German Shepherd Gives Birth To Huge Puppy Litter
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN — Mary Heffelfinger’s work as a registered nurse in a former maternity ward nursery prepared her to care for babies of first-time moms.
When her German shepherd, Roxy, also a first-time mom, went into labor Monday, the Schuylkill Haven woman thought she was ready to greet the new litter. The delivery, however, came with a few little surprises — 12 to be exact — over an 11-hour period.
“I stayed by her side the whole time. I was exhausted. She was exhausted, but she’s been a wonderful mother,” Heffelfinger said.
She worked from 1989 to 2002 at the former Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, now Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill E. Norwegian Street, and eventually moved from maternity care into home health care and hospice work.
Roxy, her 10-month-old black and tan dam, mated with Heffelfinger’s 8-year-old, white German shepherd, Rebel. Normally, Heffelfinger said every female dog she’s ever owned has been spayed, and she’s not a breeder. Rebel has never sired any other litters, she said, and the union was unplanned.
Roxy delivered her first puppy, a black one, in Heffelfinger’s bathroom at 5:41 a.m. Then Heffelfinger moved the dog into a birthing box area she had created. More puppies arrived at 6:14 a.m., 6:51 a.m., 6:57 a.m., 7:23 a.m. and 7:38 a.m. Then there was a lull.
The excitement over the puppies created a chain of phone calls.
“The first person I called was my mom (Theresa Haas) in Cressona. Then my mom would call her friend, and I’d call my friends, giving them an update after I thought it was the last one,” Heffelfinger said.
More puppies were delivered at 8:55 a.m., 9:18 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 1:22 p.m., 2:17 p.m. and finally, the last one at 4:57 p.m.
“I could tell she was tired. I saw these little legs starting to come out. I grabbed the legs and ... helped get him out,” she said.
Unfortunately, the 11th of the dozen puppies to arrive, a silvery-grey female was stillborn, she said. Remaining are six white, three black and two silvery-grey puppies. Heffelfinger plans to keep one of the silver males, but will sell the rest, probably for $400 each.
There’s already a waiting list for the puppies. Heffelfinger has updates on their progress on her Facebook page, under the heading of “Roxy and Rebel + 11.”
“This was her first litter, and will probably be her last. She’s been wonderful with them and didn’t want to leave them. I think she knows one’s missing,” Heffelfinger said.
Initially, Roxy came into the household as a four-and-a-half month-old puppy, after Heffelfinger had lost her 13-year-old husky/laborador mix, Nela. Heffelfinger thought she’d be good company for Rebel.
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