We had an eventful night last night. Tiger stopped eating Sunday evening. She hunkered down in a crate and wasn't coming out for much at all. These are classic indicators that whelping was imminent. My DH took our kids to their piano lessons last night so that I could stay home with Tiger. She started panting and I stayed with her, just to keep her company. I saw that she was trying to get a puppy out, and I tried to let her do her job herself. She started screaming (okay, may I just say that's a very alarming sound!) when her contractions came and I had the feeling something was wrong.
I was able to lure her out of the crate so I could get a good look at what was happening. It took a few minutes and a lot of encouraging for Tiger to let me get a really good look. Finally, I could see that the puppy was breech. I tried gently to help the puppy out with the next contraction, and Tiger screamed and nipped at my hand. I could feel that the puppy was dead - it's a little unnerving to feel such cold little paws.
I ran and grabbed an old sweatshirt that I always wear when I work with our foster dogs in messy situations. I made a call to the AARCS president and another to a foster who has experienced this situation before. I got about a minute of advice, and then I ran for the garage.
My husband was just pulling in with the kids and so I sent my husband into the dog run and the kids up to bed. I followed him in to Tiger and asked him to hold the business end for me and I made many multiple efforts to get that puppy out. Dang, those guys are slippery when they are being born (I know, a very good thing!) and I was able to get it half was out and then it slipped straight back in. We bundled Tiger up and got her in the car and hot footed it to the Animal Hospital.
They got Tiger in right away, got the stuck puppy out, and then Tiger's contractions stopped despite stimulation. The vet determined that Tiger needed an emergency c-section. May I say, NO DUH! I'm not disparaging the vets, because they were wonderful. When we bundled Tiger in the car and left my house, I believed the c-section was necessary!
My DH and I were invited in to help resuscitate puppies once the c-section was started. While the vets did work quickly, there were other small emergencies that came in and needed to be dealt with and the whole situation took time...and makes me glad I don't wear a watch! When we were allowed in the back, there was one vet masked up doing the c-section, one was resuscitating puppies, and one was bringing puppies from the surgery room to the resuscitation table and doing Tiger's vitals and anesthesia. There were more puppies than people, so the resuscitation 'team' was made up initially of one vet, one vet tech, 2 receptionists, and my husband and me. Then, the second vet joined us and worked on the puppies that were having trouble. Bit by bit, by giving the puppies oxygen, using a heat pad and a hair dryer, and lots of warm towels and vigorous rubbing, the puppies born by c-section came to life. There were 2 puppies that had a bit of a harder time, and took awhile (I don't know how long because I wasn't keeping track - it was quite an intense blur!) to get to squeak and squeal, but the vets did a terrific job!
Here are the puppies in the incubator, waiting for Tiger to wake and recover enough to allow them to suckle;
Tiger was a bit disoriented when she came out of the anesthesia and she mouthed one vet, so they decided it was best to muzzle her. If I remember correctly, I was quite snippy and snarky during the last stages of labour and immediately after child 2 through 4 was born. I was a saint with child 1! ;)
Again, it took some time, but I was able to bring Tiger and her puppies home last night. They are all beautiful and settled nicely this morning.
So, the finally tally for this litter of the biggest new born puppies I have ever seen, even from dogs twice Tiger's size is girls - 7, boys - 0. Yup, you got it! 7 puppies and they are all girls. We're thinking of naming them months, or queens, or hmmm... Any suggestions?