Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our Experience with Canine Mastitis

This is not an easy post for me to write considering I'm still pretty emotionally raw from this past weeks occurrences. To be honest I really grappled with even sharing our experiences. Believe it or not I'm actually a pretty private person....sounds like a bunch of malarkey coming from a gal who keeps a blog on every little thing her hunting dogs do but I try to keep a good portion of our private life just that...private. I decided to share our story thus far for two reasons. The first being the frustration I felt when I tried to do online research to read about other people experiences with what we were going through and all I found was the same repetitive medical information. I hope that our story will be able to help someone if they ever find themselves in our situation. The second reason is Cleo and Luna have a pretty large and solid following and something doesn't feel right about leaving people who care about Cleo out of the loop. To those people I apologize for not including you all earlier and please trust me when I say there where many times when I really wanted to let you all know for the moral support I'm certain you would have offered. But the idea of playing this emotional roller coaster ride out publicly without certainty of Cleo's well being or future was entirely too much.

In case you don't know what Mastitis is it's a bacterial infection in the milk ducts of one or more mammary glands in lactating bitches. Mastitis affects humans, it's a huge issue in dairy cows and it can happen to other domestic animals such as sheep, goats, dogs and cats. In canines it can occur from a back up of milk from a nipple getting less use than other nipples, a sharp puppy nail or tooth can cause a cut which then can become infected, or the dog could have sustained a cut or opening another way allowing bacteria to get in, poor diet or poor hygiene and honestly sometimes it just happens.  Like many maladies Mastitis can occur to varying degrees from minor to extreme. Mastitis in a severe form can kill your dog. Cleo's case was more along the severe lines. Below is our story. I try to be as detailed as possible.

One week ago on Sunday, December 22nd Cleo became rather restless around midnight. Jimmy got up and took her outside to do her business. When they returned she settled down for a short period of time before she became restless again. Jimmy got up again with her and took her outside once more and then stayed with her while she nursed her pups. The pups had been introduced to solid foods 2 1/2 days prior but Cleo was still nursing whenever she wanted too or felt the need. I'd like to point out that Jim and I were incredibly diligent about keeping the whelping box clean and the puppies nails trimmed. Her diet was spot on and the puppies were using all nipples. When she finished we all returned to bed around 2am. Two hours later it was clear Cleo was in bad shape. She looked like a shell of her self. She had thrown up multiple times and began having severe diarrhea. I took her temperature and it was 104.2 degrees. I told Jim we needed to either call our vets emergency number now or get her to an emergency vet ASAP. We choose to call our vet at 5am four hours before they opened. Our vet called us back immediately and we had Cleo in her office by 5:30am. 5 1/2 hours from the first time she woke up. Her chest was not swollen or warm to the touch at this point.

Second visit on day one. Her chest is finally starting to swell

The vet gave her Sub Q Fluids, did X-rays and took a large panel of blood work and sent her home (we live less than 5 minutes from the vet) pending results. About two hours after we got home Cleo who was already being extraordinarily lethargic became almost catatonic. Her front breasts swelled considerably and became hot to the touch. We put hot compresses on her and tried to get two of the puppies to nurse on her front swollen breast. Neither one would so we tried the largest puppy in the litter and she did feed for a small amount of time before losing interest and going in search of a better nipple. I called out of work and then I called the vet back and she had us come right back in. It was clear that in a few short hours Cleo was on a landslide. They put in an IV, started antibiotics, took more x-rays, expressed the front breasts to see if the milk was clear and it was. In most mastitis cases the milk will be off color and pussy. This was not the case for us. The vet kept Cleo and sent me home to pace frantically. A few hours later the vet called me back. She was very concerned for Cleo and told me that I needed to get her to a board certified vet specialist about 40 minutes away. She said this was moving along too quickly and aggressively. They printed out all the results of the tests they had taken, emailed down copies of the x-rays and I was on my way. Cleo was in such bad shape I had to carry her to my truck once in the parking lot.

12 hours from walking into our vets office I was standing in the lobby of the Emergency vet. They took Cleo right back and had me meet with a vet. They immediately took a milk sample and worked rather vigorously at trying to milk her front swollen breast and after about 25 minutes they reported back to me that puss was finally expelling from it. The milk would later show she had two kinds of bacteria. I gave them a deposit of $1,200 and was sent home. It was a lonely and depressing ride. I called Jim and told him their wasn't enough bourbon in Bucks County to make me feel better.

