Lots of people are asking if we’ve gotten our puppy. No, we haven’t, and we haven’t been able to contact the Helping Paws directors either, because they are on vacation. This is the only information we have from the Helping Paws website.
“On July 1, Sheba, one of our breeding dogs, gave birth to five Labrador Retriever puppies—two females and three males. These puppies will be placed with their foster families around September 1 to start their service dog training.”
We don’t know why only five puppies were born. The ultrasound or X-ray taken while Sheba was pregnant indicated nine pups. While either test could easily have been off by a puppy, it is highly unlikely that either test would have been off by four. The last we heard, Sheba, who was pregnant with her first litter, seemed agitated and appeared to be engaging in nesting behavior a few days after her June 26 due date.
It is my guess that the first puppy got stuck, a Caesarian section was performed, and only five pups survived the procedure. Of course, I am only speculating. We have been looking several times daily to our email and the website for more information on what happened, all to no avail.
We hope that all five puppies are healthy and that one of them will be placed with us. We have been told that the directors of the program will evaluate the temperament of each puppy at about seven weeks and place each one with the family that seems to be the best fit. I have joked that we will get the sickly runt because we have the experience of already raising four dogs; our primary trainer, my husband, is a veterinarian; and we have offered to cover all the vet bills for our puppy. Somer replies to my attempt at humor with a dagger stare and a sharp reminder that “no ‘sickly runts’ are going to be used for this program.” She is serious about this; there is no room for joking.
We have also noticed that six families have been contacted about fostering a puppy from this litter. If only five families are needed, we could be the one eliminated. Also on the list is a family from our Mother-Daughter book club, who applied to the program before we did. Their family and ours had no idea that the other was interested until after our applications were being processed. Now we are really hoping to do this together.
Waiting for this puppy has actually been a lot like waiting for a baby in that pregnant and adoptive parents rarely get exactly what they want, precisely when they want it either. Somer’s friend, Katherine, claims to be the exception, arguing that she is the child of her parent’s dreams and she is. However, her parents were hoping for a baby in early summer and had to wait until August. And let’s face it, sometime in her life even “perfect” Katherine will probably do a thing or two that disappoints her parents. That’s just the way it is.
How have I had to compromise? I wanted a Golden Retriever. As it turns out, the Golden in the breeding program didn’t get pregnant this spring so I won’t be getting one of her puppies, but I might be getting a Labrador Retriever. I wanted the puppy at the beginning of the summer, when Somer was on vacation. That didn’t happen because the spring puppies were all placed before we our application papers were processed, but I might get a puppy at the end of the summer when Somer goes back to school. I wanted to foster the dog for two years, while Somer was still at home. If we do get a dog, it will probably stay with us for 2 ½ years, being placed with a disabled person after Somer leaves for college. When I found out that my friend was also interested in fostering a puppy, I was excited to share the experience with her. I now know that it is possible that only one of us will be getting a dog. It is possible that we won’t be getting a dog at all.
So, I might have put the cart before the horse here, but I don’t really think so. I’m an optimist at heart and I believe that one of those five puppies will be coming to live with us in a few more weeks. And like most expectant mothers, I’ll have made a few compromises along the way and be absolutely thrilled with what I get.