Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Legacy is Launched

I would like to introduce you to Legacy Bull Terriers, which, in a way, had its initial roots in 1970 when I got my first bull terrier at age 9 and was bit by the bully bug. The true roots, however, reside with my mentor Marion Dussault of Winsor Bull Terriers, so I would like to give you a little background involving Marion and Winsor.

I had always had pets, as opposed to show dogs, and in 2000 I was looking to add another male to my household and assumed it would be another pet. My old Jo was nearing 14 years of age and I wanted another brindle boy. Through the Springfield, MA kennel club I found Pam Rys, who has become a very good friend. She told me about a woman named Marion Dussault, whose Winsor Bull Terriers was about an hour away from me. She had a young brindle male for sale, Pam told me. I contacted Marion who told me about a local show and to come find her there. Well, I knew Nothing about the show world and I went up to her right before a ring time and she very pre-occupied. I truly did not understand why or what was going on. She had no time for me and pretty much brushed me off, but in a friendly way. Call me at home again she said and you can come over tomorrow after the show. That's what I did and my life was never the same. 

She was hosting several people from the show and now that the event was over, everyone was relaxing. There were dogs frolicking in fenced-in yards here and there. I saw a beautiful brindle male who apparently had just been showing; he was the father of the boy I had come to see. Marion brought out this adorable brindle boy, who for all intensive purposes was so vivid in color and square in shape, he looked like a stuffed toy. He was precious and I loved him immediately. I was so, so naive. I figured since I had owned a few bull terriers before and had the money, that Of Course I could have him! Well, I didn't know it at the time, but Marion was sizing me up. Big Time. She didn't know me from a hole in the wall. Unbeknownst to me, several other people had wanted to buy this dog but Marion was waiting for the "right" home. She told me she would co-own this dog with whomever she sold him to. I nodded in agreement, having No idea what that meant LOL. He would be important to her breeding program and would be shown. Well, I've never had a show dog, I told her, but maybe, perhaps, I would be willing to go to some local shows, meaning I would get him there for her to show...or whatever. I really didn't know what any of this show stuff was about. Marion says now that she sold Beckett to me because she saw that I wanted a dog to love and that I couldn't care less about his "prospects". She could see I would give him a good home and that was the Most important thing to her. So Beckett came into my life....and so did Marion. Now it is over 8 years later and we are BFFs. She is a mother, sister, Best Friend and mentor. We sometimes talk 4 times a day. She has taught me to handle dogs in the ring. She has given my son dogs to show and to learn and grow on. I went Way beyond the local shows and in the last 8 years I have taken her Winsor dogs to California, Florida, St. Louis, Arizona and all up and down the east coast and Canada - handling the dogs myself, and loving it. My son has become a truly amazing handler in his own right and Marion has helped him mature from a shy 12 year old to a confident 18 year old. It was time for me to begin a kennel name for myself.

Hope, our white bitch (Ch. Winsor's Hope Springs Eternal ROM) was 4 1/2 and it was time to have a litter. Much thought was put into who the "husband" should be. Marion and I went back and forth many times weighing one stud dog against another. In the end, she very much allowed me to make the decision. Ch. Victoria's Grimaldi Windfall ROM, a very handsome brindle and white boy who just so happens to share a grandfather with Hope, (the highly regarded Ch. Kenzed Prince of Darkness at Denpower). I liked the fact that it was a line breeding and both dam and stud passed all their health tests with flying colors. Here are pics of the happy couple:

We did an AI, two times, two days in a row, with careful coordination between Glenna and Tom Wright, who were handling the collection and shipping of the chilled semen, and our repro vet. The pregnancy went very smoothly and I was fascinated at the changes I saw in Hope. Not even two weeks into it and she was acting more "huggy" than normal and seemed to crave physical contact. A week later and some black pigmentation spots appeared on her face and ears. The next signal was that on our daily walk, she was asking to stop a little earlier. Somewhere between weeks 4 and 5 and she just Popped! There was no denying she was pregnant. She never went off her food and continued to take daily walks, although they did get shorter, right up to her week of delivery. Here she is just days before delivering:

The evening of October 20th we took her to the vet for an ultra-sound and they confirmed 6 babies, perhaps more. Marion was going to take her to her house, where the whelping would be done, right after, but at the last minute she said why don't you take her home. The next morning, Hope didn't eat. This was a Huge sign as this is a bitch that lives to eat...and eat some more. BJ Ralston, who was helping throughout, got her down to Marion's right away as I had a meeting that morning. That night, October 21st at 10:20pm her mucous plug emerged. Marion, BJ and I were at hand and BJ volunteered to do the overnight watch.