From Jimmy's visit on Christmas Eve

The next day Jim went and visited her. He reported back that he felt she looked worse and even more swollen. The vets had her on a strong antibiotic called Merrem and were waiting for it to kick in. They told us her blood proteins had really dropped and that was of a concern.

On Christmas we went to visit her together and I was shocked when she was brought in. She looked horrendous. Her front chest into her leg was incredibly swollen (they said from the protein drop) and her breasts and abdomen were huge. She was in visible pain and discomfort. Worst when I had her lay down and I looked at her belly it looked like her nipple was about to abscess and she had two other dark spots. I asked the vet tech to bring us a doctor. I brought my concerns up to the vet and she agreed that they looked like they could abscess. She responded that she had yet to see Cleo since she had been admitted two days ago and was unsure if her current state had gotten worst. I was all, "YES! YES! It's much worst! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT". I'd like to note that the vet practice we took her to was very nice....and expensive. But my biggest gripe was every 10 hours she had a new vet (they employ 15 vets) and I never dealt with the same people. It seemed that every time I spoke to someone they were just getting acquainted with her case. Personally I felt it set us back a day and a half.

Cleo on Christmas blown up like a tick

One of the areas of concern

At 4pm Christmas Day a new vet came on shift and called me to say they felt they should do surgery to release some of the infection and that they would maybe put in tubes. At 7pm they performed the surgery and put in 3 tubes in hopes that drainage would prevent any abscesses from breaking through her skin. The day after Christmas I went and visited Cleo. The swelling she had in her breast area decreased by a 1/3. She was ecstatic at my arrival and wagged her little tail is painful glee while expending large amounts of bloody pus all over the place. I removed her cone and laid on the floor on a blanket of the visiting room and held her. She was very uncomfortable and her one front leg was swollen twice the size of the other one. When it came time for me to leave she became extremely distressed almost desperate. It hurt my heart to leave her and I sobbed the entire 40 minute ride home.

Cleo leaking like a sieve

The picture does not do the swelling justice

Such a sad pupper. :(

The next morning on Friday, December 27th five days after being at the emergency vet they called and told me she had three necrotic holes that broke through over night. One was on her nipple of the infected mammary gland and the other two were in her mid line. They measured 1cm, 1/2cm and 3mm to start. They would eventually get larger. The holes were now draining in addition to the tubes. It was like someone knocked the wind out of me. To make things worst they said after I left Cleo the day before she melted down like Chernobyl and they had to sedate her. They were now keeping her on anti-anxiety meds and that they could never tell me not to come and visit her but I might not want to visit as it was to much for her when I leave. It was the first time in a very long time that once I hung up and started crying I legitimately couldn't stop. For the record I'm no crying sap. Having a black little jaded heart has helped make me a successful fighter....mess with my dog and I transform into a blubbering pile of patheticness.

Luna picking up her Auntie Duties

Since I couldn't come visit I started calling every 5 or 6 hours for an update. It might sound like overkill but with all the staff shift changes and me not being able to see her to be her best advocate I felt I needed to at least stay in their ear. Saturday they felt she finally turned the corner. Her cultures finally came back and they switched her off the Merrem and put her on Baytril. They said as long as she was responding to the antibiotic change we could take her home on Sunday. They felt that at this point she would maybe do better at home in a less stressed environment. So today we went and brought our baby home. She still has her tubes in and is walking petri-dish but she is happy to be home with us and her pups.

How she looked tonight when we got her home. Our first belly inspection.

When we pulled in the driveway Jim got her out of the truck and she ran (as fast as a tubed sick dog can trot) to the back door were a squealing Luna greeted her through the glass. Lu was so amped up that when we tried to get in she locked us back out. Once in Cleo took off through the house and blasted the whelping room door open. I'm pretty sure that all she thought about this entire week was her puppies. She is less then pleased about not being able to get into the box with them.

