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Mary joined the AMC family on Friday, December 22. She is a young adult, pregnant dog. Although her parentage is unknown, we guess that she is a long-hair dachsund mixed with possibly pekinese or corgi. She is a small dog and will weigh about 25 lbs when not pregnant. We estimate that Mary is about one year old and her puppies are due within the next week or so.
Mary is being foster parented by Dr. Zucker & his family and cared for by the Zuckers and the AMC staff. Mary & her puppies will be placed in homes through our Adoption Program starting in late February.
On December 18th, Mary was surrendered to animal control as an unowned or abandoned stray. Mary was obviously in late pregnancy. Mary's sweet disposition and her obvious need for a safe home to have her puppies helped her steal the hearts of the folks at Canine Rescue as well as Woof's rescue program. As of Friday morning, Mary was still in the shelter while her caretakers urgently searched for a suitable foster home for Mary and her soon-to-arrive puppies. She had not yet received any veterinary care and her caretakers suspected that she was already in labor. Due to disease transmission concerns, the stress of a noisy and cold environment, as well as the difficulty of providing proper social stimulation to mom and pups, a shelter kennel is generally not a safe or comfortable place to raise puppies. A foster home or private kennel environment was the ideal solution.
Our own Carolyn, who is the "mom" to three locally rescued dogs and a friend to and supporter of Morgantown's rescue organizations, became aware of Mary's plight and brought her situation to the attention of Dr. & Mrs. Zucker Friday morning. We happily agreed to take Mary and to care for her and her puppies until we can place them through our Adoption Program. Mary was brought to AMC this same afternoon.
Dr. Zucker examined Mary and found her to be generally healthy and fortunately, not yet in labor. Ultrasound confirmed strong heartbeats of several puppies and x-rays showed at least 5 (probably 6) puppies. The skulls of several puppies are visible at the lower left part of the x-ray shown at right and you can easily see many spinal columns as well.
Although dating a pregnancy at any stage is an inexact science, Dr. Zucker was able to estimate that Mary is due to deliver in about 5 to 9 days by noting which structures were visible on xray (i.e., skulls) already and which ones had not yet developed sufficiently to be visible (i.e., teeth). Dr. Zucker sent out comprehensive blood work to check Mary's overall health as well as test for heart worm disease. We also did a fecal exam to screen for intestinal parasites and we began Mary on an aggressive regimen of daily deworming medication that will help prevent transmission of intestinal parasites to her puppies. Dr. Zucker also ordered a urinalysis (urine testing for urinary tract infection and other diseases of the urinary tract or kidneys) to be performed as soon as we can obtain a "free-catch" sample of urine. (There is no hurry for a urinalysis since Mary is not showing any symptoms of concern and so there is no need to risk inserting a needle into Mary's pregnant abdomen to collect urine directly from the bladder). Mary also got a lovely bath, so she now smells and feels great! She doesn't have fleas or ticks, but will start on Frontline Plus flea & tick preventative in a day or so as a preventive measure. (To ensure effectiveness, you need to wait 24 hours after a bath before applying a top spot medication like Frontline or Advantage.) We will wait on vaccines until after Mary has had her puppies.
After getting cleaned up and thoroughly vetted at AMC, Mary went "home-for-now" and spent her first night at the Zucker home. She settled right in with our 3 young children, 3 dogs and 4 cats with amazing calm and comfort. Mary has surely had an owner at some point in the past because she walks beautifully on a leash and makes herself right at home on the couch and the bed! She is remarkably well socialized, friendly and calm and spent the evening snuggling on the couch with whoever was available and following family members around the house. She is energetic and surprisingly athletic for such a very pregnant dog. She worries us when she leaps off the back of the couch, but it doesn't seem to faze her at all! She obviously loves people and obviously enjoys our young children. She follows Mrs. Zucker around the house and quietly lays by her feet or right on her lap whenever possible.
Our first night together was a success! Although Mary woke Dr. & Mrs. Zucker up around 4 AM when she got herself stuck under their bed (a very tight fit for a very pregnant dog!) and then while she was digging around in the bed pillows to get more comfortable, Mary eventually got cozy sleeping on Mrs. Zucker's pillow and settled in for the rest of the night.
Mary is not yet completely house-trained and did have a couple accidents during her first day and night with us, but she did choose smart spots to go (by the front door and in the bathroom, thankfully on hard surfaces and not carpet!). She is very quickly learning to potty outside and has peed & pooped outside successfully several times already and so we have had chances to positively reinforce that good behavior to help her know where she is supposed to go. Because Mary already walks so well on a leash and has gone potty right after getting outside a couple times, we believe she has been house-trained at some time in the past, which should help her re-learn quickly. We're trying to pay close attention and to remember to take her outside every couple hours. We are hopeful that she will be potty trained before her puppies are born!
