(Ernie, Robbie and little Chip)
On September 6, 2010 between the hours of 8:30-11:30p, my dog, Ellie Mae, gave birth to three boys. We named them Robbie, Chip and Ernie, in reference to the 'sons' on the 1960's TV show, 'My Three Sons'. Two of the 'boys' were healthy and strong. One of them, Chip was a preemie. We knew it was going to be a struggle to keep him alive and healthy. But, my wife and I decided it was worth the effort and we had to take the responsibility to do so.
For the first week, it wasn't so bad. Little Chip would get pushed around when he was nursing so we had to keep an eye on him to make sure he was getting his share. As added nourishment, we were told tube feeding him as a supplement would be good. We were nervous about doing this as putting the tube in wrong could go down his lungs instead of his belly. But, after awhile, we got comfortable with what we were doing.
The second week, something changed. Chip was no longer nursing and was strictly relying on the tube feeding for his meals. No matter how hard we tried, he wouldn't take his mother's milk. We had to tube feed him every 4 hours day and night to keep him alive.
It was hard. Boy, was it hard. My wife would set the alarm in the middle of the night and we would both feed him. One of us would stay with the puppies to make sure they were ok at night. Little Chip, whose legs and arms weren't fully developed yet, struggled to keep warm and would cry at night as to find his brothers to lay next to them. We then had to pick him up and have him snuggle to one of his siblings, which would quiet him down. Until they moved, and we would have to do it again.
As time went on and I grew more tired by the day, I realized that my past marathon training really was helping me get through this time. I knew I couldn't give up. That, this would end at some point and, if I kept going, the reward would be at the end of the adventure. So, through the tiredness, we pushed on because we felt little Chip was worth it and would make a good pet someday. As the days went on, he was gaining weight, grams at a time, but still the weight was going up, not down.
I wish I could tell you this story had a happy ending. Little Chip died on Sunday, September 26 in the morning. Nature, indeed, loves her little surprises. Even though Chip lived for three weeks, he left a mark in our lives, one that we will not soon forget. In looking back, I can only say we wouldn't have done it any other way except change the outcome.
So, those who are thinking about doing a marathon or are training for a marathon, know that what you are doing is not just preparing for a race but preparing for things in life that will test your patience, your endurance, your soul. And, at the end, no matter what the outcome, you will be a better person for it.