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!

We welcome Gigi’s second and Billie’s first litters!

19 October 2015

September 2015. All the puppies are now in the same room!

September 2015. All the puppies are now in the same room!

Unbelievably, it has been eleven weeks, since our 2015 puppies have joined us 3D.  When you’re in the ‘thick of it’, every day feels 48 hours long.  But then, when the puppies have left for their forever homes . . .  it feels as though they’ve been gone much longer than they have.  Thanks to the generosity of our forever families, we dined on hand made chicken pot pies, had French wine delivered, wonderful pastries, vegetables, foods prepared for late night nibbling and a huge plastic bin of Swizzlers!  I took care of the puppies and the dogs – and our families took care of me.  Thank you!

When it comes to reproductive cycling; as humans do, canine girls who live together, cycle together, and we had the good fortune of our two 2015 litters coming one day apart and both during daylight.  Those of you unfamiliar with whelping won’t necessarily appreciate this – but those of you who’ve joined me or experienced this on your own will understand the beauty of afternoon arrivals.


Billie, the one eyed pirate, with her three beautiful black boys!

091215 A bin full of puppy love

A big bin full of puppy love! Gigi’s puppies, five weeks old. September 2015.

Billie gave us her three puppies on the 3rd of August, while Gigi’s litter arrived EXACTLY 24 hours later.  This was Gigi’s second litter and the puppies came more effortlessly than her first litter in December 2014.  All six puppies arrived within a two hour window; two males and four females – black with white markings and white with black markings.  One very interesting difference, though: Billie’s milk came in a couple of days prior to her whelping the puppies – so, when her puppies arrived, they had free-flowing faucets.  Gigi seems to have whelped the puppies several days early and her milk didn’t fully come in, until a couple of days after the pups had been born.  So, her puppies had to work a little more . . .  but once that milk came in?  It was all hands on deck!

Billie’s litter was more difficult to deliver and we lost four of the seven.  All looked to be perfect on the outside and of solid weight, both at birth and when we examined them carefully post mortem.  We believe that the placentas separated early and the puppies took a long time, coming down the birth canal.  Whether Billie was nervous and tried to control what was happening; I don’t know.  As a result of her first experience, I am considering a scheduled C-section for her next litter, as all puppies were gorgeous and I want to give every puppy the best chance possible to survive.  Even at a cost of $2000, if we save one puppy, the procedure will pay for itself.  And while losing puppies is part of the heartbreak and stress of bringing puppies into the world, in comparison to some other experiences – we had a relatively easy go of it.

2015-08-06 12.16.39

Throwing the dining room into complete upheaval!

2015-09-12 11.05.43

Thank goodness for a reliable washer and dryer!

This is the first time that we’ve had two litters at the same time and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not twice as difficult as caring for only one litter.  And while I know that I can’t rely on Mother Nature, I would welcome an opportunity to bring two litters into the world within such a short period of time, again!  Since I whelp and raise my puppies on natural fibers, having two litters means that every time I clean the puppy beds, I have a full load of laundry to do!  I have two Bosch washer/dryer sets – one, for humans and the other, for the dogs.  With the heavy duty cycle, my pads and towels come clean and two loads each day becomes the rhythm.  Once the puppies are fully weaned, the outdoor exercise pens get put into use and this eases the need for daily fresh linens.  However, even when the ‘load is light’ – falling behind is NOT something I want to do, especially in hot weather.

100915 Levi Claire and Vivi

Levi and Claire, practicing with a Gigi puppy. They look forward to bringing a Kensington Tibetan into their home in June 2016.

Gigi’s puppies all had forever homes, before they were born, except for the female I thought I was going to keep.  But I decided not to add a fifth animal to my pack and was happy to have a referral from a two time Kensington forever family who had been thinking of a Tibetan Terrier for a couple of years and everything fell into place easily.  Little Vivi is now Chloe and has three older human sisters and three adults with whom to share her life.  A happy life!

101815 Ben in Snow

Benny, boy! Born in a thunderstorm and digging his first snowflakes. October 2015.

Halloween 103113 Dan and Annette

The Fabulous Annette and her man, Dan. My dear friends who have helped bring Kensington puppies into the world since our first litter in March, 2009.

It is now October and we have only Big Ben from Billie’s litter with us.  His forever family has just bought their first house and they need to fence in the yard and prepare for his arrival.  They will come to join us in Stowe for our well known Halloween tradition and have a chance to relax with him and help entertain the kiddies, before heading home on Sunday.  It will be a great opportunity to further Ben’s socialization by exposing him to 750 people in costume that night!  And all at the front door!

