Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome Puppy #2 Master Red :o)

Two hours on the dot from the minute pup #1 arrived (I was almost worried), Kenya started active contractions again.  Twenty-five minutes after that she delivered her whopping pup #2.

Weighing in at 1 pound 0.5 ounces (16.5 ounces), the second pup to arrive is a healthy black boy, now officially Master Red.

He's a full ounce heavier than his firstborn brother, and he's been more vocal since his very first breath (a breath, by the way, that he took while the rest of his body was still working its way into this world).  His was a little trickier delivery (sac already ruptured; head and one leg protruding; kinda stuck there for a few a contractions), but after a few stressful moments, and a hearty yip from Kenya, he made his way all the way out of his mother's birth canal.

Master Red's airway and lungs seem fine, and he's very vocal (I love the "whale song" of neonates; we'll try to get a video up as soon as we can). He's nursing well (able to suckle), but not as vigorously as Master Blue (I have to remember that Master Blue has two hours of in-this-world experience on his younger brother).  All is well, though.  It's all within "normal" whelping standards.

That is, except for the pup size. Technically, they say that average Lab pups weigh between 13 oz and 15 oz at birth. Less is a little light; more is a little big.

Because this litter is smaller in number than Kenya's last, I'm not surprised the pups are a little bigger (more room to grow in utero, less competition for nutrients). And they're within an ounce of each other by weight, so they're developmentally where they should be relative to each other.

Kenya has whelped them both successfully (albeit with a little more difficulty than with her first litter).  So we're optimistic for the rest of her process.

So far so good.

Here are a few more pics of the boys. Notice the length of Master Red's toenails (he's without a ribbon in the first two pictures, and that's my white-gloved hand holding him up to Kenya's teat). And notice Master Red's milk mustache. Pretty good for his first nursing experience (and a good indicator that Kenya's milk is abundant).

The boys are "singing" as I write this.

And since we know for certain that there is at least one other pup in there we'll be waiting expectantly.

Stay tuned!


Welcome Puppy #1 Master Blue :o)

It's a 15.5 oz black baby boy!  And now he's officially Master Blue.

Uneventful head-first, sac-in-tact delivery -- but his big blocky head (yay!) seemed a little tougher for Kenya to push out.  

Kenya and neonate are doing fine. 

Here are some quick pics:

Now we're waiting on the next pup's arrival. :o)

Stay tuned. :) 


2011 or 2012? Puppies Come When They Will

So we're still waiting. 

It's Gestational Day 63 since Kenya's and Tuc's first tie.  If Kenya did not conceive any pups as a result of that tie, but rather from a subsequent tie with Tuc (two days later), then it's possible that the pups are at Gestational Day 61.  Litters can be a mix of both ties, which is why the count is made from the first tie.

It appears Kenya is moving into later Stage One. She's been pacing for most of the last ten hours.  And she's stopped wagging her tail or carrying things in her mouth -- sure indicators that she's uncomfortable.

She's actively trying to hide in corners and is still occasionally nesting.

But we haven't seen any contractions yet, so we're not worrying.

 If, on the other hand, she was actively working on pushing the pups out and nothing was happening, then we'd be worried.

We checked in with the vet just a bit ago, and he's not concerned.  Kenya is a proven dam (has successfully whelped a litter before without complication).  And as long as she's not actively pushing  yet, the clock isn't yet ticking.  Once she starts contracting, we keep close track of time to better determine if an emergency C-section would be in order.

But we're not "going there" yet.  :O)

Here's the sweet Kenya Bean this morning:

She's our sweet girl, and she's clearly uncomfortable.  But her vitals are good, and she looks good, and she's clearly *not* in distress. 

So we wait.

And now the question is, are we going to have to wait until next year to see these puppies face-to-snout?

Stay tuned,


Friday, December 30, 2011

Early Stage One

It appears Kenya has moved into Stage One of canine labor.

  • She's nesting (instinctively digging at the floors and carpets and at the towels we have on the floors) in an attempt to build a den for her puppies. 
  • She refused breakfast this morning (a sure sign that she's on her way).
  • She's restless and uncomfortable.
  • She's panting nearly non-stop.
  • She's "needier" than usual.

"Don't leave me, Dad!"

