WIENER REPARTEE AND A WHELPING STORY

Can dogs have their own Facebook page? Because mine are asking. Not that they want to know what any of their friends are doing: that’s what wet noses are for. They just notice me paying more attention some mornings to my computer than to them. Weiner curiosity and general alarm over possible competition prods them out of their usual languid repose on fluffy fur beds from high-end dog catalogs and they start paying attention to what I, their master, am doing, always a bad sign. Franny suggests that BUTTBOOK would be a lot more fun than FACEBOOK. She says this with a droll look over her shoulder. Izzy gets excited and lets Franny know he would LOVE to be her Buttbook friend. She tells him to kiss it. I would ignore her but dogs looking droll always makes me laugh. Treats are then expected, of course.

Everyone is in a pretty good mood, which is why we’re having this little discussion about a Buttbook page. This is because we are relaxing after the arrival, finally, of Mokie’s 3rd litter, which was a singularly memorable and traumatic event for all of us, but mostly for my husband Doc, as he is quick to point out. It started out Saturday noon, when Mokie felt vague stirrings and just to be sure I was acutely aware of every little bump, grab and hold taking place in her abdomen, she started digging in my pillows. My $30 Target pillows. If I was in the living room, she dug there. If I was in the bedroom, she found me and dug on the bed. And if I was standing barefoot in the kitchen, she dug on my feet. Glen Close screaming “I WILL NOT BE IGNORED!” had nothing on Mokie.

So all night I didn’t ignore her and actually tried to sleep on the couch with her in her little box at my feet. So of course nothing happened, except when I got up I my back spasmed. Hobbling half bent over, I managed to drag her and myself upstairs to the loft, where I lay on the floor absolutely paralyzed next to her whelping box, and where Mokie, with a series of short, ear -piercing barks, informed me she was now going into labour, so look sharp! The next 6 hours are a blur: Mokie barking and digging and groaning, the dogs below barking back at her, encouraging. Except Mercedes, sitting in her own little alcove with her own 1 week old puppies, looking murderous.

I know at some point, many Motrin later,my husband came home and asked me if I wanted my tacos now,which he had kindly purchased on his way home, and since I was busy trying to insert a finger in Mokie’s wahzoo to help release the puppy hanging half way out, little rear legs dangling, I said, “No, not really, not now”. As it was, Mokie and I were both looking bugeyed at this half a puppy, and she was giving me the dog equivalent of “GET THAT THING OUT NOW!!” A frantic final push and pull and it finally slithers out, and now I’m moaning “Oh God, I broke its neck,”, because it’s head was really floppy and it was opening and closing it’s mouth like a dying fish. So Mokie’s licking the hell out of it and I’m rubbing it and finally I blow into its tiny nostrils and bubbles form in its mouth and nose, and I’m thinking, “Oh God, it drowned in the natal fluids…or something…” At this point I’m reminding myself that I’m supposed to be experienced at this, a conversation I have with myself everytime a litter is born, so in desperation I swing the pup in an arc over my head and down between my legs to loosen by sheer gravitational force any mucus remaining in the airways. Mokie is looking on like I’m nuts…or a very sick puppy abuser…and then I hear a tiny pathetic gurgle and I carefully put it back down . Adrenelin having done its job, my back siezes up once again.

Now through all of this the man of the house is laying on the bed 10 feet away reading the Sunday paper. “I don’t think he’s going to make it” I announce sadly to the Metro Section. I don’t know if he said anything, because right then I saw this big, half pound puppy, all nicely dried off by now with Mokie’s towel of a tongue, lift his previously broken neck, wiggle his previously limp back legs and stretch out his front ones, yawn, and crawl to the beckoning milk bar ranged like a sumptuous and fascinating smorgasbord before him. If he’d stood up and barked I wouldn’t have been more astounded.

Two hours later and an even BIGGER puppy gets stuck halfway to the Promised Land. I pointedly ask Mokie if she ever presents her puppies head first in the normal way anymore, but she just looks at me with pathetic little sunken eyes. Knowing this time not to jerk on the tiny legs kicking in the air or the little tail swishing away, I squeeze both sides of Mokie’s butt to keep the head from slipping back over the cervix…why did I ever imagine this could be fun? … and pull with a paper towel on the back skin. I manage to get it out a little quicker. Even so, I think it must be dead, but 15 minutes later Mom’s Magic Tongue has done its job, and the 2 brothers are fighting over their dinner. I, certainly, have no appetite for mine. I then tell the Business Section I’m going downstairs to wash more linens for Mokie’s box. When I get back she’s produced one more puppy….with, naturally, no one helping or even watching. She eyes me with a little chipper smile.

We have 2 chocolate dapple boys and 1 solid chocolate boy, all longhair. We have Mercedes with her 5 puppies born a week earlier ( of course that was traumatic too, one was a belly button bleeder) esconced on their side of the loft. Giving the lie to the oft reported myth that mothers will playfully steal and share each other’s puppies, these two mothers hate each other. For 4 weeks they have to be carried downstairs to pee, poop, and generally relieve their boredom. Zatchie, our Maine Coon cat, invents clever ways of getting upstairs to look at the puppies and watch Mokie bark hysterically and Mercedes’ eyes bug out. Mercedes has perfected the growl from Hell in defense of her puppies, which, while hideous and alarming, means nothing, as Zatchie is quite aware. My back is still out, and I am now immune to Motrin. My husband never tires of announcing the births in his own over-the-top way to whoever calls: “We have 15 dogs sleeping with us upstairs, and 6 more, downstairs. No, TEN upstairs, and 3 more and 3 cats….shit, this place SUCKS.”

He has no idea 15 bantam chicks are arriving in the mail next week.

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