Puppy love- a dozen reasons to be happy

DEVOTED dog owner Colleen Mulley can be forgiven for being a little distracted of late. For the 33-year-old has had her hands full looking after 12 tiny new arrivals.

DEVOTED dog owner Colleen Mulley can be forgiven for being a little distracted of late.

For the 33-year-old has had her hands full looking after 12 tiny new arrivals.

Ms Mulley's dog Tilly went into labour last Monday but sadly died just hours after giving birth.

She has now taken on the role of surrogate mum to the Italian spinone puppies, caring for them at her home in Yoxford, between Saxmundham and Halesworth.

“I'd had Tilly for nearly three years and bought Monty - the dad - with the intention of breeding them,” she said. “However it happened a little sooner than I planned and she fell pregnant.”

Ms Mulley, who has had to take time off from her job at the Plough and Sail pub in Snape to look after the puppies, said she took Tilly to Castle Veterinary Group in Framlingham when she realised there was a problem with the birth.

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“She had one puppy on the Monday night and then another early on Tuesday morning but then slowed right down,” she said. “I took her to the vets and she actually had one puppy in the boot of the car.

“When we arrived they gave her something to have the puppies faster and she managed to have another five by herself.

“The vets thought that there were still some more to come and gave her an x-ray which showed there were probably four left.

“She had been in labour such a long time that they decided to do a caesarean. They told us not to be surprised if we lost some so we prepared ourselves for that. However when the vet came out a little while later they were all perfectly fine.”

However events took a tragic turn after Ms Mulley returned home with the 12 new arrivals.

“I got a call 5pm on Tuesday from the vets saying Tilly had just started to come round,” she continued. “I went to get her but when I got there they said that she was probably not going to make it.

“It was devastating. I went to see her and she did respond but when she came off the ventilator she just wasn't strong enough.”

Ms Mulley has now taken it upon herself to raise the puppies, which has meant more than a few sleepless nights and even helping them to go to the toilet.

“They have been feeding every two hours through the day and night so I've been sleeping on the sofa,” she said. “Usually after feeding the mum will lick them to stimulate them to go to the toilet. Obviously I can't do that so I wash them down with a damp cloth. That takes around an hour so by the time I'm finished they are almost ready for another feed.

“Its hard work but they are doing really well and putting on lots of weight and getting nice and fat, which is how they're supposed to be.

Ms Mulley said her three children - Bryony, 13, Erin, seven, and Huey, four - have also helped out where they can.

“They were absolutely devastated when they found out about Tilly but they have had the puppies to keep them busy,” she said. “They have been brilliant with them - really helpful.”

She also thanked other members of her family, especially her mum Sue Doyle and sister Rachel Blake, as well as a number of friends who have lent a hand.

“The vets have also been brilliant,” she added. “They have been absolutely fantastic throughout, offering lots of advice and supplying me with milk. I'm extremely grateful to everyone who has helped.”

Ms Mulley's sister will be holding a yard sale in Shakespeare Road, Ipswich, on Saturday between 10am and 3pm to help raise money to buy milk for the puppies.