Hue and I have been doing rescue work with Cavalier King Charles spaniels for the past five years. We love being able to transport, foster and heal dogs in need.
A few weeks ago we received a desperate phone call from one of the regional rescue coordinators, asking if we could head to north Jersey to pick up a pregnant dog that was just picked up from a backyard breeder. Of course, we dropped everything and headed north.
We met another transport volunteer at a hotel near a turnpike exit. Shadow, the rescued mommy, was gingerly placed into my lap for the trip back to south Jersey.
Normally we "rescue” older dogs with medical problems. It was very unusual to contemplate having puppies in the house. All our dogs are older. We had no area prepared for whelping and raising puppies. After a quick exam, it was apparent Shadow would be delivering within a week, but I figured we still had a few days to figure everything out.
The first night we tried to make Shadow a bed on the floor in our bedroom. She took one look at the six spaniels sleeping in our bed and started howling. We quickly gave in and added her to the pile of spaniels in our bed (which is only a queen size; knew we should have ordered the king).
On the third night, Shadow spent a lot of time digging at our pillows, trying to build a nest. Labor was imminent. It was time to find a quiet spot in the house that could be home to her puppies for the next few weeks.
As luck would have it, we had just finished a major renovation project in our house. We took out most of the downstairs walls to make a large open floor plan. Our laundry room changed from being a "room” to being a small alcove with pocket doors to close it off from the kitchen.
This space had an open floor area about 3 feet wide and 3 feet long. Because we had pocket doors, we were able to put three one-foot-wide wood planks stacked on top of each other to block the opening to the area. We could slide back the top two planks to allow Shadow to hop in and out of the space, but keep the puppies inside.
Because this area was at the end of our kitchen, Shadow would not feel isolated and we would be able to keep a watchful eye over the next few weeks. We found a strong cardboard box large enough for Shadow and placed it in the new whelping room. We lined the floor with newspapers and the box with a clean towel.
Shadow has had puppies before, so she knew exactly what the new space was for.
That morning I was studying when I heard some commotion in the whelping area. I looked inside to see a new puppy being delivered! After I removed the sac and rubbed the puppy dry, Shadow took over grooming and nursing the puppy. Unfortunately, the placenta did not pass with the puppy, so I knew we were in for a little trouble.
I really didn’t want to move mom and baby, but Hue and I packed them up and headed for the veterinary hospital. I spent the afternoon checking on Shadow in between client appointments. After two hours of waiting, Shadow was given an injection of Oxytocin, to induce labor to get the next puppy delivered.
Within a few minutes, puppy No. 2 entered the world. We were all sad to see he was underdeveloped and had obviously died a week or two before delivery. Shadow needed another injection to get her last puppy and that first placenta to appear. After eight long hours, we finally had two huge, healthy female tri-colored Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppies.
It was a long day, but being able to save the puppies from a life of breeding was totally worthwhile.
These puppies will be adopted into loving families in about 10 weeks and Shadow will be spayed and adopted as well. When the puppies were 2 weeks old, they were invited to be on "The Dawn Show” on local cable television. Check out the link on our website www.claytonvetnj.com to see them! In the meantime, we get to play with puppies.