My friend Gary Metzler is a breeder/trainer/handler of AKC Field Champion GSP's. His five-year-old female Roxie was bred two months ago for her first litter and Gary had asked me in advance if I wanted to be there for the delivery. Without hesitation I told him I'd love to be there if it worked out.
Last Thursday, just as I had sat down to write an article that was due the next day, the phone rang with the news that the puppies were coming.
“Roxie is ready to pop these puppies any minute so you better get over here soon,” he said.
I closed my computer, grabbed some towels and headed for Gary's cabin. "What the heck. I'll write my article in the morning," I thought. Plus, I figured I had never witnessed a puppy birthing and it could make for some good writing material in itself.
When I got to Gary's, just minutes later, Roxie had already dropped one little female. The new mama paced in circles inside the whelping pen while Gary carefully watched the little pup to make sure she didn't get stepped on. Right away Gary asked me to jump in and help.
“Just sit here and make sure Roxy doesn't crush your own pup," said Gary. “She's not quite sure what to do yet. Get a little milk on your finger and put it on the pups nose. Try to get her interested in the nipple. It's important that we get this little puppy nursing as soon as possible.”
This was a first for me. I had never milked a dog. Roxy wasn't producing much yet, so it was a slow process, but in a little time the puppy was attached to a nipple and all was well.
About an hour later Roxy let out a scream and in a split second there was the second puppy. I helped get the puppy free from the placenta to get the puppy safely breathing while Gary carefully snipped the umbilical cord.
Within another two hours we had three more. All five were females. The puppies were as soft as could be- all white with mostly liver colored heads and large liver patches. Their eyes were closed and they appeared to only have one instinct, a cute little non-stop roto rooter action that allowed them to wiggle and squirm their way to nourishment. The last two puppies were much quicker to get on a nipple than were the first two.
The most amazing thing about the whole process was the obvious transformation in Roxie. When I first got to Gary's she was anxious and unsettled. But after four short hours and birthing five little pups she was a mom in full swing. It was as if she had been doing this all her life. I suppose it was part exhaustion, but Roxie was as relaxed as could be with her new babies. She tiptoed around them and made sure not to lie down on top of them. She licked them and nuzzled them to her belly where she knew they should be.
I went home amazed at the little miracle I had just witnessed. In the middle of the night, long after I had gone home, Roxy had one more puppy—a little male. She had six puppies total and all are doing well. She is being a great mother and the future is bright for these little bird dogs to be.
Sue Melus is an Certified Dog Trainer living in Carbondale, CO. Her business Good Life Dogs specializes in private in-home dog training.