THE first rays of the sun peeped from the horizon, signaling the start of a new day. The neighborhood was beginning to spring to life and people were getting up, refreshed from a good night’s rest.
It was not the case for Rico, a bartender at one of the bars in Garapan who arrived home from work at 3 a.m. He was looking forward to a hot bath and sweet sleep, but there he was, crouched inside a small kennel, fatigue and anxiousness etched on his face and his clothes splattered with blood.
Beside Rico, equally anxious and half-lying on the cage floor was Maddy, a three-year-old Pitbull who was trying to nurse five newly born puppies and trying to push another puppy out to the world at the same time. Maddy still had more puppies, but she was not having an easy time although it was her second time to give birth to puppies. She had been in labor for hours.
Six months ago, Maddy delivered 15 cute puppies, although most of them didn’t make it alive.
Under ordinary circumstances, Maddy would not have allowed anyone inside her kennel, much more allow anyone to touch her newly born puppies. But it was an extraordinary situation and instinct must have told her that Rico was not a threat to her and her newborn puppies.
I stood groggy from lack of sleep near the kennel, camera poised while waiting for the next puppy to come out. It was my first time to watch a dog in labor and the birth of puppies, and it was a wonder how a small dog could bring out many puppies into the world. From the two other kennels, the other Pitbulls were silent while watching the process of birth.
In a few minutes, Maddy half stood up and gave what seemed like a mighty push. Rico extracted a small black and white bundle wrapped in a slippery sack which Maddy quickly licked clean until we heard the new puppy whimper.
Before the morning was over, Maddy finally delivered the 11th puppy before she settled down for a brief rest.
One of the puppies kept on whimpering and Rico said they might lose her. He was right. Maddy lost one of her puppies before the day ended.
Maddy still had more work to do — weeks of breastfeeding the puppies until they become ready for some real food. Soon, the puppies will be separated and go to different owners who will care for them. Maddy will give birth again and the cycle will continue.
“Assisting dogs in delivering puppies is not a pleasant task, with the foul odor and holding the slimy puppies in your hands, but seeing the miracle of birth and that your pet survived through the ordeal with your help is very satisfying,” Rico said.
If you want to learn more about Pitbulls, attend the island’s first Pitbull dog show at the Garapan Central Park from 1 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 19. If you want to take care of your own Pitbull, you can call Rico at 234-3387. (published HERE)