One Crazy Whelping

A Facebook friend recounted a harrowing adventure in whelping a litter, and it caused me to recount one of mine.

My most/least (you pick) favorite whelping memory started fine. She went in to labor, and delivered one puppy without ceremony, …and then nothing! Secondary inertia seemed likely, as she did nothing for hours. Absolutely nothing. Dan and I drove off our hill in the middle of the night, headed for the E-Vet, with me in the back with my bitch, sure we were headed for a c-section. Half way to the vet, she decided the time was right to start pushing. We pulled the car over, and a nice healthy puppy was born. We turned the car around, and started for home. She started pushing again. As she did, a car zipped past us in the fast lane, zig-zagged into the slow lane ahead of us, lost control and rolled over the embankment. The resulting dust looked like an explosion!

As all of that was was happening, I failed to see it, because I was assisting the puppy from the birth canal.. but of course, I felt the braking, heard the gasps and swearing from Dan. I had that puppy with its placenta still in hand, and I looked up and saw the billow of dirt to our right, as Dan pulled our car over. I now had two wet puppies, one still in my hand, one in my lap in a towel, and one older sibling in the warming box, and my bitch starts pushing yet again. Now, I was an ER Nurse, and should have immediately leaped from the car to rescue the driver, but that accident looked like it had to be a fatal crash, and I had lives counting on me where I was. I yelled at Dan to go see just how wounded the driver was, because if he/she was already dead, I wasn’t leaving my dog! He could do CPR as well as me if necessary. If anyone was alive, I would assist.

Just as I said that (as I was trying to cut the cord on that puppy before the next appeared), a woman runs up the embankment and runs almost into our car. Dan and I both yelled “how many in the car, and do you need an ambulance?” She screamed “just me, don’t call the police” and starts running down the freeway in the center of the slow lane on foot, drunk as can be. We called 911, and a CHP Officer nearly materialized before our eyes. I yelled for Dan to call my neighbor to come get me and leave her car for Dan because he had to give a witness account. I told him “You witnessed this, I didn’t!!! I need to get out of here!” Dan called Leslee. I helped deliver puppy number 4. Momma relaxed. More were coming, but she clearly needed a break from her jet propelled prior three.

Think this story is crazy enough? As Dan is talking to the CHP, who had run after the woman and returned with her, my neighbor’s truck almost screamed past us. She pulled over in a cloud of dust just a ways ahead of us. I swear she opened her door and piled out before the dust settled, and ran toward us in her nightgown, robe, and slippers. She runs almost headlong into the Deputy screaming “WE’RE HAVING PUPPIES!!!” She tossed her keys at Dan, and without so much as an adios, jumps in my car, and drives us home, leaving Dan, her truck, the very confused looking officer and the drunk behind.

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away……..

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We lost Leslee some years later to cancer. Gosh I miss her, but remembering this story gave me a great laugh and a wonderful memory of her.

A New Year – Welcome 2018!

We have snow on the ground, icicles on the eves, and the air is crisp. Winter marks a time of quiet here. We and the dogs gravitate to the nearest warm spot, and use this time for quiet time and rejuvenation.

We had Rumble spayed on Jan 2nd. She has given us, and friends, a few young ones to run on. I hope they inherited her sweet/eager to please temperament and her beautiful expression. Spaying her was like closing a door, and a little sad, although it was due (she’s eight).

James (10), Rumble(8) and Miley(8) are the last three on a group of dogs we brought with us when we moved to Idaho in 2009. The girls were just babies! Little did we know then, that medical problems would bring us to the reality that we must place a large number of the dogs we came with. Our dreams seemed shattered. We gave away some lovely dogs, because that was the right thing to do, but a lot of us went with them. We hear from their owners often, and they are living wonderful lives. What more could we ask for?

We naturally wind down as we age, and that’s true for everything. We continue on, but at a slower, more subdued pace. So it is for dog fancy as well.

