Monday, June 25, 2012

Rainy day preparations

Eta’s litter was officially due on May 31st but she had other ideas. When I watched her digging at her dog bed on the morning of May 28th I realized she wasn’t going to hold out for another three days. A few hours later I realized whelping was even more imminent and moved her into the puppy room, then made quick trip to the local drug store for KY gel and betadine, a povidone-iodine solution often used in hospital settings. I used the self checkout, feeling a bit conspicuous about my combination of odd purchases. As I bagged them up and headed home I hoped they would provide the same benefit carrying an umbrella does after a forecast of rain. Having them in hand surely meant I would not need to use them.

Overall this whelping went much more smoothly than the previous two. Eta’s first puppy arrived shortly after noon (thank you Eta for a daytime whelping!). I had to feather her a little to encourage the first sac to come out after the puppy was clear, but after that four more puppies followed in intervals of approximately ½ hour. Then things slowed down a bit. Pushing out puppies is hard work, after all. A sixth puppy delivered about an hour after the fifth one was not breathing and our attempts to revive it were unsuccessful. More time passed. I was convinced Eta had a least one more pup in her. A gloved inspection revealed the puppy was stuck in a breach position. In this case it meant head first but shoulder twisted with one front leg forward and one pulled back along the body. In a bit of a panic, I called my vet tech friend Lin, who reminded me about what I should be doing with the ky gel I had purchased earlier (try to shoot some up behind the puppy to help it slide out) and to elevate Eta’s front end so gravity would work for us (which we did by placing her front feet on a chair and having George steady her). We also administered a few ml of Oral Cal Plus to help strengthen her contractions. I reached in again and worked in tandem with Eta’s contractions and suddenly the 7th puppy was out! She was alive, which surprised me as I had expected all the time we lost in attempting to extricate her would have done her in. We worked diligently to remove the fluid from her lungs and nose and keep her warm, but unfortunately within an hour or so she was gone. That was hard, to have worked on her for so long and think we were making progress, and then see her fade away despite all of our efforts.

Eta and her five pups are doing well. Eta is a typical Toller dam, very attentive to her pups but relatively comfortable with my intrusions to check in on her and her brood, clean the whelping pool or weigh her precious pups.

My lesson learned this time around is that carrying an umbrella doesn't always stave off rain. On the plus side, George and I did things to get that last puppy out that I could only stand by and watch Lin do with Lark just a few short months ago. For me, assisting a bitch whelp is by turns an exciting and terrifying experience, and more recently, a tempering one as well.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Navigating the suburban jungle of zombie smart phone users

I’ve had a couple of unusual encounters this spring while walking June and Lark, where people were paying more attention to their smart phone than their surrounding environment. I am old (curmudgeonly) enough to be really irritated by these encounters, so I thought I'd vent a bit here.

A few weeks ago I was walking Lark on our short “downtown and back” loop and we came across a woman in an SUV stopped at a stop sign, busily tapping away on her phone. I stopped, as I’ve taught all my dogs to stop and sit before crossing a street. I stared at the woman for a moment but she was oblivious to our presence. As it happened, her window was down, so I called out to her, “are you going to go or may I cross?” (which was a much more polite inquiry than what I was thinking). Startled, she looked up and said “sorry, go ahead”.  We stepped warily into the crosswalk and made our way across the street.

More recently I was walking June in a different neighborhood and we were gaining ground on a young boy walking two pugs (or pug mixes, I admit I didn't look too closely). June and I gave them a wide birth by stepping into someone's front yard, and then had to step further in as the dogs dragged the boy closer toward us, in large part because he was paying more attention to his phone than the dogs. We did manage to pass without a close encounter but it reminded me of the dangers of dividing your attention from the main task at hand. 

It may be fairly common knowledge now that people are not as efficient at multitasking as they think they are (Multitaskers bad at multitasking). Some information I've read suggests distractions in general are the problem, not smart phones specifically, and I don't disagree with this assessment. It seems the more fast paced our society becomes the more distractions of all types we face, and the more I see people unwilling or unable to simply live in the moment, but engaged elsewhere instead, often to the detriment of themselves and those around them.