Over the years my five children and I have always loved animals. We’ve had many pets and have rescued many little critters. From newborn goats, sheep, opossum, fledglings, rabbits to squirrels that have fallen from their nests we have had our fair share of baby animals come our way. One of my favorite rescues was finding a jelly-like sac of tiny black dots floating in our swimming pool. Assuming they were eggs we placed them in an aquarium of de-chlorinated water. Sure enough tiny tadpoles emerged. We then fed them boiled lettuce and watched them turn into frogs! Another favorite was finding what appeared to be a cocoon stuck on the side of a rose stem. We left that in an aerated jar on the window sill and six months later it was filled with hundreds of tiny praying mantises. It should come as no shock my daughter would carry this “nurturing” behavior into her adult life.
As a ninth generation Sacramentan and a first-year remote vet student at the Massey University School of Veterinary Science, my daughter Britt Hurley was on a road trip to the Grand Canyon over spring break and rescued a beautiful Great Pyrenees. At dusk on April 10, Britt saw a large white animal, who she later named Lady, crossing the highway in the middle of the Nevada desert about 20 miles from the nearest town. She followed Lady into the desert and caught up with her where Lady had stopped to eat half of a calf carcass.
Slowly Britt made friends with Lady, giving her water—which Lady lapped up greedily. Eventually Lady rolled over to her back and showed Britt her tummy. Suspecting Lady was pregnant, Britt got the dog into her car and took her to the nearest town, where residents told her that this type of dog is regularly abandoned by livestock farmers if they can’t keep up with the flock. After verifying Lady was not microchipped and discovering she had deep scarring around her neck where she may have been chained up, Britt drove the whole night through to bring Lady to Sacramento and to her vet’s office. An ultrasound on April 11 revealed Lady was carrying nine viable pups! It was time for Britt to set up for the unknown.
Although Britt has worked as a veterinary technician for many years and she has assisted in the veterinary operating room during Cesarean deliveries, she has never witnessed a live natural puppy birth.
The next day, April 12, Lady went into labor about 7:30 in the morning. Over the course of 12-plus hours, Britt welcomed nine puppies—five boys and four girls. She named each of the pure white puppies after a Winnie the Pooh character. All appear to be purebred Great Pyrenees. For the past six weeks, Britt has been raising this litter while studying for finals and working part-time to help pay for school. I am so proud of my daughter and so struck by how this was a heaven-sent miracle for Britt and all the pups. It has been Britt’s lifelong dream to help animals. I can still see her at age 5 standing in the middle of our former goat pen wearing sparkly red party shoes, fancy tights, a frilly dress and telling me she wanted to be an animal farmer when she grew up. That tender heart’s passion has never faded. And as Britt said after spotting Lady, if she had driven that stretch of highway one minute later or one minute earlier she would not have seen Lady crossing the road. Surely the puppies would not have survived the wild with no water, food or shelter.
Witnessing my daughter in action during the births, I was overwhelmed with hope and love and fear and pride and joy as I watched her dreams come to living truth. With each contraction I was terrified the next puppy would not make it and my daughter would be crushed, heart-broken. It was Puppy Number 8 that had our world turning upside down. She was born motionless and Britt rubbed her and nudged her. My heart sank for Britt when she said, “Oh, no. This one isn’t going to make it!” More nudging and rubbing and suddenly we heard a squeak. Our tears turned to amazement as we watched this littlest baby wriggle to life. (This one Britt named Piglet.) I can’t tell you how this experience was at once nerve racking, exhilarating, gut wrenching and ultimately the most heart warming gift imaginable. Awestruck, all I could do was sit back, watch, wait and pray that all would go well for Britt, Lady and all the pups.
It is time for Britt to secure loving suitable homes for these very lucky dogs. This breed of dog gets very big! (Lady was 95 pounds at her first vet check even though she was starving and looked skinny despite puppies on board.) They also shed. They are known to roam perimeters, bark at night and be wonderful guard dogs due to their intimidating stance when confronted by a stranger. But Great Pyrenees make wonderful pets for a suitable and loving home, for people who want a big beautiful and gentle dog. To inquire about adoption, text me at (916) 224-1604 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Britt has created an application for potential adopters. The puppies will come de-wormed, with their first round of vaccinations, heartworm prevention and flea and tick prevention, and of course, well-loved.
I know my daughter will make a very good vet someday and a very good friend to animals of all shapes and sizes, colors, spots and stripes!
A go-fund me account has been established to help cover some off Britt’s costs for Lady and the pups, which include check-ups, vaccinations, de-worming, heartworm prevention, treatment for Lady’s parasites and her eventual spay. https://gofund.me/bff7a7e0