Nothing happened during the night other than her occasional digging in her bedding. Marion had the shower stall set up, which is where many a Winsor bitch has had a litter, especially in the colder months. It is draft free, clean and easy to keep clean, self contained and, hey, its in the bathroom so when you need to "go" you dont have to leave the newborn babies. Anyone who has whelped a litter of bull terriers and performed baby duty for those first weeks, you know it is a 24/7 situation. This eases many of the logistical obstacles. The bathroom is large and we have a bed right there next to the shower stall.

At 5:30am October 22nd (Norma Smith's birthday I might add), very light contractions began. At about 8:00am they started in earnest. Soon after, green meconium came flooding out and Hope started to nest again. Here she is digging in her bedding and you can see a spot of mecomium. In the next picture she is panting and resting, momentarily. The reason for "why" she had been feeling so funny for weeks was about to appear.

"The meconium means there's a baby in distress", Marion said. I couldn't fathom why we weren't "doing" anything but Marion said to wait and that the contractions were productive. Sure enough, not even 5 minutes later and a Very green white male with a tri-color ear emerged into the world.

This pic shows Hope's vulva bulging indicating that the baby is right there:
This next pic shows Marion aiding Hope and in the following one our green boy (betcha didn't know there were green bull terriers) is being offered to Hope to be cleaned off. From the get-go Hope handled the emergence of her first child with aplomb and was more than happy to help clean him up. My first Legacy litter was officially here! I could not have been happier to witness and participate in this literal birth and am blessed that I had Marion and BJ there to experience it with me. Hey, who am I kidding, None of this would have happened without Marion and there was never a question that she would manage the birth. When your mentor has been whelping Bull Terriers for over 30 years, you take advantage of the

Here Hope looks happy and relieved

An all white girl came next. Here Hope looks like she is surprised at the 2nd baby..."Oh there's more?

A tri-colored girl followed. Each of these births was easy with contractions lasting for about 5 minutes and the babies coming out with help, but nothing exceptional. I should mention that while I say that things were uneventful so far, let me clarify by saying that each of these 3 babies needed to be shaken down, not to get them breathing, as they all were, but it is Marion's preferred way of clearing the nasal passages etc. With the green boy, she suctioned his nose too, for good measure. But all 3 were breathing and nursing right away and although one was GREEN, I was enthralled with them all. We called our vet to tell her we were well underway and all was proceeding smoothly. At this point we had a white, a tri and a Green bull terrier!
My friend Juanita had been waiting for Years to see this event. She had never seen an animal be born and had put her request in early. She arrived at about this time and we told her that she would probably see a baby be born within the hour!