We have no intention of disappearing, and we have several young dogs to carry the torch. Each one of them goes back to our original dogs. They carry on the hopes and dreams that we had when we began. They represent nearly 40 years of hard work and careful planning. Mariah, Luna, Dahlia, Rose and Amaya are the living legacy of all who came before them.   This is their time!

Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 tells us:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

LEGAL STUFF

Website Built by Blue Knight. All graphics , photographs, and original articles are the property of Blue Knight.  Permission must be obtained for use on other sites or for other purposes.

Memory Lane

Just when I think I have finished the website revamp, I change something.  I had settled on a template I liked, then, at the last moment, I found the one I settled on, and am very happy with it.  I hope you’ll give me feedback to assist me in knowing what works best for the general public.

In the rebuilding of this website, I took a trip through memory lane.  I revisited Cher, our first Labrador, who was an awful example of the breed, but taught me so much.  Most important, it was due to her, that I met Winnie Limbourne (Wingmaster), Donna Smith (Donally) and Barbara Davis (Boldcrest).  …and the greatest of them all, Champion Bold Aaron CD WC!  Aaron changed my life.  Aaron was the greatest of all Labradors (in my newbie mind), and today, with far more education in the breed still stands out as one of the most influential Labradors in Labrador history.   The day Barbara handed me his leash and asked me to hold him is fixed in my mind.  Had she had me grasp the hand of the most famous person in the world, it would not have had more impact on me.  Every dog at Blue Knight goes back to that dog.  So many generations ago, that I don’t know who has had the most influence on my dogs, him, or my increasing knowledge.  Probably both.

Many of my first mentors in Labradors have now passed on.  I miss them terribly.  It’s probably the typical lamenting that all people do as time passes, but they all represent better days gone by – a more innocent time in Labs.  Those were the days when everyone laughed, everyone smiled, everyone cheered, everyone imparted knowledge freely, and they were generous with it.  I don’t recall any of them referencing a dog in the ring in anything but positive ways.  My friend and mentor, Winnie, told me “Never fault judge a Labrador [looking for the negative].   Always find the best features on the dog.  Anyone can fault Judge, it’s cheap and easy.  If you want to be a good judge of the dogs, find the positive, and the one with the most positives is the dog that should take the ribbon.”   I will never forget those words.  Every generation has “the greats” in the breed … people who have had an immeasurable impact on the breed.  Just over a week ago, we lost another of the ‘old’ guard.  I pray there are always those sorts in the breed.  I suppose their will be, but like every aging person, I sense the best are gone.   I pray the influence of each of them can be found on these pages.  I tried.

I revisited in my mind, Sugar – our first Champion.  I never got a puppy from her, and her only daughter (a singleton) was owed to a breeder for finishing her for me.  The sale of that girl to another country nearly killed me, I’d have sold my house to get her back, but the choice was not given to me.  That wound is well healed, and there are no bad feelings, but I guess there is a lingering lament.   Sugar taught me so much, and was such a wonderful girl.  When we lost her to cancer, her Veterinarian cried harder than I did.  So loved was our Sug!

Adam!  Ch. Blue Knight Classic Genesis.  When I think about him, I can still feel the coarse waves in his coat.  He was a silly, sometimes unruly, always sweet and tender with my grandkids.  Always.

Casey, the love bug.  His was the best temperament of any Lab I knew, and he passed it on to his many children.  He was a clone of his father, Ben (Wingmaster’s Just Another Fella), and best friend to our grandson, Aaron.  The relationship between those two was something quite special.

There were dogs we shared our lives with who did nothing in the ring, except shared our lives with us.  I can still sense what running my hands through their coats felt like and remember the sad last moments with them.   I could go through them all here on paper, or just lump them all together as memories of wagging tails, big-muddy feet, lots of shedding, silliness and love.  I do not regret a single moment of my time with them, except that their lives are never long enough, and each takes a piece of me with them, and each that comes into our lives, fills the void left by their predecessor.

