The 2016 Rain Mountain Irish Revolutionary Litter
After seeing how gorgeous
her first pup, sired by Moonsong Never Cry Wolf (Peter) is turning out,
we were eager to try breeding Elizabeth again, hoping for a larger
litter this time. At least now we know that she has a different
different "cycle" than other females I've owned and bred over the last
twenty-five-plus years that I've been involved with Chinooks. The
search for a stud was lengthy and thorough. We knew we wanted a dog
with good sledding instincts and rich coloring. We also needed it to be
one here in the Northwest so that we could move quickly when she went
into season. Since Elizabeth is closely linebred, we needed a dog that
wasn't. Eventually the search led us to Eugene, Oregon and BrownStone
Chinooks in the human form of Kay Lee Brown. Kay Lee and I had
previously co-owned her first Chinook together: Frontier Rain Dancer
McKenzie and my Lolo had been born at her house. We already had a
comfortable working relationship. Kay Lee had also done breedings with
Carie Taylor, Elizabeth's background co-owner. So this would be
the chance to bring all our bloodlines together.
Elizabeth's early life is a bit of a tale. She is the result of an accidental litter, what you might consider a true love match between her mom, Hurricane Mercury (daughter of my Rain Mountain Tonasket Thunder), and her dad, Hurricane Chamberlain. Perhaps the two of them planned Liz and her three sisters but she caught Joyce Maley of Hurricane Chinooks unawares. Joyce was just getting ready to leave the next day on a cross country trip where part of the plan was to deliver Mercury to Carie Taylor (Moonsong Chinooks) here in the Seattle area when Mercury gave birth to the four buff colored female pups. The plan was that Carie was going to train Mercury, who was supposedly retired from her career as a brood bitch, then was going to place her in a retirement home where she could be spoiled rotten. Frantic last minute phone calls were made and Carie agreed to raise Mercury's pups as part of the project. Joyce set up a special nursery crate in her big 15-passenger van and headed out. So the first few days of Elizabeth's life were spent driving cross country from Columbia, South Carolina to the Seattle area, where Carie worked as a dog trainer and behaviorist. As the four pups grew, Elizabeth (originally called Guppy) began to stand out because of her warm personality and her striking conformation. Carie placed her three sisters in pet homes but knew that Elizabeth needed more. Despite her buff coloring (a fault in UKC but a complete disqualification in AKC*), Elizabeth needed to be in a home where she would be bred someday if she passed all her health clearances.
to find the
perfect home for "Guppy", Carie had her spend a few weekends with me
for socialization. She was a delight to have around the house: easy
going, cuddly, and fitting in with the other dogs as if she'd been with
them since the beginning. When Carie wasn't able to find another home
that would breed her, I agreed to take her in and share her with
Carie. Guppy became Elizabeth Ann, also known as Hurricane
Elizabeth in the Rain. With hindsight I'm even more glad I took her as
she ended up being from the last Hurricane litter ever born since Joyce
died of cancer only a year after delivering Elizabeth, her dam, and her
siblings her to the Northwest.
special to me. Joyce gave me my first Chinook stud -- Hurricane
Cheechako -- and we spent so much time talking "what if's" about
hypothetical breedings that breeding Elizabeth is as if Joyce
is back with me again. I had promised Joyce before she died that
Elizabeth would be bred to the very best males I could find and I'm
doing my best to honor that promise.
Per Kay Lee, Trask is a happy goof ball with a gleeful grin and big doe eyes that melt her into laughter when she really should be stern with him. He's cuddly when given the chance, and has an out-going attitude. In his obedience class, he's the clown who wants to keep things moving instead of doing boring drills but he did finally calm down enough to get his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) title. He has a large vocabulary of roos, howls, grunts, and groans, songs, sighs, and many combinations thereof when he sees a dog or person he wants to meet or just wants to tell you a story. True to the Chinook lineage, Trask is a strong, tireless, and determined puller in harness, not caring if it's the sled or urban mushing rig. Of course they are lucky that they can often sled right out the front door and down the long driveway to the mail road get their mail.
Though Kay Lee
also has Trask's mother Koyuk and
grandmother Cedar, Trask is her constant shadow. When she is cooking in
the kitchen of their large log home, Trask keeps watch her at eye level
from his perch on the stairs up to her office. He just barely fits on a
single stair tread. But he is still a young guy and it doesn't take
much to convince him to play tug or wrestle. A guy can only be so
Elizabeth's first litter (www.rainmountain.net/2015StormLitter.html) had consisted of just one pup so she had not been very big while pregnant with him. But it was obvious early in this pregnancy that she was having more than one pup. She showed signs of being pregnant early on, going to sleep almost as soon as the breeding was completed. She's always a very "eager" eater (okay, let's face it she's a pig in need of a 12-step program) and her appetite went up geometrically while she was pregnant. However, she really didn't need more food until the second half when the babies inside her start growing substantially. I spent much of her pregnancy trying to keep her from eating things that she shouldn't.
