SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chica x Clyde Puppy Update

Oh my, where do I start?

We are open and honest about our kennel practices, our dogs, our successes and our failures here at SP Kennel. This past week has been one of my most challenging ~ emotionally - in a long while. My goal has always been to try and do the best for each and every dog. To try and "make everything right". The fact is, last week, I could not "make everything right".

I'll start with:
Thank goodness we have five healthy 16 day old puppies. They are active, nursing aggressively and starting to get into trouble. Chica and the pups are living in our house, in an area especially built for them, where we can watch them 24 hours a day. The past week of intense care and surveillance has only been possible by the great family and friends that we have here at SP Kennel. I'm sorry to say that we wore out the whole neighborhood - whether it was racing off to the Vet office, sleeping on the couch for pup checks or medicating the litter consistently. I also need to thank Crystal, a Vet Tech at North Pole Vet Hospital, for teaching me how to tube feed puppies.

When the pups were 6 days old, one puppy became lethargic. I know that nature can be a puzzle to us mere morals. We lost that pup soon after we noticed its signs of sickness.

I don't need to tell you but, the standards of care of newborns here is of the highest calibre. Chica is current on all vaccinations and is as healthy as a dog can be. She is always fed the best dog food and given a constant fresh supply of water. She has not been sick in years, has plenty of milk and has tended to her pups constantly. Our puppy pen is a raised wooden platform that is pressure washed and clean. The whelping box and nursing house is full of fresh cedar chips and the bedding is changed often. We even had human visitors at the kennel during the pups first week, but I allowed no one in the pen or to touch the newborns. There were no "strange" dogs at the kennel and Chica does not wander. I thought the loss of this one pup was a random and sad occurrence.

On the evening of Day 7 another pup became ill. All remaining puppies were nursing and healthy. Was this random again? This illness became a mystery. I warmed the pup and syringe fed him all night. He died just before our visit to North Pole Vet Hospital.

At the time of the appointment, the entire litter had stopped nursing and had sickly diarrhea. A few pups were chilled. After a through Doctor's examination, there still was no definitive cause. The pups were put on antibiotics with the possibility that they had a gastrointestinal bacterial infection.

I took the seven pups home and tube fed them milk replacement every 3 hours. I also gave them sub cutaneous fluids every 3 hours for dehydration. It was obvious that their bellies were sore and a few pups could not keep the nourishment down. Despite my best efforts, two more pups died during the following 36 hours. I turned one of the bodies in to the Hospital to see if any tissue samples could be used to determine the illness. A Laboratory in the Lower 48 received the tissues on Day 10.

Today is Day 15 and the positive thing is we have 5 nursing and feisty puppies. I know them intimately. They have cried in my lap and squealed at the Vet office. They have been poked and prodded and even tube fed. They are an incredible group of survivalists and I hope with all of my heart that we have gotten over the worse of this.

The biggest pup is Rodney - I have no idea where that name came from but I started calling him that in the wee hours of the morning and it stuck. Scooby was named on Day 1 by my nephew Sam. Ginger is the only girl and she was always referred to as the "ginger colored pup". So ginger has become Ginger. Ernest Shakelton was part of one of the most amazing survival stories ever, so Ernie is the third boy. The fifth pup was called #5 for his whole life thus far. He was one of the sickest pups and I am surprised that he has pulled through. I still call him "Five" and my Mom calls him "Cinco" (five in Spanish.) Allen thinks we should call him "High Five." So, this last little guy might have a few names, but he probably deserves them all!

We received the results from the Laboratory yesterday. The puppies had an intestinal syndrome brought on by Clostridium perfringens bacterium. Clostridium is a normally occurring bacteria in a dog's gut. However, when this bacteria reproduces, it generates a toxin. Our puppy tested positive for the alpha toxin. This alpha toxin causes severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, hemorrhage and death. This is not a common occurrence in dogs.

There is still some question as to what caused this normally tranquil bacteria to reproduce so rapidly and create killer toxins in our pups? We have been told that Clostridium thrives in rotting vegetation and uncooked or undercooked meats. Chica has been on a strict dry kibble diet with no meat additives. Her last meat or fish snack was pre-pregnancy in April. There was no rotting vegetation in the puppy pen. Although it is hard, I must not speculate as to source of infection. We would need many more diagnostics and research to fully understand why this occurred.

