Well, things never go quite as you imagine they will, and this was certainly true of Lina’s whelping. I was ready for anything, or so I thought, after so many conversations, e-mail exchanges with mentors, YouTube videos of golden retrievers whelping, and copious amounts of reading material. So, when Lina’s temperature finally dropped to 98 at 4:30am on Saturday morning, her due date, I thought we’d be holding puppies by midnight or so, at the latest.
She labored along without any pushing all day, into the evening. Then it appeared her water sac might have leaked, as straw colored fluid came out, but not that much, in the later part of the evening. She was still contracting, panting, but no signs of distress, or changes in her, and no pushing. Finally, pushing began, and I called my whelper helper out of bed because I knew it would be soon.
Small spots of evergreen colored fluid appeared on the pads in the whelping box. I knew that that was a sign that something was wrong, since I wasn’t supposed to see that before any puppies were born. I called Dr. Stang, who graciously left his home in the early hours for what he and I knew was probably an emergency c-section.
We raced for Purcellville with Lina, a few whelping pads, and her crate. I think I brought shoes but maybe I didn’t.
I mean raced.
The policewomen who pulled us over just as we got into Purcellville thought we did a pretty good job of racing too. After not a long delay, she escorted us to the Loudoun Valley Animal Hospital, I think to verify our story was true. No ticket!
I stopped thinking about her as we led Lina into the back surgery and Dr. Stang and his assistant Brandy.
By now I was afraid we would get no live puppies from this litter. It was clear at least one, maybe all the placentas were detached or detaching.
As Brandy brought puppies to Mark and me to suction and towel down, and warm up, it became clear what had happened:
One very large male puppy had begun down the birth canal and most likely was not positioned well for birth, and gotten stuck. He was a really big guy, so size and/or position made it impossible for Lina to whelp him. If we hadn’t arrived when we did, the puppies in the lineup behind him would certainly have died, and Lina may have as well, from the release of toxins from the dead puppy. And, he did die before the c-section, though we all tried to revive him.
And so, as one after another adorable, light, healthy, big puppies came to the table we suctioned, rubbed, and warmed them all, counting our beautiful healthy puppies, and all our blessings!