The miracle of birth never ceases to amaze me. Dora went into the first stage of labour on Tuesday. I had been carefully taking her temperature, waiting for the ‘magic’ drop that would signify the start of the pup’s journey into this world. I’m still not sure when the drop happened. I guess, Dora being Dora, she did things a tad differently to ‘the book’ and I missed it. No matter, when you know your canine companion well you can tell that ‘things are happening’! Dora isn’t a diva, she doesn’t make a fuss, she just gets on and does, and true to form, that is exactly what she did. I kept a close eye on her; she was so relaxed and laid back that at times I thought I’d made a mistake and that she wasn’t in labour at all. Just as I had been at Dora’s birth, Mandy was coming over to be at this birth. We’d kept in close contact all afternoon and evening, I would let her know once Dora went into second-stage labour.
I drank copious cups of tea—I’m seriously thinking about buying shares in a tea company! Everyone, except me, went to bed. I remember sitting on the floor, with my back to the wall, watching Dora stretched out serenely on the sofa opposite me. Was she really in labour? Then she looked at me, and I knew, yes, she was. Around midnight I debated calling Mandy, but decided against it. There was no point in two of us loosing sleep unnecessarily. Half an hour later and Dora had definitely moved on… I rang Mandy. It takes about an hour and a half to get from Mandy’s to mine…plenty of time for the first puppy to arrive before she got here! I rang my friend Sarah; she lives 2 minutes away, and is very good at making tea! Dora had decided, unhelpfully, that she was going to have that first puppy just inside the whelping room door. She was also determined to have it standing up. Sarah and I covered the floor, typically the only bit of the floor not covered with a plastic sheet, with layers of newspaper. There was a gush of liquid—her water’s had broken. The first puppy was imminent. The puppy bag appeared at her vulva—I could see and feel feet—it was going to be a feet first delivery. About half of all puppies are born feet first, so this was nothing to worry about, though a head first delivery is easier for a first puppy from a maiden bitch. Slowly she began to push it out. She was still standing, so I gently cradled the emerging puppy, guiding it downwards in line with her birth canal. Mandy and the puppy arrived almost simultaneously!
Dora instinctively started licking the babe, removing the bag and detaching the placenta. Bitches often try to sever the umbilical cord very close to the pup’s belly, which is not good as you can end up with hernias. Dora was determined to remove as much umbilical cord as possible, so with a few deft moves the cord was clamped and neatly cut by human hands. We gave the pup a quick rub with a towel to help dry it off and got it suckling. I remember smiling, all three of us smiling, Dora’s first baby had been safely delivered. As each new life enters this world they are sexed, named, drawn, weighed, checked over and the time of birth noted. This first puppy, a girl, named Andromeda, was born at 2.09am.
The next puppy arrived some 20 minutes later. By now Dora had moved into the whelping box, though she was not convinced that lying down was the best option. She had my sympathy—I remember when I was in labour with Finn, being on all fours was definitely my favoured position! This time it was a head first delivery, a little boy, whom we named Thor. My son had come downstairs to watch Thor’s birth—he didn’t say much. Birth is a messy, anxious business, lots of blood and gore and pain! He will, I am sure, remember Thor’s birth for the rest of his life—watching a new being come into this world is a wonderous experience and something you never forget.
And, on that philosophical note, I must go and attend to Dora and her ever-growing brood.