Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Quick Good News Update

We have results on both Elsie and Kenya, and both sets of results fall into what we can call good news. :)  Yay!

First, Elsie.  Though the Elsie Bear's tumor came back as a Grade 2 tumor (right in the middle, 1 being least aggressive, 3 being most aggressive), the tumor itself had no tendrils or rough edges (very clean and self-contained).  A second scale (the Mitotic scale, used to assess/predict likelihood of the cancer spreading), ranked Elsie's tumor a "0"  (on a scale of 0-5). That means it's highly unlikely that the cancer has or will spread.  In other words, it appears that Elsie's tumor was an isolated skin cancer that hasn't spread anywhere else, and her prognosis is excellent.

It also means she does not need chemo or radiation treatments.  All we have to do is check her regularly (which we already do for all the dogs) for bumps or skin irritations, and if we spot anything, get her to the vet sooner than later for assessment.

She's rebounding very well from her surgery (is running now and acting much like her old self). :)  And she's back to being our bear. :)


Second, Kenya:  The sweet Kenya bean is 100% her old self, like nothing was ever wrong.  :)  Her test results indicated that she has both an active and a chronic (longer term) infection, both of which we and the vet believe are rooted in her mastitis.  Since being on the antibiotics again Kenya's temp has come back to normal, her swelling (in her teats and hocks) has nearly disappeared, and she's walking, running, eating, and jumping normally.  She appears to be just fine.

We gave her only one dose of Rimadyl (Monday morning when she couldn't walk). She hasn't needed it since.  But we're still pushing the pups' weaning schedule up a little just in case Kenya relapses (it's unknown how Rimadyl might affect nursing puppies, so we don't want to take any chances). The little squirts are five weeks old now so it's really not that early (we would have weaned them by six weeks anyway) .  And they love puppy food, so they'll do just fine.

All in all both girls are doing fabulously, and we are incredibly relieved.  Elsie goes next week to get her stitches out.  And Kenya will go with us when we take the pups for their 6-week check-up (which will be closer to 6.5 weeks).

It's all good. Thanks for all your well-wishes and prayers. Just thought you'd like to know.


'Til next time,

Monday, April 26, 2010

She's Back! :)

Ahhhhh... the sweet sound of canine tonails evenly clicking on the kitchen floor!

Yup... the Kenya bean is up on all fours this evening (yay!).  :)  She ate her dinner (yay!), and is now pacing (evenly on all four limbs) between DH (in kitchen) and me (in office) showing off her bone  (remember... Kenya always carries a bone -- which is why it's alarming when she doesn't).

And yes, her tail wag and wiggle are back. :)  (Double yay!)

Joy, joy, happy dance! :)

Nope, we still don't know what's wrong or what happened, and, no, she hasn't nursed the pups since we gave her Rimadyl.  We'll let it pass through her system before we allow her to nurse them again.

Not to worry: The pups little tummies are very full nonetheless. :) They love puppy gruel and kibble. ;o)

Just thought you'd like to know.

'til next time,

Kenya is Having a Rough Go of It

So it looks like we might be bumping up the weaning schedule for the puppies.

Kenya developed mastitis again over the weekend (still a very common issue for nursing dams). What was different this time, however, was that Sunday afternoon and evening she seemed to get progressively more stiff in her hind legs. By last night she was limping noticeably. And by early this morning she wouldn't bear any weight on her rear left leg at all.

So this morning, we went back to vet.

We're home now, but we're still not sure what's up with Kenya. What we do know is this:

  • She still has a fever (running between 102.5 and just over 103 -- elevated for canines but not terrible)
  • Both hock joints are inflamed, one enough so that she won't bear any weight on it.
  • She doe not have Lyme disease (did the test this morning -- and Kenya is vaccinated for it anyway).
  • The vet doesn't really think it's her mastitis (gone septic) because her mastitis this time isn't that bad, and last time cleared up with antibiotics.
  • He also doesn't think it's an injury (seems more like infection of some sort with how her symptoms have presented).
We're having more blood tests done and are waiting on results. Dr. Wagner (our beloved vet, whom we trust implicitly) put Kenya on another course of antibiotics for her mastitis (safe for the nursing pups), but he also felt we needed to get at least one does of Rimadyl (anti-inflammatory) in her for the hock-joint inflammation and pain.

How Rimadyl affects nursing pups is unknown (he couldn't find any current studies on it), so we're thinking we need to push up the pups' weaning schedule. We don't want to do anything to risk the pups, but we also can't let Kenya go untreated or leave her in this kind of pain.

The pups are nearly five weeks old now, so we're only talking about a difference of days (we usually aim to have litters completely weaned by six weeks of age). They're already well into the process anyway, and they long ago got all the colostrum they needed for health protection. I think they can handle weaning now without any trouble.

