About a week after getting Biscuit, I figured that things were working out well, and she was a keeper, so I’d better take her to the vet and get her spayed before something happened. The vet, Chris Schwarz, spent a lot of time palpating her belly, and asked the tech to go get the ultrasound machine. Yep, she was pregnant already. The ultrasound confirmed his suspicions when he found a heart, too small and in the wrong spot for Biscuit’s. Dr. Schwarz estimated that the puppies were due in a week or two, so I thought I had a little time to get ready.
I called the breeder that I’d gotten her from, and explained situation. She volunteered to take Bixby/Biscuit back until the puppies were weaned (or perhaps transferred to another female who also just had a litter of pups). I was relieved that she was willing; I had planned on suggesting that, and was a bit worried that she might not be willing to help out. (I have no experience with puppies, so figured it would be better to have her handle the situation). We agreed that we’d meet on Friday to transfer Biscuit back to her.
She also told me to watch out for nesting. A few days before a female gives birth, she will gather some objects together to make a nest for the puppies. I told her I hadn’t seen this, and would keep an eye out for it.
The next day (Thursday, July 28th, 2005), I saw her squat several times as if she were trying to take a dump when I was out walking her. I called the vet’s office about that, and they said they’d have a vet tech call back. When they hadn’t called back in an hour, I called again, and got an apology and a promise to have a tech call me back.
Around six o’clock, I saw Biscuit squat in the living room. I thought “Oh, no you don’t,” (she’d had a couple of accidents in the apartment) and grabbed her by the collar to drag her outside. When I got her outside, I heard a splat on the sidewalk. Oh, no, that’s not her water breaking is it? Yep!
I looked back at her to see a puppy hanging halfway out, squirming and waving its little legs. I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket, and hit redial. “Biscuit’s having her puppies, what do I do?” The receptionist laughed and said she’d turn me over to a vet tech for advice.
By this time the puppy had dropped on to the grass. The tech told me to get Biscuit and the puppy back inside and into the kennel. I picked up the pup, who had rolled into the dirt, and carried it into the apartment as Biscuit walked alongside, eyes glued to her puppy, with a look that said, “That’s my puppy, what a beautiful puppy!” Pup did not like this flying through the air thing (isn’t there supposed to be a mama dog here for me?), and squeaked, much louder than I expected. The tech told me not to worry about picking the puppy up, it’s a myth that handling will make the mother reject the pup. That’s good, I told her, because I’ve already picked the puppy up.
I put the puppy inside the kennel, but splat, Biscuit’s water broke again, and she ducked into the closet. There was her nest!
She had gathered some throw pillows into a circle, just big enough for her to curl up in. She squatted, and pup #2 came out before I could get her into the kennel. At this point, the tech was telling me that it’s important to get her into the kennel, because the goop that comes out with the puppy makes a stain that won’t come out of the carpet. Oops. As we were talking, Biscuit ate the amniotic sac off the pup (she must have done that for #1 while I was working the phone), and started licking the puppy. I picked it up and put it in the kennel, and Biscuit followed.
The tech told me the problems that might happen, what to keep an eye on, and when to call for help or drive Biscuit and the pups over to Northglenn Emergency Animal Hospital. As she was telling me this, I saw that Biscuit was lying on her side, and the pups had scooched themselves over and started nursing: mama and puppies knew just what to do! With the advice passed on, the vet tech signed off, and I settled down to watch Biscuit and her pups.
Next call was to Mom. Hey, you’re a great-grandma! She was surprised and happy with the news about the pups. After that I called the breeder to say that the pups had shown up early. She also had some advice on what to keep an eye on, and suggested that I call her before taking Biscuit and the pups to the vet’s or the hospital. We agreed that I’d drive over the next morning with the dogs.
I checked the puppies, and they looked like they were both female. The vet later confirmed this. I was a little worried that I might have gotten it wrong, with the way they squirmed and wiggled when I turned them over to check. Puppies do not like being upside-down.
The evening proceeded without incident. I just watched Biscuit and her pups, petting them occasionally, and enjoying their soft, smooth coats. Biscuit tried to pick them up in her mouth a couple of times to move them, but they always squeaked in protest and she stopped. I moved the pups for her, which they didn’t seem to mind. I brought over her water bowl, since she didn’t want to leave the puppies.
The next morning I fed Biscuit by hand, in the kennel, since she still didn’t want to leave them. I took her and the puppies over to the vet’s office by 8:00 a.m., when they opened. Not having anything else to put the puppies in, I used a t-shirt to line one of Biscuit’s metal food bowls, and put them in head to tail in a circle, a sort of puppy yin-yang symbol.
The vet checked Biscuit and the puppies and reported that they were all doing well. Checking the puppies involved listening to their hearts and lungs with the stethoscope. It turns out they were no wider than the stethoscope itself, so he just draped them over it, with their hind legs dangling. So sweet!
After that, I drove down to Monument. It was a hot summer day, so I turned the air conditioning all the way up. I figured that the puppies might not be able to cope with getting too hot, but if they got too cold they’d just snuggle up to Biscuit to keep warm.