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The tragedy of breeder rescue situations

9 November 2017

We have them in every breed: situations where things have gotten out of hand, the animals are neglected and somehow, the humans don’t see it; won’t admit it; and resist help.  And there is no need for me to include a photo similar to what we see on the television during the holiday season.  They are terrible photos.

Last week, I got pulled into one of these situations and lost my life for five days.  The tearful frustration that eventually led to my bowing out of the challenge was precipitated by many deep feelings and, ultimately, a sense of powerless anger.

I think I have a better understanding of these rescue situations, now.  One can’t deny that some form of mental illness seems to play a part, as does a ‘hoarding’ orientation.  Surrounding ourselves with the unconditional love of multiple dogs: they don’t judge us and we feel very much loved.  And as for whether there is a monetary component to these rescues?  It’s unclear.  In 2014, our breed had a large US rescue of 31 Tibetan Terriers where money hadn’t been an issue – but we also have rescues where money is a real problem.  The common underlying element I’ve seen is that the human seems to lose the power of discernment and there is a disconnect between true reality and what they ‘see’.

WB loving 14 year old Mia in Hopkinton, MA. 2006.

14 year old Max on the couch. Popponesset, 2006.

Way back in the beginning of my journey in this breed, I fell deeply in love with my first two Tibetans; littermates, one male and one female.  They both lived to 15 and passed, within one month of one another.  It broke my heart but I didn’t lose my way, as I’d already brought the foundation pair for my Kensington breeding program into our lives and these two young TTs helped me through my grieving.  It was right then and there, I realized I didn’t ever want to go through the death experience again.  And the only way I saw to avoid future death experiences would be to re-home my animals, when the time came to retire them from my breeding program.

I took matters further and vowed to myself never to either become a rescue situation or let my pack grow to a size beyond that which I could lovingly manage.  So, instead of grieving at death, I grieve in anticipation of each of my beloved animals moving on and into new forever homes at retirement.  But it is a ‘softer’ grieving period, as the animals live on and their departure allows for the arrival of a new puppy in my pack.

Is it easy?  No.  Is it painful?  Yes.  How do I plan for it?  I leave it up to the universe and inevitably, the universe presents options and I treat each one as a real possibility.  Toward that end, I’ve been sharing these inquiring forever families who are looking for older Tibetan Terriers with peer breeders, as I’ve learned that the practice is healthy for me and we must share our learning with our friends.  Together, this practice of re-homing retiring dogs can help to keep our breeding packs smaller and reduce the number of annual rescues.

Georgie Girl, now retired and splitting her time between Naples, FL and Concord, MA. 2012.

Along the way, too, there are the puppies I choose to breed and raise.  I’ve been asked many times, ‘How do you give them up?’  Well, I look at my forever families and see the joy that these puppies bring them and my circle of peeps widens, with each litter.  So, I’ve come to think of myself as the ultimate ‘foster’ mom.  I try to stay in the moment and enjoy each dog, each day that we’re together.

And I remain committed to keeping only puppies who are better than my best-bred-to-date.  That keeps the bar high, my brain properly focused and some semblance of order in the pack.

GRCHB Billie on the table at Westminster. 2017.

I do not want a large breeding program, as my mental health requires diverse interests and activities.  And I do like to keep control – ha! – over my pack.  Puppies keep you humble, as you just can’t control everything.  And nursing mothers?  They are a joy to care for and to watch.  When I get a puppy who truly speaks to me?  The older animals help to raise the baby and together, the pack swells and shrinks rhythmically over time.

Oliver in Charlestown, enjoying the breeze. 2017.

In about two weeks’ time, my beloved Oliver will be leaving us for his new forever home in New Jersey.  GRCH Kensington’s Oliver Twist is my pick from my first litter and my first Grand Champion.  At 8 1/2, he is no longer in my breeding program and so, it makes the most sense to have him enjoy his mature years with two devoted humans, where he can be pampered, well cared for and no longer bothered by teething young puppies.  And soon?  He will bring joy and share love with his new humans.  We have so many friends who rotate in and out of our house and our lives – some match our breeding cycles and come to help with new puppies – some come up to visit annually during a particular season or for particular events.  Oliver has been the meeter & greeter extraordinaire.  Of course, he will be missed.  But I would rather hear of his future antics while he enjoys good health, than lose the plot and have him suffer from being one of too many in the pack.

Oliver’s new home in NJ, come Thanksgiving. 2017.

Oskar, Izzie, James, Coppi and Georgie Girl have all come and gone, before Oliver.  Each has been very happily re-homed, beginning in 2010 when Oskar left.  I love when each of these animals comes to board with us.  And I love accepting invitations from their humans who live throughout New England.  I get to see my kids again and they always make a big fuss over me.  These dogs enrich my & our lives and I only want the best for each one of them.

Out for a snowshoe with my good friend, Kate. Stowe, 2017.

In the end, we must take care of ourselves, so that we are able to nurture those around us who depend upon us.  Caring for yourself is not selfish in a bad way.  It is selfish in a good way and necessary for being ‘leader of the pack’.  Asking for help does not imply weakness.  Rather, it implies that you know your own limitations.  Asking someone whether they need help?  That’s a demonstration of love.  And knowing one’s limits and being able to identify when you’re getting too close to the edge?  THAT is when we learn to ask for help from our peeps.  Through collaboration, we can make it a better world.  And I have yet to not feel good, after being asked for help.

