Well the vet was right when she told us there were eight pups. On February 3, the happy family of eight arrived, and defying the odds it was four girls and four boys.
All pups arrived healthy and vigorous. However Abbey had a hard time of it. Her temperature dropped on February 2, and we were sure that she would go into labour later that day, and she did. Her water bag broke at 8 pm. Yay they were on their way. And then we waited and waited. The Emergency Vet was phoned at 10 pm to be asked about how long it was safe to wait for the litter to start arriving, and were told 24 hours. Oh we said.
Abbey was very restless, but we could see no signs of imminent hard labour. That was until 1:30 am. And then it was shear chaos. She was running all around the house. Think she would have liked to have gone downstairs to under our bed (her favourite sleeping spot for the last month. Could it still smell like Maggie under there and she was taking comfort from her Mom?), but we had the gate securely closed. So finally when I could see something emerging, I shooed her back to the whelping room (she avoided the pool), and her son emerged feet first (the only one of the litter to arrive that way). So as feet first is a bit harder on the pup, I stayed in the room and cleaned him and stimulated his breathing (normally Momma does that but she was nowhere in the room). Once he was out of danger, I walked over to the little bedroom, and there she was laying on the bed. I presented her with her son, and put him on a nipple. She was accepting. But there was no way she was going anywhere. Twenty minutes later her first daughter arrived. I thought we were on a roll. Abbey still would not be persuaded to leave the bed. Thirty-five minutes later the second daughter arrived.
Now with her and three pups on a twin bed, I had to persuade her to go into the pool. It would not be safe for her and the pups on the bed when the next pup arrived. In my careless wisdom, (I did not want all these fluid to seep into the mattress), I dragged her to the whelping room and persuaded her to get into the pool. And then we waited, and waited some more. After an hour of no pups, I phoned the Animal Emergency Hospital once again and asked how long was it safe to wait before it could be an emergency situation for the pups and Abbey. They suggested we wait for another hour. So at around 4:30 I phoned again and said we were on our way. At the hospital, they took Abbey to check if the pups were in distress and if everything was okay with Abbey. She had stopped any visible contractions. So at 5:30 Abbey was given a shot of oxytocin, and at 5:45 she had another little girl. We though we were on our way, but at no further pups arrived. We had to make a decision to go ahead with a c-section or just keep administering oxytocin. There were risks with both, but we had until 8 to decide because that was when the day vet arrived.
The day vet suggested that we give a injection of calcium. It can help induce contractions, and would make another injection of oxytocin more effective. Abbey got her first injection of calcium at 8:30 (thank you Olds college for training vet techs and to Cedarwood Vet clinic for offering student internships). Nothing happened. So oxytocin was again injected at 8:45. No pups but we could at least see that Abbey was again having contractions. The next pup arrived at 9:30 (yay for waiting an hour to see if it was going to work). At 11:05 the next pup arrived, and at 11:25 the next pup. And then we waited some more. Noon arrived but not that eighth pup. But Abbey had been doing so good, and we didn't want to do a c-section for one pup. So we fed her and had a good nap. That seemed to do the trick and the final pup arrived at 1:05 pm. Eleven hours in hard labour but she did it! Good job Abbey. (Yes we did an x-ray just to make sure there were no more.)
We got to come home. Why does home always seem so good after a hospital stay? I did take the ready box to transport puppies and remembered to put Abbey's collar on her, as all dogs must be leashed in a vet clinic. I did not take our nail paint and scale, so while I knew the sex and time of birth, (and kept track of placentas) I did not paint the pups. Last night the pups finally got weighed and recoloured as boys and girls. I did manage to keep pink and mauve the same colour, but we will never know who was the original blue boy who arrived first. I will try to post some pictures of our first and now second day, in the photo section. But here is one of the new family at home.