12 April 2016
Breeding animals involves science and art – both sides of the brain – and a healthy sprinkling of stress, for me. As an intuitive and sensitive person, it doesn’t surprise me that I resonated with this breed, the Tibetan Terrier. I feel their moods and can read their states of mind, similarly to how I see them react to mine. This week, however, is one of those more stressful weeks where I am on ‘high alert’ and attending to my pregnant bitch 24/7.
Gigi is our third brood bitch. First, there was Izzie, our foundation bitch. She whelped three litters, during her time in our breeding program. Out of Izzie came Coppi, our second brood bitch (and Billie Jean and Ziva’s mummy dog). Both are now retired and living lives of luxury – one, in VT and the other, in Marblehead, MA. Billie was bred to Oskar last week and Ziva’s soon to come into season – but I want to write about my experience with Gigi, today.
Gigi was bred by Jean Allen of Coshan Tibetan Terriers in South Hadley, Massachusetts. We had hoped for a breeding of her Tae to my Oliver and I was going to get my pick, but Oli couldn’t do the deed. Try and try, as he might, it just wasn’t happening. So, Jean took Tae to George in Rowley, Massachusetts and the resulting litter included Jean’s Jack and my Gigi. Jack is a fine young stud dog and Gigi – well, Gigi is a princess and we love her madly.
Gigi has particular tastes and knows EXACTLY what she wants and lets me know! From her first pregnancy, I knew that she wanted to whelp her puppies on the big upholstered couch. She loved digging in the cushions and nose surfing in the crevices in between. And she was very happy in the corner, pushing out her puppies. So, I wrapped it in contractor plastic bags and beach towels. 100% cotton sheets, on top of the towels – and then, more towels. Pregnant dams LOVE to dig and nest in the towels – so, why not let them? ;>)
I believe in reading the signs and giving the animals what they want, when it’s appropriate. And when it comes to a mummy dog ready to whelp her puppies? She can have WHATEVER she wants, in my book! So, here we are today – the third time ’round. She dines every few hours on kibble with a little SOJOS, Blue Hubbard squash and cooked ground pork mixed in. And plenty of fresh clean water.
She’s big as a hippo. Her favorite vet tech in the world (mine, too) came by yesterday with her clippers to finesse her privates – and I stuck the thermometer in where the sun doesn’t shine last evening, for the first time. We take morning and evening temps, as there is often a sharp temperature drop that indicates whelping is coming soon. Last time, Gigi’s 7am temp was ‘normal’ and the puppies came at noon. But I am committed to taking her temperature, whether or not I catch the drop. It can only help!
Then, I watch her eyes. My girls usually get what I call ‘cow eyes’. They get sort of deep and gazeless – do those words even make sense? Well, if you saw it, you’d know what I mean.
And they get clingy, as in they won’t leave me alone. Follow me EVERYWHERE in the house. So, I stick close to them, instead!
And, of course, then, the contractions begin.
I am highly aware of their condition, throughout all of the behaviours. Gigi is a star whelper and I am grateful for this. She makes it look very natural and last time, we got six puppies in two and a half hours during daylight! I hope we get as lucky, this time.
Cheryl is poised, down in the Catskills. She awaits the text from me and will hop into her car and come up to Stowe for three days. Bob and Lisa have the second car packed and ready to come for the weekend. And our ever devoted Jenifer is on call, ready at a moment’s notice to come and tend to her sweet Georgie Girl. We’ve got Deb & Richard’s family in the wings, and EJB and Levi, too. Levi fell in love with Pippie, last litter, and wants to help me care for Gi. I love involving thoughtful mature young children. They have the sweetest quality of attentiveness, without being presumptuous. Lily and Daisy have grown up and flown the coop. They’ve traded in their puppy love for equestrian devotion. I hope that Levi will carry on in the tradition of Kensington kids handling and caring for the young pups.
I am up at 3am, as I just don’t sleep more than three or four hours at a stretch, during these times. Gigi’s bladder likes to be emptied pretty often. Oliver’s calmed down, now that Billie’s been bred and is through her season. Poor little bugger doesn’t eat, doesn’t sleep and loses three or four pounds, every time a girl goes into season. I heard him eat voraciously a few minutes ago – a good sign! Life will soon be back to normal, until Ziva’s season begins!
We changed the XRAY appointment from this Thursday to today, as I think Gigi’s getting close and I don’t want to take her for an uncomfortable car ride – so, we’re hoping for good calcification of the skeletons. Here is an image of her ultrasound and one of the developing embryos on Day 32.
Thank you for your interest in our Kensington Tibetans!
Here’s to a healthy litter of puppies – whelped during daylight – and thank you for the love and help that all of our friends provide during these times. The food, too! Keep that food coming! ;>)
And wish us luck!