The plan was to take a break, and then maybe foster a litter of kittens for another rescue group (obviously not the Lucas County Pit Crew, at least until they add a cat/kitten outpost.)
Then came the plaintive text messages from Jean Keating, co-founder of the Lucas County Pit Crew, about a pregnant dog that was ready to give birth any second at the pound. (This was a day after Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle mentioned the same dog and I adamantly told her I was on a break.)
According to Jean, several other rescue groups and the Toledo Area Humane Society had already turned down requests to take the sweet girl, and her future was looking pretty grim. There were no other open foster homes with the Pit Crew, either.
So I sighed and asked my husband what he thought. "I thought we were going to foster kittens next," was his reply. "But this dog needs us," I said. He gave me "the look," which is to say he wasn't thrilled but he wasn't going to argue with me. "I will tell her we can only do it for birth plus two weeks and then they need to go to another foster," I told him, trying to compromise.
(Incidentally, the Pit Crew is desperately in need of new foster homes, especially now that it's summer and many folks are taking breaks due to travel plans. Even just temporary fostering for a permanent foster who is on vacation would be such a great help. Contact Pit Crew co-founder Michelle Lawrence at email@example.com for a foster application)
Enter Scarlet, named by one of my editors, Luann Sharpe, after she saw her beautiful red coat.
Jean met up with me at the dog warden on our respective lunch hours and she filled out the paperwork and paid the transfer fee. I zipped over to West Suburban Animal Hospital in Sylvania to drop Scarlet off so the good folks there could check her out while I went back to work.
They x-rayed her and thought they saw four pups, but there was a lot of gas on the x-ray, so there could be more. Great, another gassy dog. Nellie was as well. It must be a pregnant/nursing dog thing.
I was giving my neighbor a ride home and I prayed Scarlet wouldn't start popping puppies out while we were on northbound I-75. Thankfully, she just looked out the window happily.
We watched her all weekend and there was no puppy action. Finally, on Sunday late afternoon, I went to visit her in the nursery (the room we use for fosters) and found I had missed the delivery of puppy number one, a handsome brown boy with a stunning white blaze on his head. Keeping with The Ohio State University theme (Scarlet and Gray are their colors, for those of you living under a rock), Boy Number One is named Brutus.
I got to watch Boy Number Two being born and it was truly an amazing experience. Scarlet cleaned him up quickly and he quickly joined his brother in nursing. His name is Woody, named after one of OSU's great coaches, if not the greatest.
I wish I'd had my phone handy for the birth, but this short video was shot right afterward.
After Woody, we sat and waited. Several times, we thought number three was ready to make an appearance. After a while, I did some research and found that as long as four hours can pass in between puppies without the need for any concern.
Woody was born at 6:05 p.m. At about 9:30 p.m., I started to worry. What should I do if puppy number three didn't decide to grace us with his/her appearance in the next 35 minutes?
Jean was able to contact Dr. Gary Thompson at West Suburban and he said that as long as Scarlet wasn't in any distress, we should continue to wait. But I needed to keep a close eye on her and if she did start to experience pain, I needed to get her to the emergency vet ASAP.
Needless to say, I didn't sleep Sunday night. Scarlet did, however, and I watched her and the babies in their cozy little pile on top of her belly.
On Monday morning, I called West Suburban first thing and they said to bring her in and they'd do an ultrasound to see what was going on.
I hate to say it, but I really feared the worst for the last two puppies or however many were left. I figured after 18 hours, they must not be alive.
On the way to the vet hospital, Scarlet's body must have signalled her there were two more puppies to come, because she started engaging in some serious nesting behavior. She tore up four of my cloth tote bags on the floor of the backseat, trying to build a nest for her babies. I moved the carrier with the pups into the front seat to protect them from her rutting behavior. (I really should have crated her for the car ride, but I was too exhausted to put the crate in the car and my hope was that she would be as mellow as she had been on her drive home with me on Thursday night. Ha!)
I left her and the first two pups at the vet hospital and came to the office to await a phone call with what they found. A few hours went by and I tried to focus, although it was pretty darn hard between the anxiety of what the news would be and being sleep deprived from my all-night vigil with her.
Finally, Jean called to say the two remaining pups were alive and the vet was doing an emergency C-section. My heart soared.
An hour later, Jean called to say two little boys had joined their brothers. They are the pups pictured at the top. Unlike their brothers, they are white. Archie has grayish brown spots and Jesse is pure white. Archie is named after two-time Heisman winner from OSU, Archie Griffin, and Jesse is named after track and field Olympian Jesse Owens, perhaps the greatest athlete of all time, and an OSU alumnus.
The puppy cam will be up and running in a day or so. So for those of you having Nellie withdrawal, take heart.