I am fortunate to be able to board the animals I breed and so, I get to see them from time to time, either via photos or 3D.  Studying the many personalities and intrinsic tendencies helps me to decide whether to repeat a breeding or to reach out and try something new.

We loved the puppies from these two litters and may repeat both breedings in February 2016.  Time will tell!



Enjoy Sophie, nee Ruby, tasting her first fresh apple

I’m up early today, as there’s still much to do in cleaning up after Billie and Gigi’s August litters.  Big Ben and Vivi are still with us but Viv is leaving for her new forever home tomorrow, via Princeton.  Videos, photos and stories have been coming in, since puppies began leaving last week.

This particular video stars Sophie, a female Kensington puppy who has joined her humans and Emmett James, another Kensington Tibetan Terrier out of our third litter and a breeding of Izzie to James, our foundation dam and stud dogs.  EJ has his daddy’s personality and is a true maternal male.  Sophie?  Well, Sophie’s enjoying her new surroundings and LOVES having a playmate, on top of her two doting humans!  She was particularly food-driven in the beginning and has a beautiful head & strong body.


That horrible hole of sadness, when you lose a friend

5 July 2015

Kensington Dogs April10 070_972 x 648

James at Kate’s; Waterbury Center, VT

Last week was a bad one.  We lost our good boy James, Kensington’s foundation stud, to a very aggressive tumor that attacked his spleen and the blood supply to his small intestine.  I’ve been living in lala land since 2007, when I said goodby to my first two Tibetan Terriers, and had forgotten how awful it is to survive a very much loved pet.

Today, I had the chance to talk about it with Mark Desrosiers, Kensington’s handler extraordinaire, and he tried to impress upon me just how lucky we were to have all of the information we had, in order to make that difficult decision.  With less clarity, the decision would have been that much more painful.

122514 Jimmy with his present

Christmas 2014!

So, once again, I want to say thank you! to all of our wonderful vets, especially Dr. Rossi’s Animal Ultrasound Clinic in Salem, Massachusetts.  He squeezed us in for a same day abdominal scan and allowed me to view the scan, as he explained what he’d found.  And thank you to the New Baltimore Animal Hospital in West Coxsackie, NY for performing their blood testing on site.  These are the clinics we need for timely information, when emergencies arise.  And also, I need to thank the wonderful veterinarians and vet techs at the Bulger Animal Hospital in North Andover, Massachusetts.  They handled me, James and our situation with such compassion and sincerity, it allowed us to have the most wonderful last couple of hours together.

2013-03-24 10.19.04

Sleeping in my bed on Matouk sheets

James passed over the rainbow bridge last Wednesday evening, at about 8pm, under the most beautiful coral and mauve sunset.  We’d had big rain that he & I missed, as we were indoors for most of the late afternoon and evening.  I grieve for James’ other forever mom and for his forever dad, as our boy Jimmy provided great companionship to them, as well as love and therapy during his forever dad’s recuperation last year.

Losing a pet leaves a hole, there’s no doubt about that.  But sparing an animal from the pain and progressive deterioration that certain conditions create is both loving and kind.  None of us would want our pet having to go through extreme invasive surgery, only to gain a short period of time with them.  Weighing the factors is hell and each situation requires careful thought and soul searching.

072315 Emmett James with James and Izzie

Emmett James loves his daddy! While Izzie looks on . . .

Shalimar’s King James of Kensington was buried in the garden at my home, thanks to dear friends who were able to pick him up on Thursday and bring him down to us.  They dug a great big hole for his box, Jing braided a rope crown of Vinca with beautiful daylilies, Cheryl brought his favorite disemboweled squeakie ducky and I cried.  He was laid to rest, with his own offspring and a cousin in attendance.  Lady Bacon is a James’ girl, Oliver is a James’ boy and Gigi is his half sister (they share the same sire).  And Bob tried to play ‘Taps’ on my antique fox horn – but could only get one sound out of it.  A little humor goes a long way, during times like these.

James was a much loved doggie and wants all the humans out there to know how happy he is, to have been spared an extreme experience.  And how much he knows that we loved him completely.

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A true maternal male; Loving and tolerant of all puppies, regardless of sire, and much loved by all.


