Mandy's 2017 Litter

Pregnancy

13 Feb 2017
Mandy is in season! This is a month earlier than I predicted (based upon the average interval between her previous seasons). Everyone has been telling me that because Mandy just free-whelped a litter and nursed her puppies that her next season would be later than usual. Evidently Mandy did not get that memo!

This really makes me change my plans.

Mandy and I had qualified for the 2017 AKC Agility Nationals. I had entered us with the expectation that Mandy might come into season about the time of the Nationals; if so, then we would not run. Now if I breed Mandy than we will definitely not be able to go to the Nationals. (It is not a good idea to expose a pregnant bitch to a large gathering of dogs from around the country. Who knows what viruses will be floating around.) What to do ... what to do.

21 Feb - 23 Feb
Mandy (Shaksper Amanda Seyfried) bred to Porter (Dreamweaver Up The Ante @ Coventry) owned by Dale Martins. Estimated due date is the last week in April. Ultrasound scheduled for three days before the Nationals. So if Mandy is not pregnant, then we can still make the Nationals.
21 Mar
Ultrasound shows that Mandy is pregnant, possibly with three puppies. I was so fascinated by the ultrasound pictures ... I could see the three little blobs ... that I forgot to take a picture. (Mandy has not forgiven me.) Now it is official, we are not going to the Nationals.
20 Apr
Today was x-ray day ... to count puppies and get the repro vet's opinion as to whether Mandy could free-whelp ... or whether I need to schedule a C-section. This time I remembered to take pictures. Here is Dr. Bailey counting the number of puppies. If you look closely, you will see four lines (from heads along the spines). So the surprise is that Mandy has four puppies, not three as we saw on the ultrasound. This explains why Mandy is already so plump and why her weight is higher this pregnancy than at the equivalent stage of her previous pregnancy (when she had three puppies). Here is Dr. Bailey measuring fetal head sizes and comparing against the pelvic opening size. Dr. Bailey's opinion is that we should try to let Mandy free-whelp. Since Dr. Bailey can not see any puppy teeth on the x-ray (indicating that the puppies are not "ripe" enough), we made an appointment to come back on Tuesday for another x-ray ... assuming Mandy has not whelped her puppies by then.

Now I start to worry. The quote from Gone with the Wind - "I don't know nothing about birthing no babies" - keeps looping through my mind.

21 Apr
Here is Mandy gestating in her favoriate spot. Ever since I blocked off the area under my bed, Mandy has claimed this spot in my bedroom as "her spot".

Today I set up the whelping box ... just in case. My plan is that as soon as I notice that Mandy is in stage 1 labor, I will take my other dogs to my petsitter, and then Mandy and I will travel to a friend's house that is close to the North Carolina Vet School. Hopefully Mandy will deliver her puppies at my friend's house ... and in case of any difficulty, we will only be 20 minutes from the vet school rather than two hours. But by having a whelping box set up at home, I am ready in case Mandy has other plans.

I have also started taking Mandy's temperature every four hours during the day. The hope is to catch the one degree of temperature drop that indicates that puppies should arrive in the next 24 to 48 hours. Mandy is not a fan of this activity ... as it involves putting a thermometer up her butt!

22 Apr
(Nothing yet.) The Norwich terrier's idea of food portion control is "give me more". This is especially true for a pregnant Norwich. However if the puppies grow too big, then they will not be able to pass through the birth canal, and you end up with an emergency C-section. I am following the dietary protocol given to me by my vet - feed a usual amount of a good quality kibble, then two weeks before the puppies are due, switch to a good quality puppy kibble (which has more calories) and slowly increase the amount until at one week prior, you are feeding 1.5 times a dog's usual amount of food.
23 Apr
(Nothing yet.) I now have to be careful when Mandy goes outside that either the gate is closed or I am with her. I do not want her heading off into the woods to find a place to have her puppies! We have had rain all day - and are forecast to have rain all tomorrow - so mostly everyone wants to stay indoors. But I still panic every time I can not quickly locate Mandy.
24 Apr
Mandy's temperature was lower at noon, which made me think that puppies might be on the way. Now after taking her temperature this afternoon, I am not so sure.

Normally a Norwich's chest is the largest part of their torso, not their belly. To give you an idea of how big Mandy is, her chest is 18 inches in circumference (5.7 inches in diameter) ... while her belly is 22 inches in circumference (7.0 inches in diameter).

