As a breeder & a dog person I had many times heard the horror stories of breeding disasters, I as you might have thought they must have done something wrong, or were not very good breeders , or maybe the vet made a mistake or they waited to long to get the bitch to the vet, on & on, always blaming never thinking that it can just happen................................

Until it happened to us, I never thought in a million years my husband Frank & I would be living one of those nightmares, on May 23 , 2001 we unexpectedly lost our beloved Akita bitch, Ch. Shu-Ku’s U Ain’t Seen Nut’n Yet, CGC,TDI approximately 30 minutes after a successful C section, she went in to cardiac arrest we could not revive her ~ she left behind 13 newborn puppies.

This is their story of how out of a tragedy they triumphed, I pen these words for many reasons none more important than the other but all of some significant importance ~ emotional relief for myself, a tribute to a beautiful dog, a learning lesson for others, to put into words the thought to never take anything for granted.

I can assure you that we are GOOD & ethical breeders, our priority is the health & well being of all of our dogs, our vet is superior in his field & we did everything right ~  but yet a tragedy stuck us , fate has no preference, it chooses young & old, sick & healthy , all races & creeds ~ a lesson well learned, if it can happen to us it can happen to anyone.

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At 6 ½ years old Witchy was in her prime & in tip top shape, she was an athlete & very active, she had, 2 pervious litters, in 98 a litter of 9 & in 99 a litter of 5, this was to be her last litter as we had planned to move her on to do more therapy work , she enjoyed it so.

This litter was planned in November 2000 & we did the breeding the end of March 2001, all uneventful, Witchy got big fast, by 5 weeks in we knew she was carrying quite a few puppies.

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                              Witchy 5 weeks pregnant                                    &    at  7 weeks pregnant                                                     

Witchy was confirmed pregnant by now & on May 14th we did an x-ray & we saw 6 pups, the pregnancy continued with out any problems, in fact Sunday the 20th of May Witchy was proudly carrying around the semi truck mud flap she had finally torn in half, she was the picture of a very pregnant but happy, healthy Akita Mommy.

Witchy spent the next days totally in the house instead of a couple hours a day in her outside run as she had been doing for the 2 weeks before, she acted & ate normally until Monday the 21st, she did not eat all her dinner meal, Tuesday morning ( May 22) she refused her breakfast, I assumed the time was approaching as Witchy was one to refuse food 24 hours before she whelped, she drank water ( with electrolytes added) & ate ice chips but no food, Tuesday evening she was the same, but she seemed very uncomfortable, she was normally an 85 pound gal, she was now over 110 pounds & looked like she had swallowed 2 watermelons. witch mo preg.jpg (66883 bytes)

The very last photo of Witchy ~ May 23, 2001

she was only comfortable laying on her back & only for a few minutes at that, she had difficulty walking as her hind legs were tired from the weight, it was a chore for her, we had to physically help her get up the stairs to the whelping room, I stayed up with her all night as she restlessly tried to get some sleep, by Wednesday morning ( May 23) , she was very tired nodding to sleep while sitting & almost falling over, at 2:00 PM, I called my vet to look at her, I was concerned that she was so tired & that her saliva was thick, she got into the van, with help & she was examined fully & her blood work was fine, after an vaginal exam it was determined she was in the early stages of labor & would probably have puppies before the days end, on the ride home her water broke & within 2 hours , puppy # 1 arrived at the bottom of my stairwell, after cleaning puppy & Witchy, I coaxed her up to the whelping room, where in time she had 2 more pups, about 7:00 PM she was brought outside to potty, she did not potty but laid down, so in she came, at the bottom of the staircase she could not or would not go up, she tried but could not, at that moment another puppy was born & she collapsed in exhaustion, we immediacy called our vet who agreed with us that she need a C- section, we carried Witchy to the van in a blanket, when we arrived at the vets, we took an x ray to see how many left ( we counted 4) & to rule out any other problems ( her being still so large ,  our vet  thought a possible bloat) after the X ray she was prepped for surgery & we waited in the adjoining room to rub down puppies as they were born.

The C section & removal of pups went without a glitch, pup after pup was removed & rubbed, the total was 14 puppies including the ones born at home & the 1 still born, as we continued to rub the pups, Dr. Haber finished the C section & was in conversation with us the whole time as we were a ½ room away, he had only 6 outside stitches left when Witchy suffered a unexpected & fatal cardiac arrest, Dr. Haber never saw it coming, we heard him say " Oh No " & saw him pick up speed & start to get all sorts of equipment we were concentrating on puppies , we could hear    the commotion  &  him talking to his staff & Witchy I remember him say " this cannot be happening, not  this one please " who he was talking to we'll never know I  can only assume it was God ~   about 15 minutes later he came in & told us Witchy was gone, he tried to get her back, but it was not to be, we all were in shock, overjoyed at the puppies but not believing that our beautiful Witchy was never coming home.

My husband Frank & I left the office emotional basket cases, how were we ever to go on ???? how would the puppies survive ?

All sorts of emotions & thoughts set in at times like  these, some are good & I'm not ashamed to admit some are bad ~ we looked at our tub of black puppies & loved them  for being here but in  the next thought hated them for taking our Witchy, thinking realistly was not an option at that time, but we tried to make sense in that WE did the breeding so in fact Witchy death was in a way our fault ~ time taught us that indeed that was not the case , but it did nor does not ease the pain & guilt.

Once home we set up make shift incubators with heating pads in boxes, the pups were fed glucose water that night as Frank & I tried to comprehend the last few hours & prepare to raise 13 orphan pups.

