Monday, March 31, 2008

From Dinning Room to Puppy Nursery

This weekend's project was to transform our dining room into a puppy nursery. We have done this three times now and have pretty much perfected the process.

First we move the dining room table and chairs out and the couch from the living room in. The couch and the dining room table are used to block the entrance to help limit the traffic flow in and out of the room. Moving the couch into the puppy room is critical. I plan on wasting hours and hours in there watching puppies and it is important to be comfortable.

Once the room is cleared we start by building the "urine trap." Having a litter of puppies on carpet can be dangerous. To ensure the carpet's safety we have designed the urine trap. We start by building the frame out of 2 x 4s.

Then we pull out the plastic. The first year we made the mistake of not using heavy enough plastic and when the frame slid around some of the plastic ripped. We didn't have any leakage but it is better to be safe than sorry so now we go for the heavy duty stuff.

The plastic is stretched out under the frame and then brought up and over the frame to protect the wood and stapled to the inside. Not only does this prevent the urine from leaking onto the carpet but it also allows the frame to easily slide on the floor so we can reposition it as needed.

The linoleum comes next. It is measured, cut and fit into the frame. We use small boards to hold it in place. The first year we used cheap linoleum and had some tears so now we get the heavier stuff. This remnant was from last year and held up so well we can reuse it this year.

Once the urine trap is completed we put in the whelping box (provided by Helping Paws). The puppies will stay in the box until they are big enough to start crawling out or need more room, whichever comes first.

The scale is set up, the supplies are purchased. All we need now are the puppies.

Tiga and Mr. Duck are all ready to go.

Tori is ready to supervise from the couch again.

One Week To Go

Tiga's due date is one week from today. She is measuring in at 35" now and starting to slow down. Normally she follows me when I move from room to room. Now she waits to see if I am really going to be gone for long before she gets herself up and follows me. The following photo does a pretty good job of showing her expanding waistline. My normally svelte dog is really starting to balloon. We can easily feel them moving now and sometimes you can even see them moving. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have multiple puppies moving inside you at the same time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tiga + Breeding = Never a Dull Moment

Both of Tiga's previous breeding experiences have brought some sort of excitement - events that have given me the chance to experience something that stretched me to the limit.

The first pregnancy gave me the chance to experience tube feeding. Sticking several inches of tubing down the throat of a new born puppy and shooting formula into their stomachs was something I really never wanted to do but it all worked out and I was able to handle it, even in the middle of the night half asleep. And as if that wasn't enough, there was the puppy that suddenly became very ill and dehydrated and ended up spending some time at the emergency vet. Fortunately, both the puppy and I pulled through that one.

The second pregnancy had the emergency c-section which actually ended up being quite fascinating and again, a great learning experience. Then there was the entire litter getting sick for 24 hours with vomiting and diarrhea. We also managed to get through that one with nobody the worse for wear.

Well not to be out done, Tiga has once again tried to scare me to death. This time she didn't even wait for the puppies to be born. Last Saturday night Tiga became very agitated, panting heavily, unable to remain still for long, never leaving my side (actually in my lap). She acted just like she was in labor and with two more weeks to go this would not have been a good thing. After this continued for several hours I called Eileen and we decided she should go to the emergency vet. (By the way, Eileen wakes up and becomes rational much quicker that I do!) Of course, once we got there she settled down. All of her vitals looked good. She had no discharge or pain in her abdomen and there wasn't anything more they could check. I took her home, after calling Eileen again for moral support. We were hoping that it was over, but no such luck. When we got home she started in again and after a few more hours she started nesting behaviour also. She tried to get behind the furniture and scratch out a bed. Now I was really worried that she was about to give birth so I put her back in the car and this time we went to the U of M. By now it was 3:30 and snowing heavily. Again, once she was in the car she quieted down and went to sleep and when we got there they couldn't see anything wrong with her. Well when we got home the behaviour started again and continued until about 8:30 in the morning when she finally went to sleep.

I talked to our vet, Dr. Windsor, who was kind enough to spend some time on Easter morning advising me. We took her back to the emergency vet where they performed an ultrasound to make sure we still had viable pups. I spent Easter morning worried sick that we had lost the pups and that she was trying to expel them. The news was good. The ultrasound showed beating hearts and lots of activity. Tiga came home and has been acting perfectly normal since then. We still don't have an explanation for her behaviour and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the next two weeks pass quickly and without incident.

She is growing bigger and bigger every day and last night I was able to feel a puppy moving. Very cool.

