The miracle of birth will never cease to amaze me. Nor will those innately maternal instincts that send a warm buzz through my body each time I get a little clucky. And boy do I get clucky.
But funnily enough, of late, I’ve been getting a different kind of clucky: ‘Puppy clucky’.
It all started a week ago…
Mr C’s lovely Sister had asked me to feed her frail old cat and heavily pregnant dog for the weekend. She and her family were off to the city for a few days and being the animal lover that I am: I instantly said yes.
‘We’re just a little concerned that the dog might give birth at any time,’ she said in a nonchalant monotone, ‘so maybe just keep your eye out for any strange behaviour’.
Well. I thought. Surely that won’t be too hard. Fingers crossed she doesn’t have the puppies when they are away.
My first day of feeding the animals went like a dream. Skin and bones in his old age, the cat meowed happily as I filled his bowl. In her pen, I crouched to pat the pregnant dog. She tenderly responded by nestling closer into my body. I felt her giant belly with the palm of my hand. The pups were moving around inside, almost as if they were wriggling around in a pool of jelly. I giggled with delight as the little tackers moved and pushed at her belly—this moment I would never forget.
As I lay in bed that night, I couldn’t help but be excited for her. The dog, that is. She’d never seemed the friendliest of dogs, to me. As a sheep dog, she’d always mistaken me for a sheep and would constantly be trying to herd me into the house as though I was the dumbest sheep in the flock. But recently, I’d felt myself warm to her. Maybe pregnancy had softened her.
The next day, my visit to feed the animals was less successful. As I opened the gate to the dog pen, the Mum to be burst straight out and began to run frantically around the yard. She kept squatting; it really did look like she was looking for places to do poo. That’s when I knew what was going on. She was going to have the pups. Tonight. There was nothing that I could do other than make her comfortable. With a friends help, I prepared her blankets and provided her food and water to last the night. With a good luck pat, I left her. I could only wonder what I’d find when I returned in the morning.
7:30 am: Next day. Somewhere near the dog pen.
I was nervous.
As I approached the pen apprehensively, I saw only one Mummy dog. So she hadn’t had the Puppies after all.
But then, just as I was about to open the gate: I saw it. The tiniest of wriggles at her belly. Puppies!! Two black, one black and white, and one brown and white. The feelings that rushed through me in that moment can’t be described.
The dog’s instincts amazed me. She had not only pushed these things out on her own but, apparently, she’d eaten the amniotic sac and placenta of each pup. More amazingly, she’d severed each umbilical cord so that all that was left were four perfect little puppies.