Well, they're here!  Due date was Dec 1/2 but once again we are humbled that we can't control situations like these.  Dion lives with a caregiver in my home town and I got this message Wednesday noon that Dion was not acting normal...she hadn't slept all night - very restless and was panting heavy.  I picked her up at 7 that evening and it appeared that she was in first stage labor.    I was concerned because puppies cannot be born too many days early...hoped she was going to last till the weekend.  I slept in the sunroom to keep an eye on her and at 5:30 am I noticed she was lapping up a puddle on the floor - checked her back end which was soaked...her water broke  Now I was awake knowing that if all was going to be normal, puppies would start being delivered in the next few hours.
I was not optimistic because my last 3 litters had issues and all needed emergency csections.

Here are my notes copied from my spreadsheet

1 06:50:00 boy small sac
2 07:05:00 girl small no sac
3 07:24:00 girl tiny no sac
4 08:10:00 girl tiny tiny no sac came sliding out
5 09:07:00 boy tiny thin sac
6 09:55:00 girl tinytinytiny no sac very green
Dead \7 10:53:00 boy too small no sac very green
8 11:20:00 boy good born while I was outside
9 13:17:00 boy dead very green no sac
10 01:22:00 girl good size big gush of liquid no sac
11 15:50:00 boy
green nice size
12 17:30:00 girl good size no placenta with blood

Dion was amazing during the process...needed only a few pushes per puppy, other than 2..the 7th and 9th puppies took more effort to expel and both were stillborn...we're lucky they were expelled naturally as sometimes stillborns don't get in line and hold back the ones waiting to be born.  I give Dion's caregiver full credit for the shape she had her in....she was in good physical shape which helped with stamina during whelping.

After a close to sleepless night close to the whelping area, in the morning I realized I could only could 9 puppies...after looking I discovered one under her - the smallest girl - she was smothered.  1/2 hour later I saw another small boy struggling to breathe - he passed within 1/2 hour.  He was also small and I'm guessing fading puppy syndrome.  It is heart breaking to lose puppies at any stage in the rearing of the litter.  I have to be believe I did everything to my best ability and not all things turn out the way we hope or plan.

Decided that I would need to supplement the 4 smallest puppies...their birthweights are the lowest I've ever had and that left the margin of error very slim.  It is normal for puppies to lose weight before they start gaining.  With supplement within 24 hours there has been little weight loss.  I syringe feed 4 puppies - spread out 5 feedings with about 60ccs for each puppy.  I use a homemade formula concocted of evaporated milk, greek plain yogurt, egg yolk, water and corn syrup.  Dion was not keen at first that I was taking puppies from her to feed...think she realizes now that I am just helping them.

Keeping the puppies fed, hydrated and warm is so crucial, as is the care of the mother....most newborn mothers do not want to leave their litter for any reason, including eating and drinking.  Lucky for me Dion has always had a good appetite and is loving the food I am preparing for her:  chicken broth made from boiling a chicken - cooled and served to make sure she drinks enough.  Heavy mashed potatoes - to keep her depleted calcium levels up  mjade from potatoes, cream, sour cream, shredded cheese.  Servings of scrambled eggs and cottage cheese mixed in with her kibble.   My husband Bruce looked in the fridge and asked - is any of this food for us?

The longer I breed, the more challenges I will meet head on....this one has introduced the possibility of mastitis - an infection of the mammory gland.  I don't know for sure if she has it, but she certainly has hard lumpy masses on both back teats.  I have access to excellent advice from breeder forums so have been massaging, applying hot compresses and cabbage leaves.  Yes, you read right - cabbage leaves.  Cabbage leaves have properties that draw out the inflammation.   IT all appears to be working because today the masses are much smaller and not nearly as dense.  I did consult with my vet, and she was not aware of the cabbage leaf remedy...she says "we don't learn about that".  I'm sure we're not out of the woods yet...will still keep monitoring closely.

With the puppies all gaining and/or maintaining, I am optimistic that all 8 puppies will grow up to be someone's treasured family pet.