Thinking of breeding your pet? Leaving your pet loose to run unaltered? Wondering what rescue does? Or who supporting rescue will save? Read on.....

In late November of this year I got a call from our coordinator about a young Chocolate Labrador bitch in a local shelter that had just whelped and needed a foster home for herself and her litter. We don't often get baby puppies, thank doG, and with Thanksgiving upon us, and Christmas quickly approaching, fostering a litter was not what most folks had on their minds as a way to spend the holidays. As I was anticipating a litter of my own with the beginning of the year I was able to accept the challenge...of course, at that point I didn't realize quite what a challenge it would be.

On Thanksgiving day morning I drove down and met the person who had kindly volunteered to bring them half way to me (I'm North of Seattle and the litter was south of Tacoma). I can't say I was prepared. While the puppies looked nice and plump as I transfered them to my nice toasty crate; the bitch, around 12 months old, was severly emaciated.

So, I carted them home and got them established in their whelping box. Weighing Nicki, I found that she weighed only 46 pounds (my bitch, a few months older, at field weight weighs 62) but as she was eating well and the pups appeared to be doing well we felt she would be OK. But even with 15 cups of puppy food a day, laced with cottage cheese, goats milk and yogurt, within the first 3 days she lost another 2 pounds :( :( Now near 20 pounds underweight with 9 day old babies the picture looked pretty bleak.

At this point, I took over bottle feeding the pups and acquired calcium supplements and feed supplements for Nicki from the vet. Sleep became a very rare thing...but within 5 more days, Nicki had gained 2 pounds. The babies were sleeping better as previously she would eat, feed a little, eat, feed a little, etc. Now their little tummies were full. Another week days bought us another two pounds. This picture is taken at 48 pounds when the pups were 22 days old. It amazes me still how GOOD she looks in these pictures compared to her appearance at 44 pounds.


And this


Hopefully, she will make a full recovery with no long term affects but at an age when she should be growing herself one never knows. When you think of leaving your young dog loose to roam and unneutered, remember Nicki is one of the lucky ones as she was picked up as a stray and taken to a shelter. You say "But I have a dog"?...Well, some dog sired this litter.

Without great levels of assistance both Nicki and the puppies would most likely have died. Be sure before you consider breeding your pet that you are prepared to commit this level of assistance,as bitches can and do die in delivery -- bottle feeding every few hours for weeks is a very tiring process.

The puppies, I'm proud to say are thriving, but it's been a lot of hard work. Happily, they have been eating mushed puppy food now for about 4 days. They are 21 days old in these pictures. Suspecting they may be a "Christmas Litter" bred to make a few extra bucks...what else could I name them but:





COMET (B) Now "Que"

CUPID (D) - our only Chocolate



Copyright 2001 - Brandy Burton-Tarantino