Musings Part 7 – Chelsea & Savannah’s Story

Within a couple of weeks of Teya’s mating I believe that Chelsea and Savannah know something’s up. Even though we can’t see any sign of pregnancy, their behaviour changes. It doesn’t change so much in their actions toward Teya as it does in their personalities in general. As the pregnancy progresses, each of them steadily reverts back to their puppyhood. Savannah starts to snitch food. Chelsea wants to play fetch and tug more often. Each week as Teya gets bigger, their obsession (Savvy’s with food, and Chelsea’s with games) increases as well. I wonder if they’re high on some sort of pheromone that Teya may be secreting. We have a DAP diffuser in the house for Chelsea’s fear (this is a device that releases the same pheromones as mother dogs do to comfort their pups). I wonder if Teya’s REAL pheromones are acting on them similarly. I have no scientific basis for this, but I have no other reason to explain Savannah’s sudden downward spiral into things she hasn’t done since she was less than a year, or Chelsea’s massive obsession with playing tug and fetch.

Savannah is the reigning Queen of the Chelynnah Whippets. She is almost 7 years old, and although she was a handful as a puppy, and taught her older sister Chelsea some bad habits like counter surfing, she herself has not participated in naughtiness like this since she was a year. She is now climbing up when my back is turned and snatching food off my plate. Stealth has become her middle name. She has us lulled into such a false sense of security due to her excellent ‘queenly’ behaviour for the past 6 years that we are caught off guard, and she takes each victory with glee. She is so proud of herself for pulling one over on us constantly, and I can’t help but laugh with her.

Chelsea is our whippet-terrier mix, our heart dog, and the whole reason we have whippets. Her story can be found on our website (http://www.chelynnah.co.uk). She will soon be 10. I cannot believe she will be that old. I cannot fathom where the time has gone. In our eyes she is still that beautiful golden bundle of puppy that we brought home. She still acts years younger than she is, however now she is constantly at me to play fetch. Usually a couple of tosses of the kitty (or whatever the toy of the moment is) is enough to sustain her, but now she comes back again and again and again. And she wants to tug and fetch. And I tell her ‘Good Chelsea all done’, and she accepts that. But 5 minutes later she’s back to try again. Bless her little heart.

The day of whelping finally arrives, and Chelsea senses excitement in the air. We also call her our ‘empath dog’. She is very in tune with how people are feeling and is the first to comfort someone who’s down, to share in the joy of someone who’s happy. When she is with you, you are the centre of her universe and she lets you know it. So she picks up on our tension and excitement as we realise that Teya’s finally going to have these babies. As Nick, Tracy and I carry Teya up the stairs (she has frozen mid-way up with the shock of her first real contraction) Chelsea follows and stands outside the room supervising from the other side of the baby gate. She can’t stand the thought of being left out of anything so is eager to see what has got everyone in such a buzz. But as she watches she gets confused. She can see that Teya is in some kind of pain and is obviously concerned for her. She looks to us to help ease Teya’s pain and cannot understand why we are so obviously unconcerned. Not just that, we are still happy, and relaxed and excited. Her confusion shows in her face as she watches Teya go through several contractions, and sees that we are still not worried, so eventually she accepts that we must know what we are doing and pops herself into the master bedroom to sleep on the bed.

Savannah is back to her queenly self. These kinds of things are well beneath her, and she stops up quickly to see if anything interesting is going on (preferably something involving food), but as it’s not she takes herself back downstairs to the comfort of her snuggle sack.

Chelsea hears (or senses) our joy when the first baby finally arrives. It was a struggle, but he is healthy, and Chelsea watches through the bars of the baby gate in absolute fascination! Savannah does a quick check, yawns, and heads back to the snuggle sack. Chelsea stays and watches as the second puppy arrives quickly after the first. Once Teya has checked them over she walks over to the door. We reach out to grab her in case she is getting ready to snap through the gate at Chelsea (and rightly so), but instead she puffs herself up with pride, looks at Chelsea, looks back at the babies and says ‘Look Chelsea – see what I did!’. She then brings herself back to the babies and starts feeding and cleaning them. Chelsea continues to watch in fascination. She loves puppies and will be a wonderful Auntie when they’re big enough for Teya to let her help out.

The third baby is stillborn, and we are sad. Chelsea picks up on this and lies down outside the gate. Time passes as the other babies move into position and eventually she takes herself back to our bedroom. But as the fourth pup is now in distress, she again comes out to take care of us (well, as much as she can while being locked out of the room). She hears the stress and concern in our voices as we talk amongst ourselves and to the emergency vet and start getting Teya ready to go. She picks up on our panic as we realise we have to get that fourth baby out to save Teya and it. And then as we try to keep it alive and get things ready to go to the e-vets she knows enough to keep out of the way, but still watches in concern. Savannah has also now picked up on things, and is watching from a distance.

