A Crazy Day in the Life of a Dog Breeder
**********************WARNING, GRAPHIC PHOTOS*********************************
As I write this, I've had a collective 4 hours of broken sleep in the last 30 hours. Breeding is more "hands on" than people realize and sometimes the stress can make me question, is it worth it? (remember, I'm running a good headache on "4 hours".)
Before puppies come, there is a sleepless night as the mom dog is nesting, restless and getting up and down often as she is silently laboring. Being a light sleeper, this means no sleep for me either.
But, Penny our F1b Goldendoodles puppies weren't suppose to really come till the following day or early next week...
It's April 29th, 2023. Penny our Goldendoodle mama is restless and I tell my husband that she's acting like she's in labor, I get up at 3:45am
to make up the twin bed in the whelping room that will be my place of "sleep" for the next two weeks, go down stairs to start collecting my box of whelping supplies, my husband texts me from upstairs that Penny's had some water break in our room upstairs.
As I scramble to collect the essentials: gloves, hemostats, scissors, bulb auctions, rubbing alcohol, betadine ointment, cotton balls, 40 clean hand towels, heating pads, whelping pads, wrap for her tail, and puppy pads, he texts me that a puppy is coming!
For being a first time mom, Penny stays very calm and does her best job trying to take the sack off the puppy but is quickly consumed with eating the placenta as mom dogs instinctively do. The only problem is, it's still attached to the puppy! I grab my hemostats and clamp the umbilical cord connecting the placenta to the pups tummy, rub my betadine soaked cotton ball all and cut the placenta free just in time before it's "gone". If Penny pulled too hard on the placenta or shredded the cord with her teeth, it could cause an umbilical hernia or the cord could continue to bleed. (Umbilical hernias usually require surgical correction later)
We dry him off with a few clean wash cloths and suction his mouth with the bulb suction and he gives a little cry. Crying newborn puppies are breathing puppies!
We put him on the teet to nurse and his latch helps momma Penny continue to deliver since it causes her uterus to contract.
One down, 12 puppies to go, or so we thought
The room is 85 degrees because puppies cannot regulate their temperatures for 2 weeks. We are sweating, on our knees, assisting Penny and the work is back-breaking.
Are you getting the picture?
Puppies are born with their eyes and ears sealed shut to protect their still developing senses from harm if they were used too early. They are completely helpless and we often as breeders have to protect them from a new mom who may smother them accidentally chew an umbilical cord too aggressively.
A few of the puppies are breathing harder and I am thankful to have our puppy neonate
incubator (which, self admitting, I hadn't watched the video on how to use yet). We get it turned on and warming, fire up the oxygen condenser and place the puppy in there to help it warm and breath.
You never know when puppies are going to come!
So Penny's puppies decided to come on the day we had Puppy Pick Day scheduled for our 6-week old litter of Goldendoodles. So I spend 9am-5pm going back and forth between the puppies UPSTAIRS where Penny is still delivering (but slower now) with my husband keeping watch, and the puppies DOWNSTAIRS who are meeting their future families.
We had to cancel any thought of getting one of my daughter to her 9am softball game. We think Penny may be done but we see her give an occasional "push" and consider checking and feeling for a puppy...
Yep, there is a stuck puppy.
I get out my "stuck puppy kit" which consists of a very long plastic catheter, 30ml syringe and sterile lubricant. I guide the tube in past or near the puppy that I can feel with my gloved hand and hope that this works. It doesn't. No puppy yet. So I try it again with more lube and this time, I get brave and decide to walk Penny outside. I take her on a chaperoned potty break outside with a quick kit of essentials in my hands. She squats to urinate and then, decides to push. The sack of a puppy is intact and now hanging out! I use my gloved hand to hold it in while ushering her inside. She wants to keep sitting down and I get her into the garage and then the kitchen before the puppy is born. We separate the puppy from mom and bring it upstairs wrapped in towels to get it breathing.
This was the 13th puppy which we knew based on Xray's prediction, was a possibility. The puppy is born without any tone and is limp.
He hasn't moved once and as my husband starts rubbing the pup with dry towels to stimulate him to breath, I am suctioning out this mouth. There is no effort to breath on his part and I fear that the puppy had died during it's prolonged descent. Despite compressions from my husband, oxygen from my oxygen condenser and acupuncture to stimulate breathing, we accept that after 20 minutes of trying, it was not going to live. The picture I then took of the puppy shows a very well formed pup that probably would have survived if C-section had been done instead of live birth, but unfortunately for these puppies high up in the uterine horns, they usually do not do well. The puppy looks "pink" due to my oxygen and Rob's compressions but it was only artificially providing life.
We "think" Penny is done, so my husband takes our son to his baseball game as I juggle going back and forth between the litters to check on Penny and talk with the families visiting. It's an important day because they are deciding on which dog they will call their own and bring home in 2-weeks.
After my husband Rob returns in the afternoon, he finds a 14th puppy had been born outside when Penny took a potty break. It was still in it's sack, was not alive and unknown how long ago it had been birthed! Loosing puppies is always very hard for me. It is worse when I consider maybe doing something different may have resulted in a different outcome.
But, I am very grateful for the twelve healthy puppies we do have from Penny & Tex and excited to see them grow!
I was shocked to find she had SO MANY PUPPIES inside and with twelve surviving, our work had only begun!