A Tiny Life - Sometimes God sends you a Miracle.                                                            Part One: A breeder's point of view -                                                                       by Linda Baird

Tiny is Linda's hands

  It all started with LynWood Picture Perfect - Marilyn Monroe, who is owned by Connie and Steve and co-owned with Linda and Woody.  Marilyn, like her mother and father, had passed all her health exams and has a beautiful MRI scan with CM0/SM0.    

Marilyn

  We decided to breed Marilyn to a wonderful healthy Grand Champion stud dog that was also MRI scanned.   The breeding took place and Marilyn had no issues throughout her pregnancy.  We did a pregnancy ultrasound halfway through that showed 4 healthy fetuses.  

   She moved from Connie's house to mine for the delivery.  With perfect timing too, she went into labor right on her due date. 

Marilyn and Woody

Quickly, we realized that the first puppy was just too big for her to deliver.  We rushed her to Woodstock Veterinary clinic where Dr. JoAnn did an ultrasound and deemed it necessary to deliver her puppies by emergency Cesarian Section.  


We are so blessed to have the Animal Hospital of Woodstock and their expert team to provide Marilyn and all our dogs with exceptional care.  Dr. Jay Randall is a Master surgeon and the facility and equipment are some of the best in the country.   Both Dr. Jay and Dr. Jo were there for the delivery.  

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Each puppy was rushed out from the surgery room to our awaiting warm towels at the puppy reviving table.  We were greeted with large, plump and lively babies.  All weighing between 7-9 ounces which was normal to a tad large for a Cavalier.   We had all four babies and were extremely pleased.  They were all stunning!


Newborns

Then…. someone exclaimed…… THERE'S ANOTHER ONE!   There were only 4 on the ultrasound… WOW!   

 The real surprise came when we broke open the placental sack to see a wee teeny tiny baby about the size of a walnut.  He was only 2.7 ounces.  In all my years, I had never seen a puppy that small… a baby bird maybe, but never a puppy!    


Newborns at Linda's

As Marilyn recovered from the surgery, the puppies were kept in an incubator.  We didn't even know if we were going to get to take them all home from the hospital.  You can see Tiny where the blue, 2 ounce suction bulb is bigger than he is. The color on his fur is from the meconium. Most meconium babies do not survive, much less one his size!  It seemed that all the odds were stacked against him.    

Being it was Connie and Steve's first litter, I was at a real loss as what to say to them.  It was so hard to rejoice about the healthy little ones when such a little curious puppy that was hanging on by a thread.    I promised  that I would do my best, but I could not guarantee that he would even live to go home or through the night.  

He was so small that even Marilyn's tit was too big for him to nurse on.  I had to express colostrum and then tube feed it to him.  Before we left the hospital, Dr. JoAnn drew blood from Marilyn, spun it down and we gave the serum SubQ for additional immunological support.  This procedure has been researched and documented by Dr. Jean Dodds and is extremely effective and Dr. JoAnn uses it quite often in situations such as ours. 

Marilyn says how did I get here

Upon arriving home, we immediately had a problem - not with our curious little puppy but with the larger, most beautifully marked Tri Color girl who was the first to latch on and nurse in the hospital.  She was crying constantly.  We kept putting her on the tit and as she nursed her tummy expanded but never seemed to go down.  

As the evening went on she worsened and she was inconsolable with loud crying and wailing.  We called the clinic and tried everything the doctors suggested as we stayed up all night feeding Tiny and trying to console his sister.  That next afternoon she passed quietly.  I was devastated and could hardly believe that the largest, healthiest of the group had passed away and here was Tiny still holding on by a thread - he had lost weight too.   

NJ and Tiny nursing

We tried Tiny on nursing and he wanted to so much but he just could not pull enough milk and would quickly tire.  Note the heating bottle behind he and his big sister to keep him warm.  