Tracy stays with them while we go, and when we come back an hour or so later, without Teya and the two puppies we left with, Chelsea is absolutely distraught. She follows Nick as he clears out the whelping room and re-dresses it for Teya and the pups’ arrival back home. She searches through every piece of bedding that comes out of that room. She starts a room by room search for Teya and the babies and it takes her the better part of an hour to finally settle, but rather than settle in the bedroom with Daddy, she puts herself in the snuggle sack nearest the door so she doesn’t miss anything. Savannah curls up on the sofa with Tracy.

A few hours later and we arrive home with Teya (who has miraculously avoided a C-section) and a box with 4 puppies in it. Chelsea is overjoyed to see Teya and accompanies her outside to do her business. Savannah comes in to see what’s in the box. She’s hoping it’s something exciting for her because she’s been such a good girl all night. And if it’s food – well that’s even better! I have the box up on their bench, and the lid is off to show Tracy the 2 new babies. Savvy stands on her hind legs, gently puts a paw on either side of it and rests her chin on the edge. Her ears are perked, and she sniffs and has a look. Her ears droop slightly, and you can see it slowly dawn on her what these things are, and they definitely aren’t food. Savannah is not impressed by puppies. They are beneath her. She will occasionally play with one if it’s big enough and old enough, but only recently has deigned to even acknowledge the existence of any pup under 12 weeks old. She sniffs in disdain and says ‘Oh YAWWWWWWN, it’s those things - call me when they’re big enough to be interesting’ and takes herself to the corner of the sofa.

We get Teya and the babies settled into their room, and Chelsea watches through the gate in absolute fascination. Puppy TV isn’t just a past-time for the humans. For Chelsea it can last HOURS. So we give in and place a dog bed outside the gate. Teya doesn’t mind her being outside watching. Chelsea is the perfect watchdog. She makes sure that Teya takes proper care of those babies. Every time one squeaks no matter where Chelsea is in the house she comes running to make sure all is well. She is desperate to get close to them, but that isn’t happening any time soon.

However, within a couple of days Teya allows Chelsea in the room if she stays on the corner of the bed closest to the door with mummy in between her and the babies. She is allowed to sneak glances at the puppies, but if she looks at them too intently Teya tells her that’s enough and mummy makes her leave. Savannah’s only interest in the whelping room is when there’s food, or more specially when there’s milk. Teya is on the ‘good stuff’ and Savannah knows it, so when there’s food in the room she can be found outside the gate feigning interest in the pups. ‘Of course they’re beautiful puppies, mummy – why wouldn’t I like them – oh is that food you have? – what a surprise!’ And once the food leaves Savannah makes her excuses and follows. ‘Yes, um, lovely puppies Teya, but I see you need your sleep now so I shall leave you in peace and help mummy take the food downstairs.’ Because of Savannah’s marked disinterest in the puppies Teya is much more amenable to her spending time in the room, but Savvy has no real interest in being there aside from the odd occasion where she’s feeling lonely and wants a bit of mummy-time.

After a week I introduce the babies to Chelsea through the bars of the gate with Teya watching on. Savannah comes to see what the excitement is all about and shows interest for a second or two, but then remembers herself and walks away. Chelsea is ecstatic – but this is the wrong reaction for Teya and introductions are quickly finished. But this does appease her and she is a little more reserved when watching the pups for the next few days.

By the second week we are building the x-pen downstairs as Teya is lonely so we plan to move her and the babies downstairs through the day and then back upstairs at night. While this reorganising is going on the puppies and Teya are in the bedroom with me. Teya lets Chelsea in for a quick look at them, but after a minute says ‘That’s enough now’ and Chelsea is escorted out. Savannah wants to be in the bedroom and Teya is much more accommodating. Savvy just wants to be on the bed. She looks at the basket of pups on the bed and is disgusted! She turns her back on them and tucks herself into a ball on the corner of the bed closest to the door at an angle where she cannot even see the basket. She tells herself ‘If I can’t see them, they don’t exist’. When we move them back into their refurbished whelping room, I show one to Savannah and she gives me The Stare, and stalks off to the other side of the bed muttering ‘If I don’t see them, they don’t exist’.

So, now that they are downstairs during the day Teya is much happier, Chelsea gets to sleep in her snuggle sack next to the x-pen and is less obsessed as they are now much closer, and Savannah …..well Savannah will tell you that we have never caught her looking at the puppies with interest. If we think we did it was all a figment of our imagination. We have never seen her on the sofa with her ears pricked watching them move, and listening to them squeak. Nope – not Savannah. Puppies are well beneath her. And if we were to tell you that last night, when one escaped from the basket and made his way to the empty bowl in the corner of the pen, she got off the sofa and went to check him out with keen interest? Well Savannah would tell you she was just checking the bowl for food. She definitely was NOT interested in the puppy. As a matter of fact, she never even saw him.

click HERE for Part 8

© Wendy Jones, 10th November 2007

All Photos © Copyright Chelynnah Whippets and/or their respective photographers and may not be used without permission

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