Whelping Healthy Dachshund Puppies

PUPPIES!   Oh boy!

Every dog-loving little kid has grown up wanting to witness the birth and growth of a litter of puppies.  Actually, we have all wanted to participate in the event. 

 

But, the reality of having puppies is not as carefree and God-like as the abstract concept.  Our first shock came as we read that on average, 25% of all puppies are born dead or die shortly after whelping.

 

Gulp!

With the help of our breeder, we prepared ourselves by reading books, gathering an emergency crash cart of first aid supplies on our kitchen butcher block.
Mary Pat and Hollis examine our Emergency Crash Cart supplies.

Geoff with Syntax the weekend before the puppies came We read "The Whelping and Rearing of Puppies: A Complete and Practical Guide" by Muriel P. Lee. We studied "How to Help Your Puppy Grow Up to Be a Wonderful Dog" by Elizabeth Randolph. 

As Syntax, our first dachshund and chosen mother dog, got close to her delivery day, we practiced swinging mock puppies so we could clear the airways of the real ones in distress.  Syntax's breeder gave us tips and worried us with horror stories.  Our vet added her advice and preparation suggestions. 

We counted the days since the artificial insemination, planned our vacations from work, and went over our check lists again and again.

Geoff took Syntax's temperature at least once a day  -- it drops when the puppies are about a day from arriving. And, we got our blunt scissors ready for cutting too tough umbilical cords.

Geoff, Syntax, and Audit take their temperatures.

After Syntax's temperature fell,  Geoff and I went sleepless through the night, watching puppy heads poke up in Syntax's stomach.  "Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" was on the VCR, but no one watched for more than a minute.  

Syntax tried to sleep.  But, every time she shifted, we tried to position her for puppy delivery. By six in the morning, we were all exhausted but there were still no puppies.  We phoned our vet, who came over and ordered us all to our respective beds.  At 1 p.m. in the afternoon, Syntax started the delivery.

Syntax and most of the kids

Fortunately for us all, Syntax had read the "how to" books herself.  She delivered the puppies, licked them to life, crushed -- didn't bite -- the umbilical cords, and cleaned each new pup.  She whelped seven perfect puppies, finishing around 6 p.m. She was tired, but very pleased.

After Syntax had an x-ray to make sure she was done, we gave her a whole steak from our favorite restaurant.  She then settled down to nurse.

The normal litter size for miniature long hair dachshunds is one or two puppies.  Syntax was not dragging on the ground, so we thought "one", although our vet had a psychic feeling that Syntax was carrying four.

Seven puppies was unheard of in local dachshund lore.

No matter!  Syntax was an incredibly healthy bitch and a great mother.  Our other female, Audit, stepped into the whelping box and starting giving milk to help out.

Birth announcement for the seven dwarves
We were wonderfully  lucky having so many -- and so healthy -- puppies.  We were ready for disaster, and instead nature reminded us that she has been whelping dogs long before we ever thought of helping her with a litter.

We found good homes for the dogs... and we had our second litter 18 years after the first. We may do litters more often, but not until after retirement!

And, we knew 5 of the 7 "puppies" their whole lives. Array and Vector died here at home, within feet of where they were whelped at the ages of 15 and 17 respectively. Robespierre lived past 19, and Happy passed away at 19 years and 362 days.

Good boys and girls!

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