Surprise!!! Journey has had her pups! At 10:30pm on May 2 we all head off to bed. Journey seemed reluctant to leave the kennel she had been laying in all night. Strange, I thought, since she really has taken to sleeping in the bed at night. Once we all got into the bedroom she was hanging by the door. I coax her to the bed. She did not jump up so I reached under her to help her in. There was a swish sound and my arms and the bed was drenched. Both a clear liquid and blood. Scared - too say the least. My first thought was OH NO, she is miscarrying. Remember she was not supposed to have her pups until end of May. I turned around to the other dogs, they had all backed up to the door, sort of like, “let me out of here”. I opened the door and out they went. I decided that this was not a miscarriage but the real deal. Through the house I go, grabbing towels, cell phone, camera and computer. Once I was back in the room, the computer was set up and I had done some searching of what to expect…( I had already researched food requirements for a pregnant dog, and getting the whelping spot ready. I thought I had three more weeks to research the labor and birth – yikes! ) I search Youtube for a video of pups being born just to see if the symptoms look to be the same. Right as the video shows a Maltese puppy being born, I look up to see Journey’s first pup appear. What an incredible sight!! It is 11:45pm on May 2nd. I text my friend Mary R. to tell her Journey is having her pups right NOW. The message comes back “ I will be on my way in 2 minutes”. Next I try to text Dayle with RAGOM to tell her… opps, I still feel bad, I hit the dial button instead. What do I do, hang up after it has already rung twice?? No, I can’t do that, so it rings again. With each ring I wince, thinking of how I am waking her from a dead sleep.
Each pup is in its own sac and a placenta comes with. With the first pup there is a lot of liquid and blood. Yikes – I need more towels and rubber gloves!! As I open the bedroom door to go get these items, there is Max, Bentley, Duster and Jazz all lined up watching the door. “Coming through, coming through” I tell them. Now we all go to the basement and garage to get the needed items. I forgot to mention that earlier that night, another RAGOM Foster Jazz 12-109 came to stay for the weekend. Her FM/FD were going out of town for the weekend. Back up stairs we go, just like a train, one right after the other, this scenario would be repeated several times during the night. More research on what to expect, I read that it is important to allow the momma dog to clean the pup so that they bond. Okay, so I kind of blew that first one, as I had not read that yet. First pup I pulled the sac off the pup’s face and gave it several rubs to make sure it was breathing then I gave it to Journey. She seemed to take it all in stride. She probably thought to herself – “amateur”! Second pup arrives at 12:31 am on May 3rd; I look up to see my friend Mary R pull in the driveway. Yea! Reinforcements have arrived. As a single person “I know nothin’ about birthing no babies”. Two pups in less than an hour! Wow… Now mind you less than two weeks before May 2nd I had Journey at the Vet, with palpitations, the Vet says “yes, she is pregnant…I can feel two small lumps”. And he holds up his fingers so that they are about 2 inches apart. Hmmmm… Granted he says, “ palpitations is not his strong suit”. ‘Cause in fewer than two weeks I am pretty sure they did not grow 4 more inches.
Friend Mary and I are in the bedroom with Journey. I say to her, “I was planning on getting a new mattress…she says, that’s good, cause that is now a given”. I won’t go into much detail here but there is reasons why the website tell you to gather up “old towels and blankets” that can be thrown away after the birth. After Mary sees the two pups born, both are female, we settle down to wait for the next. We are checking websites for “what do GR puppies look like at birth, more on what to expect, what do GR Doodles puppies look like at birth…there was some discussion that she might have been bred with a poodle…. we wait, and we wait and wait some more. Trips to the bathroom to get Journey some water… the “boys and Jazz” waiting at the door just like expectant fathers and Aunties. 3 hours have gone by and no more pups. The Vet said two, but he also said they were 2 inches long, sooo…. Journey does not look like she is done. She is panting, she is exhibiting all the symptoms of a dog in labor. Another hour and finally pup number 3 at 4:30am. It’s a girl. Guess I will have to decorate the nursery in pink. We leave the room to let Journey clean her pup. We come back 15 minutes later only to discover not 3 pups but 4! Pup number 4 arrives at 4:45am. After 4 hours 2 come in a matter of minutes. It’s a boy! I guess the nursery will be pink and blue after all.
The next bit of information is sort of yucky so close your eyes if you have a weak stomach. The momma dog is supposed to eat the placenta, as this gives them necessary nutrients for the first few days of nursing. FM has a very, very low gag reflex. We humans decide to leave the room after each birth once we know the pup is breathing to allow Journey time to clean the pup.