Going forward?  Know that you can ask me for help and I might just ask you for the same.  ;>)

There’s more to life than dogs. Really!

10 September 2017

This post has been inspired by the imminent change in season up here in Vermont.  And it has been equally inspired by a visit to the Stowe Farmer’s Market today.

Mac, Teddi and a young Aza. Princeton, 2014.

When temperatures shift and the early morning weather requires Patagonia, Arcteryx or the like, our faces wear smiles in Vermont.  We do not dread the upcoming winter.  Rather?  We look forward to it, as do my Tibetan Terriers.  A cold weather breed at heart, they’ll soon be greeted by snow and smells of winter.

What to do with duck eggs on a Friday afternoon. 8 September 2017.

I move from outdoor grilling on the porch and into the baking kitchen.  This past Friday, Lizzie called me, as she had six fresh duck eggs and asked, ‘What shall we do today?’  I have a great recipe for a cardamom pound cake and that is exactly what we baked.  And we invited friends over for a great piece of beef, baby Brussels and a lively salad.  Soon, we’ll be drying sweet potato chips and beef liver in the AGA for the doggies . . .  and my Pete’s Greens deliveries will resume, along with my osteo arthritis.

So, this is where the story really begins.

This morning, I started my medical marijuana treatment with 1/4 lozenge of the Merry Widow or whichever variety I’m on to keep my hands pain free.  I didn’t think much of it, other than to notice that I felt some side effects that I know will fall by the wayside, within a few days of consecutive use.

So, my hands were hardly even on my radar, when I got to the Farmer’s Market.  Rather, the bounty of the summer season controlled my attention and I tried so hard to buy selectively, knowing that I’d end up in the kitchen this afternoon as a prep cook with all I found in my bag upon my return.

September bounty from the Stowe Farmer’s Market. 10 September 2017.

I always start on the right at the exotic vegetable lady’s stand.  Today?  I bought pineapple tomatillos.  They’ll be terrific in a pork or ham glaze.  Then, continuing down the right, I bought some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, patty pan squash, kale, fresh basil and an Hermes coloured winter squash.  Beautifully coloured!  I think it was a Kuri squash.  We got them last fall in our Pete’s shares.

Google this farm! Buy his treats! BEST LIVER TREATS EVER! 10 September 2017.

Next stall was the Sage Hill goat farm lady and her cheeses.  Soon after?  The man who dries the most amazing beef and pork liver treats that have my doggies learning ANY new tricks.  And around the circle of vendors I continued, until I bumped into my rental clients who arrived yesterday and had their nine year old neutered apricot mini Poodle with them.  I know they love Farmer’s Markets and I’d told them about the man with his liver treats, yesterday.

He said, ‘We found the liver treats.’  She said, ‘It is the farm from whom we’ve been buying our beef mail order for the last couple of years.’ (Mary’s a retired professional chef.  Used to run one of Lydia Shire’s restaurants in Boston.)  Then, he said: ARE YOU INTO PASTA?  MARY’S BEEN ON A MISSION FOR THE BEST EGG PASTA IN THE WORLD AND SHE THINKS SHE’S FOUND IT.

Wouldn’t you know, it would have been my last stop, as it was on the left end, at the beginning of the circle of vendors.

Yet another way to ingest cannabinols. Suffer from anxiety? Eat this. ;>)

So, I made my way over and as another egg pasta fan, I notice that there are three offerings: Egg (as in plain), Tri colour (obviously coloured with veggies) and CBP.

Well, in MY world, CBP = Clear by Parentage.  It is a phrase we use when both sire and dam have tested clear of a genetic mutation.  CBP.  And I test every other generation, JUST TO BE CLEAR.  Pun intended.

So, this beautiful young woman with her two Tomgirl daughters is offering me a taste of the plain cooked pasta with Reggiano cheese and butter, and sharing her enthusiasm for the CBP pasta as a natural remedy for people with anxiety.

Pasta for people with anxiety and other issues?  Hmm.

I’m listening and I’m processing and I ask whether exposure to the high heat of boiling water might not undermine the effectiveness of the natural remedy.  ‘Oh, no’, I’m told.  ‘The CBP doesn’t deteriorate, when exposed to heat.’

And then, I hear this guy – cute guy, too – behind me with a lady friend saying, ‘Cool.  They’re using CBP’.  DEFINITELY NOT Clear by Parentage.  Is it the next rage, now that so many are practicing gluten free?

So, I turn around and ask him how he has come to be familiar with this, thinking that I’m really pretty well exposed to all new sorts of natural remedies . . .  and he says, ‘I’m a licensed grower in Massachusetts.’  And it all clicks.

CBP is a cannabinoid.  It is a marijuana product and marijuana needs to be cooked, in order for the cannabinoids to release their medicinal properties.  That’s why it is smoked and baked.  Butter confit of marijuana.  That, I’ve made.  But it has been IMPOSSIBLE to control the dose, until the introduction of medical marijuana.  Whether you’re on one side or the other side of this political fence?  Know that being able to control the dosage is vital, whether it’s Advil or THC.

