FARAWAY LIL BIT
1981-1993
lb

The times on this are inexact because it has been a very long time, and I don't remember the details.  Lil Bit was one of a litter of three with a mother with almost too much milk.  At whelping she was the smallest, but not a runt...other two were males.  I weigh pups daily during the first week & when she didn't show weight gain I started bottle supplementing her.  She dipped below 300 gms on 2nd day which is a bad sign.  After a day or so I discovered she had a cleft palate. Milk coming out of her nose made me open her mouth and look.  After several days the others were huge, and she still had not gained weight.  Others were lethargic...they were so large they could hardly move.  She struggled valiantly and was extremely active in trying to nurse.  By that time she had won my heart, and I decided any creature with that much spunk and will to live deserved a chance.  I would raise her,  and give her away as pet since the cleft palate would probably mean a poor sense of smell...so I thought. My veterinarian said it could be repaired at UGA vet school, but that she would have to be a couple of months old. It was not until the second week that she started to grow.  The other two giants were so fat that their development was retarded.  They eventually turned out fine. By 3 - 4 weeks the others were so large that all they could do was to wallow around like little pigs. Lil Bit, by three weeks, was up and around with the coordination of a five week old pup and the size of a one week old.   At one point her brothers were 3 times as large. She developed into a true hyperactive pup, which she remained throughout her adulthood.  Her hyperactivity & love of humans captured the hearts of the folks at UGA when I carried her up there at 8 weeks.  They repaired her, and then the trouble really began.  She could not be allowed to have anything in her mouth...can you imagine this with a hyperactive pup.  I bought a 4 X 8 cage with a plywood floor so she could not get her mouth on anything.  They put a tube through an incision in her neck which had a stopper in it.  She had to be feed and watered through that. Puppy chow was liquefied & pumped through it with a huge large animal syringe....water the same way...What a task with a hyperactive pup! On more than one occasion the entire apparatus came apart with liquid puppy chow being exploded all over her, the kitchen, and me.  When I finally carried her back to UGA to have the stitches removed from the palate & the tube removed..to my horror...they said she had managed to break some of the stitches, and they had to repair her with another month of the same thing.

At any rate she finally healed, and I started thinking about giving here away..with a great deal of reluctance.  One day I notice out the kitchen window that she was pointing birds out in my pasture and it did not appear to be a sight point. That did it..Lil Bit was here to stay.  I carried her to Canada with me, and she commenced to run all over the world on the prairies..Would go out of sight to the front, but would always come back enough to be sure I was there.  Won a puppy stake up there against the best.  Back in Georgia she did the same.  Back in Georgia I broke her at Christmas.  I saw no point in running a broke dog in derby stakes and  placed her in an all-age stake.  Then I started foot hunting her to make sure she would adjust, and she turned out to be a reasonably good retriever.  She also turned out, in spite of her condition, to have one of the best noses, if not the best,  of any that I've owned.  She never had an unproductive and would find and point without regards for scenting conditions (for example  in the heat & greenery of mid-summer).  Lil Bit had unlimited stamina.  Her adult weight was about 40-45 lbs.  My females are normally well over 50 lb. I'm now in my 11th the generation of the same blood line, and Lil Bit was the best that I've owned. She died at 12 of cancer.

After researching the topic my opinion is that her condition was caused by excessive vitamin A intake by her dam. This was due to my ignorance.  Her dam was fed puppy chow during pregnancy and given vitamin supplement which resulted in excessive vitamin A.  Research indicates either too much or too little can cause cleft palate.  I was not going to breed her, but I was about to lose my bloodline because I lost my other brood bitches to pyometra so I did breed her three times.  None of her pups had cleft palate, and all were larger than average.

Frank Thompson