On July 8th at about 10pm Licky went into labor. By then, she looked like a huge black sow with large nipples and hair sticking out every which way. She had lounged in the whelping box for two days, scratching up papers and laying upside down with a fan blowing on her big belly. The labor itself was obvious even to a newbie like me but if I had known what was coming, I might have been scared.
More happened in that one litter then all my others combined. I learned about pop shots, two big to be born easily puppies, puppies that slide out and have no problems hours after the others have been born, puppies getting too cold, exhausted dams that sit on puppies repeatedly and do not want to nurse or stimulate puppies or eat poop, bringing back puppies that have been squished with sub-q fluids, tube feeding, and tons of anxiety and worry! If not for Pat Marshall, the owner of the sire, I would not have made it and neither would the eight of nine puppies that lived and thrived.
Once we were past the drama of life or death, the puppies were a joy to behold. There were six tri-colors, five rough and one smooth, one rough sable, and one smooth blue. So much for trying to avoid a litter of all one color! And of course, I had a waiting list for smooths but only had two! Then there was puppy colic, coccidia, hookworms, and a mostly disinterested dam but most of the time it was a pleasure. By the time they went to their new homes I was tired but in love with breeding. I kept two puppies for myself, Kate, a tri rough bitch and Devin, a blue smooth dog. While selling the puppies, I also let Lana go as the puppies I kept were far superior and frankly things in my personal life were about to change drastically.
When the puppies were five months old, I filed for divorce. It was the final chapter of seven years of chaos and living with someone that did not like animals at all. I was relieved but worried as well. I planned to keep the house and thankfully that never posed a problem so the dogs were safe with me.
In the spring, I brought home a sable merle rough bitch to breed to Havana and Devin as well. She was from Mississippi and her pedigree was exactly what I was looking for. Plenty of smooths on the damís side and roughs I really admired on the sireís side. She came on a plane sight unseen and we named her Melly for her southern heritage.
Unfortunately, she brought Parvo with her and her second week here, she spent at the vets being hydrated. She lived of course and but gave Parvo to my almost year old vaccinated puppies although they had a mild form and never needed to visit the vet. The two adults did not seem to get it. She had been vaccinated too but at eight weeks old, my vet concluded that the maternal antibodies kept the vaccine from taking effect. Privately, I thought that she had probably contracted it from the vaccine itself and my puppies from the shed. Thus began my change in feelings about vaccinating in general.
Then in October, Havana stopped eating. At the vetís, it was confirmed that he was in end stage kidney failure. Surgery had also proven that it was probably congenital. We had no choice but to let him go. I was devastated! In two weeks time to watch a seemingly healthy dog go down and die was almost more than I could bear. Even knowing he had probably been sick for a very long time but had been happy and had no symptoms didnít help me to feel better. I wondered if breeding and showing dogs was just not for me after all.