Shadow gave birth to two beautiful girls on 11 September 2015 in Ottawa, Canada. We were staying with Stu's family, Greg and his girlfriend Diana. We didn't know when to expect the puppies but were so grateful to be with Greg and especially Diana who had experienced the birthing process with her cat Jazz a few years ago. We had absolutely no idea what to do and even with researching on the internet felt very nervous about the whole thing.
Cinnamon was the first to arrive then 25 minutes later her sister Maple. It was incredible to be apart of the birth, well actually we were more supporters providing encouragement as Shadow did all the work. It was so natural and incredible, the puppies arrived in a 'sack' which Shadow removed and ate along with the placenta and umbilical chords which is all quite normal. The puppies had closed eyes and were so small but everything was there including the tiniest claws. Shadow cleaned them and made her nipples available for feeding. Maple was bigger than Cinnamon and went straight to the nipple to feed. Cinnamon seemed much weaker and wouldn't take to the nipple despite our best efforts to help. All we could do was sit, watch, wait and hope.
What should have been an evening of celebration and gratitude after only four hours turned to sorrow when Cinnamon's fragile little body stopped breathing. We had thought she looked weak compared with her sister but hope burned inside us. How could these puppies have survived such a traumatic pregnancy only to pass now. We were so lost and so out of our depths. What do we do now? We had a phone number for a vet but couldn't get through so resorted to a Google search which suggested we remove the puppy so the mother could focus on the living puppies. It didn't feel right but we followed the instructions. We later buried Cinnamon in Dianas back yard. Shadow was distressed for days, she was a good Mum to Maple but whenever she could she was searching for cinnamon. In hindsight we should have left Cinnamon with her mother to realise she was gone and include her in the burial.
Maple was our miracle puppy and we felt so fortunate to have her. Shadow was the best Mum, nurturing and protecting her baby. When Maple started walking – or more like wobbling – around then opened her eyes we really believed she was strong and let ourselves look forward to a future with her. We never became complacent, always conscious of Maples vulnerability so it was a devastating shock when we woke up on Sunday morning, 11 October 2015 and Maple was dead. She was fine the day before, gnawing on our fingers between feeds and sleeps. During the night she was unsettled and threw up some milk but seemed to settle with Shadow after 15 minutes. It was torture the next day, Maple was gone and we felt sure we could have done something to save her if only we knew.
We buried our third dog that day. It was a pretty spot by a lake. This time we included Shadow in everything. This time she seemed to know that her puppy was gone and when we placed her in the hole and covered her delicate, beautiful body with earth Shadow watched. We had a cuddle, let more tears flow then said goodbye.
Cinnamon and Maple were perfect in every way. We only had them for a short time but it was heaven. Every day our dogs remind us how precious and short life is, they remind us that life is about love and loss.