Ch. Highwood's Black Gnat was whelped on May 10, 1988. Her mother was Ch. Highwood's Jordan Baker, and her sire, Ch. Royal Rock Don of Chidley. Her littermates were a brother, Ch. Highwood's Royal Coachman, and a sister, Ch. Highwood's Irresistable.
This is her story.
A glossy black-and-tan who loved the show ring, she attained her championship out of puppy -- a rarity for the Highwood kennel. I specialed her at our National Specialty at Bucks County in May of 1990. She took Best of Opposite Sex under Ken McDermott.
At that Specialty, I bred her to Ch. Devondale's Master Miles. Although Miles seemed delighted with the liaison, Gnatty was difficult, angry, snappy, rigid. But, over the course of the four days at Montgomery, we were able to secure two outside ties. And, in December, we were blessed with two male black-and-tan puppies.
We had hoped to have the puppies naturally, but Gnatty, annoyed by the whole process, had other ideas.
She went into labor at the proper time, after the expected temperature drop. But she fought labor and shut down. I waited to see whether we could start her up again. I have a wonderful veterinarian here in Bedford, Dr. Jefferson Israel, who came by and gave her a pit shot. Still nothing. Afraid for her and the puppies, two hours later we performed a C-section and delivered the two pups.
I brought everyone home and placed Gnatty and the babies in our whelping box. Gnat was relaxed enough -- probably because of the anaesthesia -- to let me plug the puppies in to get the colostrum. I left the bathroom briefly to clean up the carryall and get water and food for Gnat.
When I returned, she was out of the box and in the bathroom closet. For four days, I had to hold her down to nurse. She seemed to feel no connection to these helpless and demanding little creatures. She never washed them or showed them any affection, and I had to tend to the cleaning and massaging of the puppies myself. I almost separated her from them because I feared for their little lives; I honestly think that she allowed them to live because she knew I wanted them so badly.
Eventually, she agreed to crawl into the box -- with her tail down -- and would let them nurse for about four minutes before jumping out. I starting weaning at two and one-half weeks and had them licking a slurry of meat babyfood, baby cereal, and evaporated milk off my fingers at three and one-half weeks. Her milk dried up almost overnight, and she never looked back.
When the puppies were older and wanted to play or nurse she was far too serious. She behaved like an older bitch that wanted no part of this game.
I didn't try to breed her again until 1992. At that time, I had recently finished Ch. Highwood's Greenlight's Oboe, a good moving dog with a nice, aggressive ring attitude. Young, but a proven stud, he already had a litter of five on the ground. But I could not manage a natural breeding, and I feared for both dogs if I got the tie. And Gnatty was so nasty that it was demoralizing to the young stud.
Well, artificial insemination did the trick. She didn't seem to mind the process -- and was utterly relieved that she did not to have to deal with this overzealous male. I A.I.ed four times, every other day, starting at her ninth day, until her slides showed that her cells had become nucleated.
I tried the same breeding again her next two seasons. Nothing.
In 1993, I tried Ch. Highwood's St. Andrew's for both seasons. Nothing. In 1994, I tried an Andrew son, Ch. Top Drawer's Cholmondley, CD. Same result.
The writing on the wall was beginning to become apparent. I was not going to get this bitch pregnant.
In April of 1995, I bred to Andrew again. Two weeks after the breeding, she seemed logey and off her feed. I was ecstatic! But then her coat became lacklustre, and she wasn't moving well. One week later, she began to leak what was to be closed Pyometra at the foot of our bed.
She carried a temperature of 105 for 48 hours. Jeff and I started with Amoxicilin and changed to 250 mls of Choramphenicol at eight-hour intervals. She began to come out of it, so we decided not to spay. For seven days, I injected .25 mls of Lytalyse, alternately right and left side, in the lumbar muscle in her lower back. This caused her uterus to contract even more and expel what was left of the infection.
