While cleaning out some old dog files I discovered this journal kept during the stages of labor for my bitch, Sadie, when she delivered a litter born in November 1991. It might be good to share it with those of you who may be expecting your first litter. I also share it with those "old hands" out there who, like me will admit we can still learn something new with each litter we help whelp. We can never be complacent in our vigil, complications do happen and in most cases we need to act quickly to prevent the loss of puppies or our bitch. With experience, God's help and a good vet your bitch and her puppies can come out on the winning side.
In this particular case I had the experience and the respect of my vet. I no longer have to push my opinion on George he is always prepared to listen to my input. Sadie's first litter had been textbook. Her history, the temperature rise and my own suspicions told me something was wrong. Another vet might not have been as patient with my tenacity; however, I cannot stress enough that all of you remember when your dog's life and her puppies lives are at stake you can't be pushy enough. It is far better to take a chance of hurting your vet's feelings than to lose your bitch or puppies. A good relationship with your vet should be cultivated before you breed.
November 5, 1992 - 1:30 AM
Sadie is stirring in her box again, making sure the papers are torn just right. She's been arranging her box off and on since about 10:00 PM last evening. She's beginning to pant lightly now and the puppies are active. I seem them rolling along her flanks from time to time. Her temperature has dropped to 97.9 and has remained there for the last 8 hours. All being well, we'll have puppies soon.
November 5, 1991 - 7:30 AM
We just returned from the vet's office. George feels everything is going well and under control. Sadie is still in the early stages of her labor. George gave her an injection of calcium to help prevent eclampsia. After a brief "potty break", Sadie settles back into her box.
November 5, 1991 - Noon
Sadie has had several minor contractions but still remains busy panting and arranging her box. She naps off and on and seems annoyed at me for hovering over her every few minutes. She looks up at me with those dark eyes and I once again wonder why I have put her and myself in this position. These last few days are difficult for both of us. Sadie, heavy with pups has looked and I know felt miserable. As a woman I can relate to those last few days before giving birth. Sadie's misery does nothing for my mental and emotional state.
November 5, 1991 - 4:00 PM
I call George to give him a progress report. Not much to report at this time, Sadie continues the same pattern. There are no alarming signs of strain, no unusual discharge. Sadie drinks water from her dish from time to time but has no interest in any food temptation I offer. So far she is following a normal whelping pattern. The wait continues. With the late hour of the day, I feel now she will wait until sundown to begin her performance.
November 5, 1991 - 10:00 PM
Sadie has napped off and on all evening, still giving no signs of heavy labor. I note a few minor contractions now and then. Her temperature remains at 97.9. It looks now like she will deliver on November 6th, just I had thought, right between her first and second due date. I'm a little concerned, however, things just don't seem to be going as I had hoped when she began her nesting early this morning.
November 6, 1991 - 7:30 AM
After a night of the same lack of performance, I load Sadie back into the car and drive to George's office. He examines her and finds a puppy almost in position. He tells me he will give her another calcium injection and for me to take her home. If we have no production by Noon, I am to call him back.
November 6, 1991 - 9:30 AM
After arriving home earlier this morning, we began a series of contractions, some more intense than others. I took her temperature when we arrive home and it reads 98.6. The temperature is beginning to rise and I have a gut feeling we are not dealing with a normal whelping now. I call George and he advises me to give her the injection of oxytocin he has sent home with me. I tell him about the temperature rise and my gut feeling. George knows I am not an alarmist, I've been through a few whelpings but he encourages me to try one shot and see what happens.
November 6, 1993 - 11:00 AM
Shortly after giving her the oxytocin injection, Sadie begins some intense contractions. In spite of her labor, no puppies are expelled and her temperature is still rising, now at 98.9. Enough is enough! I telephone George and tell him the unfruitful results of the injection. Sadie and I travel back to George's office. I fear we have a good chance of uterine inertia. Sadie has worked to hard and to long.
November 6, 1993 - Noon
Sadie and I wait for George's return from lunch. Sadie lays on her blanket in the examine room. She frets, she shakes and she licks her flanks. She whimpers. I sit beside her and I cry with her.
