Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Population Explosion

The puppies were due on Friday, but Rob had a three day business meeting starting Thursday morning, so I needed help. I called my Aunt and Uncle, Winston's parents, and they agreed to come early Friday to help. Several years earlier, their Airedale had thirteen pups, so they were experienced.

The whelping box was in the library and we had a double gate system across the hall leading to the library and across the door to the room. The other dogs wouldn't be able to bother Samba or her pups. I put a mattress on the floor next to the box and planned to sleep there with Samba for the next week. Samba would have nothing to do with that box. She wouldn't set one fat paw in it. She would, however, sleep on the mattress with me. Samba sleeps on her back and snores loudly.

Wednesday night Rob was working in o
ur home office putting some finishing touches on a report for the meeting. He would have to leave the house at 5AM, so at 10:30 Samba and I went to bed. I read for awhile and Samba stretched out next to me, turned onto her back and started snoring. Around 11 I turned out the light and lay thinking about my plans for the next day. Just as I was starting to fall asleep, I heard an unfamiliar noise in the room. I turned on the light. Samba was still asleep on her back, but there was a puppy.

Somehow, I got Samba and the puppy into the box, supervised her cleaning the pup and yelled for Rob to help me. He came running. Puppy # 1, a black and white wavy girl weighing 9 ounces was born at 11:11. Samba was very excited and was being rough with the pup, so we put her in a war
ming box and tried to calm Samba.

Rob had to get some sleep for the next day, so he called a friend E. She must have jumped right in the car because she arrived just as puppy # 2, a black and white wavy boy weighing 8 ounces arrived at 12:28. Samba was still too excited to have the babies so we showed them to her, but kept them away.

Rob took the other adult dogs and went to bed. E and I prepared for a long, hot night. At 1:25 puppy # 3, a black wavy girl weighing 9 1/2 ounces arrived. Samba was having easy deliveries and not showing any distress. After the third pup, she started to realize what was happening and she calmed down enough to let the pups nurse. From that time on she was very gentle with them.

At 1:58 puppy # 4, a black wavy girl with white chest and feet weighing 8 ounces arrived to join the others. Samba was enjoying yogurt between deliveries and taking an interest in her new family. E and I were suffering. It was so hot in that room and we were both spending a lot of time on our knees leaning over the edge of the box. We would both feel stiff and sore for several days to follow.

At 2:17 a black wavy girl weighing 8 ounces arrived.

At 2:36 a black and white wavy boy weighing 8 ounces was born.

At 3:08puppy # 7, a black and white wavy boy weighing 6 ounces arrived. So far everything was going very smoothly. Samba was having easy deliveries and the pups were all active and started nursing right away.

Then we ran into a problem. The pups had been arriving at pretty regular intervals, but now everything stopped. We waited over two hours for the next puppy and when he came we knew there was something wrong. At 5:18 he arrived in a big gush of blood. His sac was partially gone and his umbilical cord was torn close to his body. He was bleeding pretty badly. I snatched him up before Samba could get to him, cleaned him up and got the bleeding stopped. E toweled him and held him wrapped in a towel. He was making awful moaning sounds. We tried to get him to nurse, but he wouldn't. I warmed a bottle of formula and tried to feed him, but he refused. The bleeding started a couple times, but we got it stopped each time. Every time we put hi
m down, the moaning started again, so E just held him close to her.

We were worried about the last puppy that still hadn't been delivered. Finally, Samba had a couple of hard contractions, the first time all night she had shown pain. At 6:40 puppy #9 a black and white wavy female weighing 10 ounces put in an appearance. I was worried that there might be something wrong, but she was a big, strong healthy girl and started nursing immediately.

We put all nine puppies in a box, wrapped them up and took Samba and her babies to visit our Vet. He x-rayed Samba to be sure all the puppies had been delivered. He examined each puppy and pronounced eight of them healthy. Puppy # 8 was in trouble. He cauterized the cord to stop the bleeding, but felt there was fluid in the little guy's chest. We needed to get him to nurse as soon as possible.

We went home and I put in a stressful day. Th
e adult dogs were very excited. They knew something was going on and refused to settle down. Samba liked her puppies and enjoyed standing outside the box looking at them, but didn't want to be left alone with them. If I sat next to her and stroked her, she would nurse them. If I moved, she would get up and jump out of the box. Puppy #8 was still making his terrible moaning sounds and still refused to nurse. I tried the bottle again , but he refused it. Samba was very concerned about him and spent a lot of time nuzzling him.

Somehow we got through the day and night. The next morning puppy # 8 had stopped moaning and I noticed that Samba was pushing him away when she was with the pups. I called the Vet and he said we should try a feeding tube. I rushed him right in, but it was too late. He was having trouble breathing. I had him put down.

The first day Samba had not wanted to be alone with the pups. Now she wouldn't leave them. I had to leash her and drag her outside to eat and relieve herself. Finally, that afternoon, she decided that she wanted to be with me and the other adult dogs and that she and I would visit the nursery about every fifteen minutes. We would check on her babies, she could feed them and I could sit beside her and talk with her while she was busy. Then I could clean up the box and do whatever maintenance was needed. This is the routine we used for the next three weeks.

The first night I had slept in the room with Samb
a and the pups, but I had forgotten how noisy newborn pups are, so after that I would put Samba in the room with the pups and close the gates. I would leave the doors open so if she needed me I could hear her, then I would sleep in my own bed. I found it amusing that she slept on the mattress except when she was nursing the pups.

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