Carly and Tiny and Lambchop

We had to monitor Tiny constantly because he had so little body fat and a drop in his temperature below 95 degrees would be life threatening.  Yet we did not want him to be completely isolated so we would often put one of his siblings in his bed area to keep him company.  

Carly is keeping him company with Lambchop! 

We would also put him in with his brother and sister and often we would find them all wrapped around him.  This was not a staged photo. 

    I was tube feeding him every hour with the smallest tube we had and it still looked huge.   Between being so devastated at the loss of the most beautifully marked and largest puppy, tube feeding Tiny and taking care of the other three normal puppies, it never occurred to me to take pictures.  Honestly, after all, I really didn't know if Tiny would survive.   

Days melted together and everyday I received phone calls and text messages of rejoicing in even .1 and .2 ounce weight gains.   All my co-breeders, Meg, Sue, Piera and Connie were great help and encouragement.  

Then one day, Tiny celebrate his third week birthday.  He had tripled in weight!   

You can see his eyes started opening and the black on his nose was coming in.  We kept him with a little stuffed Lambchop and at 3 weeks I was thrilled he was almost as big as the stuffed toy! He had tripled his birth weight but still had not reached his siblings' birth weights.  

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Tiny began to grow…. he was healthy and pink but still very fragile.  While Marilyn took care of the litter of three, I oversaw Tiny.  His temperature and feeding stayed constant 24 hours a day.  Woody would relieve me as his work schedule permitted and my phone alarm went off religiously every hour for two weeks then to every two hours.  

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My co-breeder, Sue Shidler and I had a cavalier mother named Sue's Molly that had given birth to a singleton puppy 8 weeks earlier - a big Black & Tan named Randall.  Randall was old enough that we were starting to wean down his nursing schedule.  Since Marilyn was pressed to full capacity with her three big babies, I decided to nurse Tiny on Molly with Randall.  It made for a very funny comparison.    

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Randall was 8 weeks old and Tiny was 4 weeks old.  I had to hold Randall the entire time because his foot was about the same size as Tiny's head.  

Tiny at 4 weeks was still smaller than Randall's initial birthweight. 

What I found interesting was that at first Randall was not too happy to have Tiny share his milk bar, but then he started to move over  and even be careful with his big foot around Tiny.  He would even try to lick him.  So for a couple of weeks they were best buds.  

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And then Tiny began to grow - and grow he did!  He was still one third the size of his siblings.   

A stack of puppies

He was always on top of the pile too! 

Lambchop was even starting to look smaller.  

Tiny and Lambchop
Norma Jean and Tiny sleeping

He was now able to stay with his siblings and his favorite snuggle buddy was his sister Norma Jean.  He was now ready to go home with Connie and Steve and be a puppy with the rest of his litter.    

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At 6 weeks an amazing thing happened… Tiny looked like a real puppy and began to do everything with his siblings.  He was catching up quickly!  I knew it was time that they could all go to Connie and Steve's house.  Tiny said he was ready too. 

Tiny in Steves Hands

There was something so special the way Tiny would entice everyone into picking him up and loving him.  He can melt your heart as he snuggles into your arm or sleeping on anyone's chest.   

There is a charm about all puppies, however, what he lacked in size he made up for in a double dose of charisma.  

I knew he would be in great hands… this is Steve who instantly bonded with Tiny.  




At Connie and Steve's house the puppies thrived.. they learned to go outside and drink out of bowls. 

They even learned to stick their tongues out at mummy Connie with the camera!  

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Tiny became a photogenic little ham!






   

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On their 12 week birthday, Tiny and his siblings went for their puppy wellness appointment with Dr. JoAnn Randall.   She was so excited to see him and so amazed that he had survived!  

She said he looked like a "real puppy" as he was running all over the exam room.  After several kisses and hugs, he finally allowed Dr. Jo to check out how handsome he was and sported awesome little eyebrows!  

He passed his exam, a clear little heart, clear and healthy in every way …… except for this significat  hole on top of his head.  

Yep, Tiny had an open fontanel. 

