Around 6pm on the puppies’ birthday, I went to check on the new mama and puppies. The first born puppy was not tucked in with Beans like the others were. I very slowly and carefully scooted him into the pile.
I didn’t expect Beans to want to leave them, but she got up when I asked if she wanted to go outside. She hadn’t been out to relieve herself since 8am and she peed and pooped then rushed back in to nurse her babies.
A couple hours later, I checked on them again. Again, the first born puppy was laying away from the group. This time, when I moved him, I noticed that he felt cool. I knew I needed to intervene at this point. I quickly heated up a heat disk and plugged in the incubator. He would need to be warmed and then we could bottle feed him if necessary.
Once the puppy was set up in the incubator, I let Ann and Anne know what was going on. I waited and hoped for the best. After an hour in the incubator, I checked on the puppy. I didn’t think he was breathing. Ryan checked him too and couldn’t locate a heartbeat.
Losing a newborn puppy or kitten is not very uncommon. We have a stillborn or a death within the first 24 hours in about a forth of litters. I had noticed that Beans was a little different with this pup from the beginning. I had noticed his unusual umbilical cord. Now, I wondered if Beans knew that something wasn’t quite right with him and consequently offered him less of a nursing opportunity. Or had there been a chance for me to intervene and save him if only I had been persistent in separating him from mama and the others? If I had noticed sooner that he needed warming? If he had been rushed to the vet early on? While losing a baby is not terribly uncommon, it is still emotional and heart-wrenching to evaluate the what-ifs.
Each time Beans went out she rushed back in and checked on her puppies. Did she realize one was missing? Did she have questions too? Was she grieving?
Growing up, one of our horses had a rough delivery and the foal died. The mother horse definitely grieved the loss of her foal, whinnying the most mournful sounds for days.
I can only imagine from the amount of care and love Beans demonstrates with her remaining puppies that she is sad for the loss of her one. I am sad too.
Beans settles in with her six puppies all curled into her, nursing. A sweet sight.
I stare at each of them to make sure their little chests are rising and falling, their lips attached to a nipple, then I head off to bed.