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A black Great Dane was brought up in a home in the south of Malta.
Her name was Kimba.
One day, in the summer of 2004, the father of the family hit his young son. Kimba went to the defence of the child and grabbed the father by his arm. She was punished and locked in the toilet. Whenever her master opened the door she bared her teeth. He threw her out and deposited her on a farm in Paradise Bay.
She roamed the area together with her mates, the farmers light tan Great Dane, Bruce, Sue (a hunting dog) and a little black and white crossbreed rascal called Polly.
A gang of workmen were working on fiberglass in a warehouse on the farm and the dogs were often in their company. One of the men, a bully, decided one day in early November to tie up Kimba becasue she snarled at him and he beat her with a whip. She broke loose and ran away. The bully was sacked and banned from the place. After a few days Noahs Ark found her roaming the streets near the Gozo ferry terminal about 2Kms away. She was brought back in poor condition, skin and bone and very wary and aggressive. It took a few days to get her trust back although everyone else on the farm adored her, brought her food and worried about her future. She spent too much time in the resin workshop. She liked the company of the men and resin patches ended up stuck to her coat.
In early December a benefactor who had lost his Labrador dog offered to donate the kennel he had built her. It was out of packing case wood and very heavy. Nevertheless we accepted it and I picked it up and took it to the sanctuary. It was raining heavily that afternoon so I decided that it was ideal for Kimba and I placed it outside for her to shelter in. The door was rather small for Kimba, so I had to wrench off the front panel of the kennel. It was certainly better than her being exposed to the elements.
Kimba went on heat and Bruce became glued to her! It seems that he mated her around the 7th December 2004. The carers at the sanctuary didn't want to locked her up. "She's an outdoor dog" they said. The farmer's tan Dane was quite pleased! Sure enough he helped himself handsomely even though two weeks later he sadly passed away of sandfly!!! They said he was too weak to perform ... They were wrong!
Another bout of cold, windy and thunderry wet weather prompted me to have a sheltered kennel built for her outside the sanctuary perimeter gate. But Kimba only used it during the night when the weather was really extreme. She much preferred the open wooden box kennel, probably because it was just outside the workshop.
Kimba was quite afraid of people due to her past
history and showed aggression to strangers.
We thought and thought again and Henriette and I were getting concerned that the poor bitch couldn't whelp in those awful, unheigenic conditions. The workmen there loved her to bits and loaded her with food (mostly unsuitable) so I was giving her Daisy's "a la carte" every day! Well we decided to put up a maternity ward under the pool deck! 63 days would have been on Tuesday 8th February.
I had some premonition and insited we brought Kimba to the Palm Street "maternity home" on Saturday the 5th February. It was after 3pm, in the nick of time ... the vet came to check Daisy's ear around 7pm and had a look at Kimba. "Surely by tomorrow" he said! But already at 7.45 pm she started popping them off. I was just going outside to go down and check on her ... She was in the dark barking and there was a loud screaming noise. I'd thought a cat had got into her room hehe but she had just deposited a bouncing boy. I reasured her and from then on it was plain sailing, By midnight 3boys 3girls and two stillborn. No 4 & 5 stillborn I waited for the next pups with some apprehension but they came through alive and kicking.
As everything settled, Kimba was playing the perfect mum (I was amazed at how animals are so far superior to us "homo sapiens"!)
I awoke after a three hour nap around 7am telepathy again becasue sure enough, as I entered the room Kimba pops out another pup! and another two by noon. The last two were a bit weak and she had no time for them so we rubbed them and heated them up. It was an anxious Sunday afternoon. Kimba too was rather uncomfortable. But things seemed to relax and we eventually collapsed to sleep. The next morning all was well, 9 pups and a good looking big girl who devoured her big breakfast :) The two weak ones weren't feeding and we started heating them and rubbing them and bottle feeding but by Tuesday they gave up the fight and the final count is 7 puppies, 4 boys and 3 girls.
I never bargained for this and didn't even breed out of my St. Bernards.
Now I've been lumped with this rescue operation. It is however a very rewarding experience to see a happy mum with healthy suckling pups.
Six months on and three pups have gone to happy homes.The others, two boys and two girls like it here and seem to be staying on ... with their Mum of course!!! How could we return her to abandonment. In the first month that she was with us, I noticed Kimba hiding portions of her food in corners and under carpets. In those dreary days, she had become accustomed to thinking for a "rainy day"! The habit didn't last long. A sure sign of how relaxed and reassured she has become with our loving care was that she soon started to lick her bowl clean.
We hadn't bargained to end up with a pack! They are marvellous dogs though, so sweet and gentle and, above all, most appreciative of our caring.
A year old now already! Each pup is developing his/her own character.
Sunday is Boss, very quiet but always has his way and challenging Kimba for pack leadership. I remain undisputed Alpha!
Ben is the charmer with penetrating eyes like searchlights, he'll climb up onto anyone's shoulders to make sure he's noticed.
Twiggy is the skinny one but a bit of a nut. She is constantly following shadows and reflections. She's crafty enough though to play Mummy's girl and buddy buddy with Sunday.
Smudge was always the independent and adventurous one. She'll be the first to recconoitre new territory and from the ealry days was always comfortable chilling out on her own.
They all respond to their names and crowd round for cuddles. Beautiful temperaments but beware ... if just one of them take a disliking to anyone, they all gang up and their snarling approach is frighteningly duanting!!!
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