Being a small Mi-ki breeder, we don’t have litters very often, so we were surprised when our three eligible girls decided to all go into season together. Their cycles had been delayed by several months so we were scratching our heads trying to figure out if there was a reason. Eventually, we decided to switch their food believing that perhaps there were hidden phytoestrogens that might be affecting their hormones.
Sure enough, a few weeks after switching to Sport Dog Elite Grain Free Active Dog & Puppy, it looked like the three girls were going into heat… all at the same time! This was going to be interesting.
Since we only have one male, as studly as Moses is, I knew he was going to need some help. Plus, it’s better for the gene pool to have more contributing males. I had been making several inquiries, specifically for a chocolate carrying male for Savannah, in the hopes that we could have some chocolate pups from her.
A whirlwind trip to California for a boyfriend
Ultimately, we selected Sinbad on a hunch, based on the photo of one puppy he’d produced. We heard Sinbad had a gorgeous, non-matting coat, beautiful eyes, and perfect structure. So I hastily booked a flight to California with a car rental. Early in, drive 6 hours, and fly home late in one day. This was a crazy plan since I was told Sinbad wasn’t very successful. In fact, he’d only produced that one puppy we had seen!
Once I was at Brumby’s Run, I finally got to see Sinbad and their wonderful Mi-ki pack. He really was handsome. The Thomson’s were gracious as always, taking me to lunch, and letting me borrow their boy as long as we needed… perhaps even to keep, if the puppies turned out nice.
As Sinbad and I drove back to Los Angeles, he wasn’t sure what to think. I kindly asked him to be quiet, and surprisingly, he listened. From that moment on, we got along splendidly, and he’s my little shadow. At least he was until I brought him home and he realized he had a job to do. Which he did very well within 10 minutes of arriving. So much for basically being unproven!
Evie’s delivery – 1/3/18
Approximately two months later, the puppies were just about due. I wasn’t too worried about Evie, because she is an absolute pro. I’d been taking temperatures to help judge the arrival, but I wasn’t too concerned. I’d predicted the exact right birthing date the last time, and I’d scheduled time off in a two more days.
Perhaps I should have been more worried, because Evie started delivering while I was at work. I knew it would be soon, but based on her patterns before, and the fact that she’d eaten breakfast, I thought we had 12-24 hours. Still, I knew she’d shown a bit of nesting behavior that morning, so at lunch at work, I texted my son Keegan, age 17, “Could you check on Evie?” to which he replied, “She’s had three.”
I thought he was joking so I called. She really did have three puppies right there in the family room on a blanket by the garage door where she was probably waiting for me to come home. So I raced home and kept Keegan on the phone during the drive. “Which one is the driest? Which one is the wettest? And that was how we determined the birth order.
I’m very grateful that Evie is such a good natural whelper. We’ve heard several stories of puppies that didn’t make it out of the sack and died without help, but Evie had everyone cleaned and nursing without intervention, just as nature is supposed to work… even with the other dogs nearby watching, as well as the cat.
After I got home, Evie delivered two more. Three girls, two boys! Everyone was healthy and had nice even weights. One down, two more litters to go!
The newbie Mi-ki moms made me nervous
As exciting as the thought of puppies are, my Mi-ki moms are our babies, first and foremost. How would our new moms do? How many puppies would they have? Would they be able to deliver naturally? Could we really be so lucky and not have any losses when the average is as high as 30% puppy mortality without any intervention? I was trying not to let my concerns show to the girls because I know the sensitive Mi-kis pick up on these things.
On Saturday, I knew Rayne and Savannah were getting pretty close to their deliveries but I really didn’t know what to expect with these maiden moms. Our vet said it was a good idea to get x-rays of them to see if the heads were small enough to pass, and he graciously squeezed us in between appointments.
It looked like everyone was appropriately sized, and Rayne would have three, and Savannah had two. Both girls’ puppies were entering the birth canal, so delivery was likely going to be within 24 hours.
Rayne’s delivery – 1/7/18
Rayne’s big day was Sunday. She was nesting, panting, and had skipped breakfast. Despite my nervousness for my littlest Mi-ki, she did really well. Being so small, we weren’t surprised that we needed to help Rayne with a Woods maneuver to help ease the pups through the birth canal. Three dark girls! They looked a bit brindled and matte at first. The third was the tiniest we’d ever seen, weighing just 3 ounces.
I was actually a bit concerned about this last girl. She was just so tiny! I’d had to intervene with tube feedings on other puppies in the past, and I was thinking it was a good thing I’d already made plenty of Myra Savant Harris’ puppy formula.
We decided to name the littlest girl Denaya after our beautiful neighbor, Denaya Desormeaux who was crowned Miss High School Colorado at the same time this tiny princess was born.
I’ve included a video of Rayne and her littlest princess Denaya so you can get an idea of just how small she was. Keep in mind that Rayne is barely 5 pounds and is quite petite herself!
As it turned out, Rayne is quite the “helicopter” mom – always hovering, always mothering. She never let any of the other dogs get anywhere near her puppies. Her vigilance really paid off because I never had to worry about her tiny puppies. They all grew nicely and I didn’t have to do any supplemental feedings!
Rayne’s puppies all looked like black brindles at birth. Rayne is herself a black brindle, but she also has the black and tan saddle pattern, so she mostly has the brindle silvering on her legs and chest while the remainder of her has retained her beautiful black coloring, which is unusual for a Mi-ki. Often black puppies silver as they mature.
Rayne’s puppies looked slightly brindled at birth.
