Lil Bit!

     As some of those who follow on Facebook may have learned recently, I (along with my co-breeder and our mentor) decided to place my darling "Lil Bit" in a loving pet home instead of pursuing a show career with her. I made an announcement on Facebook the day of the decision but took the post down due to some unfavorable responses by well-meaning friends who just did not understand. This was an excruciating decision for me, and I really didn't need anyone jabbing the knife any deeper into my heart.

     Some of my friends may remember Lil Bit as #12, the 12th little pup born in the Cali x Brees litter 1/2/15. Her survival was a collaborative effort on the parts of myself, co-breeder Tabatha of NOLA Standards, my partner whom we affectionately call "Poo Daddy" & our dear vet, Dr. Diggs of Allstar Animal Clinic in New Orleans. At 3 days of age, Lil bit developed a rather large abscess under her skin. We believe this was related to resuscitation efforts at birth (She required supportive care such as oxygen and subcutaneous fluids) coupled with the stress of dew claw removal and tail docking.

Initial abscess drainage


I first noticed her abscess at 3 days of age and with my vet's supervision, I drained the abscess and started her on antibiotic drops. The infection did not respond to the drops and the abscess refilled with pus quickly. She was so tiny already, and this infection was draining her strength to nurse. I took her to into the vet for him to lance it. Now that she had a wound, I had to take extra caution in keeping her clean. Within a day, she was getting worse. Lil bit was just under 6 oz now and fading. I scooped her into my shirt and headed to the vet again, mentally preparing myself to really tell her goodbye. Dr. Diggs has been my go-to vet for reproduction since my 1st litter of standard poodles. He knew I was not going to quit on Lil bit as long as she was fighting with me. I have to give him kudos for his creativity in 'fixing' my little one as well as his compassion for my feelings and patience with my fuzzy, sleep-deprived mind. Although I make every effort to put on my brave face, (I AM a Nurse, after all) when it comes to  my pups, I wear my heart on my sleeve every time. Diggs created a tiny "drain" for Lil bit, which resembled a hoop earring, in order to allow the pus to drain and the wound to stay open for it to do so. He also advised a stronger antibiotic and  instructed me to keep her warm, help her eat, stimulate her bowels and bladder (thanks, Comet!), and to remove the 'drain' in 3 days. We shook hands and what ensued was something I can only describe as perseverance at its finest. She couldn't be with her littermates due to her unique open wound and drain, so Lil bit had a small setup with a heating pad right next door to the whelping box. When I could, I wrapped her in a thin towel and held her against my skin, much like a new mother holds her own baby. They call this "kangaroo care" in the human baby nursing world, as it promotes skin to skin contact, which is clinically shown to have a healing effect on 'fading' human babies. I believe the bond that was formed between myself and this puppy became strong and deep as a result. 
 

Starting to gain weight!

One of our trips to see Dr. Diggs


     Lil bit DID respond to the new antibiotics and quickly regained her strength. She was starting to catch up, although she still opened her eyes a week later than her litter mates. She quickly grew into a beautiful, spoiled rotten, loving poodle pup. We had the litter of 12 evaluated without giving any hints to my attachment to this puppy. Our mentor and evaluator suggested we keep her and watch her. She had a few faults but overall had nice potential to grow into a beautiful show poodle. 
I'm sure you can imagine my excitement at this point. Lil bit and I had tons of support! We had cheerleaders, friends, and followers tuning in to see her progress on a regular basis. At one point she had over 500 'likes' on her story when I shared in a pop-poo-lar Standard Poodle Facebook group.
 

Lil Bit's 8 Week Evaluation

Getting her ears cleaned by Comet

As promised, I held on to her, raising and training and grooming her with a satisfaction that I just can't accurately describe in a blog. It seemed, though, that the 'faults' we were watching did not improve, and at her recent (4th) evaluation, which took place at the Kenner dog show in early August, I was advised to 'place' her, which is a term amongst breeders that means I now find her a suitable 'pet' home. Place her? Place her. Place her... How in the world was I going to place her? Nodding, 'Ok,' my brave nurse face on, I walked her outside, found a quiet spot on a bench, sat her in my lap and proceeded to crumple from within, feeling this deep sadness start to grow in my chest where my heart lives, spreading, unable to release, not wanting to break into sobs at the Ponchartrain Center but unable to contain the tears which would not stop falling down my cheeks. It takes a lot to make me REALLY cry, Ya'll. Whew. That was a day. 

The face of perseverance

 

'Just hold me, ok?'

This is just how we roll.

