Izzie's Story - Part 2

This is a  personal experience written by Jade Wong of Made by Jade, in a 2 part story of their adopted dog Izzie. Click here to read Part 1. 

A Ballooning Tummy

Izzie was ravenous in her appetite. We had fed Lady, our golden retriever, home cooked food for about a year, and she was thriving with the change in diet. Her coat was shinier, energy level was higher and she slimmed down substantially and was lean and muscled. Her fur was also growing back on parts which were previously infected with yeast.

Izzie, we felt – was probably fed kibble all of her life and had some adjustments to do when it came to home cooked food. That meant, poor humans had to deal with soft, stinky stool during the adjustment period!

Regardless, she enjoyed her food, and we realized while she was putting on some weight – she was still rather skinny on the top, but pot bellied on the bottom. We didn’t think much of it until we had her for about close to 2 months.

When I felt her tummy, it was hard. Like stone! I got a bit concerned and thus called our regular vet to check her out. This was a regular vet we had used for years, and he was a mobile vet.

He came to check Izzie and diagnosed her with “pyometra” – or a uterine infection, which is potentially deadly, and fatal in dogs (which have not been spayed). He recommended for immediate surgery the following week, and left us to feed her some antibiotics.

While I was surprised to hear that she was requiring immediate surgery, my thoughts turned to her condition. Was she eating well? Yes, she was. Was she energetic? Oh yea, she was prancing up and down our porch. Was there some discharge from her privates? Yes, there was – and could possibly be a uterine infection.

While I agreed to the surgery, there was gnawing uneasy feeling – like I felt something wasn’t quite right. I thought about it a long while and then proceeded to call on the help of a regular groomer we used for Lady, our golden retriever.

Suvie from the Mobile Pet Groomer, has been instrumental in helping us restore Lady’s fine coat and also to point out “red alerts” when it came to checking hot spots, lack of vitamins etc.

I told Suvie what I had noticed in Izzie, and she asked “Did the vet perform an ultrasound or an x-ray?”. He clearly did not, and gave the prognosis based on what he felt.

I then dialed the vet and asked him “Will you be doing an ultrasound or an x-ray?” and he replied” If you want me to, I can!”.

Alarm bells started ringing in my head as I felt, that his prognosis was not accurate given that he would recommend surgery without doing a proper x ray or scan.

I proceeded to call Suvie back and she then prompted this question “Do you think she is pregnant?”.

It was highly unlikely, as Lady was a female, and so was Izzie.

But Suvie, our pet groomer did the calculation of when we first adopted her, and when her ballooning tummy began – and said, we should certainly get Izzie to a different vet for a second opinion.

I felt I did the right thing, at that time by calling off the surgery, as I wasn’t prepared to open up an innocent animal, on an unconfirmed diagnosis.

Before You Knew It

Dr Google to our rescue

I remember clearly the night it happened.

We had just finished the very epic, Jungle Book at the movies, and we headed home. It was already about 11.00pm or so.

We reached home, entered the compound, and the first thing that greeted us was a very frantic Izzie, she was pacing back and forth and was barking incessantly –circling an area.

We went to the area and discovered a sac of blue, with a tiny puppy, which lay cold, dead – and premature.

Our heart sank, as it was then confirmed that she was indeed pregnant.

We cleaned up the place, cleaned Izzie up as well and turned in for the night, our hearts heavy with the thought that we did not manage to save the little one.

We had already begun switching off the lights, and had also locked the grill – but lo and behold, before we could lock the main door, Izzie jumped through the holes in the grill and frantically “called” us to come outside.

She had rarely entered our room, and went to the extent of “calling” us from the bedroom!

I told Mr A “She’s signaling for us to help her, and I think she’s about to deliver again,”.

And indeed she was. We led her outside, switched off the fan, and placed her underneath the table, where it was darker and sheltered. She began panting, just like in labour – and I stroked her belly to help her in her “push”.

I have delivered cats and rabbits, but never dogs – so this was an entirely new and “caught off-guard” experience for me.

Quick thinking Mr A whipped up his phone and consulted with Dr Google to find out what to do next. Dr Google recommended that we have scissors, a ball of thread, warm towels, gloves and warm water on standby.

Izzie by that time had begun grunting and panting, while she tried her best to push out the little one. I helped her out by slowly massaging and stroking her belly – and soon enough, a pink head popped up, and the little one was breathing and squirming!

