The mad town of Manjimup is now well and truly in my past. And let’s hope it stays there. No more mental bosses screaming at me for getting sinks wet, no more cleaning of dog placenta from dogs tails and no more cleaning poo from puppies arses. My days are no worse for it.
Our last week was spent in the glorious tranquility of a Dingup farm, the home of one of our co-workers at the Kingsley. The drive to work was a little longer and a lot more testing on our tyres but worth it for the gorgeous setting; not to mention the decked, sun drenched pool to chill by on our lunch breaks and the two overexcitable dogs, desperate for cuddles in case we’d not fulfilled our dog fix at work. Never before have I seen such stars as here, where the bright spatterings create contrasting dark voids which seem to greedily devour the surrounding light giving a deep sucking backdrop that only makes the constellations shine brighter. Getting up early for work the valley below the house was soaked in mist with tendrils that caressed the top of the trees below the garden and hid kangaroos who leaped out in front of us to cross the rustic drive. It was only here that I really came to realise the threat of Kangaroos on the road; they really do come out of nowhere and they’d definitely leave their mark on your car if you hit them.
Kelly and I worked thirteen days straight before we left, not legally allowed when applying for your second year visa but our boss agreed to stretch the days across the week after we left so they would still count. They were thirteen days from hell, two Italian girls were brought in to learn from us to take over when we left and Claire became a tyrant in her stressed state at having two new employees who didn’t yet know the ropes. She raged and rampaged about milk bottles that hadn’t been emptied correctly every morning and snuck up periodically throughout the day to bully Lara who spoke little English and shout herself hoarse at Kelly and I for supposedly teaching the girls incorrectly things we had never even been taught in the first place.
I played midwife for some of the mothers during this time too, and can whole heartedly say my life will be no worse for never seeing anything give birth again. Sophie was my introduction, arriving in the birthing suite (Claire’s bed, where she actually had to sleep once this was all done) with 6 puppies already born and screeching, and supposedly just one to go. Kelly and I took half hour shifts sitting with Sophie as she suckled three of her newborns and calming her as she squirmed about through painful contractions.
The contractions sped up drastically and I shouted for Claire, desperately not wanting to have to deal with a puppy being born by myself. I will spare you the details, but I saw a more dog vagina manipulation than I care to explain before a glistening sack entrapped puppy appeared on the bed. I was commanded to retrieve an ice cream tub from the bed side table that seemed weirdly heavy with something sloshing about inside, oh how I wish I had never looked. Peeling back the lid revealed the reddy-bluey-black sinuous placentas of the previous 6 puppies, this one was to be added to the mix for Sophie to feast from later on.
Number 7, a cream boy born at 2.13pm wasn’t breathing. Claire flicked and rubbed him, desperate to coax a yelp to open up his tiny lungs whilst Kelly and I held down an incredibly distressed Sophie with tears in both our eyes. It wasn’t fair on the exhausted mother so Claire took the newborn into her office and persisted with mouth to mouth and anything else she could think of for the next 10 minutes. Amid the chaos we hadn’t noticed any further contractions and tried to get Sophie up to take her outside for a wee, but as soon as she struggled to her feet an unexpected puppy number 8 dropped onto the bed behind her. Neither of us knew how to open the sack and the puppy would suffocate if we couldn’t. Claire and I made a hasty exchange and whilst she freed Sophie’s final puppy and 13 minutes after it was born, puppy number 7 made its first gasping yelp in my hands and began to breath; huge unnatural gasping breaths, but it was alive, it stood a fighting chance.
All of Sophie’s puppies survived and although it took a day to get number 7 suckling he’s now as healthy as any of the others. And she is a complete princess, refusing to eat unless you hand feed her, then she’ll eat an entire bowl!
Three mums gave birth in the space of a week; Violet, Kaya then Sophie. As it turns out, dogs can ooze from their wombs for up to 14 weeks after giving birth; disgusting right. They get it on their legs, tails, bedding, the floors and even sometimes their pups, and it’s my job to clean all that up; lovely. It makes cleaning poo from the puppies bums look like fun.
Violet is a first time mother to eight Grudel (golden retriever cross poodle) pups, renowned for being much more noisy than Labradoodles. After several complications with the birthing and an urgent vet trip Violet hasn’t bonded properly with the tiny puppies, ignoring them as they screech for her from their pen. The mothers have to lick their pups to make them poo or wee and then they also naturally clean the subsequent mess up. Her not doing this means we end up covered in foul smelling mess each morning when we manipulate each puppy to weight them. My heart breaks when I have to wipe their fur down and the colour of the water turns deep brown and they kneed at my leg hoping I can give the comfort they crave from violet. I’m repulsed at the thought of touching and holding the writhing animals compared to the plump, velvety creatures snuggled in the 3 other indoor pens with doting mothers.
As Grudels are less common, a boy and a girl will be taken from this litter to breed from with other separate Grudel blood lines. Watching the look of horror on Violets face when we try to coax her to lie with her puppies I hope they don’t make her go through the trauma of motherhood again, if dogs are able to get post-natal depression I am sure that’s what she has and it’s devastating to watch.
Linda’s hospitality, legendary in the motor cross community, got us through that last week with wine, splendid meals I can’t hope to eat again any time soon as a backpacker and a lot of Bridget Jones watched on a huge screened TV. With her two kids around i felt like I had a temporary family half a world away from home. A few more days would have been perfect in this paradise but the big city lights were calling and it was definitely time to leave the madness of Manjimup behind. $49, a two hour bus and a three hour train later and we were drinking ourselves back to normality on goon back in Bambu and looking forward to an even that didn’t end at 9pm.