“Si by hindi naman nasanay,” says Jigs, as I carried and caressed the hapless 7-hour old puppy on one hand, and wiped my tears dry with the other.
I don’t think anyone could ever get used to death, no matter how many times it has occurred, or no matter how long you have left in that impending doom.
It would have been easier if I was simply a bystander. But I was there the whole time. And I swear it could’ve been my fault.
8:00am. Chucky was at 37.1 degrees Celsius, which was 0.1 lower than the normal temp. We assumed she was probably giving birth within the next 24 hours – at least that’s what most breeders and vets say about the temperature drop in bitches about to give birth – although she was still perky and ravenous in appetite, and showed absolutely no signs of forthcoming labor.
At 10:30am, I rechecked her temp, and it went back to normal limits (37.6 degrees). I offered food and drink and she willingly accepted. She wasn’t restless, and there were still no signs of her giving birth. Although she kept whining about being caged, it was so typical of her whether or not she’s pregnant. I let her out to shush her for a while. With the way rate things are going, I was confident she’s not even in the first stage of labor.
Two hours after, I hear scratching in the garage and a tiny yelp that seemed like a pup. I scurried off and found a newborn pup with its intestines protruding out of its navel. The sac and the placenta were nowhere to be found. I immediately took the puppy away and put Chucky back in the cage. Jigs was away running some errands and renewing his license at LTO, and even if I had seen a similar scenario in the ER once, for a moment, I found myself in panic.
Here I am, an eight-month pregnant woman with horrifyingly swollen feet and hands, due to give birth in 2-4 weeks, with officemates and bosses on Skype sending me files to work on and reminding me constantly about deadlines for the day; Multitasking between work and whelping a dog, with a puppy whose intestines prolapsed out of its umbilicus, surrounded by three other curious dogs (one of them a Rottweiler) and 3 Persian cats who are panting from the summer heat. Could it get any more batshit than this?
NSS. Gauze. Micropore. FAST. I placed the puppy beside Chucky for a second as I scrambled through nursing interventions in my head, only to remember a second later I shouldn’t have, because now, Chucky is trying to clean off the intestines and have mistaken it for some more cord. He chewed off a chunk.
Now you see why it’s my fault.
Of course vets and breeders all say that even if the intestines were still intact outside the umbilicus, there’s little chance the puppy could survive. Having been exposed to contaminants, chances of sepsis are extremely high. Concurrent defects are likely to occur even if he survives. There’s no sac to seal the organs in. And he’s not even a day old, he couldn’t possibly survive such risky operation. But there was that possibility that Chucky could have been too hasty and careless in cutting the cord that she pulled the intestines out, and I wasn’t there to see that. We were in the same house. I was a minute too late.
With no other alternative around, I made do with covering the protrusion with betadine-tinged cotton and micropore. I swaddled him and tried to feed him as he refuses to nurse. They were all pretty much pointless, he would die later on anyway. But that’s the best I can do for him. That’s better than just letting him die starving and uncared for.
Within the next 6 hours, Chucky gave birth to 5 more pups. I assisted in each delivery, having noticed that Chucky just cuts the cord too damn close to the navel. All of them went to live fine, except for this one casualty.
Tomorrow morning, I’m sending the poor puppy away to the vet so he could be put to sleep and be put out of his misery. It’s the most decent thing one could do for a suffering pet when all else fails. If it were up to me, I would have had him die right after his insides came out.
As I type this with my right hand, the little fella rests on my left palm. He doesn’t stop crying lest I carry him. Why wouldn’t I give that security to a pet whose going to pass away very soon?
We may be pet breeders, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a heart. When a pet of ours dies, it’s not just the income that’s lost – that’s only secondary. You lose the opportunity to care for a pet who will someday become a child’s companion, someone’s bestfriend, a couple’s bundle of joy. You lose the chance to witness those insanely adorable times when a pup curiously tilts his head when you make a high-pitched sound, or when a kitten goes ballistic over a ball of yarn. You lose the privilege of raising a member of the family and letting him go so he can be part of somebody else’s.
Saying goodbye to pets is like saying goodbye to family. It is never easy. Losing one is losing an integral part of you – the better part, the nurturing part of human nature. It is instinct – no matter how selfish it may be at times -to try and save them. Only when we realize that they can be in a more peaceful, pain-free state can letting go be easy.
People may find it ridiculous that I’m pulling an all-nighter and worse, crying incessantly over a dying puppy that I’ve only been with for 12 hours. I don’t quite understand it fully myself; I’ve always been like this since I started picking up stray cats at 6 years old. But all I know is that, whether purebred or mongrel, be it dogs or cats, all animals deserve the same amount of respect, love and loyalty as any human does; The same amount that they unconditionally share with us. Because as humans, we are not really pet owners. We are merely caretakers, surrogate parents at most.
Bye little one. I pray that you’ll have a most enjoyable time with our other pets in heaven. Say hi to them for me.