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A fontanel is a gap between the cranial bones. Human baby heads have the same gaps and are called soft spots.  They normally close around the first year.  Cavalier fontanels should be closed by 12 weeks or be mildly felt.  

Tiny's fontanel was about the size of your fingertip.   

In addition, he had the classic dome-shaped or helmet styled head. 

In dogs an open fontanel is often found in conjunction with Hydrocephalus. This is a condition in which too much fluid is found within and around the brain the increased pressure damages or prevents a development of the brian tissue.     

Not all open fontanels are connected with hydrocephalus.  In some dogs the cranial bones do eventually close and the dog will be healthy for the rest of their life.  The only way to know was if we did an ultrasound through the hole (fontanel) to see what was there.     

It was decided that Tiny (check out those eyebrows) would need an ultrasound with Dr. Jay Randall.  This would give us more information as to the extent of issues that he may have.  

The appointment was set for his 16th week birthday.    

Tiny getting his ultrasound
Tinys ultrasound

Determining if Tiny had hydrocephalus was a matter of making an appointment with Dr. Jay Randall with his high resolution ultrasound machine.  This particular machine is found mainly in teaching hospitals and only a couple in private practice.  Dog owners and Breeders from across the midwest come to see him.  

Dr. Jay was able to place the wand  atop Tiny's head and was able to see through his fontanel to detect any accumulation of fluid in his brain.  

  Unfortunately, it was very evident to all of us that there was a significant amount of fluid in Tiny's head.  Dr. Jay estimated that 20-25% of his brain cavity was filled with fluid.  Dr. Jay made a copy of the scan so we could use it as a baseline and suggested we make an appointment with Dr. Michael Podel who is a Board Certified Canine Neurologist in Chicago.  

Dr. Jay and Tiny and Ultrasound
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As Dr Podel explained that Hydrocephalus is a congenital anomaly where Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) builds in the cerebral ventricals and brain cavity.   The CSF pressure tends to increase due to pressure of a blockage.  This is normally seen in young puppies.  Congenital Hydrocephalus is sporadic and can occur in any breed but is most common in small toy breeds.    


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  Typical characteristics of a puppy with hydrocephalus is a head that is domed shaped.  The fontanel (morula or soft spot) on top of the skull is abnormally large and can be easily felt with your finger.  

   Hydrocephalus can cause a variety of neurological signs including seizures, incoordination, abnormal behavior, a tendency to walk in circles and blindness.  These can come and go or worsen over time.  

   

Dr. Podel explained that some dogs with hydrocephalus have some major issues including epilepsy and then some live fairly normal lives.  Sometimes they have issues with obedience classes or learning commands -that just meant that we didn't have to save for an expensive college tuition!  The funny thing was that Tiny was the first in the litter to be potty trained and the first to learn to ring the bell at the door to go outside!  

Tiny in Action
More of Tiny in Action

Dr. Podel suggested some early medication and gave us a Rx to be compounded for Tiny's age and size.  

At this time he did not recommend a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scan unless his symptoms worsened.  He did make the suggestion that we take special care to keep him from falling, hitting his head and controlling his play as much as is reasonable while still allowing him to enjoy being a puppy.     

Tiny also has to wear a harness rather than a collar so as not to place any pressure or unnecessary jerks to his neck region that could cause any blockage or trauma to his neck.  

We were also instructed that he can not have blood drawn from his jugular vein.  This was highly stressed because a hematoma from this could directly impact his life.    


              A Tiny Life - Sometimes God sends you a Miracle.

                   Part Two: A First Time Breeder's Viewpoint 

                                         by Connie Ogasawara

I will never forget the excitement I felt as my husband and I rushed to the clinic to see our fist litter delivers by C-section.  I had delivered Marilyn Monroe to Linda's  house the week before her due date since I had no experience whatsoever in whelping and for that matter raising a litter of puppies.  We had hoped for a natural delivery but we were aware of the possibility of a C-section.  The plan was for Linda to whelp the puppies and take care of them for a few days until they were stable enough to come to my house.  

