Gill's first litter
I wasn't sure if I wanted to share this publicly or not, but decided to go ahead and put it on our website for now. As I was researching, I wasn't able to find many people speaking openly about similar experiences, I felt alone in the situation, at least until a couple of breeders contacted me privately to tell me their stories. This is a quick summary of everything that went down - if anyone would want to know more you are welcome to contact me.
In the first half of October, our sweetheart Gill went into heat and we wanted to mate her. Prior to her heat, we visited with our vet who did a full check-up, ultrasound and once she went into heat we did progesterone tests, cytology and bacteria checks to make sure we were doing everything correctly before the mating and pregnancy. Soon we left on our big trip to Germany where Gill was happy to find her new boyfriend - 3 successful, long ties later we were going home full of hopes, dreams and expectations.
Day 30 post-ovulation marked the first ultrasound and we were waiting impatiently, to say the least. Although what we found on the ultrasound screen was not what we were hoping for. It looked like there were at least 5 puppies at some point, but 3 embryos had already died and we only saw empty sacs. Still, we kept our heads high and couldn't wait to meet the 2 remaining puppies as they looked perfectly healthy. At this point we also tested Gill's hormone levels and they couldn't have been better - so we were optimistic.
Day 53 post-ovulation was when we headed to our local vet to do a quick check-up to see if everything was going as planned. We saw one big healthy puppy with a strong heartbeat, while our vet wasn't certain if maybe the 2nd was hiding somewhere in the back. Nevertheless, with the news of at least 1 healthy puppy we headed home, where the whelping box was ready, all the whelping and puppy supplies had arrived, Gill's milk was coming in and our expectations of a joyful December were full. We even had a shortlist of names ready for the little miracle.
2 days later was when everything changed. It was Saturday night on day 55 post-ovulation when we saw Gill cleaning black discharge and knew something was wrong. After urgently looking for an available vet we drove 30min to receive the news that the last and only puppy had passed away inside Gill's uterus. There was no heartbeat. Gill's hormones were fine, there was no trauma or obvious illness...we were and still are devastated. The following days we worked on getting the puppy out with various treatments, as it still needed to be born (this is a story within itself). We visited and consulted various vets and reproduction specialists, coming to the conclusion that it must have been bacteria that caused everything to go south, chipping away puppies one by one.
We are hopeful that with the help of a new and amazing reproduction vet we have found through this experience, we will be able to write a happier story in 2020.