It was a live birth and we were elated to have greeted baby no 2. Izzie was like an “old hand” at this and knew exactly what to do. She chewed off the umbilical cord that linked her to the baby – and there were spurts of blood as she did this.

We panicked for a bit, as we did not want the baby to die from blood loss. Dr Google recommended that we tie a string around the umbilical cord, which still hung from the little one’s belly.

Our hands were trembling as we held the newborn puppy, which was so tiny, raw and red, and we tried to tie a really fine thread and pull a knot.

After much fussing, we managed to pull the knot and laid no 2 aside on a blanket of towels to keep it warm.

Similar to that of a human birth, there are “afterbirths” that are discharged following the delivery of a child, and in this case – the placenta.

Mr A was swift to discard the placenta and quickly tied it in a bag. Izzie, akin to being a vacuum cleaner, was sniffing high and low for the placenta and then proceeded to “untie” the bag and gobble up the afterbirth!

It was a bit of a queasy sight for us, but we later realised that dogs do that for the nourishment and energy the placenta provides to plough through for multiple births and delivery. Mother Nature certainly knew best and we, humans – were amazed at this.

Before we could even settle no 2, no 3 was on its way! And so, it was quite an experience for Mr A and myself as we assisted in the delivery from 11pm all the way to 3am!

Izzie's tummy, by then, was slowly deflating – but we were not certain how many puppies were actually contained in that small belly of hers.

Dr Google came in handy and recommended us to check the number of nipples she had. In the dark, I counted at least 10 nipples ! That meant 10 puppies!

Prudent Mr A did a recount, and estimated at least 6 nipples.

Well, truth is – it stopped at no 6. We lost no 1, but we had 5 other newborns, which were pink, squirming and latching on to Izzie for their first suckle of milk.

Kurnia – A Whelping Box

Izzie after birth

Kurnia.

I remember that name.

That was the name of the car storage box we got as a complimentary gift from the car insurance company.

It was such a spot on word play, as “Kurnia” indeed was what we felt, as we were “gifted” with additional 5 lives!

We bundled them up in the car storage box, cut a hole to make it accessible for Izzie, laid plenty of towels on the floor, and brought them all inside our laundry area, which was covered and part of the indoor section.

When we later googled what it should be called, it was called a “whelping box”.

Tired, and absolutely exhausted, Mr A and I took a quick shower and then proceeded to bed, as Izzie nursed her little ones through the night.

Doing the Maths – 2 + 5 + 2 = 9 lives to feed!

It took me awhile to sleep as adrenaline was pumping throughout my system, and in my state of eventual slumber, I did have a thought.

I was doing the maths of the “unexpected” expenses we would have to bear for 2 adult dogs, 5 puppies and 2 human beings! That made a count of 9 lives to feed and sustain for – a long time.

While I was excited at the prospect of new birth and puppies, 9 was a daunting, daunting number!

God Hears

I believe God heard my silent calculations and decided to “lighten” my load considerably. But in a drastic, and heart breaking manner.

Both Mr A and myself were absolutely unprepared for the arrival of the puppies, we did not even realize Izzie was pregnant (no thanks to the vet).

We awoke early that morning, and overnight – the smell of dogs had overcome our house. It wasn’t stinky, but it wasn’t a smell we were used to. Mr A proceeded to “air the house” by opening one of the doors to freshen up the house.

Unbeknownst to us, newborn puppies are one of the most vulnerable creatures, even more so that newborn babies. Puppies are not able to regulate the temperature of their own bodies, and with a sudden drop in temperature – this could mean immediate death for them.

It also did not help that we had given Izzie quite a wide space to walk around, in the laundry area, which then gave her the freedom of not choosing to sit or nurse with the puppies.

Newborn puppies need their mothers close-by, as the warmth from their mothers body helps in regulating their own temperature.

We lost three puppies that very day, within that hour.

It was heart breaking, and crushing – to see their once squirming bodies, go limp and then stiffen, as rigor mortis sets in.

Moving On- An Unlikely Help from L2

While Dr Google had been instrumental in giving us good advise throughout the time, we still lacked real human hands and experience to guide us through the journey of ensuring the survival of the pups.

We had by then shared this news with a couple of our close friends, but we decided to keep a “social media blackout” for fear that, none of the little ones might survive under our care!

A friend then recommended her breeder L2, and quickly gave me her contact on whatsapp to get in touch with. While I had some misgivings of breeders and their role in the whole puppy mill industry, I overcame that thought, as I needed to know how to care for these newborns, and who better to ask, than an expert hand at this.

L2 was more than gracious and willing to help, as she gave me tips on making the “whelping” nursing area more conducive.

She asked me to limit the space that Izzie was in so she would be “forced” to sit with her pups and nurse them.

She also asked us to switch on “heating lamps” to get constant warmth generating throughout the area. We did not have heating lamps, but we had plenty of reading lamps, and boy did our electricity bill shoot up in those 2 weeks. We did not switch it off for a whole straight 2 weeks, and that even included a Christmas tree with its luminous Christmas lights – just for added “warmth effect”!

The puppies mouth was pink, and this was not a good sign as it meant that they were not getting enough milk. It was essential that the puppies got their feed every 2 – 3 hours, and since Izzie wasn’t doing that as regularly, that fell on me to place them at Izzie’s nipple, so they could suckle.

Oh, it felt like confinement alright, but after the devastating blow of losing three pups at one go, this was a second chance of sorts for us – and both Mr A and I were determined to get these two little ones to survive.

Survive they did

Fantastic Four Furkids and Their Humans

And survive, they did.

They are 1 year old now, and we’ve gone through a journey with all four of our dogs. 

From Lady, being the one and only, and having to share with three other dogs was quite an adjustment for her. She was attacking the puppies almost daily (when we introduced them to live outside), as she was territorial over her food and toys.

Lady is much better now – she is more tolerant of all of them. There is the occasional skirmish, but we, as humans and the Alpha of the pack, need to keep reassuring her that she is boss, she is loved and she will never be replaced.

Izzie, has come a long way from being the scared, excited dog she is who pooped and peeed everywhere. She still does this, but she knows the “zones” she is permitted to do so in, and she has responded very well to love, affection – and she has her two puppies, which she adores. And I believe, the only kids she would have ever been able to keep as a mother.

She has deteriorating eyesight, but we have decided against any invasive surgery and will cross the bridge of blindness, as it comes. Until then, she lives up to her breeds characteristic of being a “gun dog”, as she loves to run, and she is fast! She zooms back and forth our porch with Lady, her best buddy when it comes to playing ball, and you wouldn’t even realise that she is going blind.

Fatty, is a lanky beautiful Cocker Spaniel mix who looks just like Izzie. She is obedient, very trainable, and listens well to instructions. She is less of a braveheart compared to her sister, but she will not hesitate to “steal” Lady’s favourite toy, which lends her an air of “living dangerously on the edge” – should Lady not appreciate the playful banter.

Bom Bom, looks like a Retriever Cocker Spaniel mix, she has small cute eyes, but lovely, lovely fur just like Izzie. She has a naughty streak in her, always jumping up on the enclosure and being our 8.00am wakeup call – signaling for us to let them out now! She also does the projectile pee, when she is excited or scared, and this, we are trying to contain. Otherwise, she is highly lovable and always the first to venture out to foray for adventure, or a treat.

Mr A, has embraced that he is the the “rose among the thorns”. He really is the only male in the family currently! He is relishing his position and all of them love him dearly. They run to him without hesitation everyday, when he opens the gate and welcomes them. Mr A, is also the official “poop collector” for the bigger dogs which includes Izzie and Lady. He has grown to love Izzie and her peculiar ways (such as snorting like a pig).

Yours truly, has gotten a hang of rising earlier in the day, say at about 8am or so, and to get them all cleaned up. It’s a routine of sorts, mop the floor for accidents, collect poop – make loud noises when they do it at the wrong spot. “Conning” them all outside by throwing a ball, making the troop to frantically run in the opposite direction, while I stealthily turn my back, lock the door and lock them out of the place, while I  clean up the area.

Yours truly has also learnt that dogs are ultimately, forgiving, almost amnesiac creatures when it comes to misgivings. They do not hold grudges, and they love, unconditionally.

It is a wonderful feeling to come back to a barking troop, which scares almost everyone away (till they see the size of the rebellious ones, which aren’t very big) – and then to run to you all at the same time, with that gleeful, happy face that says “ Welcome home!”

That is the reward I look towards everyday.

- by Jade Wong