This is Tami's third breeding attempt. Her two previous attempts in 2017 and 2018 did not produce any puppies. Tami's 2018 breeding, also to Porter, resulted in pregnancy, but Tami absorbed the puppies. (Dogs absorb, rather than have miscarriages.)
Pregnant dogs have a mucus plug, a temporarily lining to block the entrance of bacteria into the cervix, and thus protect puppies from bacteria and infections. Often approximately a week before whelping, as the cervix slowly starts to dialate, the mucus plug is slowly discharged. The discharge is shiny and translucent, with the consistency of the white part of an egg. Today when grooming Tami, I noticed that she has started discharging her mucus plug.
Tami's sister, Portia, who had been bred was ultrasounded today to see if she is pregnant ... but sadly there are no puppies.
I loaded everyone - and everything that I thought I might need - into my car. Then I took my other dogs to my petsitter, where they will stay until things settle down. THen Tami and I moved into the guest bedroom of Jennifer and Keith, friends who live near NC State. Today is Jennifer's birthday, so we joined with others to sing her Happy Birthday and eat some birthday cake. Tami enjoyed all the people ... and still shows no sign of labor.
It seems that as soon as we arrived at NC State, Tami went into stage 1 labor. She peed multiple times, evacuated her bowls, and seemed very anxious. Ultrasound showed that all the puppys' heart rates were in the normal range. (A falling heart rate indicates a puppy in distress.) Some blood was drawn for pre-anesthesia blood work in case a c-section became necessary. Then Tami was put under observation to see what would happen, first in a crate; later we were moved to a spare exam room. Periodically, the vets would check on the puppies via ultrasound.
Around 1 pm, Tami squatted as if to pee, let out a gush of fluid, and then Tami started to lick it up (which I discouraged). I recognized this ... Tami's water had broken. (To be more technical, a puppy had moved into the birth canal, and the outer fluid-filled membrane of the sac surrounding the puppy had ruptured to lubricate the birth canal. At this point the puppy is still covered by an inner sac.) I noted the time, as I had been taught that if no puppy appears within an hour of the water breaking, head to the vets. (Of course, I was already at the vets!)
Tami seemed to have some small contractions, but then she just rested. We waited, but then I eventually checked and noticed that part of a puppy sack was bulging from Tami's vulva. But sadly Tami was not doing any more pushing. At this point the vets decided to ultrasound Tami again. I stepped out of the room for a moment, but when I returned I found a flurry of activity. Evidently the ultrasound showed one of the puppies in distress, a surgeon had become available, and they were taking Tami off for a c-section. I got to watch as a tech put a catheter in a vein of Tami's arm for the administration of anesthesia drugs. Then Tami was taken off to surgery.
Two things were different here than in my previous breeding experience. First, I only observed Tami in stage one labor for a couple of hours; not the 12 to 24 hours to which I am accustomed. Second, Tami seemed to stop having contractions; in my previous litters, my girls were strong pushers.
In talking with the senior vet, she estimated that given the size of the largest puppy's skull that a c-section would ultimately have been necessary.
Finally, around 4 pm I was allowed to take Tami and the boys. But instead of heading home, we returned to Jennifer and Keith's house. There I got everyone settled, fed Tami, and by holding Tami down, enabled the puppies to nurse again. I also weighed the puppies. Each puppy is identified by the color of the yarn tied around their neck. They weighed as follows: White - 192 grams, Green - 235 grams, and Blue - 174 grams.
When Jennifer and Keith returned home from an appointment, I said good-bye as I had to leave for a judging assignment this weekend. Jennifer and Keith have kindly volunteered to look after Tami and her puppies while I am away.
It is usual for puppies to lose weight during the first 24 hours or so after birth. Often the mother is not producing as much milk as she soon will be. Jennifer sent me their weights. White had lost weight, but by the end of the day was back up to his birth weight. Green, who was the heaviest at birth, had also lost weight but by the end of the day had regained all but 5 grams. Blue, the lightest at birth had also intially lost, but by the end of the day was 8 grams heavier than his birth weight.
Here are the puppies in their travel box. White in the foreground, then Green, and in the back Blue. Jennifer has taken the yarn off of Green and Blue, telling them apart by the darker fur of Green and the smaller size of Blue. Underneath the towel is a hot-water bottle to keep the puppies warm. The puppies fussed during the first-half of the trip home, but then settled down and slept for the second-half of the trip.