The next two hours were the most stressful of the entire event. Journey’s labor is more pronounced. She is straining and is very restless. She is pacing on the bed. The discharge is green. The Internet says green can be nothing to worry about or it can be very serious. A call to the emergency Vet in the wee hours of the morning did not do much to calm FM. I was told to wait another hour and if no pup is born to bring her in. This is when I was the most appreciative that my dear friend Mary had come to help. I would have packed Journey and 4 pups into a car and she would have had the next pup on the way to the hospital. That would have been a grave mistake, as this pup was breach. No wonder poor sweet Journey was straining so much to have this wee puppy. He came out like a limp doll. We got the sac off the face and turned him upside down. Lots of liquid came out of his nose and month. After a brisk rub down and a couple of small sneezes he was breathing on his own. Whew! That was very scary! The time is 6:55am. Almost exactly one hour later at 7:45 another breach pup arrives. Okay Journey enough of the breach pups! This time we were better prepared and did not have the close call we had with the one before. Have you kept an accurate count? 6 pups – 3 females and 3 males. Journey is not done. She is still in labor. There is another pup on the way. Journey is now showing signs of being tired. She is laying more during the labor. I am hoping that this is the last. At 8:28 the tie is broken, number 7 arrives. It is a male. Journey is such a good Mom. Even though she is so tired she fusses over each of her beautiful pups. The labor continues and Journey is more and more tired. Just about an hour later at 9:20 pup number 8 arrives. Another male. 5 male and 3 female. We watch Journey for signs of labor. Hoping that she is done. After about 10 minutes from puppy #8, the next labor begins. Pup number 9 is on its way. The majority of births have been almost exactly 1 hour apart. This one would be 2 hours. Puppy # 9 is born at 11:25am on May 3rd. It’s a girl!! We watch and wait – does she go into labor? I think both of us were holding our breath. 20 minutes go by…. Another 20 minutes, but no more signs of labor. Yea! She is done. 9 puppies total born in almost exactly 12 hours. All the puppies have been cleaned and have nursed. Journey is exhausted. She sleeps for the first time in twelve hours. Mary and I sit for a while and marvel at the experience we have just been through. All have survived and appear healthy.
The word has spread through RAGOM that Journey has had her pups. The volunteers of RAGOM are awesome. Mary M comes with more towels and other much needed stuff. Denise A comes by with a scale and three bins of towels, dry dog food, puppy formula, canned dog food and lots of other stuff. I am thinking “wow, this is a lot of towels”…little did I know! At 5:00pm I take a nap. Actually everyone in the house takes a nap. It has been a long but very exciting day. Sunday Mary R comes back and we pack everyone in the car for a visit to the vet. From past experience the car ride and visit to the vet is stressful for Journey. The wonderful staff at VCA in Richfield does a wonderful job of weighing all the pups, cleaning up Journey and giving her a shave on the back of her legs to get rid of that beautiful curly butt hair that is now a trap for afterbirth. 4 pups weigh 1 lb. 2 oz. each. The smallest weighs 12.9 oz. The rest are in between. The little female that weighs 12.9 oz is also slightly dehydrated. The Vet is also concerned at how thin Journey is. On the way home a stop at the pet store for bottles to start feeding the smallest ones formula, more dog food that hopefully Journey will like. Once we are home we prepare the formula and take female RAGOM 12-177 to hand feed her. At first she does not want any part of it. All of a sudden she gets a taste and practically lunges at the bottle. SUCCESS! During this time, the FM/FD of Jazz arrives to take Jazz home. What a weekend Jazz has had. Thank you Mary R for all your help. You are a dear friend! For the next week I am changing towels for Journey about every 6 hours. NOW, I understand why all the towels. It is normal that she continues to expel afterbirth. I have never done this much laundry in a week’s time in my life! I can’t imagine what my water bill will be – lol. Oh well! Journey is still losing weight as everything that goes into her goes toward production of milk. She is not interested in any of the dog food. She will eat the canned dog food, however it seems to give her diarrhea.
Off to the store for hotdogs, cottage cheese, yogurt, lunchmeat, any thing that will give her protein. Yogurt is not a big hit, but hotdogs – wow she gobbles them down in no time. This is good for now. She needs to be on Puppy Food but if hotdogs are what she will eat, then hotdogs it is.