So, I turn around again.  This time, the beautiful woman is smiling at me.  She asks whether I would like to buy any pasta?  And I’m smiling back at her.  She tells me that she adds 40mcg of CBP to each pound of flour.  I tell her that I’ve had my first lozenge this morning, in anticipation of the change of season and increase in my osteo symptoms – and, yes, I’d LOVE some of her plain egg pasta – but none of the CBP, thank you.  I bought a half pound and laughed & talked to myself, all of the way back to the car.

Never did I think I’d see the day when THC laced pasta would be for sale at the Stowe Farmer’s Market.  Cracked me up!  Lynne’s laughing and suggesting that when the officer pulls us over to ask why we’re driving funny – we say, ‘Oh, officer, we just had pasta.  Our special pasta!’  Too funny.

Non, thank you, RASTA PASTA. I’d like a nice Chianti, please. ;>)

At the end of the day?  I prefer a nice glass of red wine with my pasta.  Maybe a rose, if we’re doing a seafood dish.  Something I may well do this evening, when I cook my Rasta Pasta for supper.  It just cracked me up.  Thought I was so hip, back in 1974.  Now?  Holy moly; feeling anxious?  Eat RASTA pasta!  We’re still laughing and we haven’t even tried it.  ;>)

Let’s talk AIs (Artificial inseminations)

9 July 2017

Last night I brought my new friend Lynne Fardell to a gallery opening at West Branch in Stowe.  I’ve enjoyed and supported this gallery, since they opened.  It’s Chris and Tari’s and I’ve brought sculpture, paintings and stone into my home from their wonderful gallery.

Chris Curtis cut the stones and Tari Swenson sandblasted the caligraphic 1846

The boys (it took five) mounting the ‘other’ stone about the AGA alcove

I love living with art.  My art, these days, are my Kensington Tibetan Terriers.  Each is art-like in its physical form and movement.  My breeding program is an art form that uses both sides of my brain.  There are technical, intuitive, analytical and suggestive sides to what we do as breeders.

And toward that end?  That, which we’ve come to take in stride . . .  remains fascinating to others.  And I do understand just how weird it is to even think about doggie sex, nevermind ‘collecting’ a male dog.

The art form of my breeding program starts with sex.  Doggie sex.  You want to know about doggie sex?  I know you do; otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this.  ;>)  Here, we’re going to talk about AIs.  Soon, I’ll write about classic copulation and the famous ‘tie’.  In the meantime: AI stands for ‘Artificial Insemination’.  There are several types.  We’re going to stay focused on manual collection and insemination by tube and syringe.

The first time I ever witnessed a dog being ‘collected’ for an AI, Doc Truesdale wore his tennis whites.  Never in my wildest dreams, never! did I ever think that THIS MHC girl would be on her knees cheering ‘Get the girl!  Get the girl!  Come on, big boy; get the girl!’  Doc told me to do it and I would have done anything for him.  Still would.  ;>)

Doc was and remains amazing.  There HE was on HIS knees, doing the unthinkable and in his tennis whites.  Just off the court.  He did it successfully and I felt traumatized.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I WOULD BE THERE TO PARTICIPATE.  I figured that I’d hand over the money and someone would take care of it.

Oh, those were the early days.  I’ve since become rather laissez-faire about it all.

Today, I’ve got a new partner in crime.  Doc’s still down in Seekonk, Massachusetts.  He is a breeder vet and breeds Westminster quality Affenpinschers and Boxers.  Lynne Fardell’s a former Golden Retriever breeder and has been in TTs, for the last fifteen years.  Her hands are just as good as Doc’s; because she’s a clever girl – and she’s got history.  ;>)

My friend, Lynne Fardell

We laugh about our ‘times on the floor’.  But we’re also extremely serious.  We each take our breeding programs very seriously and study pedigrees back more than nine generations.  We put our puppies and dogs on the table and she runs handling classes out of my basement.  I welcome the help of live-in doggie au pairs and even more, the help of my dear friend Mary.  Mary is not a dog person.  But Mary has responded to my midnight calls and dashed over in her nightie to help me whelp puppies in the middle of the night.  She’s always said, ‘But I didn’t DO anything’.  Just taking the notes, as I call them out, is wonderful help.

But last night?  We were hungry and decided to hit the 4 Corners barbeque place for supper, after we left the gallery opening.

Mary wanted to know something.  She wanted to know EXACTLY what Lynne meant, when she said that Henrik had a huge penis.  And she wanted to know why I said that I didn’t want any of my girls near it for a natural.  She wanted to know why I said, AIs ONLY!  She didn’t fully understand and wanted to get clear.

So, Lynne told her.  Lynne said (and I concurred) that Henrik’s member was akin to that of a small pony and that Ziva’d had a reproductive wellness exam and was deemed to have a small vagina.  Her anatomy had rejected Charlie’s penis in 2016 and back then, I didn’t know why.  I didn’t know whether it was a tough hymen, a vaginal stricture or something else.  So, I took Ziva to the wonderful Dr. Michael Norris of Broadview Animal Hospital in Rochester, NH for a digital exam.  With humans?  The gynos use a metal or plastic speculum.  With dogs?  Up goes the finger.  Seriously.  It’s called a ‘digital exam’, for lack of a term more chic.  And it is very serious business.