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Box Of Babes  the night they came home

The very next day I posted to The Akita -L an Akita Internet list That we belong to , I sadly detailed the events of the evening before, the response was overwhelming, & I was offered several surrogate dogs, only one fit the bill perfectly, Rhythm (AKC/UKC CH. U-AG1 Kuroki Rhythms Gonna Getcha NA CGC VA) had just weaned 6 week old pups, she was sent from WI  by owner Laurie Ottow & arrived late Saturday evening May 26th.

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Mommy Rhythm & the babes

The first week went by is a flurry of every 2 hour feedings, sleeplessness & pure emotional & physical exhaustion, exactly one week to the day we lost Witch one of the pups joined her, the next day another pup was helped over the Rainbow bridge due to kidney shut down, the 11 survivors had had a few touch & go moments they were small for their age but strong .

Week 2 was a bit easier as we had a routine down , but no less demanding, as the pups grew & gained weight everyday was a triumph.

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the gang 2 weeks old

Weeks 3 & 4 came & went with progress, most up & walking a few lazy ones, not quite up yet all was going as well as can be , Rhythm had taken over all the Mommy duties , we still bottle fed the babies , but they also got Rhythms milk & she keep them warm, clean & happy !

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                                                    Banner                                                 Boty                                      Super     about 2 weeks

        We started to wean the puppies at about 4 weeks, we had brought 4 of the non walking puppies to an orthopedic vet , 2 were diagnosed with being " swimmers" , one had a fractured front leg that had healed a bit curved , one had green stick fractures of the front legs that made her front legs both bow in all this is said was due to over nutrition, although smaller than Mommy raised babies they were growing to fast ~ you learn something new every day !

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                                      MeMo ~  had the fracture                               PG ~ Greenstick fractures                                                    Arby ~  swimmer/neurological

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                  First Grooming                Love at first site :)

By 6 & 7 weeks the pups were really becoming a bunch of black brindle & white hooligans ! they were active as all get out, eating real dog food & just playing the days away , all was picture perfect, except for the fact that it was time for Rhythm to go back home, putting her in her crate & watching her drive away to the plane will always be in my mind , it was one of the hardest days of our lives, no she did not belong to us & she was not here very long , but her time with us was special & we formed a bond with that sweet " Angel in Red"  from Wisconsin.

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The next weeks were a blur of puppy antics, fast forward to age 10 weeks ~ & the puppies started to leave for their new homes, I have always had a difficult time in letting the babies go, but this time it was excruciating, even though all of the home had been screened & re-screened, all the families knew about these puppies rough start in life ~ most thought that made them all the more special ~ several stayed beyond the 10 weeks until the perfect home were found for these special youngsters.

We had a hard time deciding which male  to keep,  Super had always been the one for me , but Frank liked Banner  & after much discussion & knowing Super was going to a Show home, we  kept Banner , we also kept a special red brindle female we named Arby , Arby was one of the puppies who did not walk , we later discovered she was born with neurological damage to her rear end thus she limited use of her rear but we love her so, everybody that see her loves Arby !

Part of Arby's early therapy was Swimming , so we thought we'd deck her out in her own suit :) she  loved it &  got so excited when she saw her suit !

arbyswinsuit.jpg (95726 bytes) 11 weeks ~ Anyone    for a swim ??


It has now been over a year since the puppies made their grand appearance into the world & there are a few updates ~

Arby is still one of the crew & doing great   & still looking for that home that understands she's a Special Needs dog   & where she can be the one & only ! Banner now lives in Virginia with an awesome family, hopefully awaiting a show career, Super came back to live with us at just under 6 months old & has been a dream come true , he is the male version of his Mother , I see so much of her in him ~ he was dubbed Excel Shu-Ku’s The Witch Doctor, his first weekend out he became AKC pointed ~ we have high hopes that he will carry the torch that Witchy lit when she gave birth to these babies , although the flame flickered with her death, it was not extinguished & will burn long & strong in Super & her other kids.

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Future Show dog ???  YOU BET !! Who was to guess what he would achive.

flasher.gif (3375 bytes): Super not only carried the flame he burned up the  the ring:

November 21, 2002 Super won the Region 1 Akita Specialty by taking BEST OF BREED over 8 specials from the Bred By Class ~ what an accomplishment for a just 18 month old untrained boy  Go  to Super's Page to see how this boy  is maturing, he still has a ways to go , but it will all come in time, he has exceeded our wildest dreams & expectation through him we have lived the impossible dream.

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Artfully done by Cyndi Crum

Witchy an Angel in life , now a forever Angel above.

This whole ordeal  has been nothing short of a life altering experience,  it has been one that make you stand up &  take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror & reflect on the past , present & future, it   has made us all the better & stronger people.

Lessons in life are sometime aweful but I belive they are there to teach us , what this tragity has taught us that beyond all pain there is joy & that  LOVE can concur all, Love  for the breed is what spurred the thought of this litter, Love helped them live & survive , Love from our friends  helped us see light in a darkened world & love for those pups &  our love for each other brought  Frank & I through a maze we thought there was no end to, with courage we did not know we had, all of us survived the fight & we won ~ we now look forward to what the future may hold &  are left with the fitting words    from the  movie Forrest Gump ~  " Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

*= Photos By Dawn Martinos


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Laurie & Rhythm ~

Thank You will never be enough for the unselfish gift you gave to us. We are eternally grateful to you both ~

Rhythm you will always hold a very special place in our hearts for without you these puppies may not have had a chance, because of you they have exceeded our dreams. Witchy would be very proud.

~ Rhythm you are our Forever Angel ~

With All Our Love Forever ~

Linda, Frank & the Excel Shu-Ku Witchy X Momo Puppies ~ DOB: 5/23/01

Tragically on December 22, 2002 Rhythm suffered the same fate as Witchy & crossed over the Rainbow Bridge after delivering her own puppies ~ Rest peacefully girl  we'll never forget you ~

Read Rhythm's Story

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