In Cleo's absence the puppies continued to thrive and they are doing amazing at 4 1/2 weeks of age. We are very happy that is she is home with them and us. Not having Cleo threw off our entire family dynamic. Jim and I were heartbroken and felt like a ship without a rudder. Luna was depressed having never been without her for more than a few hours her entire life. I dare even say the cats missed her. No...that's probably not true. Cats never miss anyone.

Oh we see you back there little man trying to hide in the Christmas presents

Where we currently stand with Cleo is we need the tubes to finish moving the puss and ooze. The necrotic holes will hopefully close on there own. If they don't they will trim them up and stitch them closed. Hopefully the infection and lumpy swelling will come down in that mammary gland. If it does not then we move onto phase two which is a mastectomy of that front mammary gland.  Our Mastitis journey is not quite finished yet but at least we are on the up and up and she is still with us. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a very dark time in this last week when thought we might lose her. It's been a long and exhausting week and were looking forward to making some progress on her recovery and life getting back to normal. We also need to find a way to get Luna to stop being freaked out by Cleo's cone. Only Hell Puppy I swear. Anyway, you readers and facebook followers have become an extended family for us and we thank you for your well wishes and support.

Please follow our shenanigans on facebook at Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Anatomy of Holiday Puppy Photo Shoot

Warning: Cuteness Overload!! 
SEASONS GREETINGS!!! My gift to you readers this festive season is oodles of cute GSP Puppy holiday inspired photos! Regular followers of this blog and corresponding facebook page are well aware that I occasionally (ok...more than occasionally) dress up our two German Shorthaired Pointers in some bizarre holiday attire. It's become a tradition since I first dressed Cleo up as the Elusive Easter Pointer several years ago. Since then both Cleo and Luna have been adorned in sparkly Tutu's, Snorkle name it. 

Santa is looking a little extra dapper this year

I knew this year I would have a rare opportunity considering Cleo blessed us with 8 beautiful puppies 4 weeks ago. I started buying props and outfits weeks before the pups had even whelped. Jim feels its incorrigible behavior but lets be's just fantastic planning.

I solicited the help of my best buddy Jackie Secan (The Thelma to my Louise) to give me a hand and be my primetime puppy stager. Jim was thrilled Jackie was in town to help me and he used it as an opportunity to retreat to the safety of the woods with Cleo and Luna in tow.

This is Sleepy.  The less well known 10th reindeer.

I'd like to note that having a puppy stager is invaluable because there is no way to get quality shots without some help. When dealing with adult dogs I can whoa them and bribe them with tasty treats. With little puppies you are completely at their mercy. So for all the decent shots you manage to capture there are just as many awful ones. I've included a few bloopers below for your amusement. 

Sometimes you get photobombed

The talent can walk off the set

This is what happens when Santa's sleigh goes from zero

to sixty (Hold on to your britches)

Wardrobe malfunctions can and do occur

And the talent can fall asleep

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! Be sure to check us out and follow our shenanigans on facebook at Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pupdate: Puppy Development and Crazy Aunt Luna

Red ALWAYS sleeps with his tongue out. 

The puppies are 17 days old today and doing fantastic! They are gaining weight like crazy having more than doubled their birth weight and they are all tipping the scale just shy of the 3 pound mark. The puppies coats have darkened considerably giving us little glimpses of what they will eventually look like and we've had to clip their sharp little nails to keep them from tearing up Cleo's poor belly. In the past week they have ceased crawling and have now progressed to an amusing drunken stumble. Each day their walking improves and you can see them getting stronger and more steady on their feet. But the big gem in the last couple of days is that their eyes and ears have begun to open!

Well hello there beautiful. (Purple is a liver and roan female) 

It takes a couple of days for the pups eyes to fully open and then it takes a few additional days for them to be capable of focusing. You can see in the photo above that their eyes are a beautiful bluish-grey. Not long after the puppies make the journey to their furever homes their eyes will permanently change to a deep golden brown. Although their sight is limited you can see an immediate change in their behavior. Some of the pups will sit down and look from side to side as they are finally becoming aware of whats around them.

Blue Male already plotting his whelping box escape

Orange is a sweet faced liver and roan female

Red male looking regal. Has anyone else noticed that purple is
photobombing every pic?