So... the pups got gruel mixed with chunky kibble (soaked to soften) for lunch today, and they all did just fine (and are sleeping soundly as I write this)! We'll just increase the amount of nursing formula content we put in their gruel for a couple days, and that should do them just fine. We'll keep you posted! :)

In the meantime, we're back to wait and see (still waiting on Elsie's biopsy, too, and now waiting on Kenya's blood work). Thanks for all your kind thoughts and prayers! Stay tuned.

'Til next time,

P.S. For those of you who aren't on Facebook and don't know, Elsie has a mast-cell tumor removed on Friday from her shoulder (very quick onset), and we're waiting for the biopsy to determine its grade.  I'll put up something about that here sometime later today. :)  Just know that she appears to be rebounding from surgery well (for the most part).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meet the Pups: 4.5 Weeks Old

Here they are, all nine pups, now 4.5 weeks old. They've grown so fast! Since they're growing and changing so much I thought it might be time to put up individual pictures of them (in no particular order).

These shots are candid (no posing.. just capturing the pups as they are), and they were taken right after they ate (so you might seem some food remnants on their coats here or there!).  :)

Introducing, for the second time...

Master Red, weighing 6 pounds 5.5 ounces:

Master Green (dark green collar), weighing 5 lbs 13 oz:

Master Blue (royal blue collar), weighing 5 lbs 11.5 oz:

Miss White, weighing 4 lbs 12 oz:

 Miss Lime (yellowy-green collar), weighing 5 lbs 12 oz:

 Miss Sky (light blue collar), weighing 5 lbs 14 oz:

Miss Orange, weighing 5 lbs 14 oz:

Miss Yellow, weighing 5 lbs 5 oz: 

Miss Pink, weighing 5 lbs 13 oz:

These, of course, do not capture their emerging personalities. I'll post more on that another day, but for now we know that all of the pups are extremely people-oriented, sociable, alert, interested in their surroundings, and are tracking things well visually. No one is obviously dominant; no one is obviously on the bottom of the pecking order.  :)  That's a good thing. :)

Oh, and they all love puppy food mixed with puppy formula (the thicker the better these days)!  Yum! :)  We can expect them to double their weights by the time they leave for their forever homes (can you imagine?!). :)

And they should be fully weaned by the time they're six weeks old.  That's just under two weeks from now!  Good thing, though: Kenya has mastitis again. :(  But we're doing hot compresses, her temp is coming down, and she's back on antibiotics.  :)

So... whatcha think?

'Til next time,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Four Weeks Old - Just Pics

'til next time,

Four Weeks Old (Info and Pics!)

The pups are all four weeks old now (as of yesterday), and the strides they've made in the last week astound me (happens every time!).

  • They can hear now, but still cannot identify from where the sound comes (though they can get its general direction).
  • They lap water.
  • They're eating semi-solid food (about the consistency of runny oatmeal now when then start, but while they're eating it thickens).
  • They have lots of teeth, so they're chewing and teething a ton!
  • They're learning how-hard-is-too-hard when it comes to play-biting with their litter-mates (oh my... the yips are terrible when one pup latches onto another pup's ear!). This early experimentation is how they learn.
  • They're pouncing (well... they tip over when they do, but they're pouncing nonetheless).
  • They're "playing" with toys.  Not like they will, of course, but they're seeing them and chewing on them.
  • They can almost trot (again... they tip over, but they're trying!).
  • They've been exposed to several surfaces now underneath their feet (fleece, shag rug, wood laminate, brick, paper, cotton toweling, felt, wool, microfiber blankets, etc.), and after initial investigation seem comfortable with all.
  • They're handling all kinds of new sounds (we expose them to these before they develop fear responses so they can handle them later): music, talk radio, TV, dishwasher, pots and pans, the blender, dishwasher, thunder (thankfully we had storms this week), hand clapping, adult dogs barking and whining, doors slamming, the ice maker, clock chimes, washer, dryer, vacuum...)
  • They're spending less and less time with Kenya (really only when she nurses them and for a few hours through the night).
In short, they're growing up!

They're REAL puppies now. :)

Take a look:


They're learning to love and trust people (see how relaxed they are in our arms!). And they quickly recognize my voice.

Thankfully, all seems well with the litter; they're all thriving. 

And we're relaxing a bit, too. 

That frees us to focus a bit on Elsie (our other dam, 6 yo yellow), who had a Mast Cell Tumor (MCT) removed this morning at the vet's and came home this evening.  We're waiting on biopsy results for her (should take about a week), but hoping for the best.

That's the news from the whelping box!

'til next time,l

Thursday, April 22, 2010

3.5 Weeks Old: Early Play and Dominance Games

The pups are demonstrating much more control in their walking and balance now (though they don't quite have it all down yet!). They're also becoming aware of the fact that they have siblings.