We did not make it in time for the delivery but before I was allowed in the room, I was warned that one puppy was very small and the prognosis was not good.  I tried to prepare myself emotionally and accept the fact that we were probably going to lose one.  

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I remember seeing Tiny for the first time and thinking that what I was looking at did not look like a puppy but some underdeveloped little creature.  Linda took Marilyn and her puppies home and I got updates several times a day on how things were going.  





After four weeks of meticulous, exhaustive and miraculous care by Linda, our new canine family was ready to come to our house.  To say I was a bit nervous was an understatement!   

Tiny's desire to live was evident from the very beginning.  He would be the first in line for the milk bar and the last to leave.  When Linda resorted to tube feeding him, he practically sucked that tube right down all by himself!  

Tiny sleeping in arms

When it was time to introduce solid food, he was the first  to master eating off a spoon and then immediately went straight to eating out of the bowl.  The bigger pups took awhile to get the hang of it. 

Pups eating rice cereal

Someone was spoiled and had his own extra bowl on the dining room table too!  Tiny taught his bigger siblings how to be a member of the clean plate club.  

He was the first in and the last out… and grow he did!

Right from the start, everyone who saw Tiny said. "I want that one"!  Especially everyone in my family - except me.  I bred Marilyn to raise  healthy Cavaliers and I only wanted to keep puppies who had a chance of continuing on in that tradition - not the runt of the litter that might have hydrocephalus and endless health problems - especially one that might never be able to be potty trained!  But as Linda had already said, God sometimes has other plans.  

Right off the bat, who was the subject of all my photos?  Uh, Tiny!  Who did I find myself holding the most?  That would be Tiny.  Who never had an accident in the house and if I didn't open the door fast enough who would only go on the puppy pad?  

Tiny with plant in his mouth

 You got it, Tiny.  I marveled at every milestone he reached and found myself falling head over heals in love with him.  Finally, my husband told me there was no discussion - Tiny was staying. 

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After having the ultrasound that confirmed our worst fears that Tiny had hydrocephalus and after seeing Dr. Podell, the neurologist, my husband and I found ourselves scared all of a sudden to let Tiny be a normal puppy.  We wondered how we could make our environment safer for him - could we teach him not to jump on the couch and risk falling off?  Could we keep him and his sister, Carly who we also kept, from wrestling and acting like normal puppies?  The answer was "no" - we didn't want to - not because it was too much trouble but because a puppy needs to be a puppy.  

Playing with my puppies

So we decided that if we were blessed to have Tiny for one more day or 10 more years we would just raise him as a normal dog - besides, if he made it this far with three bigger siblings pouncing on him constantly, he could handle anything.   

Developmentally, we have not seen any of the horrible conditions that I have endlessly read about.  Most of the literature says that the signs are there by 8-12 weeks and we are way past that time period.  I do not naively translate that into "he's going to be just fine" but instead find it encouraging.  

I have only noticed two things about him that are slightly unusual.  Whereas most puppies can jump up on their hind legs, Tiny can only jump half way.  Maybe he has a slight balance issue.  Also, he has  wonderful hearing and vision but when I call him and he has his back to me he has difficulty deciding from what direction the sound comes.  He does have one "typical" hydrocephalic problem - he does not bark, but when he plays he is very vocal and loud!  I think I can live with those tiny issues!

Tiny and Carly

The only medical treatment we are giving Tiny is a daily dose of chicken flavored Omeprazole - Prilosec - which for some unknown reason has the effect of reducing the Cerebrosipinal Fluid (CSF), thus reducing pressure inside his head. 

Quick Run

We don't know how long God will bless us with Tiny's presence but we have enjoyed everyday and hope to enjoy many, many more. 

Great pic of Tiny Tugging

Tiny continues to do well and even had a Christmas family reunion with his siblings.  

©  Linda Baird & Woody Goode 2015