When Sagkeeng Spay/Neuter Initiative Program brought two very young, very pregnant Border Collie girls into rescue, we immediately offered to foster one; pregnant moms are our “fostering niche” and we are pretty experienced with timid Rez dogs as well. Fiona, the tri-coloured sister, went on to a foster in Winnipeg while Vianne (named for the lead character in the movie ‘Chocolat’) came here to settle in and have her pups. Basket Man and Mush Lady were ready for our next adventure!
The Waiting Game
Pregnancy didn’t treat poor V too well; we did absolutely everything we could to make her comfortable, including daily prenatal massages and lacing her food with tempting morsels of treats (hamburger and boiled eggs were her favourites). By the end, her waistline had more than tripled in size and she walked everywhere with a shuffling gait with her head lowered. We had earned her trust and were able to give her comfort, but the poor love was as big as a house and clearly felt awful. Finally, she began to show signs of early labour!
Usually, when a mama dog’s temperature drops and her mucous plug has discharged, you have anywhere from 2-24 hours to wait before the real labour begins. V had been in early labour for over 36 hours when, exhausted, we caved and headed to the vet to make sure everything was OK. As this was her first litter, the vet wasn’t too concerned but she took an ultrasound to make sure no one was stuck in the birth canal. She assured me that I likely had at least another day to wait it out, and to go home and get some rest. Twenty minutes later I woke to squalling and squeaking; the first baby had arrived! V had jumped out of her whelping pen, torn some pink fiberglass insulation out of the wall, and whelped baby girl Anouk into a fluffy pink cloud. Lucky, the rest of her labour was uneventful, and V gave birth to 9 stunning babies.
The next 6 weeks went by in an absolute blur: V was a perfect mom and her babies were healthy, happy and smart. She began spending less and less time with them, and more time with our family, and we saw her inner puppy come out to play! V brought out things in our other dogs that we had never seen before; she developed such a special relationship with each and every family member it made it really hard to see her go.
The day the Chocolat Babies were 6 weeks old, the Underdogs gals came to pick up the whole family. While I was sad to see my little munchkins go, nothing prepared me for the sadness I felt at watching V leave. We always allow our mama fosters to move on to another home when their babes are weaned so that we can take in another pregnant dog in need, but V was so special to us all. Fate wasn’t done with us yet! V was back with us a few days later to try nursing some babies from Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue, and luckily, she fed and cared for the German Babies as though they were her own. A few weeks later, the babies were old enough to survive on soft food, and it was time for V to move into her new adoptive home!
V’s new home ended up being a very poor match. We’re not sure why, but in her brief stay there, V developed severe separation anxiety and destroyed some things in her new home. They decided she had to go! V moved into a new foster home where I knew she would be loved and cared for, but my heart ached daily. We had a chance to visit her in a vacation foster close to us while her regular foster mom was on vacation, and although she was safe and happy, leaving her that day was hard for all of us (she cried while watching us go). Still, we already had 4 dogs and considered our home full!
When I still had not moved on a few months down the road, Basket Man knew something had to give. I may get a little weepy when a foster leaves us, and even feel down for a few days, but never had I gotten so attached! Finally, we agreed that there was only one choice: V belonged with us! She settled back into our life as though she had never left, and has been giving love in spades to the whole family. She still has moments where I can see her fear of abandonment popping up (during a trip to Winnipeg, when her vacation foster mom visited) but always, we will be there to reinforce her confidence and help her know that this is her home.
A New Name for a New Life
When we finally made the decision to bring our girl home, I decided that I wanted her to have a new name to suit her sweet, resilient temperament. Our “Mama V” needed a name that showed off her delicate beauty and gentle nature, as well as her fortitude and quiet strength. Violets are soft, small, sweetly scented flowers that can pop up and survive in almost any conditions, but they only thrive when given just the right place to bloom. Violet was able to survive in all of the places she’s lived, but she’s only ever truly bloomed for us. We will cherish that gift for all of her days!