With the tragic loss of our beloved Cricket at New Years, we made the very emotional decision to try and get her mum, Mouse, back in pup. So our mate Rocky, from up the road, was once more called upon for his duties. Good old Mouse never fails us and it was quickly obvious that we had pups on the way!
We took Mouse in for an Ultrasound scan at around Day 35 of pregnancy, which showed multiple little fluid filled sacs in her tummy. Its always hard to be exact with numbers at this point but we could see there were quite a few in there.
One week before she was due we took her back to our vets for an X-ray of her tummy. At this stage the skeletons have formed and it is (normally!) easier to try and get a more accurate puppy count. This is a really important diagnostic tool, as it means you have a clear idea of when to intervene if things go wrong during the whelping...
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, 5 days before she was officially due, I was woken up by a very high pitched and excited Charlie: "Mouse has had her puppies under my bed! I can hear them squeaking!" We hurried to his room to find Mouse, not under his bed, but in his bean bag next to it. A completely unsuitable place to have puppies, as the bag swallowed her up and made it very hard to see what was going on.
Mouse in fact had only one puppy at this stage and after a bit of persuasion (and some strong contractions that distracted her from objecting too much) I managed to get her to settle in a much more suitable dog basket.
She delivered a further two healthy pups but then things started to go wrong. The amniotic sac of the 4th pup appeared, along with some good contractions but no pup arrived. I donned some gloves and added plenty of lube and began the process of trying to work out what was happening, inside a tiny pelvic canal, barely wide enough for two fingers!
The pup was sitting just beyond the pelvic canal and there was nothing to hold onto. Despite Mouse's best efforts it was clear that he was jammed. So Charlie and I quickly bundled her and the three pups up into the car and headed for town.
Once at the vet clinic, Mouse was examined and the attending vet felt much the same as what I had. We gave her one injection of Oxytocin, to strengthen her contractions but it quickly became evident that we needed to get these pups out.
So Mouse was prepped for surgery, her belly clipped and an IV catheter placed in her leg, ready for her anaesthetic. The experienced team at Vets One worked fast and within minutes we had puppies being handed out to us for resuscitation. They came thick and fast and it was a juggling act, assessing which were doing well and which needed more help.
The first big boy to come out was trying to climb out of his towel within minutes...all good! We had another strong one and then three very flat pups, including an absolutely tiny one, who clearly drew the short straw for nutrient supply in Mouse's belly!
Charlie helped to resuscitate them, rubbing them fast and gently with a towel and holding the oxygen close to their faces. The vet nurses and I suctioned the fluid out of their nostrils and mouthes and swung them between our legs to bring the fluid up from their lungs.
Two of the pups started to slowly gasp for breath and make small movements – we are always waiting for the first squeak, which means their lungs have expanded and they have taken a good breath.
Sadly for the last pup to come out, we never got that squeak. He was the pup who was stuck and despite an hour of continuous efforts to bring him to life he just couldn't hold on, the stress of being stuck was too much for his fragile little body.
So the end result was seven healthy pups, three girls and four boys. Our littlest boy has been named Tiny and he is a real battler. He was born weighing half that of his littermates. For the first few nights at home I got up every couple of hours to put him on the teat for a drink. He gained weight like a champion and by the fourth night he wasn't interested in me helping him, he was already full every time I tried!
The pups are doing great, they are eleven days old now. Their eyes are still closed but will be opening soon. They are in a big basket in our laundry but we will need to put the pup pen up shortly, it's not long before they start scrambling out of the basket to explore... once their eyes open it's game on!