When we got home, I weighed the puppies and put them in their new whelping (really nursing) box next to my bed. Tami roughed up the pad; I will spend the next several weeks straightening out the pad as Tami will continue to rough it up. Here is Tami nursing the puppies.
The lungs of a puppy are not fully developed when they are born, and continue to develop after birth. Sometimes this development goes wrong and the puppy, unable to breathe, dies. When looked at under a microscope, the lungs of a puppy with puppy lung develeopment disease are markedly different than the lungs of a normal puppy. Scientists are quit excited about puppy lung development disease as it may provide them with an animal model for the corresponding problem in human babies. In two previous litters, I lost one puppy in each litter to puppy lung development disease. (Both bodies were sent to contribute to research on puppy lung development disease.) While no one completely understands puppy lung development disease, based upon my experience, I think these puppies are past the stage when I would see puppy lung development disease.
Another killer of young puppies is a herpes virus. I have been lucky enough not to see it, but I have had fellow breeders lose entire litters to this nasty virus.
Young puppies, until they are about three weeks old, can not regulate their body temperature (and thus can not fight viruses). Consequently upon the advice of my repro vets, I am keeping the room where the puppies are around 80 degrees. And the puppies have a heat lamp to keep them even warmer.
Fortunately all I am seeing so far are fat, quiet puppies who are nursing, and when not nursing are sleeping and twitching (an occasional jerk every minute or so). The twitching is believed to be related to the nervous system growing. Every time I check on the puppies, I look to make sure that each is twitching.
Green continues to be the heaviest puppy. White and Blue are battling it out for second place. White was in second place from birth and for several days. Then Blue caught up yesterday morning, and took the lead at the evening weighting. This morning White took back the lead, but this evening Blue is back in second place behind Green.
Some picture from Jennifer:
Notice that the puppies eyes are not open yet. This will happen in a few more days.
I picked up all my dogs and we all went home. This was the first time that my other dogs had seen the puppies. Tami was firm about telling everyone to stay away from the whelping box. This was especially hard for four-month old Siri who wanted to meet her new cousins.
Here you can see the crust around Green's left eye and around his right eye. The vet used a swab to gently lift off a piece of the crust, which she looked at under a microscope. My vet reported that the crust had dried bacteria and dried white blood cells. So the prescription is warm compresses to remove any crust and an antibiotic liquid to put in the inner corner of Green's (unopened) eyes three times a day. Once Green's eyes open, this should all resolve. So while I am concerned, I am not terribly worried.
So far neither White nor Blue have any occular discharge.
Green has doubled his birth weight.
Tami continues to be a good mom and nurse the puppies. To give you an idea of how much work Tami is doing, normally my adult dogs get three scoops of kibble a day. (A scoop being 1/8 of a cup.) Tami has been eating eight scoops a day ... of puppy kibble (which has more calories than normal kibble) ... plus two large scoops of cottage cheese a day (to keep her calcium levels up). It takes a lot of energy to produce milk for three growing puppies! Just as I weigh the puppies twice a day, Tami also gets weighed once a day. I want to make sure that Tami is not losing weight, nor gaining too much. Today I raised Tami to ten scoops a day, as the puppies will only be sucking even more nutrition from her as they get older.
Today, Green broke the 500 gram barrier with regards to his weight. White is close behind. Blue is bringing up the rear.
White broke the 500 gram weight barrier today.
Here is Green with his head lifted, using his front legs to drag himself across the whelping box. And another picture of Green. A moment earlier he had been trying to "taste" his brother. Like human babies, puppies also try to put everything in their mouth!
I finally was able to get a picture of Blue with his eyes open.
Finally, Green, Blue, and half-on-his-back White - three fat healthy puppies. I hope that it continues.
Here is White being cleaned by Mommy. Young puppies need to be externally stimulated to urinate and defecate. Tami using her nose will flip a puppy over, and then roughly lick the puppy's belly. Besides helping the puppy, this keeps the whelping box clean (even though I change the pad every day) as she drinks any urine and eats any feces.
In the past after the puppies nursed, they fell asleep. Now they are staying awake for a moment or two and exploring before falling asleep. The amount of time that they are awake will slowly increase.
What I sometimes see when I look in the whelping box - only two puppies! This always makes my heart stop for a moment - especially when I am checking on the puppies in the middle of the night - until I realize that one of the puppies is underneath the pig rail. It is called a "pig rail", as in a pig's whelping area it is used to stop the sow from rolling over and crushing some of her pigletts. Norwich mothers always seem to know where their puppies are and never sit on them, so a "pig rail" seems unnecessary.
