by Joyce Brandon
Joyce is a part of Animal Compassion Team, an animal rescue in Fresno.
Rescue is really nothing more than a mirror of life. Birth, growth and death, victory and defeat, are all a part of the cycle. If you rescue animals long enough you will experience all the different phases. It is the “Circle of Life” to use a phrase made famous by Disney’s Lion King.
Writing this article has been a challenge for me. The past few weeks have been difficult; we have dealt with a lot of death and a lot of heartache. I don’t like reading sad stories and I know you don’t either, but sometimes it is difficult to come up with uplifting material. I couldn’t seem to find a great story to tell you this month, not until my shelter visit today, that is. This story doesn’t start out very happily, but I promise you–it gets there.
She wasn’t the dog I was called down to look at; in fact, she was never pointed out to me at all. I had made the rounds checking on old friends and meeting new ones, when she caught my eye, not because she commanded attention, or because she possessed incredible beauty, but because of her trembling. From across the room I spotted a tan dog, making herself as small as possible, curling up on her little blanket. “Who is that?” I asked the Animal Control Officer.
“Oh, just another pregnant dog” he told me. My curiosity got the best of me, so I wandered over for a closer look. She didn’t even lift her head to meet my gaze. Her whole body was trembling and she looked as though she was about to burst with the puppies she was carrying. I knew I’d never be able to walk out and leave her behind.
“Her owners gave her up and even paid us to take her,” the ACO explained. How incredibly sad, I thought. Let your dog get pregnant then dump her in a shelter as she is about to give birth. The only good news with that statement is, there was no ‘stray hold’ time to serve. She could leave with me and though you already know this, leave with me is exactly what she did.
She was a nervous wreck. I didn’t have a transport crate with me so she rode loose in my van. Mostly, she hid under the seat. When we got home, I managed to get a slip lead around her neck and it is a good thing. Once out of the van, she went crazy trying to get away from me. As I was trying to get her calmed down, she let out a loud cry and dropped a puppy right there on the concrete! This was a first for me. The puppy was born “dry”. I realized then that when the ACO picked her up and I thought she urinated all over him, in fact, it was her water breaking. Thankfully, the puppy was fine, loud and angry, but strong and healthy.
What a predicament! I had a crazy mama dog at the end of a leash in one hand and a new born puppy in the other; I was home alone so there was no help available. I somehow got her to calm down enough for me to pick her up and we went straight into the house where I managed to get her and the puppy into a crate in my bedroom. I was hoping that she would settle down and take care of the baby, but she showed absolutely no interest. No nurturing, no cleaning, no nothing! I was concerned, but hoped that if I left them alone her mothering instincts would kick in.
I checked on her maybe twenty minutes after I had left them in my room. I was shocked to find that another puppy had been born. This one fully encased in his watery sack and mom showed no interested in helping him to escape. I can only imagine had this puppy been born in the shelter he would have never taken his first breath. I grabbed a towel and went to work freeing him and was elated when he took his first breath. He let out a holler which was music to my ears. After cleaning him up, I offered him to mom and again she looked away with no interest whatsoever. About twenty minutes later, we repeated this scene when yet another puppy came into the world to a mom that had no desire to even look at him.
I was afraid to leave my room, afraid that if another puppy came and I wasn’t there it would lay there and die. While my goal was to give her privacy, it could mean death for any of her unborn.
I sat quietly and watched. After a while I noticed a change in her demeanor. Her stiff body relaxed and her eyes once distant, connected with mine. I spoke quietly to her, assuring her she was safe and that we meant her no harm. She let out a big sigh and turned her attention to the puppies. I watched her nudge them, then very slowly her tongue came out and just touched one pup. As if centuries of instinct suddenly kicked in, she began cleaning each pup with great care. I sat and watched quietly, feeling blessed to be a part of such a special moment.
It has been a few hours now since the birth of her third puppy and I think she may be done, but I am still checking them regularly. I kind of think though, that if another pup is born she will know what to do. I haven’t even had time to name her so suggestions would be great!Last week I held two pups and said goodbye as they left this earth. Today, I held two brand new babies and rubbed life into them. It is truly the circle of life and I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of it.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to ACT.