We have been waiting with great excitement for the arrival of Niki & Narci’s first litter, and, as all responsible breeders do, had an excellent plan in place to manage the birth and the two puppies we knew she was carrying.
One of the pups was breach, but both had strong heartbeats (things easily checked when you have your own ultrasound machine at home). We x-rayed on Day 55, determined she would struggle to deliver the pups naturally, and scheduled a c-section for Monday morning (Day 61).
Niki, who we all assumed would be “way too posh to push”, decided otherwise. She woke TJ at about 3:00am on Saturday morning (Day 59 - just) with the breach puppy half delivered and firmly stuck at the shoulders. She had given us no warning the night before she was in the first, or indeed the second stage of labour, but here she was, doing it by herself, and now in dire trouble.
The breech pup was wedged firmly in the birth canal and too far out for surgical intervention. It took nearly twenty minutes to free her, by which time, poor Niki was exhausted. The little breach puppy – an absolutely perfect, beautiful white bitch – didn’t make it.
Shattered as we were, there was no time to dwell on the loss. We still had another pup to deliver. A scan showed her unborn pup with an increasing heartbeat – hardly surprising given the last few hours her mother had been through. Niki by this time had given up on the whole idea of natural birth. After a half an hour so, her contractions stopped and the second pup was no longer moving.
TJ had been consulting by phone with Meredith Barth, our “actual” vet all through the night, ever since the pup appeared. They made the call at 5:45 to deliver the remaining pup by Caesar while it was still viable. An early morning dash to the clinic and we opened her up around 6:30 am.
Meredith was able to get the pup out safely, but she was blue, flaccid, no heartbeat and not breathing. I was heartbroken. Meredith was gutted and sadly declared the pup dead.
TJ, however, was not prepared to lose another puppy. As soon as Meredith handed her the dead puppy, another perfect little white bitch, she went to work.
I have heard from some of her old clients, about TJ’s skill as a vet, particularly when it comes to reviving puppies, but this is the first time I have seen it in action. I am in awe. She literally sucked the fluid out of the pup with her mouth and began stimulating its heart and breathing for it. Within 20 or 30 seconds, TJ called, “I got a gasp”. Meredith (who was still in the surgery closing up Niki) warned her sadly that it was probably just a dying agonal gasp, but then TJ, still sucking, rubbing and breathing for the pup, yelled. “Got another one! She’s turning pink!”.
Finally, we all heard the most wonderful sound we have ever heard – a tiny squeak. TJ had snatched this little girl back from death with sheer determination and skill. You can’t imagine the joy we all felt, after such a long and harrowing night.
Within a few minutes our pup was squawking loudly, a strong, beautiful little bitch with a perfect head and great proportions who looks like she might be a peach parti-colour. She weighed in at 118 grams (her sister was 123g). Nikita, it turns out, is an exceptional mother. After a few tube feeds overnight to help her along, our puppy is feeding on her own and has already gained 5 grams.
Sorry for the long post, but I know there were many people anxiously awaiting this litter, and this is easier than repeating the story over and over. I would also like to thank the wonderful Meredith Barth and her exceptional surgical skills for keeping Nikita safe, as well as the many experienced breeders both in NZ and Europe, who have been there for us over the past 24 hours with both material and moral support. Special thanks to Tracy, who loaned us an additional heat disk, Helen, who gave us some of the goat’s milk she had on hand for her Clumber litter, as well as Susanne, Susan, Gloria, Savi and many others, all of whom have given us much welcome moral support by sharing their similar stories.
In keeping with her father’s name, Narcissus, we have stayed with the ancient mythology theme and named our little fighter “Kitaco’s Valkyrie Warrior”, after the Valkyrie who faced down Hela, the Norse Goddess of Death. Her pet name will be “Kyrie”.
The name is, of course, subject to Dogs NZ approval, but we feel than shouldn’t be a problem considering our alternatives are Kitaco’s Fuck That Was Close (TJ's fave) or Kitaco’s Hypoxic Nightmare.
We will post progress reports on Kyrie as she grows and flourishes. And, in case you were wondering: No, she is not for sale.