know why someone isn't feeding him Right Now. If there isn't food involved there is no reason to stand for this! Even snuggling him is going from snuggling a sleeping puppy to trying to snuggle a squeaking, nuzzling puppy who is squirming everywhere looking for a teat. I am forever rescuing his brothers from being sucked on.

Kimon is active and alert. At least, as alert as a blind, deaf, semi-mobile slug can be. I'm certain that he is going to find the world an increasingly interesting place. He gets a little wiggly when you first pick him up, then settles right down and relaxes. Snuggling Kimon is picking up an awake puppy who quickly falls asleep on you.

Judd is just mellow. Nothing really bothers him. He's the least vocal of all the pups. He twitches healthily in his sleep, nurses actively, seems to enjoy being handled, so I doubt his mellowness is a sign of anything wrong, he's just pretty ok with the world and everything that is happening.

  Yesterday they got baths. It is wickedly young and I don't recommend it, but they are a little young for Frontline and I can't treat our whole acreage, and it would seem every flea that we drag in on a pants leg finds the puppies and Frontline on Katie is not enough.
  I filled a deep bowl with warm sudsy water and one by one held each puppy in it, well supported. They got to soak in it for a few minutes to stun the fleas, then had warm water gently poured over them while I rubbed to rinse the suds and stunned fleas off.
  Sandy didn't mind the soaking part. The water was a little warmer then body temp so he may not have even realized he was wet. I rubbed him gently all over and he enjoyed that. But when I held him up to rinse that meant moving his body around in all different ways and there was much wiggling and woe-is-me until he was wrapped in a towel, sucking on Punkin's finger.
  Kimon was the most difficult. He started to snuffle - something smelt different and he needed to find out what! He wiggled and tried to drown himself until he managed to find a bit of suds on my hand. He sucked it off and then fell asleep. Rinsing was fascinating and ...zzzzzz.
  Judd settled his little head on my hand and konked out. He woke up when I went to rinse him and konked out again when the water started to pour over him. He did not like the toweling. How can a fellow sleep with people rubbing him like that? He was almost offended by the time I was done and handed him back to his mother.
  A full belly cures all ills though.

Dog Breeders

  A good friend of mine recently had some tragedy. It would seem that someone came and stole her two younger dogs. As best we can tell, the oldest dog followed the thief and her friends out to the road where she was struck and killed by a car. There had been rash of local dog thefts in her area and as there are very, very few reason for scum to start stealing a bunch of dogs, it makes it all the more heartbreaking knowing the probable fate of the young dogs.

  What does this have to do with breeders? Right, I'm getting to that part.

  My friend has children who are likewise heartbroken. This family needs a dog. My friend would like to get a Lab puppy. They've always had mutts or rescues, but since she wants a pup, this time she'd like to know just what the pup will grow into, which is a reasonable enough desire.
  Me, being me, and understanding fully how truly, massivly horrible it is to have a dog crippled by genetic ailments, cautioned her to find a good breeder, as in our area puppy mills are rampant and the last thing these people need is even more heartache in the form of dysplasia, retinal atrophy or horrible skin conditions. They just need a healthy dog.
  She asked me if I could help her find a good breeder and I said of course I would, and started to look.

  And then I stopped

  I thought about the times I had gone breeder shopping for myself. I have owned exactly one purebred dog in my life. We call Scooter, Scooter Beagle, but it's an honorific. He may in fact be part basset or walker, there are a lot of ifs and maybe's in his largely unplanned pedigree.
  Our only purebred was Marley Golden. He was born to a puppy mill, was still unsold at 9 weeks and therefore tossed into a car trade-in to sweeten the deal, the car folks kept him for 7 months and then I got him off Freecycle. I adored Marley more then I can express, and still cry over his untimely loss. At the same time I can't help but think perhaps in the long run it may have been for the best. If he had lived to middle age he would have been in a lot of pain from his many ailments. As dearly as I loved him, I would never have paid any money for the horrible, horrible job his breeder did, condemning him to such a defective body.