Dr. Norris was clear: no stricture, no tough hymen – but a small diameter vagina.  He prescribed a stud dog with a small penis or an AI.

With a small vagina?  Norris told me that I needed a dog with a small penis.  Yogi’s small, his penis is small and perfectly sized for Ziva and the two of them actually seemed to have fun doing the nasty.  Five ties in 36 hours.  Five.  Unbelievable and not just seminal fluid.  I collected some of it myself to examine.  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10209335147966274&set=pcb.10211194576593873&type=3

Yes, I did.  Me.  Next step?  Lynne’s going to teach me how to collect Henrik, as he was ready to rock, right out of the gate – but gynormous.  I believe that I can do it and it will be great on several counts:

  1. My skill set will be broader;
  2. I will be more versatile, when confronted with the next stud dog with a large member and
  3.  It will be that much more comfortable for my girls.

Just call me madame.

Thank you, Ms. Fardelle.  ;>)

The value of hope

13 June 2017

Happy birthday to me! (Billie’s bro Whit, granddaddy to these new puppies).

It’s not anyone’s birthday, today.  It was our latest litter of Tibetan Terrier puppies’ birthday, yesterday.  Happy birthday, little ones!  And boy, did these puppies take their own sweet time making their way into the world.  ;>)

Time is a gift.

To have spare time, to share time with a friend; both are wonderfully valuable.  To remain hopeful when the going gets tough?  That is challenging.

To sit for 18 hours watching and waiting?  That is the opposite of having spare time.  It feels frustrating and value-less.  Feels a bit like you’re wasting time – but you are not.  And you think about giving up hope.

Watching a pregnant dam live through contractions and the repositioning of the puppies inside her?  It’s a longsuffering act of love.  An important part of the bonding that happens, when a human helps an animal.  A part not to be missed and an important part of the whelping process.

Billie with her 2016 puppies

Billie’s previous two litters were unusual, in that we lost just about half of the puppies each time and there was no early stage of labor.  Lovely, perfectly formed sable puppies.  Strong, apparently well developed and with good body fat – but they didn’t even make it being born.  Billie loves the cold and whelped the first puppies in her crate without a sound and without any apparent early stage symptoms.  Both times, I found myself surprised – but ready with a warm whelping box.  Both times, we had problems; problems I did NOT want to repeat.  And the continued challenge of these problems is that I cannot understand why they happened.  So, my new strategy was going to have to be all encompassing, in order to avoid them.

Organic sweet potato chips for snacks

Nutrition was an area where I thought I might improve my strategy.  This time during Billie’s last tri-mester, we fed freeze dried and frozen raw – something I’d not done with previous dams – and supplemented with puppy kibble & yogurt for the additional calcium & phosphorous, both mothers and developing puppies need for health and strength.  We even added canned Fromm’s to the puppy kibble and presented food every two hours, during the last week.  And of course, I made lots of organic sweet potato chips in the AGA.  If Billie was the least bit hungry?  There was going to be quality nutrition with probiotics in her face.  ;>)

We de-wormed with Panacure, three weeks PRIOR to whelping and on Days 1, 2 and 3 of life – both the dam and the puppies.  Had it been a parasite infestation?  It wasn’t going to happen again.  These things called ‘worms’ are often missed, as they are so common in the environment, a re-infestation can happen with exposure to leftover dog droppings in a field.  The eggs can live for up to two years – even in VT, with our extremes of temperature.  Between monthly doses of Interceptor and an aggressive de-worming protocol during pregnancy, we eliminated the possibility of parasites in this 2017 litter.

And we changed the sire.

Billie’s sire, Michael, with Nina, Mark and the Judge. BCTTC Specialty 2013.

As I racked my brain trying to think of any and all contributing factors?  Changing the genetic mix came to mind and I chose one of my bred bys whose genetic heritage was closer to Billie’s, both on her father’s and mother’s sides.  This, was going to be a breeding designed to maximize the heritage on her father’s side; an effort to produce a closer version of her father, Michael (RinChen’s Blazing Black Icon).  And we did it by breeding Billie to Yogi, a male sired by her brother and out of Georgie Girl.  Tempered with the best of my mentor’s breeding program and with my influence on her mother’s side, I thought this might just produce some magic.

He can sire, but he can’t drive. ;>)

And when the time came for me to begin my watch?  I had help.  And Billie had help.  She had three human hand maidens who studied her every move and kept vigilant watch.  Those first contractions at 9:15am on Sunday, June 11th?  They were the beginning of a true early stage labor and Billie didn’t go fast; she went s l o w.  Slowly, through the first 18 hours of discomfort and panting, as the puppies arranged themselves for their trip down the birth canal.  And at a moderate pace of seven puppies in six hours during her active labor, the puppies arrived.  Each was perfect, each was alive and each was male.

Billie and her seven boys, 12 June 2017

Thank you, Mother Nature, for sharing your humor with us.  I get it.  Everything in balance, at the end of the day.  But out of balance along the way?  It happens.  ;>)

And huge thanks to Lynne Fardell of Sunsi Tibetan Terriers and Cheryl Mattiace, chef extraordinaire and wonderful friend.  Your help to me and Billie was invaluable!

