A SUCCESSFUL BREEDING EXPERIENCE

by Marie-France Prayal

Scarlett of Woodland Cottage is my latest arrival. I call her Princess. She not only looks like one, but walks like one, regals like a princess. She is tall, long, with a thick coat and such an eternal smile. She arrived on a cold autumn night. One evening curled up in my arms was all it took for us to become best of friends. She appears to be very comfortable in her new home, quickly adapted to the household routine. From her stop-over at Monique Carriere's home to be bred to Thyroon of Blue Moon Cottage, she not only arrives as her own sweet self, but with the wistful expectancy of a divine new litter... Although this would be a second experience for Scarlett, it would be a long anticipated first for me...

I read considerably, books explaining everything. But... between theory and practice, there remains sometimes a lot of difference... Finally, the whelping box is ready, and a trip to the vet confirms the pregnancy. I feel so proud! At least, 4 pups the vet exclaimed! Would this mean at least 5???? Scarlett is treated as royalty: nothing is good enough for our Princess. A daily walk, vitamins... and the purchase of a stethoscope: the first try, I'm unable to use it. But suddenly, one day... YES! A faiant heartbeat! and another! and a third! Would this beat be the same one??? I wonder???? Anyway, it's pretty noisy in there! Sounds promising! And then, movement begins! A lump here, a lump there... Yes, she is definitely pregnant!

Now, Scarlett's temperature must be taken daily. Evidently, Scarlett collaborates very well, thus reducing my apprehension. Once a day, twice a day, then three times a day! Hold on Scarlett as it won't be long now. Monique, do I have everything??? The gloves, dental floss, towels, lots uh??? Oh, and the infra red lamp, the thermometer... Will the whelping room be sufficiently warm? Just when all seems to be perfect and ready, my spouse, Lary, must leave! An impromptu business trip... Please Scarlett, wait! And then, wait some more, school for me is almost over...

December 18, marks the return of my spouse and the last day of school as well as the drastic decline of Scarlett's temperature! She begins to nest... Just as I'm on the verge of getting ready to spend a sleepless night, Scarlett decides to get comfy and wait till the girls leave for school. My guess is that she could have us all to herself. 7:20 AM, the girls have left, and the whelping begins. Two and one half hours later, the whelping is over. OUF! I think we pulled this one off very well. Five puppies are now born and snuggled next to Scarlett. Four females and one small male. All in good health and comfortably nursing.

Lary and I really enjoyed our first experience. A little on the nervous side, but Scarlett knew exactly what to do and we were there to encourage her and clean up after her mess! The fact that she whelped in my arms, was most astonishing to me: she pressed her paws against my thighs, as I held her near and tight. As her gaze was glued to mine; a cry, hold me tight! I don't know what's going on, but I need you! I am here, push my princess, the puppy is coming! Oh how the puppy is pretty, he is so small... A little rest, before we start a new!

The puppies are now 4 1/2 weeks. They metamorphosed from little rats to small guinea pigs and they look more and more like little Cotons each day. They play, and readily come to us. Scarlett is a good mother and I, a good mother to her! She eats 3 to 4 meals a day with good appetite. She comes to us when she needs a break from her pups. My daughters adore visiting the pups, and we have begun taking them in the living room. What fun that is... I would spend hours just watching them sleep, play...

Finally, I really cherish this passionate experience! A heartfelt thank you to Monique for all the good advice and the encouragement she readily gave me. Another heartfelt thank you to Kennette Tabor for letting us have Scarlett. I hope with all my heart that this experience will not be the last in this household.

The Coton Malgache, Volume 2, Winter 97, number 1