Saturday, December 28, 2013

Great with Childs

I opened my laundry room door to let my two dogs out this morning.  One jumped up and happily trotted through the house on over to the back door, and the other slowly lifted herself to her feet.  She finally made her way out the door to the back yard to do her business, but it took some time.  Several weeks ago, it was flipped flopped.  The slower one was the more energetic one, but that was before she was great with childs. 
Our older dog, Storm, is 12 ½ years old…equivalent to the age of my grandmother.  She was always dragging behind the younger girl, Rebel.  It’s strange to see Storm way out ahead of Rebel now.  It’s been interesting to witness someone else in my home other than myself pregnant.  I had no idea how similar a dog’s pregnancy is to persons.

She started out moody and clingy…that never changed.  Then she didn’t want to eat.  There have been times that we’ve seen “a bile filled puddle” on the floor of the laundry room in the morning…morning sickness.  We may have never known except the cold winter nights drove us to let them sleep inside.  If she had been pregnant during the summer, we probably wouldn’t have a clue.
This morning after closing the door behind my wobbly girl, I watched out the window observing them both.  Storm went over to the far corner of the back yard to empty her bladder, but Rebel couldn’t make it all the way out there.  She stopped half way across to relieve herself.  Then Storm trotted around for a bit picking up some toys to chew on, but Rebel finished her trek to the “bathroom” corner in order to do number two.  I watched Storm dart here and there, and stop off to get a drink of water all while poor Rebel strained and pushed and strained and pushed.  Aha!  She’s constipated. 
Eventually Storm decided she had the same urge and zig-zagged back on over to their “spot” to drop a present of her own.  She easily managed and they finished up about the same time.  I expected Rebel to stop off at the water bowl next, but she instead went into her dog house to curl up in a corner.  Yes, she appears to prefer those close quarters these days…evidence of nesting.  Storm, on the other hand, realized she had done everything she came outside to do, and ended up at the back door letting out a simple little bark meaning, “I’m done.  Can I come back in now?”  I let her in, and at the sound of the door opening, Rebel appeared from her house to follow behind.

I sat down with them both for minute on their blankets reflecting once again on my dog’s pregnancy.  I’ve heard my boys say words of, “I’m sorry we did this to you,” but even though I have compassion for her, I’m not sorry.  And I’m the only one in the house who completely has empathy for the girl.  No, I’m not sorry.  We’ve always wanted to breed our lab.  I wasn’t ready when Storm was young as I had young ones of my own, and just knew I couldn’t handle the commitment.  And that’s without truly knowing how much of a commitment there would be. 

We eventually had Storm spayed, and gave up on the notion for awhile.  Then we decided a puppy was exactly what our old dog needed to keep her going, so we got Rebel.  They are both pure bred black Labrador Retrievers.  We always thought Storm was a pretty good looking dog, but then as Rebel grew we were amazed at her long sleek beautiful build and the way she strutted herself around like she just knew she was gorgeous.  Well it worked, Storm got a little bit more energetic even though she was often annoyed. 
Now that we’ve picked up our dream of breeding our “pure beauty” at her second heat, Storm is jealous like you wouldn’t believe.  I don’t blame her…all the attention Rebel’s getting.  I’m still trying to figure out if either one of these dogs knows what’s going to happen sometime in the next week or so. 
I got up to get Storm some breakfast, and I noticed that when she got up her back hip was bothering her again.  Plus, her teeth chattering told me that they were bothering her as well.  So, I gave her medicine in her kibble and put her back outside. 
I tried to get Rebel to eat some kibble, but of course she wouldn’t.  She’s been sooooo picky!!!  I really never expected that to happen.  For awhile during the pregnancy, I was pulverizing her kibble and mixing it with turkey broth.  It was convenient since it was just Thanksgiving.  When we ran out, the other “Mommy/Grandma” made some broth for her. 
I’m not sure what else to call us other than “Grandmas” to these puppies.  After all, our pets are an extension of our families, and I’m typically referred to as “Mommy” when we’re all spending time with the dogs.  Getting to know Rebel’s “baby daddy”, Clyde, and his owners has been a very sweet experience as well.  I feel like I’ll be "Grandma" to these puppies, and Clyde’s “Mommy”, Michelle, must feel the same way as she is just as excited as I am for them to come.

I got Rebel to eat regular kibble last week and so stopped with the pulverizing, but it was only a few days of normalcy.  I started mixing the dry kibble with bacon grease.  That worked for a day.  Then it was Christmas dinner, and we saved the drippings from our prime rib roast.  I got her to eat by mixing that in with her food.  That lasted a couple days.  Yesterday, I had to mix the last of the canned food in, and found success, but then she refused to eat the scrambled eggs I’d been giving her daily for weeks in order for her to get extra protein.  I was shocked.  I found myself out of ideas until I can get to the store for more canned food.  Then it hit me…cookies!  

OK, so she’s a little spoiled.  But I’m desperate to get her to eat.  You can’t reason with a dog to “do it for the babies”.  We had some dog treats that were all natural and nutritious…full of dried fruit, oatmeal, peanuts, molasses, and chicken fat.  At least it’s not as bad as Bill Cosby giving his kids cake for breakfast.  She gobbled them up, and I let Storm back inside.

