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My Dog's Having Puppies, Oh My!

Here's a simple how-to guide to helping nature along.

A friend of mine called me up the other day in a panic because her dog was having puppies and she acted like it was the first litter in history. 

I have news, Debra; this has been happening for a while now. At least since the late 1960s that I know. That's when my Collie, named Lassie, had a litter of 10 puppies on my bed. I was the only one she let near her puppies and my destroyed mattress, which angered my stepfather. 

I camped out on my floor next to my bed for the next couple of weeks in my pup tent and sleeping bag, much to my Boy Scout's delight. I suppose it was to be a sign of things to come. Since then, I have had litters of puppies too many to count.

My wife and I bred five litters of Siberian huskies back in the late '90s and into the turn of the century. We bred them inside the house and nurtured them with love and care while we had them with us. If there were a puppy breath scented candle, I would buy it by the case. Puppy’s breath releases a toxin called oxytocin, a love hormone, which some scientists say was created to bring out the "nurture" in us. All of our pups were fat and sassy when we turned them loose on the world, and we still know a couple of people from back then who remember us as a place to get a good puppy. 

Do you realize that less than 40 percent of houses in America have children while over 60 percent have dogs?Some sociologists believe it to be a statement about how people feel the need to nurture on an elementary level.

Since I’ve decided to show you how to have puppies without losing your mind, we’ll have to do this in stages due to a limited column space. 

First of all, get or make a whelping box. A whelping box should be about a foot or so tall with plenty of room for the mother and puppies to sprawl about.  There should be old linen or towels you will never want back in your house lying about for mom and the pups to cuddle in. There should be an entrance cut out for the mother to escape for a moment or two—for her sanity. Don’t forget, this is a fairly radical change for mom, as well as you, especially if it’s her first litter.

After a nine-week gestation period, keep a close eye on mom and try to be by her side as much as you can. When she experiences labored breathing and gets a faraway look in her eyes, it won’t be long.

Each puppy is born in an amniotic sack which the mother will remove unless you are there to help her along. Some puppies require a little extra help squeezing out the fluid in their lungs, but be strong, firm and gentle at the same time. I can’t come close to describing the feeling when your hands help a puppy come to life. At this point, the puppy is both deaf and blind and relies on his sense of smell to bring him to his mother’s teat. 

The initial milk is called colostrum and is full of all the antibodies, vitamins and bacteria the newborn pup will need. As the puppy first bonds with his mother, oxytocin is released in the brain.

This is not only called the "love hormone," but is also known as the "bonding hormone."

We’ll stop right here for now, but I hope I have your undivided attention for next week's column, which will bring us right up to early training. Some great information ahead.

The pictures I am posting are of two different rescue dogs we were fostering, Cubby, Tova and my daughter, Allie.  I am going down right now to get a device that will transfer my photographs of my dog’s litters to my computer so I can share them with you next week—you are going to love these.

Love your pets as they love you--Roy.

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