A puppy story!
Our sweet Fishbone foster dog had her puppies on Saturday. When I got up Saturday morning I noticed she was acting not quite normal. And I knew it was the day because we’d been tracking her temps and her temps dropped as they are supposed to right before labor and delivery. She suddenly didn’t want to be in the living room, didn’t want to be around our dogs, and wanted to be somewhere private.
So, I spent all morning in the puppy room with her while she did her work of laboring. By around lunchtime I could visibly see her contractions. After lunch she had curled up in my lap for comfort, but then had three extremely strong contractions in a row, all of which she yelled through. She thought I did them TO her so she ran and hid in her kennel. After I got her calmed down, I got her out of her kennel and shut the door as I didn’t want a baby born in a kennel.
She ended up having her first puppy on the floor of the puppy room outside her whelping box at 3:23 pm.
For the first puppy, I was on my own. It all happened so fast, and I’d called to Mr. Ink that we were going to have a puppy but apparently he thought he had more time. After this, Mr. Ink took the yelling Fishbone was doing seriously and he got back in the room for the puppies. As someone completely green to the process, after Fishbone hollered through the birth of two puppies, I assumed it was normal and no one had mentioned it to me.
After Marlin, Fishbone got a bit of a break. And the rescue owner was able to get there so we had an expert on hand. Fishbone settled in with her first two puppies while we waited. And waited. Eventually we decided we needed to get her up and moving as it had been an hour since her last puppy and we never want to go two hours between puppies. After I took her out, I could visibly see strong contractions again which was encouraging. Finally, at 5:09 pm she had her third puppy.
Sturgeon is a little red boy with a white blaze and a bobbed tail. This was when we began to realize that these puppies were just going to be a surprise in their coloring! Honestly, I’d expected brindles and black puppies. But these puppies just weren’t that! Sturgeon weighed in at 8.2 ounces.
Fishbone’s contractions remained strong so we were delighted to welcome our fourth puppy at 5:34 pm. He turned out to be the runt of the litter. Our rescue owner was still there supervising. I did with our runt what I’d done with the other puppies and mama did what she’d done with the other puppies but suddenly our rescue owner said “Ok that’s enough, hand him over!” He’d gone too long without breathing and she’d been watching that. I hadn’t quite known he wasn’t breathing, he was moving, and I was just going on autopilot. But she was able to hold him upside down and rough him up and I was able to suction out his mouth and nose enough to get him going.
Our tiny Loach weighed in at only 6.5 ounces. He matches Marlin in coloring right down to the white chest but has a bobbed tail.
At this point, our rescue owner decided that we were doing great on our own with this birth so she headed back out to her own obligations. I am so grateful she checked in on us, total newbies to dog labor and delivery.
It took over an our for our 5th puppy to make an appearance, we got Fishbone up and moving again so that she could progress her labor. At 6:47 pm she had the first little girl! No huge color surprise here, but she is lighter than her brown brothers and her face is more brown than black. She also has a bobbed tail. Mr. Ink was so surprised by a girl after 4 boys that he insisted I turn her back over and check again. Then, when I confirmed she was a girl, HE turned her over and checked again. Finally satisfied she was a girl, he documented that on the paperwork we were keeping.
We named her Dace, she was born at 7.7 ounces.
We again had to wait almost an hour for puppy 6 who was again a massive color surprise. Dolly Varden was born at 8.3 ounces a total blondie! She was born at 7:38 pm.
She also has a bobbed tail and she has a white blaze. Super interesting coloring on her and I am interested to see how she looks as she grows up. At this point I was just thinking what other colors could we possibly get? And also, how is it that among this litter we’ve had no brindles at all? Mom is a wonderful brindle color, where is it reflected in her puppies?
