Oakley was born at Camelot in May 2014, the daughter of one of the Camelot house dogs, Ruby, and one of our most famous show dogs of all time, MBIS BISS DC Camelot's Promise to Bakari, Ruger. You can read about Oakley's puppy days here. Oakley's primary owner is Vinnie Carstens, who lives in Saratoga, California.
The sire of this litter is Bruiser, Am/SA/Zim Ch Camelot's Technical Knockout, who was born in 1990 in the very first Camelot litter. Bruiser was a very successful show dog, ranking among the top three Rhodesian Ridgeback show dogs nationwide in 1992, 1993 and 1994. He spent 18 months in Africa in 1995-97, earning South Africaqn and Zimbabwean Championships. He was the top-ranked Rhodesian Ridgeback show dog in South Africa in 1996.
Bruiser passed away in 2001 so this litter was conceived by artificial insemination using frozen semen that was collected in 1993, almost 25 years ago. The AI was carried out by Dr. Janice Cain at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Clinic on December 27 and 28, 2017. Dr. Cain used transcervical insemination for the AI.
Ultrasound eamination on January 22 suggested that there were only two fetuses. However X-ray examination on February 21 showed that there are actually six puppies on board! According to Dr. Cain, the puppies are due February 26-27.
If you would like to be considered as a family for one of the Oakley-Bruiser puppies, please download our new owner questionaire and return it to Camelot.
With the puppies due in 2-3 days we set up the whelping box. It is in Clayton's bathroom in an area that was expressly designed for a 4x4 ft whelping box. The room also has a dog door that opens to a fenced outside court. We keep this door blocked when we don't have a nursing mother in the whelping box. The tile floor in this bathroom is "heated". The part of the floor that is set aside for occasional whelping box use has been turned off since our last litter 18 months ago, so it was turned on and set to be 84 degrees 24/7. This will keep the botton of the whelping box warm. Here are a few photos of the area that will be home for Oakley and her puppies for the next month.
Oakley's labor started Sunday evening. She started panting, pacing and licking herself. We were in the family room watching olympics but she wanted to go back to the bedroom and into the bathroom. She climbed iinto the whelping box and seemed to know that this is where she should be. Very unusual for a maiden dam to actually want to be in the whelping box before puppies are actually born. Usually we have one on the master bed, in a crate, or even on a dog bed in the family room, and then the mom gets the idea that the whelping box is her safe place.
One thing new moms do is "nest", scratching up all the blankets and old sheets in the whelping box and making it into a big pile. This is hard-wired in the DNA and is an instinct that the wolf progenitors had for carving out a nest for the puppies.
No puppies last night. Oakley is clearly in early labor but things are proceeding normally. Every whelp is different. This time it looks like she will deliver during the daylight hours, rather than in the dead of night. Very civilized, Oakley. She was restless last night but eventually lay down next to me on my bed and we both had a few hours of sleep. Now she is hanging out on a dog bed in my office as I update the blog. I am guessing that the first puppy will be born by noon.
At about 9:30 Oakley "asked" me to open one of the dog crates in my bedroom. I did and she promtly got in and mussed up the bedding and then settled in. Servicable den I guess.
After a restless morning and afternoon, Oakley finally had her first puppy in the crate at 4:00 pm. It is a 16.5-ounce male, dark red with a good ridge.
Puppis 2 and 3 were born at 5:15 and 5:45. Number 2 is a 17-ounce ridged boy and Oakley had a hard time getting him out the birth canal. Number 3 is a 10.5-ounce ridged girl and after the big #2 puppy she just slid right out. Oakley didn't even wimper and by the time we saw the puppy she had her already cleaned up and had disposed of the placenta.
At about 11 last night, about 5 hours after the 3rd puppy was born, I took Oakley to Sage Emergency Vet. Ultrasound showed that the three remaining puppies were all alive but none were in the birth canal--all were high in the abdomen. Also, the heart rates were only 140-160 bpm and they should have been >200 bpm. I approved an emergency C-section. Unfortunately, only one of the three puppies, a healthy 15-ounce ridgeless girl, made it. In the 5 hours after leaving Oakley at the vet for the procedure, I came home, fed the three here milk formula with a baby bottle, helped them pee and poop with a wet washrag, and grabbed a couple of hours of sleep. At 5 am I rose and gave another round of supplement, and am not off to the vet to collect Oakley and daughter.
