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October 29 was the big day. Cleo started giving birth at 8 in the morning. Not having any experience, all I could do was just be there with her. To my horror, the first baby was breach. Panic! Then the baby in its sac slipped out. I stood there shaking while Cleo tore the sac with her teeth, ate it and started licking her first-born. A pitch black little bundle. Once the puppy was thoroughly clean, I, wearing surgical gloves, picked it up and placed it where it could suckle. It suckled for a few minutes then went to sleep.
Forty five minutes later Cleo gave birth to the second baby. Same process. Another forty five minutes and another baby. But then after another forty five minutes … nothing. So I was starting to think that it was over, but two hours after the last baby, another one! So I kept watch for another three hours before I thought that must be it. Four beautiful pitch black cuddly little puppies. We now had a family of six! OMG, OMG how am I going to handle all that?! I stayed with Cleo till the evening, then left her for a bit of rest.
Cleo recovered very quickly, but took three days to allow Caesar to see his children. Never had I seen a more tender sight. He sniffed them, nudged them with his nose, then sat there fascinated by every move they made. I think all he needed was a camera and a bunch of cigars to be a typical new Dad! It took me much longer to recover from the ordeal, maybe three days to eat without gagging.
The babies slept a great deal at first, but a couple of weeks later they started opening their eyes and started stumbling around. I then discovered that they were four girls. As I was going to take them to the new house and they would be living in the garden, I named them: Rosy, Daisy, Petunia and Tulip. To be able to differentiate them I had to tie a different color ribbon around each of their necks.
Their rate of growth was astonishing. It felt like I could actually see them grow if I stared long enough. In another couple of weeks they started running around the house. The drumming of their paws on the floor was a preview of things to come. It sounded like “biddy, biddy biddy”, and that was exactly what I used to say when I heard them coming. Then discovered that when I did call it out loud, they came running. To this day this seems to be a secret signal between us. Anybody else saying it, they ignore, it is only I they respond to with that call.
Housebreaking them was a nightmare. But I soldered on. It was my neighbors who did not like the situation, and quite frankly I could not blame them. The noise was horrendous. At least nobody called the police. When the babies were three months, we finally moved to the house out in the desert. Although the garden was not fully secure, yet at least I could keep them in the kitchen, or up on the roof, till the gates were put in and the fence secured with mesh wire. Moving all those dogs from the apartment to the house is another story.