The other major development we have had is with their Aunt Luna...AKA Aunt Hell Puppy. A lot of people have inquired about how she has been handling the arrival of the puppies. Somehow Luna managed to get off to an awkward start with them. In all seriousness it took ELEVEN DAYS for Luna to stop being absolutely terrified of them. "If"...thats a keyword people...IF we were able to coax her into the whelping room and then held out a puppy she would refuse to look at it and would run in terror to the living room and hide in her dog cave. We were flabbergasted by her bizarre behavior. It's almost like she had a crystal ball and could see into the future and the certain torment they will be bringing her by week 6. But regardless she not only wanted nothing to do with them she was completely freaked out by them. 

 Breakthrough compliments of Thelma....the Hell Puppy whisperer.

Flash forward to a visit from my buddy Jackie Secan (Jackie is the Thelma to my Louise). We decided to hold off on visitors for awhile as to not stress Cleo out. I think it was a good decision on our part. But when we felt like we were ready to test the waters my buddy Jackie seemed like the perfect person. Cleo and Luna adore her (and her GSP Gunny) and they spend quite a bit of time with her so it seemed like it could be a winning combination. Cleo and Luna were estatic to see her and thankfully Cleo was completely comfortable with Jackie holding and snuggling her pups. Initially Luna took up her stronghold in the belly of her dog cave but the pull and desire to be with Jackie was entirely too much for her. Jack's presence was enough to make her finally face her fear of the minion puppies. Before we knew it she was camped out on the outskirts of the whelping room and eventually moving forward began cautiously sniffing them. 

I am the Gate Keeper....Are you the Key Master?

By the time Jackie left she had successfully created a monster. Luna is now insanely obsessed with the puppies. If you let her she would spend every waking moment in the whelping room. We regulate her time with the puppies (mainly for our sanity) but as soon as Cleo starts to feed them she's in the box cleaning their butts with the tenacity of a pressure washer. If Cleo takes a nap after feeding time Luna will position herself outside the box and intensely watch all puppy activity waiting for the second she might need to jump in, regulate and lick some butts. She takes her sister wife duties ultra serious and I even caught her trying to nurse them the other night!! I'm pretty sure she thinks they might be hers but to be quite honest I think Cleo is thankful for the respite. 

Cleo feeds and Luna cleans #Teamwork

Cleo is holding up well. She has been spending more and more time out of the box and we got her out last weekend for her first run since having the puppies. She loved it and it did her little doggy spirit good. She was surprisingly careful not to over do it but you can tell that her being in such good shape before getting pregnant has made all the difference. We made sure she wore a fleece vest on the run to protect her chest. 

At this point the puppies are changing daily and about a week from now they will have their first taste of food outside the milk bar! Be sure to check back and follow us on facebook at: Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Puppies have arrived!

Puppy Butt

Several months ago we made the decision to breed Cleo. I would like to say that making the decision to breed our dog is something that we did not take lightly. I feel at this point most of the developed world is aware that there is a serious problem with unloved, discarded and often times neglected dogs. So many end up in kill shelters or in situations they should absolutely never be put in. Quite frankly it's heart breaking. But a responsible breeder takes every step possible to make sure that those results never happen to the puppies they breed. Accomplishing that requires a ton of due diligence on the breeders part. It starts by making sure that the puppies are set up with the correct people and furthermore that those people are immediately set up for success with their pup. It will always be a continuous venture by Jim and I remaining in contact with the puppies owners so we can be an available resource.

Momma Cleo

Pairing Cleo with the right male was incredibly important as we are breeding for a purpose. Both Cleo and the stud we chose for her have been hunted and tested at high levels, passed their health clearances, an immense amount of time was spent reviewing their pedigrees, breeding co-efficients, hunting styles and personalities. In the end we feel this breeding between Cleo and Doc (VC Sharp Shooters Doc Holliday) WILL produce highly intelligent, cooperative dogs that will excel in both the field and water. Not to mention they will be excellent family companions.

Geof and Doc volunteering their time at the NJ Wildlife 
Youth Hunt earlier this month

Doc is proudly owned by Geof and Karen Ferrer of NJ. He is one of their four GSP's. Three of the Ferrer's four shorthairs including Doc are NAVHDA Versatile Champions. For those of you who are not familiar with NAVHDA and its testing levels owning one VC is a feat in itself but owning three is down right impressive.