Long-time Reader knows that Kenya is not a cuddle bug the way Elsie, Baxter, and Ridge are/were.  She usually wants nothing to do with being on the couch or on our laps. Oh, she's very affectionate and people-oriented; but she's normally quite content to just curl up on the floor at or on our feet.

But during labor (both with her first labor 18 mos ago, and with this one, too) Kenya becomes a snuggler. She wants to be on the couch pushed up against her humans, and if we get up, she gets up, too, and follows (lol.. I can't even go into the bathroom without her following!). :) 

It's a security thing, I'm sure.  She's clearly uncomfortable, and our presence calms her. We can't take her pain away, but we can walk with her through it. And, though we don't like to see her in pain, we feel privileged to be there for her.

Isn't that the way of it with humans, too? It's a privilege to care for those we love.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Kenya's snuggles. She's usually far too wiggly ("Look! I have a bone, and I'm special!"), and when she's not wiggly, she's happy to rest on the floor nearby. 

But during labor she needs us in ways she doesn't in routine, day-to-day life. And we're happy to oblige.

So, we sit with her and wait.  We don't make a fuss, but we do stay close. And that seems to allow her to sleep and rest as she needs to.

I suspect she'll starting whleping later today sometime. Or tonight.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy a few extra snuggles.

Stay tuned!


P.S.  No active contractions yet, no fluids, and no pushing.  We're just waiting.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

While We Wait: Catching Up on Previous Whelping Notes (Informational Post)

I figured that since we're waiting on Kenya, I may as well do something productive.

So, in addition to making sure all of our whelping supplies are in place, I've been reading through our previous notes about our whelping experiences just to remind myself again of what to expect and to make sure we're prepared.

Since each labor and delivery (each whelping experience) is unique though, we can only prepare *so* much.  Most of the work, of course, falls on the dam.  And Labs, in general, are easy whelpers. But *just in case* we try to be prepared.

For those of you who might be interested, here are links to a few of my previous posts from past litters that I'm reading through this afternoon.

I've also pulled out all our trusted resources and guides for handy reference, and I'm perusing them now. 

But our best preparations, when all is said and done, are probably the experiences our fellow Lab breeders have shared with us and the bit of experience we've gained over the years.

That said, I still have a knot in my stomach and a tightness in my throat. I suppose, in some ways, we can never really be fully prepared.  We can only do the best we can.

And so we will.

Still waiting....

'til next time,


Nope, no labor yet.

It's gestational day #61 (the same day on which Kenya started labor with her last litter).  And she's not showing even the remotest sign of Stage One labor (like pre-labor in humans).  She's still eating. Her temp bumped up over 100 degrees (F) this morning (after steady decline the last couple of days), she's romping and wiggling and acting quite normal.  No extra neediness (a classic sign in her when she grows uncomfortable) and no nesting (digging at the rugs or trying to hide in corners).

So here she is, the Kenya bean in all her "with puppy" glory. :O)

It's funny. As I look at these photos, I see a calm, sweet, lovely, mature, expectant dam, full of Lab faithfulness, dignity and grace.  And all of that is true.

But the Kenya of my heart and mind is still our wiggly Kenya Bean; our "look Mom and Dad, I have a bone in my mouth and that makes me special" waggle-butt, our affectionate-but-quite-content-to-sleep-on-our-feet snuggler, our faithful trot-by-our-sides-watching-our-every-move companion.

In some ways, she'll forever be a puppy-squirt to me. Long-time Reader might remember when we brought Kenya home as an eight-week-old from her breeder's in VA to meet Baxter (who lived with us then), Ridge (who passed over the rainbow bridge a few months ago), and Elsie.  But for those of you who never knew the Kenya Bean as a pup, here's a brief trip down Memory Lane:

Puppy Kenya snuggling with old man Ridge (who is now over the Rainbow Bridge)

Puppy Kenya snuggling with almost 2 yo Elsie

Fast learner!

Puppy Kenya meeting then-Sarah's-boyfriend-now-our-son-in-law-for-almost-four-years-and-soon-to-be-dad-himself Chris!

My favorite picture of the Kenya Bean as a little squirt

Puppy Kenya not long after we brought her home. :o)

Puppy Kenya sleeping head-to-head with the Boos (Baxter, who lives with DSD and her hubby, and has for nearly four years now).