Week 1

25 Apr
During the night, I made the decision to put my whelping plan into action. There was not one thing that made the decision, but rather a combination of things. First Mandy did some nesting (digging of her beding) ... nothing dramatic, but some. Next, she spent a lot of time during the night in her crate. And there was the temperature drop. But when Mandy got into the whelping box around 4 a.m. - which she had not done before - I realized that she was telling me that it was time. Here is Mandy in the whelping box, with Guido - her almost six-month old puppy from her last litter - in the foreground.

So I got up early and took all my dogs (minus Mandy) to my petsitter. Mandy and I continued on to NC State for her previously schdule x-ray at noon. The x-ray revealed that there was only a one millimeter difference in the size of the head of the first puppy in line to come out and Mandy's pelvic opening. Not much room! At about that time, Mandy started having strong contractions. So the vets started monitoring the puppy's heartbeats. Besides the resident and attending vet, there were also five vet students in the room watching Mandy. When no puppy appeared after about an hour of labor ... and based upon the heartbeats which evidently were becoming worrisome, the attending vet made the call to do a c-section. So they took Mandy off for a c-section. By now it was about 3 p.m.

5 p.m. One of the students came to tell me that everything is fine - three girls and one boy.

Finally I am brought back to see Mandy and her puppies. Here is my first view. And here is a close up. When they turned Mandy over so that the puppies could suckle from her other nipples, you can see how out of it Mandy is because of the anesthesia - she is hardly paying attention to her puppies.

The puppies were given a good chance to suckle and get some colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk that contains lots of maternal antiboties. The puppies can only absorb these antiboties (which are large molecules) during the first 24 hours or so of life. After that the puppys' stomach break them down before they can be absorbed. These antiboties will have to protect each puppy until they can get their puppy shots. Then the puppies were tube fed so that they would have full bellies for the long ride home.

The ride home was uneventful, with only a few whimpers from the puppies. I quickly got Mandy and the puppies settled in the whelping box. (The red glow is from my heating lamp.) Mandy did not want to go out to pee ... she only wanted to get in the whelping box with the puppies. Mandy was very hungry ... she ate two full meals. (My primary job for the next couple of days will be to bring her food and water.)

So now let me introduce the puppies.

Heaviest at 183 grams is (naturally) the boy. I am told that he was in one of the uterine horns all by himself ... so he did not have to compete for nutrients. The three girls were all in the other horn.

Next in weight at 162 grams is the girl with the stripe on her collar. Then at 139 grams is the girl with the brown collar. And finally, at 123 grams is the girl with no collar. (I had to take it off as she had her arm caught in it.)

Tomorrow I will change the collars put on by the vet school for colored yarn ... which will give them their "color" names.

26 Apr
I had very interrupted sleep last night. Every time one of the puppies cried, I had to check that everything was ok. But when I got up in the morning, everyone was well ... in fact, the puppies all had fat bellies and their fur looked nice and shiney. Mandy really is a good mommy!

Mandy finally went outside to pee this morning. I grabbed my camera to take a photo of the puppies in a pile underneath the heating lamp ... but Mandy was back before I could get a good shot.

The worry for today is that Mandy's temperature is elevated. It still is within normal range for a dog, but it is higher than her normal. Mandy was annoyed with me as I kept taking her temperature every couple of hours. Mandy is doing a lot of panting. It evidently takes a lot of oxygen to make milk.

What I like to see is everyone eating ... including Mandy, who is getting some cottage cheese to help keep her calcium level up. Here are two girls nursing.

I changed everyone's collar for yarn this evening. "Stripe girl" is now "Green". "Brown girl" is now "Pink". And "No collar girl" is now "White". The boy - being the only boy - does not need any collar. Both his color and his appendage set him apart from the girls.

27 Apr
Besides the several times that I woke up last night because I heard one of the puppies making a sound, at around 1 a.m. Mandy woke me when she started digging in the whelping box. Evidently she was trying to get down to cooler ground. So I switched the heating lamp off. Mandy then settled down as if to say "I told you so!". Today her temperature is also down.

The puppies continue to have fat bellies and to gain weight. I celebrate every few grams of weight gain. The puppies are so small when they are newborns.

28 Apr
Today the boy crossed the 200 gram mark. This is not unexpected, as he started with the highest weight. But when puppies are so tiny, you celebrate every milestone.