It is not a pretty sight to watch your bitch in such pain, but, once you make the decision to save her uterus, you owe it to her to make it as healthy as possible. (The result of the process is similar to that of a D&C for a human, and my veterinarian believes that one of the reasons she ultimately got pregnant was because her uterus was clear.) But Lytalyse has some side effects. Gnatty lost a lot of hair, and I began to worry about this sad-looking little creature. Her eyes seemed dull and she had no appetite. We were coming into the summer and the flea and tick season; I didn't want to risk the usual sprays, dips and shampoos.
Some of my friends swear by a holistic veterinarian who practices nearby in Vista, New York. The suggestion was to take Gnatty for "an evaluation". Marty was just so wonderful, they said. He would find out what supplements she would need to get back into condition. If you know me, you know that the word 'supplement' triggered the $$ vision, and I really wondered what acupuncture, supplements, and a positive attitude had to do with my little dog. I waited two weeks and -- nothing ventured -- scheduled an appointment.
Marty Goldstein works mainly with dogs and cats that are dying. He balances their systems as best he can to provide them some quality of life before they are put down. He has been able to take some ill animals to remission. He was pleased to see Gnatty -- and immediately cracked her back. She wagged her tail. That day, he took blood for analysis and explained what he wanted to do with her. I asked if he felt I had made the right decision by saving her uterus, for I was feeling guilty. He really didn't focus on the question and said only, "Let's see if she has another normal heat." The bill for the examination was $150. He took her off L-Thyroxine and Heartworm medication and asked me not to innoculate that season except for Rabies. The bloods (Super Chem w/CBC and Nutritional Analysis -- another $144) came back. I have copies of these tests. The following daily supplements were prescribed for Gnatty, starting August 4th, 1995:
The supplements, which would last for the duration of the treatment, cost about $150.
I noticed the results almost immediately. Her coat started to grow in, harsh and very black. Her attitude was brighter, and she became her old dominant self around the house again. I started her in obedience. She loved it. She was back.
She looked so good that I entered and showed her at Montgomery. She made the cut in breed -- and came into a raging season. When I got home, I called Marty. My concern about trying to breed her again was a recurrence of Pyometra. But Marty was confident in his treatment, and we made the decision to try a breeding. I would have a sterile culture done two weeks after the last breeding -- by a third veterinarian, a Dr. Kramer in Greenwich, Connecticut, to check for pyo.andrew
I took her off all supplements. Going back to a willing Andrew, I bred her in my usual pattern -- four breedings, every other day, starting at the ninth day. After a negative culture at two weeks, I took her to yet another local veterinarian, Dr. Alan Green, who has sonogram equipment. At this point, I had four vets focused on this little Norwich Terrier -- Drs. Israel, Goldstein, Kramer, and Green. Poor Dr. Green was so intimidated by this whole procedure that -- when he scoped six puppies -- he didn't charge me for the ultrasound.
I called all the doctors. Lots of mazel tovs. Then we waited...
I started to relive the experiences with the first litter. Six was going to be hard, and they were due the week before Christmas. Gnatty got bigger and bigger, but she maintained a wonderful serenity. I just began to feel that this situation was going to take care of itself.
On December 15th, the 62nd day of the third breeding, we performed a C-Section. She had been in labor for four hours with no results. When we went in, we found a very large puppy in the canal. We brought him back and preceded with the delivery -- two red males, two black-and-tan males, and two black-and-tan females. One male weighed eight and one-half ounces; the rest were between six and seven ounces. All the pups were immediately active. We were home in an hour.
Gnatty didn't move from the box. She cleaned everyone up and lay there quietly as each pup had a turn at the colostrum. She had volumes of milk and nursed the puppies in shifts of three for five weeks. The puppies never cried. Their birthweight doubled by December 27th.
Gnatty and I are back at Obedience class and about ready to go for our CD out of Novice A. Two puppies have remained with us. One is a clone of Gnat, and one a clone of Andrew. The others have gone to friends and relatives who have long wanted a Gnatty baby.
She waited a long time to discover and be able to savor the joys of motherhood, but what a generous gift she has given us. Thank you Gnatty.
And, as for that holistic doctor -- he has made me a believer.
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