The Importance of Breeder References
I've finally felt a mixture of frustration, anger and helplessness ... all because of one tiny, adorable puppy.  She has taught me so much ... and I need to share her story with you:

When our Mei Mei had her first litter of puppies in December, I was at work, Guy at school.  When I got home, two of her three babies were deceased ... I believe there were "first timer" problems that some of us, as breeders, have experienced.  The last baby passed away within hours of the first two and Mei was beyond being just "distraught".  Which made her, to me, in need of a baby to love, as she is one of my babies and I feel her pain in a very real way...

     So, I called and hunted until I found a breeder who had a brand new litter ... babies were born on the same day Mei's had been; however, this little mother was a very young pup herself, first season, and didn't have a clue as to what to do with her babies ... they were neglected and were slowly dying.  I arranged to drive the three hours after work the next day and get one of the remaining babies, if any were still alive.  When I got there the next evening, one tiny, frail baby girl was barely hanging on to life.  I
paid the breeder for this baby and rushed her home, holding her against my heart the whole way, and presented her to Mei Mei.  Mei refused her ... at first.  Within 12 hours of coaxing, Mei decided that God had given her back one of her babies, and she started protecting her infant against everyone and everything.  But the baby, after gaining a tiny bit of strength from Mei's dwindling colestrum, started to fade again; she did not have the strength to stimulate Mei's mammary glands.  Well, we didn't come this far
to be thwarted; we made a puppy gruel and the puppy took this like ... well, like food to a starving puppy.  And she put on weight and continued to nurse on Mei.  At about 6 ounces, her strength was such that Mei's milk production came back into play and the baby, after a couple more days of supplement, was turned over to Mei completely.  We were all in 7th heaven.  By six weeks of age I felt she would be fine, and we found her a home, letting the folks know that she would be available after her first puppy shots, but insisted
that, as I didn't know her genetic background, she would need to be spayed at the appropriate age ... which her new family agreed to.  At 7 weeks, when she was healthy and well-adjusted, I noticed that the baby - we'd dubbed her our Gerber Baby - was having an allergic reaction to something.... what it was we didn't have a clue.  Within three days she'd lost enough hair due to this allergy that I grew alarmed and took her to the vet.  Demodex.  This baby had juvenile demodex.  I contacted the baby's new owners, told them what was going on, and gave them the option of backing out or continuing the baby's treatments themselves, or letting me continue the treatments until she was better.  "No", they said, "we want that little darling to come home with us now.  We'll take care of her, and continue her treatments."  By the first week after they'd taken her home (her real name is now "Nikki"), the demodex was no longer contained on her tiny head.  Now her whole body was teeming with mites.  I was floored.... but the new owners insisted she wasn't going anywhere.  She'd had a rough start on life, and life was continuing to dish out some pretty rough stuff to her ... and they are going to stand beside her and get her through it, no matter what.

They tell me that a tiny bit of hair is coming back to her little head (Nikki is a very small toy, chocolate tri), although, apparently what has come back to her head is now being lost on her body.  It is an uphill battle
for little Nikki and her loving parents.

I contacted the original breeder when this first started with Nikki's demodex, suggesting that he not breed the dam again.  I was told that the breeder wouldn't breed the dam again, she'd been sold to another breeder. However, the breeder I got Nikki from has her "aunt" ... and he plans on breeding her this year.

Folks, this is a tragic story.  With God's help in locating her perfect parents, tiny Nikki will be well cared for, for the remainder of her life here on Earth.  But it doesn't always end up this way.  Please.  Check out your breeder and their reputation; don't be afraid to ask for recommendations from people that have purchased puppies from this or that breeder before.  Protect yourselves and help us, please, protect our little rat terriers.  If we all start insisting that there be no sales from "back yard breeders", or "puppy millers" or pet stores with no genetic health backgrounds on their animals ... perhaps the health of our precious ratties will become more of an issue ... and less likely to be swept under the rug. "Nikki" was put here, and saved, for a reason.  Don't let her ordeal be in vain.

Submitted by:  Sherri Chatterton, with permission from Nikki and her loving parents.

Gingers Story

     Ginger was a very special dog to us.  She was brought into our lives after something had happened to us that was a sad time in our lives.  She was a chocolate and white colored Rat Terrier, who was very acrobatic and we trained her do some tricks.  She passed away in May of 2003, she was 6 years old.