Big slurpy for Chris’ granddaughter. ;>)

Now, he’s off and scampering with Max, Mia, Ranger, Max Coleman, Betty cat, Peep, Queenie, Princess, Tenzing, Lily, Brewster, Archie! and the many, many other canine and feline friends who have crossed the bridge already.  Reliving the happy memories is what he wants us to do.  So, toward that end, I am starting with remembering how beautifully he played with all of the young puppies in our house and his wonderful maternal nature.  And immersing myself in great old photos.  Time will help and I wish it could be one year from now, it hurts that much.

June brings hot spots and skin irritations

Fortunately, we’ve fallen in love with a breed that isn’t prone to allergies or hot spots.  Golden Retrievers get the blue ribbon for that award.  But Tibetan Terriers do tend to be extremely allergic to flea bites and they can develop hot spots, especially in hot, humid weather.  Any dog can – and allergies are possible, too, and often related to a particular season.

Hot spot

Easier to treat, at the first sign!

It’s a vicious cycle that can lead to a skin infection that’s terribly uncomfortable for your canine companion.  And while it seems hard to believe, the constant licking on any part of their body can contribute to a hot spot that’s easily infected.  With the skin infection comes an ‘organic’ sort of odor; sort of yeasty & ripe – and once you’ve got that, you know you have an infection.

Banana Joe

How could you NOT love this face?

We’ve got favorite vets for various reasons – we love Dr. William Truesdale down in Seekonk, Massachusetts for all of his canine reproductory expertise and his on site full scale medical laboratory that offers same day results.  His base of operations is the Central Avenue Veterinary Hospital, where all of our semen collections and AIs (artificial inseminations) take place.  He is a breeder of Affenpinschers and Boxers – and Banana Joe, the 2013 Westminster BIS winner, is co-owned by his wife and several other humans.  His boxers are gorgeous, too.  Really beautiful.

Regina Datora

Dr. Regina Datora

Then, we’ve got the Sequist Animal Hospital and Dr. David Loh up in Stowe, Vermont, where we bring each and every litter of Kensington puppies on Day Two for their dew claw removals.  And we also bring every litter to Dr. Loh for their eight/nine week health examinations and first round of shots, so that all of our early puppy records are in the same place.  We opt for the DHPP bundle but not Lepto, as we have a very low incidence of Leptospirosis in our area.  Vaccinations are a hot topic and one with which you should become familiar and that you should discuss with your vet.  Rabies is mandatory everywhere – but other vaccinations may be optional.  Educate yourself and ask questions of a professional.  This animal hospital also offers alternative therapies including veterinary orthopedic manipulation, acupuncture and others.  A really wonderful place for elderly pets, as Dr. Regina Datora has almost magical talents for helping older animals feel better.

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Billie Jean’s preliminary hip XRAY

The Lamoille Valley Veterinary Service in Hyde Park, Vermont is another great practice and we use them for all of our eye exams and OFA hip XRAYs.  Dr. Cindy Pratt does our XRAYs and their machine produces clearly detailed radiographs.

Matt Wilson DVM

Dr. Matthew Wilson

And then, our all time favorite vet on the planet is Dr. Matthew Wilson at the Topsfield Veterinary Hospital in Topsfield, Massachusetts.  His practice is small but he has the best bedside manner for emergencies and routine care we’ve ever experienced.  Magna cum laude undergraduate degree from Harvard in Anthropology and DVM from Tufts – the man is wonderful and a whiz with hot spots.  Clavamox and Neo-Predef powder had us on our way and Gigi was feeling much better, within 24 hours.  And the second vet on staff there is Ann Sidley.  She is MIT undergrad and DVM from Tufts, as well.  Their service orientation at the receptionist counter is wonderful.  These folks are smart, professional, warm and sincerely interested in solving whatever issue you present.


What does it mean for a girl Tibetan Terrier to be in season?

Girl dogs of different blood lines and different breeds come into season on different cycles.  Lady humans cycle every 28 days or so and ovulate in the middle of their cycles.  Lady Tibetan Terriers cycle every seven to eleven months (in my experience) but most of mine cycle every seven to eight months and ovulate about ten days after their discharge begins.

That’s the simple description of what truly is a complex situation.  Figuring out when to breed the bitch to the sire involves science and a little bit of luck.

Illustration of Estrogen, LH, and Progesterone levels and best time to breed

Some breeds put out a big pheromone radius and have a similarly obvious discharge.  Tibetan Terriers have neither.  While the pheromones are intoxicating to nearby intact males, the discharge is oftentimes inconsequential and can happen without notice, especially with a Tibetan Terrier puppy under one year old.  All you might see is a lot more licking ‘down there’ and maybe even not terribly much more than normal.  When I get the sense that someone might be coming into season, I spread white cotton sheets around the house to ensure that I capture any discharge and know when to begin counting for a progesterone test.

