October 25, found us delivering our first puppies right in the Hubby’s lap. Nothing goes just how you plan it when you are homesteading- not even puppies.
The swimming pool was outside, waiting to be sanitized. April, our Dane girl, was not due; according to my friend who has bred a few of these big dogs, until November third. I had not yet driven to the Observer to get some old newspapers. The plan was to sweep and mop the kitchen floor, clear the counter of everything a Dane might nose, put the pool down, have it all lined with clean newspapers and be in complete readiness for the event… yah, well, here is how it really went.
As I was getting ready for work I heard a ruckus in the dog pen. April was emitting a low grow that was vibrating the dog house. The day prior, I blocked the big hole she had dug under the “doggie” deck. Her sister, Junezia, four inches taller, had decided to try the hole. That is right, she got stuck. After an anxious twenty minutes of shoveling; then pulling a hundred-fifteen pound Dane from her predicament- which was like pulling a stuck calf out of bawling cow- we were able to screw heavy boards to the deck. As an extra deterrent my daughter and I lined the deck with cement blocks. Thus, April could not birth her litter under the deck and for once I was a step ahead.
Listening to April growl at her sisters, it was decided to bring April inside where the hubby could watch her until we could get everything ready. These puppies were going to pay for every animals’ hay for the winter and the Dane girls dog food bill; so we were being cautious.
I came home from work at 4:30 to see a giant dog stretched in the lazy-boy- with slippers sticking out from under her. It took me a second to realize the hubby was under the dog. He was muttering, “She wouldn’t settle down until she got in my lap. She’s been groaning. I think she is in labor.”
I stepped over to check the tail end just as a puppy slid out. “No, honey, she’s giving birth,” I informed.
“What!” was his astonished reply. “You got to be kidding me?”
I lifted the wet, slimy, wiggling puppy; turning it upside down, “Nope…oh, my God, there is one on the floor still in it’s sack!”
At this point I went into emergency mode. The sack was cool and the fluid still in it. It was like trying to grab an egg off a tile floor one-handed. Remember I had the other hot mess in my left hand. Finally I had the sack and ran for the kitchen floor where I put the live pup down and ripped open the sack. Yah, it was a mess.
The hubby took the live puppy and gently shook it to help clear the lungs while April tried to drown it with her big tongue. The big boy was not moving and he was cool in my hands. April tried to lick him, too. Using a finger I opened his mouth and fluid came out. I rubbed, slapped, and pumped on the poor little guy, giving him quick jerky shakes. I heard a little growl, but, he was still not breathing. Gently I puffed a little air into his mouth. The hubby tossed me a dry towel and I rubbed the hide off him, I think. I gave him a couple of more puffs, and yes, he was wet and salty, but he was going to breathe. It was a tense five minutes. Finally the big blue pup took his own breaths.
Meanwhile, Don had thrown a towel on the floor for April to lay on. The second born pup was already happily robbing all the ninnies on her mom. The pup was going to need the head-start, as Minnie was the runt of the litter. At a full pound she was not a small runt, but, her brother was a half-pound bigger. After his near death experience; the little fella was slow to get started, once he did, however, Minnie had competition.
In a hurry I called my niece, telling her of my dilemma and asking her to get my daughter. Soon Mom and pups were in a clean pool with papers. Every hour a new pup arrived until 1AM. Exhausted, I left the situation to my daughter as I had to go to work at six. I just closed my eyes when I heard, “Mom!”
The last puppy arrived. A big white female harlequin who is now, two weeks later, a quarter pound heavier than her five brothers. All ten of the squiggly balls of fur are grunting, growling and trying to stand up. Yah, they will be ready for the outdoor pen in just a couple of days. In the meantime, there is a pile of puppies barely fitting in the swimming pool right in my kitchen. Their mom is eating us out of house and home, too. Wow, can nursing mom’s eat! Good thing I had thought ahead and cooked up real dog food. That store bought stuff just doesn’t cut it with a dog this big. Now, if I can just keep her out of the cat food!
Life is a bit busy right now. It always is when you’re trying to set your place up to homestead with the hope of going completely off-grid. Watching the babies grow is so worth it… Maybe I’ll find some time to set up at an indoor flea market and sell some of my self-published books and extra stuff cluttering up the place. Maybe take up a puppy to show off…
“Hey! Get out of that catfood!” Well, I’ll be right back…
“It’s my wagon!”
Meanwhile Maya and Junezia are outside fighting over a car ride. Kids!