Looking at their dog’s bulging stomach, Natasha and Alicia had no idea how many puppies to expect. However, nothing could have prepared them for what would happen during the delivery. Indeed, after the pooch gave birth to her ninth pup – quite the feat in itself – the vet gave them an even bigger surprise.
Natasha White and Alicia Copping live in the city of Coventry in the U.K. White works as a veterinary nurse looking after animals; Copping, on the other hand, is a police officer.
However, the pair share an interesting pastime: they are both Kennel Club-approved dog breeders. White also helps out at an organization that breeds guide dogs for the blind.
Consequently, it’s safe to say that both White and Copping are big fans of man’s best friend, not least because they own Romy, an Irish red setter. And it will come as no surprise to learn that they both doted on their beloved pet dog.
So the couple were no doubt over the moon when they learned that their treasured dog was expecting her first litter. After learning of the happy news, moreover, they were eager to find out just how many puppies they could anticipate. To that end, they took Romy for a check-up at around the mid-point of her pregnancy.
“We’d had a scan at four weeks – just less than halfway through the pregnancy – and we could see seven puppies on the screen,” the Daily Mail quoted White as saying in 2011. “But it’s very difficult to tell [for sure], and we just watched Romy grow and grow as the pregnancy progressed.”
To White and Copping, though, seven puppies sounded like a reasonable number. And while really large litters are not unheard of, somewhere around eight to ten births is about average for Irish setters. So, as it stood, it seemed like Romy’s pregnancy was a normal one.
However, as Romy progressed, she began to worry her owners. According to White and Copping, she was struggling with getting comfortable. What’s more, her stomach had grown to enormous proportions.
“By the end, her belly was so distended she looked like a cow with udders,” White confessed to the Daily Mail. “For the last week, she didn’t want to do anything. She was lying on her back and couldn’t get comfy.”
And seeing Romy in such a state began to set alarm bells ringing in her owners’ minds. To them, it seemed she was much too large to be expecting just seven babies. “We knew there’d be more than the usual eight or nine puppies,” White added.
So, when the day came for Romy’s litter to arrive into the world, White and Copping prepared themselves for every eventuality. And sure enough, there were more than seven puppies on the way: their dog began delivering baby after baby until she’d given birth to ten balls of adorable fluff. However, she was showing no sign of stopping.
“It was a shock when she’d given birth to ten and her belly was still huge,” White revealed. “You could still feel the other ones still inside.” Indeed, Romy’s ordeal wasn’t yet over.
At this point, though, Romy’s energy understandably appeared to wane. But because there were some babies still to deliver, White took her for a quick walk around the garden to give her a boost. And, thankfully, it worked.
When Romy’s ten-hour labor was finally over, she had delivered an astonishing 15 puppies. Now she was the mother of ten little girls and five tiny boys. And, amazingly, they were all in good shape and weighed a healthy amount.
Recalling the amazing moment, White told the Daily Mail that she was full of “joy and shock.” She added, “One of the most amazing things is that none was stillborn. They were all delivered normally, there were no breech births and Romy severed all the umbilical cords herself.”
But despite the fact the litter arrived safely, the new mom’s hard work wasn’t over just yet. She would have to rear the pups until they were big enough to fend for themselves. To do so, however, she’d need all the help she could get.
And because Romy didn’t have enough milk to feed her massive brood, her owners had to bottle feed them instead. “Between us, we’re looking after the puppies 24 hours a day,” White explained in 2011. “Natasha does the day shifts, and I do the nights because I’m used to doing night shifts for work.”
But while White and Copping struggled to adjust to their new additions, Romy was born to be a mother. “This is her first litter, but she’s such a natural,” White added. “She knows exactly what to do, she’s a fantastic mom.”
And the pups were soon growing into little characters. “The puppies are only 11 days old, so they can’t even open their eyes yet, but they’ve already got their own personalities,” White told The Sun in 2011. “One of the girls is particularly greedy. She wakes up screaming for more milk in between feeds.”
Unfortunately, White and Copping couldn’t keep all the puppies and instead sold 14 of them to the best homes that they could find. But although they’re now separated, the puppies can be thankful that they had a brilliant mom who could give them the best possible start in life.