Tuesday, September 23, 2008

3:00 AM at Our House (or Why We're Still on 24/7 Watch)

Well, I was going to do a brief little entry and video clip about the wiggling masses twitching and dreaming and making all kinds of funny noises while they sleep.

I just thought it'd be fun.

So as the litter grew restless, I took my little compact camera in hand and starting filming.

Elsie, by this time, noticed their restlessness and started cleaning the whelping box floor. Most of her pups were to the right of the camera field off screen. I was going to capture little Miss Pink, who was on the left of the camera's view underneath the whelping box rail, as she squiggled over to Elsie for a middle-of-the-night snack.

I aimed the camera at Miss Pink on the left, and you can just barely see Elsie and a pup rump or two on the right.

Well, don't you know, just as I start filming..., well see for yourself (watch what you can see of Elsie and puppy rumps on the right side of the video image -- it happens very quickly, just a few seconds into the clip):

Just seconds into the clip (you can start it over and count 1 thousand 2 thousand, etc. to just about 5) Elsie plumps her full weight down on top of two of the pups, completely burying their heads and front legs (and one whole pup) under her butt.

I just dropped the camera, lifted her butt, and pulled the pups out (she didn't even make an attempt to move off them). You can hear the pups squealing while I do so (I didn't edit the footage at all -- sorry about the blank screen you get for the remainder of the clip).

And that, Dear Readers, is why we're still doing the 24/7 on-call watch of Elsie and her litter.

Last year, we lost a pup who suffocated under Elsie because he just wasn't big enough or strong enough to squiggle his way out from under her. This year we thought we'd try the 24/7 shift thing (Don and I playing tag team) for the first week, just until the pups can maneuver a bit better on their own.

Here we are into the fourth day (I started this post at about 3 a.m.), and if I'd not been sitting here watching, we might have gotten up to two lost pups in the morning.

You can bet I'm awake now, eh? (Elsie's plop-on-the-pups scared the bejeebers out of me.) No wonder they say nearly 20 percent of puppies don't make it through their first week of life.

So here I sit.

And here I will sit for a few more nights (I've been sleeping in the evenings when Don is home from work, then I relieve him at 1:00 or 1:30 a.m.).

What's a few nights anyway, particularly if it can save a pup from suffocating?

Again, sorry for the lack of clarity in the clip, but I think you get the idea. And, don't worry, all the pups are fine.

At least now I don't feel quite so crazy for keeping watch.

'Til next time,


JuliaR said...

never thought you were crazy! Especially after last year. Keep up the good work!

Christine said...

You guys are incredible! How much you care and love those pups is simply amazing. Reading your blog has only confirmed time and time again what a mistake I made getting my lab puppy from what I now know is a "backyard breeder." (He has severe HD and pulmonic stenosis -- he's not even 9 months and both his hips luxate out of their sockets already.) The puppy itself is not the mistake, he's the sweetest thing and love him to bits :)

If I ever get another lab (would take a lot of convincing of the boyfriend, ha!), I want him to be from you!