I look at these pages, and I can smell newborn puppies.  That’s often how I remember each dog here.  I know them from their first breath.  Many go off to homes, and their families become family.  I just spoke to one today.  His family has had three of our dogs.  His first when he was single, the next to he and his wife, and now, with two children, he has his third Lab.   Another family, was a young Marine and his wife.  I get photos of their children, one who has been to her prom now.  They have had three of our dogs as well.  Another couple has also had three of our dogs.  I hear from them often.   Not long ago, I received a email from a couple who included photos of their still living 15 year old dog and their young children, thanking me for a lifetime of love.  Those emails make my heart jump for joy.  We have sold puppies to famous people, and just normal folks, and each of them bring memories of first kisses and ‘going home’.

Labrador Retrievers have filled the lives of my children, and their children.  Every one of our eight grandchildren have had a Labrador in their lives.    The impact of the Labrador on my family is immense.  Our family memories have, and always will, include Labradors.

I hope that you find, within these pages, a feel for the impact of these dogs on our lives, and that we have imparted some of the knowledge these dogs have given us, but mostly the love they freely give.   If I have missed the mark, and you don’t find those things in these pages, I want to know.

 

LEGAL STUFF

Website Built by Blue Knight. All graphics , photographs, and original articles are the property of Blue Knight.  Permission must be obtained for use on other sites or for other purposes.

 

Our Canine Cradle

I wrote this article in 2004.  Nothing has changed since its writing.  The box has more tooth marks, stains, and new memories.  It continues to cradle new life, expectant mothers, hopes, and dreams that span 36 years now.

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When I was new at breeding, I read an article in the AKC Gazette that I believe was called “The Family Cradle”. It was written by a breeder following a sad outcome of her litter. She spoke of sitting on the edge of her whelping box, wishing for what might have been, rubbing her hands across the edge of the box, and feeling the multitude of tooth marks and nail marks from litters past. She spoke of the delight of feeling those marks from past litters, and that the rough, unfinished, unsightly box was a family treasure — the family cradle for her dogs.

I can no longer find that article, which I kept for many years, but I don’t need it anymore. I have a family cradle of my own, in fact, two of them. They’re rough, unfinished, full of tooth and toenail marks. Some would find them ugly. To me, they are beautiful, and carry the memories, hopes, and dreams that I’ve had for 20+ years.

Of the two whelping boxes I have, one is my favorite, and if I only have one litter, it is the box that is in use. I was given one of my whelping boxs, by a friend of mine, Barbara Davis, owner of Champion Bold Aaron CD, WC (*The* dog who inspired me to get into the breed — the dog who was, in my opinion, the best Labrador on four legs). When Barbara got out of dogs, she gave me the box. It had been used by her for almost ten years and one can only imagine how many of Aaron’s own puppies were born in that box. When she gave me the box, every yellow dog in my kennel, and most of the blacks, had Aaron behind them. It was fitting that the grand, great-grand, and great-great-grandpups of Aaron should continue to be born in that box and each of them leave their mark (quite literally) on the walls of the box.

    

Those little tooth marks, each of them, represent a life that was either a show hopeful, or the life-long pet of a puppy buyer that spans more than 20 years now. Those tooth marks are precious to me. The rough texture of the box is comforting and beautiful.

The box is simple. Just a 6X4 space with a removable divider somewhere around 1/3 of the way across. The smaller side for bitch resting, the larger side being the puppy side. It has no “pig rail” because I am among a few who believes that addition actually contributes to neonatal injury or death. It isn’t fancy, it’s easy to clean, and it serves a purpose, and it’s far more practical than its simplicity would indicate.

As I rub the edges of the box today, I remember large healthy trouble-free litters, and also the sadness that occurred in the box. But during the sadness, the box served its purpose as a cradle for hope, dreams and prayers given up for small lives that sometimes, were never meant to be.

Sometimes the box is a place of comfort for my girls when their labor has gone very wrong, and they suffer the pain of c-section. I wonder if somewhere in their memories, they remember the comfort of the box when they were newborns and growing puppies. Is it possible that the box gives them a sense of home, security and comfort? I will never know. But I do know that sometimes, a bit of magical healing happenes in the box.

