Ivory, my Dalmatian, had a hysterical pregnancy. Her tummy swelled and she nested with stuffed animals. I was a complete novice on the subject, so I took her to the vet. That’s where I learned Ivory’s puppies were wishful thinking. Ivory didn’t make the vet visit any easier when she stole a puppy while I was paying the bill, and the office became absolute mayhem with screaming people jumping onto chairs away from the rabid Rottweiler mother. Ivory let me take the puppy back, but I wasn’t going near that huge dog who looked like she wanted to tear me to shreds with her very large white fangs. We eventually worked it out by sacrificing the vet tech as a go-between.
When Ivory’s tummy swelled again about 6 months later, I obviously didn’t take it very seriously. Technically she had had opportunity because I’d gotten a male puppy, but he didn’t seem too skilled at love. I wouldn’t have bothered to take her to the vet at all this time, but I figured I better go just to make sure, and sure enough, the vet said it was another hysterical pregnancy. I let Ivory build her nest of stuffed animals again and tried to reason with her.
As I was getting ready for work one morning, Ivory kept trying to sneak into my bed and walking around in circles. I called the vet. Was she having hysterical labor too? “No. Dogs don’t have hysterical labor.” Oops, oops, oops. If I had realized we were going to have actual puppies, I might’ve read up about how to be a midwife, but now I didn’t know a thing about helping. The only thing I was absolutely sure about was that she wasn’t going to have puppies in my bed, so I found an old blanket for her to lay on while the vet tech tried to penetrate my anxiety with helpful facts. “Something’s coming out of her!” I shrieked as what I was sure was Ivory’s innards started oozing out her back end. “Catch it!” yelled the vet tech. I quickly put my hand under her and briefly saw a puppy head inside a bubble sticking out of Ivory’s butt before a bloody blob of puppy sack fell into my hand. Ewwwwwwwww!!!! I sat on the floor in shock while Ivory ate the bloody sack off the puppy and licked her clean. Oh yuck, yuck, yuck. Somewhere in the back of my mind the vet tech’s voice penetrated through my brain enough for me to realize that this wasn’t over, and I was going to see this again, very soon. Ohhhh yuck!
I called work and explained I wouldn’t be in that day. By the time we got to Puppy #7, I felt like I had mastered midwifery 101. When Ivory started spinning in circles, I gathered the born puppies until the new one was clean, then gave them all back. They were adorable once they were clean and dry and before they started pooping and peeing on my hardwood floors. I love the smell of clean, milk-fed puppies.
Ivory was a good mother and had 3 more litters. She only had a problem once, when the sack broke before the baby was born, and the puppy got stuck in transit. A midnight call to the vet made it clear that there was no choice but to stick my hand inside her and retrieve the doomed baby. Ivory tried to lick it to life, but it was no good. I put the baby in a shoebox for later burial, but Ivory refused to have any more babies. I eventually had to take the shoebox outside and sacrifice a new blanket that didn’t smell like dead puppy before she resumed deliveries. Her last litter was a litter of 1. I figured that dead puppy was destined to be born, even as an only child.
This is pencil on vellum. I love the soft texture of drawing on vellum. It’s gentle like puppies :)