Here is Tiga tonight demonstrating her "Show me you puppies" cue and looking very relaxed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Last Snow - Hopefully

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Minnesota. The temperature reached into the 40s and the snow in our front yard melted and exposed green grass. It seemed hopeful that spring was coming at last.

This morning we woke up to snow - in total about 8" of snow. I am really hoping that this will end soon. I need it to be warm enough in 6 weeks to put the puppies out on the deck for meals and play time.

I must say though that it was one of those wonderful, heavy snows that cover the trees and make everything look clean. The dogs loved it and had a lot of fun playing in the yard.

Tiga (right) and Charlie (left). Charlie is from Tiga's first litter. He is a service dog-in-training and we are his foster home. To Tiga he is the child that just won't leave home.

If it snows much more Tiga's puppies will be dragging in the snow.

Tori is our intense, very focused hunting dog. This is Steve's description of her. I think she is a bit psychotic. She spent hours and hours last week watching the melting snow drip off our roof. Today she had a break from that activity and spent hours pointing at the falling snow. In just a few weeks she will be back on the couch watching the puppies all day, just like she did last year. This dog really needs a job.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Definitely Bigger

This week she measures in at 31.5", a 3.5" increase. In all honesty, I have no idea whether or not these measurements mean anything because I don't know if I am taking the measurements in the same place each week. I can tell just from looking at her that there are definitely puppies growing in there. When she lays on her side she is starting to spill over onto the floor. Notice how she is now sticking her tongue out at me when I put her through this weekly humiliation.

Meet Robin

Meet the sire of Tiga's litter, AM-Can Ch. Nitro's Boy Wonder TDI, CGC, better known as Robin. Yes he is gorgeous, but he is more than just a pretty face. Robin is a Police K-9 and a Search and Rescue dog. The picture below was taken after a big drug bust he had in December.

For more information about Robin, please visit his website at Those of you who are familiar with Helping Paws, already know some of Robin's offspring. Robin was bred with Summer, Tiga's mom, a few years ago. Brio, Rocky, Dozer, Rally and Cheers are all from that litter. Rocky and Dozer have been matched and will graduate this spring. Hopefully, this new litter will be as nice. Here is a picture of Dozer and Rocky.

Monday, March 10, 2008

How Humiliating!

If someone had done this to me when I was pregnant, I probably would have done some serious damage to them. Fortunately for me, Tiga is a lot more easy going. She does look completely humiliated though. I have never been able to get a photo of her that shows just how big she really gets so I thought this time around we would try taking measurements. Right now she is about 28" around. She is already starting to show a little and there is definitely a difference between how she looked last week and how she looked today.You can click on the photo for a closer look.

We're Back!

For those of you who are new to the blog, Tiga is a four year old Golden Retriever. She is a breeding dog for Helping Paws, a non-profit organization in Minnesota that trains and places services dogs with individuals with physical disabilities. Tiga lives with me, Judy, my husband Steve, and our three kids, Mike, Jack and Katie. We are Tiga's caretaker home. We have volunteered to have Tiga live with us and raise her litters of puppies for Helping Paws. We started this blog last year when she had her second litter of puppies. Our last entry was about the puppies leaving our house to go live with their foster homes and start their service dog training. I am happy to say that the puppies have grown up to be beautiful dogs and that their training is going great. They are well on their way to becoming the life changing gifts they are destined to be.

Almost a year has gone by and we are getting ready to start all over again because once again – TIGA IS PREGNANT!!!!

Tiga came into season the end of January and we started the process of getting her pregnant. We began by having blood drawn to determine her progesterone levels. By monitoring this they can determine her ovulation date and from that the optimal date for breeding. During this time Eileen needed to finalize the stud choice and arrange for shipment. This shipment did not include the whole stud so once again Tiga won’t get to meet the father of her kids. She just went to sleep and woke up pregnant. It must be a little confusing to her. This year instead of fresh chilled semen we used frozen semen. The whole idea of freezing something and then having it come back to life when thawed is a little weird to me but it must have worked because she is pregnant. We went for an ultrasound on March 3rd and sure enough there were little pups in there and little beating hearts. It is impossible to tell how many from the ultrasound so we will just have to wait and be surprised. It is amazing to me that at the time of her ultrasound the puppies were about the size of my little fingernail and in just a little over one month they will be fully developed and weigh close to one pound. Tiga's due date is April 7th.

The surgical implant.

Tiga's ultrasound.

Tiga's ultrasound with a measurement of the puppy - 1.59 cm.

Special thanks to Inver Grove Heights Animal Hospital for their expertise and help in getting Tiga pregnant and for providing me with these great photos.