So the final count is two boys and two girls. I am sorry to have lost the other two, but to put a positive spin, that is still twice as many puppies as I thought we would have less than a week ago.
Things are settling down. Oakley is being a very diligent mother and, as is usually the case, was so reluctant to leave them that she had to be strongly encouraged to go outside to do her business. Finally she agreed and that gave me a chance to replace the floor mat and sleeping mat with fresh ones. The four pups are nursing and all gained 2-3 ounces in the last day.
Oakley has had virtually no appetite since the her labor started Sunday afternoon. She has turned up her nose at kibble and would only lap up small amounts of the goats milk formula that we use for supplementing puppies. This morning she was obviously hungry when I went into the whelping box area at 5:45 and she went with me out to the kennel, along with the other house dogs, and devoured a double helpiing of Honest Kitchen FORCE. Then she immediately raced back to the whelpiing box and settled in with the puppies.
The pups are gaining weight. The smallest girl, just 10 1/2 ounces at birth, is up to 13 ounces. We are still working on names, but have decided definitely to name the ridgeless girl Maggie, after Hillary Swank's character in Million Dollar Baby.
We have settled into a comfortable whelping box routine. Oakley's appetite is fully returned and she is making lots of milk. The four pups gained a total of 12 ounces since yesterday morning--this is an astounding 16% growth in 24 hours. All from milk and DNA!
Oakley likes to muss up the carpet and sleeping pad. All doing very well. Oakley is going out to have her meals with the other house dogs and pups are gaining weight.
Oakley and pups had visitors yesterday. Erik and Phyllis Wendelboe brought their girl Daisey for me to do her Holter exam. They came with me to the bathroom where Oakley's whelping box is located. At first she was very aggressively protective, jumping from the box and barking ferociously at them. I had them sit on stools and Oakley decided maybe they were ok and she got back in the box. After a bit I took the two boys out for Erik and Phyllis and Erik to hold and one of the girls for me to hold. I sat on another stool and clipped puppy nails while Oakley laid with the fourth puppy. She was cautious and kept an eye on us but she seemed to understand that the visitors must be ok. I took this to be a very positive step--she is being appropriately protective of her babies but willing to trust me that the visitors are not out to harm them.
She is feeling much better now and I think she is probably over the pain from her C-section. She gets two tramadol pills with each meal but she hates them and if she finds them in the kibble she avoids them. She is pretty good at eating the kibble all around a pill but careully avoiding it. Since she gets Honest Kitchen in the morning she can't avoid them and I think she is probably ready to just forego the tramadol.
The pups are still gaining steadily. We have our first two-pounder today, boy #2. The smalest, girl #1, is up to 20 ounces, almost twice her birth weight.
We have reached the "easy" time in raising a litter of puppies. The only real care required is to change the 4x4 carpet piece that lines the bottom of the box and the crate mat that is in the box for a sleeping place. I also do a daily weigh-in and try to hold each puppy for a few minutes--part of the socialization training.
Oakley has become a little bored of being with the puppies 24/7 and is more frequently leaving the box for meals and sometimes to wake me up at 4 am wondering if it is time for breakfast yet. She is becoming more tolerant of visitors, including the five other dogs. The three that have been mothers before (Sheila, Molly and Ruby) occasionally drop into the bathroom to check things out but they keep well away from Oakley and the puppies. The two youngsters, Frida and Khaleesi, are fascinated with the puppies and like to lean over the sides to sniff the puppies, and even step into the box with their front feet to get a closer view. Oakley isn't crazy about this but she doesn't growl them away immediately.
Three of the pups are at two pounds or greater and the smallest, the ridged girl, is 22.5 ounces. All are more than twice their birth rate, which is normal for week-old puppies. They are actually a but ahead of schedule since they won't be a week old for another 18 hours.
This is my last blog entry for a few days. I am leaving this morning to fly to Toronto for two days of business, then on to Buffalo to visit with my daughter Barbara and her family. I will return Sunday night. In my absence Louisa will do the daily duty of caring for Oakley's family, along with our other dogs.
This morning weigh-in showed that, on aggregrate, the pups are still gaining more than 10% per day, based on yesterday's weights. It was a little uneven toda; Harry was almost steady from yesterday but the other three made up for his respite. The biggest gain from yesterday was the smallest puppy, the ridged girl, who soared from 22.5 ounces to 28 ounces in a single day. That is an astounding 24% gain. Of course, she had probably just nursed when weighed this morning and a lot of her gain is presumably a belly full of milk, much of which will be eliminated as pee over the next half day.
