Monthly Archives: November 2008

Settling in

Miss Tennyson had her first vet visit with her new vet yesterday. I think she has had several vet visits prior to this, so it wasn’t an entirely new experience. This was a new place with new people though.

The staff adored her. Every staff person in the building made a point to come out and snuggle with her. I took part of her dinner along with us, so the staff gave her lots of treats. TenTen thinks these people are great!

I decided that this trip should be all about fun. She got a basic checkup, but we didn’t give her any vaccs or do anything unpleasant except take her temperature. The vet was thrilled that I decided to do that and encouraged me to bring her in for love and treats as often as I wanted.

I’m going to bring her in later this week for the vaccs she needs in order to go to puppy class and daycare, and then get the rest over the next few weeks. No reason to stress her system by giving them all at once (plus some are done in a series).

Yesterday was a surprisingly easy day. I was able to juggle her and work in the morning — which was kind of surprising — and I wasn’t stressed or needing a break when Jay got home. We did go to bed early, but that’s because I haven’t had much sleep, not because taking care of her was exhausting in and of itself.

Oy — the nights. TenTen drinks a lot of water, and I’m not fond of restricting water at night. Not surprisingly, what goes in, must come out. When she sleeps soundly, she can go quite a while before she needs to pee. Unfortunately, last night she slept too much in the evening, and so she was just lightly napping in her crate for the first half of the night. That meant we were up every hour or so for a while.

Fortunately, both Monday morning and today, she has slept until it’s nearly light out — which, this time of year, is late for a puppy. I was expecting her to be up at 5AM, but I got to sleep until 7 this morning. That made up for the frequent interruptions in the first half of the night.

The good thing, though, is that when she asks to go out, she’s really good about walking herself alllll the way downstairs and out to the grass without stopping along the way, and then afterwards, she’s happy enough to go back in the crate and settle.

This morning she woke up with WAY more energy than she has had since we picked her up. I think that’s a sign that’s she’s really settling in. I’m encouraging the big dogs to play with her — she and Aslan are SO cute together — and I’m giving her bones and bully sticks. We’ve done a little training too, but that’s a subject for a different post.

Right now all the dogs, including the little Pflouff, are crashed for their mid-morning naps. Blissful silence! I might even be able to get some work done. Or some breakfast!

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I’m a lousy photographer…

…but here she is!

I know this is lousy photo, but the expressions on their faces cracked me up:

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And so it begins

Tennyson is home.

Tennyson is not the Green girl that I had expected, but her Orange-collar sister. I thought I might have to change the name… but I decided I’m okay with it. I don’t call her Tenn anyway. She seems to be Pfloofer to me! Don’t ask me why.

It’s difficult to get pictures, but I will get some, and I’ll post them here as soon as I do. I took some video of her at her breeder’s home yesterday, so I’ll get that posted eventually as well.

Jay and I were on the road very early yesterday, because we needed to get home at a reasonable hour to feed the other Black Sea beasties. With the exception of some early morning fog, the skies were mostly sunny, and the trip down was fast and easy.

Jenni and the pups were waiting for us. We didn’t go in and see the pups right away. We sat in the kitchen and hugged the adult Newfs and talked about the issues with the hearts. Jenni has talked to a LOT of people, including multiple vets, and feels like she has a more objective view on the situation now.

The bottom line with the Green girl is that her prognosis simply isn’t known. The SAS is very, very minimal right now, but it’s a progressive disease. It could stay minimal, or it could get very bad. Jenni had already agreed to keep Yellow for about six months, and so she doesn’t want to keep Green at her place (because she wants the litter mates to have an opportunity to develop individually). So she’s talking with various people about finding a foster situation for her.

When we went out to play with the pups, I found that I was okay with the situation. Green isn’t suffering. She may never suffer in any way — and they’ll be checking her to make sure of that. She’s just not going to be my dog.

After spending some time playing with the pups, I felt pretty good about the Orange girl. She’s just as confident and energetic as her sister, but she’s less… intense. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For her part, she seemed to have been waiting for us. She took to Jay right away, and she has been so… settled… since we left that it’s almost like she was saying, “What took you so long?”

Jenni had done a lot of work with the pups, and it definitely showed. Tenn is comfortable in her crate and in the car, and she wasn’t too bad on leash. Oh, and she’s well on her way to being housebroken! She has a clear substrate preference for grass, and she’ll wait to get outside, if she can. The only mistakes I’ve had have been because I couldn’t get her outside fast enough. Her signals were clear — it was just a long way to the door.

We left Jenni’s around 1:30, grabbed some lunch from McDonald’s, and then drove to Dog Days, a training facility in Vancouver, WA where my friend Greta was teaching. Tenn barely complained about the drive or the separation from her siblings. I really expected her to be beside herself, but it was like she didn’t give them a second thought. On with life!!

Greta was teaching a private lesson with a rescue Lab with a terrible past. (This dog and all the dogs at the facility have been vaccinated, by the way, so although it’s a calculated risk to expose her to that sort of facility before her second shots, it’s less of a risk than, say, PetSmart or a dog park or even the vet’s office.) She asked me if I’d mind letting Tenn meet her, thinking that this dog who didn’t know how to interact with adult dogs might be more comfortable with a pup. I trust Greta’s skills, so I was game. The Lab was SO HAPPY. She was desperate to interact with a dog, but she was overwhelmed by adults. Tenn was just the medicine she needed — and Tenn was completely unfazed.

Tenn met a couple of other dogs (Greta’s and our friend Jett’s) while she was there, and played with some neat toys, including a wobble board. We discovered that she likes male dogs as much as she likes men. Little hussy. But that boded well for introducing her to Pax and Aslan.