Now?  Welcome Mario, Bravo, Luigi, Rumor, Boca, Baci and Nero!  Our sweet angels who are vigorous, of sturdy size and bone – and alive!  All of them!  It is so exciting and a reason to hold onto that hope, especially when you feel like it’s slipping away.

We will be welcoming visitors again, later in July.  These seven puppies have already been reserved by deposit.  Our next breeding is expected to take place next week, with puppies available to their humans in October 2017.

 

 

We didn’t have to wait terribly long . . .

9 January 2017

Last night, the night began as expected, but did not end as we had thought it would.

Mark Desrosiers with Ziva, Best of Breed win. 2015

The lovely Ziva went from general discomfort and confusion to all out labor in about half an hour.  Of course, it was minutes after our most wonderful midwife extraordinaire left for her home – and I realized that we were going to have puppies very soon and just before midnight.

Fortunately, the house was prepared with two whelping areas and everything had been washed, sterilized and set up for exactly what was about to take place – but you can’t ever take anything for granted, in times like these.  So, I texted my thoughts and soon thereafter, placed the phone call asking for help.

Ziva’s puppies. 9 January 2017, 2:30am.

Things happened so fast that I barely remember Jen’s arrival, as Ziva was pushing on the first puppy and #1 and #2 popped into the world within minutes of one another and before the strike of midnight!

As things happen, we had an hour gap to collect our thoughts and then, six more puppies came, faster and faster, with less and less time between one and the next.  Shortly after 2am, we had the eight puppies who’d been seen and counted on the ultrasound in December and Jen gratefully returned to her bed, while I stayed up, setting newborns up in rotation to nurse and guide their new mother through the ropes.

Ziva nursing her new babies.

Well, after an hour or so of nursing puppies on her teets, Ziva began a new round of full on contractions at 3:30am and the next thing I knew, we had a ninth puppy!  A beautiful black male: healthy, with an easily recognized shoulder collar of white and four little white paws.  At that point?  I was devoid of clever ideas and named him Number Nine, thinking of the Beatles song, for inspiration.

Last time I remember pulling an all nighter?  It was similar circumstances.  In fact, it was June 2016, when Billie whelped her second litter.  Why is it that the girls so often ‘go’ in the middle of the night?  It is such a privilege, when they go during daylight.

We would like to introduce:

Zsa Zsa! Watchful, intelligent, quick as lightning and ready for action. March 2017.

The three boys and four girls of Kensington’s 1st litter of 2017; also, Ziva’s first litter with Yogi James.  At left is the lovely Zsa Zsa, with a favorite toy.

Welcome Zsa Zsa, Prince, Rio, Pinky, Phelps, Harper and Number Nine, with forever homes in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Colorado.  Tonight, we hope to sleep.  Tomorrow, the party resumes.  All puppies will stay with us for the next nine or ten weeks.  Whoo hoo!  Let the show begin.  ;>)

Progesterone Testing, at the other end of the cycle

23 January 2017

Newborn Tibetan Terriers; January 9, 2017.

The pace of Ziva x Yogi’s puppies’ growth has been steady, since they were born.  We have seven two week old puppies, averaging just a little over a pound in body weight.  Mr. Phelps is the biggest at 20 ounces and Rio is the smallest, at just under one pound.  Their coats are thick and glisten shiny black with accents of white, at their necks, on their forelegs and chests.  This litter is healthy and active, with a lot of bone.  They will be gorgeous Tibetan Terriers.  Eyes should be opening in a couple of days and with that comes full development of their senses of sight and hearing.  A whole new world looms ahead!

Still image from an ultrasound; March 21, 2016.

Some years’ back, we learned that the rise and fall of progesterone levels can identify specific biological happenings in female dogs.  With this information in mind, we’ve been using progesterone levels to identify ovulation and the theoretical ‘best’ times to breed.  With this next litter, we will see whether we can catch the dramatic fall in progesterone levels that will tell us how soon whelping will begin.  It would be wonderfully helpful to have a biological indication, in addition to the behavioral indications we watch for.  We are looking for a level of 2ng/ml of blood, which will tell us that we are 36-48 hours from whelping.  At 1ng/ml, whelping happens.

Image result for progesterone graph for ovulation in dogs

The AKC has recently developed a ‘Canine College’, through which anyone can take online classes and learn about many dog-related topics.  I’ve taken two of the beginning breeding classes and think it’s terrific to have experienced breeders sharing their experiences, along with the science that goes along with the stories.  These online classes can serve as that ‘second set of eyes’ we all want to have, when confronted by an unusual situation in the whelping box.

Jenifer Wagner was at my right side, this last litter.  She has been a great emotional support to me, in addition to her veterinary experience that always gives me the sense that we are ready for just about anything Mother Nature might throw at us.  I can’t thank her enough, except to say that without her help, it’s always much more stressful for me.

In the next three or four weeks, friends of ours will be expecting litters, too, and we look forward to being able to report on our experience with these new progesterone whelping indicators.  Every responsible breeder wants to be prepared and the more information you have, (I think) the better.