I can think of several possible explanations. First, the times when I weigh the puppies are arbitrary and may not correspond to what is biologically happening with the puppies; where they are in the process of turning milk into a growing puppy. Second, the puppies may have reached some kind of plateau in their growth, and need some time to do some internal reorganization before they can grow some more. I have seen this before, but never all at once with all the puppies. Third, Tami may be putting the puppies on a schedule, as she seems to spend less time with the puppies during the day, and a lot of time a night in the whelping box. Fourth, on the advice of my repro vets, to stop the spread of parasites from the mother to the puppies, I have been worming Tami at certain times. She just finished three days of worming medication and may not be feeling well. (The puppies get their first worming in a week.) And finally, something else could be going on.
I trimmed the puppies nails for the first time today. Also I reduced the temperature slightly in my house. The puppies were all sleeping separately, indicating that they are warm enough ... and to be honest I just could no longer stand the heat. I have been in shorts, tee shirt, and sandles since bringing the puppies home!
The puppies were all moving around when I took this picture .. White stretching, Blue climbing over Green. Notice that Green has lifted his head to the level of the pig rail.
I am sure that Green is thinking "It sure was easier to get a drink at the milk bar when my brothers were not so big." Green sneaking a drink while Tami is standing up. White yawning. Puppies nursing.
It has been interesting how Tami has been protecting the puppies. I do not think my oldest dog has been in my bedroom since the puppies came home. Normally she sleeps at night on a dog bed at the foot of my bed. But one good growl from Tami and my oldest has been spending her nights in my living room. My four-month old is another story. She is very interested in the puppies, and Tami is constantly chasing her out of my bedroom.
After a nice weight gain during the day yesterday and again last night, again the puppies seem to have stopped. This evening White had lost 5 grams since this morning, Green had stayed the same, and Blue had lost 10 grams. A breeder-friend has reminded me that at this point, such loses are very small compared to the overall weight of a puppy, and that as long as everything else seems ok, that I should not worry. Of course, she admitted that she worries whenever she sees a weight loss.
Today is also "Name Day". My registered names are always Shakespeare related, usually having to do with the most recent Shakespeare play or movie I have seen. Recently I have been reading "Macbeth" by Jo Nesbo. This is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series where they have asked current authors to retell the Shakespeare stories set in modern times. So this is going to be a "Scottish play" litter. (One never says the name of the play, it is bad luck!) For the past week I have been playing around with names. The puppies registered names (and call name in parenthesis) are ... (drum roll, please):
White = "Shaksper Thane of Lennox" (Lennox)
Green = "Shaksper Thane of Fife" (Duffy)
Blue = "Shaksper Thane of Ross" (Rocco)
In the play, Macduff is the Thane of Fife, hence the call name "Duffy". "Ross" is the obvious call name for Blue, but I like my call names to be two syllables. I first tried "Rosco" but that morphed into "Rocco". I also like "Rocky" instead of "Rocco". Of course, call names are easily changed. Puppies when they leave me often get new call names.
I should explain about the square patch on Tami. Tami had an epidural as part of her c-section. The doctor to my horror clippered a big patch of Tami's fur in order to get to Tami's spine. The fur is starting to grow back. It will be interesting to see how soft the fur will be in that area when it grows back. (Clippered Norwich fur comes back soft, rather than the harsh outer coat that is ideal.)
I again brought the puppies out to my living room play pen. But after a short while, I again put them back in their whelping box. The new space must be pretty overwhelming.
In the evening before bedtime, my four-month old, Siri, has been sneaking into the whelping box whenever Tami has been outside. Siri so wants to play with the puppies. I watched as one of the puppies yawned and Siri stuck her nose into the puppy's mouth. Siri got of whiff of "puppy breath" and thought that was wonderful. (It is!) However when Siri hears Tami come back inside, Siri jumps out of the whelping box as she knows she is not supposed to be there.
The puppies are now getting tall enough that they are starting to peak over the pig rail; here is Lennox trying to look out. Duffy got his front paws up on the pig rail to inspect a piece of dirt.
Today again I brought the puppies out to my living room play pen. Again Tami felt obligated to put herself between the puppies and my four-month old, Siri. Siri keeps trying to sneak closer. I took Siri with me when I ran some errands today, leaving the puppies in the play pen, in the hope that without the stress of mommy chasing Siri away that the puppies would get used to the play pen. When I got home, the puppies were all contently sleeping in a pile in the pen. When they woke up, I saw them exploring the pen. I missed seeing who was the first "escapee" - it was either Duffy or Rocco - who had climbed over the wooden block that I put at the entrance to allow Mommy to come and go, but hopefully keep the puppies in. Later I watched Lennox climb out.
