For more than a week Christi, a 2 1 /2 year old golden retriever for Power Paws Assistance Dogs, has enjoyed spending time nursing her four puppies born Sept. 8 and 12.
That’s not a misprint. Christi delivered the tiny balls of fur three days apart.
The dog had an emergency Caesarean section on Sept. 8 at a veterinary clinic after her owners noticed an unusual discharge. Two male puppies were born alive, one female was stillborn and one male died shortly after birth.
The morning of Sept. 12, there were two more puppies in Christi’s bin, one male and one female.
“This is the first time we’ve had a litter with two birth dates, especially three days apart,” said Robyn Abels, cofounder of Scottsdale-based Power Paws. “It was a total shock, especially that she delivered two on her own after the C-section. We call the two our miracle babies. The whole thing has been quite a miracle.”
Abels said the puppies were missed during the Csection when vets failed to visualize the entire uterus. Veterinarians who performed the procedure told her this occurs occasionally, but is rare. Power Paws got back the $1,800 it paid for the surgery. Abels declined to provide the veterinary clinic’s name or location.
Dr. Bill Langhofer of Scottsdale Veterinary Clinic was surprised when told of Christi’s ordeal.
“I’ve never heard of that,” said Langhofer, whose clinic hasn’t cared for Christi or any of Power Paws’ other dogs. “Csections do occur on dogs but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a dog having more puppies days later. I guess they just didn’t look close enough or didn’t make a big enough incision. This one’s crazy.”
The remaining pups are healthy, happy and cute as can be. They have no names, although Abels said they’re the “J” litter, and two of the males will be named Jimmy and John.
The pups had better rest and stay close to mom while they can, since their training as assistance dogs will begin soon.
“Training these kinds of dogs generally begins at three weeks,” Abels said.
By 12 to 14 weeks, they pretty much know the 90 commands required of them to be service dogs.
Dogs are ready to be adopted at about 18 months old.
Abels said it costs the nonprofit organization about $20,000 to train an assistance dog.
A client who has gone through a strict screening process can have one placed in their home for $3,500.
Power Paws was founded by Abels’ daughter Shoshanna Abels. Her family became volunteer puppy-raisers for several assistance dog organizations and Abels found her passion in the program.
When she graduated from high school in 1999, Abels attended the Assistance Dog Institute of Santa Rosa, Calif., and in 2001 returned to Scottsdale and founded Power Paws.
The group has certified 25 dogs and currently has 30 in training.
Power Paws trains golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers to assist adults and children with disabilities.
Their main focus is on mobility impairments, such as paraplegics and quadriplegics.
Among commands assistance dogs learn are to open and close doors — including refrigerators — and drawers, turn lights on and off, push elevator buttons and retrieve dropped items.
Power Paws provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities within one to two years from the completion of an application.
To learn more about Power Paws or to volunteer for the assistance program, visit www.azpowerpaws.org.