• Clarke Wallace


Less than a year ago we were welping pups for a breeder. At home. In a empty kid’s pool. Bringing eight new-born puppies into the world, with help from breeder Mauro Mila. In exchange we kept Coffee and one of her pups. We called her Rebelle who turned out to be lovingly true to her name.

Mauro dropped by two months ago, asking if we could put up with having Coffee bred one more time, with her ‘retiring from active duty,’ and be ours to keep.

Here we were, facing what would be eight pups born in our back bedroom. Could we handle it once again? No question, we said, remembering how great it was doing the same thing eight months ago.

Then came a blood test, an ultrasound and physical exam to see if she was up for another pregnancy.

Was she strong enough for more pups? Yes, we were told. Once in heat, we were to look for drops of blood around the house. Next, she would spend four days with a husky, young male.

Rosanne felt the four days for her would be sheer drudgery. I figured Coffee would come home with a smile on her face.

Ten days ago, Coffee couldn’t get comfortable. She wandered around looking heavy and uncomfortable. We called Mauro, Roe being positive she was ready to give birth.

In the first two hours she delivered two pups, little wee things wrapped in placenta which Coffee licked clean. None over the next two hours. Worried, we called Mauro. He and Roe, the nurse, delivered four females followed by another male. By now it was 2 AM. One left, a female arrived looking weak and unwell. She tried very hard to suck air into her lungs.

Both Mauro and Roe took turns rubbing the little one’s belly. Mauro breathed into her open mouth. At 5 AM a glance our way from Mauro told us it was over. He put the littlest pup down on a towel, and sat back on the couch.

Author’s comment: Coffee took over by gently nudging the little one away from the others. Then came an extraordinary thing. We held our collective breaths while Coffee lowered her soft underbelly down on the little creature, covering her completely. Not long after she got up poked the dead body affectionately with her nose, and joined the other seven. Tears anyone?

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