It was also time for a new whelping box. Many thanks to Carie Taylor for helping put it together and to Ron Schoener (husband of Susan Shemeta and half of Seven Lakes Chinooks) for lending a half with the very last finishing touches. Elizabeth got into the finished box and basically grunted, "It'll do," where 18-month old Toketie was thrilled with it and spent two days playing in it until it was time for Elizabeth to actually need it to deliver her pups. Toketie LOVES babies and is used to Elizabeth's mothering her. She was in heaven when Elizabeth finally let her get into the whelping box while she nursed her pup last year and as soon as she saw a new whelping box in the office-turned-nursery, Toketie was bouncing off the walls again.
A note on whelping boxes. I have seen people spend hundreds of dollars on whelping boxes. I just don't get that. I made my own with less than $75 worth of materials. It comes apart easily for storage and goes back together with bolts and wing nuts. It consists of four 12" sides with "pig rails" on the inside to protect the pups should they be lying against the side when Elizabeth also rolls against it; the pup will slide under the railing instead of being smashed between the wood side and Elizabeth, causing an injury and even possible death.
The key to this design is
that there is no bottom to the box. This allows the sides of the box to
rest on the edges of the blankets and how them down so that the pups
can't crawl under them and suffocate. You don't need to worry about
taping down blankets or keeping a constant watch. The whelping box does
the work for you.
To keep my floors protected
(I have engineered hardwoods), I first put down a cloth painter's tarp,
then a plastic tarp. Over that is a sheet of linoleum that I get at
Lowe's or Home Depot cheaply as a remnant. Then I put down a cushy
comforter and cover it with a shower curtain liner and over that I put
a sheet or light blanket that I can change whenever it gets too dirty.
I don't change the bed linens too often. During these first few days
the pups' primary sense is their nose. I want them to have a consistent
scent to their box so I will always keep something there when I change
it. For example if the comforter needs to be changed, I won't change
the top sheet at the same time. During labor I have to be prepared for
Elizabeth to claw up a few top sheets too. the yellow one in the photos
above was in shreds before the first pup ever saw the light of the
world outside her mom. We went through three shower curtain liners as
well. Good thing they are cheap.
I had the whelping box set up but that was about it. I still didn't have all my other puppy-whelping supplies collected and ready. By my calculations, she was most likely to deliver sometime between Monday and Thursday. But Saturday we had a rare day of good weather and I couldn't pass up the chance to get some work done outside. But that night I dreamed that the babies were arriving and I had nothing ready. Elizabeth was delivering them outside and carrying them to me, putting them in my hands**, and I had no place to put them! Eek, I woke up Sunday morning knowing I had to get the room ready.
I could tell that Elizabeth was not going to wait until Thursday. By Sunday morning she started rhythmic panting that had me watching her like a hawk. We had x-rayed her and thought we saw six pups but it's very difficult to tell exactly. I just knew it would be a full litter. Slowly and steadily her labor increased from the panting on Sunday and Monday to whining and pacing on Tuesday. Toketie was so excited that with hindsight I wish I'd had her spend the night with Carie. Finally I gave the other dogs bones and had them go into their crates to chew them. I don't have a crate big enough for Taga set up so he actually helped out as assistant midwife when the first pup arrived about 9pm on Tuesday night, March 8th. The pups arrived as follows:
After the arrival of Bobby, Elizabeth took a long nap. there was still at least one more pup inside her but her labor had stopped. I gave her some Tums to see if the calcium would get her started again to no avail. I tried cottage cheese but she didn't want to eat. It was the early hours of the morning and it would mean a trip to the emergency vet or I could wait another hour and we could go to our new repro vet clinic, Companion Veterinary Clinic in Clearview. (My vet of 35+ years retired last year so I've found a new general vet and a new repro vet.) Elizabeth began to go into labor again so I decided to give her a chance to deliver on her own. When that didn't work, we headed for our repro vet who were open. Once there, they x-rayed Liz again and saw just one pup remaining. Shots of calcium and oxytocin got her labor going again but we were too late. The pup was stillborn. It's sad, yes, but my experience over the last 25-plus years is that there is often another problem with these pups. I have a graveyard for them here where they are buried with care and remembered forever. Elizabeth is now happy with her four very fat pups, all of whom are bigger than I expected her babies to be considering that she's not a large Chinook herself.
