The Story of our
fully prepare you for the intensity of emotions involved in
breeding, raising and placing a litter. The decision to breed our
first litter having been made, the preliminary health clearances
obtained and the stud selected, all we needed was Mandy to cycle as
scheduled in early January 1989. Of course, the watched pot never
boils! She finally came into season Easter Sunday at the end of
March, and we bred her on day 9, 11 and 13 of her season. Within a
week, we were fairly certain that she was pregnant. Around the fifth
week, we commenced preparations. We scoured the whelping room and
set up the newly constructed whelping box, lined with blankets.
Mandy took one look at her whelping nest, turned tail and left!
What, you must be nuts if you think I am going in there!
commenced on day 61, just in case she whelped early. With the heat
in the whelping room cranked up to 80+ degrees, Mandy and I waited.
I looked at her; she looked at me. I read and reread
Successful Dog Breeding by Walkowicz and Wilcox (the BOOK),
just to make sure I was adequately stressed out about the
complications that could ensue. The BOOK said that Mandy would be
nesting, asking to go out frequently and having contractions when
the whelp was imminent. Well, she seemed to be doing all these
things. I also monitored her temperature frequently will you
please stop sticking that thing in my butt? and it fluctuated up
and down, making me wonder if that was the pre-whelp decrease in
temperature. And we looked at each other some more.
Days 61 and 62 passed without any premature event. Day 63, her due
date, likewise passed without incident, as did Days 64 and 65. We
had driving rain the entire week, and every trip outside to potty
was extremely unpleasant. Our neighbors became actively involved in
the WAIT (Hasn’t she had them YET?). Meanwhile, my year and a half
year old child Danielle was starting to show the stress of being
confined in the hot whelping room, and my adult male vizsla Maynard
was feeling dejected. On day 65, I had Mandy examined by the vet, as
recommended by the BOOK. All appeared normal, so we returned home to
the WAIT, with a warning that a C-section should be considered if
she didn’t whelp soon. Needless to say, all this time spent WAITING
gave me a lot of time to worry, and I think the 80+ degree
temperatures were getting to me. As day 66 passed, I was more and
more concerned, though everything seemed to be normal. On day 67,
the vet said a C-section should be performed the next day if she had
not whelped. I told Mandy to hurry up or she would have to have
surgery! And so we took another walk. Where were those puppies?
And then, on
day 67, I finally understood the intensity of the pre-whelp
symptoms. In the early evening, she nested with a frenzy; she went
outside every five minutes to potty into the windy night of pouring
rain; and at 8:25 p.m. a REAL contraction. Yes, clearly
distinguishable from the “contractions” (probably kicks) I had been
seeing all week. That first contraction caused her to suck in her
belly as if she had just been punched and drew her back into a
roach. And we were so ready! The Wait was finally coming to an end!
My toddler was in bed asleep, my husband Bruce and I were both home,
the bitch was in her box having contractions, all our supplies were
handy, and she was in the throes of labor….finally!
And then, as
if triggered by Mandy’s first contraction, the lights flickered off,
then back on, then off again. No, this could not be happening.
Denial quickly gave way to reality. Our warm, well-lit whelping room
had been converted to total darkness. We had not prepared for this!
Bruce and I (neither of whom has ever whelped a puppy) stumbled up
the stairs in the dark, leaving Mandy alone in the whelping room
hey guys, you’ve stared at me for an entire week; where are you
going now that I need you? I made a quick phone call to Mandy’s
breeder Ruthie (she’s in labor…the power is out…help!) and grabbed a
package of votive candles and a hurricane lantern from the
kitchen…but WHERE WERE THE MATCHES? Probably with the missing
flashlight! We ran around the house in a panic throwing things out
of drawers in search of a pack of matches…and then, halleluiah, we
found a pack of matches.
We raced back to the whelping room and lit the entire package of
votives and the hurricane lantern. It looked like we were conducting
some sort of religious ritual rather than a whelp. Mandy had 2 more
hard contractions, lay down on her side and the first pup emerged.
The pup was ½ in and ½ out in the semi-lit room, and I reached for
the BOOK to determine if we should help. WHERE WAS THE BOOK? Of all
times for it to be missing! Somehow I located the book in the
darkness of our family room, found the whelping chapter and started
reading the instructions to my husband at a pace that would have
made an experienced auctioneer envious! Unfortunately, my husband
can’t understand auctioneers, so he paused me, and I had to reread
it at a normal speed. We did as the BOOK suggested (lift the bitch)
and the puppy was delivered. As Mandy started to remove the sac from
this little girl, another puppy was emerging. Mandy’s breeder
arrived just after puppy #3 emerged, and the lights suddenly flicked
back on…Mandy was doing it all, and we thought we were on smooth
seas…and then, Mandy cut the umbilical on puppy #4 way too short,
and my husband had to rush that puppy to the emergency vet for a
stitch. The entire whelp, 5 girls and 2 boys, was over by 10:45 p.m.
Of course, I stayed up most of the night with Mandy, just to be
difficult part of the whole process was ensuring proper placement of
the pups. When the pups were six weeks old, not one was spoken for,
and back in 1989 it was not easy to find homes, much less good
homes. Thankfully, with some help from other vizsla people and some
newspaper advertising (back then we did actually advertise our
pups), all the pups ended up in great homes by eleven weeks, and
went on to live happy lives…Bentley, Arnie, Remi, Kislany, Tess,
Szizy and Mindy.