Shiloh’s Birth Story: Celebrity Puppies!
I had insomnia for a few months this year, and sometimes I’d sit on the couch when everyone else was asleep. Every night, our Goldendoodle Shiloh was there keeping vigil beside me, an apricot-colored furry mop lying on the floor at my feet. Sometimes if I got up, she'd get excited and go stand by the bedroom door, wagging her tail expectantly and waiting to be let in so she could dive under the bed to her usual comfy spot. I'd open the door for her, but if she saw I wasn't going to bed yet she'd patiently pad back to the living room and flop on the floor until I was ready.
That's just one of the things about Shiloh that has warmed my heart since we got her as a puppy three years ago. She‘s been our kids‘ growing-up companion. Shiloh stations herself strategically under the high chair at mealtime to catch crumbs, plays on the playground with us, and patiently allows the babies to fling themselves all over her.
Emika had hesitantly agreed to let me have a dog, but we both agreed we should do it right if we were going to do it. We wanted a low-shedding, low-odor, easily-trained dog since she would live inside with us, and I wanted something of the personality of my long-gone Golden Retriever, Butterscotch, so we settled on a Golden Doodle. She is an F1; her mother was a black Poodle and her sire was a Golden Retriever.
On Friday, August 14, 2020, she fulfilled a long-cherished dream and produced her first litter of puppies! The sire is a local AKC registered, OFA eyes, hip, and heart certified, black and white parti Poodle stud named Chief. We had tried AI twice before with a mini poodle a few states away but never had success and weren't sure if she could even have puppies. I thought we should give up, but Emika wanted to try a third time with a local sire, and the third time was the charm.
We watched her, curious to see if she was with pup, and kept waiting and waiting for her to swell up like a pregnant balloon. Instead she seemed to lose her appetite. She stopped wanting to eat her fancy dogfood. The squirrels and chickens happily snitched it from her bowl, while she would charge into the chicken run and steal salad scraps from the chickens, evidently ravenously desiring a vegan lifestyle, scarfing down squash tops and carrot peels most alarmingly. We hoped this change in appetite meant she was pregnant, but weeks passed and still she didn’t seem any bigger.
“She doesn’t look pregnant,” I said doubtfully, as we stared at her tiny belly two weeks before she was due. “Well, neither did you the first time around.” Emika remarked, reassuringly. Toward the end, we knew from other signs that she was pregnant, but thought it might be a small litter judging from her still-svelte looks.
The last few days before the puppies were born we were on 24/7 puppy watch, constantly checking on Shiloh and somewhat irrationally scanning the horizons for puppies she may have dropped and ignored. We didn't know how she would do as a first time mom. I thought she was in labor on the 61st day of her pregnancy (puppies can be born anytime between 60-67 days), but it was a false alarm. Friday morning, Day 63, at 8 am, Emika yelled from the bedroom, "puppies are here!" Something small and wet was crying feebly under our bed. (Of course she had it here and not in her nicely prepared whelping box!)
I reached under the bed and pulled out a wet, curly, black-coated, strong little boy waving his arms and legs and yelping lustily. There weren't any more under there though. Perhaps this was it? At this point, we moved outside, and Shiloh excused herself to go “relieve herself” on her grassy patch. She was mistaken though as to the urge she felt - she was actually giving birth to a second puppy! Every twenty minutes or so she'd run off to her grassy patch, hunch over, and deliver another baby, with me catching them in a towel and drying them off, until we had five babies: three black boys with white splashes on their chest, one white boy, and an all black girl. Each time, she sniffed curiously at the small, wet, wiggling creature she had produced as if she was wondering what on earth was going on.
An hour passed with no more births, and we had wheedled her into lying down to nurse her little ones, although she was doing it without any real conviction. Although we were loathe to leave, we really had to leave the house at this point.
Driving away, we talked over the events of the morning. We were thrilled with the babies, of course, but I did wish she had had more than just the one girl. “Who knows, maybe she’s got another girl in there?” I said. Emika joked, “what if we come back and she’s had three more?”
Lo and behold, when we came back and checked on them, she HAD had three more- 2 more black girls with white chest splashes and another white boy. It was astonishing watching her deflate a little more with each puppy until her trim figure reappeared, none the worse for wear, (unless perhaps even thinner than before!) after the eighth puppy. She really had been "all baby," that reassuring falsehood often spoken to pregnant moms. The squash top diet, I noted, impressed, and filed it away in my memory for future reference.
These puppies are F1B, meaning they are a first generation or "F1" Golden Doodle (Poodle x Golden Retriever), backcrossed to a Poodle. The "B" stands for "backcross".
Those first 24 hours were quite an adjustment, teaching Shiloh to pay attention to her puppies and not sit on them haphazardly, helping her to lie down to nurse, and ensuring that each puppy was succesfully latched. Trying to assist eight crying newborns to latch made my past history with two human babies seem piddlingly insignificant in comparison, and watching all eight puppies finally guzzling down, wagging their tiny tails and kneading with their outstretched paws, was a little awe-inspiring.
Happily, Shiloh soon settled to her new role and became an excellent mother: patient, attentive, and protective.
We've had a very warm reception with our first litter, and five of the babies have been reserved: Dexter, Aurora, Kingston, Barkley, and Kernel, with more (masked, socially distanced) visits on the calendar. We're counting down the days to the October 9th "gotcha day" for our new puppy parents, planning the puppies’ weaning, and scheduling their first vaccines and deworming.
We aren’t intending to keep any of the babies, but we are enjoying the snuggles while we can! There’a almost nothing sweeter than a newborn puppy falling asleep on your chest. And each one is a little different. There’s vigorous, alpha-dog firstborn Kingston with his curly black coat, silky straight haired Barkley with little white front paws, wiggly white twin boys Dexter and Kernel, big, laid back Skye who’s always sleeping, curly petite Mia, Otis, who Judah named when he was born, and all-black kinky-curly adorable Aurora who likes to get comfy by resting her head on something to sleep. They got their colored ID collars this week and they’ve already grown by leaps and bounds since birth! Dexter and Kernel’s pink nose and paws turned black and all of the puppies are getting rounder of tummy and stronger of limb as they creep around their pen.
This post is long overdue - I started writing it and planned to post it the day after they were born, but life with eight more babies has been much busier than I thought!
Thanks for following along, and we hope to see you back here soon! I plan to post updates on them every two weeks. You can subscribe if you’d like to receive email notifications of new posts, or just check back here to see how the celebrity puppies are growing!