I remember Wish when she had an infection, and she permitted the lactating female of a friend to nurse her puppies, while both of these bitches laid in the box and tended their charges. I remember Abby, who came so close to dying after a ruptured uterus, and raised her litter in that box. I remember when I had had two litters, and one mother was exhausted after a c-section, and the other mother jumped in the box to tend the babies until she gained her strength. And I remember a single puppy who only felt the comfort of the box for the short 24 hours of his life, and how his distraught mother slept alone in the box following his death.

   

There have been so many litters born in that box, that I hardly recall them all, but I have memories of wet, firm bodies, and first breaths. Of the anticipation of each delivery. The Joy of looking at healthy litters nursing quietly in front of contented mothers.

When you visit my home when a litter is present, please come rub the rough spots on the whelping box. They are the marks of the past, and the dreams of the future. Each one represents a life that started in this rough, but precious and miraculous family cradle.

 

I anticipate that one day I too will pass a family cradle on to some upcoming wide-eyed new Labrador enthusiast/breeder. It will go to someone who will appreciate its imperfections, its rough texture, its mauled edges–Its promise.

copyright 2004 – D. Welle

Ashes to Ashes

The pain is still new.  We just spoke in his ear for the last time “Good boy… you’re a good boy”, as the Veterinarian performed the ultimate act of comfort.  The body of this loved creature relaxes and we feel them go, and our hearts go with them.  Then days later the call comes “We have Tank’s remains here for you to pick up”.    The box of cremains is heaver than the small box would indicate.  I pet the outside of the box, as I once did soft fur.  I always look inside the box, and I’m not sure why.  The ashes are white.  Tank was black.  The silly thought goes through my head “the ashes should be black”.   The pain continues to rip through me.  It’s just too soon.

I have five similar boxes here, that contain the ashes of loved dogs.

When we lived in California, we at first buried our dogs on our 2.5 acre property, but as we got older, digging in the granite rock that was our property was just too difficult, and we opted for cremation.  We scattered the ashes on the hilltop that was our front yard, where every litter, and therefore that dog had played on.  That seemed fitting.  Now that we’re in Idaho, digging is easier, and we could bury them, but we had decided to cremate and wait to see where we believed they should go.  We finally decided.  We have a courtyard area, and we plan to pour cement pads within that courtyard.  We’ll add a pad for each dog, which will make a great patio area filled with memories.  I will put a stamped name for each dog on the pad.  It will be our memorial courtyard, where I will grow flowers and vegetables, and be able to reflect on the lives of each of them.  I will remember the day I delivered them from their mother, and the day I delivered them into the hands of God.  It will be a beautiful place to sit and remember, and maybe smile at the memories that flooded my mind in the last moments we held them.

These are a very few of those last moments:

 

  

Tender Paws

12/30/16
After the devastating loss of Tank (BISS CH. Blue Knight INXS) this week,  I have found a need to write.  We’ve lost many dogs since 1980, and each of them has brought heartache, but this one seems to have hit harder.  We’re getting older.  Our breeding/showing days are numbered.  Time is not on our side.  His loss is a major dose of reality – an era has come to an end.  Handling rambunctious big boys is harder now with many orthopedic surgeries behind me.   The loss of this one has brought a nostalgic flood of memories and emotion that I want to write down.  It’ll take time to tell all the stories, and document the memories of nearly a lifetime in dogs, but it is winter in North Idaho, I have nothing but time, and nothing but affection for these wonderful, silly dogs. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.   What better time to start something, than the beginning of a new year?

These paws racked up a lot of miles, and it is unlikely that any dog will ever fill his paw prints (literally, he had the largest paws of any Lab I have ever owned).  Never was a dog so gentle and tender in nature.  He would walk among the tiniest puppies with great care.  I will miss holding his paws in my hand.