Rocco was the first to figure out that the open crate in the play pen is a good place to sleep. The other followed and spent most of the day sleeping in the crate. When awake, they explored the play pen and tried to escape. Here is Duffy following Rocco over the "wall".
Lennox checking out the orange crab and later grabbing and dragging a knotted flannel toy. Because puppies do not have thumbs and can not thumb wrestle, they mouth wrestle. Yes, Duffy has Lennox's snout in his mouth. The object of the game, like Sumo wrestling, seems to be to push the other puppy over. Rocco thinks it is all silly and goes off to explore. Of course the real reason for going over the wall is to get to Mommy and her milk; here is Rocco getting a quick snack. Rocco checking out my slipper and sitting next to Mommy.
Jennifer, Keith, their nephew, and the puppies' big brother, Boo, came to visit for the afternoon. When she was not holding a puppy or puppies, Jennifer took lots of pictures of the puppies:
We had a good time watching the puppies, taking a walk with all the dogs (except the puppies, of course), and practicing some agility. At the end of the day, I had sleeping puppies.
Duffy was the first one to find and "climb the mountain" - one of the dog pillows that I have around my house. He found that it was a good place for a nap. A displaced Siri is in the corner on the ground.
Siri had puppy class this evening. Since the puppies are now regularly climbing out of the play pen - and often climbing back in - I was curious where I would find them when we got home. Fortunately they were all in a pile sleeping in the play pen when we got home.
Here is Rocco showing off the latest head gear that a smart Norwich needs to protect its head from those nasty bumps. Another view. After a moment of letting Rocco wear the toy, I helped Rocco free his head.
So far the puppies have investigated the area around the play pen including the dog bed next to the pen, underneath my computer table, and the box of toys on the other side of me. Here is Lennox discovering the pile of toys. Today both Rocco and Duffy crossed the room to investigate several open dog crates. Lennox preferred to stay by me and lick my feet. (I was wearing sandles). He then proceed to taste (bite) my right big toe. Since his puppy teeth are not fully in, it was only a mild ouch but enough for me to say "Ow" and move my foot. Lennox then proceed to investigate my left foot, including tasting my left big toe!
I always find it interesting that younger dogs can displace older dogs from their favorite spots, without the older dogs objecting. Here are the puppies on the pillow next to me, with Siri on the floor.
Rocco was the first one to try out my baby dog walk; while Duffy checked out my baby tunnel.
I decided today to see if the puppies would eat some baby rice mixed with Esbilac (milk for puppies). They rushed right over to my feeding pan and did a very creditable job. Of course, Mommy cleaned up the left overs. Now that I know that the puppies are interested in eating, I will start feeding them. Of course, this also means that I have to start taking the puppies outside to potty. Once Mommy realizes that there is something else besides her milk coming through the puppys' digestive tracts, she will say "your job now to keep them clean"!
Lennox going through my puppy tunnel.
As often as I think that Siri is being too rough when she plays with the puppies, at times she can be amazingly gentle. Here she is, letting Duffy bite her leg.
I had to be out of the house for a bit, and I came home to find Duffy had his head stuck in the toy. He did not seem to be upset.
I fed the puppies some (chicken)baby food out of those little baby jars. The puppies seemed to like it, but I think the rice is still their favorite.
On the advice of my repro vets, I feed Tami a quarter cup of cottage cheese twice a day while she is nursing. This is to keep her calcium levels up, as nursing puppies make a huge demand on a mother's calcium level and a low calcium level can be fatal. Rocco came over to investigate what Mommy was eating and starting eating some of the cottage cheese. (Mommy shares!) I had never thought to offer puppies cottage cheese. Now I will!
Lennox (top) and Rocco (bottom) playing with the cardboard from a paper towel roll. Notice how Rocco's ears are up and Lennox's ears are down. Lennox's ears will eventually stand up.
At dinner time, I decided to try a new dish, ground up puppy kibble soaked in Esbilac (milk for puppies). It was a big hit with Duffy licking the plate.
For breakfast this morning, besides baby rice soaked in Esbilac, I tried plain ground puppy kibble (not soaked in anything). Rocco was the first to try it ... and he liked it. When Lennox and Duffy finished with the rice, they also gave the plain ground puppy kibble their approval.