Newborn puppies can not regulate their body temperature until they are two to three weeks old. For spring litters, it is not hard to heat a room ... just open a window (but make sure that it does not cause a draft over the puppies). Even though the temperature was in the 80s today, the puppies were tucked up underneath Mom to stay warm.

What it is all about - eating and sleeping.

29 Apr
A pile of puppies. (One is tucked in the back underneath the "pig rails".) Another view. Note how much room they have underneath the pig rails. This will change!

Today I brought my other dogs home from our petsitter. I do not think it was five seconds before Guido (Mandy's six month old puppy from her last litter) had nosed open the fence I had put across my bedroom doorway and was in the welping box with the puppies. Mandy did not seem to mind; she was so excited to see everyone back. As I was not sure what Guido would do, I kept a close eye on him ... but he only seemed to be curious about the strange beings and their sounds. My other dogs remembered from the last litter to stay away from the whelping box. I did notice later that when Mandy was nursing the puppies, that she growled at any dog who got close.

Today Green passed the 200 gram mark. And White lapped her sister Pink, and now weighs more than her. Actually I am worried about Pink ... I always have something about which to worry ... I am not seeing appreciable weight gain for Pink. Today I have been pushing Pink onto a nipple every time I checked the whelping box.

30 Apr
Today White passed the 200 gram mark. Sadly Pink does not seen to be thriving. Her weight seems to be staying the same. Note Pink's size in relation to the other puppies. So today I began to tube feed Pink. This is basically force feeding - I put a tube down Pink's throat into her stomach, and slowly inject Esbilac - a puppy milk replacement - directly into her stomach. Pink does not like this ... nor do I. But in spite of doing this several times today, Pink has only gained a little weight. (I weigh the puppies twice a day; in the morning and in the evening.)

I am seriously worried about Pink. I have done a lot of staring into the whelping box. Pink seems to be expending a lot of effort on breathing. And she is not "twitching" like the other puppies. (A healthy puppy twitches. One theory about twitching is that it helps the nerves grow.)

1 May
I woke up this morning fully expecting to find that Pink had died during the night. (Actually I woke up several times during the night to check on Pink.) Since she was still alive I took Pink ... and Mandy and the other puppies ... to my vet. The puppies travelled in a plastic box with a hot water bottle underneath a towel to keep them warm.

My vet examined Pink. She noted that Pink still has a suckle reflex. Upon listening to Pink's chest with her stethoscope, my vet said that Pink's breathing was abnormal - which I could see by the way that Pink was using her stomach muscles to breath. My vet did not hear any fluid - which means that Pink probably does not have asperation pneumonia. But this probably means that Pink has puppy lung development disease ... which is almost always fatal. (Puppy lung development disease is just a name for this condition, which is just now being studied by researchers.) My vet gave Pink some subcutaneous fluids (injected by a very tiny needle) along with some amoxicillin. She sent us home with the antibiotic, and said to continue to tube feed Pink. But my vet did not hold out much hope. This is what I expected. I regarded going to the vet as a "Hail Mary" play.

I got everyone safely home, and tube fed Pink. Later I saw Pink nursing, but not for long. Mostly when I saw the puppies nursing, I saw Pink off to the side.

In other news, the girl Green has taken over from the Boy as the heaviest puppy.

Week 2

2 May
The puppies are one week old today! I had to give Green and White new collars as their old ones were getting too tight. If you look closely, you can see that White is yawning.

This evening the puppies weigh as follows: Boy (295 grams), Green (302 grams), Pink (173 grams), and White (258 grams). Note that Green is the first to break the 300 gram mark. This is actually the best weight ever for Pink, whose weight has been in the 160s for several days. I am continuing to tube feed Pink. Today Pink seems less active. I have not seen Pink nurse, although Mommy continues to pay attention to Pink.

In other news, great-aunt Bianca is 16 years old today. (Actually Bianca is a first-cousin once removed to Mandy. But because of Bianca's age, she gets the honorific "great-aunt".) Sadly Bianca is in failing health.

3 May
Pink died at about 10 pm last night. I was just getting ready to tube-feed Pink when I noticed that her breathing was very shallow. As I watched, she stopped breathing. Mandy gave Pink's body a couple of licks, then turned her attention to her other puppies. It was a very sad night at my house.

I wrapped Pink's body in a paper towel, then put the bundle in a ziplock bag in my refrigerator. This morning I package the body with some ice packs (to preserve the body), then took the package to FedEx. Pink's body is now on its way to Michigan State University to participate in their puppy abnormal lung development study.