 

Waiting for the inevitable . . .

8 January 2017

So, here we sit.  It’s 4pm and I am in the AGA room in the antique end of the house with the lovely Ziva and her rotund belly, sweet Kodi, our rambunctious Lily Rose and ‘ever ready for a nose dive into the couch’ Oliver.

Ziva winning the Breed, under Becky

Ziva winning the Breed, under Becky

We await the arrival of Ziva’s first contractions.  And I am always nervous about such things, as I don’t want anything to go wrong.

This whelping will be a little different, as we’re utilizing a baby monitor at night to get used to Ziva’s normal nighttime sounds, so that I won’t miss a trick, as I did last time with Billie Jean.  I have been on 24/7 duty for 2 days and everything else is on hold.  Ziva is my focus, even with Billie out on the circuit this weekend.  She took the Breed yesterday but didn’t place in the Group.  I was disappointed – but someone else got to win.  Whoo hoo, for them!  ;>)

Since our last litter, we’ve switched repro vets, as I sold my Princeton, Massachusetts project last year – so now?  I’m way too far from Dr. William C. Truesdale in Seekonk, MA – and still too far from Broadview Animal Hospital in Rochester, NH and their WONDERFUL Dr. Michael Norris with his terrific repro vet techs – so, we’re working with LVVS in Hyde Park, Vermont for the first time and without any corroborating progesterone tests or gestational opinions from either Doc Truesdale or Broadview.  We’ve switched machines – from a Mini Vidas and two hour T/A – to sending blood out to an Antech lab and getting results 24 hours later, assuming that FedEx picks up.  And I’ve had that experience, too: ‘What do you mean, FedEx didn’t pick up the blood?  And I have to wait until Tuesday?  You didn’t know they weren’t going to pick up, the Friday after Thanksgiving?  So, I have to WAIT FOUR DAYS???  ARE YOU CHARGING ME???’

Seriously, caramelizing onions at a time like this?!

Seriously, caramelizing onions at a time like this?!

Not ideal – but, our new norm and we will get used to it and learn to work with the 24 hour delay.  And I’ve since told my evil twin to take a chill pill and so, she’s carmelizing onions and baking bread, to keep busy.  Better that, than, run her mouth.  ;>)

Once you’ve become accustomed to a 24 hour T/A, it becomes acceptable – even though I don’t think I’ll ever lose interest in the fastest T/A possible.  And progesterone levels are great determinants for determining both breeding windows and whelping immediacy.  However, with a 24 hour lag time?  I’ll be watching and listening to Ziva’s behavior like a hawk, nevermind hauling her off to have blood drawn tomorrow morning and schlepping the lovely through sub zero temps.

What, you worried?  I was fine!

What, you worried? I was fine!

So, here, we sit.

For the last three nights, I slept on the doggie couch, as Ziva was beginning to ‘stick like glue’ and I am also finessing house training the lovely Lily Rose.  So, if Lily barks the right way, I let her out, so that I can praise her for doing her business outside.  Now, the flip side of that is also true: if she barks because she simply wants out?  I holler back (as though she understands me), ‘Stop it!  Go back to sleep!’  Nine times out of ten?  I am right and my strategy works.

So, I continue to sit, practicing with the finely tuned ear I inherited from my mother and doing my best to discern the nuances among the many barks that come from a crate confined puppy in the night.  Honestly?  Every day, I question my sanity.

Tonight is another night.  Our favorite vet tech in the world comes for dinner and we will order out and have PieCasso deliver.  I don’t think we have puppies in the immediate future – so, I should probably run out to do an errand NOW.  Jen and I will practice with the baby monitor.  The heating pads are on and in position in the new baby nest & in the whelping box, should Ziva decide that the couch is better.  I do not believe the puppies will come tonight.  But Monday or Tuesday?  Maybe!

We will hope for a gentle and uneventful whelping, sometime soon.  Keep you posted.

How we raise our Tibetan Terrier puppies

We are all well up here and Gigi’s six puppies are hovering around two pounds – so, it’s time for their first deworming treatment.  I use Nemex II, a gentle de-wormer, on a 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 week schedule on the puppies . . .  usually, beginning at the 2 week mark – but Gigi’s puppies tend to be smaller and so, I like to wait until they are at least two pounds in weight.  The dosage is 5ml = 10 pounds.  And the oral syringes are quite small.  A dose of less than 1ml is really, really tiny and requires a special oral syringe.

All of the non-pregnant adults get the Nemex II, as well.  Remember, it is the dogs with whom your new puppy will interact who will expose your puppy to ‘the nasties’.  Mine don’t mingle with rescue dogs or frequent dog parks or play with animals from outside of our TT circle – so, my focus is on preventing Lyme, mosquito-spread conditions and, of course, distemper, hepatitis, parvo (the worst for puppies) and parainfluenza.  I also ask the vet to administer the oral kennel cough vaccine – but I don’t use heartworm meds.  There’s just too much cancer in dogs, it is on the rise and we don’t know from where it is coming.  We must protect against rabies, as it is wise and mandatory, if you plan to register your animal in your town.  This is the most serious vaccination and not to be ignored.

