The Plan (as of Monday): Head off to the Ellesemere Shows on the weekend with the full team, help out at the Pet Expo for the Club, and then have an uneventful delivery of three fat healthy babies on the due date of May 6, with a bitch who has sailed through her entire pregnancy as if it was nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
The Reality: Wednesday afternoon (a worrying six days before her due date), Fifi goes into full blown labour. X-rays reveal two pups are breech, in addition to which, head measurements indicate the pups are likely to get stuck in the birth canal. Decision made at 10.30 pm to deliver by casaerian.
Turns out to be a good call. Two boys and a girl. The boys are fine but only thanks to the outstanding veterinary skills of Dr Meredith Barth do we have 3 live puppies. All three are very small - the 2 boys are barley 100g and the little girl is only 79g and very under developed.
By morning, the biggest boy is feeding without assistance and gaining weight, but the other two have lost weight. Move to hourly tube feeds around the clock. Slowly they start to gain and by Friday, the little boy is fine and the girl hits 100g although she still needs constant tube feeding, is flaccid and not really thriving.
Fifi, who had so little trouble in pregnancy turns out to be a so-so mother with only three working teats. She doesn't like to lie down for the pups and hops out of the whelping box to hide every chance she gets. She's toileting the pups, will go to them when they cry and will try to murder anyone who gets close, but she's not that keen on parenthood.
It's going to be a long 8 weeks.
Of course, Saturday is both Show Day and Expo Day. Thanks to our awesome Club committee, we drop off Mexico and Loki to do their thing at the Expo. then scratch Spencer and Kyrie from the show, taking a pared-down team for day 1, comprising Narci, Tara, Delilah and Liddle Bit the Pom. We scratch Spenny because he is the most likely to take an Age of Group we really don't have time for and Kyrie, because it's an Aussie judge and they often overlook Narci when they're not experienced enough to recognise correct type, but when that happens, they'll often put Kyrie up instead. So banking on the judge not knowing much about Chihuahuas, we risk putting Narci in and leaving his show-off daughter at home.
It's actually really hard work to arrange things so you don't win!
Show the dogs with excellent assistance from Dace, (who normally has to be bribed to go anywhere near a show). Under FAF Judge Robynne Spencer, Narci takes Open of Breed, Tara takes Junior of Breed and Reserve Bitch (so far so good) but not the Best or Reserve of Breed, but then Delilah takes Best of Breed, Junior of Breed and the Best Bitch CC, in the Smooth Coats while Liddle Bit bounces all the way around the ring but still manages Best of Breed, Baby Puppy of Breed and Best Bitch. Dammit.
Fortunately, the Show Gods hear our prayers not to go any further, Our guys are either knocked out by the group winners or unsuccessful in the Age of Group judging so we are heading home by lunchtime, which is possibly the first thing to go to plan all week.
A shift swap for the babies. Tracey manages not only a much needed nap but Jenny takes over the neonatal ward on the night-shift so she gets her first full night's sleep since the pups were born.
Sunday, with Dace unavailable and Jenny on tube feeding and Expo duty, Tracey heads off to Leeston with only Narci, Tara and Delilah. We leave Liddle Bit at home. Last thing we need is her figuring how to walk on a lead like an actual show dog and getting a Baby Puppy in Group.
Jenny drops off Nikita, Poco and Taco to do their PR duties at the Expo. It's such good exposure for our club and the Chihuahua breed, and an excellent opportunity to talk to the general public about Chihuahuas and how to spot dodgy breeders when they're looking for a puppy. Without a forum like the Pet Expo, we would not get a chance to talk to so many people, show them how wonderful Chihuahuas can be, and warn them about unethical breeders who breed from unhealthy stock, pass on genetic faults like slipping patellas, heart issues or breeding from cryptorchid dogs.
Stop off long enough at the Expo to score a sponsorship deal from Distripets NZ, then back to puppy feeding. Out at Leeston, Show Gods (and/or clueless judges) still on our side. In the Long Coats, Narci takes Open of Breed, Tara takes Junior of Breed and the Reserve Bitch but neither goes up for the Best or Reserve. Delilah, (who it's obvious, hasn't read the memo about how we need to get home early) takes Best of Breed again along with Junior of Breed and the Best Bitch CC in the Smooth Coats. Thankfully, though, nobody takes anything in Group so we can get home to deal with the babies.
Sadly, our little girl lost her fight on Sunday evening. Despite gaining weight steadily, it proved to be fluid retention rather than growth. An autopsy solved the mystery of why she wasn't flourishing - she had an ectopic ureter. Essentially, her bladder wasn't connected to her kidneys so her time in this world was always going to be limited. This was likely congenital rather than genetic, and perhaps caused by being crowded in a very tiny womb, or some other factor we may never identify.
So that was our crazy, unplanned week. No sleep, just enough wins to make it fun, a heartbreaking loss and oh... the bidding war...
Because the little girl was so touch and go, we only posted a photo of the litter on social media on May the 4th. Star Wars Day. In honor of this, and to honor Peter Mayhew, who passed away this week, we decided this would be the Star Wars litter. Our gorgeous black and white parti-color is Kitaco's Let the Wookie Win (Chewie). The dark boy (who should lighten to a red sable like his daddy) we named Red - Kitaco's Red Leader . Sadly, Kitaco's Over to you, Red Leader has too many letters in it.
Anyway, within 4 hours of posting the photo of the litter, we had 6 offers on Chewie. Seriously. It's been nuts! Had to tell everyone that at this stage, he's not for sale, and if he does become available, he'll go to someone already on our waiting list. It will really depend if he is blessed by the Gods of the Three Ts: Teeth, Temperament and Testicles. This will be our only litter with Fifi, so the chances are good we'll keep one of the remaining boys. It is yet to be decided which one is best for the direction we are taking our breeding, particularly relating to conformation and health..
What a week,