25 June, 2007

Puppy Video 2 - Iorek's Nursing Nightmare!

And this video features little Iorek, and a puppy's first priority: getting lots and lots of milk. Don't worry - his nightmare ends with the Tail Of Ecstasy, so I guess it isn't really a nightmare at all.

Puppy Video 1 - Pan's Long Journey

So, *please* disregard the ugly background - the room that the puppies are in was trashed by Hap and Cato back in the day, and we've not fixed it. But here's a video of the puppies (now named Pantalaimon and Iorek, after characters in the Phillip Pullman trilogy 'His Dark Materials') at about 12 days old. Pan is trying to get to Roxie, where Iorek is already having his lunch.

22 June, 2007

Dash and Dot

Just wanted to add photos of Dot (top) and Dash (below) so you could see why Roxy wants to go out there each day. They're sweet!

Pupdate one week later

So it's been one week since the emergency vet visit, and hence the beginning of our pupcare adventure. The surviving pups seem to be doing great - John describes them as 'inflating', they're growing so fast. And they are very, very cute, as you can see.

Roxy is also doing well, but now we have a different kind of problem. Dash and Dot, Roxy's pups from her January litter, are lurking around the house with Haku and the rest of the pack. Which is good - at least we can be sure that they're getting food and water. But Roxy clearly wants to be with them, and they won't be caught.

So what happens is that each morning, at sunrise, Roxy finds a way to dig/climb/?? out of the yard and have time with Dash and Dot. Yesterday, they all came home at around 6:30, sauntering down the street from the direction of the elementary school, all wet from the belly down as if they'd found a wading pool to play in. This morning, they were down in the wash with Haku, who had to fetch them when I called, as they weren't paying attention.

I've tried to eliminate her escape routes - and I can't for the life of me figure out how she got out this morning. Plus, I sympathize with her need to be with her other pups. I just don't know how much of a problem this may turn out to be - esp. if she decides she doesn't need to stay around after these pups are weaned. You have to wait 4 weeks after she's done nursing in order to get her spayed - and we need to be sure she's spayed before she has yet another litter in '07!

And so far, I've called her back each morning. I don't know whether/when she'd come back on her own, though I suspect she would. She always happily follows me right back to the yard, and into her doggy door as soon as I find her in the am.

18 June, 2007

Sad day for the pups, new puppy pen

Pup 4 died this morning, sometime between the 4am and the 6am feedings. I don't know what was the immediate cause, but he had been coughing some blood. Maybe he aspirated some of the milk, or maybe his body just gave up. Roxie and I were both very upset, and we had a little cry together.

Last night Roxy also had a little incident with John - he was snuggling her, and she suddenly whipped her head around as if to bite. She didn't bite him, but she smacked him real hard with her head, and gave him a small cut and a bruise. It happened lightning fast, and without any growling or snarling - and it seemed to confuse Roxy almost as much as it confused us. Afterwards, she went back to being easy-going and letting us go on with our business, though she kinda gave us the 'what the heck?' expression for a while. Goes to show you that you never know what might trigger a strange dog - and she's always been more afraid of John than of me. Probably b/c he's a dude. So, we need to be vigilant and careful with her.

Anyway, after that we both agreed that I should continue pup care, and John shouldn't have to do all the overnight feedings (though he was willing to do them, shiner and all).

This morning, after I buried pup 4 in a quiet, shady spot by the wash, I decided to go to PetSmart and get a whelping pen of some kind. Just a pen to restrict the movements of the pups in the room upstairs, so that we can be sure they're always on a nice, clean, safe surface. But when I walked to the truck, Roxie met me by the *front* of the house. Hm. She had dug out under the fence. But she was happy to go back into the yard, and I piled up stones in the area that she'd dug out, and talked with her about that we really needed her to stay close by and that she shouldn't do that anymore.

I went to the PetSmart and got the little pen (we'll leave the little gate open so Roxie can come and go, but the pups are safe). It's the kind pictured here. Roxy and the pups were in their room when I got home to help me put it together. They are now sacked out up there, the pups having had a nice drink of milk (on their own, from their momma).

17 June, 2007

Pupdate Day 3

So things have been going along with little change since yesterday. Every 2-3 hours there's a visit with Roxie and her pups, and a pup 4 feeding while the other two nurse. At the 3 & 5am feedings this morning, pup 4 seemed to be making a breakthrough - he could find a nipple himself, and he knew that when he found one he should open his little mouth and try to grab it - but his little grabber muscles still weren't working correctly, or else he didn't really know to use them. So, he was on the verge of nursing on his own. But since then today he seems to have really regressed, and the last two feedings he's been kind of a limp noodle. He's continuing to take swallows of milk from the syringe, but not much, and not with much enthusism.

I'm guessing/hoping that his body just needs more time to heal and recover - if we can buy him time by keeping him going for a few more days, maybe that'll do the trick and he'll come back to being a (semi-?) normal puppy. Both vets have told us that it's just a wait-and-see situation; nothing more can really be done for him other than making sure he gets milk every few hours.

I'm going to be posting a few more puppy photos that I took today. Pups 2 and 3 are becoming plump little tanks of lovable puppiosity - each of them is nursing great, and often, and putting on lots of weight. It's easy when you're so worried about one to kind of not notice and enjoy the rest - I'm trying to be sure to take more time with each of them, and also make time in each visit just to focus on Roxy and give her lots of loves and pets. She's such a good girl!

16 June, 2007

Aftermath Pupdate 4

T=2:00pm, and all is well.

We did call our regular veterinarian's office at 8:30 this morning, and got an excellent bit of advice from them. Since pup 4 is so confused about suckling, we can use an eye-dropper-like apparatus to squirt a few drops into his mouth. If he at least knows to swallow, there's hope for him.

We're using an old needle-less syringe that we've used to give kitties their liquid medicine. It seems to work great - and pup 4 knows to swallow. He was getting positively frisky earlier this morning/afternoon, under the care of John Ivens. I just went and fed him and checked on everyone - they all seem to be doing OK.

Aftermath - Pupdate 3a

Still no interest in formula from pup 4. But he's moving around pretty well, as are the other two pups. Roxie seems fairly relaxed and happy also.

Soon I will have to sleep. John Ivens has already volunteered to take the next shift with the pups!

Aftermath Pupdate 3


All pups are still amongst the living, and pup 4 feels pretty strong when he's awake and trying to move - so that's good. Gotta see if he'll take formula this morning - he's still not nursing properly.

Aftermath Pupdate 2


Pup 4 is still suckling a little, if he gets lots of help and encouragement. Which he is getting - both from Roxie and me. Which is the good news. They told us at the vets that he had some blood in his poo, but I hadn't seen any until this feeding. He pooped (yay!), but the bad news is that it was pretty bloody (ack!).

He only eats tiny amounts, and I'm having no luck at all getting him to really latch on and nurse. He won't drink the formula, no matter what I try - but it seems like trying to feed him the formula is a trigger that gets him interested enough in food to get him to try to drink from mommy. Sprta. He's got a lot of problems.

He seems to not understand the whole principle behind suckling. He actively fails to find nipples - like, he passes them up and heads for some weird non-nipple spot on his mom or his brothers. Then once he gets a nipple, he doesn't really know what to do with it. On the plus side, the last couple of times I've checked on them, he's snuggling his mommy and not lying by himself off to the side, as he was at first. Mommy snuggling has got to be medicinal - right?

Maybe this is an artifact of that it's 3:30am, but I'm pessimistic about pup 4's chances. I'm not giving up on him, and I'm making sure to tell him that he's loved, and to hug him as much as I can. But it just seems like he's not functioning correctly on so many levels. And at this point, neither am I.

Next feeding - 6:00am. Next phone call to the veterinarian? I think the regular vet opens at 8...I'll be pestering them immediately. Emergency vets are never as good as real vets.

Aftermath Pupdate 1

T = 1:41am

Pup 4 still suckles a little, with lots of encouragement. Pups 2,3 seem to be doing great. Roxie seems to be doing great also. Next check: 3:00am.

Puppy Saga - the aftermath

I was able to get the puppy formula at the Wal-Mart, but I spent a *really, really* long time in the dumb check-out line, and so the trip took too long. Poor John had done all the driving and shopping to this point, so it was my turn - but I was pretty tired and cranky.

The puppy formula has to be warmed to body temperature, and so I did that, and then we went upstairs to see how Roxie and the pups were doing. We'd left them in their room with food, water, and a clean blanket to lay on - and wanted to give them some time to settle in.