Amazingly, Mary is completely at home with all our kids and pets! She is very sweet, calm and loving. She is quiet and hasn't yet barked once in the house. Mary sits quietly & happily by Mrs. Zucker at the computer, even when our other three dogs are raising a commotion at the front door! Maybe Mary will teach our other dogs some good habits about being calm and quiet while they teach her about using the potty outside! Mary is a "licker" and can find her own personal ecstasy when the children giggle while allowing her to lick their faces endlessly. Although she really wants to lick us, she seems to be learning that us grown-ups don't really want our faces licked so much and is contenting herself with snuggling.
Mary went back to AMC for a couple hours this morning for a quick check-up and to get her ears re-cleaned (now looking very good!) and to be reweighed and update any other medical needs. Mary's fecal exam showed that, like many pets in Morgantown, she was carrying both hookworms and whipworms. Hookworms (photo left) and whipworms (drawing right) attach themselves to the inside of the intestine and suck blood from the pet. These nasty intestinal parasites can cause serious health problems (and hookworms can be transmitted to people!! Yuck!!) but can be successfully treated, and future infections can be prevented with appropriate monthly heartworm & intestinal parasite preventative.
The dewormer (panacur) that Dr. Zucker had already prescribed for Mary is effective for eliminating both of these common and dangerous intestinal parasites and should also help prevent transmission of intestinal parasites to her puppies. (Mother to puppy parasite transmission through nursing is a nearly universal route of infection unless very aggressive daily deworming is performed during late pregnancy and the first 2 weeks of the postpartum period).
Mary's bloodwork is back from the lab and looks pretty good. Thankfully, she is heartworm negative and so can start her monthly heartworm preventative tablets that will protect her from heartworm as well as intestinal parasites. Mary's red blood cell count and albumin (protein in the blood) are a bit low, but these small abnormalities can be explained by her pregnancy combined with her probably-poor nutritional status prior to her recent rescue. We now have Mary on a high quality, high calorie diet (Science Diet puppy food) and Dr. Zucker is adding a general vitamin supplement with some extra iron to help replenish her nutrient status. We will re-check blood work in a couple weeks or sooner if indicated.
Although yesterday Mary was quiet and uncomplaining in her cage at AMC, today she complained loudly about being plopped in a cozy cage while waiting for a nurse. I guess just one night of home comforts helped Mary learn what she wants! She was happy to come back home and settled right back in with the family!
12/24/06 Christmas Eve
Mary is doing great! This morning, Dr. Zucker made ready a whelping box for her in a corner of the master bedroom. Of course, she may choose to have her pups somewhere else, but at least she has one tidy option should she choose it!
Mary still follows us all around and wants to stay close to her people at all times. She is pictured at right "helping" one of the Zucker kids wrap some last minute Christmas presents. She tends to be possessive of her people when she is snuggling and has mildly growled at the other dogs sometimes when she was snuggling with Mrs. Zucker and one of the other dogs wants to join in. We are gently but firmly discouraging her growling and she responds well, so we expect her to end that behavior soon. She is getting along great with everyone! We're thrilled.
Mary's tummy seems to get bigger by the day! It is firm and warm and you can feel the little puppies kicking and wiggling through her tummy! She loves to be pet and snuggled. She is eating well and using the potty outside very well. (She had just a couple minor poop accidents inside over night.) She loves the canned food that we mix her dewormer in, so that is a big relief that it will be easy to get her to take her daily dewormer for the next few weeks!
When we go to Christmas Eve services tonight will be the first time Mary is left at the house without any people. We don't expect too much trouble since she doesn't seem to be much of a chewer or have other destructive habits.
12/25/2006 Christmas Day
Merry Christmas!!!!!! Mary's first Christmas with us (and probably her first Christmas at all since she's probably just under a year old) has been great!
Mary did super last night alone in the house while we were at church. She hasn't had a potty accident in 24 hours so we're very happy with her potty-learning!
Mary was a bit overwhelmed with all the excitement this morning and she kept giving us worried looks but she did just fine and showed some interest in her presents, especially the raw hide chip, which she promptly devoured.
Mary is also sporting a spiffy reflective red collar and has her very own new dog dish and a holiday chew toy.
