S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
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S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
Preparing to leave for the winter is always bittersweet. The excitement of the trip, packing all the necessities for us and the dogs, Christmas presents to remember for family and friends in the south, anticipation of new places and people to meet, old friends and acquaintances to visit while leaving family and grandkids and home make for emotional upheaval to say the least. But…we do it every year and have a great time getting away from Michigan winters.

Last year was a little different. We were exchanging a breeding with our friend, Sharon Moore. Tess would be staying with her to be bred while Healea went with us to be bred. Neither of the girls had been away from home before.

When Healea arrived, she was already in heat. Not so for Tess. Sharon would have to wait. We managed the breeding that first week and settled in to wait for the anticipated litter. All was fine until we stopped at our destination near Ft. Myers, FL. All my furry kids have been conditioned not to come down the steps of the RV. Healea didn’t know the rules yet. As soon as the door opened in the warm weather, she was out the door and away. All I could think was having to call Sharon to tell her we had lost her girl. Luckily, Healea responded to my call and returned safely to my arms. I said many “Thank you, God” exclamations as I held her close and told her not ever to do that again. She must have understood. We didn’t have another episode like that.

Nine weeks passed quickly. Since Healea had had 2 other litters of 5 and 6 respectively, I was expecting a good-sized litter. She didn’t get very big, however. So, when the day dawned and signs of labor began, I wasn’t surprised when there was only a single puppy. It was beautiful, black/masked, deep gold and female. I called Sharon. “The good news is it’s a girl, nice size, healthy and strong. The bad news is there is only one puppy.

Soon we had mama and baby settled and happy. All was well…until the next day.

Healea had been a great mama and used to so many babies in the first two litters, she didn’t know what to do with only one. She loved it, kissed it, and cleaned it all day and all night. The little thing didn’t have a chance to latch on to the nipple for all the cleaning that her mama did. By the second evening, it was apparent that we would lose this baby if I didn’t intervene. Taking this soaked puppy from her mama, warming her up, holding and tube feeding all night kept her alive for another day. I tried to return her to Healea the next morning, but she began to repeat the previous activities. There was no choice except to remove the puppy from her mama and try to keep her alive myself. How could I tell Sharon that there was no puppy to bring home? I couldn’t.

So, with feeding every two hours, (24-7), baby puppy stayed alive. I decided she needed a name during those early am feedings. I called Sharon to see if she liked the name, Amber. She did, and Amber and I became buddies for the next 5 weeks. She responded to holding, cuddling, feeding and the warmth of a small box with a heating pad that stayed right next to my head during the night. Looking back, we can laugh. Anyone viewing this scenario would have called us crazy. Dick stayed in our bed with all the housedogs that accompany us nightly. I slept, or should I say, dozed on the couch with Amber at my head. I’m not sure if either Dick or I got much sleep during those weeks. I would wake up, feed the puppy, tell Dick what time it was so he would know when to call me when he woke up to see if I had awakened to feed her. I kept records of the amount of formula she consumed so I could monitor her feeding and weight gain. Anne Seranne’s book, The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog, was my Bible. I never leave home without this book. It contains a wonderful chapter titled “The First Critical Three Weeks” that helped me know just how much this little girl should be eating according to her weight. (I believe this book is currently out of print, but if you ever see it in a used bookstore, dog show, etc. it is a fountain of information on breeding and well worth every dollar.)

Fortunately, things went like clockwork. She responded to the formula, gained weight accordingly, developed normally and grew up into an adorable puppy. As she grew, she needed a bigger place to live. So, we moved her into a “bigger apartment.” It was the meduim-sized Vari Kennel complete with heating pad, quilted mat and a plush “mama bunny” purchased when she had to be taken from her “real” mama. It was so cute to see her snuggle up to this bunny as if to say, “Are you my mama?” Many times as I looked into her apartment, she was cuddled right up to this toy. It was just too cute!!!!

As she grew, the small bunny was replaced with a larger, plush toy to accommodate a bigger puppy. Of course, when she finally went home to Sharon, this toy went with her. (By the way, a plush toy is now a mainstay here at S’Dandi. When mamadog leaves the litter at night for the first time, a plush toy is given to the puppies. They gravitate to it and snuggle up with little or no crying even during that first night.)

Amber grew, thrived and learned to love. When she was big enough to play on the floor with all the other dogs, she really had their interest. Who was this thing that had consumed so much of “our mama’s” time. They all adjusted and helped to socialize Amber as older grandma and grandpa dogs can do.

It was with pride that I handed this beautiful puppy to Sharon upon returning home. She will always have a special spot in my heart. But…I think she has a special spot in Sharon’s heart as well.

As if to emphasize that sometimes a little life is worth the work and effort, Amber stepped foot in the ring for the first time at 8 months old and walked out with a 3 point major. Was she worth it? I think so. When she becomes a champion, I will know that God and I had a big hand in it.

In case Seranne’s wonderful book is no longer available, here is the chart for feeding based on weight.
“In general, a puppy should gain 1 gram for each pound of its anticipated adult weight each day during the neonatal period. For example, a puppy, which is expected to weigh ten pounds when adult, should gain a minimum of 10 grams per day. It should double its birth weight in the first eight to ten days of life.” Seranne, pg.199.

1 ounce equals approximately 30 grams
1cc or 1ml of mixed formula equals approximately 1 calorie
Amount of formula (mixed according to directions) to feed at each feeding.
Weight of Puppy / Amount of formula at each feeding
60 grams (about 2 ounces) /4cc
90 grams /6cc
120 grams / 8cc
150 grams / 10cc
180 grams / 12cc
210 grams / 14 cc
240 grams / 16 cc
270 grams / 18 cc
300 grams / 20 cc
330 grams / 22 cc
360 grams / 24 cc
390 grams / 26 cc
420 grams / 28 cc
450 grams / 30 cc (about 1 ounce)
480 grams / 32 cc”
Seranne, pg. 205

I fed Amber every 2 hours for the first 2 weeks/tube feeding the 1st week, every 3 hours for the 3rd week, every 4 hours for the 4th and 5th weeks. She was bottle fed after the 1st week. I kept a daily record of the amount of formula she consumed at each feeding so a ratio of calories to weight comparison could be made. That way I could keep track of what she should have versus what she consumed. It meant daily weight checks as well, but daily weight checks are a routine on all my puppies until they are about 7 weeks old. Keeping exact records provide good references to alert the breeder quickly to a puppy not gaining weight as it should along with a comparison for the puppies in future litters.

Hopefully, if this situation presents itself at your house, you’ll be able to save your puppy, too.

P.S. Tess waited until the day we arrived home to deliver her litter of 5 black/masked red babies. Our little Aurora, from that litter, is just beginning her show career in Wichita, KS this year after taking a Puppy Group 1 in a San Antonio match.
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