30 October 2013

12 : Puppies - Something Old!

Boxer Puppies
Four years ago our Boxers had puppies!  It was both an incredible and daunting experience all at the same time.  Our female, Roxy, was already five years old and we figured probably too old to have pups when we got our Boxer male, Aragorn.  Apparently not, within a year Roxy looked suspiciously fat.  A check up at the vet confirmed little puppy skulls on the ultrasound.  She was pregnant!  Exactly when she would have them was anybody's guess. 
Our dogs are just that, dogs!  Therefore, they reside outside where nature intended, but I wanted Roxy and the pups at the very least to be warm and safe and separated from the male dog - just in case.  We also had another older desexed dog named Rusty, a Cocker Spaniel and Jack Russell terrier cross, relatively harmless but we didn't want to risk it.
I'm not sure how I knew but I sensed when she was ready to have her pups.  Maybe having six kids of my own helped, however, I had never dealt with a pregnant dog before.  We have an area around the side of the house that we could separate the dogs and we coaxed Roxy there, setting her up with a lovely warm bed.  Nothing happened that night but during the next day things began to get moving.  My son came home from school to check on her.  Despite the fact I had only just checked her an hour before, he came racing back into the house with the news I was dreading!  Roxy was having her puppies and one wasn't moving!
Great!  Worse nightmare taking place before our very eyes.  Her first born pup was perfect and a good size, but he just wasn't moving.  We wrapped the pup anyway just in case he was slow to start, but he never did recover, he was dead.  Throughout the rest of that night we agonized over watching another seven puppies birthed.  She did a great job and was a natural mother, doing all the right things exactly as she was supposed to.  It was absolutely amazing to be a part of this experience.  The whole family was gathered around to welcome each new pup and will it to live.  All seven pups were born alive and Roxy was healthy; exhausted we all went to bed.
Unfortunately the next day my son found another dead pup, it was the runt of the litter and when he was born we had not thought he would survive.  I had already buried the first pup, and there I was digging another grave.  This was not how I wanted to experience puppies, we had pictured fat little puppies bounding around the yard with their parents.  Instead one by one, a day at a time, I was burying poor little puppies.
After the second pup died we noticed a third pup being excluded from the group; we removed her and began to hand feed her.  We cared for her for an entire day and night but eventually decided we should return the pup to Roxy.  Unfortunately, despite only being back with the litter for a couple of hours she did not survive, it was my son yet again who found her.  It wasn't meant to be, it was survival of the fittest taking place before our very eyes.  It was cruel and horrible to witness and I was left to bury a third puppy.  I vowed never to go through this again; one litter was heartbreaking enough.
After constant checks on the pups every few hours, buying and installing a heater for them outside, the remaining five pups seemed to thrive.  As Roxy was truly an outdoor dog she panicked when we tried to move her and the pups into the laundry, she began to throw her pups around frantically trying to find a safer place for them.  We quickly moved her back outside and she and the pups settled again.  It was just so bitterly cold, we were worried for them all.  The heater definitely helped, and we put up sheets as a wind break for her cozy little area.
It was damn hard work helping Roxy raise those five very boisterous Boxer puppies as they grew, feeding several times a day when they were able to eat solids.  Cleaning and caring for them, but it was a wonderful experience all the same.  All the children thoroughly enjoyed cuddling the puppies as much as they could, all our pups were raised with children from the day they were born and have grown to be wonderful calm family dogs for their new owners.  Turns out one of them grew up to be a bit too fond of people, she pines all day long when her owners go to work and has to be babysat by an elderly grandmother!
Four years on and we still get to enjoy one of our pups all grown up.  My eldest daughter kept one of the pups, Ruby, who comes for visits to see her parents quite regularly.  I have been sent photo's of the other puppies with their new owners over the years which has been really nice.  I am quite thankful that there have been no more pups as, even though we all enjoyed the experience, giving them up at the end was truly heartbreaking.  We all really developed a bond with them and it was so rewarding watching them grow and progress.  I must admit I even miss opening up the laundry door each morning, only to be bowled over by five Boxer pups pushing their way past me into the house.  All the children and I would race around trying to catch them one by one.  I'm sure each of them would wee on the floor about three times each before they could be scooped up and encouraged back outside ready for their breakfast.

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