As day 5 of our puppy-watch wraps up, we are all getting more and more eager to meet Mary's puppies as Mary gets more and more round and round! The puppies are very active and Mary is happy to let us place our hands on her tummy to feel them dance and tumble. It is amazing to feel how much activity can be squeezed into that little tummy! Mary is doing super and seems to be feeling great and is just another happy member of the Zucker Zoo these days.
Mary hasn't had a single potty-accident in the past 48 hours!! Woohoo!! We will continue to take her out to the potty frequently (about every 2-3 hours during the day) for several weeks until we are sure she really has the habit mastered and is ready for a more typical potty break schedule.
Today we enter the "estimated due date" range that Dr. Zucker determined via x-ray and ultrasound examination on the 22nd! Sometime in the next 5 days, we expect Mary's puppies to be delivered! We are so eager and we're also all a bit nervous! We've fallen in love with Mary and so we are nervous about her going through her whelping safely. All the AMC staff members as well as many of our friends and family members are awaiting the big event with crossed fingers. We've promised many folks to call them when the big event begins. I promise to post adorable puppy photos very promptly. The camera is charged and ready to go!
Mary seems to be feeling great. This morning, she exhibited her first "nesting behaviors" by rooting around in the blanket of her nesting box and also digging at the carpet in the bedroom. She has begun to spend some time in the nest box, so we are hopeful that maybe she will accept our suggestion for a whelping place. Her potty training is still going well but we did have two pee accidents over the last 24 hours. We think that we took her progress a bit and we weren't watching her as closely as we had been. We've recommitted to keeping a close eye on her until she learns to "ask" to go. We are still very proud of her rapid progress.
12/28/2006 11 AM
Overnight, Mary continued to exhibit the "nesting behaviors" that often precede labor by a few days. She spent time rooting around in her nesting box, digging under the blankets and rearranging them. She even slept in her nesting box for a couple hours at a time. She also seems more sleepy and quiet than she has been on other days.
We have been monitoring Mary's body temperature a couple times per day because body temperature usually drops one to two degrees below normal sometime during the 24 hours before labor begins. Mary's normal temperature has been between 99.9 and 100.5 but this morning, it had dropped to 98.5!! While this is no guarantee that labor is imminent, it is one likely sign! We will be monitoring Mary closely today but we'll try not to get our hearts set on anything, since none of these signs are guaranteed promises of puppies today. She is now resting comfortably on Mom & Dad's bed.
12/29/2007 - new born today!
Mary had seven healthy, beautiful puppies this morning!!!!!!!!
Mary's first stage of labor began yesterday afternoon, as we had suspected yesterday morning. Throughout yesterday and last night, Mary's early labor showed itself in her lack of interest in food, general agitation, nesting behaviors and rapid breathing. She also had some diarrhea and frequent bowel movements and need to urinate. Although we knew that the first stage of labor is somewhat subtle and can last 6 to 24 hours before the second stage starts and the puppies are born, we were still very eager for the labor to progress and to start seeing puppies. We slept on and off throughout the night, waking often to respond to Mary's requests to go outside or when she jumped on or off our bed. She spent most of her time in her nest, but as labor progressed, Mary wanted to be right with Mrs. (that's me, Stephanie) & Dr. Zucker so she climbed up onto our pillows, in between her "parents" and labored there in the comfort of the people who love her.
When Mary climbed into bed at around 5:00 AM beside me, I could feel her body contracting every minute or so and I started to wonder if those were pushing contractions. I was thinking about waking Steve up when I felt Mary's first water break against my stomach!
Steve woke up just in time for us to both witness Mary's first puppy be born, a boy that our son has named "Bob". We then woke up our three children and we all settled in to watch Mary deliver six more puppies over the next three hours.
By 8:40 AM, Mary had delivered seven perfect puppies! Two are males and five are females. They are varying shades of brown with one black & tan. All have some white markings, some lots of white on their faces and chests and others with just a touch on a tail tip or toes. They are darling and Mary is a fantastic mother. She cleaned them all perfectly and they are all contentedly nursing and snoozing. A new photo album page has tons of puppy pictures!
Mary is a super mom and is taking perfect care of her puppies. She is very nice to all her people and she allows all the human Zucker family members to be near her and to even touch and pet her puppies. She has understandably lost all patience with our furry family members, so we're keeping the dogs and cats out of her space for at least several days. Somewhat inevitably, the Zucker family has decided that we can't part with Mary and so we've adopted Mary as a new permanent family Zucker member. After all Mary has been through, we are happy to be able to make this her life-time home so that she doesn't have to go through any more sad times. Her love and trust in us is so absolute, how could we ever let her go??
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