Friday, January 25, 2013

A Sad Ending and New Beginning

I posted a few weeks ago about my dog, Sophie, having her third litter of puppies on the day after Christmas. It's been a rough few weeks since then, and I want/need to write it all down. No worries about not reading this post- it's terribly long!

Sophie was my very best friend, and I would often tell people that I truly loved her more than most humans. I had gotten her around Thanksgiving in 2006, when my husband was going through training in Richmond for his job. He would leave on Sunday afternoon and get home Friday night, which meant  I was all alone with my precious baby girl. Here is a picture of our first Christmas as a family, in 2006.

We moved away for a few months when my husband's job transferred, so while he was busy learning the ropes to his new job, Sophie and I bonded even more. I took her shopping for outfits at Petsmart, we walked around the apartment complex 3 or more times a day, and she learned all sorts of new tricks, like running into her cage when I yelled 'To the Batcave!' (Trust me... it was hilarious!) Here is a picture of her in the snow in 2007.

So fast-forward a few months, to the following spring, when my husband was deployed to Iraq/Kuwait.  Sophie truly became my best friend during this time, as she filled the loneliness I had while alone. She started sleeping in the bed with me (a habit my husband couldn't break when he came home) and followed me everywhere I went. She stayed at my feet that entire year. Here is a random picture of us playing in the grass that summer. 

After coming home in 2008, we bought a house and decided that Sophie needed her own best friend. For Christmas, we got her a mate. We brought home Alex, and after Sophie determined that she could still be the alpha, she took to teaching him our daily routines and how to have fun. Here's a picture of them looking slightly embarrassed in matching Snuggies.

In 2010 they had their first litter of puppies on Christmas Eve. They had 2 girls, one a spitting image of Alex, and the other of Sophie. 
They were both great parents, but were happy after 8 weeks when the little pups found their new homes and it was back to being just us. Here they are after a bubble-bath one night.

(Just curious if you think I'm crazy yet, for having so many pictures of my dogs? Trust me, there are many more that I'm not posting! :-/)

Anyway, we had planned on letting her body take a break and not have puppies for a bit longer, but on my last day before summer vacation in 2011, the dogs managed to get together again. Sophie had her second litter of pups the day I went back to work that fall. She had 7 this time, 2 boys and 5 girls. We found all of them good homes by the end of October. 
After another year of freedom to do whatever they wanted, Sophie got pregnant again around Halloween in 2012.
We felt comfortable with her pregnancy this time, as it was her third, and everything seemed to go well. On the day after Christmas, I knew she was getting close to delivery, and she and I snuggled close all day on the couch. Alex took his place at my feet, as was custom, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day. She went into labor that afternoon, and after struggling with pup#2, we took her to the ER vet who delivered the stuck pup. She had the rest of her litter with no problems, and we ended up with 9 beautiful dogs, all but one strikingly black like their father. 

A few days later, on the 29th, Sophie still hadn't recuperated much from her delivery. The first couple days after, she was getting up and moving around, but on Saturday she wouldn't leave her cage. I figured she was still sore from the stuck puppy, and her body wasn't used to the medication she was given for delivery. She wouldn't eat or drink, which had us concerned, so after carrying her outside (in which she just laid there, instead of doing her business) and giving her a warm bath (pretty much me holding her up in the tub) we decided to take her to the vet. We loaded up all the puppies with her in a laundry basket, and made our way to the ER vet's office again. (Of course it would be night when we started getting anxious and our regular vet was closed). Sadly, she died on the way up there. I was so sad, I cried and cried and cried. I couldn't imagine life without my Sophie. Apparently, there were unknown complications from her delivery and suddenly we found ourselves bottle-feeding 8 miniature schnauzer pups every 2 hours, in addition to keeping their body temperatures up, stimulating their undeveloped organs so they could go potty, and pretty much crying for the loss of our beloved pet. Alex was a real trooper during this time, and immediately became my snuggle-bunny. He usually didn't like to cuddle, but I think he was missing Sophie as much as I was. We spent most of the next week laying on the couch together between feedings.

Day after day, it seemed as though we couldn't keep the dogs alive, and they started dying. They would seem fine for one feeding, but then would be dead when we got them for the next. When they were 8 days old, I took the 5 we had left to the vet to ensure that we were doing everything right (we were.) They said that puppies just die sometimes. Later, however, we found out that if a mom is in labor for too long, then she can spread an infection to her puppies. They usually die 2-10 days later. 

We were down to 2 puppies on the following Saturday morning (Jan 5) and my husband was bottle-feeding the pups. He had let Alex go out, like always, and tried calling for him to come back in. Then suddenly, he spotted something in the road. Alex had been hit by a car, and died immediately. We lost our two most precious creatures exactly 1 week from each other. I don't know if Alex missed Sophie's guidance to NOT go in the road (they usually took off toward the barn when they went out) or if a new puppy across the street enticed him to visit, or if God just knew that Alex couldn't handle being here without his mate. I was so mad at him, for going out in the road, for leaving us after we just lost Sophie... but I know he's just a dog, and that's what dogs do. 

So anyway, the next day, our female puppy died, which left us with only one. After a few more days of feeding and coddling, we decided if he survived we would keep him. He's now 4 weeks old and doing really well. We named him Tobias, and are really really hoping he survives this big tragedy. He's now eating every 6 hours or so, which has definitely helped mood and temperament around here (ha!) and can potty on his own. He's even getting used to peeing on a paper towel, instead of the blanket we've got on the table for feedings. We've also begun mixing canned puppy food in his milk so that he can begin to get a taste of dog chow. 

He seems to be a perfect blend of Sophie and Alex, and I hope he grows up to be as loving and sweet as both of his parents. I hate that they're not here to take care of him, teach him doggy things, or even just play, but we are doing the absolute best we can to make sure he grows up as well-adjusted as possible... even though he's being raised by crazy humans instead of sane dogparents!