In early September, FTF rescued Gladys, a sweet, 8-year-old, 7-pound terrier mix from an overcrowded Texas shelter. She was placed with a foster family and scheduled for spaying (removal of the uterus and both ovaries). But as the veterinarian started the operation, he found this adorable pooch had a surprise for him: little Gladys was pregnant! Female dogs are never too old to get pregnant, but seniors having pups is never a good idea. Risk increases with age, and what normally would be a fairly straightforward situation can become far more complicated. Gladys seemed to be doing well, though, so FTF decided she should carry to term. Arrangements were made for our puppy coordinator (Doreen W.) and our birthing expert volunteer (Tonya M.) to be present at the birth.
About 11 pm on October 17th, Gladys began having contractions; 1 hour later, she still hadn’t pushed out a pup. Because of Gladys’s age and the weakening of her contractions, Doreen, Tonya, and foster mom Alayna H. decided delivery at an emergency veterinary hospital was the best plan. At the hospital, Gladys was given an injection of oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates the uterus to contract. Nothing happened. X-rays showed 3 puppies, all larger than would be expected, given Gladys’s size, and one in feet first (breech) position—signaling a difficult delivery. By this point, contractions had stopped completely, and the first puppy appeared stuck in the birth canal. It was clear Gladys would need a C-section. Three healthy puppies were delivered in the early hours of October 18th.
After Gladys gave birth, the vet began the spaying procedure, and our puppy birthing team thought the scariest part was over. Were they ever wrong! It turned out that Gladys was born with severely deformed genital and urinary structures. Just a single ovary could be seen—the second either congenitally missing or buried within scar tissue in her pelvis. Only her uterus and that ovary could be safely removed before the procedure was stopped because Glady had been under anesthesia long enough. Yet even after undergoing a lengthy, major surgery, our tiny trooper was soon ready to nurse her puppies.
Fast forward 8 weeks, and Gladys and her family are doing great. The first few weeks were challenging: a 6-inch abdominal incision made nursing difficult and painful, and Gladys was slow to start eating regularly on her own. Her superhero foster family stepped in to help with supplemental bottle feedings for the babies and hand-fed scrambled eggs to Gladys. Our little mom so enjoyed eating out of human hands during the early days of her recovery that she kept trying to persuade Alayna to continue—even when she could eat and drink on her own!
The puppies have now been weaned and are almost ready to find their forever homes. And Gladys has fully recuperated, was medically cleared for adoption, and rang in the new year with a forever family of her very own! FTF was committed to Gladys’s complete recovery and to finding her a forever home. That, after all, is our mission: saving animals regardless of age, breed, or physical ability.
FTF sends heartfelt thanks to all the people on Team Gladys. This group includes our puppy experts, vet partners, and Gladys’s 2 foster families—original foster Cheryl, who has Gladys again now that the puppies are old enough to be separated from their mama; and Alayna, her husband Sean, and their kids, who will continue to care for the pups until the trio is adopted. Another big thank you to our supporters for donations to pay for Gladys’s C-section. Finally, we are so grateful to the Paul and Dottie Foundation of the DuPage Foundation for the grant we received to help with medical care for dogs in need like Gladys. As they say, it takes a village, and that’s never more true than in the case of super seniors like Gladys, who deserve a second chance at lives filled with love and happiness!
Written By: Michele G.