By Day 3 the little potatoes (which is exactly what puppies look like during their first two weeks until their eyes open and they begin to walk) were growing like crazy and Lizzie was settling into motherhood once again. Though she had spent the first day curling her lip at Toketie whenever the younger dog had stepped foot into her nursery room, by the third day she had decided it was okay for Toket and the boys to come in while I was working at the computer. The boys are brave enough to peek over the edges, Taga in hopes of finding food and Kai hoping a pup will be ready to play. Kai loves puppies. Toketie simply lies next to the box. I know it won't be long until Elizabeth allows Toketie into the whelping box and it's good for Toket to suffer a bit in the meantime.
Within a few
hours of these photos being shot, the old saying about the month of
March (comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion or vice versa)
came true when we were hit by hurricane force winds. Thank
goodness I had been keeping the house warm as the power went out
early the morning of March 10th and stayed out until late on the
11th. Here that means no heat since the house is all electric but that
also means no water since our pump needs electricity to run. Any
time a storm comes up I fill the bathtub at the first sign of wind so
I'll have water for the dogs and things like flushing toilets. A quick
trip to the store got me a bag of ice for my milk and I was set. At
least I thought I was. Sunday the 13th Carie came to stay with
Elizabeth while I drove the hundred miles to my mother's nursing home
to help take care of some of her needs. I was only halfway there,
driving through a wild wind and rain storm, when Carie called to let me
know the power was out again. Luckily the house had been warm and it
held heat well. And luckily by the time I got home eight hours later,
the power was back on. After two multi-day (one of four and a half days
and one of three and a half days) power outages in the last six months,
these two were easy. Let's home that's it for this sprig's storm season.
One Week Old
When I look at the Revolutionaries, I have to smack myself to remember that they are only a week old since they are so very big already. Their on-week birthday was cause for celebration! We'd gone a few days without a power outage, St. Patrick's Day was coming, and the babies were growing like weeds. It was time for the first individual portraits.
The 2016 Irish Revolutionaries at 1 Week
This is such a peaceful week. I can relax, worrying less about will they make it or not since they are obviously doing so well, and Elizabeth is so willingly doing all the work. They are quiet, emitting nothing more than quiet squeaks from the confines of their box where it sits right next to my desk. Two weeks from now I won't be able to get much work done unless I drug them up with either their mom's milk or goats' milk (both of them have natural tryptophan which works as good as a sleeping pill). At three weeks old, I won't get any work done unless I move them OUT of my office during daytime hours because they change from cute little potato-pups into seagull-pups, complete with seagull voices. LOUD seagull voices. But for now they are just sweet blobs whose dog mom feeds them and cleans up their poop. Later I'll have to both feed them and clean up after them. Thank goodness they get really cute about that time.
Since they are Irish Revolutionaries and I'm of Irish descent, we all celebrated St. Patrick's Day together. For me it was my favorite green shirt, scarf, emerald earrings (very small ones), and assorted witty pins along the lines of "Kiss me, I'm Irish" and going downhill from there. Dinner was awesome beef stew; I'm just not a fan of corned beef and cabbage. They celebrated with some random photos, which I'll post here since I doubt you want the recipe for my beef stew. The adult dogs had chicken "dog stew" made with chicken hearts, gizzards, and liver. With Lizzie nursing the Revolutionaries our dog stew has been made with a lot of organ meat lately. It did get some of the trimmings from the meat I was using for my stew since I'm a fanatic for using only the lean parts. I hate stew that is made with cheap cuts. I like to make it with sirloin since there's no reason to use crappy meat in a dish that's based on meat.
they are revolutionaries, these pups are all about comfort. Witness the
bellies in the air and turning anything into a pillow. Their growth
rate is astounding. I am constantly loosening their collars. The three
tawny pups are so identical that I wouldn't be able to tell them apart
without the color coding, other than the fact that Wolfe Tone is a male.
The Lights Go On When the Pups are 2 Weeks Old!
I know that science says the pups don't really have much brain power until they are three weeks old but I don't agree with that. As soon as they open their eyes, which always happens by the time they are two weeks old, they realize that they aren't alone in the world and the proverbial light bulb turns on! They aren't alone in the world, they have siblings in the whelping box that they can chew on (which will quickly turn to wrestling as their coordination grows), there are toys in the whelping box which up to now were just obstacles between mouth and momma. Now, nudging a ball can make bells ring. There are also other dogs in the house besides their mother. Aunt Toketie and Uncle Kai frequently stick their noses over the side of the box, at first looking like Godzilla's first appearance over the top of the New York skyline but eventually becoming a familiar and safe sight. Taga wanders around the edges of the box, not very interested in the pups unless he thinks there might be food in the box that he could get without Elizabeth noticing.
