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PUPPIES

11 Nov

When people ask me how I deal with the sadness I encounter at work, I remind them that puppies and kittens exist. Death, illness, animal abuse also exist in the world. But then there are also these teeny, tiny blank slates that I get to coddle. However, usually when we see puppies or kittens, they have been adopted by their new families and are around 12-weeks-old. Still adorable, but we rarely see anything younger.

We work closely with an Upper East Side dachshund breeder. Like most other breeders, she delivers the puppies herself. It’s not a difficult thing to do (or so I’m told). But a week ago, we were all put on high alert. One of her dachshunds was pregnant with six puppies, and everyone was nervous that she was going to have a difficult labor or need a caesarian. She ended up coming in on one of my days off, and my co-workers helped her deliver six healthy puppies. A couple of days later, mama wasn’t eating, so the breeder brought her back in to be monitored by us. It’s the most excited I’ve been to come into work in weeks.

Mama and puppies

Mama and puppies

We set up an exam room just for them. Dim lighting, heaters, and cans of high calorie food for the mama. Walking into the room for the first time, the smell was oppressive and horrible. But no one should ever get into veterinary medicine if they are offended by foul odors. As I walked toward the bed where mama and puppies were, mama dachshund lifted her head and gave me a sassy side eye before growling when she caught be looking at her puppies. I’ve never been happier to have a dog growl viciously at me. She was being a good mama.

Pile o' puppies.

Pile o’ puppies.

I spent the next couple of days at work obsessed with our tiny maternity ward. I fed mama. I let her growl at me, often raising my hands in the air to show her that I had no intention of touching her babies. It was hypnotizing. I never thought watching near-inanimate creatures could be as captivating as it was. I would think it had been 5 minutes, when in actuality, I had spent close to an hour watching them. Their tiny paws, itty faces, the squeal they emitted as they got trapped under a pile of one another. The beauty and simplicity of life! It’s mind-boggling to think of all the instinct involved in such a beautiful and necessary process. Mama dachshund was so great with them. I felt so proud of her.

Look at the tiny paws!!

Look at the tiny paws!!

On Saturday, as the appointments of the day ended, and I was getting ready to leave, I went to visit mama and puppies one last time. I walked into the room to find that mama dachschund had moved the puppies into a new pile and was walking around. She ran up to me, her tail wagging. I sat with her on the floor and cleaned her up a little (she had some nastiness on her tail/ladyparts still). I fed her by hand. And for the first time, she let me touch her puppies. Somehow she finally understood we were in this together. I felt so accomplished in that moment.

A bit later one of the veterinarians came in the room to also ogle the tiny puppies. Mama dachshund at this point was curled up on my lap, letting me pet her and tell her what a good job she was doing. She eventually rolled onto her back, and I heard strange noises come from her stomach.

“Oh,” the veterinarian said. “She’s offering to let you nurse.”

I laughed at the absurd nature of this offer and cringed a bit as well. It was a generous moment in what I like to think was some sort of expression of gratitude. Almost like someone offering you tea or coffee upon entering their home. I respectfully declined but thanked her for the offer.

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One Response to “PUPPIES”

  1. Danguole November 11, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    This makes me so happy. “We’re friends now. Come nurse.”

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