My dog Elsa had puppies on Sunday May 26th and I can tell you it was really exhausting for me—the midwife!
Firstly, I didn't know she was pregnant till about a week before she gave birth. Now, as a dog lover, I have, in my 62 years, looked after quite a few dogs whelping. There was the Sydney Silky terrier we had when I was 16 and whose delivery I sat through. Then there was the German Shepherd I had here, who had at least 4 litters. My mother had a Labrador retriever too, who must have had about 3 litters. So I was quite cool about the impending birth. My kitchen help was very worried and I told her, very confidently, that the mother dog did everything. All we really had to do was give her a safe place to have the puppies and then see that the mother is fed well. I had to eat my words well and truly!
Elsa seemed to have started labour on Saturday evening. I gave her a place in a sort of outhouse we have and laid it with paper and some old cloth and she seemed settled and so we left her in peace to get on with it.
My daughter, son-in-law and children were here then. Luckily daughter and hubby are both dog lovers. Anyway, very early in the morning I heard her crying. I looked out into the backyard and saw her restlessly pacing up and down outside. I did not want to open the house and go sit outside with her at 3 am. But I just couldn't sleep. So finally I got a lot of old newspaper, laid it out in the bathroom attached to the bedroom I was sleeping in and brought her in, shut the door and sat with her. But she was very restless. Quite soon after that she delivered one pup at one corner of the bathroom. I told her she better take care of it and she did lick him a bit and I could see he was alive. But she didn't bother to break the umbilical chord or anything like that. The look she gave me was like “what is this wriggling thing? I don’t have anything to do with it.” I took the pup up in some newspaper and put it next to her and told her, in no uncertain terms, that she better feed the pup and went back to bed. But I barely lay down, when I heard the pup crying away and Elsa herself protesting. So I went back to sit with her. At around 5.30 am son-in-law came by and all she seemed to want was to get out. So I let her out. SIL stood with her while I went to get coffee for the both of us. Suddenly I heard him call in panic, “Ma, come quick!” I ran out to find she had just dropped another pup, just like that, out in the yard and she had not torn the amniotic sac around the pup. So it was left to me to do that, a la James Herriot, with instructions from SIL (who is incidentally a big James Herriot fan too).
Then I lifted this pup up too in newspaper, a female this time, called Elsa to sit in one place and put both the pups near her to feed. Unfortunately, both pups were still attached by the umbilical chord to the sacs. So, when I put them together they got entangled! By this time, I was feeling I just couldn't cope and I finally got a vet to come, although it was a Sunday. But by the time he came, with help from the Net (Wiki ehow I think) I cut the chord for both the pups. When the vet came, he looked at Elsa and pronounced that there were still more pups to come out and that sometimes labour took as long as 24 hours!!. As it was just around 10 am, that left another 10 hours wait at least.
In the meantime, we found a dead pup outside, which she had obviously dropped in the night. So we decided to keep her under strict surveillance. We had got in reinforcements—passionate dog-lover niece from next door too. Well, we all took it in turns to keep watch over Elsa, because she refused to go and lie down anywhere. But we kept her confined to the back yard. In spite of this kind of watching, she dropped two pups, which process we missed and by the time we found them they were dead, as she hadn’t removed the sacs. The two pups that were alive, I had laid them in a clean place and together, so that at least they would get warmth from each other.
It was now 3 pm and Elsa was still pacing around quite desperately. I went in the house for a bit while my daughter & niece were out. There was an urgent call from them, “Come out fast. We can see a tail hanging out.” I ran out to see that Elsa was straining to deliver a breech puppy. Finally, again a la James Herriot, I put on a pair of gloves and helped. This pup was still-born, and with it came out another one. This one we immediately tore the sac off. Then, with further help from eHow, I tried to revive the puppy. She started breathing and seemed to be a survivor.
In the meantime, I felt from Elsa’s behaviour that she had had all her pups. By now she was hungry. It was over 24 hours since she had eaten anything and she agreed to have a little milk and kibble and finally condescended to lie down and feed her pups, if one of us sat with her. The newest little runt though couldn't suck and we tried to feed her with expressed milk from a syringe. The runt though survived only a night. Then there were two. But then, after a week, the smaller of the two, the female pup died, why I do not know, because she had been feeding well and all that. Now, there is just the one male pup and hopefully he will survive.
Anyhow, I decided this is it, no way was I going to think of Elsa having another litter. I have decided to spay her after 3 months. I most definitely do not wish to be midwife for a whelping again!!!!!!!