Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The wet nurse

Easter Sunday brought an unexpected surprise: our golden retriever gave birth to her first litter.

I wish I could say the experience was pleasant, but it wasn't. She delivered the pups a full week before the target date, and so we were psychologically unprepared. The puppies came at long intervals so we had to watch over her for several hours. Possibly the only good thing was that it was a Sunday and we were all at home.

The most infuriating part of this episode was our golden retriever herself. We have several mongrels and they've all given birth without much fuss or incident. But our golden retriever's motherly instincts seemed to be all askew. Instead of nursing her pups, she would lay all of them in front of her, or drag them around with her mouth. We just could not get her to stay put. Worse, her teats did not seem to expand as we expected them to, and her long hair got in the way of her pups' hungry mouths.

It was a good thing that our Japanese spitz had also delivered her umpteenth litter just a little over a week ago. We eventually transferred the golden retriever pups over to her to nurse.

Unfortunately for a couple of pups, the transfer came too late. The last pup to come out was stillborn, and so there wasn't much we could do about it. An otherwise healthy pup died yesterday morning after our golden retriever accidentally injured her while moving her around. This morning, a third one died, possibly from the cold.

So now we are left with three.

Our spitz accepted the new pups after a bit of orientation. She's nursing them now, alongside her two own offspring. The near-simultaneous pregnancies and deliveries was pure serendipity. I don't quite know what we would have done if the spitz was not there to take over our frisky and irresponsible golden retriever.


  1. Oh no don't do that...the retrievers will turn yellow with slanted eyes..

    hehe joke lang!

  2. Ah! Had that kind of incident so many times. What you did is the easiest solution. :)

    Though you may want to spend some time (if you can) to "teach" your retriever on how to be a good mom. First: shave the bitch. Yes, we shave our dogs as well a week before they're due to give birth.

    Then about three times a day, try to get the pups to suckle from their biological mom. You'll have to guard them until they can suckle no more or for as long as you can. Return to the foster mom when you can't guard the pups.

    Hard work, I know. So imagine how we went through when we once had two or three german shepherds and dobermans giving birth at more or less the same time with an average of 8 per litter. Then the havoc they do to our house at the age of 3 months!

    Ah! The life of a breeder! Thank goodness we just breed small dogs now! :D

  3. I've never heard the phrase "shave the bitch" used with such reckless abandon before... :)