Talk about a working mother.
Midnight, a 2-year-old black Labrador, gave birth to 14 puppies July 16, and they've kept her busy ever since.
On Friday, the 14 pups scurried about in a major feeding frenzy, whimpering and mashing each other around for space at their mother's teats.
It was survival of the fittest at its most elementary form.
Midnight remained patient as her newborns pushed and prodded at her underside and seemed relieved when one by one, they waddled off to snooze.
Owner Lisa Schmitt never dreamed her American Kennel Club registered lab would have 14 offspring. She thought Midnight maybe would have eight puppies.
Dr. William Bayouth, a Lawrence veterinarian, said larger breeds of dogs such as Labradors typically have litters of between eight and 12 puppies. He said Midnight's litter is unusual because all 14 of the puppies survived. Typically, one or more of the dogs will die, he said.
Schmitt left for work about 7:30 a.m. the day Midnight gave birth. When she returned, the lab already had birthed 11 puppies. Schmitt helped Midnight deliver three more.
All 14 have survived so far. Their eyes and ears were still closed Friday, but the puppies seemed alert, especially when space at a nipple opened up.
Though Midnight is black, and Butch, the registered lab who fathered the pups, is black, the puppies are black, golden and chocolate. There are four male and 10 female pups and three chocolate, four golden and seven black.
``Labs will throw any color,'' Schmitt said.
Schmitt met Butch's owner, John Murphy, through work. Butch looked anxious while visiting Midnight and her pups Friday.
So far, Midnight has been an excellent mother, Schmitt said.
The Schmitts plan to sell all but one of the pups. Schmitt's 10-year-old daughter Whitney has her eyes on keeping one of the chocolate labs.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.