The healthy pups were curled up with Roxy, but pup 4 was lying by himself off to the side. So I scooped him up, and tried to get him to drink the formula. He really didn't seem to have any suckling response at all - he could take the nipple, but he wouldn't suck. So, I just messed with him for a while - petting him and trying to stimulate him into being more active. It didn't work to get him suckling the bottle, but I was able to get a few drops of formula on his little tongue, and then I put him by Roxie's bits.

Surprisingly, he suckled! Just a little - I don't know that he got enough milk down the hatch to make a difference, but he did suckle. I spent about 20 mins with them alternately messing with him with the bottle, petting and rubbing him all over, and then directing him to the good old mamma milk-supply. He suckled a little bit on a few separate occasions, and he even had a little poo (yay!).

So, where we are now is that I decided to let them be for another hour, and then try this whole thing again. It's almost time for me to go up there and see how they're doing! I'll let you know what happened on this visit after we're done...

Puppy Saga - the care plan

So, we were done at the emergency vet at 9. But then we had to drive home and try to pick up either (a) puppy milk replacement formula or (b) pedialyte - as we think we'll have to bottle-feed little pup 4. The milk replacement was the better option, as the pedialyte would only (maybe) get him through the night tonight if he continues to refuse to nurse.

Of course PetsMart was closed by the time we got there, though. But we decided to check and see if Target might have what we needed, since it was still before 10pm, and they were still open. He picked up baby bottles and nipples (turns out you can use human baby ones for little pups) - but they didn't have the puppy milk replacement. We thought about trying to use Infamil (human milk replacement), but that turns out to be a bad idea.

So we get home empty handed, except with a mom-dog and three puppies who can't be left outside anymore. I called up the e-vet to confirm that we couldn't use the Infamil, but they suggested we try a Wal-Mart pet section for the puppy milk. That meant that after we got Roxie and the pups settled in the dog room upstairs (and our actual doggies excluded from the top part of the yard, as well as the top part of the house), we still had a Wal-Mart excursion to do. By this time it was probably 10:30.

We also learned that puppies this young have to eat at least every 2-3 hours. So, we'll have at least one all-nighter ahead.

The care plan is this: watch pup 4 to see if he nurses, and if he doesn't, give him a bottle with puppy formula every 2 hrs or so until he does. Or maybe he just never will, and that'll mean that he did suffer brain damage or internal injury - and he won't make it. In thinking about pup 4 even during the first-day photo-shoot, it does seem he was acting kinda odd (as in the photo above). I wonder if he might have been pre-problematic. Anyway, we also need to nonitor Roxie and the other two pups to make sure they stay OK.

Puppy Saga - the diagnosis

It's late, and we're just back from the emergency vet with Roxie and her three surviving puppies. It's all a long story, so I figured I'd blog it while I'm staying up to check on their well-being hourly-ish.

It was really hot today, and the spot Roxie had picked for her pups turns out to have not been sufficient to keep them cool. They were clearly not well when we got home from work, and so a trip to the vet was needed. Roxie was great about letting us put a leash on her and collect her puppies for the ride to SW Vet Specialists.

The vet said that all the puppies were hyperthermic and dehydrated, but one of them was in worse shape than the other two. The two good shape puppies are pups 2 (the white one John is holding in the photos) & 3 (the surviving brown and white one). They needed subcutaneous fluids and some glucose, and to have the dirt and crud cleared out of their little airways - but they were/are feisty and plump.

Pup 4, the little white one who shows up in the
photos in the Kodak Easyshare Album I posted as a small white lump hanging out in the back, with his head in Roxie's belly, was in pretty serious distress. His temp was 105.4 or something, and he had to go in the oxygen tent. He's not nursing, and it's not clear if he may have had brain damage from the hyperthermia. We can only wait and see. He's also a lot smaller than the other two.

By the way, all three are boys. We don't have names for them yet - but names will have to come soon.

Roxie seems to be fit, and all pups were released into our care at about 9pm tonight.

13 June, 2007

The Answers

Diane has posted the correct answers to the sparrow naming quiz:

A = Chirpy McMutington
B = Sitty McStandington
C = Sleepy McWakington

Excellent sparrow naming, DKO!

