Media – Ethical conundrum rocks delivery of puppies


Second in a series
Caesarians in dogs and cats usually go well. Lila, the Boxer mama on my exam table, was not entirely tuckered out; her vital signs were strong. We started warm fluids IV and administered morphine for gentle sedation and pain control. Lila relaxed and accepted the oxygen mask and gas anesthesia. Once she was intubated and her abdomen prepped she was wheeled into surgery.

Gretchen Adler, the owner of this nascent Boxer family, knew exactly what she wanted. Reluctantly donning the surgery cap and mask that I had pressed into her hands she stated unequivocally, with added eye roll, that she had assisted in several C-sections and had “never been required to wear a get-up like this.” Taking a moment to look her straight in the eye, I said, “Ms. Adler, we’ll be glad for your help in reviving Lila’s puppies but I will not risk post operative infection with your, um, bitch.” (Always a difficult word for me to spit out.)

After putting my instruments in order, and with great anticipation, I made a mid-ventral incision in Lila’s abdomen. I inserted a gosset retractor for good exposure and discovered a seriously turgid uterus. This would be a big brood of Boxers.

Unlike the human variety, a canine uterus is comprised of two “horns” rather than one big pouch. We make one incision close to where the horns join. It’s then a matter of gently coaxing one pupster after the next into its life outside the womb. The good Dr. Vader, nurse Bobbi, and our client Ms. Adler were ready with clean towels in their open hands as I passed a baby to each. Gentle but vigorous rubbing to dry the kids and stimulate respirations were proceeding well. There would be 9 slowly wriggling boxer infants altogether.

I was enjoying that singular feeling of delivering youngsters into the world when a declaration from Ms. Adler brought an abrupt end to our shared euphoria. Healthy puppy number 3 was white. We immediately faced an ethical conundrum.

Next week: Are some puppies better than others?
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Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet behavioral or physical questions on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.


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