This coming week, Days 15 through 21, are probably the most fun to watch as they will pick up most of the skills they will have as adults. They will stagger around, trying to both get their fat bellies off the ground and all four feet under them at the same time, then tackle moving the feet in a single direction. Usually they master going backwards before forwards. They have already had their nails cut but now have to do so while watching, which can be either fun or OH SO HORRID, DEATH MAY BE IMMINENT! My neighbor Michele now has to come over to hold them for me as they wiggle too much for me to both hold and trim. They have mastered sitting and started mouth wrestling, such a traditional Chinook sport.
The growth over this last week has been tremendous. They have been such vigorous pups that I haven't' bothered to weigh them. I will sometime in the next week so I can give them their first worming when they are three weeks old but for now I have no need to weigh them daily. All I do is check their collars to make sure that they aren't too tight, loosening them every few days.
For your viewing pleasure, here are the two-week portraits, next to the one-week portraits just for comparison. Some of these are a bit fuzzy as they were trying to leap off the chair and I was both trying to hold them ON the chair and take the picture with the camera on my phone. (The charger for my good camera has gone into hiding for some unknown reason.)
The 2016 Irish Revolutionaries at 2 Weeks
(New photos on left; 1 week-old photos on right for comparison.)
Bobby was the first to realize that the ball had a bell inside that would make
a noise if she pushed it with her nose. Cat toys are great for small pups.
Maud Gonne & Wolfe Tone chew (okay, gum) each other in the
first of what will eventually turn into wrestling.
It doesn't take much play to tire them out.
Stay tuned for the coming
with more pictures and more puppy fun. They will start coming out to
the living room, interacting with the other adult dogs, and spending
more time away from their mother. More toys will find their way into
their box and hopefully they will start to walk. I also have all my
fingers and toes crossed that April will bring us some dry weather
after some of the wettest months in the history of the Pacific
Northwest! Cold is okay for outside trips but rain and puppy fuzz don't
The last two weeks have been weeks of rapid development and change for the Irish Revolutionaries. They are now "kids" instead of babies. No longer do they reside in a whelping box in my office; they have graduated to a pin in the dining nook with newspapers to piddle on and Elizabeth pops in and out as her heart desires. Toketie spends as much time with them as Elizabeth does. She is their official babysitter and Mom Dog In Training. It only took them a day of body surfing in a pan of formula before they had the skill of lapping up food nailed and I was able to introduce softened puppy kibble to the mix. The introduction was VERY popular and they turned it into a full body experience. And, after exploring the living room and discovering that they could send 80-pound Taga running for cover (he prefers to hide from pups at this age since he knows he's not allowed to discipline them until they are older and they are still young enough that they will attempt to nurse on any protuberance they find on a canine body, even on a male dog's body, if you get my drift), they were able to take advantage to good weather and spend afternoons outside.
So that's the last two weeks in a nutshell. Let's move on with the photos!
Some of the most fun comes from our visitors. As soon as the pups are three weeks old, the doors are open to visitors. Ripley and Merrill have spent an evening cuddling them and celebrating their three-week birthday. The next evening, Anita came by to see them, and the weekend before their four-week birthday we had visits from my friends Scott and Christie and later that day, Michael and his Chinook Chaka; Chaka has stayed with me often enough while Michael is on trips that Elizabeth considers him one of the family instead of threatening to rip his face off as she's done with other strange dogs that have come close to the fence and gate. Neighbors pop in occasionally (I'd never get the rear toenails trimmed without Michele next door), and as they get older other Chinook breeders come by to look them over. Trask's owner, Kay Lee Brown, will be here in a few days to see them for the first time and Carie Taylor, Elizabeth's "First Momma" (the human who raised her) has been here once and plans to be back again. We've even planned a weekend visit from their week-younger Frontier cousins the end of April when Susan Fletcher brings her litter up so we can have both our litters evaluated.
visitors the merrier and the better socialized the pups will be. If
you'd like to come by, drop me an email and let me know.