Georgie Girl and Oliver

Georgie Girl and Oliver

Sometimes a natural breeding based solely on when the discharge begins can be done, but progesterone testing gives me the numbers we need, to know when ovulation has occurred.   Early on in my breeding program, I was able to use natural breedings, as my males lived with me.  Now, as my breeding program has grown, several of my stud dogs live in other forever homes.  And because I always err on the side of safety to both bitch and stud, I prefer artificial insemination when the stud lives with another family.  This way, I know that no one will get hurt, as the vet and I are always in total control of the dogs being bred.  But if I know the stud and he’s proven himself naturally?  That is my preference, every time.  It has been my experience that Mother Nature outperforms Mr. Science and my only failed breeding has been with a questionably timed artificial insemination.

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Billie Jean on the couch

At this time, we have Oliver just beginning to sniff around Gigi and Billie’s privates.  He’s my barometer.  Soon, we’ll have more excitement and then, it will be time for the boys to be separated from the girls.

Given what I see, my guess is mid-June breedings, with puppies arriving mid-August or so.  Summer will be in Princeton and whelping will be in Stowe.  At this time, we are planning to breed Gigi to Whitaker (or Oskar) and Billie Jean to Oskar (or Connor).  Our last litter was Gigi to Oskar and the puppies were wonderful.  Oskar is a proven Kensington stud dog who has sired two of my previous litters and several of Nina Wagner’s litters.  He is available to proven bitches, with both Nina’s and my approval required.

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Oskar, loving springtime on the grass

Mother Nature never ceases to throw curve balls at me and I appreciate being kept ‘in my place’.  It keeps me humble and that is where I want to be.  And plans are made to be broken – but we are going to do our best!

Oskar lives in Burlington, Massachusetts and Whit splits his time between Montreal and Stowe, Vermont.  Logistics need to be taken into consideration, as do everyone’s travel and work plans.  Wish us luck!

Happy Memorial Day!

Does the mother dog remember her puppies?

We had a fascinating day, yesterday, here at Kensington Tibetan Terriers.  Mac & Teddy (Coppi x James, November 2011) are boarding with us – and Oliver, Georgie Girl and Billie Jean are in permanent residence.  So, we have five adult Tibetan Terriers in the house and a play date scheduled with fifteen week old Abby (nee Vivi), one of Georgie Girl’s puppies from her December 2014 litter.  And we have a question: Does the mother dog remember her puppies, after they’ve left and gone to their own forever homes?

031415 Abby with ElissaAbby has been working with her humans, as well as Elissa, a dog trainer from Zen Dog Training.  She can ‘down’, ‘sit’, ‘roll over’ and comes to her name being called by anyone.  Remarkable!  and a fine example of how smart this breed can be.  She is sweet & gentle in disposition – and respectful, when meeting new humans and dogs.

032115 Georgie singsAnyway, Jodi, Joe and Abby arrived around noon and we brought the puppy up to the upstairs living room.  It is clean and isolated – good for social experiments!  Abby knew me immediately and when Gigi came in, they seemed to recognize each other immediately, too.  Abby rolled onto her back in complete submission and Georgie began this very funny play jumping up and down and side to side over the puppy’s body.  Along with play movements with her snout, in a dance.  I’d never seen anything like it.

Next, I removed Gi and brought Billie Jean in, instead.

032115 Mac and Teddy with J&JThe play behavior was also immediate but totally different in style.  It was subdued ‘normal’ TT play behavior, as if in recognition and evaluation between the two girls.  Once they were clear that they knew each other, the play became more athletic.  After a few minutes, I removed Billie and thought it might be time to take Abby outside into the fenced-in dog play area, along with its two feet of frozen snow.

032115 Abby flies through the airWe brought Abby out and reintroduced her to Georgie.  We saw the same style of interaction between them out in the snow, as we had indoors.  Ten minutes into the play, Georgie became less interested and the puppy stood up and began an exploration of the area on her own.  At that point, we brought Billie out – then, Mac and Teddy out and Abby was ready for action with these older and larger boys!  Here you see her, flying through the air and hoping to goad one or the other into a chase.

Abby has her first day at puppy school in a couple of weeks and we think that she is PERFECTLY ready to meet other puppies, now that she’s proven her maturity with a pack of Tibetans – and had her last course of puppy shots.

And the answer to the question?  Yes!  This mother dog does seem to remember her puppies, as well as the other way ’round.