Ten-week-old Kenya in her pink cast snugging with Elsie (Kenya broke her leg romping with one of the bigger dogs -- and recovered just fine).

"Watcha doing with Ridge, Dad???  Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

Kenya watching the big doggies retrieve.

We love our Kenya Bean. :)   And we think she represents the best of what the Lab breed has to offer (across the board).  That's why we've chosen to breed her.

We suspect the pups in her belly are going to be lovely, smart, faithful, intelligent, loyal, eager-to-please, affectionate, people-pleasing retrievers, and we can hardly wait to meet them face to snout (oh boy, puppy breath!). :)

I have to admit, however, that the longer Kenya's labor waits to start, the more concerned I'm becoming because of the size of these in-utero pups.  Whelping is usually easy for Labs, but can become a risk to the dam with smaller litters whose pups grow too large before whelping.  As much as we love these babies already, our primary concern for now is our Kenya Bean.

Let's just hope all goes smoothly and starts soon.

We'll keep you updated!

'til next time,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We're Back, and Kenya is Expecting!

First things first: thank you, faithful readers, for hanging in there with us all this time.

The canine crew is just fine. And though we miss Ridge, DH and I have settled into life with one less Lab. In an odd sort of way, Ridge's absence allows us to enjoy the remaining five in ways we couldn't before. So though we still grieve him, we relish the others all the more.

Lots has happened since last I posted:
  • Twenty-seven-year-old DFS finished another semester of school and will be starting an internship with Habitat for Humanity in January. God-willing,  he'll graduate with his 2-year degree in May. And, yes, in case you're wondering, he still lives at home, and I'm still chauffeuring. It's all good.
  • Twenty-four-year-old DYS finished up at Temple and is graduating with his BS in Computer Sciences (IT-related somehow).  He's landed a fabulous job with great benefits not far from where we live, so he'll be moving home for now and commuting to work from here.  It's delightful to have him around again. 
  • Twenty-five-year-old DSD and her hubby discovered they're expecting their first child in May.  Yay!  That means, in just a few months, we're going to be grandparents (of the human kind) for the very first time.  What fun! 
  • DH "retired" (was let go, voluntarily, during Pfizer's latest round of cutbacks in October), but has since gotten a new full-time job with good benefits in his field with a pharmaceutical regulatory consulting firm. He started December 1st.
  • Me?  Well... I honestly can't tell you where the last several months have gone. They seemed to pass in an instant, and here we are at year's end once again.
Which brings me to Kenya.  Yup, we're finally anticipating the arrival of our first Tuc-Kenya litter. We've been planning and hoping for this litter for over three years now (since flying Tuc home here from his breeder's in AZ), and we can't wait to see what their combined genes produce.

My best guess is an all-black litter (though both are capable of producing chocolate), and hopefully we'll have a balanced mix of males and females.

Kenya's "due" date (as in, Kenya's 63rd day of gestation) is Saturday, December 31st.  But she delivered her first litter on Day 61 (which would be tomorrow, the 29th).  And Elsie delivered as early as Day 58, which was two days ago).  All that to say, she really could go into labor any time.

Kenya's temperature was 99.8 last night ("normal" for adult canines is 101), was 99.5 today.  Once her temp dips below 99.0 we'll know we can expect the pups to arrive within 24 hrs.   I expect them to arrive tomorrow sometime, but we'll see.

Here's Kenya's x-ray, taken yesterday on her Day 59).  Three pups are clearly visible (two  toward the bottom of her belly, and one up toward her spine).  The best way to find them is to look for the vertebrae (puppy spines) and ribs or to look for the outlines of their round skulls.

As I play with contrasts in the image here, I think I see two more shadows, so I'm expecting four, perhaps five, but she may really only be carrying three.  What do you all think as you look at the x-ray?  Feel free to comment below. :O)

We'll all find out soon enough.

In the meantime, we'll do our best to make sure Kenya is comfortable and safe. And when those pups arrive, we'll do the same for the wee ones.

Stay tuned!  We'll be blogging regularly again now, especially since we have a few forever families waiting for these puppies already! :)

Until next time!