Three puppies. Two dead. I never want to go through this again.
The first stage of giving birth in dogs is rapid short panting - it can last hours, and often it's a false start. The second stage is pushing - which can also last hours, though not usually. And the third stage, is the actual birth.
Sadie spent most of the day in stage one, then did stages two and three without difficulty in in just seconds.
Puppies come out in little grey sacs, which sometimes have to be broken open if the puppy can't or the mother doesn't. The delay between births in a papillion litter is typically two hours, but six isn't unknown.
I saw the first one come out - I didn't know what to do. Father always insists that he knows what to do about every situation and spends most of his words giving advice - almost always obvious, or obviously wrong. He panicked, and shouted for mother.
Mother has a little experience with whelping - she broke the sac and rubbed the puppy gently in a towel. It was a girl - we called her Rosie. Rosie is white with a dark brown head, and dark brown spot at the base of the tail. She makes squeaking noises when she's cold or hungry,
She's big for a papillion puppy - six inches long. Her whole body flexes when she feeds, but she's got a habit of latching onto a nipple, then falling off to one side. She gets warm by almost crawling under her mother.
We've had to move her quite a lot, as blankets get wet - and she goes quiet when I hold her in my hand, curling up in the warmth.
Then two hours later, the second one. I saw the waters break. It was born feet first. With it's intestines hanging out. Alive and mewing in agony. Father blustered with irrelevant advice. Mother left the room to be sick. I didn't know what to do.
Dad may be useless at most things, but just occasionally his blustering attitude is useful - as when you've got a newborn puppy that can only live maybe an hour, all the time screaming in pain, and the most humane thing you can do is drown it.
Mum cried a little and went off to be alone for a while. I did the same - but in the reverse order.
Then the third. It came out with total ease, the sac broke...and it looked like the second. Silent, but alive, with...trails of red and purple hanging out. Not afterbirth, but what? There was nothing in the books like it. What organs were we looking at? What were we looking at? Could this puppy be saved? How?
We didn't know. We had to decide. It took maybe thirty seconds to decide between us that it looked non-viable. Father took it away and drowned it quickly.
Now it's just gone midnight. Mother's going to bed, Father's watching Rosie and Sadie, who have curled up to sleep. I take over the watch around four.
Rosie is amazing. We're all happy to sleep and take care of her in shifts. But none of us want to do this ever again.
UPDATE: It turns out the birthing problem is very common in papillions- occurring in about one in three - but none of the books on breeding and whelping mentioned it because it's a problem specific to the breed - like the bulldog problem of overlarge heads.
Here's Rosie at twelve hours old, plugged into her mum.