"OK", I said to Marion, having watched 3 come into the world fairly routinely. "I want to help deliver the next one. I'm ready. I'm up for this," I declared. Well, an hour went by, then another. Then Hope began to have contractions and we were expecting the next baby to come very much as the previous 3. It was not to be. Her contraction continued for over an hour with no progress. Marion administered an oxytocin shot, which actually didn't seem to do much. We had called the vet and put them on alert. We waited a bit. I started the car to warm it up. It looked like we were going to transport Hope and her 3 babies to the vet for an emergency C-section. BJ prepared a small warming/transport box for the babies. We called the vet again. They said wait 10 more minutes then try another shot of oxytocin. At this point Marion truly believed we had a dead baby clogging up the works and she just wanted to get it Out so that we could hopefully successfully birth the remaining babies. She had her hand up there and could feel a baby in a sack coming down and then retreating, coming down and then retreating again and again. She couldn't gain a finger-hold. We were actually about to perform an episiotomy when about 9 1/2 minutes later Marion yelled "I've got it!". We would later learn that she had her finger wedged up under the pup's chin and there was No Way she was letting go. "Marion," I exclaimed, "if that puppy comes out alive and its a girl her name is going to be Rose, after the roses on your shoes!" This was a pure and true reaction. I was watching Marion hunched over, hand inside my bitch, holding onto a baby for its dear life, working as hard as I've ever seen someone work. She was wearing sandals with teh prettiest pink roses on them, and the words just came....and then...Legacy Lucky Rose of Winsor emerged, no worse for the wear. A big tri-color girl, breathing and ready to suckle. Maron on the other hand, was wiped out LOL. "That bitch isn't going anywhere," Marion declared. "I have never had to work so hard to get a baby out in my life!". The four of us burst into tears of joy and were astonished to see this very alive, very vital girl. Still, since we had the oxygen handy, BJ waved a bit through the tube in front of Rose's nose just in case.
I think Juanita thought she was going to watch a baby come into the world in an uneventful way. Two hours prior she had never even seen an animal being born. She had now witnessed a very hard delivery, complete with injections, frantic vet phone calls, cars at the ready and had given a baby oxygen! I told her she could put Canine Emergency Delivery Nurse on her business cards. At one point all 4 of us were scrambling around doing something as we needed all hands on deck.
I should mention here about the peculiar anatomy we were dealing with. Hope has, shall we say, a very lush, poofy, protruding vulva, even when she isn't pregnant or in heat. You can see how it extends in that picture up above, where she is on her back. Marion has never seen anything like it and was concerned that her particular anatomy might affect the birthing process. Indeed, what happened was that Hope had no trouble getting most of the babies up over her pelvic bone, but then they would be stuck in this extremely long, tight vulva with no contracting muscles to further them along. So even with the first three, Marion had to "extract" the babies with a bit more intervention than is typical. Rose, was large and just plain stubborn and Hope's anatomy didn't help matters. Needless to say, I did not get to birth that one!

So now we had four and I was ready to deliver a baby. The next one started well with the bulge appearing. I bent over Hope placing my hands on her vulva and out started to come a little brown baby. "It's colored, " I exclaimed. "Whatever it is, it's a brindle, " I paused "and it's breach." In my hands I was holding a little brindle butt. Marion yelled at me from across the room, "Get it out of there!" But for whatever reason, I was not panicked, and the baby did not seem to be in distress and I wanted to wait for Hope to push and allow me to work with her contractions. "Marion, let me do it," I yelled back. "It's fine, I can do this!" And with a few more pushes on Hope's part and a few pulls on mine, out popped Baby #5, an adorable brindle and white boy. My heart leaped. Many of you know of my Beckett. He has a fabulous personality and won many a show, including Best Colored Male, Best of Opposite Sex and Best of Opposite Variety at Silverwood 2004 and we had high hopes for his breeding potential. We never did get any babies from him (which is another long story). And now, here, 8 years after Marion entrusted me with Beckett, I had just brought a tiny little version of him into the world. The funny thing is that I had a routine with Hope while she was pregnant. A few times a week, I would say to her "Hope, Im putting my order in," while I rubbed her belly. "I want a brindle boy. Bake me up a brindle boy, OK?" Well, I'm not saying it's foolproof, but it worked! Here he is:

A while later, without much fuss, out came a 2nd white girl. Our litter was complete. Males, females, whites, whites with markings, tris and a brindle. All alive and doing well. Momma Hope doing well. And BJ, Juanita and I in awe of Marion and the whole process. Here Hope watches her babies from the tub that is opposite the shower stall. I think I'd want a bath too after all she had been through.

Here are the two tri girls together; Rose is on the right
I like the scale perspective that Hope's nose provides LOL. brindle boy on top, white girl on bottom

Here you can see the whole litter on Day 3 and get a good sense of markings. However, the white girl on the right does not have a mis-mark on her back. That is a Sharpie mark to distinguish her from her white sister

Here is the brindle boy on Day 3

Here he is very milk drunk

This one I have captioned: "Yes you Can be Fat AND happy"

This one is still dreaming of the missing nipple
Belly up to the bar babies!

That's it for now. Thank you all who have been so supportive and interested. Stay tuned for further pics.