Puppies, puppies, puppies!

Rita’s puppies were born on exactly 62 days after the mating. As I am writing this they are 3.5 weeks old, cute beyond any verbal description and getting more active every day.​

Little Lagotto mom’s big surprise 

As this was to be the first litter born in my home kennel, I wanted to be as prepared & informed as possible. There is quite a lot of literature on the subject and I think I went through it all. Still, theory is one thing, putting it to practice is something else. In order to anticipate the amount of puppies to pop out, I had Rita X-rayed ten days before the expected delivery. She was getting SO big I couldn’t believe how she was still walking briskly. Even our vet burst into a spontaneous laughter when I walked in with her.

Looking at the X-ray she said: “I see seven for sure, but I think you may have to prepare for eight.” Oh, my! Rita had already had one litter of eight two years ago at her breeder’s kennel. That time she needed help in feeding them. I could see myself bottle feeding the lot and started worrying how I would manage.

Three hours of action after all that waiting

I started taking Rita’s temperatures once a day nine days before her due date to get the normal variation on record. After five days her temperature dropped for the first time close to 37°C. I then went to checking it four times a day: morning, afternoon, evening and night. It would still not stay down altogether, but the level was steadily going down. On a Monday she stopped eating and started actively arranging the bedding in the puppy box.

On Tuesday morning the thermometer reading was 36.1°C and Rita is panting a lot. When nothing more happened towards the evening I got a bit worried. Suddenly her water broke and I noticed its greenish color. Alarmed, I packed her in the car and drove to the 24/7 Univet emergency unit in our area. The vet on call did some blood tests on Rita and checked the puppies by ultra sound. She calmed me down showing how the puppies’ heartbeats were good and steady and told us to walk around on the yard while waiting for the test results.

The blood tests showed normal calcium and glucose levels. We were sent back home and told to return if there is no result after one hour of contractions. Almost as soon as we arrived home I saw the first contraction. Determined, Rita concentrated on pushing. My breeder friend from across the street came over to help and in just one hour the first puppy was born. He weighed 396 grams! No wonder it took a while. After that seven more arrived in three hours, altogether 4 males and 4 females.

Nearly three kilograms of puppies!

The puppies were very big for Rita’s size. When my daughter’s Blue Picardy Spaniel Nene (the size of a pointer) had six puppies, not even the biggest one weighed over 370 grams. In this litter the smallest female weighed 320 grams, about the average weight of Nene’s pups. No wonder poor Rita looked like she was turning into a whale before the delivery.

Rita is in good health and quite amazingly feeding the puppies so well that at 3 weeks of age they all weigh over one kilo. Today they are walking firmly on all fours and learning to play. I take them out in the garden at least once a day even on chilly days, because they sleep so well after that. They have all had their first deworming and nail cut. I think it is fair to say we have already come through the initial critical phase and can now concentrate on enjoying all this squeaky cuteness in our home (not forgetting the daily cleaning of their quarters and feeding mama Rita four to six times a day, as she is hungry all the time). 

They say the best – and worst – is yet to come, as the puppies grow needing more solid food and activation as well as making more of a mess every day. I am looking forward to it.​

 

1. There they are, almost ready to be born.

2. First day of life! How could they ever fit in Rita’s belly?

3. First outing and picnic lunch at 2.5 weeks of age.

4. Brotherly love! The four females are all brown with only specks of white. One of the males is all white, one all brown and two white with brown markings.