I am still in Buffalo but Louisa has been weighing the pups daily and sending me the weights and photos. One significant development is that they are now lurching around the box on four feet. Here is a little video of "first steps": https://youtu.be/cMQmS302eu0
And here are a few photos that Louisa sent the last few days.
March 12 I returned last night and was amazed at how much they grew in five days. They are little hippos. Here are some photos taken this morning.
March 13 The pups are now big enough to lurch around the box on all four feet, although they frequently totter and fall over. They are starting to walk away from the sleeping mat to the other side of the whelping box to pee. We keep a bath towel under the carpet on that side of the box. This is the first step in house training--dogs have a built in instinct to do their business away from where they nest.
While doing the morning weigh-in and changing of the bedding I put the four puppies out on the floor on a bath mat for a few minutes. Oakley stood by and supervised while the three dogs in the house at the time--Salsa, Frida and Khaleesi--performed a close-order inspection.
Visitors during bedding change--mom keeps a watchful eye on Khaleesi and Frida.
Today was house-cleaner day. For the last two Fridays we closed the bathroom door and put a sign out to not clean because mom and pups were not to be disturbed. As you might imagine, with no cleaning for three weeks it was getting pretty grimy. Especially because it has been raining and tkhe dogs are going in and out of the dog door in the bathroom, tracking in mud and pieces of gravel. But now Oakley is pretty comfortable leaving the box for extended visits elsewhere in the house and yard so today I put her in the kennel with the other dogs and had their room cleaned. While mom was away I replaced the bedding while the little walrusses (or walri as some would say) crawled around on the bath mat.
They have outgrown the little kitchen scale I have been using so I have brought in my postal scale, which has a capacity up to 25 pounds, but a resolution of only 0.25 pounds. So the weight chart lines will appear a little jerky now.
This is a very easy bunch of puppies so far. Partly because there are only four and Oakley produces a more than adequate milk supply. But they just generally seem to be laid back.
I am calling the two show prospects (boy #1 and girl #1) Rocky and Adrian, keeping the Technical Knockout fisticuff theme. The two pet propects (boy #2 and girl #2) Frankie and Maggie. This requires just a little explanation. Maggie is Camelot's Million Dollar Baby because of the rather sizeable bill for Oakley's midnight emergency C-section. Maggie was Hilary Swank's character--the "Millon Dollar Baby". Hilary's male costar was Clint Eastwood, who played Maggie's trainer Frankie Dunn. So this also keeps the fisticuff theme.
Here is a photo of Oakley and the pups right after I changed the bedding this morning. I will take another photo after she has rearranged the furniture to her liking.
And here is how Oakley has remodelled her bedding as of 2 pm.
Here is me with Rocky after his pedicure this afternoon.
I flew to New Orleans early today, leaving Oakley and kids in Louise's hands. At 10 am the Yungert family, George, Monika and Emma, brought Ella for the upcoming 5-show Vintage Cluster at Vallejo, and to see the puppies. They were the first non-family visitors and Oakley was fine having them hold her babies.
I returned late last night and snapped this photo of Oakley's remodelled home.
The puppies seem fine with the jumble of crate mat, carpet piece and the underlying towels that are there to soak up any puppy pee. I spread a blanket out on the bathroom floor and put the puppies there while I changed the bedding this morning. At first they were sort of freaked out by their first ex-pen experience but they quickly adapted and all settled down for a sleep.
The pups are still gaining like crazy--the smallest (Adrian) is 5 pounds and the largest (Frankie) is 6 1/4 pounds.
I got up early and took Ella to the local dog show. When we got home about 10:30 I put the puppies in the pen and started changing the bedding. I took the wet bedding up front to the washing machine and brought the clean mats and towels back. When I got back I found this:
As you see, there is a small place at the bottom of one ex-pen panel where a piece of the pen has been removed. I do not recall when and why this was removed. Well, Adrian apparently thought that she could escape from the pen by squeezing through the opening. She got her front through and then got stuck. She was not a happy camper. However, with some help from me, she managed to wiggle her belly through the opening, then turn sideways and slide her hips and rear legs through. I am just glad it was the smallest puppy who tried this Houdini trick.
After I put the pups back in the box they had visitors from Salsa and the three youngsters--Frida, Ella and Khaleesi.
Maggie is going through a splotchy coat transformation. Over the last few days it appears that her coat is starting to lighten up and the lighter hairs are coming in patches.
