• smokymtnpomskies

During our five years of breeding Pomskies, there have been a few times when our mamas have not been able to nurse the puppies. It is absolutely terrifying to have the lives of helpless puppies literally in our hands. We have been very fortunate in all of these cases to have access to other mothers who have been able to nurse our babies. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. There is a process that we go through to ensure that the surrogate mama has accepted the puppies as her own. While some dogs would take puppies without any issues, we do not take the chance.

Most recently, we had this experience with Nova’s litter. Nova is a gorgeous Husky, sweet and mellow and loving. She is a good mother, and very gentle. A few days before she was due, I noticed that she wasn’t as perky as normal and seemed lethargic. By the next morning, she was refusing to eat. Even though this can be a sign of labor, my gut knew that it was not okay in this case. We rushed her to the vet where it was determined that her body wasn’t handling the large pregnancy (9 puppies) well and that if we didn’t do a c-section as soon as possible, she would die. As in all of these cases, the health of my mamas is always ahead of the puppies. We prepared for the surgery, knowing that the puppies may or may not be strong enough to survive outside of their mother.

Our amazing vet is very hands on and allows us to be in the room while they do our c-sections. It is an amazing process, and I feel privileged to be allowed to watch them bring lives into the world in this manner. This particular c-section, I was as cagey as an expectant father, close to tears in fear for Nova and the unexpected with the puppies. One by one, they brought the puppies in, screaming, to be clamped and cleaned up. All nine were healthy, screaming, and looked great! Nova was stitched back up and we were given the devastating news that she had absolutely no milk. Not a drop. I looked at my nine newborns and sighed, knowing that there would be some rough days ahead.

When you take on puppies with no mother to feed them, there is much more to this process than you would think. Newborn puppies must be fed every two to three hours – depending on how well they are gaining. Not only that, but the mother dog stimulates them to urinate and defecate for the first few weeks of life; without this, they can have blockages and die. Without the mama being able to care for them, it was our job to do all of this. Nine puppies is A LOT of puppies to feed and bathroom. Bottle feeding is an absolute nightmare and extremely risky because they are high risk to aspirate and get pneumonia.

Knowing all of this, I began to weigh my options. We had a few litters born two weeks previously, but the mama dogs had decent sized litters and I didn’t want to cause them to not have enough nutrients for themselves after feeding too many puppies. There is also the risk of eclampsia, or extreme calcium depletion, which can be very dangerous. Then, my thoughts went to Moana, our Pomsky mama with only one puppy.

Moana is one of our larger Pomskies, between 28-32 lbs, depending on the season. She was bred a bit later than normal this time and only had one puppy as a result. Honestly, she was a bit bored, with only one baby.. I have never used her as a surrogate before and wasn’t sure how she would react. The way we transplant puppies to another mother is we do supervised feedings every 2-3 hours. During those feedings, we hold the mama’s head so that she can’t make any sudden movements toward the puppies. With not having her own scent on the new puppies, there is danger of her rejecting them and injuring the puppies. These supervised feedings are over the time frame of at least 24-36 hours, enough time for the scent of the surrogate (Moana) to be on the puppies and for them to be pooping her milk – which she hopefully recognizes as her own scent and she will accept the puppies.

As you can probably imagine, this is a long, arduous process and the sleep deprivation is intense. We began to do the feeds every 3 hours.

Moana reacted better than any other dog I have ever done this process with. She seemed to understand that the puppies needed her. When I came to the room with the basket of puppies, she immediately flopped over and allowed them access. During this time, I worked with the puppies to teach them to properly latch and stay latched so that they could drink adequate amounts of the milk. I weighed the puppies every few feedings to make sure they were gaining and allowed the smaller ones to have first access so that they wouldn’t lose weight. With nine puppies, we had them on her in two different shifts so that they would all be able to eat and I could keep track of them.

After about 36 hours, Moana became interested in being more than just a “bottle” for the puppies. They smelled like her and she began to bathroom them as if they were her own. We knew that it was time. We let her puppy “Ranger” sleep with them in their basket for a few hours, then transferred all of them to the whelping area. We brought Moana into the room and she immediately walked over (we were watching closely) and settled down so that all of her puppies could eat. Voila.

