written by Kathy Stewart
There are moments in one's life that are very special. If asked, most people would recall their engagement, their marriage, or the birth of a child. While these things are special to me too, I have one other that I will never forget.
It all happened one February night in the wee hours of the morning. It was a cold and stormy night, close to -35 degrees Celsius (-30 degree Fahrenheit). One of my dogs was giving birth to her 3rd litter.
She had delivered 6 pups in the whelping box, with no inclination to go outside. Finally, she went out of the dog door, and then came right back in. I had not gone with her, but rather stayed to admire her newborns. Two puppies had been born without their placentas attached and I figured that she might have passed them outside. Thirty minutes later nothing was happening, so I decided to go and check the dog yard.
When I went out, I saw a puppy laying on the snow. I was beside myself. I ran over to it to find it frozen solid - literally speaking. I picked it up and ran inside in tears. I was so upset with myself for having let her go outside alone. I was also annoyed with her for not having the wherewithal to bring it in the house, but then how many times had I told her in the past, not to pick up her pups up in her mouth?
I have so often heard of stories of children falling through the ice and surviving in the cold water for long periods of time; so I decided to try and revive this little boy. He was so cold and rigid, and while I figured that it was pointless, I would never forgive myself if I did not try to revive him.
Anyway, I forced his neck back and began to breathe into him, while rubbing him vigorously. He was slippery from the birthing fluids still on him. After about 10 minutes I thought I imagined that the already straight legs became more rigid. I figured rigor mortis was setting in, but I continued to breath and rub; rub and breath. The puppy was a motionless, no discernable sign of life, but I did not want to admit to myself that he was dead.
After about 5 more minutes the puppy's legs relaxed somewhat. Again, I figured this was part of the dying process, but it gave me a little more hope that perhaps this puppy could be revived.
After another few minutes this little freezing bundle in my hands gave out a sigh and then a very faint whimper. My heart was racing. This puppy was alive. I continued to help him breath and held one side of his cold body against my bare skin while rubbing the other side. Then I would turn him over and do the same thing with the other side.
Finally, he began to breathe on his own and gave out a continuous, hardly audible cry. I knew as long as he was crying, he was alive. So I kept rubbing and trying to find warm parts of my body to put him up against. Now this is harder than it sounds when you have an icy object, the size of your hand, that is constantly being rubbed all over your body. I was getting cold too. I was inclined to put him in a plastic bag and submerge him in warm water, but was afraid I would warm him up too quickly, so I just held him close to me.
After about 40 minutes, I decided to put a drop of whiskey on his tongue. I had read that doing this would help to revive a puppy. This brought little response, so I put a some NutriCal on his tongue. NutriCal is a high calorie, palatable, dietary supplement in low volume form that I keep on hand for emergencies - also to give my dogs in high stress situations. It did not bring much of a response either.
It took about an hour to warm this puppy up sufficiently that I could think about offering him to his mother. I was concerned that she might reject him, first because he still was a bit on the chilly side, and second because he probably had the strange smell of whiskey on him. Fortunately, my female had a discharge, so I was able to rub this on the puppy before I offered him back to her. She accepted him right away, and within minutes he was nursing. He was seemingly healthy, nursing well, gaining weight and quite content.
The moral of the story is that one should never leave a bitch that is in the midst of whelping puppies, not even to let them relieve themselves.
We named him Klompen's Popsicle Pete.
He is an adult now (shown here at almost 2 years of age) and all reports from his owners suggest he is in perfect health.
This is truly one of the magical moments in my life, which I will never forget.
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