Hoping for a quiet 2019

My last post was published on the 10th of January when I felt like my whole world had caved in. The last few weeks have been very hard, I miss Frankie and Mollie so much that my heart aches. There has not been a day that has gone by where I haven’t wept with the pain of losing them as suddenly as we did. To lose two dogs in 7 days is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t have got through it without hubby by my side. In fact I would have probably given up completely had he not been here.

 
Due to the shock, upset, grief hubby has taken some time off work. He already suffers with anxiety and depression and to ensure he didn’t take a nose dive he saw the doctor and got himself signed off. He didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. Losing Mollie hit him very hard as she was his dogs. Plus it was very traumatic for us over 24 hours where it became clear that she had suffered from a stroke and there would be no recovery from this. We nursed her overnight and made sure she wasn’t suffering. Right up until the end she only wanted her dad, whenever she was out of his sight she panicked. Jay stayed with her until the end as I had stayed with Frankie just the week before. To say our hearts were broken would have been an understatement.
 
I took a break from this blog as since the beginning back in 2008 the dogs have featured quite heavily in it. My Gravatar is me with Frankie, Frankie is the banner on WordPress, on Twitter his photo is my profile picture and its the same on Facebook. Although I have managed to change my about me pages on both blog platforms, I can’t remove his photo from any of my social media profile photos.  It feels like a huge chunk of my life has just vanished. Life as I knew it was taken away from me in the space of 7 days. I never knew I could feel so utterly broken by the passing of three dogs in just a little over the year.
 
For a few years Mr Myasthenia Kid and I had talked about what would happen when we no longer had any dogs. Initially we had said we would get a Labrador ( black) then we talked about a Beagle and also a Bracco Italiano. However for the last few months I had said I didn’t know if I wanted another dog, I knew losing our last two Weimaraners would hit me really badly and by getting another dog meant at some point in the future I would have to go through the pain of losing it all over again. Jay was not having any of it, he said that I was already completely socially isolated and without a dog I would have no company at all. He felt it would be very damaging to my mental health. He was right, as 7 days without a dog in the house were the worst thing ever. I missed everything about having a dog, the cuddles, the mess, the unconditional love, someone to have silly conversations with.
 
By the Sunday after Mollie’s passing we decided that we would get another dog and we started looking on-line for Labrador puppies. I had to give myself a crash course on Labrador’s having not ever owned one. I located several breeders who had litters on The Kennel Club Website. Luckily one lady immediately responded to my email and told us she had two male yellow labs for sale. Obviously we had originally said we wanted a black lab but by this point it didn’t matter what colour it was. We needed our house to feel like a home again, we were both distraught and sinking fast. We arranged to travel to see the 2 pups available the following day.
 
The rest is history, we now own a 9 week old Yellow Labrador called Dembe. We chose his name from the TV programme the blacklist, it means peace. Which you will probably agree we need by the bucket full. Dembe came home with us on Friday 11th January. You can read all about him   here as I have started his own blog for him. I will from time to time have photos of him on this blog but it is much easier to have all the news about him on a separate blog. Every Monday I will give a run down of what he has been up to the previous week. 
 
Some of you may be judging us, that we got a new dog too quickly or that we didn’t love our other dogs that much because we replaced them with Dembe. Dembe is not and has never been a replacement. He is an addition to our household. He is very much-loved for the dog he is and will become. Anyone who thinks any less of us for this can just fuck off as far as I am concerned, your opinion is of very little value to me.
 
So whilst I took a break from here, I have been setting up Dembe’s blog. I managed to keep writing which out of all the things I do creatively was the only thing that I could keep going. I hadn’t been able to sew since Mollie passed away. I managed on the 16th January after a break of nearly two weeks to sit and do a small piece of embroidery. Mainly to ensure that Dembe wasn’t scared of the noise the machine made. The only thing that has freaked him out so far has been the ironing board and it does the same to me if I am honest.
 
My health has been hit quite hard by the sudden turn of events. I have suffered vertigo, continuous headaches, back spasms, Eczema, migraines and ptosis. As usual it a few days after the event before I started to go down hill. Thankfully with Jay off work we have been able to manage Dembe’s care and socialisation process. To be honest without him I would have crawled into bed and never come out again. This little chap has saved us both. The lady that we are friendly with at the vets ( who had a soft spot for Frankie) called Dembe our miracle dog. She knew how much our lives focused on our dogs and also knew that without a dog in our life we would fall apart. 
 