When thinking about vaccinations, know that all dogs get the same dosage, regardless of body weight.  This means that a Chihuahua is getting the same amount of vaccine as a Great Dane.  You can have your dog’s blood titered to determine the level of antibodies present, before you agree to a booster vaccine.  It is an expensive process, though, especially for rabies.

My rules of thumb are:

1. How many cases do I personally know of the condition, in the areas where we live/travel, as well as asking my vet about their experience?

2. Is the treatment life threatening or is it a course of antibiotics or other meds?

3. Can I protect my animals, either topically or by spraying my yard with non-‘chemical’ products?  I add this last question, as I spray monthly for tick and mosquito control, so as to minimize any exposure to Lyme carrying ticks around my house.  Tick Killz is the product my pest control people use – it is essential oil based in a soap spray, similar to what we use in the garden to control certain pests.  ( www.tickkillz.com )

Based upon the answers to these three questions, I then make my decision.  I always invite my veterinarian’s input – make sure you select a veterinarian who has at least one holistic vet on staff AND who understands what you mean when you ask for the vaccinations to be delivered away from acupressure meridians.  There have been correlations between tumor locations and injection sites – and while I have no personal experience with this, I like to know that my vet has enough of an awareness of alternative therapies, that this topic ‘rings a bell’.

When it comes to the selection of a puppy for a forever family, I do not let any of my forever families select their own puppy without my concurrence.  Not only does someone need to manage the collective and various situations, I must finesse my way through the puzzle of the best pairings of puppy with forever family situations. Understanding a puppy’s personality takes time.  This is my role.  And that is not even considering gender; the number of males and females is always a surprise and where gender is important to a forever family, there is no denying that Mother Nature holds all of the aces.  (I was going to write ‘trump cards’, but that seemed too close to being a political reference – so, sorry, all you bridge players!  We lose!)

When a family truly and sincerely wants to participate in their puppy selection, I require that they visit the pack at least two times after the puppies are six weeks of age, so that we can see them individually in action, as they try on different facets of their personalities.  They learn from each other, from me, from their mum, from their toys and environment – and from the older dogs in the pack.  One day, a puppy might present as shy and the next day, it might present as action-oriented.  Their socialization involves controlled exposure to sound, surprise, change of indoor and outdoor locations, change of containment and lots of crate training, which begins at four/five weeks of age, when they move out of the whelping box and into their first wire playpen.

I require that my puppies be crate trained by their forever families, as it truly sets them up for social success and aids in house training.  While it was unheard of, when I was a child – it is a terrific idea and something I wholeheartedly believe in.  Allowing a puppy free reign in a household is like allowing a human child full access to its environment.  Not only might the puppy or child have an accident; they can’t handle freedom, without knowledge of allowable boundaries.

My crystal ball isn’t always perfect and size seems to be the wild card.  With that in mind, I cannot guarantee adult size of an animal – but with the learning that comes from a previous breeding, my crystal ball is a little less foggy.  Gigi’s first two litters of puppies were on the smaller size – and the litter with the larger sire resulted in small to medium sized animals.  Billie’s breeding is a repeat breeding and her three boys were medium to large in size, even though she is a 20 pound bitch.  This gives me the confidence to expect medium to large animals out of this second breeding.

Ziva x Charlie is a first time breeding but my guess is that all of the animals will be medium to large in size.  To me, that means 25-30 pounds.  I say that mostly because Ziva is 26 pounds & 15 3/4″ at the withers and the TTs from Charlie to whom I’ve been exposed have all been medium in size.  So, medium to large as an estimate gives me a little wiggle room.

Once the puppies are born and have had their first wellness checks and dew claws removed, I will have real information and can begin my work for the forever families who have entrusted me to breed their new family member.  Sometimes, I feel powerful!  And other times, I feel powerless.  It keeps me humble.

Every day brings surprises and a schedule.  I am so grateful to be able to share my home life with this cast of four legged characters.  They bring delight and joy to me and I welcome sharing them with the best forever families who find me.

Please contact us, should you have a story to share or be thinking about bringing a Tibetan Terrier into your lives.  www.kensingtontibetans.com

The first two weeks are the EASY ones!

27 April 2016

Early in the morning on April 18th, six robust and healthy Kensington Tibetan Terrier puppies were born here in Stowe, Vermont.  Four males and two females out of Gigi x Oskar, a repeat breeding of what we did in 2014.  All have forever homes and I believe I’ll be keeping one of the females.  Her working name is Willow . . .  but I think it should have been Angelina Jolie.  I do believe that this lady in the making would be able to pilot a plane, shake down a fellow warrior and raise six or seven kids of her own.  Time will tell.

Kensington's K Litter - Day One

Kensington’s K Litter – Day One

This time, I believe that Gigi held her puppies until Day 60 in her body; hence, more development in utero.  Additionally, I believe that her milk was fully ‘in’ at the time of birth and so?  The newborn puppies hit the ground running!  They are quiet and relaxed, well fed in the belly department, and are enjoying being handled and held in our hands and on their backs.  This is great, as it is an indication of submission and relaxation, as opposed to will and obstinence.  They get formally weighed and examined daily, not counting our happy visits, and have been introduced to the touch and sounds of children, traffic, women and one man already.  Carroll and Barry have been here twice to visit their little man, Clooney.  He is marked very much like my Oliver and has a terrific head.  I am happy that he will be living close by, as I want to watch his development to see how closely it will follow my expectations.