Because "big sister" Siri is teething, I sometimes give her a carrot to chew on. Of course, one carrot will not do, as my other dogs also want such a treat. So I give out several. Duffy took a carrot and dragged the carrot onto one of my dog pillows. The other puppies joined him. However the puppies were not sure what to do with the carrot ... just that carrots were desirable as the big dogs wanted the carrots.
The puppies are finding favorite places to sleep. Here is Lennox sleeping in one of the open big dog crates. Possibly he likes the scent of mom who often uses that crate.
Messy eaters! Fortunately my other dogs are more than happy to clean up!
Sleeping together. Notice that Duffy has one leg over Rocco. Lennox is sleeping upside down, with his head lower than his rear end. (He is slowly sliding off the pillow.)
Rocco on my "tipping board". Another view.
Besides the small water dish in their play pen, the puppies have discovered the big dog's water dish. Here is Duffy after getting a drink.
For dinner I divided the baby chicken into three piles, however it seems to be more fun to try to all eat from the same pile at once. Afterwards, Duffy fell asleep, so Lennox started cleaning the dinning area by pulling up the "tablecloth", even though Rocco is still eating.
When Siri is not breaking it up, the puppies often wrestle. Here are Rocco and Lennox going at it: photo1, photo2, and photo3. It looks like fighting, with a puppy trying to rip the leg off of another puppy, chew on an ear, etc. But like professional wrestling, no one seems to get hurt.
Rather than grind up the puppy kibble, I tried the experiment today of letting the puppies eat the kibble "whole". It did not slow them down, and they ate much more than I expected.
Here is Lennox biting at Siri's tail.
For dinner this evening, I cooked some ground turkey for the dogs. The puppies thought this was great. Afterwards, there was a turkey-induced coma.
Breeder folklore is that a puppy at six weeks (and again at six months) looks like it will as an adult. At other times, different body parts grow at different rates (think gangly teenager). I will try to get good pictures of everyone.
The turkey last night may have been enjoyable ... but now it is coming out the other end, and unfortunately as diarrhea. So there will be no more food experiments until everyone has firm stools again. And while I was cleaning up the whelping box, I accidently stepped on Rocco's toe. Much wailing! It is a hard lesson to learn when young that the world is not always a happy place. Soon afterwards, Rocco was running around as if nothing had happened.
Once I had everything - and everyone - cleaned up, I noticed that Lennox was shivering. I held him close for a while. I had also notice that of the three, Lennox's diarhea was very watery - not a good sign. I took his temperature, which was normal. I came very close to calling my vet for an appointment, but after a nap, Lennox seemed fine. He is eating, drinking, and - other than the diarrhea - seems ok. But he is the cause of my worry today.
I think that Duffy may be a "fluffy". There is a gene (scientifically denoted FGF5) that controls coat length. There is a dominant allele that causes a short coat length, and a recessive allele that causes a long coat length. In some breeds, the allele is "fixed" (only one copy exists). In others, both alleles are accepted (smooth collies and rough collies, for example). And in other, both exist in the breed, but only one type is accepted (can be exhibited in the show ring). Norwich is one of the breeds where the "proper" coat is short; Norwich with two copies of the recessive long-coat allele eventually look like fluff balls and hence are called "fluffies".
The long-coat allele has nothing to do with health, so it is not something that I worry about when making breeding decisions. I knew (from DNA testing) that both parents - Tami and Porter - of the puppies are fluffy-carriers (have one recessive copy of the long-coat allele). This means that there is a theoretical 25 percent chance of any puppy from a Porter-Tami breeding being a fluffy. Right now Duffy is looking more hairy than his brothers, which makes me think that he might be a fluffy. We could DNA test Duffy to see if he is a fluffy ... or we can just wait to see how his coat developes.
From a practical viewpoint, a fluffy has advantages over a normal-coated Norwich. A normal-coated Norwich has to be "stripped" - something that not all groomers know how to do; whereas any groomer can clipper or scissor a fluffy. The downside to a fluffy is that their coat collects dirt and they have to be bathed on a regular basis; whereas a normal-coated Norwich rarely needs a bath.
Mommy and the puppies evidently have decided that my cooking is not the best, as Tami let the puppies nurse this morning. Tami again let the puppies nurse right before bedtime in the evening.
Lennon says "When going on a safari, it is a wise idea to camp near an oasis".
Jennifer, Keith, and big brother Boo came to visit for the afternoon. There was much playing, and holding of the puppies (especially by Jennifer). Keith sent me these pictures: