Part 1 of a 2 part series…..
This is the story of our two dogs Autumn and Winter, Mother and Son. It is a unique story that I felt was worth sharing with you. We bought Autumn in the fall of 2016, thus her name, after we got married but before having children. My husband had a pit bull before and wanted another. They are loyal dogs that have a bad reputation. They can be great pets if raised in a loving family. I liked the idea of having a dog with short hair and I loved the look of the blue nose pitbull. We found blue nose pitful breeders near our home.
As we drove to pick out a puppy we decided on a female, mostly because my husband had only had female pets and thought they were better behaved. We pulled up to the house and the people were waiting outside. I quickly decided that they looked sketchy. It was a couple and they were breeding the dog in the garage. They said they were moving out of the state so they wanted to sell fast. The puppies were only 6 weeks old, technically too young to wean from their mom. I instantly was drawn to a girl with white paws, beautiful gray fur, and sharp blue eyes. I said, “I want her.” My husband and I step to the side to chat. I told my husband the puppies were indeed young but if we didn’t take her someone else would. So we paid in cash and left.
We made a quick stop at PetSmart to buy a kennel and some toys. Here is a picture of my son and Autumn, on the way to the store.
My husband with Autumn and our cat. Our daughter and he are cat lovers. You can see here the cat was bigger than Autumn when we first brought her home.
The next day we made a vet appointment for her to get all her shots and deworming. She had a little bloated belly because she still had worms from her littermates. I had never had a puppy before so I didn’t know what to expect. The first night she kept us up crying all night like a newborn infant. We ended up putting her in my son’s old cosleeper in the middle of the bed. Eventually, she got used to her kennel a grew to like it. She grew fast and thankfully stopped pee on the carpet! Here is Autumn on New Year’s Eve a few months after we bought her.
Autumn was a pure breed 5th generation Blue Nose Pitbull with paperwork to prove it. We decided not to get her fixed because we considered eventually breeding her and keeping one of the puppies. Autumn became fully grown and started to go into heat. For dogs, this means two heat cycles a year in which they bleed for roughly a month. During this month of you need to keep a diaper on them. It’s messy and not fun. You also have to be careful during this period that they don’t get pregnant. Dogs typically get pregnant at the end of their heat cycle. So two months out of the year we would take her out on a leash to go potty and not let her loose. I should explain, we live in a more rural area north of the cities. We live on a few acres of land and at the time we did not have a fenced-in yard. We have several neighbors with male dogs and none of them are fixed. I can think of at least 6 male dogs around our home who are not neutered. This is more common around where we live, unlike the suburbs and city. Our neighbors also have a hobby farm with different animals and now we have chickens as well. Here is my daughter as a baby and Autumn fully grown.
I was sick of dealing with the diapers and started researching about breeding. I quickly realized it was risky, sometimes not safe, and more work than I wanted to deal with. We would also have to find another pure breed pit bull to breed her with and I didn’t want to deal with another owner. My husband did not want to get Autumn fixed at first. But eventually, he agreed it was the best choice. So I schedule an appointment at the local vet’s office to have her spayed. The soonest we could get her in was two months out, but I was fine with waiting.
A few weeks later I notice that Autumn still hadn’t had her seasonal heat cycle and she had been throwing up. She also wasn’t acting like herself laying around being lethargic. My husband thought maybe she was depressed. Or he thought, maybe she ate something outside. I also notice she had made a few friends, a black mastiff lab and a golden retriever. Both dogs live close by. They loved playing together and I never thought twice about it because she never went into heat. Male dogs will linger around when a female dog is in heat.
Her belly began growing and she definitely was acting weird, nesting and such. So my husband and I started googling. We read about something called pseudopregnancy. This is when a dog shows physical and psychological symptoms of pregnancy but isn’t. I know weird right? I have even heard stories of dogs going into false labor and birthing nothing. The vet told us that pseudopregnancy in dogs is actually quite common. He told us the only way to know for sure was to do an ultrasound. We didn’t want to pay for an ultrasound so we thought we would wait and see what happened.
My intuition told me that somehow Autumn had gotten pregnant. My husband was much more skeptical because he had a female dog before Autumn who never got pregnant. I continued to look for answers. I read online about silent heat in female dogs. Basically, they go into heat but without symptoms or bleeding.