The pups are walking around pretty well now and will be moving out to the kennel next Monday when they will be 4 weeks old. We are impressed with how contented they seem to be. They hardly ever cry, probably because there are only four and they are never hungry, since Oakley is producing enough milk for even more. I have been bringing one to the family room each night for an hour of holding while I watch TV. Last night it was Rocky's turn.
This weekend has been busy, with dog shows on five successive mornings. The shows are at the Sonoma County Fairground, which is a 20-minute drive from our house. So not too bad. We have had a great set of shows so far. Our 19-month old livernose boy Leo has been BOB three of the four days, his littermate Galli was WB the first two days, thereby earning her AKC championship, and then SB and BOS. Another littermate, Xena, has been BOS once and SB twice. And a 4th littermate, Ella, was RWB once and WB twice. Here are photos taken the last two days.
The pups are a joy. They continue to be very, very relaxed. They are out in their ex-pen now because they need exercise. The smallest is now at 6 pounds and the largest is approaching 8 pounds. It is looking very much like Frankie, the #2 boy, will be pet quality due to an overbite. And of course, Maggie, the ridgeless girl, will be placed as a pet. We are not making a definite call on Frankie yet because the muzzle is still growing out and in the past we have seen puppies be overshot at 4 weeks and fine at 6 weeks.
The pups are four weeks old today and normally we would start the weaning process. But since Oakley is still satisfied to feed them, and since there are only the four, we will give them a few more days in the whelping box. Today I will set up their kennel room and let them stay out there for a few hours to get used to the feel of it. But we won't start pan feeding for a few more days.
We have our first 8-pounder today and "little" Adrian is 6 1/4 pounds.
I set up kennel room #2 for the pups this morning. They will spend this afternoon there and then come in to the whelping box for dinner and overnight. For the next few days I will give them some time in the kennel each day but they will be sleeping in the whelping box.
The pups had visitors this afternoon, Sherrie Ma and James Han from San Carlos.
The pups spent yesterday from about noon until about 8 pm in their kennel room, mostly sleeping in their little crate. Last night we brought them in and they spent the night in the whelping box. Today Louise and I had an errand and left about 7:45. We took the pups to their kennel room and left them. Oakley was in the adjacent kennel room, and her run connect to the run off the puppy kennel room. So she can go next door to visit the pups when she wants to. The pups can go in and out of their dog door because we have boxes stacked outside to make them a little porch and steps. But there are no steps up to the room Oakley uses, so that is her refuge.
Sheli and her mom Sharon dropped by to visit and play with the puppies a little.
While they were here I gave the puppies their first taste of solid food--about a cup of the puppy kibble they will be raised with, softened for 30 minutes with hot water. They were amazingly adept at eating from a pan.
You can see a little video here.
The pups spent their first night in the kennel room. Their dog door flap is stapled open but they have an oil heater in the little 5x8 room and a 300 Varikennel where they sleep. The oil heater is enclosed in an ex-pen and is only a few feet from the door of the crate, so they are warm when they pile up in the crate. Oakley spent the night in the adjoining kennel so she could visit them during the night, but sleep in a dog bed in her kennel most of the time. This morning Louise fed Oakley around 5 am and I let the puppies out into the main kennel room for their breakfast. They had a play time and ate about half the softened kibble. Clearly they were not famished so I assume Oakley had been nursing them some during the night. Tonight whe will sleep in the house so the pups will get no mom's milk after dinner until their breakfast in the morning. Saturday Vinnie is going to take Oakley home for next week so her milk production can dry up and the pups can get used to eating only their kibble. The plan is for her to return for adult supervision of the puppies after a week at home.
The pups are pretty much into the routine of kennel life. They get fed kibble three times a day and seem to enjoy it. They don't have the voracious appetites that young puppies often have, but probably because Oakley is still visiting them for brief periods several times a day and she lets them stand and nurse. She isn't really enthusiastic and if you feel their needle-sharp teeth you will understand why. They continue their steady weight gain, which has tapered off to about 3% per day. They are using the outside more now but still spend most of the 24-hour day curled up asleep in their little crate.
Today Vinnie Carstens and his friend Leslie Oman came to visit and take Oakley back to Saratoga. The pups had their first experience playing with mom in the back yard and had a little snooze in a soft crate. When it was time for lunch they went back into their kennel room. I will give them some more yard time this afternoon.