What we know is that the bacteria is under control by antibiotic medication. There should be no more alpha toxins produced and the puppies' guts should heal. We have five healthy puppies, nursing aggressively, squealing and playing.

Chica and the babies at Day 14 take a nap in the "nest"; Rodney cuddles on the quilt with me after a medication dosage.

I'm sure I don't need to tell folks that I am still coming to grips with the occurrences during the last week. It makes me very sad. As I said at the beginning, I have a hard time accepting that I could not "make everything right" for these babies. Thankfully, I have many friends in the veterinary field and their knowledge and comments seem to help me. But, I'm sure, the thing that will help me the most will be watching Rodney, Scooby, Ginger, Ernie and Five grow up to be happy and healthy SP Kennel dogs!

34 comments:

Mary Lynn Roush said...

Oh my, so sorry for this traumatic time, and the loss of the sweet pups. But I'm grateful for your vigilant, persistent, and living care of all your dogs, and for your five survivalists. May they thrive!

--Cliff Michel & Family (Junior's Sponsor) said...

Thank you, Aliy, for sharing with us this sad and most difficult ordeal. Your openness with us is truly amazing. My family and I send much love to the entire SP Kennel family and wish the best to the Gang of Five.

Anonymous said...

All the best to the whole SP Kennel family, and my sympathies to all.

Sincerely,
Margaret

Barb Co said...

How hard this must be. You are the most loving, thoughtful champion I know. We'll be keepin the faith here in Co and hoping for good outcomes.

MaggieMae said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your puppies - and so glad that you have 5 little survivors. It's a traumatic time not knowing what's wrong and what to do. We lost a beloved dog to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis two years ago and I still wonder how and where she got it. It's useless to wonder - glad you're stopping yourself from that!

Dawn E said...

Wow, this is sad, and if I'm tearing up, I can't imagine where you are. We all who follow you, SP Kennels, know that you will have, and always do your very best by the dogs. Nature is a hard thing, but so beautiful too. Be well, hang in there, we're still here for you!

Karina said...

I can completely relate, helped rescue a pit mix who had to have a C-section to deliver 19 pups, only 8 survived the birth. Feeding by any means possible: syringe, tube, surrogate mother every three hours. After the third day we lost one or two a day until there were none. Those babies just weren't meant to be...but breaks my heart. Hold onto those babies that wouldn't be here without you!

Melissa Krahmer said...

I know this is heartbreaking for you and Chica. I hope these pups grow up to be your toughest sled dogs yet.

Anonymous said...

So very sorry for your puppy losses and so happy for you that five are doing well. Your pups and dogs are so well provided for, it just happens . Hugs and condolences, and watching for pup updates...

Anonymous said...

Sir Ernest Shackleton story on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Shackleton

Anonymous said...

My heart aches for all of you at SP Kennel. I know you did your very best and you did save five. I hope it is some comfort to know that your fans share your sadness. Sending big hugs north to Alaska.

Joyce

Laura L. said...

I am so sorry for your losses this past week. Losing puppies or any pets is always hard and I hope you find peace in knowing that you did all you could to help them. May you find joy in watching those beautiful remaining 5 puppies. They are adorable and I look forwarded to "watching" them grow.

Ray Erker said...

Ali/Allen,
My heart goes out to the both of you at this sad time. The rest of the litter are going to be good and hardcore, just like you. Keep strong, and God Bless.

SAY said...

Dog Bless these five little survivors. Thank you for all you do to advance dog care and sled dog racing. If you and Allen couldn't make it right, nobody could.

psuskeet said...

Man that's a TUFF one to handle I see GOOD things in future for the rest of the litter. Hang in there

Anonymous said...

My deepest sympathy goes to everyone at SP Kennel. I know your dogs get the highest level of care possible, but sometimes in life bad things happen to good dogs and people. Your hard work give us the 5 survivors, which is fabulous news. It looks like the one that looks like Chica made it! Best wishes to Ginger, Ernie, Rodney, Scooby, and Five.

Val L.

Judy G. said...

Aliy, Allen and all the good kind folks at SP Kennels--

It was heartbreaking to read this post. And yet, I know without a doubt you did everything you could for the puppies. All of us who have lost dogs know the helplessness and sickening feeling that comes with this kind of ordeal. I am so sorry.