So many people have told us that we have done exactly the right thing. It doesn’t mean that we loved our Weimaraners any less, it is because we loved them so much that we had all this love to give to another dog. 
 
Dembe has bonded with us both. He is such a happy, laid back dog. His tail wags continuously. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him. I thought at one point after Mollie had passed away that Jay looked like he was going to drop dead from a broken heart. He was just an ashen colour. I have seen Jay poorly many times but this was the worst I had seen him look for a long time. Since Dembe’s arrival he is looking so much better, we both feel like there is a future in front of us. In the immediate aftermath of losing both dogs it felt like we were staring into the abyss .
 
I am hoping that my health stabilises shortly, it is going to have to as Jay goes back to work from Monday 21st and it will just be me and Dembe. However Jay will be coming home at lunch times to help with feeding and toileting. He still has a few weeks until he will be able to go out for a walk. Whilst Jay is home though I am trying to take it as easy as possible. Jay has been doing everything for me as usual.
 
2018 ended in a way that I didn’t see coming and 2019 started in a way we never envisaged. All I can hope for is a quieter year for the rest of 2019.
 

 
 

 
I will never forget the love that these three beautiful loyal dogs gave me. Run free my darlings, we will miss you everyday for the rest of our lives.

Birthdays Part Two

Last week I left you hanging, I ended the post just before Mollie gave birth. The reason behind it was that it deserved a post of its own. Also I needed to retrieve my puppy breeding notes from on top of the wardrobe, which required hubby’s help. It has been a real trip down memory lane reading through the notes from both litters.

Willow aged 3 -4 weeks

Mollie went into labour on Friday 6th October 2006. Hubby and I had both scheduled holiday for the weeks after the birth, as Mollie wasn’t actually supposed to give birth until the Sunday at the earliest. However babies the world over and of any species never turn up when they are supposed to. Mollie had been mated on 11th August, pregnancies in dogs last around 63 days and our pups were arriving on day 60, caught us all on the hop.


I arrived home after my late shift at work to find Mollie calm but obviously in labour.Hubby wasn’t calm, he was panicking, thinking puppies would emerge at any moment. Mollie was panting a little and pacing a bit but nothing that anyone who didn’t know her would notice. The look of relief on her face when I walked through the door was hilarious. If dogs could talk I think she would have said “thank God you’re home!”. Hubby and I decided we would try to get some sleep that night as the textbooks had told us that she wouldn’t be delivering any puppies until at the very earliest Saturday lunchtime. How wrong we were.

Frankie and Willow aged 8-10 weeks

 

Mollie refused to settle and in the end I got up. There was no point in both of us being up, hubby was on an early shift so needed to sleep. I would sleep when I could and I hoped that with Mollie in the spare room, she would settle and allow me to sleep on the makeshift bed we had in there. It didn’t happen, as the hours ticked by I could see Mollie’s belly contracting, she was letting out a deep moan with each one, there was one thing I knew for sure, they were starting to get closer together. At about 2:30am having been downstairs for a bit I decided that if I didn’t want the puppies being born on the lounge floor I was going to have to convince her to come back upstairs again. Mollie didn’t need any persuading, she was stuck to me like glue, as she had been throughout the pregnancy. I felt terribly sorry for her and frightened if I am honest. I had never seen anything give birth and I was worried that something would go wrong. The stakes were high, just a few weeks earlier we had been told that Travis had 12 weeks left to live. I didn’t want to lose Mollie as well along with all the puppies.


I sat down on the futon in the spare room and Mollie decided to sit on top of me. It was almost as if she had to be in my skin, as if I had to feel everything that she was going through. I couldn’t believe that it was possible but her contractions became stronger than ever, her groans louder. Then at the stroke of 3am her waters broke all over my lap. It was showtime and I was absolutely beside myself. Despite the time I called J and K for moral support. The textbooks don’t tell you that the fear you feel as active labour gets underway will leave you utterly paralysed. I have no idea what I said to them but K promised he was on his way over. I can never thank him or J enough for being there for us through everything. I really needed them and they were there.

