“Ew, it looks like an eyeball.”
My dear friend Connie and I are immersed in a book from the library, Breeding Your Show Dog. We are pouring over pictures of a puppy’s head crowning at the onset of labor and it does indeed look like an eyeball.
“Look here,” Connie points out. “It says we should sever the umbilical cord with our fingernails so as not to cause a hernia.”
I make a face and respond, “Yuck. You can do that part. It’s your dog.” Maybe I should cut my fingernails down to nubs when I get home, just in case.
“Yes, but you’re getting one of the puppies!”
That is true. In just a few short days, I will be the proud parent of my own show puppy. Connie has been my friend for over a decade and I have faithfully cheered her English Cocker Spaniels on to victory at many a show. They are stunning dogs with long, soft ears and happily wagging tails. Now, Connie is breeding her beautiful dog, Morgan, and has generously offered to give me one of the puppies.
I close my eyes and I am at the famed Westminster Dog Show. My new puppy, Faith, is up for Best in Show. The announcer calls her name and we run across the green carpet, bathed in the glow of the spotlight. The crowd goes wild. Faith struts like a champion, her lovely ears flowing behind her.
Back to reality. Connie is taking Morgan’s temperature. When I see how this is done, I make a mental note never to borrow her thermometer.
We make plans for Connie to call me as soon as the big event commences. I will come right over to help, although I have no idea what I’m doing. Unless you count watching Animal Planet, I have never witnessed a dog give birth. My husband thinks I am off my rocker.
“You get queasy looking at a sandwich with mayonnaise on it. How are you going to watch Morgan have puppies?”
“I’ll be fine. Connie will be there and she knows what she’s doing,” I respond, brimming with confidence in my friend. Hubby just shakes his head.
Morgan’s due date comes and goes. Connie is worried about leaving Morgan alone, but she needs to go to work. So, her husband works at home in order to keep an eye on the expectant mother. This works for three days, until he calls me for backup.
When I arrive to take over puppy watch, I stare at Morgan, who looks huge and miserable. I am only going to be there alone for two hours. If Morgan goes into labor, I will call Connie and she will rush home. No problem. Morgan is just sitting there, obviously not writhing in the throes of labor pains.
I pop a Lean Cuisine in the microwave and go back to look at Morgan. She is still sitting peacefully, but now there is a wet spot on the bed next to her. Panic starts gnawing at my insides.
It’s just a little wet spot. It doesn’t mean anything.
Just to be sure, I peek under Morgan’s hind leg. And there it is… the big eyeball staring me right in the face.
Stricken with fear, I attempt to dial Connie’s work number. Sheer terror has stolen my memory and I can’t remember her phone number. I am forced to look it up in my cell phone directory.
She answers the phone, blissfully unaware of the situation unfolding.
“Connie, you need to come home. Morgan is having the puppies.”
“What are you talking about?” she asks. “You just got there.” Far away, I hear the microwave announcing my Lean Cuisine is ready.
“GET HOME. THE EYEBALL IS HERE.” That works. Connie is on her way.
Unfortunately, not fast enough. I watch in amazement as the eyeball emerges as a fully-formed orange and white puppy. She is perfect. Somehow, I remember to make sure she is breathing.
When Connie rushes in, I am gently rubbing the puppy with a soft cloth.
“It’s a girl,” I say, with tears in my eyes. “I did it.”
“Way to go! Let’s see your new puppy,” Connie says.
We look down at the tiny dog. She seems so fragile and helpless. In that moment I realize I don’t care if she ever wins a dog show. I am just so grateful I was there to see her enter the world. My puppy, Faith.
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