  It's not that I wouldn't LOVE to own a wellbred dog. Because I would. I really, really would. Long ago, I wanted an Australian Shepherd, and was about as perfect a home for an Aussie as a person could be without owning sheep. I found a good breeder and told her I was happy to have her pick out the pup she thought would be the best fit, with one caveat - not a black male. I really wanted a female and - in spite of two of the Great Loves of My Life, Deacon and Thunder, being predominantly black - I've never found black dogs all that attractive. I'd take a black female if that was the only way I could get my girl, but if I was settling for a male pup I would need a stunningly beautiful one, like a red tri. The breeder said that she understood and then got very hard to get a hold of until one time I called and actually got her on the phone and she said she had a black male for me, he was 6 weeks old and I could come pick him up in just a couple more weeks. So sorry but all the females were spoken for and all the males were black and what did I mean I wanted to wait for a different litter??? She had reserved a pup for me! Fine, she would call when she was planning another litter.
  I'm still waiting on that phone call.
  The next breeder also said she was fine with me not wanting a black male - a female of any color, a male of any color but black but not a black male - right until she wanted to sell me one. She had also pretty much vanished from "I'm planning a breeding and I'll reserve you a spot" until "The pups are 7 weeks old and you're getting this one."  It would seem that a black male was the only pup that would possibly fit in my situation. And when I asked to wait for another litter I got reamed. Not a little, but a LOT. She ended with telling me that anyone as shallow and shortsighted as I was totally unfit for dog ownership.

  After that I adopted Thunder from Animal Control and gave up for a few years. The internet exploded and prospective dog ownership got a little crazy - well-meaning crazy, but crazy none the less. Over a few years I had called and emailed a few people with different breeds. Several of whom told me over the phone that they'd be happy to call me when they were planning their next litter. But apparently breeders don't breed much because not one ever called.
  And then there was a truly lovely gentleman who not only answered his phone but returned emails AND kept in touch (oh miracle of miracles!) and who's bitch reabsorbed the litter, to great dissappointement. He didn't want to try breeding her again soon and his other bitch was already planning a co-owned litter and there likely wouldn't be any females available. Before I could get a pup from him his amazing old stud dog died and he quit breeding.
  Then a few more years where I didn't try at all, followed by several phone calls with a highly recomended kennel who was never heard from again after I told them I didn't want to send a deposit before seeing pictures of the parents (apparently I was supposed to buy on reputation only). Then the fellow who told me that he would love to see one of his pups pass a herding test, only to say on a message board that it was totally ridiculous for dogs of his breed to herd, that anyone who said that historically this breed had, was a poor researcher who knew nothing of foundation bloodlines and anyone who herded with this breed had mutts.

  I had already saved up all the money for a puppy. This is not a small amount. It is the equivalant of 2 mortgage payments and more then my car and a year and a half of saving.

  Back to the shop for a breed/breeder drawing board. And lo and behold, there was a good breeder with a wonderful breeding already done. So I filled out the very long, hours to fill out application ... and our insurance settlement actually, finally came. Which is beyond belief. And makes the really stupid, omg-do-you-realize-that-is-TWO-mortgage-payments-and-you're-poor-how-could-you-spend-that-on-a-puppy (you could get a new car) thing even stupider, because I could finish my house if I added what I had saved to the insurance money.
  But I sent in the application anyway, with a note on it to please hold onto it for a future litter, or perhaps even pass it on to someone else who might be having a litter next year, because I can save again - as I say in the garden, there's always next year. And I really would love to have a beautiful, healthy, well-bred dog.

  I never heard back. 
  And then I found Smiley and Katie.

  But what do I tell my friend? That is my 15 years worth of trying to get a decently bred, healthy puppy from a "good" breeder. Do I look for someone who health-tests and plans for her? Or do I tell her to take her chances on Craigslist? After I sat and thought about it, I just dont know

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No mixed feeling here

Spaying is a serious thing.
I feel it is one of those things that emphasizes the God-like control we have over our animals and that while it very often needs to be done, it should be done with thoughtfulness and respect for that.
There have been times that I regretted the necessity. My long gone, but never forgotten cat, Kismet, was one. She was the Gaia of cats. She had 2 litters, unplanned by me, and adored every second of being a mother. She loved her kittens, so much so that I never separated her from them and just kept them all (thankfully small litters). I still have 2, now 11 and 12 years old and another 12 yo cat that Kismet the Beautiful fostered. Until cancer took her, her babies were her babies, 7 years old and bigger then her though they were.