Interestingly, Rayne’s puppies all looked shiny black within a few hours of her getting them all “spit and polished” without any brindle pattern. Many Mi-ki breeders say that the shiny black puppies are sometimes the ones that stay black, so it will be interesting to see what color these girls end up being. Danica has the most white on her chest and paws. Dakota is solid black with a bit of bronze undertones. Denaya has a thin white stripe on her chest and just a touch of white on a couple of paws.
Savannah’s delivery – 1/8/18
Savannah, our chocolate Mi-ki girl, graciously gave us a little breather and waited a day before going into labor for her big debut. She was very relaxed about laboring. She was so relaxed, in fact, that I was worried. She’d push a little, then take an hour off. Basically, she pushed off and on casually starting at 2 p.m. but really didn’t get serious until after the local vet clinics were closed (of course.) Was this uterine inertia?
Based on her behavior and the fact that Savannah didn’t seem to be in any distress, I decided not to freak out and mostly just let her be with the exception of a bit of supplemental calcium to give stronger contractions. With only two large puppies, it was in the back of my mind that she could get into trouble. How much bigger could the puppies have gotten in two days since the x-ray? Would they get stuck?
Finally at 8 p.m., Savannah seemed to be getting into some serious pushing. This seemed to be more difficult, but she just kept looking at us with her big trusting eyes and didn’t seem very stressed. More time passed. More pushing. I eyed my Stuck Puppy Kit. Would I need to use it?
After more pushing with no delivery, we decided to try the Woods maneuver on Savannah as we had done on a couple of Rayne’s. This did the trick! Soon a big black baby girl was born along with the placenta, and we were thrilled.
Ugh! What is that??
Savannah, however, was not thrilled. She took one look at that ugly placenta and was horrified. Instead of trying to take care of her new puppy, Savannah wanted to hide that terrible glob of tissue. She most certainly wasn’t going to eat it.
So we removed the sack, got the puppy rubbed down, gave her a bit of oxygen, and got her breathing, and cut the cord. Savannah still didn’t know she had a puppy. She was still working on covering that nasty placenta thingy.
Finally, Bill just removed the placenta so Savannah could relax and concentrate on the fact that she’d just given birth to a big pretty baby. We had a good laugh because we always joked about how much of a licker Savannah is, and how her babies would be the cleanest on the planet. But now that her puppy was finally here, she didn’t lick her. Nope.
“Hey Savannah… here. Look. Here’s your baby. Want to see her?” There was a halfhearted lick. Finally. Eventually, the puppy’s instincts kicked in, and she made her way to the warmth of the nipple. I knew that nursing would help mom’s instincts to work better too, as well as start the contractions for the next baby.
The next puppy didn’t take long. We had to help pull the next puppy a little bit, but she slid out fairly nicely. Another girl! She needed a bit of work to get her moving and breathing. A little oxygen helped pink her up.
Surprise! This one looked like a little black and white Boston Terrier! Huh. Interesting. Both Savannah and the sire are solids, so I really expected we would have solids. But Savannah’s mom is a parti, so we had a little chance of getting some white patch puppies. What fun!
This time, Savannah decided she’d at least try to eat the placenta and try to chew the cord. She wasn’t very good at it. I guess she’s a bit of a diva. But she did do better and was cleaning her babies pretty well this time. Eventually, we ended up disposing of the placenta in the end so she could focus on the pups.
We waited a couple of hours to make sure there weren’t any hiders on the x-ray (this has happened to us before). We were finally able to rest with three boxes of healthy puppies and content moms on three sides of our bed.
We feel really blessed to have so many cute Mi-ki puppies that are all healthy and all gained without any supplementation.
Differences in parenting style
In addition to differences in whelping styles, the new moms have their own styles of parenting. Being the experienced mom, Evie is pretty relaxed and doesn’t stress as much when the other dogs come near.
Did we mention that Rayne is the helicopter mom? Well, she takes her mom role pretty darn seriously. If there’s one tiny squeak, she’s all over that puppy. She makes sure everyone is clean and fed, clean and fed. And clean and fed.
Rayne does not care for Savannah’s less intense parenting style.
See, Savannah has lots of milk (and it’s rich chocolate milk.) She doesn’t feel the need to feed her puppies 24/7. They have gained fast. Really fast. In fact, Savannah’s puppies soon passed Evie’s puppies’ weights, even though they are five days older.
Sometimes Savannah’s puppies would cry, even if they were well fed. And Rayne didn’t like it. Rayne is that mom at preschool that wants to tell you how to parent your own children too. So Rayne and Savannah have had some good fights over proper parenting techniques. It’s been interesting, to say the least!
Puppy season goes by too fast!
Now that several weeks have gone by, we’re happy to say that the hormones have calmed, and we’re all getting some much-needed sleep. The puppies are all super cute and we are amazed that we’re already halfway through the time we get to cherish them. Soon I won’t be doing weekly photo updates.
We’re a bit sad thinking that they’ll no longer be with us, but happy that we’ve already found wonderful homes for most of them. Two puppies are going to live with Royal T Mi-ki alumni, and there’s no greater compliment and comfort than that!
If you’re thinking about adopting one of our remaining puppies, but aren’t sure, please know that we won’t likely have more puppies for at least ten months or more. We may end up keeping one of the puppies for our program, but are still deciding.
Either way, we won’t likely have more puppies for ten months or a year. If you miss out on this batch, the future ones will be worth the wait!
Thanks for journeying with us on our Mi-ki puppy adventure. If you adopt one of our babies, we hope that you’ll stay in touch and share your stories with us and keep the adventure going!