Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Labor Day Chronicle

As the mom of six children, I've (Alicia) had my share of labor stories.  One of the things that I've learned along the way is to take good notes during labor and as soon as the whole event is finished, WRITE IT DOWN!!  Not only is this nice for posterity, but it's a very handy reference tool for subsequent labors.  So, here's Jackie's maiden birth story. . .

"Just hold me."
Monday morning it was evident that our very pregnant chocolate lab, Jackie, was ready to get to business.  In addition to her temperature falling below 100F, which is indicator that labor is starting, she was looking for a place to nest.  Hannah took her into the whelping box, where she’d already spent some time getting used to it, and the two of them hung out for the entire day.  Normally not the snuggler, Jackie practically laid on Hannah’s lap all day, while Hannah read, listened to audio dramas, watched a movie, and ate all her meals.  I guess Jeremy did spell Hannah a time or two, and Jackie behaved the same with him.  At one point he remarked, “If she could crawl into my skin, I think she would!”
Ready to go

Water Breaks!
Shortly after dinner, about 7:00, the report came that Jackie’s water had broken.  All right!  Now it was time for the fun to begin!  Excitedly, we called our mentor Debby Kay in West Virginia to share our exciting news—it was kind of like calling “Grandma” since Bailey and Jackie came from her kennel.  Expertly, she briefed us on what to expect, the supplies we should have, and shared in our enthusiasm.  Thankfully, Hannah had done an excellent job preparing for the births, and we had everything Debby mentioned (perhaps Hannah will do a future post on supplies for birth).
With Debby’s encouraging pep talk, we were ready for a night of labor.  Of course, everyone in the family was anxious for what was to come.  So, we decided to let the littlest Becker be the first birth attendant, and promised the rest that we would wake each of them up one at a time to witness the miracle of birth.  
                                                         First Puppy
Puppy #1
Little 4 year old MJ quietly watched from the chair while Jackie experienced her first wave of powerful contractions.  Just as Debby predicted, you could watch the contractions cause her sides to “heave”, and then after a few moments, they would relax and her panting would ensue.  This continued for about thirty minutes before a black form, encased in a sac, emerged nose-first from the birth canal.  At Debby’s recommendation, we jumped to work aiding this little creature in experiencing its first breath of life.  Carefully, we broke the sac and immediately suctioned any fluid from its mouth using a bulb syringe.  Unfortunately, the placenta did not deliver and the cord was already torn from it, but we still tied what remained of the cord roughly 3/8” from the pup’s body, and then cut the excess with sterilized surgical scissors.  After drying it vigorously with paper towels, we weighed the little guy, put a blue ribbon around his neck and then put him back in the box with Jackie.  However, Jackie was very wary of this little creature and growled as we introduced him to her.  This went on for several minutes until she reluctantly consented and allowed him to latch on and begin to nurse. This behavior concerned us; perhaps she would be one of those who didn’t take to mothering naturally.

Second, Third, and Fourth Pups
After MJ was put to bed, his bigger 6 year old sister got to join the Birth Team—and boy was she needed!  About half an hour after Puppy #1 was delivered, Jackie began another wave of contractions followed by tearing up the newspapers in her box, and the heavy panting.  Soon, another dark sac emerged, back feet first, and we followed the same routine for this little chocolate boy.  Thankfully, the placenta was delivered as well.  This time however, we didn’t whisk the pup away immediately, but allowed Jackie the time to lick her pup and make the connection.  This turned out to be a good decision, because Jackie allowed this little guy to snuggle in and find a spot to nurse without growling as she had done before.
growing nursery
Shortly after, Puppy #3 was delivered.  And #4 right on the heels of #3!  That was when we were very thankful to have our super little helper JF available to help with drying pups and putting them in the “nursery”.  She did just as she was asked and didn’t get in the way of all the activity.  We added her permanently to the Team and allowed her to stay up while her big brother JJ was roused for his turn.  So far we had a black male, black female, and two chocolate males.
About half an hour later, JJ got to witness his first pup being born, another black female that came out back feet first.  The “nursery” was growing!

"Is it almost over?"
Following these deliveries, part of the team decided to sack out on the floor.  At 1:AM, Jackie had a drink of water and shortly began another series of contractions.  Unlike the previous births, her pushing didn’t produce anything.   Unsure what to do, I checked the birth canal to see if a pup was “stuck”, but felt nothing. Growing concerned that something wasn’t right, we woke up Jeremy to get his opinion.  She didn’t seem distressed, but the clock was definitely ticking and nothing was appearing for her efforts.  We thought a trip outside for a “break” might help.  When we returned, Jeremy did a “check” and could feel a tail at the entrance to the canal. At 2:20, we called our friend who is a vet to get his counsel (thanks so much, by the way for the middle of the night consult).  Still no pup.  Finally at 3:30, before calling the emergency vet in Fresno, we called our breeder Debby since it was 6:30 in West Virginia to get her advice.  She highly discouraged any kind of checking in the canal due to the introduction of germs (oops!), and helped us realize that our only viable option would be transporting Mom and pups the hour drive to Fresno to the ER Vet for a c-section.  Most likely, we would lose the pup, but in an attempt to preserve the remaining three and Jackie’s health, this seemed like what we needed to do.
I began gathering all the supplies we would need in case a pup happened to be delivered en route. While Hannah monitored Jackie, in another room Jeremy looked up the number for the ER Vet and made the call.  Just as the vet’s office answered and Jeremy said, “Hello,” Hannah hollered, “MOM, get Dad now!”  He cut it short and we both raced to the delivery room, just in time to see Hannah holding another black sac-enclosed pup.  Despite my jubilation, I fully expected this little stuck pup to be expired.  But he wasn’t!!!  As I suctioned his little mouth, I just kept saying, “I can’t believe it!  Thank you Lord!”  He was so merciful to save us (and Jackie) the trauma of a long ride to Fresno, a possible c-section, and of course, the ER bill!
With #6 safely out of the way, the remaining three pups got busy and made their way into the world.  A nice 30 minute pattern developed, until finally, exactly at 6:AM, #9 made her appearance, ending the eight hour delivery of nine healthy pups.

The Wrap-Up
A much slimmer Mama happily enjoyed a bowl of kibble mixed with yogurt.  After sharing the final delivery status with Debby, she recommended oatmeal with a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses to help restore some of the minerals Jackie had depleted during labor.
Thankfully, Jackie had adjusted to the concept that she was now a Mama and these puppies were hers to protect and nourish.  No more growls, well, except when the pups first latched on to the tender “nozzles” as one of the kids calls them.  But ANY mother of ANY species can understand that!!
The full line-up

Friday, June 27, 2014

Baby pictures!

 I promised that I would post pictures of our nine little blessings, so here they are!!  They are all still healthy and growing fast.
In the whelping box, waiting with an anxious mother


That wore me out!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


We have puppies!!!!!!!!!  Jackie delivered nine beautiful puppies during the night!!  All went well and we have five blacks and four gorgeous chocolates.  Three of the blacks are females and two are male, one of the chocolates is a female and the other three are males.  The ratio of males and females is very even and everyone is completely healthy.  We are very blessed.  Go to our website to learn more about us and what we do at

Monday, June 23, 2014


Jackie, our pregnant chocolate girl is in labor today.  This is the 61st day of gestation and she is ready to be done with this whole thing.  However, she has been a happy girl through her whole pregnancy.  She has been restless and uncomfortable throughout the whole day and wanting someone with her at all times.  Looking forward to the coming days, and I will post once she has delivered.