Winnie as a pup

Jim's Wee Winephred was born in the summer of 1993. I was there! She was the first pup in the lineage of Jim's Wee Laddie.

We had a neighbor in Northwood Pines that had a sweet Yorkshire Terrier called Chelsea. Chelsea's owners fell in love with our Ladd. They wondered if we wanted to breed him and we had indeed kept him intact for that very purpose. Early in the morning of June 25th I received a call from Chelsea's owner informing me of the impending birth of what was going to be three or four pups. I rushed over to her house and watched as the first pup was born. Much to our disappointment the pup was still born. We tried to resuscitate the little fur ball to no avail. The first born of Laddie and Chelsea was carefully wrapped in a small towel so it could be taken to the vets in the morning for a necropsy.

It was to our delighted that the next three pups were born breathing and healthy in every way. It had been a long several hours but three female Yorkies had entered the world. Looking like miniature Rottweilers, though with long tails, the pups with their eyes closed found their mother for their first meal. One of them was Winnie, our dear Winnie.

During the next eight weeks my wife and I went over to visit the three pups and watch them grow. We had negotiated the pick of the litter instead of taking a stud fee for the mating. The time came when we made our selection of what we felt was the dog for us. We pick Winephred. Turned out it was indeed the best decision we could have made.

Winnie was always just a sweet even-tempered dog. She took most everything in her nearly 16 years of life with grace and love. When Winn was less than a year old she was joined by a baby human child named Elizabeth. No mater what pulling, poking or prodding this little one would inflict upon Winner-ma-fredder, the pup remained on an even keel.

When Winnie was two we started breeding her with Laddie (a process called line breeding). Her first litter, like her mother, had a stillborn puppy. In fact, she caught me off guard by birthing the first one on our living room couch. Again, her pup, like Winnie's littermate, could not be saved. The second pup out was also born not breathing. I was beginning to think we would be plagued by bad luck. But, after some vigorous rubbing and some mouth to snout breathing, the second of the litter started to breath. Thank God! This second pup was named Camilla (Milly). The third pup was still not coming after several hours. We knew there were three as our house-call vet had palpitated Winnie and felt three pups. I began to worry and took Winnie to AA Pet Emergency. They x-rayed her belly and found the third pup was indeed in there and seemed fine. They gave Winnie a shot of oxytocin and sent me home. In the whelping box next to me in our rather new 1995 Ford Aerostar van, Bessie was born. I pulled over to check on Winnie and the process on the way home and called Cynthia to tell her that we were indeed the proud breeders of a second new little Yorkshire Terrorists. Turns out I couldn't part with Milly and Cynthia couldn't part with, Bessie. We doubled our canine pack in one fell swoop.

Over the course of about 4-5 years Freddie gave us about a dozen puppies. Each found a responsible and caring owner and a new home where they too could be loved. Some like Winnie's pup Bart (Ric and Isa's wonderful dog) went before her. Others, like our most precious Connie, Milly and Bessie are still doing well.

We had a scare a few years ago when Winnie had a very bad uterine infection and mammary tumors. We thought we would lose her. Thanks to a wonderful vet, Dr. Stine, she was spayed, tumors removed and the infection was cleared up. He gave us two more years of Winnie. We have always joked that Dr. Stine's surgery was so well done that if any of the humans in our family needed work we would go to him before most any MD. In the last year, though she had all but lost her hearing and cataracts clouded her eyesight, she found her way around our family room by Braille. One of her favorite things, as we began to come out of winter into spring this year, was to lie in the backyard, in the soft grass, with the warm Florida sun shining on her. This was her little piece of heaven on earth.

She had survived an accident that caused head trauma in a fall to come back and remind us that we needed to take care of this wonderful old lady. During the last 6 mos or so of her life she had regular intestinal distress but that was usually cleared up by a week's worth of antibiotic. She was living on the Science Diet "ID" canned formulation in order to take it easier on her system.

About a week ago Winnie started having another bout of intestinal distress. We first thought that this was once again something that could be cleared up by the antibiotic. We were wrong. She went from a lessened appetite, to intestinal distress to not eating and getting weaker and weaker. Two days ago we took her back to the vets as she was not getting better on the antibiotic and was not motivating around well (not that she did this well to begin with as a blind, deaf, nearly 16 year-old dog). Our vet ran the blood work and we discovered her kidneys were failing - down to 25% (only two years earlier they were working great). She would not regain that lost 75% function and she was having tremors. Her body could no longer process the toxins. This was all happening while I was on a business trip to New York for the premiere of a new work on the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival. My poor wife was dealing with this, two kids and a head cold - - and doing it with great aplomb.

While trying to navigate a quicker return to Gainesville unsuccessfully, my most precious "momma dog," Winner, was released from her failing body to head for that nice green patch of grass in the warm sunshine in heaven. She passed away at 4:30p on April 5th, 2009. She was in the arms of my wife whom adored her so and who told her how much we all loved her as her pain was finally removed. She passed quietly. She is with our dearest pup Laddie in dog heaven (which is where I want to go when I pass). I will miss you "momma dog"!

Winnie enjoying the sunshine and breeze

More photos of Winnie
[click here for more photos of Winnie]