12 June, 2007

A naming convention for sparrows, etc: X-ie Mc-Y-ington

So, the other day at lunch John and I figured out the solution to the age-old problem of how to develop naming conventions for sparrows, doves, grackles and other creatures who don't have obvious color-morph differences to go on. One has to develop names based purely on behaviors, and stock names such as 'Hoppy' and 'Tweety' just don't seem to do the trick.

The solution is the X-ie Mc-Y-ington name schema! Take X to be any uninflected verb representing the creature's behavior (i.e. 'walk', 'stare', 'fly', 'land') and Y to be a different (preferably opposing) verb, and you've got a great name for whatever creature it is that you're visiting with at the time. For example:

Standy McFlyington
Pecky McGulpington
Swoopy McLandington

Now, let's have an exercise. You should use this naming convention to name sparrows A, B & C from the photo. Answers will be given in a subsequent post.

Of course, this naming convention is to some extent derivative of one of our favorite nicknames ever - one given to the main character in one of the latest Mel Gibson flicks by that genius movie reviewer who writes for the Tucson Weekly. That nickname? Drippy McBloodspurt. Our convention has innovated from that, but we know where our roots are, and wish to acknowledge them.

11 June, 2007

Ruffian and Rags to Riches

I felt so sad when I learned that ABC/ESPN was going to do a TV movie on Ruffian, to be broadcast the day after the Belmont Stakes. Ruffian was such a brilliant champion, but her story is so horribly sad. And it was just too soon after Barbaro - whose breakdown and (way subsequent) death is still very fresh and painful. Which was why they planned the Ruffian movie for this year, I'm sure. They were intending to allude to the Barbaro story, and make hay (as it were) from the comparison. Well, the universe stomped that idea like a bug when on Saturday the winner of the Belmont Stakes was...a filly! For the first time in a century, a girl won this longest of the triple crown races.

Her name is Rags to Riches. If you saw the race, you know that she demonstrated not only tremendous talent and speed, but also incredible courage and heart. She was nose to nose with Curlin (also an awesome horsie) almost the whole way down the stretch, they were trading the lead with each stride, and she never gave up. She never even looked at him (although he seemed to be giving her the eye - and who can blame him? She's a BEAUTY!).

R2R does not match Ruffian in terms of career wins, and there have been other great fillies in the interim. And R2R's Belmont Stakes time of 2:28 and change leaves Secretariat's record safely intact, though her closing furlong was screamingly fast. As, of course, was Curlin's - who had three weeks previous tied for the official record time in winning the Preakness (Secretariat of course holds the *actual* record for that race, but due to a timer error, his *official* time was several seconds off his actual time).

Ruffian didn't win the Belmont stakes because she didn't run in it. She wasn't entered in any of the triple crown races, but was undefeated in 10 starts as a 2 and 3 year old. It was her 11th race, a match race against Foolish Pleasure, that resulted in her injury and death. Before the Belmont, R2R had run only 5 times, with four wins and one 4th place (the latter in her very first start). That's a pretty good record, but time will tell whether or not she'll be able to build a winning streak to match Ruffian's.

Not many fillies have run in the Triple Crown races. During my lifetime only 2 others (Genuine Risk and Winning Colors) have won (both won the Kentucky Derby). So R2R finds herself in rare company. Had Ruffian been allowed to run in the TC, perhaps she'd have been in that group as well.

It was a thrill to see a Belmont stakes in which nobody got hurt, everyone ran an excellent race, and history got made by a red filly with a beautiful white blaze. The commentators said that she's a terror in the stable - she likes to bite and kick, and is generally ill-mannered. I say - you go, R2R! You're incredible! And I hope that if there's a place horsies go when they die, Ruffian is looking down from that place and giving someone a nip or a kick in solidarity.

06 June, 2007

Glarey McBoldacre

Today at lunch, we were joined by Glarey McBoldacre, who wanted to help us devour our food. Glarey turns out to have been a female Great Tailed Grackle. I found this lovely portrait of a fGTG on the web, the photographer is Dave Furseth, and he has many other lovely bird photos at www.davesbirds.com. Anyway, Glarey got a few treats, and moved on. She was followed only a few moments later by Hoppy McTweetipie, a European sparrow, who also wanted some lovely fries.
We love Glarey and Hoppy!