Advantages The most beautiful babies in the world.
Disadvantages Not to be entered into lightly.
Polly's due date was 17th to the 19th March but when I went in to take a very large Polly for her evening stroll on Tuesday night something told me that we were not going to go to Friday so I got out the baby listening device. There used to be a time when I would have to bed down next to the girls for 48 hours before but since the invention of baby monitors I can listen without having to sleep on the floor. This is a tremendous blessing when you are my age. I set everything up and retired to bed. It wasn't long before I heard Polly start to rip up the thick wedge of newspaper I had lined her box with. This continued throughout the night and when I went in at regular intervals she merely stopped what she was doing and wagged her tail.
12.30pm. Wednesday. Polly was becoming agitated and wandering around unsettled. I coaxed her back into her whelping box, which is a sturdy wooden three-sided box with a small front. This is low enough for the bitch to get in and out of but not the pups.3.00pm. Polly had started to strain and was constantly looking at her back end. This is something maiden bitches do because they have no idea what is happening.
3.45pm. With a huge gush of water pup number one, a boy, was born. This is the tricky bit. It is so tempting to dive in and take the bag that the pup is born in off but you have to control yourself and wait for mum to do it. Polly was more interested in cleaning her back end up (this is quite common) than getting the bag off the pup. You only have 30 seconds to do this before the pup dies so it was time to step in. I held the pup in front of her face and she started to lick it. However, she had no idea what to do so I pinched the bag under the pup's chin and pulled it back. She immediately started to lick the pup's face and, with a squeal, pup number one took its first breath. She removed the afterbirth. There is a school of thought that it is best to let mum eat this but I do not allow my girls to do it as, invariably, it makes them sick and they have enough to cope with in my opinion so, when she has detached it, I whip it away before she notices.4.35pm. After straining for about five minutes pup number two, a girl, was born and Polly rose to the occasion and acted like a star. She removed the bag and cleaned up this baby then nosed her toward the other one and lay down to feed them.
4.50pm. Pup number three made a difficult entrance into the world. After straining for a few minutes Polly began circling and crying. This told me all was not well and I had to step in. Sure enough, this pup was breached and presenting its back. This is where the trust between bitch and owner is tested to the limit. Polly gave me a warning growl but I had to get the pup out so, after calling her Kujo, I pushed her down and proceeded to manoeuvre the pup back from where it had come. As soon as the head had passed the opening it just slid out. Polly turned to clean her second little girl.5.08pm. Pup number four, a boy, arrived with a little bit of difficulty. This boy was feet first and as always happens with this kind of presentation the bag bursts so you have to get the pup out quickly, which I did. I then cleaned the pup's nose, gave it a good rub and, as soon as I got a cry out of it, I gave Polly her fourth baby.
6.45pm. Sometimes a bitch will take a rest during the birth and this is what had happened to Polly. She had started to spasmodically strain from about 6.00 pm. and at around 6.30 pm. had gone into overdrive. Pup number five, a boy, was huge and resembled a four-day-old pup. I don't know how she managed to pass this pup but she did. She is such a star.7.05pm. Pup number six, a boy, put in an appearance and it was at this point I began to wonder how many more there were. 'Westies' normally have between two and five pups, as they are not huge dogs. Having said that, Polly's great-great-grandmother, and my foundation bitch, had nine in her first litter and all survived. It is not uncommon to lose a third of the litter. It is Mother Nature's way of keeping down overpopulation.
7.45pm. I have to admit, at this point, I really believed that Polly had finished but I was wrong because, although she was tired, she had started to strain but not all the time. She would strain and then take a ten to fifteen minute break before starting again. I let this continue for another hour and then phoned my vet Gareth. He said she was probably tired and needed Oxcitocin, which helps to bring on contractions. I arranged to meet him at the vets' surgery at 9.10pm. As always, I have kind friends who are ready in case of emergency so a quick call to Jon and we were ready to set off. I had just settled Polly and myself in the back of Jon's car but, just as he was reversing off the driveway, Polly gave an almighty push and pup number seven, a boy, made his untimely entrance. Polly and baby were quickly rushed back into the whelping box and left to sort themselves out whilst I retrieved the rest of her babies from the heat pad where I had placed them previously. Once everything was settled I spoke to my vet and agreed that it would be safer if we X-rayed Polly to make sure everything was out and she could be left in peace.The Vets.
It was around 9.30pm when we arrived at the vets and Polly was examined. Both Gareth and I were completely surprised when he said "I think there is another in there!" so Polly was taken away for an X-ray and, at the same time given an injection to make her contract, to expel anything that might be left up there. The X-ray was conclusive. There was one pup left and a very big pup. We were not sure if she was going to deliver this pup on her own so Gareth offered to do a caesarean. Now in all my years of breeding I had never needed the help of a caesarean and I didn't intend to start now. I said I would take her home and if we had any problems I would ring immediately. Gareth did say I might lose the pup but that Polly probably was in no danger. I said I was willing to take that chance. We got back into the car and at 9.59pm, on our way home, pup number eight, a girl, made her entrance without the slightest problem.Happy Endings
It is now Wednesday morning and Polly, although a little agitated, is coming to terms with being a mum. She has five boys and three girls. That's a smashing litter for such a dainty girl but it is early days. The first real test is to get them to three weeks old. If they are all still here then we are well on the way to making peoples' dreams come true. I cannot tell you the mixed feelings when a new mum and dad come to collect a pup. The joy of knowing that it will be well looked after and completely loved and the sadness of having to say goodbye to a little soul that you helped make its way into the world.Polly and I hoped you have enjoyed her story. This will be her only litter and it was not without its problems. I am not breeding to make money but to promote the breed and welfare of that breed so it would not be ethical to let her go through this again. When she is fully recovered she will be spayed and she will live out her life being completely and utterly ruined by me.
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