ESPP Fridays – It's one last Solo Video (and some photos)


I don’t have much to write about today – not much that I feel like setting down in print, at any rate. Solo goes home on Sunday, and I know that it’s for the best, and I know that it’s a great home, and I know that part of being a breeder is making the tough decision about winnowing pet from show and placing puppies accordingly.

I know all of that. I just don’t care.

I don’t care about it being logical, or rational, or about the fact that I’m at my ‘dogs I keep just as pets just because I want to even though they’re retired or defective or whatever’ limit. I know all about the dangers of kennel blindness, or the more appealing danger of fooling myself into thinking a dog has ‘potential’, when what I really mean is ‘I just love them, that’s all’. I know.

But after two short months, don’t believe it isn’t possible for us to fall head over heels madly in love with one small puppy. And it isn’t just me, either – Solo has an entire fan club, who’ve supported me when he was sick, and rooted for him as he got well, and enjoyed watching him as he grew up.

Still. When you’ve stayed up nights, nursing a puppy through times when you’re afraid he’s never going to start gaining weight, you’re going to lose your heart. The first time he starts gazing into your eyes while you bottle feed him is when you know you’re in deep trouble. You’ve fallen in love with another puppy, long before it’s logical for you to do so.

Of course, according to the ‘experts’ over at Peta or the HSUS, I’m just in this for the money. I’m cold and heartless and making myself rich off of puppies like this – never mind that my recent math on this litter shows us just under $2K in the hole for it. If you’re a breeder, you’re supposed to see dollar signs instead of puppies, and handing them over should be no problem at all.

Except it is. And I guess I really did have something I wanted to write about, after all.

A new photoset is up on Flickr – random shots of the dogs being crazy nutjobs, with Delilah, Bunny, Dexter, Penelope, Fanny and (of course) Solo all featured. Link here, thumbnails below.

Here’s Solo’s last video, taken two days ago. We’ll miss you, baby boy.

What is a 'working' dog?

I spent most of last week flat on my back, sick with the flu. Thank God for Jane Austen novels and French Bulldogs that love to snuggle, because they are the only thing that can get me through a week of enforced bed rest and computer abstinence. There’s something about a snoring Frenchie warming your feet that speeds up the healing process. I know I’m not the only person who feels that way, either. Years of doing therapy visitations has taught me that few things can cheer up a sick, lonely or isolated person faster than a lap full of Frenchie.

None of this should really be too surprising to us, when we consider what French Bulldogs were originally bred for. Unlike Border Collies or Jack Russell Terriers, Frenchies have only been designed with one ‘job’ in mind, that of being a companion.

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If it weren't for bad luck…

I woke up this morning at six am to give Solo his morning feeding, and found him in a state of distress. He was listless, wheezing, and had milk coming out of his nose. A quick inspection indicated his chest sounded congested, and his energy level was depressed. This was a 180° change from his demeanor of last night, and I knew pretty much right away what the problem was – aspiration pneumonia.

Aspiration pneumonia occurs when fluids have gotten into the lungs. In this case, I likely allowed Solo to overeat during his last feeding of the night. He vomited, and some of the fluid got into his lungs. He now faces a chance of developing a bacterial infection from the fluid in his lungs.

I had him into the car, and on his way to our vet office as soon as they were opened. Since I don’t function my best with just five hours sleep, I managed to leave the house without my wallet, which wouldn’t have been an issue if I hadn’t stopped for gas on the way. This was one of those times I was grateful to live in a small town, as they allowed me to leave to go back home and grab my wallet, instead of just calling the cops.

Finally arriving at the Vet’s office, Dr. Gomez did a thorough check on Solo, and confirmed he has ‘wet’ sounding lungs – and that we’d caught it right away, thankfully. Solo was dehydrated, so he received 30 mls of fluid subcutaneously (which he didn’t enjoy in the least). He’s now on Clavamox, to stave off possible infection.

He’s also back on every two hour feeding, with the goal of getting smaller amounts of food into him, more frequently, instead of allowing him to gorge every four hours.

Goodbye, sleep, hello alarm clock.

If he regurgitates again, I’m going to have to take the plunge and start tube feeding him, and tube feeding scares the beejesus out of me. I’ll do it, however, if it will save his life.

I find it ironic that on the same morning I was racing around trying to save my single surviving puppy’s life, someone was sending me the following email:

Can you give me some advice on how I become a French Bull Dog breeder? I want to make some part time money and I really like dogs. I had a litter from my cocker spaniel two years ago and it seems pretty easy.

I haven’t bothered to answer them yet. Some days, answering questions like this can’t be done without copious amounts of swearing and tears.

Here’s a video demonstration of tube feeding, for those who’ve never seen it done.


A much better morning

After a very LONG 24 hours of every two hour feedings, the little boy seems much better this morning. He’s gained almost .4 ounces, he feels ‘fuller’ in my hand, and he’s back to being active and wiggly. I plan to keep on bottle feeding him for a few more days, and I’m encouraging him to nurse from Mae as much as possible.

I said this once already, but it bears repeating – thanks SO MUCH to everyone for their support. Sitting there in a cramped whelping room with a sick puppy can seem like the most desolate, isolating experience. Knowing people are out there wishing good thoughts your way really makes all the difference in the world.


Mae's Pups & a Meditation on Breeding

Wednesday, when I went to bed at 10 pm, Mae was doing fine. No temperature drop, no funny behavior – just Mae, being Mae and looking happy to see me every time I came into the room to check on her, wiggling her Mae Mae butt and grinning her grin.

At 2 am, I woke up out of a dead sleep, convinced something in the house wasn’t right. I came down to check on Mae, and found her nesting in her bed, panting heavily and discharging signs of lochia in her pee. Despite being two days earlier than our earliest estimated due date, Mae was in labor, and there was no time to wait for our regular clinic to open at 8 am.

The emergency vet was wonderful – she worked fast, she anesthetized lightly, and she had the pups out within 10 minutes of getting Mae under and on the table. Unfortunately, two of them were dead before birth, with obvious signs of first stage decay. It kills me that there was nothing that could be done to try to save them.
The third pup, a little cream boy, is doing well, although he’s rather small. He eats well and vigorously, and Mae is being an attentive mom. The poor little solo puppy looks very small and very alone in that big whelping box, with no company. Mr. Monkey will be joining him for snuggling as soon as I give him a good clean, and we’ll give him lots of snuggling, but it really can’t be a substitute for the company of litter mates.

This has been a hard year for me with pups. I haven’t had a litter in almost seven years, and then two out of my first three have dead pups. I know it’s just all about bad luck and bad timing, but it’s hard not to take it personally. I’ve been lucky when it comes to breeding – until now, I’ve only ever lost three pups at birth, one litter due to veterinary negligence, and one week old pup. That’s pretty good, for almost 18 years of breeding. As I said to Sean, if I’d had this kind of bad luck in my first year of breeding, I doubt I’d still be in Frenchies. This kind of heartache is hard to justify on an ongoing basis.

For now, I’m just going to watch over this little tiny one, and give extra hugs and kisses to Dexter, Izzy, Harley and Delilah. I’m more thankful for them now than ever.

Here are a few pictures I shot yesterday. The rest can be found over on Flickr.