We brought home our first Dandie, Riley, in 2003 at age 13 weeks. He was so calm and lethargic, someone accused me of drugging him. He’s easygoing, undemanding and sweet-natured. The perfect dog. Marty nicknamed him, “Galumph, Galumph.”
Now, four and a half years old, Riley is a Canadian Champion and a sensational stud. His progenitor's role was child’s play.
We drove to our breeder’s home where Riley was promptly taken downstairs to the “sex room.” I sat sipping tea with the charming owner of Lily, his female consort. Painless.
In nine weeks, Lily produced three puppies. One, Charlie, went on to fame and fortune as a Canadian and British champion. He’s also prolific stud.
Then Lucy came into our lives in 2005 with a sensational pedigree. We knew, some day in the distant future, she would be bred... but who can think of that with a scrumptious little puppy in your midst.
Furthermore, we couldn’t imagine Lucy being a mother.
She’s a typical second child. Demanding and delicious at the same time. She takes after her father, a British Dandie named Dazzle. Small, perpetually puppyish, aggressively friendly. She attracts trouble. We call her “Miss Chiff.”
Well, her day came.
I’ve never been pregnant, so I didn’t think much about life with a pregnant bitch.
Also, I must stress something right now, if you’re wondering why I’m telling you this.
For me, sleep deprivation very quickly triggers mania. During the latter half of Lucy’s pregnancy, I teetered between madness and sanity.
A canine’s gestation period is 63 days – nine weeks. For the first five, nothing changed. Except Lucy calmed down. It was heaven. Normally, the alpha male, now, she wouldn’t play with Riley, frustrating him no end.
She just licked my feet, gazed up at me longingly with her huge dark brown eyes, bonding with me as her hormones kicked in.
Our vet confirmed Lucy’s pregnancy at five weeks, so we added hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese and Green Tripe to her increased portions of kibble.
There was major mammary action happening, too. Her seven breasts started bulging and hanging down. Her nipples were huge. We began calling her “Dolly.”
And now she was peeing all the time. Squealing to let us know. At 4 a.m. or earlier, she had to go.
I began feeling tired all the time. The odd curious thought flashed through my mind.
Our days began before dawn and ended after midnight. As her puppies grew, pressuring her bladder, she need to pee every half hour.
I needed Benzodiazepines to sleep.
By Day 49, we were taking her temperature with a child’s flexible rectal thermometer and charting it. A sudden drop would signal when she is going to whelp. She was ravenous. Eating three meals a day. By day 53, her temperature was taken and charted three times a day and her urinary demands were running our lives.
Nervous. Worried. Excited. A little scared. We felt like Lucy’s hostages.
On day 58, I delivered my beautiful bulging bitch to the breeder. Her due date was between day 59 to 63. I couldn’t face this. I was a zombie.
I needed sleep and all I wanted was congratulatory email and healthy puppies.
Next: The stresses of living with a first-time mother and her new born offspring. Lucy's pregnancy proved carefree by comparison.