Happy Birthday, Boys!

Duke and Hatch turned 3-years-old yesterday, and as those two big yellow thugs lumbered around the house eating their extra treats, I couldn’t help but remember the night their mother, our very own Pearl, made us grandparents to eight puppies. 

That Sunday, September 11, 2005, our sweet little black lab had been showing all the signs of being ready to whelp, and we’d been watching her like hawks ALL day.  Well, I’d been watching her and Tater Daddy had been watching me and asking, “Is she ready?  Is it time?  What should we do?”  I had been assigned the task of finding out all about What to Expect When Your Dog is Expecting, while my husband’s job was to….hmmm….that’s strange.  I don’t think he had one.  

Anyway, by late afternoon and no puppies, we were a little anxious.  We’d hoped she would have the puppies over the weekend so we’d be there in case anything went wrong.  Before becoming “in the family way,” Pearl was a little bitty thing by Labrador standards, weighing 55 pounds and gorgeous, if I do say so myself.  I can’t lie.   All that to say, because of her pre-pregnancy size, we (the vet included) expected about four puppies, five at the most

By her due date, Pearl was HUGE.  It was like she’d swallowed a VW Bug.  We both felt sorry for the miserable mama-to-be, but we knew she could handle it.  Okay, I knew she could do it.  I had read all of the material and knew this was normal and that those puppies were coming soon.  Tater Daddy, on the other hand, was in a panic.  Normally, he’s the epitome of someone you want in an emergency — level headed, sees the big picture, etc.

I caught him rooting around in the linen closet and asked what he was doing.  “I’m looking for the heating pad.”  Why?  Are you sore?  “No, it’s for Pearl.  She looks so miserable that I thought this would make her feel better.”  I’m not sure that boiling the puppies is going to make Pearl feel better.  “Bad idea?”  Well, your heart is in the right place.  

Let me be very clear about this, folks.  Had I been waddling around pregnant with 8 Tater Tots swishing to-and-fro ON A SUNDAY……WHILE BIG BROTHER WAS ON……I couldn’t have gotten a ride to the hospital from this man.  I’m not passing judgment.  I’m just stating a fact.

So anyway, it was good and dark outside and the hubs convinced Pearl to go outside with him.  All of a sudden I heard him shouting for me to bring a towel and to HURRY!  Wouldn’t you know it?  Pearl had her first puppy in the back yard.  I guess it kind of makes sense, though.  She probably felt like she needed to go to the bathroom and I’m sure Tater Daddy thought that’s what she was doing.

We got Pearl and her pup safely inside and she went to work on her, licking and cleaning and snuggling her close.  I grabbed a flashlight and searched the backyard for signs of more pups, even though I was pretty sure there weren’t any.  All of my research told me that the first two or three puppies take a while and then labor really speeds up.

When I got back in the house, the pup looked really good.  She was a little cold, so we put her in the box under the warming lamp for a few minutes and then gave her back to Pearl to see if she would nurse.  It turns out that nursing speeds up labor.  Woohoo!

Pearl had most of the pups in our den, either on the floor or in one of the leather chairs.  Gross, I know.  Believe it or not, the only things ruined were towels.  By the third puppy, she had the whole Mama thing down!  She broke the sack, cleaned their noses first, and licked them until they were completely clean.  By the time Duke and Hatch (numbers 5 and 6) came, she was having the puppies so fast that there was no time for them to nurse after being cleaned off.

Keep in mind that we were expecting five puppies at the most, so at six, we thought we were done.  My husband had wanted Pearl to have a yellow male SO badly, and she’d had two of them, so he was beside himself.  He was rubbing on Pearl and praising her and looking in the box at the two yellows, and you would have thought that Santa Claus had brought him a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas!

“Er, um, honey?  I hate to interrupt you, but here comes number seven.”  By this time Pearl was just barely panting a couple of times and then a puppy would appear.  You know, like, So, this is not really all that hard.  Want another puppy?  Okay.  Here…

Again, we both thought she was done.  Pearl may have thought she was done, too, because she got up and acted like she needed to go outside.  Again, out she went with Tater Daddy.  And again, I heard, “Honey!  Bring a towel and HURRY!”

Dang if she didn’t have another puppy!  Husband picked her up, I got the puppy, and in we came.  Same song, eighth verse!  The puppy was fine.  Pearl cleaned her up, and the little thing started to nurse.  We took the rest of them out and helped them find a spot at the table, so to speak.  Ahhhhhhh.

We couldn’t believe it.  Pearl had delivered 8 healthy puppies in all three colors of the breed.  She had four black puppies (3 girls and a boy); two chocolate girls; and two yellow boys.  She was okay.  They were okay.  We were exhausted, but giddy.

The other six puppies went to wonderful homes, and we think about them throughout the year, but especially on their birthday.  We get to see one of the chocolate puppies fairly often because our niece, Caroline, kept her.  (The litter’s sire belongs to Tater Daddy’s sister, Deanna, so she and Caroline got the pick of the litter.)

So, Happy Birthday, Duke and Hatch!  

Here are some pictures from the weeks following their birth.

Here they are at 10 days old.

If you look closely, you’ll see all 8 are eating!  They’re 10 days old in this picture, too.

“Sing…sing a song…sing out loud…sing out strong….”  Duke and a sister at 3 weeks old.

Hatch and Duke’s at 2 months.  They’re still babies!


Again, Happy Birthday, boys!


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lora Lynn
    Sep 12, 2008 @ 09:13:37

    amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog give birth. But oh, I love puppies. So cute. It’s when they start eating my books and pooping on my floor that we have issues.


  2. Mrs Lemon
    Sep 12, 2008 @ 09:40:26

    BWAHAHA I was dying laughing at the part where Tater Daddy didn’t have a job and then all of a sudden wanted to be a puppy doula. cracks me up.


  3. upsidebrown
    Sep 12, 2008 @ 14:13:05

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these dogs! I’d love to spray something on them so they’d stay that size… Scratch my dogfriends alot to today from their girlfriend. LOVE ‘EM!


  4. Calista
    Sep 12, 2008 @ 15:08:54

    I love the one of them singing. I had to go ge hubs to look at that picture. He thinks I’m crazy all the way now. It makes me want to have a puppy, well, you know not really like birth it, just have one, you know what I mean.



  5. thefarmerfiles
    Sep 13, 2008 @ 04:36:20

    awww makes me miss our yellow lab.


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