What you'll see in this clip is some early playfulness and some very preliminary attempts to figure out who's more dominant (litters usually end up with loose pecking orders -- a pack thing). Some of that is established by the vocalizations you hear, and even more by their wrassling. :)

Also, in case you're wondering when you see the clip, the pups can now "feel" their ribbon collars (something neurologically they were unaware of before). They've also become coordinated enough to "scratch" using their hind legs (another milestone). You'll see Mr. Green here "discovering" his collar, and he's not too pleased about it (you'll see him scratch at it several times).

Not to worry. He's very content with it now.

Here they are (still 3.5 weeks old):

Aren't they growing fast?

'til next time,

3.5 Weeks Old: FOOD!

And so begins the slow transition from nursing to puppy food! :)

Yup, sometime during their fourth week of life, puppies begin to need more than just their mother's milk to live on and satisfy them. In the wild, the dam would hunt, eat, and then regurgitate partially digested food for her young pups to eat.

LOL... that's not happening here. :)

So, for their first introduction to food other than what they get nursing, we make a runny gruel of puppy formula (a canine milk replacement formula, kinda like baby formula except for puppies) thickened with dry puppy food (what they'll eventually be on completely later on). We blend the formula with the puppy food in a blender (more exposure to noises the puppies will hear in their future homes) until it's like a thin milkshake consistency.

Then we pour it into what we've dubbed the "flying saucer" pan (a circular puppy-feeding pan).

Add puppies, and you end up with a feeding frenzy! :)

Even for the very first time. Take a look:

They did QUITE well for never having had food before, don't you think?

More to come shortly... :)


3.5 Weeks Old: Learning to Lap Water

The puppies have learned to use their tongues for grooming each other, and that means they can also "lap" up water.

Here's a video clip capturing the puppies' introduction to a water bowl.  :)

By now, at 4 weeks old, they're little experts. Just wait 'til you see them with gruel! :)

'til next time,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Three Weeks Old (in Pictures)

The pups turned three-weeks-old this week (Weds. and Thurs.), and all of a sudden they're PUPPIES! 

  • They can see a bit better now (but not well yet).
  • Their eyes are still blue, but we're seeing some edges of color.
  • They're reacting now to sounds (means their ears are opening).  They can't follow a sound yet or figure out where it came from, but they can hear it.
  • They're vocalizations are less random and more intentional (a bark is a bark; a whine is a whine, etc...). 
  • They have TEETH (razor-sharp little baby teeth... poor Kenya)
  • They've discovered each other, but are still learning about each other.
  • They're nursing more effectively and less often.
  • They can tell the difference between Momma Kenya and people! 
  • They're getting more socialization time 1:1 (away from the pack) with people.
  • They LIKE people. :)
  • The LOVE Momma Kenya (the milk machine). 
  • The LOVE the puppy pile almost as much as they love Kenya.
  • They're licking and lapping.  
  • They're climbing and exploring.
And they're making us giggle and giggle and giggle and giggle. Sweet silly puppies.

Here's a photo summary of the past few days:

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” Bern Williams

'Til next time,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cuteness Factor: 18 Days Old

What follows are a few more cuteness-factor pics (they get more squeezable every day!).


1. Miss Lime is being "socialized" by Aunt Jeanie (something we do several times a day now for very short periods of time).

2.  Kenya: "Look, Aunt Jeanie!  I have a rope and that makes me really special!  See!  See... I have a rope!"  (while Aunt Jeanie, my DTS, is socializing Mr. Green). :)

3.  In this picture, Miss Orange was doing the doggie paddle (on her back) in her sleep. :)

4.  Sleepy Miss Yellow shares a yawn (as the pups all do still quite a bit).

5. Miss White is Sleepy, too.

6.  The pups groom each other now that they're aware of each other.

7.  They've become expert, efficient nursers.

8.  Here, Miss Yellow demonstrates the classic puppy splay (Miss Yellow is sleeping contentedly - that's Kenya's paw to her right).

9.  All of the pups can sit now, most without wobbling and tipping over (heehee):

10.  They can walk now, too (unsteadily, but their unsteady gates get them where they want to go!).

11.  The still-toothless wonders happily chew on each other now. :)  Yom yom.  It won't be quite so happy when their teeth come in.

12. Though not hearing yet, the pups are much more visually aware of their surroundings. :)

13.  Their play, which lasts a whopping few minutes (no more), consists of pawing at, chewing on, and pouncing toward (and flopping over) each other.

14. In this picture, Miss Sky and Miss Yellow partake in sumo-wrestling, puppy style (and they both almost immediately tipped over!). :)

15. The pups eyes are clearing a bit, but still very blue.

That's life in the whelping box for now.  Tomorrow we're pulling out the puppy pen so we can move them from the whelping box to the pen when it's clean-up time (it's a little crazy cleaning the whelping box with nine squiggly puppies climbing all over my feet and legs).

All is well, and all the pups are doing fabulously!  :)  And DH and I are each getting about six hours sleep a night now (staggered... he goes to bed 2-3 hours before I do, then gets up 2 hours before me).

And so it goes.

'Til next time,