The Mini Lily
Lily came into this world with a purpose, and she is doing her job well. Her registered name is Remani’s Mini Maia Lily of Hope. Maia means little warrior, which is what she really is. She is Lily to her family, but will forever be Mini to me.
Lily was a surprise breeding that I didn’t intend, but I believe it was God's plan all along.
About 5 years ago, my friends came to visit us during the Canby dog show (their annual tradition). They got to meet Skye, who was an 8 week old puppy at that time. Barbara owned two other paps at that time; one of them was a half-sister to Skye. Barbara fell in love, and told me that when she retired, she wanted a sable puppy girl that looked just like Skye. Roberta and I giggled at her sister, as Skye was my only sable in a house of tris. We knew just how hard it was to order up both sex and color of a puppy.
Fast forward 3 years. At almost the exact time Roxie conceived, Barbara was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.
Mini came into the world a singleton weighing in at 2.70 oz. She was the smallest puppy I had ever seen. I was excited to see how vigorous she was, and that she latched on within minutes of being born. Unfortunately, many things complicated her progress. She was so small, she had a hard time nursing effectively. Roxie was older and with only one puppy there wasn't a large demand for milk and her production slowed. By the end of day 2, panic was setting in, Mini was down to 2.25 oz, and I was syringe-feeding her goat's milk. Day 3 started with Karen Baird coming to our rescue teaching me to tube feed. It was a valuable lesson, and a skill no breeder should be without. This started many days of delirium. I tube fed Mini every two hours for 6 weeks straight and then every 3 to 4 hours for another 2. Those last two weeks were a nightmare because she fought so much against being tubed, but at the same time she wouldn’t eat anything solid that I gave her.
Her weight gain was very slow, and I have saved the records of several hundred weigh ins. She aspirated at about 6 days old which led to an emergency run to the vet. She seemed fine but was put on antibiotics as a precaution. That afternoon I ran an errand and was back home within an hour. When I got home, Mini was cold and lethargic, and Roxie was essentially rejecting her. I couldn’t get her to nurse, and Roxie would stay with her but only if I asked her to. Needless to say, I was in tears. Mini began gasping for air, and I was sure it was over. Through the recommendation of my friend I gave her a little nutrical and tube fed her. I got her very warm and let her rest. I covered her up with a fleece blanket and laid my arm in the bed close to her and Roxie, hoping I might wake up if Roxie got out of the bed. I remembered laying there crying and praying that God might let her live, or that he might take her peacefully so I didn’t have to make the decision. I was sure when I woke up that she would be gone, and it made me cry harder thinking about telling everyone we had lost her. I think I fell asleep at about 11:30, and I woke up at 1:00 when my alarm went off, and very much to my surprise, she had crawled over and snuggled up to my arm, still very much alive. I asked Roxie to get back in the bed and when she did, Mini went straight to her and started vigorously nursing again like nothing had happened. It made me cry all over again. By the time I got up the next morning, my eyes were almost completely swollen shut.
Luckily that was the only really bad episode with her. Lily being such a fighter, became a real source of hope for Barbara who was getting details of Mini’s life daily from her sister. About a week later, Roberta asked if Mini were to make it through and be available to a forever home, would I please consider Barbara. It was then that I remembered that discussion we had 3 years prior. It became my hope that Barbara would beat that tumor and that Mini could be her sable baby girl.
Roberta and I made a trip to California with Roxie and Mini Lily in May of 2012 to visit with Barbara, and that sealed the deal. Mini melted into Barbara when she was placed in her arms. That weekend was so rewarding! I knew that was where she belonged.
We returned home and worked extremely hard to get her eating solid food and gaining weight. It was a real challenge. Many days were spent worrying that we were not going to get there.
In July, Barbara and John came to get her. It was one of the hardest yet most rewarding days ever. The good news is that Mini ate beautifully for Barbara, in fact way better than she ever did for me. The California Girl was very happy and content. She spent her days loving and entertaining her new family. She was Barbara’s constant companion and a great source of joy for her. I have many pictures of her nestled around Barbara’s neck or in her lap. Barb’s smile was priceless.
Barbara fought hard, but lost her battle with cancer. We lost a great friend and pap lover on May 24th of 2013. Almost exactly a year after our visit to see her. I have a picture of Lily perched on Barbara in her hospice bed. It’s a priceless picture and it shows how much love there was between the two of them.
Lily now lives with Roberta here in Oregon. It’s been a blessing to me because I get to see and hear about her on a regular basis. She is the mighty little dog in the land of giants. Now that she weighs in at more than 4 lbs she has taken to bossing around her siblings. Her siblings are a border collie, golden retriever, and a Welsh springer spaniel. Considering that she left my house at 16 weeks and under two pounds, I would say she is doing quite well.
I hope to never have a tiny puppy to tube feed again. However, I know I would do it all over again. It’s not easy, but I believe in doing whatever it takes to give them a chance at life. We never know their purpose, but everything happens for a reason so have faith.