A new mum will be spending her first few days of parenthood exhausted after giving birth to a supersize litter of FOURTEEN puppies.
Two-and-a-half year old Tessa the basset hound was rushed to the vets in the middle of the night for an emergency caesarean after she struggled to deliver the huge head count – the average litter size for a basset hound is understood to be eight to 10.
Finally back home, her playful pups are still proving difficult for the new mum as Tessa struggles to feed the seven males and seven females all at the same time.
Tessa’s owner, Michelle and Andy Robinson and their three children, have stepped in and are hand-rearing the large litter.
Michelle, 44, said: “We were all absolutely gobsmacked. We knew she was big but didn’t think for a minute she’d have 14.
“I’m absolutely in awe. After what she’s been through – she’s brilliant.”
Michelle explained that her family had decided to let Tessa have a litter before getting her spayed and an early ultrasound showed seven young ones.
Michelle, from nearby Morley, West Yorks., said: “The vet said that they couldn’t see the exact number but could definitely see seven.
“They thought there might be ten at a push because she was so big.”
Tessa went into labour in the early hours of the morning but, after delivering one pup, she struggled to get out anymore. When an induction at the 24-hour vets only produced a further one, the decision was made to operate – delivering a staggering 12 more baby bassets.
Now recovering back home, Tessa is not producing enough milk for all 14 puppies so Michelle, Andy and their three children, daughter Jordan, 23, Alex, 21 and Joel, 19, are working in shifts to cover the 24-hour feeds.
The family has even colour-coordinated the pups by painting their fur with seven shades of nail varnish.
Michelle said: “They each need two millilitres every two to three hours and it takes about an hour and a half.
“It’s time-consuming but that’s how it’s got to be. We just have to crack on with it. There are enough of us to help out.”
Michelle added: “They’re doing really well and Tessa is doing well. She is very skinny. If you look at her, you would think she’s been starved.
“We couldn’t get her to eat at the end because there was just no room. She’s given everything she has got to those puppies.”