dog listening with big ear


From the Editor, Spring 2017

On August 20, 2011, I drove 50 miles to meet a woman who was giving away her dog. I had  communicated with her a few days prior, offering to take this dog in to our rescue program, English Springer Rescue America. I explained that I would foster the dog until we could find a wonderful new home.

We arranged to meet at a gas station just off the highway. The 5-year-old female Springer Spaniel, Fancy, was a nice dog, but the growing family didn’t have the time to spend with her anymore. Oh, and she might be pregnant.

Might be?

Yes, she’d had four litters in the past, fathered by their resident male, and the family had witnessed another magical rendezvous between the dogs about 20 days earlier. There was a good chance this one dog could become many.

So home we went, to turn the guest room in to a whelping room.

Fancy grew bigger as the days passed, and an x-ray close to the time of birth showed several puppies. Whenever it happened, it would be a long labor.

I diligently researched and prepared for this birth, buying special food, collecting extra towels and blankets from secondhand stores, taking temperature readings, watching for signs, waiting, waiting.

October 1 was a Saturday, and the rest of the family left for a morning youth football game. Fancy had to potty, so I opened the patio door and followed her to the backyard. I didn’t want to take my eyes off her so close to the delivery date.

She squatted. And suddenly, there was a puppy emerging from her.

I rushed to catch him. And there we stood, Fancy and I, stunned. A backyard delivery was not in the plan.

The pup was still attached by the umbilical cord, so I had to act fast.

“Okay Fancy,” I said. “We’re going to go back into the house and get to your room. Let’s go!” She went. I followed behind with the babe in my hands.

We made it back to the room, and Fancy’s instincts kicked in. She licked that puppy clean. He moved and breathed and latched on to her for milk. I finally breathed again too.

That day, Fancy delivered eight healthy puppies, five males and three females. They spent eight weeks at our home before being adopted by great families. Fancy, too, got her new family after she saw the last pup leave and was finally spayed.

One of those pups, number five of the litter, went on to be a certified therapy dog. Mimi is now a member of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s Animal Ambassadors program, where she greets weary travelers and incites smiles just by walking through the concourse.

She is also our cover dog, the pride of her family, and an example of the happy outcome that can result when an unwanted dog intersects with the right resources.

Mimi, you are a shining star. You were worth the wait!