When one Dalmatian gave birth in Ballarat, Australia, in May 2017, no-one involved could quite believe what was happening. Indeed, although a vet had previously given their expert opinion on the pregnancy, there would be a surprise in store that proved that the professional hadn’t got things totally right after all…
You see, the Dalmatian in question belonged to 43-year-old Cecilia Langton-Bunker. And in 2013 Langton-Bunker had decided to launch CCDalmatians, her own breeding business, which also trains and shows the distinctly spotted dogs.
However, it would be two very special members of the CCDalmatians crew who would become world renowned. Their pedigree names are Sarasota From Russia With Love and Astro Wonder Boy, but they are more informally known about the kennels as Miley and Astro. And the first inkling of their impending fame came in early 2017, when Miley began putting on weight.
Yes, first-time parents Miley and Astro were expecting a litter of puppies. Fortunately, throughout the nine-week gestation, Miley remained healthy, and she was nurtured through a near-ideal pregnancy by owner Jade Martin and Langton-Bunker. Only one thing about the whole experience proved to be less than perfect, in fact, and that was the initial scans of the swollen Miley that had been carried out by a vet.
That original ultrasound showed that Miley would give birth to just three puppies; Langton-Bunker was skeptical about the news, however. Speaking later to local TV station 9 News Melbourne, she explained, “Initially, the vet said there was going to be three, but I knew there would be more than that and thought there would be 15 or 16.” She then added, “Normally, Dalmatians have eight to ten puppies, and first-time moms usually have less.”
However, even armed with this expert knowledge, Langton-Bunker failed to predict what would happen at the birth. Indeed, in May 2017 at Ballarat Veterinary Practice, three-year-old Miley would prove everyone’s opinions wrong.
Miley began her labor at 7:00 a.m. and didn’t finish until 8:30 p.m. On average, though, she was popping out a puppy every hour. And, in the end, it was discovered that the new mom had produced a whopping litter of 18. A surprised and delighted Langton-Bunker would later say, “We got to 16 and thought she was done. After 13 and a half hours of labor, it was quite amazing – she popped out another two.”
The enormous number of spotty puppies has not only smashed the Australian record, but it has also equaled the world record for the number of Dalmatian pups born in one litter. Not only that, but Miley and Astro have additionally outdone the stars of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. In the 1961 animated classic, Pongo and Perdita only parented 15 babies; the rest are adopted.
What’s more, Langton-Bunker herself was delighted with the unexpectedly large litter, telling the 9 News cameras, “We realized when the last one was born [that] we had something amazing.” She went on to add, “It’s absolutely superb. I couldn’t be happier with the litter.”
Yet while the puppies’ parents were both doing well following the birth, they were – unsurprisingly – exhausted. Miley, in particular, appeared to be a little overwhelmed, and understandably so: after all, it was she who had to feed all 18 of the little darlings. But Astro also seemed a little daunted by all the new arrivals, too. Langton-Bunker would even joke, “He’s a bit disconcerted by the 18 puppies running around. He’s like, ‘Are these all mine?’”
Miley’s extraordinary litter, meanwhile, was made up of 12 female and six male pups. And all 18 had their own individual collars, each in a different color, to mark out which puppy was which. In a Facebook post, Langton-Bunker would give special thanks to CCDalmatians volunteer Hayley Jade for making the accessories. As the dog breeder explained, “They must have their collars on at all times, so we do not get them mixed up, because sometimes at quick glance you can get them muddled.”
The puppies also needed micro-chipping and worming as well as a hearing test. Deafness is a trait that affects 15 to 30 percent of Dalmatians in some way; it’s linked to the gene that also causes the animals’ famous spotty markings. And since Dalmatian pups typically develop deafness a few weeks into life, they need early veterinary attention.
So, in June 2017, the puppies went back to Ballarat Veterinary Practice. And the logistics for transporting the out-sized litter there were exhaustive. As Langton-Bunker admitted on social media, “Getting them to the vets for their first microchipping, worming and hearing tests took a lot of organization.” As it was, seven veterinary nurses and a wheeled trolley were required to deal with all the dogs.
General everyday care of the puppies, however, was predominately the responsibility of one person rather than seven. Miley’s human mom, Jade Martin, is due almost all the credit for caring for the 18 pups. This devotion included feeding the puppies every four hours for the first four weeks of their lives, not to mention training, exercising and cleaning the brood. But although most of these tasks fell on Martin, she did nevertheless have a little helper in daughter Lulu.
What’s more, Lulu would soon be held responsible for one puppy in particular. Tilly The Love Story – otherwise known as just Tilly – was kept back from the litter by Martin as a family pet, and by all accounts Lulu and Tilly have since become fast friends. A post on the CCDalmatians Facebook page explained, “Lulu has created a very special bond with her new beloved Dalmatian Tilly. Watching Lulu and Tilly grow up together is the most rewarding thing to see as a breeder.”
Langton-Bunker also owns one of the puppies from the record-breaking litter herself. From Paris With Love – known as Paris – is another of Miley and Astro’s daughters, and the puppy is now being shown off in shows by CCDalmatians. A proud Langton-Bunker tells Scribol that her pup has even scooped “Baby Puppy in Show under a Dalmatian specialist judge… at Dalmatian Club of Victoria’s Jubilee Show.”
As for the other puppies? Well, none of the litter struggled to find a furever home. Langton-Bunker explained, “For every person I accepted [in giving] a home [to] one of the puppies, I turned down seven offers.” Three puppies were to be homed elsewhere in South Australia, two went to Western Australia, and the rest stayed in the immediate Victoria area.
As dogs registered with the Australian National Kennel Council, moreover, the puppies were all given pedigree as well as pet names. The theme for naming the litter was love, and the names all begin with the prefix “CCDals,” a shortened version of “CCDalmatians.” As well as Paris and Tilly, the names are as follows: Pongo Pure Love, Dakota Real Love, Lucia Sweet Love, Lexi Love Heart, Poppy Forever Loved, Oreo Pure Love, Remi Colour of Love, Love Always Pepper, Loki Ture Love, Lexi Devine Love, Stella Love Star, Dixie Pixie Love, JayDee Astro Love, Pocky True Love Heart, Luna Love Good and Cruise Endless Love. The latter puppy has joined sister Paris in turning out for dog shows, representing CCDalmatians.
Pongo Pure Love, meanwhile, is already being shown off on Facebook by his owner. Brigette Lunn, of Clearview in Adelaide, wrote on the CCDalmatians wall, “We couldn’t be happier with our beautiful boy.” To which CCDalmatians replied, “Pongo, you are a true star.”
And Christine Brain is another happy owner who has kept CCDalmatians up to date with her dog’s developments. Writing on CCDalmatians’ website, Brain explained, “We are so lucky to now own one of the Famous 18, gorgeous Lucia. It was well worth the wait! She has only been home for a few days but has fitted in nicely. Not only has she mastered the steep staircase, [but] to our amazement, she is well on the way to being toilet trained. Her ‘brother’ Thomas took a few days to accept the tiny girl, but now they happily chase each other around the house. So nice to have a playful puppy again.”