Up Close and Personal: Gigi's keeping watch

Up Close and Personal: Gigi’s keeping watch

043016 Beckham in the TT

Beckham in his portable playroom: my 2004 TT

It has been a crazy few days and this is not about to abate.  Fortunately, Miss Kate will arrive on Friday to care for all of us and we get eight hours of her time, every week.  Then, our favorite vet tech of all time, Jenifer, will arrive on Friday afternoon to overnight with Gi and the pups, as I drive south to NEWARK, NJ to pick up Beckham, a new male puppy I am welcoming from Sweden.  He is a Shadeacre puppy, bred by Markus Gisslen and he has Waterley, Alilah, the infamous Rowan and a couple of other fine bloodlines behind him.  I’ve admired Alilah and Waterley Tibetan Terriers since 2011, when I first put my hands on them, over in England.  A lot of driving – but our good friend Cheryl will host us in the Catskills, on our way home.  Yogi James awaits our arrival and I think I will bring the lovely Billie Jean and the fabulous Ziva, to keep the new pup company.  My Jetta wagon has no rear seats and can be outfitted for adventures such as this.  I will be able to set up a puppy pen with toys, a shearling bed, etc. and Billie & Ziva will puppy sit, as they have for other puppies before Beckham.

My, oh my.  Add to that, our AI breeding yesterday of Ziva x Charlie . . .  driving from Stowe, VT through Boston in rush hour traffic IN THE RAIN?  The drive took five hours.  So stressful and not at all what I had in mind.  I built an extra half hour into my itinerary but that was a drop in the bucket.  Barbara Berube waited patiently for me and Charlie was in fine form and it just might be that it was worth the wait for him.  ;>)

How wonderful it was to meet another extremely intelligent holistic vet, Dr. Mark Russo – voted the “New Dr. Doolittle of Massachusetts” – at the Kingston Animal Hospital in Massachusetts.  We discussed the arthritis in my hands.  We discussed a raw food diet for canines.  We discussed Dr. Mark’s heritage and his spiritual orientation – and he told me that his recently deceased father greeted him every morning upon his arrival at the animal hospital and told him what he should be doing that day.  His contemporary reply to me was, ‘I didn’t listen to him then – and I don’t listen to him now’.  ;>)

Oh, I love great vets.  Dr. Matt Wilson in Topsfield is another wonderful small animal vet!  Dr. Cindy Pratt at Lamoille Valley Veterinary Hospital is at the top of the heap, especially for reproductive veterinary medicine.  Don’t even get me going on Dr. William C. Truesdale, down in Seekonk, Massachusetts.  He introduced me to ‘collection’ methods in his tennis whites.  And if you don’t know what I mean?  Consider yourself happily uninformed!

042416 AzaAza boarded with us for twelve days, while her humans were in Paris.  We were gifted with a box of Laduree macarons, upon their return: the loveliest, most delicate and delightful confections, especially the rose petal flavor.  Ooh, la la!  Aza is out of the first Gigi x Oskar breeding in 2014.  She was delivered with an arsenal of Stella & Chewy’s patties and other special foods, as her mum thought she might be depressed by their departure.  Depressed?  Not a sign of it!  However, as a non food-driven girl, she was happy to share her meals and my kids got spoiled. We’ll get back to normal, soon.  In the meantime?  They’re munching on lamb bones, blanched green beans and AGA roasted broccoli and asparagus in garlic-infused olive oil.  I’ve got a batch of organic sweet potato crisps drying in the AGA and made too much for dinner; hence, the broccoli and asparagus pour les chiens.

OK.  I had thought I’d be writing about something else . . .  but here, you have it.  Everyone wants pictures!  I am sleep deprived and excited; thoroughly committed to what we do and loving every minute of it.  So grateful that I am able to have a team of three! to help with the whelping and overnight care – and daytime help and photography.

Aren’t we lucky?  Yes!  and I am grateful.  We are so blessed!

And thank you, Markus!  We love our Beckham.  He will make you proud.  ;>)

Happy spring!

Gigi’s XRAY is scheduled for today to count skeletons

12 April 2016

Georgie Girl, our current Champion who will next be bred in May 2015

Georgie Girl, bright eyed and bushy tailed. 2015

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.

Ch. Kensington’s Oliver Twist. Champion at nine months of age, with four Major wins! January 2010.

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.

021314 On his back

King James on Gigi’s couch. Before she was born. ;>)

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?  ;>)

GG with puppies 120814

Gigi with her 2015 puppies.

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.

Amie with an armful of love!

Give me a French girl, any day of the week! Ameline with Gigi pups. What great fun we had. January 2015.

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.

100915 A boy and his Pipi

Levi with Pipi. Wishing he could take her home. ;>)

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!

032116 Gigi Ultrasound

The Ultrasound Clinic in Salem, MA – founded by Dr. Rossi – terrific expertise.

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.

2015-08-06 12.16.39

The world’s gone topsy-turvy!

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!