|#1 - Female - 16oz - Silver Bay|
|#2 - Female - 15oz - Temperance (River)|
|#3 - Female - 16oz - Grand Marais|
|#4 - Female - 16oz - Tofte|
|#5 - Female - 16oz - Lutsen|
|#6 - Female - 15.5oz - Gooseberry (Falls)|
|#7 - MALE! - 15oz - Arrow (Arrowhead Trail)|
Topa had seven healthy puppies yesterday early morning on day 62.
Her temperature began dropping the Wednesday before; down to 98.8. Not having had too many litters, I relied on the knowledge that once the temperature drops, you've got 12-24 hours until puppies arrive. The normal temperature range for a dog is 100-102. I could hardly believe the drop, considering her due date window was from the 18th to the 25th and here it was only the 16th. I had planned to be at the Do it Green Gifts Fair selling our Scent from Nature; 100% Pure Beeswax Candles on Saturday the 19th but it looked as though our attendance was in jeopardy.
Thursday came and the temp went back up to 100.2 in the morning and then down to 99.1 in the evening and Topa's behavior remained the same, however she had been going to the door more for the past few nights to be let out. Her milk had come in three weeks prior already and she began nesting at that time, as well. Friday came and her temp was up to 99.7 then down to 98.8 in the evening. What was going on? I told myself that if I saw a drastic change in her behavior on Saturday morning before I packed up to head into the Gifts Fair, I would cancel. To be on the safe side, I called my on call vet tech, Missy Lewis from the Westonka Animal Hospital, to see if she could come out and check on Topa a couple times during the day and stay with her until I got home, should she see a need. After losing two of Tuloon's puppies in 2009 (Topa was in this litter), I was going to do whatever I could to make sure none were lost this time around.
Saturday morning came and Topa seemed fine, however as the morning went on, I saw subtle changes. She wasn't panting or overly clingy and the money to be made at the Gifts Fair is greatly needed so I opted to go, knowing that she would be in good hands while I was gone.
Saturday was also the day that sweet little Rayna was flying in from Alaska and Lisa Urness, one of our super dog handlers, was kind enough to agree to pick her up and keep her company until I returned home that evening.
At the Do it Green Gifts Fair, my mind was somewhere else. It's hard to focus on selling when all you can think about is what might be happening at home. I packed up at 5PM on the dot and headed straight home in what was our first snow storm, no less! It took me an extra half an hour to get home so with Lisa bringing Rayna over at 8PM, I needed to get moving considering it was now 7:15. The poor adult sled dogs only got a quick hello and a bowl full of food and water before I had to head in and prepare for the new baby's arrival. Topa's behavior still appeared normal as she rested in her crate while we introduced Rommel to his new little sister. We had a puppy party in the sun room for the next hour before having to call it a night. Or so I thought.
Topa didn't appear as though I needed to have her in the whelping box so I opted to leave her in her crate and try to get some sleep. Rayna had different ideas and made quite a lot of noise in her crate that was left in the sun room with Topa. After moving her crate into the bedroom, thinking it might be more comforting for the puppy I heard what sounded like a warning bark of some kind coming from the sun room. Topa was trying to tell me something. So we all moved downstairs to the whelping area; Linda, Topa and puppy in crate.
Topa began to whine loudly at roughly 11:30PM and then was joined in song by Rayna. Alright, this was just too much. After a super long day at the Gifts Fair, my patience was running thin and I desperately needed some sleep so the puppy went outside to sleep with Sweet Pea. I comforted Topa as much as I could but since I could do no more at this point and she didn't seem distressed, I popped an ear plug in and tried to get some sleep, knowing that I would be far more helpful to her with just a little bit of sleep behind me.
But alas, I was not meant to sleep on Saturday night. Topa's whining and restlessness grew in intensity and the puppy outside howled and cried off and on. Not having the capacity at that moment to do anything but comfort Topa, I left Sweet Pea with the responsibility of the new puppy for the night and she soon settled down, allowing me to focus now on Topa.
I noticed Topa push for the first time at roughly 4:30AM. Eight minutes later, standing up and screaming, Topa delivered her first baby as I tried desperately to make certain it didn't drop to the ground as I pulled Topa down by her collar. She obviously had no clue what was happening to her and seemed very out of sorts and overly focused on me which, considering my state, wasn't the best of ideas. She did reluctantly clean the puppy and sloppily cut the umbilical chord but would not lay down so the puppy could drink. I was horrified as Tuloon's 2009 lost babies came to mind and I frantically forced Topa to lay down and tried to get the puppy to suck but her mouth wouldn't open. I can't tell you how frightened I was at that moment. We were not going to lose a puppy. I was beginning to get so upset with Topa but knew that she was feeding off of my emotions and I was only making her even more frightened than she already must have been. She still wasn't certain what was happening.
As the second baby started to crown and I multi tasked and called Missy to let her know I needed her help and that the baby was not able to suck and Topa was not helping things. After hanging up the phone, I noticed a change in Topa. The instinctual switch flipped and with her second baby, she seemed to "get it". I tried to call Missy back to say she didn't need to come out but it was too late, she was already in the driveway. She came in with a full load of warming supplies, formula, syringes, towels, you name it. She got right to work on Topa, helping to comfort her. She worked with each new baby, making certain they began to suckle. She weighed them and helped to clean them off. She was my guardian angel that morning.
Missy arrived at 5AM and was out the door at 7:30AM. All seven babies delivered in three hours! After five hours of Topa's whining and panting, I sure was happy for the short delivery time. We kept track of coloring, weight and sex as each little baby came into the world. We knew we were expecting seven and when we got up to puppy number six and still didn't have a boy, I was hoping......Number 7 - BOY! And all appeared healthy. Thank goodness.
Lisa, my other guardian angel, arrived at 8AM to help feed the sled dogs. I had hoped to have a meeting with my pillow later that morning but that never did happen. Too much to do; little puppies to watch, Momma to care for, bigger puppies to play with and adult sled dogs to exercise. Boy was I beat at the end of the day yesterday! Neil is back in the UK so missed it all but will be here very soon to see all of the new babies.Until then, I've got a few wonderful helpers who will be coming and going over the next few weeks. Kristen stopped by this morning to help feed and with the holiday, Hailey and Melanie will be back from college to lend a hand with the pups.
I'm happy to report that, after my initial scare when she had no idea what was happening to her, Topa is an excellent mother. She doesn't lay flat on her side to nurse but curls up in a "C" with all of them tucked inside her, even putting her head over the bunch for added warmth. She is diligent about keeping them clean and isn't too happy if I pick them up at this point, as she tried to gently take them away from me with her mouth. I'm having a difficult time getting her to leave them for potty breaks and that is to be expected.
So everyone please welcome the Topa/Oken litter of seven beautiful pups! We've chosen their temporary names under the following theme - "Minnesota's North Shore" Litter!