It is Easter and April Fool's Day, but for the puppies it is Test Day. I have ordered swabs for the Early Onset Adult Deafness (EOAD) DNA test and for the Rhodesian Ridgeback Inherited Ventricular Arrhythmia RRIVA) DNA test. Here is a photo of all the swabs labelled with the appropriate puppy names, ready to take out to the kennel for sample collection.
Louise helped by holding each puppy while I swabbed inside his or her cheeks with two swabs for each test. The puppies were surprisingly cooperative during the process. Here is a photo of Rocky.
After each puppy I laid out the wet swab brushes on the appropriate envelope to dry for an hour or so.
After they dried I put them back into their envelopes and stapelled the end closed, then sent them to the appropriate labs for analysis. After the testing was done the puppies had play time in the yard with Khaleesi and Frida.
Larry and Candy Smith, who have had two Camelot RRs, came for a visit and we sat on the patio for a couple of hours catching up on the past. They have Sara, one the Kaya-Lennox girls, litter-sister of Molly, Salsa and Ruby. Their other RR was Kruger, one of the MASH litter, who passed away a few months ago.
Five weeks old today and we tried for the first audition photos. Three of the four loved the Hagen-Daz ice cream treats and stacked very professionally. Adrian isn't ready for prime time.
We have reached the point where the little puppies are transforming into little dogs. In the morning I go out to the kennel about 5:30, turn on the lights, and open the gate to their little 5x8 kennel room. Whereupon they race out and begin to bite my feet and pajama pants. I put their kibble bowl down in the middle of our main kennel room and then I usually go into their room with paper towels in hand and pick up any poops from the night. This morning I was pleased to see that their was only one lonely poop, so the pups are almost done with the first step of their self-housebreaking.
After they eat their kibble (I am giving them almost two cups, with warm water, so that is almost 1/2 cup per puppy), they race around the main kennel room, chasing each other, biting ears and just generally raising hell. At one point this morning, the whole pack raced back to their room, lept over the 4x4 that keeps most of the pine shavings inside, and then out the dog door to the kennel run, where I assume they each did their morning business.
Now that they are accostomed to using the outside, I will lower the inner rubber flap of the dog door and teach them to push through to go in and out.
I have been busy working on a report for business the last few days so I haven't posted much. The pups are iin total control of the kennel now. they have their little sleeping room, with pine shavings on the floor for easy cleanup, but they have also discovered that with a little effort they can climb into the dog door of kennel #1, which has two comfy dog beds. So when I go out to feed in the morning I often find some of the puppies there.
Oakley came back yesterday to give the puppies some adult supervision. They were overjoyed to see her and all tried to nurse, even though she doesn't have much milk anymore, since she has been home for a week. We had a nice time visiting on the patio with Vinnie and his family.
This afternoon David Bueno visited to see the puppies and stack them so I could take their 2nd Audition photos (6 weeks). Here they are:
We are busy today with Hazel's C-section (see the other blog at camelotrr.com). However, for the morning we did give the pups a dose of doggy kaopectate because a couple, mainly Rocky, had very loose stool the last few days. This isn't uncommon when they are growing so fast and eating as much as they do in these rapid growth phases.
It looks like rain again this afternoon so I lured the pups out into the big backyard for the first time. They immediately got with the Camelot program and began to dig in one of the enlarged gopher holes that has been pioneered by Khaleesi and Frida.
Six weeks old is the very best age. The fabulous four are taking full possession of the yard. Mom has been back since last Saturday and her presence has installed a lot of order--they were turning into a Lord of the Flies pack, but she has taught them manners and now their play is much more civilized. I am heading down to Los Angeles tomorrow morning with some of the young show dogs and Louise will be in charge of both moms and all 12 puppies, and four other house dogs who aren't going to the shows. Wow--that's 20 Ridgebacks!
After dinner they like to curl up together in one dog bed while mom naps nearby in another.
I was gone for the last four days for dog shows in the LA area. The Oakley pups are really little dogs now. Today we took stack "audition" photos of Rocky and Adrian, the two show prospects. The maturation over the last 8 days since the last photos is amazing--especially on the front and rear angulation.
We had visitors today--George and Sabena Yungert, who own Ella (Camelot's And The Livin' Was Easy) and will be Adrian's new owners. We also had first DHPP vaccination.
I took the pups to Bishop Ranch so Dr. Cain could do their wellness exam and prepare a health certificate for Rocky, who will be flying to Montana on Sunday to live with his new family, Mike and Martha Munchhof (Paradigm Rhodesian Ridgebacks).