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Chapter 1 to Truly Saintly, first puppy born.

                                                          A SWEET SURPRISE

                                                            CHAPTER ONE


          Taylor’s phone was ringing off the hook at eleven o clock at night. What could Alex possibly want at this time of night she thought as she looked at the caller ID.
         “Hello,” Taylor said in a sleepy voice.
         “Dots having her puppies,” Alex yelled in her ear, “They just called, get out of bed and come over, will meet you,”
         Taylor held the phone away from her ear as Alex yelled into it. Lewis rolled over and gave her a funny look.
         “Its Alex, Dot is having her puppies,” Taylor said jumping out of bed. “I will be right there,” she frantically said into the phone as she grabbed a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
         The excitement was high over this litter of pups. It was the first litter to be born to Alex’s mother and father n law.
         By the time they got there she had given birth to six puppies. They helped Beth clean and dry them as Dot was trying to clean herself.
         “Boy, you do have to help a big dog out a lot,” Alex said looking at one puppy in the face. It was screaming and wiggling as she was wiping it down. She could hardly hang on to the feisty pup.
         “Whelping big dogs is a job,” Beth replied as she walked over to the scale. Her short gray hair sticking to the sides of her face. “I’m glad I got a book about whelping so we would know how to do it.”
         Vince took a look at Beth and with his deep baritone voice said “Those are some nice pups”. He had pulled up a chair and was leaning forward in it to get a better look.
         Alex patted Dot on the head and was telling her how good of a girl she was. Sean had come along. It was his first time seeing puppies born. The over whelming smell of bloody after birth was a little bit more then a seven year old boy could bear at the moment. He had seen their cat have babies which was very little mess compared to a big dog.
         “Open the window above the chest freezer Sean and let in some fresh air, “his grandmother implied as she weighed the last puppy born on the scale. It was the same kind of scale used to weigh human babies but smaller in size.
         “This one weighs two pounds and three ounces.”
         “That’s a big pup,” Vincent said taking it from her and putting it down with Dot. After six puppies Alex was wondering if she was going to have any more. As if reading her thoughts, Vincent spoke.
         “Saint Bernard’s can have 12-15 pups a litter but the question is, will all of them make it?”
          She almost found that hard to believe, watching all them puppies wiggling and squirming with all their might to find mamas milk. She knew all too well though how tough it was to be born and struggle to make it. She grew up on Taylor’s parent’s ranch. She had helped bring a lot of baby animals into this world and knew the harsh reality of some not making it. Shaking the thought from her mind she concentrated on the variety of markings these little bundles of wonders possessed. Some had full masks and some had half masks. Others had more white and others more brown on their bodies.
         “We have another puppy,” Alex said as she reached down and picked it up. Dot sniffed at it and gave it a big lick with her tongue.
         “Is it dead?” Alex asked, looking at the baby.
         “I don’t know? Beth replied, “Hand it here”.
           Beth took the pup and looked at her. The pups face had no color and looked like a limp rag hanging in her hands.
         “Sean, grab me that baby nursing blanket”, she ordered, pointing toward the chest
         Standing so near to them he grabbed one and handed it to her over Vincent’s head. She wrapped it up and started rubbing it. The pup moved some and started gasping for air but wasn’t getting any. Beth cupped the puppy between her hands, held it with the head out and gently waved it up and down to force the fluid out of the lungs. She even hung it upside down shaking it gently. It was a technique she had read in her whelping book. The fluid came draining out like yarn strings being pulled from its nose and mouth, but the pup still wasn’t getting any air. Vince took the pup and put a finger on each side of her and very slightly squeezed her sides to get her lungs to work.  Every body was holding their breath.
         “Come on baby,” Taylor murmured, she was watching from a couple feet away. It tore at her heart to think the pup wasn’t going to make it just like any other baby animal she had seen or helped.
         Then all of a sudden, her face turned pink and she let out a subdued cry. A relief of joy escaped everybody.
         “Now that’s what I like to hear,” Beth sighed as she took the pup. Putting it on the scale she commented “It’s a little female and she weighs the least so far.” She did look awful tiny.
         Alex took the puppy from her and laid her down with the others. She rooted around trying to find a teet but the others shoved her away. Alex pushed the others out of the way and tried to get her to latch on. She opened her mouth over the teet and she still wouldn’t take it.
         “I’m going to fill a baby bottle with some puppy canned milk and let’s get her to take that.” Beth stepped up the two stairs that led into the kitchen and disappeared.
         Didn’t take her long and she came back with a warm bottle of milk. Alex handed the puppy to Taylor. She took the bottled milk and laid the pup in her lap. She gave out a high pitched yelp as Taylor wrapped her in a warm soft fuzzy blanket. A few grunts later, the pup was hungrily sucking down the milk.

The pups were finally four weeks old and running around in the pen built for them.. Alex and Taylor were watching them from outside of the wire fence.
         “You want another dog,” Alex began looking over at Taylor with curious dark blue eyes. “Why not a St Bernard? You have really taken to number seven.”
         Taylor’s shoulders went up then down as she sighed. She did like that little puppy
and Judy had been gone now for a few years. They had Lewis’s dog, but she was most
definitely his dog.
         “Might be nice having a miniature horse around the house,” Alex said with a sideways half smile.

         At six weeks old, Beth handed number seven over the fence to Taylor. The puppy was full of life as it wiggled, squirmed and tried to lick her face.
         She giggled and told the puppy that there was not going to be licking any faces.
         She put the pup on the ground, pulled out a collar from her pocket and buckled it around her fuzzy neck. “You will get to be drooling someday.”
         Alex helped her mother n law out of the dog pen. She closed the gate behind her really quickly so the rest of the puppy mob wouldn’t get out.
         “Hope you enjoy her,” Beth commented as the puppy sniffed at her feet.
         The leash made a click sound as it was snapped on.
         “I will, very much.”
         “Oh don’t forget this,” Beth said handing her a book all about Saint Bernard’s. “It’s got their history in it and how to raise and care for them.”
         Taylor tucked it in her pocket.

         “Darren, have you seen the puppy?” Taylor called to her youngest boy from the front porch.
         “She ran around to the back of the house a few minutes ago,” he hollered back from the driveway. Great he thought, I want to go bike riding with Sean and I’m going to end up looking for a run away puppy. The back yard is fenced, not like she can go anywhere. With a heavy sigh, he laid his dirt bike down on the gravel and met his mom at the front porch. They ran around to the back of the house, she was no where in sight. Taylor felt some what panicky.
         “Darren you look in the flower beds over there, I will go check the bushes.”
         As Taylor circled the bushes, opening them up, making clicking noises, Darren yelled for her.
         “Mom, I found her, come look at this.”
         Relieved to hear that, she ran over to where Darren was pointing.
         Lying in the middle of her peach colored lilies was the pup. She was all curled up, her half mask face looking up at her as if saying, I have been here all the time, and I don’t know why you’re so worried, crushed lilies lay underneath her.
         Taylor picked her up. It was a nice cool shady spot. It was perfect for a noon nap to get out of the sun. The pleasant sweet smell of lilies filled Taylor’s nostrils as she buried her face in her neck.
         “Mom, I think you should name her Lily.” Darren was shaking his head up and down giving her a pet.
         “I like that name,” Taylor replied looking at her dirty, dusty son.  “Lily fits her good, almost like she chose her own name.”
         Giving her a side ways look he smiled, “She kind of did when I seen her squashing them.”
         Taylor knew that the lilies in the sorry state they were in now, they could be replaced but not the true Lily that just got her name sake from them.
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