What A Night


The primaries are in full swing and election news is everywhere, but I wanted to take a break and share with everyone about the most incredible night of my life.  This is one I will remember forever. It’s not something I would have ever imagined would make it to that list of “amazing moments,” but this was truly special.

Chloe is our 4 year-old Lab/Border Collie.  She is, without a doubt, the best dog I have ever had.  Patrick and I love her like any parent would love a child.  She’s smart, intuitive, loyal and affectionate.  She’s become very much a part of our lives.  So we were thrilled when, four days ago, she became a mom to 6 beautiful puppies.  But the story of the birth was the most amazing part.  I’ve been around pregnant dogs, but I never have actually witnessed the birth before.

The miracle of childbirth in humans and in nature is well-documented.  Not much else needs to be said about the truly incredible process by which a new life is created.  There are only stories that illustrate how beautiful and wonderful it can be. I now understand and I have my story.

Chloe had never had babies before.  Patrick and I were especially attentive to her during her gestation.  We were particularly attentive in the 24 hours when we knew that the time was near.  I had spent a great deal of time researching online.  I had a lot to learn since my mom had always dealt with this subject as I was growing up.  I read all I could about the process as well as pre-natal and post-natal care.  I got a little nervous when I read the warnings about things that could go wrong.  We both tried to absorb all we could in case something unexpected happened.  In retrospect, it was a good thing we did.

For the most part, dogs are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to birthing.  I never remember my mom having to do much.  It always seemed to go off without a hitch.  In any case, Patrick and I stayed near Chloe’s box that night when it became apparent (around 11 pm) that she was going to have her babies. Patrick sat nearest the box when the first one arrived.

He watched as she delivered the first and she began to do what what was required of her.  I couldn’t see all that was happening, but I soon knew that something had gone terribly wrong.  The look on Patrick’s face told the story.  He quickly swooped in and brought the newborn pup out of the box.  I handed him a towel.  He worked to revive the puppy.  But Chloe had accidentally hurt the puppy during the act of detaching the umbilical cord.  We also determined shortly thereafter that the pup had been stillborn.

Last night we buried the baby near our Magnolia tree.  Patrick named him Lucky.  Though his fate was not indicative of his name, what we both learned from the first pup was enough to save the rest. We were fortunate in that regard.

Patrick cried when it became apparent that Lucky was dead.  I’ll never forget what he said as the tears came down his cheeks – “I could have saved him.” I rubbed his back as he held the baby and told him that we needed to focus on the other pups that would come. I brought him a pillow case in which he laid the pup.  He wrapped Lucky up and walked out of the room to lay him aside. Fortunately, Chloe didn’t seem to realize what had happened.

When Patrick returned, I saw something in his face I had never seen before. 

We have all read the stories about ordinary people developing superhuman strength in the face of a crisis –  a dad lifting a car off of his teenage son trapped beneath, a mother strangling a vicious animal with her bare hands when her child is attacked.  That night, I got to see that level of strength in action. Patrick was determined, and the adrenaline kicked in.

Patrick walked back into the room with a vengeance and knelt down by Chloe’s box as the contractions continued.  Over the next three hours, he delivered each of the puppies with his own hands.  As she would push the baby out, he would place his waiting hands beneath to capture the pup.  He held each one up at a safe distance so she could bite off the cord.  He placed each one in a towel – clearing the mouth, cleaning off the fluid and rubbing the baby to life until it let out its first cry.

We let each baby bond with Chloe for a short time, then we placed them in a small carry-on suitcase bedded with a towel.  Then it was off to the next.  Just like clockwork, Patrick delivered all 6 of the pups in the same manner.  We didn’t lose another baby that night.

I tend to be very squeamish, but I held my own that night.  I was merely the “towel boy,” but I was proud to be a part of that evening.  When it was all over, we crashed on the bed, exhausted.  Chloe came up on the bed with us and curled up next to me.  Patrick placed all the puppies beside her for the first time. I remember watching in awe as she laid close to me, nursing and cleaning her kids.  Patrick looked on with well-deserved satisfaction. It was an amazing sight. We were emotionally and physically drained and spent at 3 am, but our baby girl was a mom to six beautiful babies.  It was incredibly rewarding.

That evening, I got to witness two incredible things – the birth of new living beings and a level of determination that makes men great.  I’m not an overly-emotional person, but I get very emotional everytime I recall the events of that night.  I finally understand the pride felt by a husband in the delivery room or Mom and Dad when their daughter gives them a grandchild.  I hope that everyone gets the chance to experience this miracle.  It’s the thrill of a lifetime – one you won’t soon forget.