November 6, 1991 - 12:30 PM
George returns and after a brief exam it is clear that all of her contractions have not moved the first puppy's original position. I turn to George, "I know there are no real signs of danger, but I'm not leaving until you section this bitch". The continued rise in temperature, the long drawn out labor and Sadie's hard distended uterus are enough to convince George we are dealing with primary uterine inertia. We prepare Sadie for the C-section.
November 6, 1991 - 12:45 PM
Sadie is safely under the anesthesia. George carefully chose a mild anesthetic that will subdue Sadie without endangering the unborn puppies. As George opens the body cavity and reaches for the uterus, Sadie's difficulty becomes clear. Two large puppies have blocked the way causing a "traffic jam". The puppies are huge (when weighed later they registered 36 and 38 ounces). Sadie has simply worn herself out trying to get them to "walk out" into this world. The uterine inertia has left her exhausted and helpless to push the puppies forward. As we begin to retrieve puppies it is obvious that the rest of the puppies are also large. Sadie's uterus, because of the size of the whelps, is stretched and distended to such a degree that it further explains why her contractions have been ineffective. There are six puppies in all, five bitches and one dog. As George plucks them from Sadie's womb, his assistants and I begin the process of shaking and drying the puppies. Amazed at the size, George jokingly remarks, "Ann, we better do ears tomorrow and you can show these guys this weekend in Oklahoma City".
Sadie's uterus sustains two small tears during the surgery. The first two puppies cannot be revived. The stress of the prolonged labor has taken its toll. Both puppies were white but tears still well up in my eyes. Regardless of their color, they were babes and I was responsible. I am quickly reminded there is still work to be done for the living and I cradle a puppy and towel in my arms and set about the task of sustaining life. Four beautiful, healthy puppies and my Sadie girl are all that matters now.
November 6, 1993 - 1:30 PM
George has finished repairing two small tears in Sadie's uterus and has closed the surgical site. He assures me she will heal fine and should have no problems with another pregnancy if I choose to breed her again. The puppies scream for their lunch. They have been a long time getting into this world. We weigh them. The male is 24 oz., the first bitch also weighs 24 oz. and the remaining two bitches are 22 oz. each. I can't help but wonder if there is any Dane in our line?
November 6, 1993 - 3:00 PM
Sadie, the puppies and I are home. George felt comfortable in allowing me to take Sadie and the pups home. He knows I am capable of maintaining a close watch over Sadie and the pups for the next 48 hours. Sadie is exhausted from her ordeal and is still somewhat under the influence of the anesthetic. She sleeps while her young ones find the teats and take more nourishment from their mothers body.
November 6, 1993 - 3:30 PM
Gabby, Sadie's father, peeks into the bedroom to find out about the new noises coming from the box. I allow him to gaze at Sadie and the little ones. I smile at the amazed look on his face. I warn him this will be the last time he will be allowed this close to the box again for a week or so. Once Sadie gets her wits about her she will become "mega bitch". The puppies are strong and suckle with gusto. A warm wash rang stimulates their bodily functions. Finally I allow myself to relax and I hug Grandpa Gabby. The tears of joy, exhaustion and grief trickle down my face. A good night's sleep is in order for all of us. Tomorrow morning the little ones will bring their mother and me delight. The Lady in Waiting is ones again fulfilled.
The only thing I would like to add to this article is a word of caution. I feel it is important to share all the information we can regarding our boxers health, breeding practices, etc. and I offer this advice for that reason.
Instead of adhering to my tried and true method of caring for Sadie during her pregnancy I decided to try the newer method of putting her on a "growth" formula dog food for the last three weeks of her pregnancy. I am sure that in most cases the recommendations may be sound. The "growth" formulas available today are excellent; however, after this personal experience I feel the growth formula is a nutrition supplement perhaps best left for after delivery. Note that I did not increase the quantity of her food but just switched to the "growth" formula. The weight of the puppies born in this litter and the complications their size created were enough to convince me to not repeat this particular experiment again. Puppies of the weight born in this litter were certainly not the norm for most of my bitches.
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