There will be none of those feeling with Katie.
If Katie and I could talk about such things, she would be incredulous and delighted that such an operation exists and demand to know why someone hadn't told her about it sooner.

Don't get me wrong, she loves her babies and takes excellent care of them. But they're just so .. so needy. And there are so many things to do now that the weather is so nice and she's lost that bowling-ball-on-legs kinda feeling. But no, the babies need her. They're sweet, she would say, and she loves them a lot, but can't we hire a sitter? Don't you understand these creatures get up every couple of hours All Night Long??

If she could understand, Katie would be thrilled.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

All growing!

And growing quickly too!
These puppies are HUGE and fat and compact and squiggly. You pick them up with an "Oooph! Where did THAT come from?" kind of sensation because they are surprisingly heavy, like picking up lead.

We started Bio Sensor conditioning yesterday. These are my very first puppies ever and I want to give them a good start, and if it does half what it's supposed to do, it's a wonderful thing.
And if it does nothing at, so what? It takes about a minute to do all three of them.

It's actually a big landmark because I allowed very, very little handling of the puppies for the first 2 days. I had no idea what kind of mother Katie would be. Motherhood changes us all, and she's not our dog, we've known her for just a couple of weeks, it would be totally understandable if she was freaked by us near her puppies.
But she's not. She is very attentive to them and very, very trusting of us. If we bring the babies up on the bed for a snuggle, she gets up there and snuggles too, with a relaxed happy wag.

It is lovely to see that tail start to say so much.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The puppies are here!

There are three of them and despite anything said to the contrary, they are all boys.
I had proudly announced 2 boys and a girl earlier. When I finally allowed Punkin to do more then stare from across the room, she asked "Which one is the girl?"
"One of the black and tans."
She turned one over. Nope, boy. She put it down and Katie instantly nosed it back into the pile. Katie wasn't at all upset. She is just very clear on one thing; puppies go in a pile, she might be unsure about a lot of this motherhood business, but puppies definitely, definitely go in a pile.
Carefully Punking put a finger into that pile and nudged a black and tan puppy over. Boy.
Must be the same one.
Keeping a finger on that one she nudged over the other one.

Kids are insufferable when they catch you in a mistake. All I can say is that there was a lot of stress and worry over this, because poor Katie started this out with one ginourmous stillborn puppy and then quickly had a second, far smaller one before I could fully freak out and rush her to the vet. So there was much stress, no sleep and many dirty towels and Judy is, in fact, Judd. Proper sexing was not high on my worry chart.
Around here, everything gets a birth name and anything that is staying gets a real, actual name later on. Sometimes not late enough. Deacon wasn't born here, so I trained him to his name right away. If I'd waited till he was 10 weeks like I do with kittens and anything else born on the place, we'd have called him something along the lines of Jester, or just plain Fool.

But I digress! Faithful readers know I'm prone to that when I'm sleep deprived (I'd tell you how few hours I've slept out of the past 48, but the math just seems too difficult right now. Shut up - counting is math, they said so in kindergarten)

Anyhow, while they are here the puppies are named after their sponsors. The black and tan with the darker face is Kimon, the more-tan one is Judd, the brown one is Sandy.

There are no new pictures of Katie by herself yet. She's barely left the puppies, and when she does, she looks just awful. Not just see-how-YOU-look-after-quads bad, but crud-how-long-were-you-a-stray??  kind of bad. Without a huge, massive weight of puppies inside her, you can really see how skinny she is. On the bright side, I don't know if it's physical relief or if she really trusts me now after I helped her through this but HER TAIL IS UP!!! For the whole time she's been here, we've seen her tail in flickers. She's wagged it, but little anxious wags, not big happy ones. Today, not all the time, but more then once, her tail has been up in big, happy wags and the trotting tail-up of a happy dog.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Pictures

Smiley is filling out into a rather handsome fellow.

But poor little Katie is just filling out;

I am off to make her some scrambled eggs to help fatten her, because poor thing is all puppies. With all that belly it is still far to easy to feel her ribs and spine. It seems like every bite of food she takes goes right to growing puppy. But eggs - with the ground up shell included - are nutrient dense, easy to digest and will give her lots of calcium.

And then I get to take her temperature. She is not thrilled about this. But it is an excellent early alarm for knowing when the puppies are coming.