     Over Ginger's lifetime she had seizures about once a year.  Then about 2-3 years ago she started having more than 1 a year.  Over the years they have ruled out tick bite, something like an inner ear infection, a tumor and some other things I can't remember if I do I will let you know.  The vet tried Phenobarbitals but they were so strong it would make her act like she was drunk and we could not see her live like that, so we took her off of them. Her seizures stopped for she only had one in a year.

      During the year before she passed away, she would every so often while running and playing run into things and yelp or we could go to pick her up and she would yelp.  You couldn't touch her hear she would yelp.  About 3 months before her death she started running into more things and had hurt her eye twice.  Then it got worse she would start to favor one side, if she tried to jump or climb she would yelp so she would not do anything but lay around.  Then she started losing her sight and reflexes.  They started testing for liver and kidney problems some other things like tick bite, inner ear infection, a tumor, etc. like before.  They informed us that this time that we needed to move to the next level of tests, which was a CAT Scan and possibly a spinal tap.  Even though we were very scared and at first was not going to do it they convinced us if they find it soon enough they can treat it.  They still weren't sure what it could be.  They just knew there was pressure on her brain.

      They informed us that the CAT Scan indicated a swelling on the ridge of her brain consistent with encephalitis.  We were wondering how did this happen, was it something we did or something she got a hold of or what.  Nobody knows.  More of the tests came back after the spinal tap and they diagnosed her with granulometous meningioencephalitis, a.k.a GME.  This was all within a couple of days while she is in ICU.  They informed us they could start the prednisone (steroids) treatment and prolong her life months to a couple of years is the longest most animals have lived.  This would just make her life easier but it would not be curable.  We just had our hearts ripped out of us hearing this.  This can't be true.  One day we have an acrobatic dog the next we have a deathly sick dog.

     They gave her the first does of prednisone and said she brightened up and was more lively but things worsened over night she had a reaction to the spinal tap and prior to this we were told that there could be a chance she would have a reaction to the spinal tap and we thought not our Ginger, but we have to know if she would be treatable or not.  She was drawn to one side of her body and there was nothing they could do for her.  She couldn't eat or anything they said there was nothing else they could do for her.  We had to put her down.

     The vet school here in our city is one of the best in this part of the USA. They used Ginger for experiments, research and training for this disease to better their diagnoses and research for the future.

     This disease comes on quickly.  I do not want another dog owner to go through what we had to go through so I would like people to know about it and have some info. To start reading.  The following website has a very good explanation of symptoms and treatments and info. Based on questions and answer with a doctor on this horrible disease  You can also go here and then under GME Treatments.

     Sorry so long but I don't know any other way to be able to inform others on symptoms and diagnoses and treatments for GME. You can search under the full medical name and find lots more nowadays in the Internet about GME.  I wished I had known all of this prior to our experience with it.

     I hope this helps other owners so they can be more aware of this disease.



Tots Can Be Difficult

     Tots are unpredictable sometimes. Tots, for the most part, are runts if the size is not set. Why?? because the breeder does not want to take the long time to set it. Time, years, loss of money are all involved. You have to be a breeder that is dedicated to down sizing to a very small dog. If set then it's a different story.  What is meant by this is that if you breed small dogs to small dogs you will eventually downsize with consistency and they will become Tots. When Tots are bred to Tots sometimes you will get larger pups in the litter if you have not bred enough generations though. Like I said it takes dedication and time for the genes to be set to a downsize with good health. Usually this size cannot have pups with out a c-section

 At 12 weeks a Tot should be 1 to 2 lbs. Growth usually slows down or stops between 6 weeks and 16 weeks..  Each has to be compared to the rest of the litter, the parents, and still in some cases has to be
determined by the experience of the breeder, how well that breeder knows their stock and how many generations have been bred down in size.  Sometimes one will fool you and take off growing again later in life. If their are 3 generations of the size less than 5lbs. at a year old you might consider the size is set. Tots as well as any size, will still get heavier when they get older. Eating habits, spaying, metabolism, repeated pregnancies all have influence on the weight. Most Tots never get heavier than 5 1/2 lbs. When I see I have a tot for sure....I guarantee it in writing.  They will not go over 5.8 lbs. and should be 5 lbs. or less.  Most are around 3 or 4 lbs

Sincerely, Barbara Cox, TX

Back to Index