This week was also “finals” week for college. I had some major deadlines that were all due within a matter of 10 days after the birth. There was a final 6-page research paper, 2 quizzes, a learning report and one Final Test. The timing really could not have been worse. I blew it big time and total missed one assignment altogether. I got mixed up on my dates with everything going on. Go Figure! I took a vacation day from work to put together my 6-page research paper. You really can’t do a 6-page research paper in an afternoon at the library. I have resolved myself to the fact that my straight A’s were over. Some might ask, how could you jeopardize your classes for a dog? I guess to some, it makes no sense. To me it makes perfect sense. So I get a B instead of an A. Hopefully not a C – yikes! These lives we save have changed my perspective on priorities. I don’t do this for RAGOM, or the other wonderful human volunteers even though they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. I do this for all the sweet souls that for one reason or another have been rescued to find a new home. From my first foster named Daisy Mae and my second named Buster. Had he been my first I might have quit the day he was adopted out. He is absolutely beautiful but he has horrible storm anxieties. I never knew the damage a poor dog under the stress of storm anxiety could do to a house. If I had given up I would have missed all the wonderful memories of Alina, Adrina, Cheyenne, Bella, Bailey, Rudy, Landon, Brian, sweet Shawny who went to the Rainbow bridge too soon, Buddy, Maggie, Jerry (reincarnation of my first dog I ever owned named Sam), regal Violet, Shiloh, sweet, sweet Cameron, Lady, Ronny, Jameson whose eyesight RAGOM saved, Teddy, my beautiful Becky, Charles, Wilson, Chester, Dudley, BlonD, Eva, Pete, Cooper and now Journey. To some it may seem crazy that 31 beautiful dogs in their own special way have made their way through my house to a new life. 31 in 4 years.
“Love is the Boat for the Journey” Ian Callinan.
Now there are 9 more. 9 pups, all will need puppy shots and surgery before they are adopted. Most of us fosters spend hundreds of dollars each year on dog food, treats, and toys but RAGOM bears the majority of the cost by paying all medical bills. We make sure that all the dogs leave our care healthy and ready to start a new life with their fur-ever family. It is costly and we appreciate all our fans and supporters. THANK YOU!
Journey is back on Puppy Food. She looks better with each day. She is a wonderful Mom to her pups. She keeps them clean and for the first 10 days barely left them. She has started to venture out in the evening after the nighttime feeding to be with the “adults”. Her nightly spa treatment with Max has resumed. She so loves the attention he gives her. She smiles the whole time. She has learned to trust me more. I have handled all the pups from day one without any issues. She comes to me for pets every night. Plus I wait on her hand and foot. Remember she has 4 feet! Breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed! How sweet is life. And don’t forget the 3 am snack. She is my nocturnal pup. At 3 am she wants to go out to pee. Once she is back in she wants to play. She visits with everyone and won’t stop bumping my arm for pets. Bentley and Duster were all for it at first. After the 5th day even they look at her cross-eyed for the early morning reveille. One to two hours later she is sleeping. About the time I have to get up to go to work…. “Love is the Boat for the Journey.”
I am so THANKFUL to Mary M, another RAGOM volunteer who comes in each day to let all the adult dogs out and feed Journey her “lunch”. Mary has dealt with her fair share of poop and urine soaked towels. Folding laundry – yes, we are still doing a load a day. I actually ran out of clothes to wear cause I could not get my own clothes washed for all the loads of towels. THANK YOU MARY! You Rock!
My co-workers had a “Puppy Shower” for Journey. Thank you so much to Donna who pulled it together. Thank you to Donna, Tony, Melissa, Dawn, Janice and Shana for the great gifts of money and gift cards (I will soon need more Puppy Food), puppy pads, puppy toys, wipes, treats and used TOWELS! Seriously you can’t have too many towels with 9 pups in the house. The pups have doubled in weight and I will soon have pictures and names up on the website. I know that the adoptees will most likely change their names, but I am having a blast picking out their RAGOM names. I will give you a hint. You will know they are Journey’s pups by the name they are given. SO FUN!
The story continues. This sequel is named Motherhood. For Journey it is her last time at motherhood. Thank you to All of the RAGOM supporters that made it possible for these puppies to be born on a plump mattress in a warm house versus a cage in a pole barn.
“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone's hand is the beginning of a Journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.”
- Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
What will the next day bring? Journey will show us the way to what a new life can mean.
The first pup is born