On Friday evening, I took in two pups who were brought to the shelter where my daughters work. One was a little thin but otherwise seemed ok; the other was dramatically thin and weak to the point of being almost comatose. The plan was for me to try feeding them throughout the evening. If the little one didn't come around, I would deliver her to Older Daughter. She was ready to go with fluids and force feeding if necessary. And if this little baby was too far gone, well, Older Daugher would be with her all night. I put some dry puppy food out for the stronger puppy and she started inhaling the food. I was holding that little rag doll coma puppy when she tried to lift her head. She was trying to look in the direction of the crunching. I held her weak body over the food bowl and she crunched some kernels of dry puppy food. I gently laid her back down and ran for some canned food. I held her in a upright position, and she ate! It was true. This little baby was in the condition she was in because she was literally starving to death. I hoped, hoped, hoped that she hadn't gotten to us too late. I knew that starvation would affect internal organs. I could only guess that the people who had these two puppies were putting food in with them, and the bigger one was eating and pushing the little one away. They had reported to Older Daughter that they didn't know what was wrong with the smaller puppy. But it was starting to look like what was wrong was starvation. I tried so hard not to get my hopes up. I knew that by the time a puppy reaches this level of weakness they sometimes can't come back. I remembered a little mini pinscher that was found on a trash heap who had reached this point (or worse). That little baby didn't make it. I sure wanted this one to pull through.
I held the baby. I offered water. She could eat and drink if I held her up. I couldn't let her (or her sister) eat too much all at once. Small amounts, many feedings, at first. So about an hour later I put out some dry puppy food and held the little one up. BOTH PUPPIES ATE. Oh, I could feel the hope. I didn't want to. Not yet. I knew this little one could still fade away. An hour later, a little more food. Oh, my – she stood (wobbling) ON HER OWN. Did I dare believe?
By late that night, the two puppies had eaten four times. Another meal in the middle of the night. On Saturday morning, I raced to see. TWO PUPPIES STANDING. I thought I would pass out. I got two little meals ready and the little coma puppy stood (wobbly) over her food dish and ate without me holding her up. They both drank water. As suspected, the entire problem was starvation. I texted both daughters to report the news. And then I ran off to check on Holly. No newborns yet.
I set the two Ressie puppies up in the one kennel run I had left. (Remember I'd had a cancellation on two runs. Holly the pregnant dog took one, leaving another run for these two puppies – what could be more perfect?). I checked on them off and on all day long. My last trip down that night, I stepped out of the deep snow into the warm kennel and TWO little tails started wagging at me. I felt like it was a miracle. In fact, I named the smaller Ressie Christmas Miracle. The bigger puppy looks, but also acts, just like my Ressie Ramona. So she is now Little Ressie. I've taken a couple of pictures of my Ressie with her snow face because it's so cute. Take a look. Now I know what Ressie Ramona must have looked like as a puppy.
On Sunday morning, I bundled up and headed to the kennel. Holly was SO greatly pregnant when she came to me that I had determined those puppies would arrive any day. I walked in and greeted everybody. A quick check on the Ressie pups brought a HUGE smile to my face. Both standing. Both wagging tiny little tails. And Miracle even gave a little bark. Then down to the run where Holly was residing. And there they were. The Christmas packages had arrived. I opened the run gate and stepped inside. I would need to get all fresh bedding. So I stood to do just that when I noticed a pup pushed out of the nest and away from Holly. She had pulled her bedding around and around to make a huge nest, exposing the concrete floor at the back of the run. Oh, no, I thought. One must have been stillborn. I reached over to pick the tiny body up and saw that there were TWO. And they were ice cold . . . BUT ALIVE!!! I thought I might have a panic attack right then and there.
Oh!! When were they born? How long had they been away from the warmth of mom? Was there something wrong with them and mom had pushed them away? They were cold and stiff and their mouths were open as they struggled to breathe. I was horrified. I pulled them to my body, ran to the heater in the kennel and stood in front of it while I massaged the cold stiff bodies. They were gasping as they tried to breathe. Even with my body temperature and the heater and the massage, they were NOT warming. I texted Husband to turn the heating pad on in the family room. I headed to the house and we wrapped them in a soft thin blanket and then rolled the heating pad around them like a burrito. I kept my hand inside to make sure it didn't get too warm in the cocoon and so that I could keep massaging for circulation. It seemed like nothing was happening. I kept saying to Husband that they weren't getting any warmer. He kept assuring me they would but it was going to take some time. It was almost an hour before they started to move a little, the stiffness softened, and the breathing became more normal. It felt like an eternity. Then ever so slowly, they started to squirm and nose around looking for someplace to nurse. Tears stung my eyes as I looked down at these two tiny little babies. I thought about if Holly had given birth to her puppies out in the blizzard somewhere. Would ANY of them have survived? Would Holly have survived?
I took these two little miracles back to Holly, but carried them against me while I gave her all new bedding. Dry, thick, warm bedding. As I lifted each puppy out of the nest Holly had made, I counted. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Plus the two I was carrying. Nine puppies – seven black, two brown. The two returning pups went wiggling into the pile. I made sure each of these two nursed. I sat beside Holly for almost half an hour, stroking her and telling her she was a good momma. I think nine babies is just too many to keep track of when you're busy delivering, cleaning, and nursing. Only five or ten minutes into the re-uniting, the two “frozen” puppies could not be distinguished from the others. I was emotionally exhausted but SO grateful that they had made it.
By late Sunday night, as I was making a last trip to the kennel, the weight of the weekend pressed in. A blizzard. Two puppies who were starving, one of whom was probably only hours from death. A pregnant mom running down a busy, icy road. Two brand new babies who came back from near-death. I felt pretty confident that THIS Christmas Season, I'd been witness to some miracles. It just doesn't get any better than that.
Have a great weekend.
See you Monday.