Friday, December 25, 2009

New Arrivals

First morning, Willow and pups

Keeping close watch of her brood

Tub full of less than 1-day old pups

I was guessing that Willow would whelp the evening of 12/24 or maybe the evening of 12/23 (since puppies always seem to come at night). Well. . . Willow had other plans.

Willow had a very normal pregnancy and true to her Labby heritage, she never missed a meal. On Tuesday morning, no signs of an early whelp, so I figured we were at least 48 hours away. Wednesay morning, Willows ligaments were starting to loosen and the pups were “dropping”, plus there was a little milk in her glands - getting closer. But she ate breakfast and otherwise looked great, so I went to work like normal. Wednesday evening, Willow started displaying nesting behaviors, going in the plastic dog crate and rooting around, rearranging the bedding I had put in there for her. She continued to be restless and nesting during the night, but looked good Thursday morning. She even wanted to eat breakfast. I only gave her a small breakfast, which she ate, but promptly vomited back up, another sign that she was soon to go into labor.

Shortly after breakfast, Willow started doing a little panting, so I figured she had started into Stage I labor right on schedule and it looked like we should have puppies Christmas Eve. I stayed home from work, was looking forward to getting a bunch of chores caught up and then spending a quiet afternoon reading and napping while I kept an eye on Willow. In the morning, I was running around getting stuff done and I noticed that Willow was getting quite anxious, wanting to go outside a lot, and it looked like she may even be having some decent contractions already. I scrambled and got the whelping pool (large plastic wading pool) set up in the living room which I had just finished cleaning, and got the whelping supplies laid out. I inhaled a bit of lunch, grabbed a book, and figured I would get Willow settled in the pool and then read on the couch as I watched her. I no sooner got Willow in the pool and she started having some serious contractions, and out popped puppy #1 at 12:09 pm on 12/24. This black boy was the biggest pup in the litter weighing in at 15.5 oz and Willow struggled a bit to get him out. Ten more much smaller pups followed in rapid succession and were very easy whelps, with the last pup being born at 5:30 pm. One pup was even delivered outside in the front yard, when I had taken Willow out to toilet. Willow squatted as if to poop, and out popped a female black pup who was given a green collar since she was born on the lawn. The last pup was stillborn, not unexpected being the last pup in a huge litter, but still disappointing. And there is one little black male who is not very vigorous and is not expected to survive. I am currently tube feeding him. These are the unfortunate realities of raising puppies, not all the pups survive. But still a very good sized Lab litter. Of the healthy pups, four blacks, five yellows, 4 girls, 5 boys ranging in weight from 10 to 15.5 oz.

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