My mother looked like a small Harlequin

One of our early brood bitches was a bitch that everyone agreed was built
to be a great brood bitch with a fabulous, sweet, temperament. We have always
closely watched our bitches, especially when they are nearing the whelping date,
because we feel that she can use all the help in delivery and partly because we are
just paranoid. When Opal whelped 6 large puppies, 22 ounces to 25 ½ ounces, she
did it in 6 hours and 5 minutes and it seemed to give her less trouble than a 3-day
show. One theory to answer what followed the whelping was that delivery had gone
so easily that Opal thought that she still had to deliver puppies. Whatever the reason,
the first thing (or things) that she ever growled at was her puppies. She was barely
willing to nurse them and even then only when you held her head to keep her down
and protect the puppies. She would NOT clean them and after 2 days was withholding
her milk, allowing it to sour. Our Vet’s office told us that a Dalmatian bitch with
4-week old puppies was about to be dried up. The breeder was someone we knew
and we made arrangements to try her for feeding the puppies. After wiping some
of Patty’s hair and milk on the puppies (who, at 3 days were as large as her 4
week olds) she was willing, reluctantly, to accept them feeding but would not
clean them very well. The following day Patty was not only feeding and cleaning
the puppies as her own, but was protecting them as well. She was very upset,
upon coming back inside, when she found that we had been in the whelping box
getting HER puppies “dirty” so she had to clean each and every one of them. If
we attempted to play with a puppy, while she was there, our hands were pushed
out of the way. After little more than a week, 6 Great Dane puppies totaling 20
pounds were beginning to be too much but she was trying to feed them all
sufficiently. This whole event was an unusual sight to see, especially with the
relative size of the puppies in relation to their apparent “Mother”. The most
gratifying thing was that our original hope was to help feed the puppies, but
in addition, Patty slept with them, cleaned them, protected them, and actually
“mothered” them as if she had whelped them. When the puppies opened their
eyes, the first animal they saw was the Dalmatian bitch who was trying her best
to cope with these enormous fawn and brindle puppies of “hers”. After 2 weeks
Patty went home with her breeder/owner. It showed us that Dalmatians can
be good “mothers” for Great Dane puppies when it is necessary.