  If you are still with me, I want you to understand that while I LOVED and felt deeply connected with this pup, I did not disagree with the evaluation. While I personally found Lil bit to be a "little bit long," as I liked to joke, I was starting to see that she was overly petite,refined, and lacking the substance, body, and depth of chest and shoulder angulation that is so easy to lose and so hard to fix in a correct standard poodle. I reassured myself that she was growing, and it's really not fair to judge puppies, as poodles definitely can get the "uglies" at certain times during growth. In essence, I kind of saw it coming, but hadn't really had the important conversation with myself about what I was going to do about her. 

Naturally, those of my 'pet friends'  who witnessed her evaluation offered to take her home and love her. I needed time, though, and my kids needed to be able to say goodbye. She had become such a fixture in our home and was loved by all for her preciousness and antics.
Our friend and guardian to Lil Bit's dam, Cali, came by and managed to twist my arm to let Lil Bit 'have a week" away from me as an extended sleepover. I was taking my kids to the beach before school started, so I reluctantly agreed to the trial separation, and we all kissed and hugged her like she was going to Spain for the Summer or something. I'll not forget her face as she hopped in the backseat next to Cali. She is an adventurous sort, but liked to have me close by. She looked a bit confused, and I felt like the biggest turd on the planet at that moment.  I still had a massive task that day, which was to deliver the last 2 puppies of Jacki & Ben's to co-breeder Betty Brown.They were now 16 weeks old and ready to move on. I had agreed to keep them with me until this show due to their co-breeder's busy Summer show schedule, so I packed up my 2 pups, took them back to the show site, signed all the papers and handed them over to their new lives as Betty loaded her van to head home to TX. I fought tears throughout my back to school supply-shopping for the kids, but coming home to that house and not being greeted by my puppies at the door and Lil bit at the kitchen gate was just too much for me. I took the remaining poodles in the bedroom with me and faced the five concerned faces, alternating holding on to each one for comfort as I cried and cried and cried. Poor poo daddy just kept giving me hugs and red wine. It went on and on and on. In spite of that, my family had a nice time at the beach, and I called as we were leaving that morning and asked if Lil Bit was ready to come back home. I had been anxious to get her in my arms. "No." was what I got back. "She's not ready." I let her stay another day, and another, and another. I knew she was in good hands. I knew I had to eventually give her up and let her go be a pet. As a breeder, every 'pet' we keep takes the spot of the next generation. I had some funky thoughts, I will admit. I thought about quitting breeding - stopping here, getting her back and sacrificing the Cadeau line just to keep my 'pets.' I had to keep reminding myself that she was not DEAD, that I had suffered greater and more permanent loss, that she was going to adjust more quickly than I was, and that most of all, it was not FAIR to her (or to me really) to prevent her from living her life out there. I brought her into this world. I kept her alive in the face of certain demise, and I owed her the rest of her life, unencumbered by the apron strings. She isn't far away. I get the exclusive privilege of keeping her and Cali for days at a time, and I look forward to that. And as all of my pups do, she has a lifetime return policy- no questions asked!

Tomorrow will make 3 weeks that she has been gone. I get to babysit her and Cali next week and I could not be more excited to see, hold, and touch her again. Many of our followers will not understand the decision, and may even be a 'lil bit' angry at me. I appreciate the support of my friends, fellow breeders and Cadeau extended family. Please know how tough this was and still is. It is getting easier. I get frequent videos and photos and updates. I still miss her like crazy, but I have a full house of poodles to work with and plan for the next step, which is currently in the works.~ Stay tuned ~

Unconditional love and trust <3

4 comments

  • Sue Grabau

    Sue Grabau North Carolina

    Okay now I'm crying too! Your baby knows you love her and always trusted you to do what's best. Much like letting go when a child goes to school for the first time or leaves for college - they're not really gone. Beautifully expressed...you are brave!

    Okay now I'm crying too! Your baby knows you love her and always trusted you to do what's best. Much like letting go when a child goes to school for the first time or leaves for college - they're not really gone.
    Beautifully expressed...you are brave!

  • Barbara Ann Langlois

    Barbara Ann Langlois Covington,La

    Tears falling...I remember when they were born and I was trying to see them but time did not work out. You did the job that a true, conscientious breeder would do. You saved her but you also recognized that as a protector of the standard you had a decision to make. I am so happy she is in a loving place and you get to see her and love her. Kudos to you.

    Tears falling...I remember when they were born and I was trying to see them but time did not work out. You did the job that a true, conscientious breeder would do. You saved her but you also recognized that as a protector of the standard you had a decision to make. I am so happy she is in a loving place and you get to see her and love her. Kudos to you.

  • Joyce Dudek

    Joyce Dudek Va

    You make me cry! Of course we understand and know you are doing the right thing!! Hugs to all especially Comet!!

    You make me cry! Of course we understand and know you are doing the right thing!! Hugs to all especially Comet!!

  • Cadeau Standard Poodles

    Cadeau Standard Poodles

    Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the heartfelt support you have for this softie

    Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the heartfelt support you have for this softie

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