You may have read our disastrous failure with Bonny’s last litter, but now I have a wonderful experience to share; this year, with Vet ‘permission’ we had another go at breeding her and Bonny produced five heavy, beautiful puppies three boys and two girls. This time Bonny was older, this time Bonny remained well and this time all the puppies survived. I do hope that those who have read the sorry tale of our seven angels (RIP) will now read with joy and celebrate with me the success of Bonny’s 2011 litter.
It began with a visit to our vet for advice and a canine pre-pregnancy check up to make sure Bonny was well. We discussed what happened last time (Bonny got milk fever and became too ill to care for her puppies and they would not take the bottle and died) and he agreed I could try again on condition that at first sign of trouble I would rush them all in (mum and babies) to the vet’s and would, if Bonny rejected them again, have her spayed in a final end to the whole sorry problem. Bonny was well, her coat was shiny, her eyes bright and I promised not to give her calcium supplements this time.
Bonny came into season around 12th December 2010 and she and Hector spent the whole of Christmas consummating their ‘affection’. Consequently, they were sent out into the garden where they could get all steamed up without an embarrassed/curious (in the case of the children present) audience. Within a week I knew Bonny was pregnant as she stopped walking beside me at the park,and hung back making determined efforts to avoid dogs she normally mixed with.
I didn’t change anything; not her food – she and Hector were both eating James Wellbeloved Lamb and Rice (although I did put her on JWB Puppy once she reached 4 weeks), not her exercise routine and we still played rough with her wubba. However, I started asking all around successful breeders I knew for advice and got the proper equipment. Of note I must mention Jill my ex-husbands wife, who gave me valuable tips (birthing box, vet fleece) and stood ready to foster puppies if Bonny got sick.
This time I bought a proper disposable breeding box, two white vet fleece cut to the right size of the box and started preparations for the big day.
Above is the breeding box which I modified slightly folding the entry so there wasnt a sharp lip for Bonny to climb over. I also fixed in the ‘roll bars’ which really are necessary and I bought a heat pad with spare cover for washing. I will do a proper equipment list on another page but will mention here that I read on-line somewhere that a baby monitor is useful if you still want to sleep in your bed at night and it was a good buy. Also we had a heat pad with spare cover and countless hotties (microwaveable heat pads) and a spare utility box lined with vetfleece to be used during bed changing and weighing etc.
This time we wanted Bonny to have more privacy and for her to feel safe with her litter and not exposed like she was last time, so we turned the cupboard under the stairs into a birthing room (it has windows). Here I have to thank middle child Rebecca who helped me scrub out the room/cupboard and sterilse everything covering sterile equipment in cling film. She also helped sellotape the wires from the baby monitor and heater above the doorway of the kitchen. What a gal!
I decided to use an old duvet as a birthing bedding as I didn’t want to mess up the vet fleece. Everything was layered up in the bed so I could peel layers away without disturbing the litter later. I stuck a Mothercare room thermometer inside the birthing box so I knew how warm the air around the puppies actually were, covered the floors with newspaper and absorbent pads, set up a fan heater, drew up some litter weight charts and killed time by frightening myself to death watching difficult puppy births on Youtube. Ugh. Enough already!
- Bonny, in labour, with that ‘far-way-look’ in her eyes..
From day 58 I started monitoring Bonny’s temperature and set the baby monitor up in the kitchen where she normally sleeps. Hector (delightedly) was allowed to sleep in the lounge and everything was ready for go. On the night of day 60 Bonny started to make noises and I jumped out of bed and raced down to be with her. She settled and I put it down to a false alarm and returned to bed pleased that the baby alarm was proving itself already. The second night was the same and so on the third night when I heard her scrabbling in her bedding, crying a little, trotting around the kitchen I waited a whole (long) ten minutes before slowly entering the kitchen as it could be possible my early arrivals had put her off.
There was no doubt this time. It was 4.30am, Bonny looked relieved to see me and was clearly in labour. In fact I just had time to steer her to the birthing bed when to my amazement I saw a little black bulge emerging already. She gave birth to the first puppy, a girl, at 4.35am and it had been easy as pie!! (for me..). John my son just had time to take a quick peek before he
cycled off to work and I brewed a pot of tea while Bonny tended to the puppy (licking her, massaging her, nudging her stimulating her circulation).
Conveniently for me, after a while Bonny started pushing again just as I swallowed the last of the tea. It was a big one this, I could tell by the way Bonny was straining and all I could do was rub her back and talk in an encouraging way. We had the radio on in the background and just as the 5am news came on the bubble of placenta began to emerge. It burst and a large head and two spatula front paws began poking out of her bottom and slid out. compared to the first pup this puppy was huge (a boy, later to become Max) and he seemed to shake himself and crawled over to feed immediately. He looked a born survivor, and…he was!
Even Bonny was impressed, I saw it in her eyes as she looked at him and began attending to her nursing activities. I am sure there was a smile in her piercing brown eyes. She licked him dry, I interfered a bit by moving the puppies into the ‘utility box’, leading her out of the bed and folding the duvet into four again so they could lay on a dry bed. She refused to leave them for a toilet break so devoted was she and I pretended not to notice when she relieved herself on one of the newspapers on the floor. The heater was blasting away keeping the thermometer in their bed at a good 85 degrees and poor Bonny panted away. I gave her water, palpated her tummy (two left, I thought) and watched these new little lives in awe as they wriggled instinctively to her side. I had weighed the large boy (Max) and he weighed 1.1lb). He was HUGE!
The next puppy was another large one, (11oz a boy, who became Dougal) again a good diving birth but with one complication. Bonny had decided she did not want to deliver her puppies in the birthing bed where the two ‘already borns’ were warm and dry so she leapt off the bed just as he dived out, and like a cricketer, I caught the puppy in an absorbent pad (from the floor – nothing else to hand) held him up so Bonny could cut the cord and ran back with him to the box so she could attend to him. This placenta I just parcelled in the pad and discarded. She had eaten two already, why a third and, I swear she looked relieved at not having to.