A STORY OF HEROES
Let me start right out admitting that I am not a dog lover. I was once. I had a beloved mutt named Lassie when I was growing up on Old Trail Road. She got distemper and was destroyed by a gunshot in our garage. I never loved another dog. Until now.
My daughter, Betsy, a neonatal nurse, got “Buddy” as a puppy. Not because it was her idea but was her husband’s idea. She complained aplenty! They have four children. Adding a dog was not her idea of what she needed in her life. But the kids fell instantly in love. Justin, who is 9 years old, developed a special affinity with the dog and even though many names were considered, she became Buddy, because that’s what she was to Justin.
The veterinarian gave them the news early on that Buddy would never be a mother. Even though she was a full-blooded Boxer, she had an anatomy that he said would not permit puppy-bearing. Buddy developed into a dog that even the most cold-hearted animal hater had to love. I even had to admit that she was a pretty special dog. She permitted every indignity without objection from my grandkids. Lulu rode her as a horse, and Alison and Lulu loved her to the point that she had to get up and walk away. Justin boxed with her, and Clay wrestled with her. I think the reason I began to have such affection for her is that she never once tried to snap at the girls, or at Justin and Clay as they roughhoused with her. She defied confinement. She was stately and looked like a queen. I suspect she had Olympic genes. She refused to be deterred by a 7-foot fence, and the electronic shocking device put underground only made her hesitate once. Then she just endured the shock as she bolted over the line.
She was the beloved neighborhood dog. All the kids adopted her. The Animal Control People were not as generous. Although they were never able to catch her, they fined Betsy over and over. She was ready to tear her hair out. The smallest child could safely approach her, but the Animal Control People couldn’t catch her. It was recognized early on, that this dog had a brain that was unlike other dogs we’ve known.
A few months ago, Betsy called me and said, “I think Buddy is pregnant.” Now, not to doubt her, but the veterinarian said she would never get pregnant. As the weeks went on, it became obvious that she was, indeed, pregnant. The veterinarian called it a false pregnancy! Betsy and I rolled our eyes. Then yesterday, her hour of confinement came. She stopped eating, made herself a bed out of one of the kid’s sleeping bags and some laundry towels, and there she positioned herself for her labor. Bets tried her best to get Buddy to take another position rather than the middle of the family room, but Buddy had her way.
She labored all day. Not knowing anything about dogs, especially pregnant ones (with false pregnancies), we all waited. Betsy became concerned late in the evening when Buddy’s respirations went up to 100 breaths per minute and she seemed in distress. Bets called the vet who had no interest in seeing her. She called another vet who wanted $175.00 just to bring her in. Betsy called another vet who turned out to be one of the heroes of our story. He was at home, as it was by now evening, but readily agreed to meet Bets with Buddy. Bets drove Buddy to PeeWee Valley where he met her at the office. He quickly ascertained that Buddy was in great distress and was near death. She was unable to deliver her puppies. Justin was with Betsy and they formed a team. Justin had never seen any kind of delivery, but Betsy has delivered many babies including the recent quintuplets. When Dr. Meyer anesthetized Buddy, and opened her by C-section, the picture was grim. Betsy quickly told Dr. Meyer that she would assist, and informed Justin that he would assist. Buddy’s insides were a mess. A badly twisted uterus and bleeding told Betsy that there wasn’t much chance for the puppies to be born alive, and she warned Justin that the puppies would probably be born dead, to which he nodded. He was ready. The first baby to be delivered was passed to Betsy and she took him to the awaiting isolette, cleared his airway and stimulated and resuscitated him just as Jussie was bringing over the second non-breathing puppy. Bets told him what to do and he resuscitated the second puppy. This went on until there were 8 puppies, all born essentially lifeless, and all resuscitated by Betsy and Jussie. Bets told me that they all cheered in the same manner that a cheer went up when the quints were born.
A miracle had just happened and they were all part of it. Dr. Meyer had called in his colleague, Dr. Tanya Ross, and she also delivered the puppies. When it was done, Buddy was still asleep, and Bets, Jussie and the doctors were covered with blood. A job well done. A life saving effort had just been accomplished. Buddy had her babies in spite of the obstacles including a diagnosis that she would never have puppies.
We went over the next day and saw the puppies and Buddy. Buddy didn’t know what to make of them. We carefully placed each puppy at her breast. The puppies were very reluctant, but, one by one, they began to nurse. Buddy leaned back on her side, every rib showing and her backbone protruding. When a few hours passed, Buddy began licking her puppies and tending them on her own. What a magnificent mother. All around her were kids. Not only Betsy’s kids but all the neighborhood kids. This was a neighborhood affair. They may have missed the long anticipated delivery, but they didn’t miss the bonding.
I guess that now, in my later years I have learned to love another dog. Lassie has been long dead and I have found that I have room in my heart for this heroic Boxer who defied the odds and gave birth to 8 puppies and loved them and fed them, in spite of what she had been through. She is our heroine dog. She is a blessing and an example to the children.
Now, what are we going to do with the puppies when they are old enough to wean? Is there anyone in Waynedale who would like a puppy who has a mother with a heart like Buddy? In question is who the father is, but from the size of the puppies, I am suspecting the Shetland pony in the neighborhood!
Love to all my friends,