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!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Face of Fats

Back in 1994, Aliy was living in Bettles, Alaska and beginning to acquire a small group of Alaskan Huskies. While working for US Fish and Wildlife, she had the opportunity to visit the village of Allakaket and meet well respected breeder/racer Steven Bergman. During a tour of his kennel, a sturdy, friendly pup, with a white face and bright blue eyes, piqued her interest. Within the next few months Aliy struck a deal with Steven and Fats, the pup, came home to live with her. He was to become one of the Founding Fathers of SP Kennel. And today, 20 years later, we see glimpses of Fats whenever we look in the dog yard.

Fats was tough, calm and strong, with a race weight of about 60 pounds. “Fats was always a gentleman!” says Aliy. He took each step with Aliy during her early racing days and was a crucial part of her Yukon Quest Championship team in 2000. Fats was the main kennel stud from 1998 to 2001. He fathered quite a few litters and there was always one pup per litter with a white face and bright blue eyes. Fat’s daughter, Mo (pictured below), is Kaz’s pet and a healthy 13-year-old as I write this post.

Fat’s pup, AJ, was dark in color with brown eyes. He was Aliy’s main lead dog in the early 2000’s and the main kennel stud from 2002 to 2005. AJ had only a few pups that resembled Fats. One of them was Oddball, pictured below. Though Oddball eerily resembled his grandfather, he was much lighter in stature, racing at about 48 pounds. Oddball raced on Aliy’s and Allen’s teams between 2005 and 2010. He was the main kennel stud during 2007 and 2008.

  L to R: Fats - "Grand Daddy" to them all; Mo - a Fats Pup; Oddball.

  L to R: Olivia; Junior; Chena.

Oddball fathered 16 pups, 4 of which resembled him and his grandfather, Fats. Those pups are Olivia, Hummer, Honda and Scruggs. All with white faces and bright blue eyes!

As many of you longtime SP followers know, Olivia was the main breeding female in 2012 and 2013. She had 4 pups for SP Kennel in 2012 and 11 in 2013. Of those 15 pups, 7 display the white faces and bright blue eyes which are traceable to their great-great-grandfather, Fats. Olivia and her pups, Junior and Chena, are pictured above.

Chena is one of the eleven pups in the Fire Litter. I attached the Fire Litter Pedigree Chart (below), along with the photos of Fat’s descendants, for a big dose of SP Kennel history. Hope you enjoy it! - Kennel Mom


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Healthy Futures

All of us at SP Kennel are thankful for the tremendous community support we receive from people around the world and especially, Alaskans. This year, Aliy is trying to ‘give back’ to some Alaskan communities.

Since, Aliy considers personal health and fitness a number one priority, it only makes sense that she has become a public advocate and official spokesperson for the Healthy Futures Challenge and the state of Alaska’s Play Every Day campaign.

Aliy recording PSAs in studio; Aliy models the “Get out and Play!” t-shirt (Love the Red!)

Healthy Futures is an Alaskan health and fitness program that was started many years ago by Bonny Sosa. The program empowers Alaska’s youth to build the habit of daily physical activity. The state of Alaska’s Play Every Day campaign is a partner with Healthy Futures and the state-wide outreach continues to grow. Healthy Futures is in almost 200 Alaskan schools (including Two Rivers). The Challenge program begins when school starts in September.

Earlier this week Aliy was in Anchorage filming inspirational and educational videos. These fun clips were produced to motivate kids to sign up for the upcoming Challenge and stick with the it until the finish line!

Aliy was trying to convince the dogs that a “couch life” is only good in moderation; Aliy and the kids practiced their lines for the Healthy Futures video.

So... kids, adults and dogs: “Get out and play! Every day!”

‘Healthy Futures’ website is HERE.
‘Get out and Play!’ website is HERE.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spicy - Life in New Zealand

Woof. Hi. Kia ora.

I’m settling in nicely and am enjoying my new life in small town Taranaki, New Zealand. My new BFF is Lexie, an 11 year old Gordon Setter and we hang out together during the day. I’m getting to know the new human members of my family but I’ve always been a bit shy of new people. I’m becoming more and more comfortable each day.

Every morning I get to go for a run at the nearby sports ground. I run with Lexie, chase the birds and catch up with all the new messages from the other dogs that walk there. Sometimes I even steal Lexie’s tennis ball.

After our run we head home for breakfast then my day is spent poking around the back yard, chewing on my bone or resting in my bed. Sometimes I get to go for a drive in the car to town or to visit friends. Then late afternoon sees a second run over at the sports ground followed by dinner and bed. I like my routine.

Although it is winter I haven’t seen snow on the ground here. In other parts of New Zealand it has been snowing but here where I live it doesn’t often get cold enough. There is a mountain nearby and it snows up there and we might take a road trip sometime soon to go find some.

Moira sometimes works from home and this is her home office. Notice Lexie has stolen her “office chair”.

I do sometimes miss all my friends back in Two Rivers but I love my new life here!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Happy One Year Old Birthday, Fire Litter!

We still think of the Fire Litter as puppies, but truth be told.. they are not! Olivia and Nacho’s eleven puppies graduate to the SP Kennel Yearling Class this week.

We took photographs of the kids earlier this week. Out of the 556 pictures we took, we hope that we got 11 good ones! We'll let you decide.

Glamour shot of Amber at 3 months; Amber at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Chena at 3 months; Chena at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Coal at 3 months; Coal at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Commando at 3 months; Commando at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Daisy at 3 months; Daisy at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Hotshot at 3 months; Hotshot at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Nomex at 3 months; Nomex at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Spark at 3 months; Spark at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Tinder at 3 months; Tinder at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Torch at 3 months; Torch at 1 year.

Glamour shot of Violet at 3 months; Violet at 1 year.

If you want to see the litter at 6 Months then check out this post:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chica x Clyde Litter: Newborn Portraits

Here are the Newborn portraits!

It is obvious that most of the pups have their father's coloration. At birth, they were quite challenging to differentiate. However in the past few days, they have started to gain some more individual characteristics.

Names will be coming soon. (After we are sure of who is who!)



Friday, July 18, 2014

Chica Pups: Day Two

Day Two Pupdate is that everyone is healthy and growing. When they were born we took birth weights. Every pup weighed between 13 and 17 ounces. By day two, all of the pups had gained between 1 and 3 ounces. Chica is nursing the 9 pups on 10 teats, so there is no need for human intervention.

We let Momma and her youngsters have some alone time after the birth day. But during day two we spent a great deal of time with the family and took quite a few photos. Newborn portraits will be posted soon. But, some of the best shots are the 'outtakes'.

Chica and Aliy look through the pups individually.

A little wave from SP Kennel; Snuggling up with Momma

Chica and a her little 'look alike' son have a moment just before his portrait session.

All photos by Barbara Swenson.