The other puppies are all fine. Notice how the ears are now sticking out from the head. When the puppies were born, the ears were flat against the head.

4 May
Eating and sleeping - the life of newborn puppies. Yesterday, the Boy broke the 300 gram mark, and today reclaimed the title of heaviest puppy from Green. White - who somehow has lost her collar - today also broke the 300 gram mark. Both Green and White have doubled their birth weight, and the Boy is close to doing the same.
5 May
I slept yesterday afternoon, then all night, and still felt tired this morning. And I felt really sad this morning. After feeding everyone breakfast, I laid down again. I finally realized that I was depressed because of the death of Pink. Mandy got up on my bed and gave me a very gentle lick, as if to say "It is ok, you did everything you could." I know that I am anthropomorphizing, but that is how it felt.

I have been wishing that I could get a picture of the chest of the puppies, but no one is sleeping on their back (yet). I finally got this picture of the white spot on the chest of the Boy. Green also has a white spot, as did Pink. Only White does not. As the puppies grow, the white spot will slowly disappear until it is just a little sliver of white on the chest.

Mandy continues to dig up the pad in the whelping box. I then straighten the pad, as I do not want the puppies on the slick bottom of the whelping box where it will be difficult for them to crawl. Mandy then digs the pad up again. We repeat this multiple times during the day and night. My best guess is that Mandy thinks the whelping box is too hot.

Puppies can not regulate their body weight until they are two to three weeks old ... and a chilled puppy can quickly die. Another reason to keep the whelping box warm is to inhibit the canine herpesvirus - a virus that often has a 100% mortality rate in young litters. So I keep the room warm and the heating lamp on much of the time in one corner of the whelping box. The downside is the Mandy and I - since the welping box is in my bedroom - are too warm.

6 May
I check on the puppies in the whelping box multiple times during the day. Either the puppies are nursing or they are in different configurations ... such as this one ... and a few minutes later, like this (from left to right - Green, White, Boy resting on White).

At this evening's weighing, the Boy broke the 400 gram mark. And I noticed that he has one eye partially open. White has slightly opened both eyes - but just slits like she is checking the world out.

7 May
When I pick up the puppies, all of them now open both eyes. But I was not able to get any picture of any of them in the whelping box with their eyes open. All they want to do is eat and sleep. Today Green passed the 400 gram mark. I have noticed when I pick up the puppies that their bodies are now generating heat. So I reduced the temperature in my bedroom by a few degrees to make it a little more comfortable for Mandy and me.
8 May
All the puppies are still camera-shy and refuse to look at the camera. Here is the Boy with his eyes closed. White gave me a scare this morning when after opening both eyes yesterday, she was only opening her left eye this morning. But by this evening she was opening both eyes when I picked her up for her evening weigh-in. With breeding, there is always something to worry about!

Mandy sometimes has to lay down in order to get her tongue underneath a puppy in order to stimulate it to pee or poop.

Guido - Mandy's six month old puppy - keeps getting into the whelping box.

White passed the 400 gram mark today.

Week 3

9 May
The puppies are two weeks old today. Green, who is next to my yardstick, weighs 490 grams. The Boy, who is between the two girls, weighs 498 grams. And White, who is furthest from the yardstick, weights 416 grams. Every time I see the puppies nursing, I make sure that White is attached to a nipple. If I have to, I pull one of the others off so that White gets a chance to nurse. But with only three puppies, I do not have to do this often, as there are a sufficient number of nipples to go around.

I have decided that this will be my "Midsummer Night's Dream" litter. Feel free to suggest names for the puppies. Either characters from the play, or characters or actors from the first season of "Slings & Arrows" - which is what I was watching during the period when Mandy whelped this litter.

10 May
Both the Boy and Green broke the 500 gram mark today. White is about 50 grams shy of this mark. Today I saw the Boy and White raise their heads for a second or two, and standing on their front legs. I finally caught a picture of White with her eyes open. Immediately after the yawn White closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

Since the puppies now have their eyes open - even if only for a few seconds - I am putting toys in the whelping box so that they have something to see. Of course that is Guido in the whelping box. I believe that Guido can hardly wait for the puppies to grow up so that they will play with him. (It is hard being a youngster in a house with a mother and three aunts!)

11 May
I know that this is the calm before the storm ... that soon the three puppies will be running around like maniacs with me trying to keep up ... but right now they just eat and sleep ... which leaves me with little to do but worry.