It was 8:30 when we got home. I fed the horses, and Jay got the big dogs situated in the house. I decided to introduce them individually, Aslan first. Jay held each dog’s collar initially, but it was quickly clear that they were excited but not out of control. I had worried that Pax might be a little snarky at first, but he accepted the situation with aplomb. It helped, I think, that immediately after introducing the dogs, I cued, “Dinner for dogs!” That began a really well-practiced, well-reinforced series of behaviors that instilled some normalcy into the situation.

Knowing how Aslan can get growly with Pax when he gets even remotely stressed, I expected to need to separate the big dogs and cycle their time with me and Tenn. Nope. (Not yet, anyway.) Aslan has had a few moments, but it has been really easy to jolly him and defuse the situation (and Pax is a PRO at being as nonconfrontational as psosible in those moments). I did end up gating Aslan away from the bed last night, because that was just too much for him, but he was still able to be in the bedroom, and he handled the various potty trips outside without any growling. I probably could have let him up on the bed after the first potty run, but no reason to push it.

I had work I had to do this morning, and I had meetings from 11-1. So today was an experiment in puppy management. I haven’t done any training yet! I’ve just been trying to juggle work and puppy needs. She has a vet appoinment in an hour, and she’s currently zonked at my feet. I’m going to hate having to wake her up!

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Hope is a dangerous thing

There is part of me that wants to give up this insanity. To stop the puppy search, to give up all of the related hopes and dreams. Without the dogs, though, I’m without purpose. I tried, over the the last couple of days, to find something else that even remotely interests me… but you don’t choose your passion. It chooses you. And my heart belongs to dogs.

I asked Jenni to write down what she told me on the phone, because I retain what I read much better than what I hear. Her reply…

I was pretty upset by the whole thing. I’ve never had a puppy not clear their heart check – which I know is amazingly lucky but still . . . So I think I sorta flipped when 2 of the 3 didn’t clear. In the past couple days, I’ve been doing a lot of research, talking to different vets and cardiologists so I think I have a more rational picture of what is going on.

Usually, a heart check consists of the cardiologist listening to the heart. If they hear a murmur, they grade it 1-5 depending on how loud or severe the murmur is. Both Yellow & Green had grade 2 murmurs. Heart murmurs at this age (10 weeks) can becaused by a whole lot of different heart defects or by none at all (innocent murmurs). Often in this case, breeders just hold onto the ones with murmurs for a couple more months & have them re-checked to see if the murmurs have gone away. I decided that doing so wouldn’t be fair to the puppies – they need individual homes and individual attention which I realistically cannot provide for them by myself. So, I opted to spend the big bucks and have echocardiograms done on the two puppies so that we could determine exactly what the issues were or were not at this time.

Green girl has 3 different problems with her heart. The first is mild SAS (sub-aortic stenosis). However, SAS is a progressive disease so there is a high probability it will get worse. The big question is how much worse. If it doesn’t progress much, and she only had SAS, she would probably live a fairly normal life – possibly a bit shortened depending on the final severity of the disease. The complicating factor in her case is the two leaky valves – a mitral & a tricuspid. The leaky valves (and the SAS) allow quite a bit of regurgitation (mixed blood flow) in the heart. This means the heart has to work a lot harder to move enough oxygenated blood to the body and over time leads to heart enlargement and premature heart failure. The consensus recommendation from the cardiologists is to keep her for a year and then have another echocardiogram done because what we see at 1 year is what she will have for life. Of course, if the SAS progresses, she could drop dead from heart failure before reaching a year. Even in the best case scenario, she isn’t suited as a “working dog” and will have at least a somewhat shortened life span. My plan at this point is to try and find her a foster home and have her rechecked at 6 months or a year. I may have to face the euthanasia decision down the line and it will definitely be harder later but I’ve decided to give it a chance based on the cardiologists recommendations. I know that about 8 years ago Ohio State was doing a research project on treating SAS and I’m still trying to contact someone about the outcomes – but again, her case is a lot more complicated because it is not just SAS.

Yellow has a leaky tricuspid valve. Those don’t normally tend to progress and while there are no guarantees, the chances are 99% that she’ll live out a normal, active life. Orange has no problems with her heart.

Melissa, I know you had your heart set on the green girl, but I think her sister Orange would be a really nice VN potential puppy for you too. She just shouldn’t be bred – and let me tell you after investing all this time, money, tears & heartache, not breeding is starting to sound pretty darn attractive to me!

I’m not sure what to do. Jay was terribly disappointed and would like to have the little Orange girl. My heart aches over Green. Jay doesn’t want to foster her. He doesn’t want to get attached and then lose her prematurely. Neither do I… and yet….

I know what I can’t do — I can’t give up. Without dogs I don’t have a life. They’re oxygen to me.

I’m going to call Jenni, and make plans to go down to Portland tomorrow. We may not get a puppy. But at least I can face them and talk to Jenni.

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Bad news

Puppies got their hearts checked today, and results aren’t good. Green has a couple of things wrong with her heart – bad enough that Jenni will keep her with them, check her heart in a couple of months, and could have her put down at that point. Yellow has a murmur, but it’s not bad and shouldn’t impact her. Orange is clear.

There’s a person in line in front of me who wants Yellow. However, she may opt for Orange if she wants to completely avoid the heart issue. Yellow isn’t suitable for me – too laid back. So if she takes Orange, there’s no puppy for me. Regardless, none of the pups are suitable for breeding, and I was looking to breed later.

I’ll find out tomorrow whether Orange is available, and that’s when I’ll make my final decision… but I think I’ve made it already.

I’m so sad. I thought, after a two year search, I was finally bringing home another puppy. I bought a crate, a video camera, and signed her up for daycare and puppy class (which is supposedly non-refundable). I’m so tired of getting my hopes up and having them smashed into a million pieces.

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