Thursday, December 5, 2013

Puppies! And the Father Is ...

About a month ago I wrote about the dog upstairs, a Fancy Full-Breed German Shepherd whose owners mated her with another Fancy Full-Breed Shepherd in the fond expectation of Fancy Shepherd Pups, except she was found in the morning in her locked cage with a street-cruising mutt who had somehow wiggled under the bars like a flea-ridden Houdini. They were both wagging their tails.

Two days ago Bhunti had puppies.

About half the dogs in Nepal seem to be named Bhunti, which basically means Cute Little Fatty. This Bhunti is skinny and gigantic. She's a frenetic tumbleweed of hair and bigness, unlike the Bhunti behind the gate a few doors down, who I've only seen as a snapping snout that seems attached to a Dachsund-crocodile mix. The dogs who are not Bhunti are mostly Blackie, Brownie, Whitey, or in the case of one dog on our lane, Chocolate-y. My husband's parents have a dog called Blackie. (They also have a grandson called Blackie. Kale. At least he isn't Chocolate-y, although that would have the benefit of distinguishing him from all the other village kids called Blackie.)

Not a rat. It's thought to be two weeks premature, after
45 instead of 60 days gestation. 
If dog names are strikingly unoriginal, people's nicknames come straight out of the Little Rascals. In our family's village, there's a Fatty and a lot of Blackies and a hot-tempered guy called Chili Pepper and a real-life Froggy with a habit of flicking out his tongue when he talks. There's also a Dirty, Jute, or more accurately Contaminated-y but that doesn't flow as well in English. He was the first boy after seven girls and his parents called him that on the theory that witches or bad spirits wouldn't want to take a boy who's Contaminated. People do what they can for their kids.

There's a lot about Nepal that is Little Rascals with a Bollywood soundtrack, or Huck Finn with saris and a stinkier river. And in that kind of world, if you want a dog, you don't spend months researching The Right Breed for My Family, or go through a formal adoption process with paperwork and interviews to find if you're The Right Family for the Dog. You get a dog when a puppy follows you home, can I keep her, please, I'll feed her leftovers like everyone does and it's not like I'll have to clean up the poo because she'll just poo on the streets with the other dogs. Or maybe it's born in a shed behind the house, Oh look, puppies, let's name the black one Blackie! 

We didn't even know Bhunti was pregnant. Maybe she didn't either. She's a bit ditzy -- she's young, still a teenager as it were, plus she is a breed dog and around here it's not exactly careful breeding so if she had a family tree it would probably look like the old song "I Am My Own Grandpa" -- but the other day she popped out three puppies, who turned out to be premature. One was stillborn. Another, I'm sorry to say, was apparently mistaken for a mouse by Bhunti, who swallowed it. Still wriggling. Her owners saw it. "Bad dog! Do not eat your babies!"

This was a problem, because what do you do with a premature puppy whose teen mom thinks it's edible? It was taken away from its unhelpful mother to warm by a gas heater, and a paper muzzle was bought from a veterinarian's shop around the corner, and my teenager and the boy upstairs wrestled Bhunti into submission while an effort was made to milk her, which she did not appreciate, and then efforts were made to attach the hungry puppy to her teat, which she also did not appreciate, and after much fussing and a few drops of desultory milk everyone rested but Bhunti, who produced four more puppies after midnight. Three of whom died, but none of whom were eaten. So she's catching on.

Whoops. I didn't mean it.
The two survivors are doing as well as preemies can under the Darwinian circumstances. Bhunti is now nursing them agreeably, except that she won't eat her meals (the regular ones) so her milk isn't coming -- feeling a bit queasy in the stomach, perhaps? -- and she is very attentive and concerned whenever people come near her pups, maybe because she knows what can happen to them.

It's impossible to solve the mystery of their father yet. Bhunti's family optimistically maintains that he must be the Fancy German Shepherd with whom she was mated in the apparent hope of magnifying her desirable genes for silky ditziness. I hope for their sake they're right, but I also hope for the sake of genetics and doggie toughness that it's the macho wall-leaping street dog with lock-breaking skills.

So the mystery continues. Except that I predict they'll both be named Blackie.


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