Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daphne's surprise

The biggest news of the week has got to be the unexpected arrival of seven puppies at our shelter.


Imagine that.

If you've been following this blog and our Facebook page, you would already know that we rescued Daphne and two puppies from an offshore island, the very same island from which we rescued five other puppies a few months earlier.

Daphne's puppies as they were found on the island

It seemed like the management of the company had reached the limit of their tolerance. An ultimatum was given for all the dogs to be removed from the island for good. They were in the process of contracting the assistance of dog catchers, spurring us to take in dogs from the island one final time.

No water supply, no stray feeders, merely cardboard and styrofoam for food and miles of barren land

Because Daphne was found with the two puppies and because the puppies were still so tiny, we assumed she was a mother dog who had just given birth. It explained her protectiveness towards the puppies and her huge appetite.

Hello Daphne

Never in our wildest imagination did we expect Daphne to be a pregnant mom instead.

I was flummoxed when I received Wee's message while at work informing us that they found four new born black puppies by Daphne's side, in the cubicle where we were isolating her. Within two hours, three more puppies were delivered.

The first four puppies in the litter - one with white socks

The news effectively zapped all my concentration at work. I was bewildered. How was it possible for Daphne to be pregnant? Didn't she just give birth?! Just a couple of weeks ago, she seemed to still be nursing the two puppies!

Daphne nursing her pups! Here're pictures for evidence!

It was not possible for Daphne to have gotten pregnant in the shelter. For one, all our dogs capable of impregnating her are sterilized. For another, Daphne had been isolated and kept away from the community of dogs. We assumed she was still in confinement after the birth of her puppies on the island and allowed her the privacy she needed. Lastly, Daphne had only been at the shelter for a month! The normal gestation period of a pregnant dog is about sixty days.

Could you tell? Unbeknownst to all of us, Daphne was pregnant when this grainy shot was taken

Confused, I spoke to Florence about the possibilities that were abound. Some felt Daphne might have two wombs. Florence guessed that Daphne was impregnated on two separate occasions in the same fertility period. The two occasions being too far apart caused her to have two separate litters in two months.

Frankly, I have no clue about the plausibility of either explanation. I am no expert at the inner workings of human biology, let alone that of our canine friends! A search on Google proved to be futile (must caveat: the lack of results could also be due to lousy identification of search terms!).

Perhaps the earlier two puppies weren't Daphne's? Florence reminded me that Daphne was seen nursing them when they were found. This was subsequently confirmed by their rescuer Sam who noted that Daphne kept crying when separated from the two puppies and only shushed when she was reunited with them. It was likely that Daphne was their mother.

Daphne watched over her little ones

We might never find out the reason behind this unexpected pregnancy. But the reason behind it isn't as important as the fact that it has already happened. One night after Daphne went into labour, two puppies in the litter passed on.

And then there were five. These five continued to survive over the weekend.

We don't know how many puppies in the litter will make it past the critical first two weeks. But we are slowly getting over the initial shock and preparing ourselves to care for these five tiny tots.

The puppy at the bottom life hand corner was already lifeless when this was taken

Puppies aside, I am more worried for Daphne. She is protecting her puppies with her life, often rushing to bark at any one who tries to go near them. When Wee separated her from her puppies so that he could take a proper look, Daphne rushed toward the room where her puppies were contained, biting the gate, demanding to be let in.

For now, we can only hope that Daphne's appetite keeps up and she is able to nurse her puppies in peace. We are also hoping that the inroads we have made with her this past month have not been wiped out. We want this noble mama to learn that there are humans who can be trusted as well, that she is safe and loved where she is.

Sometimes we lapse into calling Daphne mummy, and really that's what she is for now. She is quite the perfect mother the way she fends for her puppies.

But I really hope that Daphne can learn to be comfortable in her own skin. While her puppies will always be a part of her, we hope her life will slowly be more about her and less about them. I hope there'll be walks, excursions and kisses in her future and perhaps even a home to call her own.

I love this shot of her because I seem to see a glimmer of a smile hovering about her face

But let's take things one step at a time for now and turn our attention towards helping Daphne tide through these two weeks and helping her puppies grow stronger.

We aren't an inexperienced bunch when it comes to puppies. In my four year stint, we have raised four batches of puppies and found homes for most of them. This will be our fifth.

While there are some things that we can control, there are yet others that we can't. At first glance, all five puppies appear to have black coats. We are hoping that when the puppies are weaned and ready for adoption, there will be enlightened souls out there who will look past their colour and dispel any whiff of the black dog syndrome.

As it is, the very first batch of island puppies - Dabao, Daffy and Dazzle are still looking for homes of their own. I was a little frazzled at the prospect of five more lovely furbies unable to secure a home.

But as Florence and Suat assured me, we will do our best and let nature take its course.

Even if they haven't anybody in the world, these dogs have a friend...

In us.


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