If you haven’t already done so, you really should read the first part of this story before reading this post. You can find the first part here.
Yesterday, when I left off with my story, Kirstin was trying to get a very pregnant and unwilling Rottweiler up a steep hill, I was trying to keep several puppies alive and well until their mother returned to the house and could care for them, and our fluffy lapdog, Buffalo, was nursing two of the newborn Rottweiler puppies in addition to her own three (one-week old) puppies.
When Ben brought the third puppy up to the house, I was actually busy in the lard making project (yes, that was going on at the same time). I needed to be stirring rather constantly, so I didn’t have hands for the puppy. I also didn’t want to put a third puppy in with Buffalo. I felt confident that Kirstin would have Pepper (the mother dog) back in the house fairly soon, so I didn’t want to have to go through the process of getting Buffalo to accept another pup for such a short time. I was also thinking that Pepper might give me trouble when I tried to take the puppies from Buffalo and give them back to her, and I just didn’t want to compound my difficulties unnecessarily. So, I took the slightly slimy puppy (Pepper had given it just a very quick cleaning) and stuck it down the front of my shirt. I remembered, from my days dealing with human infants, that skin-to-skin contact is the best way to warm a cold baby. It was also the only hands-off method I could come up with quickly. The puppy didn’t seem to mind.
While I stirred lard, with a slightly slimy puppy inside my shirt, Kirstin was hauling Pepper very slowly up the hill. Pepper is too big a dog for Kirstin to carry, so this was a pulling and hauling and resting and continuing kind of process. Pepper helped not at all, and when given the opportunity would try to head back down the hill to the den she had chosen. Eventually, however, Kirstin won the battle. Kirstin is a recently trained and licensed Emergency Medical Technician, and I teased her later that we’d sent her out on her first EMT call. Kirstin says she doesn’t believe that assisting at any human birth will ever be as physically demanding as what she was called upon to do for Pepper!
When Kirstin and Pepper crested the hill and were in sight of the house, Pepper decided that she really did want to be inside after all. She finished the trip without assistance and headed directly to the spot which I had set up for her birth. She was clearly looking for a puppy in that spot, so I was happy to be able to pull one out of my shirt and give it to her. She immediately settled down to caring for the puppy. Now we were set up for having babies!
I was going to wait a bit, before getting the other two puppies back from Buffalo, but since Pepper settled in so easily I went ahead and brought one of them to her (Buffalo was not happy at my stealing her new puppy from her). Pepper accepted the puppy without a second thought, so I brought the other puppy as well (again, against the objections of Buffalo, who had clearly decided to keep those puppies – she would have looked pretty funny in a few weeks, when the Rottweiler babies outweighed her), and all was well with the world.
Except, of course, that Kirstin was collapsed on the couch, I still had to finish the lard, and nothing at all had been accomplished in our house for hours but dealing with puppies. Yea for convenience food. We splurge on frozen pizzas (we have to get them from San Pedro Sula) and keep them for occasions when we need a quick meal. It was definitely a frozen pizza night here yesterday!
It also started to rain about this time, which was not important once Pepper was in the house, but it showed that Kirstin was right to force Pepper into shelter, even though it had meant moving her during labor.
After getting up the hill, Pepper’s body took a short break from pumping out puppies, but after an hour or so things started up again, and for the rest of the evening she just kept on having puppies. When she finally stopped there were TWELVE Rottweiler puppies!
None of our dogs has ever had such a large litter, and Pepper has been known, in the past, to accidentally crush a couple of her puppies, so we figured this huge batch would need some extra help and protection. We set up a box under a heat lamp, and took the earliest born puppies away from Pepper. After two hours, we switched the two groups, so that the ones which had been in the box had a turn to nurse. This made the situation a bit more manageable for Pepper, and also guaranteed that the smallest puppies wouldn’t be pushed away from the available food by the larger ones. We continued this two hour switching process all night – which is why I’m so exhausted today – and I’m watching the group throughout the day, moving puppies which have fallen asleep away from Pepper and into the safety of the box, and moving them back when they need to eat. Pepper doesn’t seem to care. I think she’s pretty exhausted, too.