Posts Tagged With: puppies

Jack, Annabella and Me

I’d like to welcome Patricia Yager as my guest blogger. She’s a fellow horsewoman and animal lover.  And the author of MOON OVER ALCATRAZ, the moving story of loss, love and moving on. Read more about that below.
Today she talks about the challenges faced by another mother and one of her offspring.  Patti originally entitled her post: “What a Mom!! Annabella, That Is. Not Me.”  I think you’ll see why I changed the title when you read it. Take it away Patti!



PattiYSix years ago we mated our chocolate lab, Annabella, with a black lab. I wanted our children to have the experience of watching a live puppy birth, as well as caring for the puppies afterward. We made all the preparations for the pups. My husband built a birthing box so that Annabella would have a safe, clean and sizable area to give birth, we notified our vet, and we fed Annabella all the appropriate food and vitamins to keep her healthy and treated her like a queen.

Two weeks shy of her due date I found her in our bedroom in the dark –  hiding. I knew immediately something was wrong. This was just not normal Annabella behavior. Two weeks is nothing in human terms, but in a dog’s pregnancy, it shouts “premature”.

I phoned our vet, who is a mobile vet and doesn’t have all the accoutrements of a normal veterinarian’s office. He told me to take her temperature. It measured way over “normal” so he advised me to get her to any vet who could take x-rays. I phoned around for someone, anyone, who could take us on such short notice then drove her to a vet about fifteen minutes from our home. The x-rays showed pups but the vet couldn’t tell if all of them were alive. She urged me to go to an animal hospital that was prepared to deal with infant puppies and pregnancies.

I phoned a well-known veterinary emergency hospital over thirty minutes away with 24-hour care and brought her in immediately. They advised me to go home while they tried to reduce her fever and take x-rays to see what was wrong.

I’ll never forget the phone call I received at 11 p.m. that evening. The doctor (a specialist in canine pups) informed me one of the pups was dead and poisoning Annabella. If she didn’t operate Annabella would die. She wanted to know if we were prepared to: pay for the cost of exploratory surgery, and if so, should she try to save the uterus and Annabella or save the pups.

I told her to save Annabella, perform a hysterectomy, and if the pups died then so be it.

She phoned me two hours later. There had been eight male puppies (very unusual): one dead puppy, two others who couldn’t be revived, and five live puppies. BUT…the pups were premature and would have to be fed every two hours by hand in order for them to survive.

We picked up Annabella and her five puppies the next day. It seemed “I” was the only human who could figure out how to feed the puppies a bottle of special formula, by hand. My husband and two kids (11 and 7 at the time) couldn’t get the hang of it.

Enter one very dedicated surrogate mom – me.  By the time I force-fed one puppy the one ounce of formula they needed which took about twenty minutes, I’d go on to the next then the next.  By then it was almost time to start on the first puppy again. And so it went.  For about two weeks.  They learned to suckle after that time and Annabella was a good mommy.

Four or so weeks later we noticed one of the pups (actually the biggest and fattest of the crowd) wasn’t eating as much and his one eyelid was drooping and the bones at the top of his head looked more pointy and changed shape. I took him to the vet and they took x-rays.


We named him Jack – after One-Eyed Jack. I came home with pain medication and no diagnosis and one very sick puppy. He began to hide under the table near my area where I sat on the couch. He was in pain and the bones in the top of his head kept changing size. Back and forth and back and forth I went with phone calls to the vet and they had no clue what was wrong.

Mind you, by this time we’d spent thousands of dollars for Annabella’s exploratory surgery, stay at the hospital, and Jack’s x-ray’s and vet visits. My husband mentioned putting Jack to sleep since he was obviously in pain and not getting any better and the bills were piling up.

I refused. Until I got a diagnosis I was not going to let that pupster die.

Several days later I got a call from the vet – one of the radiologists took another look at the x-rays of Jack’s head. All twelve of the vets had studied this at the university but not one of them had actually seen it for real.Jack

Jack had Cranial Mandibular Osteopathy. The bones in the top of Jack’s head were expanding and contracting (hence the horrible pain he was in) BUT, it was not a death sentence. It was a self-limiting condition that should heal on its own within several weeks.

The bones in Jack’s head (hence cranial) are a bit more pronounced than normal and nothing anyone would notice, BUT, he also grew a golf-ball sized bone (hence osteopathy) structure under his chin (hence mandibular) that you can feel but not see due to the excess skin in a labrador’s chin area. We decided not to take him to see a plastic surgeon for that.

We have our Jack with us six years later, along with his mum Annabella. He doesn’t mind being made fun of by other dogs for his chin lump. He’s a bit socially challenged due to his life when he was a baby, i.e. he gets upset if anyone in the family hugs each other, he likes to nibble delicately on my neck when he’s excited to see me, he barks the entire time you take him for a walk. I chalk up all these “oddities” to Jack’s lack of social interaction when he was a pup and in so much pain and so very ill.

He and I are inseparable.


moonoveralcatraz-200Brandy Chambers is looking forward to the birth of her first child.  She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project.  Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.

But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face.  Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart.  This new distance leads them both to disaster.  Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together.  Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.

Everything is once again going according to plan–until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant.  While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal.  Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together?  Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?





You can contact Patti at:

Twitter: @Patti Yager




Categories: Dogs and cats, Labs, Love, Puppies, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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