I finally saw one of the puppies sleeping on their back - the Boy, of course. By the time I grabbed my camera, he had rolled slightly to one side.

12 May
White today passed the 500 gram mark. White's fur has darkened and is now very similar to her sister, Green. Besides the lack of a white spot on White's chest, the way that I tell them apart is that Green has black markings on her muzzle. I may have to put colored yarn back on them in order to tell them apart.

Both Guido (Mandy's six-month old son) and Tami (one-year old half-sister to Mandy) have been in the welping box to check out the puppies ... and Mandy rarely objects. But if Mandy is nursing the puppies and any of my other dogs get close, Mandy growls ferocioulsy and bares her teeth. Everyone backs away.

13 May
I have had to chase Tami out of the whelping box several times today. Here she is in the whelping box. Note Green in the sitting position. Both Green and the Boy have made attempts to walk. The get up on their front legs, get their back legs tucked underneath ... but when they try to stand up and take a step ... well, the coordination of their limbs still needs work.

Here is another time, with the Boy headed for Tami. But after Tami left, it was time to go back to sleep. Fortunately sister Green makes a nice pillow.

14 May
Lest you think that Mandy is neglecting her puppies, the opposite is the case. She regularly lets them nurse. (From left to right, the Boy, Green, and White.) If they make a sound, Mandy checks that the puppies are ok.

All the puppies were making attempts to walk today. Here is the Boy sitting.

15 May
Guido and aunt Portia in with the puppies. Guido with the puppies. The puppies are being a bit more active, but mostly I still see them sleeping. A favorite spot is under the pig rails.

Week 4

16 May
Today the puppies are three weeks old. Now my pessimisim and worry turns to cautious optimisim that the puppies will survive. Bad things can still happen, but is much less likely.

Today is also "Name Day". So ... drum roll, please ...

Old name = "Formal name" (Call name)

Boy = "Shaksper Robin Goodfellow" (Puck)
Green = "Shaksper Hippolytia" (Polly)
White = "Shaksper Hermia" (Mia)

This evening Puck is 696 grams, Polly is 646 grams, and Mia is 607 grams.

Polly and Mia playing. (Polly is on the left.)

17 May
What I like to see - puppies nursing (from left to right - Puck, Mia, Polly). Afterwards Mia had to yawn. Then Polly had to yawn ... or was she just playing "peak-a-boo"? (Actually she was licking her leg.) Mia was the first to wrestle an invader
18 May
The puppies are all walking ... although their back legs are still a bit unsteady. If you look closely, you can see air underneath Polly as she greats the multicolored alien. Now instead of eating and sleeping, the puppies eat, then play for a few minutes, then fall sleep. The puppies also now react to sound.

Polly resting on Mia.

19 May
Guido was in the whelping box again. He was licking the puppies faces, and Polly grabbed Guido's fur. Polly and Mia were sparing, when Mia noticed me with the camera.
20 May
Brother is nice to sleep on. Three sitting puppies: from left to right, Puck, Mia, and Polly. Puck is the first to put a paw up on the pig rail. Mandy was jealous that I was taking pictures of the puppies, and wanted me to take a picture of her. Since the puppies were starting to do (staggering) laps in the whelping box, I set up a play area for the puppies in my living room. Mandy kept watch from outside. The puppies were very interested in Aunt Tami, with whom they previously have had very little contact ... possibly because Tami is partially stripped and her fur feels different. Yes, that is Aunt Portia in the crate. Puck joined Portia in the crate a few moments later. Two puppies with two older dogs. Finally the puppies fell asleep, only to wake up later and nurse. With the puppies in the living room next to my desk during the day, I will have a hard time getting any work done!
21 May
Puppies sleeping in a box. Polly was the first puppy that I saw take a drink of water. Mia walking underneath Aunt Tami. Mia realizing that there is a wider world. Jail break! After the warden put us back, it was time to take a nap.
22 May
Mia and Polly and Puck

Week 5

23 May
Today the puppies are four weeks old: (from left to right) Mia (767 grams), Polly (792 grams), and Puck (853 grams). As a birthday present, I made the puppies some baby-rice mixed with Esbilac. But the puppies were underimpressed with the gift, even after for each puppy I dipped a finger in the mush then stuck my finger in a mouth. (I did feel teeth starting to form in the mouths.) Mandy had no reservations about eating the mixture. Mia has learned that if mommy is standing up, all Mia needs to do is lay on her back and she is at the right height to reach a nipple.