A lot of work and prayers, but our sweet girl took them over like a champ. All ten of the puppies are doing well, and we have supplemented her with extra calories and calcium to handle nursing such a large litter. This was truly the best-case scenario in this situation. While bottle feeding can work, it is much better for a mother dog to care for the puppies so that they will have the natural nurturing and care that they need. They are now three weeks old and thriving, all are toddling around and learning to walk/run. Moana is a watchful mama and is never very far away from them. Nova has recovered very well and will be spayed and retired this spring.

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  • smokymtnpomskies

You may have noticed recently that we have a few puppies in a unique shade of grey, almost a steel tone. What you probably don't realize is that these puppies are one of the most genetically rare color of Pomskies that there are, they are "blue" puppies. The only coat color more rare for Pomskies at this time is "lavender", which is a genetic step further than the blue color.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, for breeders it is like climbing Mt. Everest or finishing 26.2 miles in a marathon. You just don't get blues (or lavenders) unless the parents have the genetic makeup to make them.

Let's brush up on genetics a little bit...We all inherit one copy of each gene from each parent, the same is true in canines. The diluted gene that makes blues is the D locus - dominant genes are DD. Blues are dd. This is extremely recessive and not carried by just any dog. Some dogs (like our Sarge and Jedi, who made these blue puppies) have a Dd makeup, which means that they carry for the diluted gene. It is still a genetic Russian Roulette as to whether or not some of the puppies get both recessive (d) genes from each parent. For the lavender puppies, Two genes come into play, the D locus and the B locus. The B locus is what chocolate puppies are made from, if they are genetically bb. So, a puppy that is DD or Dd and bb is a chocolate puppy. Sarge is chocolate. He is Dd bb. A lavender dog's genetics would be dd bb - the most recessive combination of those two genes that you can get.

Basically, blue and lavender puppies are the genetic equivalent of unicorns, due to the recessive genes not being present in many dogs. Breeders love unique - it excites us! It may seem nerdy to some, but it is just a cool phenomenon to be able to make something that is not seen every day.

What does this mean if you are not a Pomsky breeder? Maybe nothing. Maybe it is no big deal and you just think they are a pretty grey, and they are. But if you are in love with unique and being different, it may be a very big deal...

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  • smokymtnpomskies

HOW YOUR KIDS CAN HELP... Are you ever too busy working to give your puppy/dog the attention they need? If you have kids, your problem is solved. Here is a list of things you can tell your kids to do to help.

PLAYING* Playing is an easy way to entertain your kids and your puppies. Either if it is a beautiful day outside, or a rainy day. Grab some toys, and go play! As my grandma says, "Go out and blow the stink off!"

FEEDING* At some point your puppy is going to be hungry. Teach your kids how much to feed the puppy and the feeding schedule. If your puppy does not like puppy food, I recommend to put in puppy mousse (It is a thing). Puppy mousse helps with the flavor of the puppy food so it does not taste plain to your puppy.

CLEANING* Puppies get dirty, but also get your house dirty (sometimes, at least). This is normal. Your kid can help by first, cleaning up the pee and poop. If your kid refuses, tell them to get a grip, some gloves, a Pooper Scooper, paper towels, and miracle spray! Then tell them to clean it up, no biggie! After that is done, it is time to clean the puppy. Ask your kid to bathe the puppy using shampoo. Rinse with water, then, dry off. When your kid has done that, they need to comb out it’s fur using a rake comb made for dogs. Kids can also help by vacuuming up the furballs that collect around the house sometimes!

TAKING OUT* Even dogs need a refreshing walk outside. If it is a beautiful spring day and you spot your kid playing video games, here is an idea of what to ask them to do to help. Take out the puppy. Give your kid a leash to walk the puppy. Have your kid let the puppy do its business, then play and run around. Both the puppy and the kids will benefit from getting some fresh air!

LOVE AND RESPECT* That is the list of things your kids can do to help take care of your puppy. I hope this will help you, your puppy, and even your kid! But, the most important thing of all is to make sure your kid takes care of the puppy with love and respect or else, the puppy will grow up to be a mean dog, and no one wants that!

~Ashleigh Turner, age 10♥

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