“I breathed for you two times” I tell Ezra as I scoop him up and kiss his little head. It’s true. Two times Ezra could not make his own lungs inflate and two times, I breathed for him until he could breathe on his own. The first was when he was born, fifth of seven. He came out and Vera cleaned him up. He sputtered a bit and then was still. I suctioned out his mouth and nose and rubbed him vigorously trying to stimulate any response. He lay limp in my hand. I put my mouth over his nose and mouth, my fingers on his frail chest and gently breathed. I felt his chest rise and fall as little puffs of air went from my lungs to his, and again and again. Moments felt like minutes or hours but then Ezra coughed, sputtered some more, and ragged little breaths took over.
I watched Ez for hours as he struggled to keep the oxygen going into his lungs and bloodstream. His breathing was labored and erratic. I thought he would not be able to continue. I knew at this point his tiny body had to take over and figure this thing out. I could only watch and wait. As the minutes really did turn to hours Ez struggled, but he stayed with us. He is such a fighter. Eventually, the breaths evened out, went in and out smoothly and Ez fell asleep.
The second time came about 18 hours later, after I’d lost two pups overnight. I left Vera and the babies for no more than 10 minutes to change from pajamas to clothes. When I came back, Vera lay in the pool, four pups around her. I grabbed her frantically, “what did you do, where is he?” I asked. And then I saw him. There lay Ezra. He’d been underneath her. His skin was blue, he was not breathing. But he was still soft and warm and once again, without even thinking, I put my mouth over his mouth and nose and I breathed. Again and again, I breathed for him. Again and again I felt his tiny chest rise and fall. Once again, Ezra came through. He took a sharp breath in and started to wiggle in my hand. I held him close and tears streamed down my face as my body shook. But Ezzie was back.
The days melted to weeks and time stopped having much meaning as I cared for, worried and fretted about these beautiful kids. I worried too about any lasting impacts on Ez from his bouts with near death. I needn’t have. He was the first to wag his tail, the first to play bow, the first to find his bark (and boy was he surprised!) and he wrestles and plays along with the rest. Ezra is just fine.
And so I tell him that no matter where he goes in this big world, his foster momma Lynne will always love him. We will always be connected. Two times when Ezra could not breathe, I breathed for him.