Puppies aged 6-7 weeks



I had to wake hubby which is always difficult, I swear a bomb could go off next to him and he wouldn’t hear it. However that morning he jumped out of bed and was dressed within seconds. It seemed just a few minutes had gone by and K was here, with Mollie’s waters breaking it meant the pups were on the way. My memories of the birth are hazy, I let Karl do most of it as I was just a bag of nerves. I wish I had been more involved now but at the time we didn’t know I was going to get sick and not be able to have the litters we had been planning. 

 

Puppies charging in for a feed Willow bottom left


Mollie’s maternal instinct seemed to kick in immediately, K helped open of the membrane sack’s that each puppy was born in. Mollie took over and did the rest by chewing through the umbilical cords and then licking the puppies clean. After each pup was born its placenta followed. Although opinion is divided amongst dog breeders on what should be done with the placenta we allowed Mollie to eat it. She would have done this on the wild to nourish herself and to hide the evidence of birth from predators. It was over in a flash and wasn’t that grim. You have to remember these things are natural behaviour and get over yourself if you are feeling squeamish. 


From what I remember puppies seem to come in pairs then Mollie would have a break for a bit and then get going again. Hubby kept  out-of-the-way during the birth. He has a very weak stomach and is very squeamish, he had made it clear from the outset that he didn’t want to be involved in this part. The hardest part of the birthing process was when Hubby took Travis out for his morning walk. Mollie was completely disgusted that she wasn’t allowed out on the walk, despite the fact she still hadn’t finished giving birth.

Puppies arrival time:

1st Pup 03:50 Boy
2nd Pup 04:15 Girl
3rd Pup 04:35 Girl
4th Pup 05:15 Boy
5th Pup 05:40 Boy
6th Pup 07:00 Girl (willow)
7th Pup 07:44 Boy
8th Pup 08:10 Boy
9th Pup 08:55 Boy

I missed the birth of the last puppy as I had to be in work at 9am so K had to do that one alone, not that I had actually been much help, more a shocked observer. To give K a break his wife J came over and sat with the puppies until I came back from work a few hours later for my lunch break. I was utterly exhausted but walking on air. By the time I got to bed that evening I hadn’t slept since the Thursday night.

I really wish that I had kept more detailed records with the first litter, only because I have no clue as to where Frankie was born in the litter but do with Willow. My second litter was ridiculously monitored, I know exactly which pup was which, where they were born in the litter and what they weighed at birth. The first litter was weighed later that day but I didn’t have anyway of properly distinguishing between them when they were born. It wasn’t until later when I needed to keep a record that I managed to find some way of telling them apart.

Sex Kennel club name description weight
Boy Tiffosi Travis diamond-shaped blaze 500g
Boy Monza Madness no white, pink nose 460g
Boy Sepang Stormer white diamond off centre 480g
Boy Monte Cario Baby (Frankie) White blaze left of centre 500g
Boy Suzak Starlett no white 500g
Girl Willow Warbler

(Willow)

no white, very stripey 440g
Girl Silverstone Sassi no white 460g
Girl Lady Indianapolis 2 spots of white 480g
Boy Magne Cour Mister No white, Roman nose 480g

 

It was a bittersweet moment today when reading through the puppy papers that we discovered that we had used Travis’ name as one of the pups names. I think due to all the stress and emotion that we suffered with him passing and then me getting sick that we just forgot completely that we had used his name. I am glad we did, it’s nice to know that somewhere his name lives on. My first litter records are incomplete. I have no clue where Tiffosi Travis ended up, By the time they were a few weeks old we had them in different coloured cat colours and all my records refer to the collar colour. I never wrote down anywhere or if I did it’s lost in the house somewhere, which pup had which Kennel Club name. I am kicking myself now.I could do some digging to find out but I am happy just knowing that Tiffosi Travis is out there.

As you can see all the Puppies apart from Willow were named after Grand prix related things. The Kennel Club made an error with Frankie’s pedigree name as it should have been Monte Carlo Baby not Monte Cario Baby at the time though I just couldn’t be bothered to correct it. It had been hard enough coming up with 18 names as each pup has to be supplied with two names, so that they can check to ensure no other dogs have the same name.
Weimaraner puppies are born with tiger stripes, as you can see in the picture below. The pups are around 24 hours old in the picture, over the course of a few days the tiger stripes fade. Willow was known as stripey initially as her stripes were so prominent and took a few weeks to fade.

