Reluctant Heroine
By Dorothy Elliot, "Wigby", York

Owing to whelping complications with a Corgi bitch of ours, the Veterinary Surgeon advised a caesarean operation. The decision was taken at 7 o'clock at night, and about two hours later we were presented with five wet screaming puppies. We were told that the mother would take about three days to recover from the operation and that if, in the meantime she had not lost all her milk, she was to be allowed to rear not more than two at the most.

This sounds a terrible situation in which to be placed, but luck was on our side, or so we thought. Di, our four year old household pet, had a litter of three, a week old. She is a small Corgi with a lot of character, and when she does assert herself, everyone knows it. She dislikes nothing more than to be cut off from the family circle, and experience of previous whelpings had taught us that a carefully prepared bed in an outhouse was not to her liking. Contrary to what we had been told about the expectant mother seeking privacy, Di soon showed us that she preferred to have her family in our midst. At the time of our misfortune she was happily ensconced in a tea chest in a darkened corner of the kitchen, and her offspring looked like little furry bears, fat and contented.

Here was our hope! We would give the new-born pups to Di! She would look after them for a few days and give us time to find a foster mother. Full of confidence we set about the job. Di was removed from the house, and the new pups were placed among her own. With foresight they had been wrapped in a flannel from her bed in the hope of making them smell the same. We darkened the kitchen, and Di was let in. The whelps' cries were most powerful and penetrating. On hearing the noise, she tore to her box. We held our breath. What would she do? I must say here that Di is a very good mother with high standards of cleanliness, and, to our relief, she promptly started to lick the pups and "top and tail" them. But our joy was short-lived. Her licking became more vigorous, and in an aggressive manner she thrust her nose repeatedly under the little squirming bodies and tried to loss them out of the box. "No," we said, "Naughty girl! Dear little pups." But it was no good; her intentions were quite clear.

Di was removed, and we thought again. The licking had raised a faint hope. Perhaps she didn't like them with her own pups? We hastily hid her own cuddly bundles upstairs, and re-introduced her to the newcomers. But this time she took but one look, and refused even to enter the box. She started to tremble and whimper. In desperation we released her. She tore from room to room looking for her babies.

By this lime it was midnight, and we were feeling decidedly tired and frustrated. We returned Di's pups to her and removed the offending waifs from her box. These were put in a basket on a warm hot water bottle wrapped in flannels, and my husband and I retired to bed, putting the basket between us. The wailing pups gradually quietened, and we all fell into an exhausted sleep.

About 2 o'clock the pups awoke. They opened their little jaws, and gave forth cries of great urgency. We put on the light, and sat up wearily thinking of pen fillers, dollies' bottles, and all the attendant paraphernalia. Just as we were rallying ourselves to action, "bump" we heard, and then Di's pattering feet across the kitchen floor and hasty bounding up the stairs. "Now we are for it" we thought, as on to our bed she came. Straight into the basket she shot her nose, and out she tossed the squealing pups. Then, just as we were about to remonstrate with her, she flung herself-down on our coverlet and nosing the squirming, hungry mass towards her, she fed them.

Archive photo: Kimberley z Pembroku

This is not quite the end of the episode. In deference to Di's wishes, which she clearly made known to us, a second tea chest was prepared and put in another corner of the kitchen, and the new family placed therein, and she dutifully went from box to box as her services were required.

Three days later the mother recovered sufficiently to be allowed one pup, and the remainder Di reared with her own, without apparent detriment to herself or puppies.

The Welsh Corgi League Handbook 1955