The move to the pen in the
dining nook was perhaps the most traumatic of the changes though if
they had the reasoning power to stop and think about it, they would
realize that they like it better than the smaller whelping box. The pen
is easily the size of two or more whelping boxes and has a bed area and
newspapers for them to play and potty on. The first night in it, the
seagulls inside them came out in full force. I probably should have
waited until the next morning to move them into it but I'd had the
first escapes from the box and was worried that if they escaped in the
night while Elizabeth wasn't with them, they could get hurt chewing on
wires to one of the computers in my office. Many years ago and
generations ago, Jenna (Rain Mountain Jenna of Bear Creek, dam of the
2002 Rental and 2003 Repeat litters) gave herself a shock treatment
when she munched into the cord to my laptop power supply and since then
I've been very careful. Plus recently one of Carie's pups nibbled a
power supply cord to my little web book that was plugged in to charge
in the living room and it cost over $50 to replace the power supply!
Pups and cords don't mix if only because of the expense involved.
I digress. The pups needed to get moved to the pen also because it was time to start feeding them food that didn't come from Elizabeth and because she is a true Food Whore in need of a 12-step program, I need to be able to keep her away from them while I'm feeding them. All thoughts of motherhood disappear when she sees food.
Stay tuned for more activities, more visitors, and more fun as the Irish Revolutionaries continue to grow and develop. This weekend we'll get individual photos of them prior to their five-week birthdays so you can see how they have have grown and changed as individuals.
Kay Lee Visits & the Revolutionaries are Almost 5 Weeks Old
Global warming has struck here in the Northwest and we are having late May temperatures here in early April. Kay Lee Brown, owner of the pups' dad Trask, came up for a visit one day from Eugene, bringing with her the probable new owner for our boy Wolfe Tone (who really should be called Wolf-Ton since he's getting so big!). Teresa also lives in Eugene, not too far from Kay Lee so though Kay lee isn't taking a pup from this litter, she'll be able to watch one grow up. Teresa (left) went home covered with hair from all the big dogs (all four of whom are shedding), various bodily fluids of the pups, and a big smile so I think she is going to be a happy future Chinook owner.
As of this writing, the pups have just turned 5 weeks old and to celebrate have just graduated to their first real collars rather than the Velcro puppy collars that I put on them at birth. They are getting most of their food from the three or four meals of kibble soaked in warm water with a bit of formula they get each day but Elizabeth still nurses them several times a day as well. As soon as Bernadette demonstrated that she could climb out of the pen when the gate was open, I had to shut it overnight, thereby cutting off midnight snacks so they are now on their own between about midnight and 8:00 a.m. in the morning. Elizabeth wakes me up before I even hear the pups since Mother Nature is still telling her that she needs to get out there to nurse them right away. What with the nice weather we've been having, they all head outside where Lizzie nurses them while I get the first meal of the day ready for all of the dogs large and small, as well as getting the puppy pen cleaned up. Elizabeth figures that since she nurses them, she should be able to share their kibble too and what with her "Hoover on four legs" eating style, the pups eat their meals in their pen, safe from their mom until they are done. then Elizabeth and Toketie both jump in to clean up and leftovers. Elizabeth has to pay the price of providing a bit of dessert in exchange for the kibble; Toketie thinks it's hilarious and tickles when the pups try to nurse from her. They will try to nurse from any protuberance on any adult dog, female or male at this age, something which the males often find quite upsetting. (That's why Taga stays clear of puppies that aren't weaned.)
Many thanks to Kay Lee for
all these wonderful photos. I have misplaced the battery charger for my
camera so all my photos are being taken with the camera on my
phone until I either find it or get a new one. So it was nice to have
some good ones taken by a real and quite good camera. The pups were 31
days old when these were taken. We did have one problem though. Since
the pups were still wearing their narrow puppy collars we couldn't tell
who was whom in many of the pictures. So I've identified them where I
could and where I couldn't, we'll just say, "Aww, what a cute pup," and
be satisfied with that.
And still with thanks to Kay Lee's photography, a few individual portraits of the Irish Revolutionaries. You simply need to look at them to know that they are definitely plotting to take over something!
STAY TUNED FOR MORE ADVENTURES!
*Yes, some people don't like the lighter color. I find that funny since back in the early 1990s the lighter colors were considered normal and it was the black and tans that were considered to be horrid. Now the black and tans are considered to be fine and it's the buff colored Chinooks that people seem to object to. Go figure. Tawny, black and tan, and buff have all existed in the Chinook going back to the earliest days of its history.
**Twice with Salishan's litters, she had pups outside while taking potty breaks. In both cases, she picked up her baby and ran back to the door, handing it to me as she came in, then running for the whelping box, knowing that I'd bring the pup to her. Both pups lived to grow up into wonderful adult Chinooks.
Copyright © Ginger Corley, Rain Mountain Chinooks, 1988 to present. No material may be reproduced without permission, though permission is usually granted. Logo by Susan Fletcher, Frontier Chinooks, used here with permission and much appreciation of her great talent.