Friday, June 29, 2012

15th Birthdays Deserve a Blog Post!

On June 29, 1997 my husband and I had invited friends to the farm for the first steamed crab feast of the summer. Linda and her husband and Willow, Rhonda, Terrie, and I believe Amy was in town visiting. Sara and Jake could have been there and some non-doggy friends, too. I don't remember, as the coming events have obscured the details in my memory.

I had the outdoor tables all ready in the generous shade of the old beech and hickory trees in the front yard. Newspaper covered all, held in place by stones. Mallets and nutcrackers were distributed, and rolls of paper towels made lovely centerpieces. Several tubs had been borrowed from the horses and filled with ice, beer, soda, and water. Bill returned with the bushels of crabs and we were ready.

Lilly was due around July 1st. Terrie called. "Lilly's in labor."


"Lilly's in labor!"

"But all of these people are going to be here in the next half hour."

"That's nice, but Lilly's having her puppies."

"Oh my God!" (I react so well in an emergency.) "Lilly's having her puppies?" (There we go: the train finally pulls into the synaptic station.) "Right! I'll be right there!"

Again, my memory fails. Maybe Rhonda had spent the night at Terrie's? At any rate, soon Terrie, Rhonda, Linda, and I were ministering to dear Lilly, while Bill and guests ate crabs. (Terrie's house was three miles from our farm.)

I was a newbie at this whole whelping thing. I had been present when my Gracious plopped out Willow, but that was all there was to that. I had foaled a fair number of mares, but that was of limited help here. Terrie was our expert, and of course Rhonda had been a labor and delivery nurse, but at that time she was an executive in a medical publishing conglomerate. In fact, Linda, Rhonda, and I were all R.N.s. For what that was worth.

Lilly had her first two pups without a problem. They were gorgeous!!! The third one was big. I called our vet. She was in surgery, so her husband - a beef cattle farmer - parroted my words to her, and her words back to me.

"She's had two puppies, and this third one seems stuck at the shoulders," I said.

"She's had two puppies, and the third one seems stuck at the shoulders," he said.

"Is the bitch in any distress?" asked my vet in the background.

"Is the bitch in any distress?" my vet's husband asked me.


"She says no."

"Okay, have her push one foreleg back, and pull gently on the other, during the next contraction, pulling down toward the belly, not out."

"She said push ..."

"I heard her," I said. "Will I hurt the bitch?"

Okay, time out. When I asked if I would hurt the bitch, I meant could I cause her injury. I have told you, dear readers, that my vet's husband raised beef cattle. When they calve, if there are problems, they hook up a tractor and chains to the calf, put the tractor in gear, deliver the stuck thing, and mom and baby go out and eat grass.

My vet's husband did not relay my question to his wife. "Well, of course it will hurt! She's having puppies! Just get the puppy out of there." (His voice inflected, "You little twit," but he was too polite to put that into actual words.)

I did as I was told and out sluiced a big, white pup. He had black ears and a brindle patch over one eye and was a huge white marshmallow. I had made a list of names from Paul Simon lyrics. "Well, there's Fat Charlie!" I said. "He'll be Warburton Archangel." No one else wanted him, and I had named him, so he was mine.

Jessie was born. Perfectly marked, breathtakingly beautiful even at the gerbil stage, and we knew she was exactly what Linda had ordered. CH Warburton Hearts And Bones, SD, CR, OTR, Delta Pet Partner. Best of Breed at the Eastern Supported, Therapy Partner for ten years or more. Everybody loves Jessie.

Jessie and her Linda

While  we were still oohing and awing over Jessie, without any effort on Lilly's part, a tiny puppy fell out into the world. The runt. She was split-faced like Fat Charlie, with the same black ears, but she had brindle down three quarters of her right front leg, and a brindle saddle on her back. "She has a pajama leg," I said.

Mama Pajama.

When the seventh pup was born, Terrie and Rhonda took Lilly out to potty. "I'll clean up the whelping box," I said. I moved the pups aside, gathered up the dirty sheets, and placed them at the top of the stairs. Luckily I did not put them in the washing machine. Rhonda came in before Terrie and Lilly. I boasted about how fresh and clean the whelping box was.

"Um, Patience?" said Rhonda.


"You are missing a puppy."

"No I'm not. There are one, two ... oh my GOD!"

We ran to the dirty laundry pile. All balled up, toasty and happy as could be, was the little pajama legged puppy.

She wasn't supposed to be mine. The plan was we would keep her for six months and then she was going to be a service dog for a woman who was hearing impaired. Only the woman's circumstances changed. Thank God. Oh THANK YOU GOD!!!!

Mollie, Colby, Breezy, and Emma are no longer on this good green earth. They were treasures who made their people's lives better.

But today we celebrate Jessie's, Fat Charlie's, and Mama Pajama's FIFTEENTH birthdays.

Today we celebrate.

hug your hounds, tight to your hearts