Puppies suckling Mollie, puppies are 24 hours old with the tiger stripes fully visible.


Puppies are born with their eyes closed and they do not start to open until they are 10 days old. As they open they are all black, it is very freaky when all the pups turn and look at you. Hubby and I jokingly referred to them as Demon eyes as they looked like something out of a horror film. Gradually over the space of a few days the eyes start to turn a bright blue. Eventually as they grow up Weimaraner’s eyes turn into a more amber or green colour. Very occasionally they stay the brilliant blue colour they had as puppies.

Puppies around 24 hours old.



Initially the puppies were quite easy to look after, they didn’t move around much, spending their time eating and sleeping. The whelping box had to be cleaned 4 times a day, disinfected, with the newspaper and vet bed completely striped out. Mollie was producing milk but not enough to adequately feed 9 large puppies so we had to start supplementing her milk. To help ease the pressure on Mollie, I fed the pups every 4 hours day and night. Bottle feeding them was an absolute joy, hard work but it brought me much closer to them and I got to pick up on their individual characters. However by the end of two weeks when their eyes were open it was clear that they were ready to move onto more than just milk. I made them up a puppy porridge, I whizzed up puppy food in the food processor so it resembled a fine dust and mixed it with the puppy milk. It went down a storm but feeding time was incredibly messy. With pups standing / lying in the food. Every time they were fed they had to be washed off and then dried because they were covered from nose to tail. I had to do this 4 times a day. Hubby helped when he was home but mainly I was responsible for the puppies.

 

Puppies feeding from Mollie



A litter of puppies becomes incredibly hard work from week 3 onwards. From week three they are incredibly mobile and getting into everything. It is like having 9 boisterous toddlers in the house that you are attempting to toilet train. Puppies like babies have no respect for sleep or the fact normal life continues whilst you are raising them. For some reason the puppies seemed to think 2am was a perfectly reasonable time to get up and have a play. Under our bed seemed to be a favourite spot and the amount of things they chewed / damaged was phenomenal. 

The boy with the pink nose chewing the side of the whelping box. Aged over 10 days old as you can see the eyes are open and are changing from black to the brilliant blue.


People ask me if I was sad when the puppies left us to go to their new homes. I always laugh, by the time they were ready to leave us at 8 weeks old I was exhausted. One of the hardest things about rearing puppies is finding homes for them. People mess you about, they arrange appointments to come to see them only to never turn up and you never hear from them again. That happened to us all one Sunday, we had four appointments booked and only one person turned up. It becomes soul destroying when on your day off you’ve got up, raced around making the place look like it hasn’t been chewed to pieces, that the pups are toileted and fed, only to sit for hours waiting for people who have no intention of turning up. Lack of manners really winds me up, it was even worse with the second litter. It was so stressful that was one of the reasons why we didn’t breed again.

Puppies aged between 4-6 weeks, this is when people started to view them.


On the whole though when the puppies found new homes and I could see the excitement in people’s eyes when they took their puppy to the car made it all worth while. The pups always left us with toys, a grubby tea towel (so they had something in their new home that smelt of them), food, puppy pads (although most of our pups were pretty much house trained by the time they left), a pedigree document and a massive booklet I had put together giving them info on when the pups were wormed, what with and how much food to feed them. I also gave them handy hints and tips on getting their pup settled. My phone number was also included should they ever need any advice or had any concerns.

The puppies were still feeding from Mollie at this time and were slowly being weaned.


The hardest part when all the puppies have gone is the silence. All our pups had cat collars with bells on, so we had become very used to the constant tinkling of bells. It was eerily quiet and after all the frenetic activity of the 8 weeks prior, to suddenly sit back and have no puppies running around, getting under your feet is just weird. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life but it was also incredibly hard. After the second litter I knew it would be impossible for us to continue as I was just too sick to cope with puppies and then finding them new homes. I am really pleased that we did it and given half the chance would do it all over again.

A tired Mollie feeding 9 hungry puppies.