S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
Graphics courtesy of:
S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
“Is that the little one? Is that Thumbelina?” This is always the question whenever Thumbelina and I are out walking, or should I say bouncing along. She is a natural on lead-not afraid of anything or anyone. She greets people with her “look at me attitude,” and they all fall in love with this small, red/gold and white puppy. It amazes me, because I still remember all the worries and apprehensions that surrounded her from the moment she was born. Now, at 8 pounds and 5 months old, this little animal was just supposed to be.

She presented herself, the last of six babies, with no difficulty other than the normal exhaustion of her mama from delivering so many puppies. She came out screaming and when placed on a nipple, began to suck immediately. Although she was perfect, she was also very small. The scale weighed her in at 1 ounce. All the rest of the babies were between 5 and 6 ounces. Whoa-this one was very little. I wondered if she’d make it.

We settled in to rest. We were all tired. The first night was a good one. All went well. The next morning, weigh-ins proved each baby was gaining and mama, Abbey, was taking good care. Tiny baby, now called Thumbelina, was still feisty and nursing. Did I dare to hope that she’d stay alive?

This litter had been planned carefully. Abbey, our first bred-by female champion, had gone out to be bred. We were excited as the signs of pregnancy began to show. There was only one catch to this situation. One of our sons decided to give us a new daughter-in-law choosing the weekend of the babies’ birth for the wedding date. Oh, my!!!! Well, somehow it will all work out.

A plan evolved that if the babies came during the times I had to be mother-of-the-groom, my dear friend, Ann, would stay home from the wedding and whelp the litter for me. Thank goodness for wonderful friends!!! As it happened, the babies were born the Thursday before the rehersal dinner, wedding and festivities. We got another good friend to puppysit so that we all could enjoy everything without being panicked over the babies. Thank you, Gaye Johnson, who drove 45 minutes to sit and drool over these darling puppies. With the parties over, I began to enjoy my new litter.

After the first few days, of watching and hoping, Thumbelina seemed to be doing fine. I left for a short errand, giving specific instructions to Dick to watch the babies carefully. Returning home and checking on them turned me into hysteria. Thumbelina was stuck under Abbey, her head out but her body under her mama’s. Her tongue was out and she was gasping, but no noise came from her. Quickly, I picked her up and began rubbing furiously. She tried to breathe, but her chest had been so compressed, she couldn’t get a breath. I did the only thing I could think of. Covering her mouth and nostrils with my mouth, I carefully puffed breath and life back into her. For what seemed like an eternity, I rubbed, puffed and rubbed and puffed some more. She began to respond. Slowly, she began to breathe replacing the silent gasps. We were out of the woods for the time being. Thankfully, all the Infant CPR that had been required for my job paid off. It does come in handy in emergency situations. I’m sure I didn’t puff and rub the correct number of times, but whatever I did, it worked.

Putting her back in with Abbey, I said a silent prayer that the lack of oxygen hadn’t affected her brain. She seemed fine, still nursed vigorously and was active. However, I didn’t wander far from the whelping box for quite some time.

Thumbelina’s weight gain was slow. She seemed to stay at 4 ounces forever. The other puppies, gaining their ounce a day, quickly outgrew her, making nursing more difficult as they pushed her out of the way. Sixteen days later, Tess delivered her litter. I don’t usually do two litters at the same time as I don’t think there is enough time to spend with each puppy, but this time it just seemed the right thing to do. We’d have two litters at once, tend, play and grow up puppies and have it over with before our trip south for the winter. In retrospect, I am grateful for that decision.

Tess’ 4 puppies were all 7 ounces at birth, more than Thumbelina at 16 days old. But…they were new, unknowing babies. I decided to see if Tess would accept this tiny, surrogate puppy to nurse with her own. She didn’t mind one bit, and Thumbelina spent the next 4 weeks back and forth between her own mama and her adopted mama. You see, her eyes were open, she was on her feet, and she could get to those faucets before the new babies. She seemed to bloom in the glow of this shared custody. Happy with either mama, she began to gain again. We passed the next milestone of 8 ounces. Finally, at 5 ˝ weeks, Thumbelina topped the scale at one pound, while her siblings were close to 3 pounds. We all rejoiced including every phone and email friend I know that had been living this experience with me.

Now, at 5 months old, I have hopes that she just might make size. If she does, you best bet this little girl will be in the ring strutting her stuff for all to see. She is so very friendly, so happy, so adjusted to life. I guess that says something for taking the time and extra care some of our babies need to survive.

So, if you see a little, bouncy red/gold and white puppy at the end of my lead, you might just be looking at my miracle baby. Don’t you think she’s cute?!!!

Ps. Thumbelina at 9 months old weighs 10 pounds. Hurrah!!!!
Shared Custody