|Mamma Topa with Six healthy puppies|
|A puppy! That's Lucky Seven|
|Topa resting comfortably in the extended cab of the pick up!|
|Mamma and two babies|
|Back home with 4 more to come!|
Day 61 of 63 and no signs from Topa that she would be having those babies any time soon; or so I thought. Within a half an hour after announcing this “no news”, Topa lost her mucus plug and began heavily panting. I recalled the birth of Sasha’s puppies back in January. She had lost her plug early in the morning and didn’t have the puppies until 24+ hours afterwards. Our litters never tend to be text book so the anticipation and excitement began.
Within a few short hours of Topa’s telltale and signature vocalizations, I saw her lightly push. This was 11:21PM on Thursday. Oh! Pushing! Alright then. It won’t be long now before we see the first beautiful baby. Having a litter of puppies is like a box of chocolates. You never know what’s inside!
Time went by and no more pushing. Huh. So I pop online to facebook to post my experience on the page of an educational and life-saving group about Canine Reproduction. They have over 9,000 members from the person having had only one litter all the way up to reproductive specialists. I have used them for information on litters past and found what they have to offer to be invaluable.
Ok, so she is now in Stage 2 labor once she begins to push even the slightest. Good to know. This is my 10th litter in 16 years of having these magnificent dogs in my life and each one is like the first; there is always something I didn’t anticipate or didn’t know and always something new to learn. Just before Topa began to push, I printed off all of the important documents from this reproduction site and I began to read them (again) and had our new dog handler do the same. Ok! Along with all of the items I had set aside in a box marked for “whelping”, we should be prepared.
Now, it’s 1:38AM on Friday morning and Topa begins to actively push. We’re all tired now and, if I recall, I am the only one up, until the pushing begins, then you bet everyone else will be up if I have to go and physically get them up myself. This is serious business and it’s only the second time that Neil has been here during this process. It was nice to have extra hands on board. The rush of excitement soon waned, and I found myself, again, the only one awake as we waited for the puppy to make her presence known. After about an hour, I, again, reached out to my reproductive group, so glad that someone was still awake, and the response was to feel inside to see if a puppy was stuck. In my 10 litters, I’ve never had to do this so was hesitant but knew that it must be done.
Alright then, the little guy wasn’t stuck and was clearly interested in making its way outta there. Another hour went by and still no puppy! I had read in my literature that after 2 hours of pushing, an emergency vet visit was the next step. Again, I am online pleading for expert advice. After being reassured that the situation didn’t sound dire just yet, I felt better but the roller coaster of emotion was starting to take a toll. I was advised to try the “wheelbarrow method” with her; again, something I have never done or even witnessed. This would apparently help to move the pup into a more appropriate position for birth. So, here we go. I was told to elevate her back legs onto the couch with her front legs firmly placed on the floor and have her stay put for at least 10 minutes. 10 minutes?! Can you imagine trying to keep a dog in that position for even a minute and much less a dog that is giving birth, hopefully, any minute? I had, again, awakened my two drowsy helpers and they assisted placing Topa in the “wheelbarrow” position.
When that traumatic (for the people mostly) experience was done, I was instructed to feel for the puppy again. In doing so, she was in the same position but, only, this time, she wasn’t moving. My heart sank and it still does just typing this. I had managed to keep it together until this moment of the process. I felt tears welling up and I felt like curling up into the fetal position and bawling my eyes out for a second but you can’t do that now, can you? I snatched the phone out of the cradle and called our emergency vet in Canada, an hour and a half drive away. I explained the situation while holding back the tears. We discussed when I would be there and when I hung up the phone, we all agreed that Parker, our new handler that had only been here for 3 days would come with me and Topa to Canada and Neil will remain back with the other dogs.
Parker held her cupped hands underneath Topa to catch a pup that may decide to make an appearance, as if waiting to catch a low-flying football pass, as we rushed to the truck. I had already grabbed water, passports, rabies certificates and other miscellaneous for the journey. Topa readily jumped into the truck which was amazing in of itself because she really dislikes car rides. She will typically be very agitated and drool herself sloppy wet the entire way. Thankfully, there was already a “dog” blanket in the back for our various doggie trips to town.
Fearing encountering a deer in the dark at roughly 3:30AM, my eyes were glued to the road and I instructed Parker to do the same thing, but to also keep glancing back to check on Topa. We bumped and bustled down the gravel road and when meeting the pavement I immediately felt a bit of relief for Topa and sped up. Ah, the highway! Thank goodness. I picked up the pace just as I was reminded by what felt like a mini roller coaster ride (quick arms-up-in-the-air type drop) and then an abrupt “WHOMP” as I was compressed into my chair and then my head nearly hit the roof of the truck once back up on pavement, that there was road construction! I’m sure I uttered something not quite appropriate for this post, but can’t recall what it was and I quickly glanced back at Topa. I was not able to see a thing from my vantage point so quickly instructed Parker to take a look. A PUPPY! That bump (to put it lightly) must have dislodged the puppy. THERE SHE WAS! Was she alive? YES!!!!
We have no cell coverage at this point in the road and were closer to the Canadian border now than to home so we kept going, thinking I would give the vet a call once in Grand Portage when we could pick up a signal again. At this point, I had fully intended to continue on to our emergency vet in Canada but remembered that contractions are so much more productive when calcium is given. I had left the calcium at home so thought we could quickly pick up some in Grand Portage while I called the vet to see what he thought we should do next.
Turns out that the Trading Post in Grand Portage was closed so we parked in the parking lot (across from the Casino) anyway so that I could make the call to the vet. 4:15AM - ANOTHER PUPPY! It’s a BOY! She seemed to be on a roll now.
The vet indicated that it would be best for her to have them in a place with which she was familiar so we should drive back home. He assured me that he would be there if we needed to drive back. So, back home we drove, taking special care to avoid the road construction hazards this time.
The sun was beginning to rise and daylight came upon us. The post office was on the way home so I decided to stop in to check the mail. Seems rather nonchalant, doesn’t it? Well, I guess that all of my years working on the life lesson of “letting go” really did work after all. I figured that she comfortable, she was having puppies and she didn’t appear the last bit distressed so it wouldn’t matter one bit to her if I checked the mail or not.
We returned home around 5:30AM or so, I really can’t recall. I opened up the extended cab door of my Toyota Tacoma to find mamma Topa and two babies comfortably resting. I picked up the still slightly wet puppies and Topa readily follow me and puppies into the house and right into the whelping box as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. She effortlessly delivered another male puppy at 6AM and then continued in an uneventful manner until the last puppy was delivered at 8:24AM.
I finally got myself to bed at around 9AM and was relieved by my, still very groggy, husband. All I remember was a knock on the door at 9:24AM – There’s another puppy! We were expecting 4-5 and got #6 unexpectedly. When puzzling over the puppy theme names we agreed that The Grand Portage Casino litter made the most sense. It was local and very fitting. And our #6 puppy was our Jackpot.
Lucky Seven (first thought to have passed but was born alive!), Ace of Spades, Deuce, Queen of Hearts, Wild Card and Jackpot - all healthy active puppies. Mamma Topa is the perfect mom and is finally to the point where, after a week on the planet, she thinks it’s alright for her to go out and get some “me” time away from the puppies, a few times a day for short periods of time. And me, well, I am thoroughly enjoying the last litter we will have for a while. We’ve got lots of youngsters to train, a few older retired dogs to pamper and lots of other young and middle-aged dogs to spend time with, care for, love and work.
If you would like to follow the growth of these puppies, we post photos regularly on our facebook page. Click HERE for that link.