Whew! The first week of having new puppies is always the hardest. The puppies are born in our office and I always spend at least a few nights sleeping right next to the box. Even when Penny had her last of 4 litters, I still did this. Newborn puppies are fragile. They need to eat very often. They aren’t super mobile and they can’t hear or see. I am always there with my flashlight ready to turn a straggler around. Ready for the cries of someone being smushed by mama. Ready to be there to make sure everyone survives the tough first week. Even when the litter is one lovely little baby, we dragged the uncomfortable couch into the office (why in heck did I not try to sleep sideways on this when we bought it) every night. It’s worth it and although Remi didn’t seem to appreciate my constant intervention and a flashlight shining in her eye, Lilikoi has gained weight every day (even the day she lost her tail) and I have graduated to sleeping in my own bed again……with my iphone, tuned onto the puppy camera, on all night, 8 inches from my face, with the volume turned up.
Where did the other puppy that we saw on the x-ray go? Short answer is we lost her. Best guess is that her placenta detached or partially detached at least a week ago. She was 1/3 of Lili’s birth weight and although she was fully formed, she was clearly not as advanced as Lili. She had been in distress for a while as her sac was filled with dark brown fluid and her lungs were full of that stuff when we tried to suction her. She was born completely non-responsive. We rubbed, and suctioned and rubbed and suctioned more. We were able to get her heart beating and she was taking gasping/open mouth breaths but soon it was clear that she would not survive and that was one of the hardest moments I have felt as a breeder. I felt helpless and I felt guilty. Guilty for not knowing that she was in distress for the last week. Guilty for bringing her into a world where all she would get to experience is rough intervention. Guilty for helping to create a life that was too fragile to live. Although her last hour of life we tried to help her be at peace, she suffered and it kills me. She is not the first puppy I’ve lost in the just over 30 years I’ve been breeding Aussies, but she was the hardest. For the next few days I was pretty sure I never wanted to breed again. I’m still having reservations but I decided to name the puppy Lilikoi after a passion fruit to remind myself that breeding and raising Australian Shepherds is my “passion”.
Lilikoi (or my little potato) is doing well. She’s started the Super Dog (Early Neurological Stimulation) and is getting plenty of snuggles from everyone here. Singletons are not easy to raise properly. We’ll need to make sure she’s stimulated physically, mentally and socially but we’re up for the challenge. We’re not sure what her future holds yet but for right now she is definitely not “available” and she already has a few homes waiting for her if she does become available.
We will be deciding in the next couple of months whether we will repeat this breeding again this fall. (and we had also tentatively planned on breeding Malibu then) This litter was excitedly waited for and we had lots of great families on our waiting list that we are devastated to disappoint. Several of the families have companions from previous litters of ours and we really wanted to add to their pack. We’re super bummed that we can’t but are more than willing to help find another breeder.