After fixing myself some tea, I watched my poor girl try to maneuver herself into positions she used to be able to easily get herself into to clean herself.  I thought about the times I needed my husband’s help to unhook a bra or tie my shoes when I was in my 8th month.  That’s equivalent to 8 weeks for a dog which she’ll be tomorrow.  I got a warm wet wash cloth and wiped down her back legs and tail that was covered in mucus.  It’s a normal discharge, and she just can’t seem to get it all clean.  Then I cleaned all the goop out of her eyes.  She seems to be congested and it makes her eyes weep.  I was never one to become congested while pregnant, but I know of many women who were.  It just never occurred to me that my dog would have that same experience.

Finally, it was time to sit with my two girls for some cuddle time.  This was the first morning that I was able to see ripples constantly moving across her belly.  It was very cool to watch while Rebel lied there like a beached whale…great with childs.

I think I’ve been most surprised by her emotions.  A couple of weeks ago, we went out for my husband’s company Christmas dinner.  Our adult daughter and her boyfriend came out to our house to stay the night with our teenage boys as we didn’t know how late we would be.  First Rebel reacted strangely to Tori, and then later reacted the same way with her boyfriend, Ravi, when he arrived.  She cried and cried as if she was crying tears of joy to see them.  It was as if she hadn’t seen them in weeks, when in actuality they come over once or twice a week.  I wish I could figure out how to spell what was coming out of her vocal chords, but if I could translate, it would sound like, “Oh I’ve missed you guys so much.  (sob, sob, sob)  You have no idea what I’ve been through.  (sob, sob, sob)  I’ve just been so miserable.  Oh it’s so good to see you.  Will you just stay with me for awhile?  (sob, sob, sob)  Please, please, pleeaasse??”  Whoda’ thought a dog would have all the experiences a person has with pregnancy?

I think about all the professional breeders who will have 2 or 3 pregnant girls at a time.  How could they possibly give them all the attention that they truly need?  All pregnancies are difficult, and I know it’s because of being under the curse of sin.  If anything, I feel bad that animals have to experience this curse even though it was man who sinned and brought the curse on.  But since creation is under the dominion of man, they were cursed right along with us.  We are to rule over the animals and all of nature…not harshly, but with love. Still, we are to dominate over them, and care for them…especially when they are suffering.  

 For we know that all creation has been groaning 
as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 
 Romans 8:22

Yesterday, my kids and I watched a DVD called, “My Life as a Turkey.”  It was very interesting, but I just couldn’t agree with the guy.  He spent a year and a half raising 16 wild turkeys from incubation till they were out on their own.  I’m sure he’s an intelligent man, but there was a level of stupidity in him that got sometimes annoying.  At one point, he said he felt these creatures were superior to him.  What?!? Superior?  Are you insane?  I turned to my boys and said, “Don’t you EVER think that an animal is superior to you!”  I mean, some animals are scary, but superior??  Never!  That’s an evolutionary mindset right there.  And I won’t have it.  

I laughed as the guy was shocked in the end when the most dominant male turned and attacked him.  I know it’s nothing to laugh at, but I guess my sick sense of humor thought he was an idiot for not expecting it as I yelled out, “Shoot it!  Eat it!”  

God commanded Adam to rule over the animals and subdue the earth…to bring them under submission.  Not to allow them to rule over us, not to lift them up as superior to us, not to harm them either, but to subdue them with wisdom.  I am superior over my dogs.  They need me to help them, especially when the curse of sin that makes all of creation groan affects them as well, making an old dog groan with arthritis and decaying teeth, and a young dog groan with emotion and exhaustion during her pregnancy.  

It’s only a few days after Christmas…the day we celebrate when our Savior who came to break that curse was born.  His mother was great with child as she entered into the place where she would give birth among the animals.  That means animals were among the first to see Him.  He cares for them.  But no one is superior to Jesus.  He deserves all honor, glory, and praise.  He overcame sin throughout His life, on the cross, and in resurrection.  We must make a conscience decision to follow Him.  But since the animals did not make a conscience decision to be under the curse, they don’t have to make the same decision we do in order to be saved.  Some have argued that animals are not eternal creatures, but I’ve read scripture that describes heaven, and guess what…animals are there.
It’s too complicated of an issue to say for sure one way or the other, but when I look at my girls, and see them groaning, I’m reminded that Jesus cares for them too.  They won’t always be suffering just like we won’t either.  Someday, we’ll be living in paradise where there is no more suffering, no more death, and no more tears.  But for now, I will care for my girls…the old one who is close to the end of her life, the young one who is close to the end of her pregnancy, and soon all those childs she is great with.

Amie Spruiell


  1. Totally captivating consideration of the process of life for a human sister and her canine sisters. There is so much wisdom in the conclusions that have been drawn here. I totally loved this story.

    God bless

  2. So enjoyed reading this today...I felt right there with storm..
    Thank you for the post...