After getting Dolly Varden situated, which actually took a bit of time because she was a huge whiner but somehow couldn’t figure out she had to open her mouth to get a nipple, Mr. Ink and I decided we needed to figure out what to do about dinner. Knowing that we likely had 8 puppies coming I told him I could not leave her, so maybe some fast food was the way to go. He headed out to a local fast food chain to bring back food and I got mama up and moving a bit again. By this time, obviously, we were both getting pretty tired. Mr. Ink said “Of course you are! You’ve been at this for 5 hours!” To which I told him it had been much longer than that. After all, Fishbone and I had been laboring in that room since like 7:30 am. We just hadn’t had puppies until later.
At this point, Fishbone also started shaking like a leaf. I knew that could be part of the process and part of losing energy. But also, the process had made all the towels in the whelping box soaking wet. So, I decided to give her a full refresh. I put the 6 puppies in a box with a heating pad and then pulled out all the wet towels and put down fresh dry towels. I was delighted to see that this warmed Fishbone back up and she stopped shaking.
Mr. Ink brought back food and put it on a plate for me. Fishbone showed a lot of interest in my food, so I shared my fries with her and she was delighted. So after I finished eating, I got her to eat some kibble. And then Mr. Ink brought in a special treat, an ice cream pup cup for her. She enjoyed that as well, and once refreshed, her energy level returned so she could have her 7th puppy. Snook, a third girl, was born at 8:40 pm and while it’s hard to tell in this photo, I finally got the brindle I had been anticipating. And in another surprise, Snook doesn’t even have a tail at all!
Snook was 8 ounces at birth and secretly this was the point I was seriously hoping Fishbone was done with puppies. On her x-rays I never saw all 8 puppies the vet did and I was truly hoping the 8th wasn’t there. I should have trusted the expert, the vet.
Since my back was really struggling having sat near or in the whelping box all day long, Mr. Ink decided to take over. He wanted me to relax and rest my back but like, there was still so much to do!? So I got a load of grody laundry started figuring that would be the best use of my time. After all, I knew I’d need clean towels again for the whelping box later on and again in the morning. After that I did lay down, sent some photos of puppies to the rescue owner, and express my hope that we were done.
Mr. Ink got Fishbone up and moving and outside again, and it looked like she was pushing again. So back in the whelping box she went but Mr. Ink stayed with her. And then I heard the yell she’d let out with every single puppy so far so I ran in to find puppy #8 had been born. It was 9:57 pm.
Goby was yet another color surprise! He was born 8 ounces and was another with a bobbed tail. Mr. Ink and I argued and argued about his coloring and then determined we were just going to have to wait and see the next day. I called him blue but he wasn’t blue like the first puppy. Mr. Ink called him tan but he wasn’t really tan. We have now determined that it’s likely he’s an odd genetic anomaly called lilac. But we’ll see as he gets older.
Once Goby arrived, I was able to settle down a bit, knowing it was likely we were truly done. Mr. Ink took Fishbone outside again and I moved all 8 puppies to the warming box. I then did a full refresh of bedding for them. I set up the heating pad in the whelping box so the puppies could use it to regulate their body temps when not with mom. Then we got mom and pups all back in the whelping box. I set up the puppy cam so I could keep an eye on them remotely through the night and then headed to bed. Mr. Ink stayed up to listen for more yelling on the off chance mom was going to have a surprise 9th puppy but we are ever so grateful that did not happen.
All in all, a very successful whelping. First puppy at 3:23 and last puppy at 9:57 so overall that’s a pretty quick delivery. Mama Fishbone is a great mom which definitely makes our job easier. The biggest thing I learned after the fact is that Fishbone was having some very large babies for a 25ish pound dog. Apparently it is not normal for a mom dog to yell through all the puppy births. I think we were a little fortunate we didn’t need any intervention. I only had one puppy that did not gain in the first day, little Dace didn’t gain while the rest of the litter gained about an ounce in day 1. Thankfully, in day 2 Dace did a great job making that up with some big gains right along with her siblings. It is utterly mystifying to me that they can grow so fast! I am sure I’ll keep posting photos as they age. While I am not going to turn into a dog maternity foster home, we are grateful to have been given a new adventure in our lives.