Doc is an absolute machine in the field. I mean come on, his nickname is the magical beast! He is intense, athletic and enthusiastic. He ranges out, has flashy solid points and his fieldwork is completely polished. Quite frankly he is pleasure to watch work. Through NAVHDA Doc has earned a Natural Ability Prize 1, three Utility Test Prize 1's and a Versatile Championship. (Doc is available for stud to approved dams. Please check out my Links page for more info on that).

When we bred Cleo to Doc he came and lived with us for 2 weeks. We were happy to have him and he proved to be an excellent house guest....well for the most part. He did lock me out of the house once! But he is probably one of the most naturally well mannered dogs I have ever seen. We loved having him around and can't wait to see what he passes on to these pups.

This little guy is an exact clone of his daddy. He has been dubbed Mini Doc. 

A liver and Roan female clearly in a milk coma

Cleo went into stage 1 labor around 3pm on Tuesday, November 26th on her 59th day from first tie. We knew she would be within 24 hours of stage 2 as we had been monitoring her temperature and she had finally dropped to 98.1 degrees. The next 24 hours were pretty intense mainly from the anticipation of what was to come. Cleo was incredibly restless and between Jim and I taking turns staying with her we each banked about 4 hours sleep. The next day on Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday the 27th) Cleo grew increasing restless. She wanted to go outside every 10 minutes. She drove us crazy by her constantly trying to crawl under the deck. In prime time nesting mode she did everything in her power to divert us and make a beeline for it. Around 4:15pm her water broke and we rushed her into the whelping room we had set up for her. Cleo started having hard contractions within 15 or 20 minutes and everything seemed off to a good start.

Ear Blankie

Paw Pillow

However we did run into issues early on in the evening. Cleo had hard contractions for about and hour and half when they suddenly stopped. Jim and I knew without saying much it was time to call the vet. We absolutely did not want to risk Cleo's health in anyway. This is where I throw out if you think you want to breed your dog you better be damn prepared for things to go wrong.

We immediately reached out to Mill Pond Veterinary Clinic in Quakertown, PA. Cleo and Luna have been going to Mill Pond since they were puppies and its also were they attend daycare a couple times a week. We knew we were rolling the dice as Mill Pond had closed it's doors for the day but when we left a message Dr. Thayer called us right back. We explained our situation and she asked us to bring Cleo in as soon as possible. Our biggest fear was that Cleo had a stuck puppy or worst case scenario she would need a C-section. We were pretty rattled when we rolled in the door but we were greeted by 6 staff members who put us right at ease. Dr. Thayer did some quick x-rays and told us the pups were not stuck and that luckily none of them appeared to big to be passed. They gave Cleo a shot to bring on her contractions again and within minutes we shared the magical moment of Cleo's first born with the amazing staff at Mill Pond. It would have been awesome for us to have been home like we originally planned but there was something poetic about being surrounded by the other people in Cleo's life that love her and know her on a daily basis.

Soon after that first liver and roan female greeted us she was followed by a black and roan male. We then made the decision to pack up and head home before anymore puppies were whelped. I want to take a second and say that we are incredibly grateful to Mill Pond, Dr. Thayer and her staff. They could have easily pushed us off and told us to go to the local 24 hour emergency vet. After all it was the eve of Thanksgiving. But they didn't. They brought us in and they were enthusiastic about sharing our big moment with us. It's like we hit the lottery having a vet that treats our animals like they are their own.

The yellow one has the mark of the devil on her head like her mother

Cleo ended up whelping 8 beautiful healthy puppies! Four females two of which are liver and roan and 2 that are black and roan. She also had 4 males, one of which is liver and roan and 3 black and roan males. The pups are tanks with the largest one weighing 1lb 3oz at 3 days old and not one single pup weighing under a 1lb 1oz!  There are no runts in this litter!

All of the puppies are spoken for and we will be keeping pick female and she will be my gun dog. It's extra exciting that all you readers will watch her grow up from the moment she was born. Fingers crossed she's not nearly the shoe chewer her mother was and that she doesn't have the propensity for destroying jade plants like her Aunt Luna! Keep up with our puppy shenanigans by following us on facebook at: Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer