MY HAT'S OFF TO THE WHELPERS
By Donald Bramlage, DVM
It has been eleven years since I whelped out my last female. I felt it was time I put the knowledge I'd been sharing to use.
I own a champion Shar-Pei female (Casey) who is two years old and high time she had puppies. My friend (and mentor) Nancy bred her for me, and I set about calculating the birthing date. I came up with August 15th. On August 18th, I realized Casey did not have the same whelping date I did.
Years ago, I was told it depended on which direction the female was facing at breeding, and I began to wonder if there was some merit in the idea. If the female was facing north, you were to add two days, as the sperm had to swim up north and take longer to fertilize the eggs. I'm not sure how to calculate east or west, but surely you take two days off for sperm swimming down south?
At midnight , August 18th, I went to bed, sure that she would not whelp. At two a.m. , I woke up as Casey was handing me a puppy. She had done a good job of cleaning it up but was not sure what came next. Barb and I jumped up and began a frantic search for puppies. One puppy on the couch, one on the floor, and one puppy in bed with me. Who knew whelping could make such a mess of the couch and floor!
To the whelp box we went. Shar Pei's have four or five puppies max, and we ultrasound five puppies at 20 days gestation. From two a.m. to five a.m. , I delivered five more puppies, eight total. The last three puppies Casey could care less about and let me do all the cleaning up. I cut and iodined navels. Gave Nursemate colostrums booster and made sure all eight puppies had a tummy full of mom's milk. Quickly I caught thirty minutes' sleep and went to work.
I am not sure how breeders handle more than one female and get any sleep. Black coffee must be a food group for you guys. So here is my salute to you, the raisers of man's best friends. Sell your bed, get a softer recliner for the whelp house, and never let a pregnant bitch sleep on your couch!
Your friend, Dr. B