Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When Maple's "leaves" dropped..

holy crap yall Friday was ROUGH.  We didn't really know when our foster dog Maple was due to have her pups, only that it was just a matter of time before someone snuck up behind her, yelled boo and she'd explode. I  started a "Puppy Pool" with our rescue volunteers and most everyone guessed she would go into labor within the week. I wasn't allowed to enter, but secretly, I knew that I had a lot of things scheduled for both Friday and Monday, so chances were, she'd pick one of those days. Sure enough, Friday morning, I woke up and saw signs that things were pretty much getting under way. I'm not going to describe for you what those "signs" were, but trust me, you know. So, I texted my boss and told him I was going to take the morning off, got some coffee and Maple and I settled into the "maternity ward" i.e. my bathroom around 6:30am. At this point, I was thinking, "it's just five pups, MAYBE six, we should have this all wrapped up by noon, right?" Why I am ever dumb enough to think that things are going to run this smoothly, I don't know. 

Maple and I sat there staring at each other for almost four hours before anything happened. I'd check her, um, "area" to see what was up and I could tell that things were happening, but she just wasn't getting to the pushing them out phase. She was pretty much stuck in the stand up, shiver, turn around, try to get comfy in one spot and then try another spot while staring at me in confusion phase for HOURS. I kept trying to get up and stretch and go get a refill on my coffee, but she wasn't having it. Anytime I'd try to leave the room, Maple would heave her gigantic tum out of the whelping box and try to follow me with her head as close to my ankles as possible. So finally I just locked her in the bathroom, sprinted to the kitchen to fill up on a days worth of snacks and coffee, grabbed the phone charger and made it back before she could manage to work herself into a panic. So, there we sat until around 10:30am when she finally stood up, walked over to where I was sitting crosslegged on the floor, rammed her head into my stomach, crouched her back end and out came our first baby. 

Maple had no idea what had just happened. See, when pups come out, they are esconced in their own individual umbilical sac where they stay until the mama tears the sac open with their teeth  and gnaws off the umbilical cord. It's pretty visceral and gross, but...effective. There's not a lot of clean up the person has to do other than providing some fresh towels.  When Maple pushed the puppy out  she had absolutely no idea what to do next. She was literally just standing there with a puppy hanging out of her looking at me incredulously like, "I thought I was just going to poop!".  So I grabbed the pair of whelping scissors I have on hand, cut a snip in the sac and cradled the puppy with a handtowel and showed it to her. At this point the puppy is still attached to her by it's umbilical cord and I'm trying to explain to her that she's gotta do something about that. Like I'm seriously having a conversation with her, mimicking gnawing on piece of corn on the cob and pointing, "LIKE THIS! USE YOUR TEETH, RIGHT THERE. YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO WALK AROUND LIKE THIS, MAPLE, THERE ARE RULES."  This whole time Maple is looking at me like, "Aw, HELL NO, That is disgusting." So, I cut the cord myself.  Twelve minutes later, another pup comes and:  Same. 

Usually, in my experience, once puppies start coming out, they come out fairly regularly, like maybe 15 to 45 minutes apart. Never really more than an hour or so in between pups. But she had these two puppies and then things just... stopped.  Websites will tell you that it might take up to 2 hours for a puppy to come out but if more than 3 hours goes by and she's been trying to push, something is wrong (trust me, I had a lot of time sitting there to google this, sitting in my bathroom drinking ice-cold coffee).  We were 22 minutes away from the 3 hour mark when the next pup finally made his way out. He was..large, as in, plugging up the puppyworks large. I cut the sac open like I had for the first two was about to cut the cord when Maple turned around and gently grabbed him out of my hand with her mouth. She had finally figured out what she was supposed to do. This was great because by that time, I was so rattled that my hands were shaking and I was afraid if I tried to cut the cord, HE was going to end up a SHE.
That's Biggie McHeads-a-Huge there to the left

After that, next two pups came out smoothly and in a somewhat timely manner in that I wasn't trying to figure out how I was going to schlep everyone into the back of my car and head to the Emergency Vet. Maple got the hang of cleaning them off and was starting to nurse, but she was tuckered out. Sooooo tuckered out..

  At this point, we had five puppies and I knew there might be one more because when we first got her, there were xrays done where they had told us there were 5, possibly 6 pups in there. A week later, we had an ultrasound done to check on pup viability and while ultrasounds aren't great at telling you how many there are (but good at showing heartbeats), the vets thought 5 or 6 sounded about right for what they were seeing.  So, it was no great surprise when number six was born. What WAS a great big surprise when I went to go feel her tum and just check to make sure I didn't feel anything else in there and...there was something else in there. At this point, it's almost 5pm and we had been going at this for almost 11 hours. And we are not done. Shit. On. Fire. 

Number seven arrived shortly after 5'oclock. Ok, I thought, It's just one more. I can handle this. I mean, our last litter was nine puppies, I can handle seven.This is just a little lagniappe.   But, just in case, I felt her tum again and... YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. There was another one in there. Now, it's always possible that when you're feeling the mama's tum to check and see if there's another puppy, what you're feeling is not a puppy. I won't go into mama dog anatomy here, but if you ever find yourself stuck in a bathroom with a dog in labor for eleven hours, you learn things. At any rate, so, it' s POSSIBLE it's not a puppy, just a part of the mom, but I could tell this was a puppy. I just could feel it. Sure enough, the eighth puppy was born at 6:27pm, a mere dozen hours after we first began.

(this look on her face, while seemingly one of joy and relief, is also a little bit of "Well, That Was Intense and HOLY SHIT THERE ARE EIGHT." I know, because I felt it too.) 

Back in the saddle, indeed.

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