So we waited to see what would happen and just a couple of weeks later her belly started moving. We could literally see the liter kicking inside her. We were confident we had puppies coming. If you don’t know dogs have very fast pregnancies, 9 weeks on average. Unlike female humans that get to be pregnant 9 whole months. By the time we confirmed the pregnancy we didn’t have more than a few weeks before they were born. We also had no idea for sure what the puppies would look like or how many she would have. My best guess was that the baby daddy was either the golden retriever or the black mastiff lab.
Our family became increasingly excited about having a new puppy in the home. I had decided before that I did not want to breed, but given the circumstances, I figured it must have been fate. My husband decided to make a whelping box for the puppies and Autumn. A whelping box is where the mother dog and her litter stay while she gives birth and nurses. The mom will stay in the box for several weeks with the puppies while they grow and she heals. Here is an example of what a whelping box looks like.
We were anxiously awaiting their birth. We kept an eye on Autumn for days looking for signs of labor. We did not know for sure when the litter would arrive since we had no due date.
It was mid-November and Autumn started showing signs of labor. She was nervous and quivering. Sometimes dogs pace when in labor. That night nothing happened, no puppies. The next day I noticed she had been struggling for a long time and I could tell something was wrong. She was pushing but still no puppies. I could see a tongue poking out every time she pushed. The puppy was stuck in the birth canal and had been for some time. I realized I was going to have to pull the puppy out with my hands. As she had another contraction I pulled and the puppy slide out. But I was devastated to see that the female puppy was not alive. She was all black and very big. I called my husband and told him what had happened.
My husband, an animal lover, decided to give her the name Ruby and bury her in the backyard.
Now it had been several hours and I was getting more and more concerned!! I watched some Youtube puppy birthing videos and they said there shouldn’t be much more than 20 minutes between each puppy. It was Sunday and the vet wasn’t open. So we dropped off the kids at my husband’s parents and drove an hour to an emergency vet clinic. I won’t say their name but we had a HORRIBLE experience there. Probably one of the worst customer service experiences of my life. The staff was rude and seemed annoyed by everything. We waited for a couple of hours in the waiting room with Autumn.
The vet finally came out and we went into a room. I have no idea why but the vet seemed very frustrated and angry. I thought maybe he was having a bad day. I remember feeling like it wasn’t real or someone was playing a prank. This guy was that bad!! He told us Autumn needed an ultrasound so we started with him giving her an exam and scan. When he came back he said the puppies were showing signs of distress and that their heart rates were dropping. He also told us he could only see 2 puppies inside her, which later turned out to be inaccurate.
In my opinion, some of these after-hour emergency vet clinics, take advantage of people. They charge 10x what they usually would because it’s off-hours and most people don’t have pet health insurance. They told us our best option was for them to do a c-section that would cost us 7 thousand dollars. In part 2 you will see how ridiculous overpriced this is. We told the vet we love our dog but we can’t afford that. So instead they gave her Pitocin shots to stimulate contractions in hopes that she would naturally push the puppies out.
We waiting for several more hours. They had given Autumn the highest doses of Pitocin possible, but still, nothing happened. So the vet tech told us nothing else could be done and that we would have to call our local vet in the morning. They told us the puppies would not survive the night. It almost felt that they wanted us to feel guilty about not paying for the ultrasound. Then they told us there would be a good chance Autumn would also die if we were unable to get her in early the next morning, for a c-section. They had us sign a ton of paperwork basically saying we wouldn’t sue them because they offered the c section and we turned it down.
We left feeling defeating and hopeless for our dog and the puppies. We were pretty sad and I even cried a few tears. As we were driving home I prayed the two puppies and Autumn would all service.
Before going to bed I checked on Autumn hoping God answered my prayer. The vet told us that after a couple of hours the Pitocin wears off. We knew if they weren’t born that night the chances of them surviving the next day, when we could get Autumn to our local vet for a c-section, was basically nonexistent. But sadly Autumn was just laying there still quivering.
In 2019 I was getting up at 5 am before my kids, to teach online English classes to Chinese students. It’s kind of like zoom because the classes are live. I taught the classes on my computer in the basement, which was next to the whelping box where Autumn was sleeping. I woke up that morning to teach. I grabbed a cup of coffee. I still had hope that the puppies were born while we were sleeping and maybe just maybe survived. I went to check on Autumn. My heart sunk when I saw it was just her in the whelping box. I sat down to teach and put on my happy face.
To be continued ……..