Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meet the Rock and Roll Puppies!

Guest post by Cindi Lashinsky, our head trainer and a member of the whelping team that brought Midge's puppies into the world.

Susquehanna Service Dogs is proud to announce the arrival of five new puppies into the world! SSD Midge delivered four boys and one girl on Sunday, May 23, 2010 with the whelping team and Midge's puppy raiser in attendance. Despite this being Midge's first litter, she is a natural mom and needed minimal assistance with her puppies. She did a great job getting each puppy started and caring for them. In addition to being a natural mom, Midge also seems to be a natural whelper and delivered all five puppies in less than two and a half hours!

The whole adventure started for Midge months ago, when she flew out to sunny California to meet a handsome black Labrador Retriever named CCI Paxton III. Paxton is a stud dog with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and is one of their top producers of quality assistance dog puppies. Midge spent a few weeks in California under the watchful eye of CCI veterinarian Dr. Ruth Daniels, an expert in breeding, and then flew back to Pennsylvania where the waiting game began. Everyone wondered the same thing - Is Midge pregnant?

The answer was a joyful "Yes!" when Midge had her ultrasound on April 27. The vet suspected that there were six puppies; however, it's difficult to count puppies on ultrasound. Sometimes a puppy squirms into a new position and is counted twice, while other puppies hide beneath one another and aren't counted! Either way, we knew we had puppies on the way.

Midge became restless on Saturday, May 22 around 5 p.m. She paced and panted. Diane, Midge's breeder caretaker, called me for advice. It was a bit early for Midge's labor, so everyone agreed to keep a close eye and see how things progressed. That kind of restlessness can be the start of the first stage of labor for dogs, so the rest of the whelping team was put on alert that we might have some action in the next 24 hours. I headed over around 11 a.m. the next day, and Midge was still panting and pacing, having spent most of the night awake. She had really enjoyed all the pampering that went with being pregnant - especially all the extra food! - but didn't seem so sure about things anymore.

An entire nursery was prepared for Midge and her puppies in Diane's enclosed sunroom. The nursery contained a specially designed whelping box where Midge would have her puppies and raise them, and all the supplies needed, whether things went smoothly or emergency assistance was needed. It also contains a dog door, allowing Midge access to the outdoors. As the hours ticked by, she went out more and more often, pacing the yard and finally trying to get under the house! Dogs have a natural instinct to seek a den when it's time for puppies, so we closed the dog door, shepherded her inside, and called the rest of the whelping team, along with Midge's puppy raiser (who took wonderful photos and recorded all the details of the evening).

Midge took short naps for a few minutes as her body prepared and contractions soon began. At 5 p.m., when Midge was still on the couch (having convinced us that we had a bit of a wait ahead of us), a foot suddenly appeared! A yellow male named SSD's Bob Dylan (Dylan) was born quickly and smoothly at 5:04 p.m. Everyone shepherded Midge into the whelping box after realizing that the action was, indeed, afoot!

Wasting no time, Dylan was soon joined by another yellow brother, SSD's Frank Zappa (Zappa) at 5:20 p.m. These puppies were coming quickly, and SSD's Jimi Hendrix (Hendrix) joined the band at 5:38 p.m.

Dylan, Zappa and Hendrix got time to nurse as Midge finally was able to get some good sleep for about an hour. Each puppy was weighed and given a tiny collar so we could keep track of who's who. The puppies' fur is striped, almost like a chipmunk, with birth fluids when they're born, and we watched as each puppy started to dry, losing the stripes that they possess for a tiny fraction of their lives.

After her short break, Midge was back in action and delivered a little yellow girl, SSD's Grace Slick (Grace) at 6:26 p.m. Grace eagerly joined in the nursing, and the puppies were soon all either nursing or curled up asleep with Midge. Midge had a chance to go outside for a quick walk (followed by a helper with a towel - just in case!) and we gave her some water with a bit of goat's milk to help her stay hydrated. We also gave her NutriStat to replenish her energy. Another good nap followed, with the puppies alternating between dozing and nursing, never leaving mom's side.

Around 7:20 p.m., Midge woke up and began panting again with a few contractions. At 7:31, a black male named SSD's Mick Jagger (Jagger) entered the world, completing Midge's group of Rock and Roll Stars. Midge settled in for a nice sound sleep, and the whelping team sat back to watch and wait, sure that there were more puppies to come. As long as the dam is resting and not contracting, it's not unusual for her to go anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours between puppies. So far, these puppies had come amazingly close together, and we were all sure that it was time to wait now. At 10:30, we woke Midge to take her out for a walk, and we cleaned the whelping box. She was very anxious to return to her puppies, checking each one upon her return. Midge drank some more water with a bit of goat's milk and had a small dose of Oxytocin, which can stimulate contractions if there are any puppies. We watched and waited until midnight while Midge slept soundly, her puppies contentedly nursing and snuggling.

At midnight, convinced that there weren't any surprise puppies still waiting to be delivered, the whelping team left Midge and her breeder caretaker to their rest. The litter is located in the Linglestown area of Harrisburg, PA, and puppy huggers are invited to begin visiting the puppies on a limited basis after they are two weeks old. Once the puppies are four to five weeks old, more puppy huggers will be able to visit. (To let mom and puppies get off to a good start, puppy huggers will not be permitted prior to two weeks of age and will be limited until four to five weeks.) We will send further details when they are ready for visitors. Please note that regardless of the puppies' age, if you have a dog that is or has recently been ill, or have been around any ill dogs, please help us keep the puppies healthy by postponing your visit. There are plans to have the puppy cam again, and we'll send details once it's been set up!

Congratulations to Midge and Paxton III and happy birthday to Dylan, Zappa, Hendrix, Grace and Jagger!

If you're interested in raising one of these little pups, don't hesitate to call 717-599-5920 or visit SSD's website to learn more!

Dylan, yellow male, orange dots collar
Zappa, yellow male, burgundy collar
Hendrix, yellow male, lime green collar
Grace, yellow female, pink collar
Jagger, black male, yellow collar


  1. thanks so much for the post----what fun to see them :)

  2. They're adorable! Love the full names!
    Midge looks Great too.

  3. Connie and SSD DutchMay 26, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    They are so adorable! love the names, wish I could rise one, but can't due to where I live. If I could have their address I would love to be a puppy huger for this group of pups.

  4. What a beautiful story!

  5. aww congrats!! Midge looks so happy as a momma!! Best of luck with the pups.
    I've heard that sometimes the school who provided the stud will get a pup in return for their services - will a puppy be donated back to CCI?

  6. Way to go, Midge! Your babies are so sweet.