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.