For me, it was a miracle to see how a dog gives birth to her puppies. And it happened at around 7 am on 1 January 2014, at our home.
We brought this little female dog in February of 2013. We named her Bubbles. This orange feisty dog is cacophonous – constantly barking at anything happening inside and outside our fifth-floor flat. She has just the opposite temperament of our male dog Boo, who came to our house in November 2012.
Boo was our first dog to stay inside the house. I had always been fond of animals and while growing up, I got to keep a couple of street dogs in our garage because my mom would not allow us to keep a dog inside.
Boo is a small spitz who weighs around 10 kg and Bubbles weighs around 5 kg. The two dogs mated around October and we were not prepared for this to happen. We did not want any more dogs at home.
But it happened. Now we were preparing to welcome puppies and already networking with people who might adopt them.
Bubbles was heavy from her pregnancy the night before, and so I kept her close to me just to comfort her. I woke up very early in the morning of the new year amid her uncomfortable sounds. It seemed to me Bubbles would deliver puppies at any moment. So I took her to my son's room (he is the owner of the dogs), and lay on the floor mattress by her side while keeping her on a blanket.
Then the miracle started to happen. Bubbles began to deliver her puppies one by one. I knew that mother animals know how to take care of the whole delivery system – but it was amazing for me to see how this distressed little doggo was cleaning her puppies one after another and then beginning to breastfeed them.
Bubbles delivered five puppies and it's interesting to note that the chubbiest ones were born first and the lighter ones were born last.
We did not name the puppies. We just wanted Bubbles to nurse them to a size where we could give them away to people who would adopt them. But we loved the puppies and we loved to see how our feisty little Bubbles took care of her babies.
We started giving away the puppies to different people after two months. All except one were quickly adopted. The one that was not adopted yet already had a name – "Patches" – because as a puppy she had a mark around her right eye that looked like a patch.
Patches was the second puppy and was very chubby and cute. But she was afraid of everything. She did not want to leave our house. One person adopted her and took her to her home for one day. But Patches cried all along and would not eat anything.
So the next morning we asked her to return the puppy. We did not want the puppy to be distressed. We can surely find another person with whom the puppy would stay happily.
Patches came back and seeing how happy she was upon returning, we gave up the idea of giving her up for adoption.
Within months Patches acquired her full size. She was 8 kilos – smaller than Boo while bigger than Bubbles. She was also super soft and it was fun to cuddle with her. That's why everyone in the house would cuddle with her.
Patches was lovingly greedy for bones and coconut meat. She was afraid of most things and she would not look at her reflection in the mirror (fearing the dog in the reflection might hurt her) and rarely showed any aggressive behaviour.
If we had friends or relatives coming over to our house - the dogs would have to be locked in my study room. Bubbles would display aggressive behaviour; Boo was friendly but sometimes too friendly for visitors, while Patches was perfect for visitors. She was neither too friendly nor hostile.
When I would return home from my work every day, all three dogs would greet me. I would then greet each of them and most often pick up Patches to cuddle her. Bubbles was not great for cuddling as she's boney, while Boo would sometimes make sounds like he was hurt if I picked him up on my lap. But Patches would happily act like a human baby while on my lap and take all my love. She got the same treatment from my son and our house help.
The biggest treat that our dogs enjoyed over time is a weekly car ride to Uttara third phase. For years I have been taking the dogs out so that they could run around in the fields and keep in touch with nature.
But last year, Patches developed diabetes. It took us a while to understand her underlying problems. Despite her being potty trained, she started peeing inside the house and drinking a lot of water. And she tended to hide behind the table or sofa – typical behaviour of dogs when they feel distressed. Finally, the vet diagnosed her with diabetes and the only way to treat that was to administer insulin.
After many months of insulin, she was suddenly free of diabetes. She no longer needed insulin. We were so happy.
But our happiness was short-lived when her diabetes returned in July again. We started giving her insulin once again as per the Vet's advice. But unlike last time, her diabetes would not come under control. She continued to be highly diabetic, as a result of which, she would drink excessive water and then throw up the water. The vet changed insulin dosages but the diabetes did not come under control.
Poor soul continued to drink excessive water and throw up every day – except maybe a couple of days, over the next 45 days or so. While she was still eating regularly and getting cuddled, she was weak and lethargic; and would rest herself in front of the bowl of water. When we would embark on a car ride – she would jump up and go with us because that still excited her.
On 15 August, I took the three dogs for a car ride as I could not take them out on the previous Friday due to excessive rain. They went to Uttara third phase where they ran, ate grass (which all dogs do) and Patches found some dried cow manure. She dabbed herself with manure while I was not looking. Dogs usually love this kind of stinky stuff and they tend to rub the stuff on their body. Anyway, we picked her up, joyously stinking of dry cow dung, and put the dogs back in the car.
Upon coming back home, Patches was given a bath (so was Bubbles who also did the same misdeed).
That was the last time Patches was alright.
That night Patches was restless. She could not sleep and she could not stop throwing up. My son stayed awake all night long, and he came to the conclusion that Patches was probably dying from ketoacidosis. This is a life-threatening situation for diabetic patients where the body breaks down fat at a very fast rate. Patches was actually throwing up her own fat. Her eyes had become focusless.
My son took her to the vet's clinic at 5 am as they were open. Patches was given saline and oxygen support – but she did not want to take them. She clung to my son one last time before the medical procedures started.