A couple of days ago I was alerted to a link on http://explore.org/#; a Great Dane named Chaos was due to whelp in the next forty-eight hours. The blessed event was to be recorded live by web cam before, during and after the birth. I had witnessed a Golden retriever named Holly by live cam on this same site in July, but missed her delivery. This time I was going to try to observe a live birth.
Under a photo of a Great Dane and her puppy, read “this is what Chaos, star of our Service Dog Project Great Dane Birth Cam, looked like when she was a newborn. We’re sending Chaos love and support as she embarks on her own journey to motherhood. Any hour now, we’ll witness the miracle of puppy birth in real-time.”
I immediately become emotionally involved reading that the puppies were destined to become Service dogs for veterans, or people with mobility or severe balance issues, such as individuals with Parkinson’s. My father has Parkinson’s and this sucked me right in, knowing the challenges this awful disease presents.
Another link, http://www.servicedogproject.org/, explained why Great Danes are best suited to helping people with mobility disabilities, what the service Dog Project is about, how to help and how to apply for a dog.
After looking at this information I was fully onboard as an active participant to watch! The first time I logged on I was introduced to Chaos a hugely pregnant Dane, sitting on a couch through the eyes of the webcam. She resembled a Holstein with her white and black markings and was a classic Harlequin Dane beauty.
I got quite excited seeing her shift positions often and try to get comfortable with her swollen belly and enlarged nipples ready to feed a small army!
I checked in on her off and on throughout Wednesday, leaping to conclusions that labour was starting if she fluffed up towels beneath her or started to pant. I was hooked plain and simple.
On Thursday I logged in once again and felt that the “mid wife” in me was telling me that the process was moving along. For your information I am not in the know, and was simply picking up on the attention Chaos was getting from her “whelping team.” They were certainly an experienced group of individuals who have supported other Great Danes for their births. Bedding was laid down, warm gentle encouraging stroking was given and food/water was offered.
I had the house to myself yesterday with my husband away on business and both daughters out so I became intent on witnessing a birth. As the rain pelted against my windows and on our roof I sat transfixed staring at my computer screen. A boarding dog, Marlo – the TV watcher I mentioned in a previous post – stared and growled at the large dog moving on the computer screen.
The most amazing thing is that the video feed is completely silent. I could practically hear my heart racing as the birth of the first puppy approached at around 8:20 last night. Chaos licked her first pup immediately; her mothering instincts had taken over. I was elated as a sign was held up saying “Girl.” I had no one to tell so I called some dog walking friends to share my excitement. I texted others to log on as this was truly a private magical moment to witness. The two women overseeing the birth were wonderful keeping the puppy from getting accidentally squished and guiding it to the milk mother load!
I found out that this was Chaos’s second litter and that during her first she had five puppies. This link has a place where people can comment and it was really fun to see the encouragement from complete strangers for this dog. Occasionally there was a negative comment and others would quickly say get off the site if it was not to your liking. It seemed like the majority of people online were completely enthralled like me.
At 9:50 a second girl arrived; I did not realize that there can even be an hour between pups. The licking continued and Chaos was the centre of attention to ensure that her and her puppies were comfortable, clean and safe. By 11:00 I was still very interested but feeling sleepy; I could tell number three was coming and stayed up. At a few minutes past 11:00 I was rewarded by a male pup arriving into the world. He was larger and white with black spots; the others were mostly all black.
Then the camera went out at 11:23; I was cut off from this intimate experience. I clicked to refresh the screen and was so discouraged. At this point I realized how I was truly drawn in and many others were all logging comments about losing the feed and what was going on? My Great Dane addiction was real and keeping me up at night!
I checked the comment section and found that there were 7,032 comments made already regarding the birth and 102 tweets, myself included in the mix. I felt that this was a sign to head to bed and wished this sweet new mother a speedy delivery on the rest of the litter.
I checked on the birth when I got up in the morning and found out that her eighth puppy was stillborn. Hours later this update was posted on the site at 10:00. There was 8 puppies born in total, 7 living – 5 girls and 3 boys. Because Chaos had not had an ultrasound, they did not know how many puppies to except in total. The update mentioned that she was missing 3 placentas and that that could be dangerous to her health. They were unable to leave Chaos alone, and had called a vet for a Pitocin shot. My heart continued to race and feel for this event in a place far away from me.
Hours later when I was logging on I witnessed the ninth puppy’s stillbirth. I felt such sadness for this dog I don’t even know, observing her carefully lick and clean her young pups and look around for the ninth pup when he was taken away. The staff who are seasoned pros substituted a live pup for her to lick, placing it in the same spot where the ninth pup had been. This probably was to try to have her believe it was the one gone, by having the scent from the birth on it. This seemed to work and was a distraction for Chaos.
By days end all is well and Chaos is actually grabbing some shut-eye as are her cute puppies.
You can still view them online in the weeks to come or donate at http://www.servicedogproject.org/index.php/donating, if you are interested in supporting the cause.
This morning I gave our Labrador Ember a big hug and whispered in her ear that she was a special girl. We have only had her since May; she is retired from breeding. After witnessing Chaos during her whelping hours I realize how strong the maternal bond is whether we are two or four-legged. Ember delivered 11 black lab puppies last November and I wonder where they are today. If they have any of her sweet nature the families are truly very blessed.
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