Anyone that follows my dog blog here may be wondering where I’ve been these past couple months. Last you read at A Pup Stop, we were Getting Ready to Whelp. The due date was anticipated toward the end of May. We were all set. You (hopefully) were waiting on edge to see the new pups, squiggling around and whining. But you waited…and waited…and nothing. No word, photos. Nothing. You may be wondering, “So, what happened?”
Well, I’m back to explain all that, but let me first thank you all for your patience. So sorry that I kept you waiting so long. Please bear with me as I share some deep and rather emotional things.
Ready, Set, Nada!
So, back around mid-May we were all set. I made a fabulous, portable whelping “box” that would be an easy cleanup. We gathered all supplies for the expectation of puppies and any emergencies. Shortly after I finished that last blog post (May 13th), I began sleeping in Hanani’s room on a twin mattress on the floor. The excitement of anticipation, alongside the unknown of how she would react had me in a daze to the point where I didn’t leave the house much or let her out of my sight.
…I know. “Helicopter-mom” is, I think, what they call that nowadays. But it has been a long time since I bred one of my dogs. One may expect I, too, would be a bit “clingy” 😉
Hanani had all the signs right out of the gate. Things that never upset her stomach before suddenly caused her to be nauseous or even vomit. The “morning sickness” lasted all day, a few days. She became hyper-clingy–even more so than Dutchies can be! Her nipples began to “stand” and swell. When we got to 30-40 days, Jamie got out his stethoscope and we listened…. Right around day 38 I heard heartbeats! Anyone who has ever been to an ultrasound appointment knows the distinct sound of a tiny heart beating in utero. At first hearing it I got so excited I dropped the stethoscope! But I regained my composure and listened again. And, again, I heard that tiny heart beating away!
To say I was dancing in the clouds at such a glorious sound is an understatement. But, since my excitement caused me to interrupt the probe, I am not sure if I heard two separate hearts, or the same one twice. My girl’s belly did not get very big, but two pups would not create a watermelon-sized abdomen. It’s still a toss as to how many there were.
Yes. You read that right: …how many there were.
More questions as things progressed…
Now, after day 40 or so of pregnancy, the bones of the new pups begin to calcify fully and growth speeds up. In other words, I was excitedly anticipating that her belly would grow, to feel the pups kick around–all that fun stuff. The day after I heard the heartbeats, I did feel some movement. Yet, that was the only time. Over the next couple weeks I drove myself nutty with research because her belly did not grow. Some folks told me that if there were only one or two, like I noted earlier, she would not get that big. A text from Loki’s owner assured me that the stud’s momma didn’t show hardly at all with a much larger litter. And while watching a video from the kennel Hanani came from (Vanguard K9) I saw another Dutch, “ready to pop”, as the owner stated, that did not look pregnant at all. He even went on about how that particular bitch never shows, but always has good litters. Something still kept bothering me though. Apparently, Shepherd breeds have a tendency to carry their litters high. But I did not feel any movement and no longer heard heartbeats.
Still, I pushed forward as if to expect even a small, or singleton litter. I slept in her room for almost two weeks. Several times she had all the signs of getting ready to whelp–the nesting, pacing, not eating for an afternoon and all–but we’d wake in the morning to no pups. I became more and more concerned as the nights passed.
Since Hanani is intolerable to strangers, I did not want to stress her unnecessarily with a trip to the vet. Plus, I know the warning signs of urgent situations that can arise. She had no fever. In fact, her temp kept dropping–as it is supposed to right before whelping–and going back to normal after a day or two. She was not vomiting or behaving as if in pain or distress. There was no discharge, except when the mucus “plug” that smeared onto the floor of her room. Other than my distress, everything seemed fine. Normal. Even her nesting at odd hours showed me that at least her hormones were functioning as prescribed. Still, nothing.
During this time, more questions led to more research, digging into an unknown–even to many experienced breeders. What I found both amazed and startled my senses, not to mention my awe of the God who created it all.
Our awesome Creator
The way God created all things is pretty amazing. It never leaves room for boredom to consider it all. From the flowering weed that looks so much like a tailored plant, to the growth of a child’s mind, it is all incredible. There are things that our bodies, and animal bodies, do that we still do not fully comprehend. We just know that it does what it does and speculate as to why. While researching what was going on with my possibly pregnant pooch, I came across several articles by well-established researchers in the veterinary field that still give me pause. The articles discussed in great detail the various things that can happen to puppy fetuses as they grow in utero. The articles went on as well about the signs and symptoms, and what the bitches’ bodies are equipped to do.
One such mechanism described was that female dogs can absorb their fetuses before the skeletons fully calcify.
“Absorb”? You read that right. I picked through all the information, and went back to read it all again and again. After finding the exact signs/symptoms that fit my girl, and re-read it all over and over, that is what fit. I wrote to and spoke on the phone with several area vets, including our own, and most confirmed my suspicions. (I say “most” because some copped an attitude with me about even breeding my dog in the first place. It seems so many have the idea that, unless you have a degree and lots of money, you ought never to breed your dog. <pft>) Apparently, a dog’s body is designed so that if anything goes awry in the development of the fetus(es) before the skeleton is fully solidified, the body emits enzymes to break down the organism entirely and absorb it into the female’s body. As crazy and almost horrifying as that sounds, it is pretty cool at the same time. God’s certainly is amazing.
So, about a week past her due date, I began cutting Hanani’s feed back to her normal amount and watched her carefully over the next couple weeks. Throughout the entire process and weeks, she had no fevers or discharge, pain, refusing to eat, etc. So, we can only speculate as to why she absorbed them. Aside from that, she was fine and all things went back to her normal.
Well, almost all things are back to normal. Recall that one of the reasons I decided to breed her was in hopes of evening out her temperament with the hormonal changes that transpire during pregnancy. In spite of the fact that there were no pups produced, it worked! Hanani takes time to think before she acts and does very well recalling all the training we worked so hard for so long. Sure, she is 3 1/2 now and more mature, but the real changes came during her pregnancy. She does very well keeping herself under control. And, aside from getting stubborn with me every once in a while, her obedience is impeccable 🙂 She and Mia are back to best buddies again, too! I’ll detail that in another post, though.
Now, here comes the part that makes me feel quite silly. It took me so long to get these accounts in writing to you all because…. Well, because this hit me a bit harder than I realized at first. All the breeding, watching signs of pregnancy, hearing hearts beat, prepping…all the excitement generated, then to have the pups, essentially, just disappear was, frankly, devastating. I suppose those who get as involved as I do with their animals may understand, but it is that simple.
If at first…
As I type this, Hanani is in her next heat. So, yes–to answer your next logical question–we will attempt breeding her again. And, this time, I will not leave y’all hanging. Thanx, though, for hanging in here with me this summer. I know we’re all going through a lot, but know that you are prayed for each day! Join with me in praying for our Nation and, of course, our pups 🙂
Stay tuned while I get back on track oxoxo
Wow that reminds me of an article I read about stone children it’s called Lithopedion, and I think it’s the same issue. There is something wrong and the fetus is absorbed but if it’s later in pregnancy it’s calcified, to protect the mother.
That’s very interesting, JMP. Isn’t just amazing how God created us? …two-, and four-legged? !!
Yes and all the other critters.