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Puppy tragedy and sweet veterinary revenge (when the ?miracle of life? isn't so miraculous)

Posted Sep 30 2008 1:45am

Sometimes I wish I could reach out through the telephone lines…and strangle someone. 

This time it was the owner of a Rottweiler whose bitch just bore her second litter out of the same sire...in seven months—despite my strong recommendation to never do so again.

The first litter suffered a 91% death rate (by day 9, 10 out of 11 live-born pups were dead, succumbing one by one until a lone, semi-healthy pup remained).

The second litter was at five out of seven by day 4 and looking every bit as sad as litter #1 (if the pups’ current lack of vitality is any measure).

While this time around the husbandry is likely to be better by virtue of the owner’s first go-round (heat lamps, milk supplementation, more careful monitoring), the situation looks no less dire: most of these pups are just not meant to be. 

In case you’re wondering, sometimes things like this happen. When two dogs of similar parentage combine their genes the resulting offspring are just not viable.

Instead of dying in utero and being reabsorbed as many are, pups like those in this example suffer the stress of birth only to slowly succumb to the environmental hazards their malformed systems cannot handle.

What could I say when confronted with this exasperated owner via telephone?

“I told you so” didn’t sound quite professional enough.

As if expecting my barely suppressed condemnation to surface at any minute, Mrs. Rottweiler hastily explained: “I just wanted my children to experience the miracle of life, you know?”

Yeah, well, sometimes the “miracle of life” ain’t so miraculous, now, is it?

At least I didn’t have to withhold that line; it escaped before I had time to gather my thoughts and keep my righteous indignation to myself.

Afterwards, I couldn’t help thinking that sometimes it takes an utterly unprofessional comment to help avert another completely predictable and totally preventable tragedy like this one.

Was that wishful, exculpatory thinking on my part? (After all, it was a rude retort to an honest, if ignorant, parley.) No, I admit it…my response was more akin to renegade rationalization with a tinge of sweet revenge mixed in. Can’t none of us be perfect, right?
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