Four Leaf Clover

We mourned the loss of two tiny lives. They were perfectly formed and so tiny and perfect that only a puppy can be. They were stillborn.

It was a routine trap, neuter and release exercise at a factory we visited on a weekly basis to feed the stray dogs inside. The intention was to catch two puppies; a male and a female who are approximately 6 to 8 months old. It went relatively smoothly and we got them within 15 minutes.

One of our volunteers then walked up and said there was another female who looked pregnant. Perhaps we should have walked away, after all we had gotten the two we came for. But as luck would have it, we actually had an additional carrier in the vehicle for a cat we wanted to sterilise as well. And this female dog was small enough to fit right in.

And so we took Clover.

They were sent to the vet for sterilization the next morning and it was bad news all around. None of the 3 dogs could proceed with the sterilization. The two puppies had a very low blood count and diagnosed positive with tick fever but that’s a story for another day.

Clover at the vet

Clover, as we named her, was in the last stage of her pregnancy with a severe heart problem. She may not have survived the birth or even another month as a stray. The easy way out would have been to terminate her pregnancy. After all, there are numerous adult dogs waiting for a second chance without further additions to the stray population. We transferred her to another clinic for a second opinion and to conduct an ultrasound to better understand the severity of her heart problem before proceeding.

There was no way we could terminate her pregnancy, despite the fact we already have 28 dogs desperately needing fosters and permanent homes. This was not one, not two but four heartbeats we were talking about. We took a deep breath and decided to welcome Clover and her four puppies to our HOPE family. Four leaf clovers are meant to be lucky . . . however, more bad news was to come. Mummy Clover has a severe congenital heart defect. She is only about 1 year old.  She was warded immediately and we could only pray that Mummy Clover would pull through a natural birth which was her best bet. Due to her severe heart defect, she could not be put under GA and she might not have pumped sufficient oxygen to her babies. Therefore, there was a very high possibility that her puppies might not survive the birth and she herself was in severe danger as her blood may not clot and there were many other numerous potential complications due to her heart issue.

Mummy Clover was warded last Tuesday and every day, like mothers or grandmothers, we waited anxiously for updates. She was really sweet and welcomed all her visitors with tail wags and allowed them to pat her, even though she must have been tired from carrying her puppies in her womb. Finally, last Saturday, the vet called and said she would most likely give birth within the next 24 hours and we rushed down with milk powder and towels. At the vet, we were given ten minutes to visit her as it was a busy time at the hospital. It might be a coincidence, but in those ten minutes, we told her that she was safe now and we would help her take care of her babies together and all of a sudden, a sac started to slip out of her! We were in shock for about 10 seconds before screaming for the vet technician to come over.

It was a girl! Baby 1 looks exactly like her mummy. Clover was an excellent mummy and immediately started licking and cleaning her. She even grabbed the puppy from the vet technician who was attempting to tie her umbilical cord. Such a cute possessive mummy! Baby 1 started whining for milk and began suckling almost immediately. This buoyed our hopes and Mummy Clover seemed to be in excellent condition. We were hopeful that all four babies will be delivered safely, and we started celebrating.

Cute baby looking just like mommy Clover

One hour later, Baby 2 came along. This time round, Mummy Clover didn't seem to be interested and continued to nurse Baby 1. The vet technician started getting anxious and quickly tore open the placenta herself but Baby 2 was motionless. Immediately, the vet and vet technician sprang into action, quickly rubbing Baby 2, and even providing mouth to mouth resuscitation. We could only look on helplessly with our hearts in our mouths, praying that their efforts were not futile. They didn’t give up and tried again and again and again. After what seemed like an eternity, the vet confirmed there was no heartbeat. Baby 2 looked exactly like Mummy and sister.

The two survivors

As she lay there forlornly in a box alone, looking like she was sound asleep, the vet technician walked over again and tried rubbing her one last time with the slim hope to resuscitate her. It was at this moment that the importance of a vet, vet technician and vet nurse comes to mind. Although experience, expertise and facilities are very important, what is more so is their heart. That they value the lives of our doggies, never taking no as an answer and never scrimping on their efforts to save our dogs’ lives. So many dogs were given a second shot at life here; Baby, Bradley, Wang Wang, Kate, the list is endless and we just want to thank these caring vets at ARVC for taking their lives as seriously as they would a human.

Without too much of a break, Baby 3 decided to make his debut. This time round, the mood was sombre and we were worried. Mummy Clover seemed to have some difficulty pushing Baby 3 out. The vet technician tried putting her hand in and we realised that Baby 3 had already slipped out of his placenta and was stuck. The vet technician didn’t give up and continue to tug. At this point, I was really not very optimistic after witnessing the birth and death of Baby 2. The vet technician too was very worried and getting frantic. She finally managed to pull Baby 3 out and thankfully he started wailing at the top of his voice. This all black puppy is a fighter and he gave us renewed hope and we just want to thank him for being alive.

Sadly, Baby 4 was stillborn as well and although the team once again displayed heroic efforts in saving her, she didn’t make it. Mummy Clover seemed to know. She stood up, started prancing around in circles and attempted to snatch her dead baby back from the vet. It was heart breaking. Baby 4 is a girl and dark brown. She was beautiful.

Puppies discharged

The vet deduced that one of Mummy Clover's horns must be weaker, leading to the dead puppies. A dog’s uterus is made up of two sides, each side called a horn. The puppies from one horn are born, the mother rests for a little bit, and then she delivers the puppies from the other horn. The dead puppies were alternate births and therefore from the same horn which may be deformed or weakened in part due to mummy’s heart defect, thereby depriving the puppies of sufficient oxygen. 

Cute puppy tail, drinking mommy's milk
Mommy Clover and her two precious puppies

It was an eventful day, akin to riding a rollercoaster. We were ecstatic for one minute and devastated the next. Even as we were mourning the deaths, we had to start looking for a foster home for Mummy Clover and her babies. Clover will also need to be on life-long heart medication and we need funds for their hospitalization as well. As the puppies must be with their mother for the time being, we are currently looking for fosters who can commit for at least 1 to 3 months for all three of them. Please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg if you can help.

We need help with :
1)      Vet bills for the birth of the puppies and hospitalization $3500
2)      Fostering of mommy Clover and her two babies

An exhausted mommy dog

Clover is a very sweet, gentle and good mommy

The two dead puppies, whom we named Diana and Beatrice, have been cremated. Their cremation was attended by our dear volunteers.

Cremation of the 2 dead siblings (Diana & Beatrice)

Every little counts and together, perhaps we can make a difference in the lives of Clover and her babies and bring the luck that four leave clovers are meant to signify back into their lives.