It is to your credit that you were determined to learn the cause of the illness and are now pursuing preventative treatment for the others in the litter. That's the "SP Kennel Way." I will continue to follow their progress.

I send great big hugs to the pups and strength to their human moms, dad's, aunts, uncles, and the like!

Hsrry and Diana W. from Colorado said...

There is no doubt in anyone's mind but that you gave the puppies your best shot. Sometimes fate just rules otherwise. Having just lost our dog of over 17 years I understand the self questioning of "what could I have done different?" but you give it your best shot and then go forward.

Best wishes to the "gang of five" as someone called them!

P.S. I like Allen's name of "High Five" for #5. For some reason it made me thi'snk of Jeff Schultz picture of Justin Savidis in 2014 lifting his dog under the hurled arch for a canine version of a "high five". Maybe #5 is destined for great things, it's for sure he isn't a quitter!

Nessmuk said...

This was indeed a hard post to read and I'm sure to sit down and write! Your pain and turmoil are heartfelt by all of us. I find solace in knowing you are surrounded by much love and support, as well as your precious Chica/Clyde puppies. I'm sad for the puppies who didn't make it, and at the same time in awe of the ones that survived!!

Anonymous said...

Continued good health. Sad times of course.
Bakavi

Dennis Nielsen-Wisconsin said...

You and Chica are very special, they say God gives us what we can handle, we love ya and know that you will get through this. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Aly! The BEST DAMM MUSHER and KENNEL on the planet, hands down! Hang in there Aly! We're proud of you!

Anonymous said...

My best wishes and a big puppy dog hugs for you all especially Chica, Ginger, Ernie , Rodney , Scooby and High Five. Sometimes know matter what you do Mother Nature has other ideas . Here' s for happy times with the gang of five from now on Joanne and Denali from Melbourne Australia. woof woof πŸΎπŸΎπŸ’

Dagny said...


Dagny said


We have 5 prayer warriors that that have chosen one of your 5
beautiful courageous pups,and
will keep them in prayer daily
for the next yr.
Aliy--They couldn't have been
given to a better mom to love &
care for them. Sending you a big
hug from Him!!

Linda Toth said...

Aliy, I am so sorry. I know how crushing it can be to lose so many; I am grateful you stemmed the tide on the infection.

I am thinking of you all and little Chica.

Anonymous said...

with much sorrow for the puppies lost but much joy with the 5 remaining . Hoping the quiet strength of friendship helps

Bev

0300jh JeanneHammel said...

We appreciate your candid honesty and extend our deeply heartfelt sympathy to all at SPK. We look forward to the continued progress and bright adventures ahead.

Steve Laine said...

I know you and Allen did all you could, and you care for these dogs as if they were your own children. We may never know why this occurred. You took all the right steps in proving out the cause. We are sorry for your loss and will lift you up in prayer. May the Five grow up to be tough sled dogs!

Steve Laine

A-town's Becky said...

Aliy,
I am so sorry about your traumatic week and the loss of four pups.
I felt you were very brave to include us so early on in the lives this litter. We share in your loss.
Here's hoping and praying that Chica, Rodney, Ginger, Scooby, Ernie and Cinco all get stronger and healthier with each passing day.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your losses! Praying for comfort and strength during this difficult time. You did an excellent job caring for them. All the best for the lucky five. (Love the names, too!)

Rainy Fairbanks said...

Makes me think of my favorite Shackleton quote:
"Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all."

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I know you did the best you could.

marilyn cozzens said...

Oh my, Aliy. I am super, super sad after reading this post. I just returned from my trip & was ready to contact you about the sickly pup, & then to learn not only he did not make it, but 2 more pups did not make it. I know you always do the best for each of your dogs. I am glad that the remaining pups & Chica are doing okay. My deepest sympathy to you Allen and all SPK. Without a doubt you and all the SPK family are the absolute best. Love to all.

Leanna said...

I'm catching up... saw the 5 minutes with 5 puppies video and thought... WHAT?? Wow, what a difficult time for you and the kennel. This is definitely the Warrior Group. I'm sending out positive thoughts for 5 healthy puppies and mamma.

Gaye Morgan-Walton said...

I had not read the whole story before but now thank the Doggie Deity that five came through including 'my' special little fave Ginger. May they thrive and become great dogs, all five of them!