Skip to content Skip to navigation

Meet Nova, the lone survivor from one tragic litter

Beautiful Nova is just seven-weeks-old. A gorgeous, fluffy bundle of joy that could melt your heart, first glance suggests she’s just like every other puppy with a queue of people waiting to take her home.

Sadly, Nova isn’t like every other puppy. Nova has a story to tell, a complicated history already created from just a short little life so far. 

Her mother came to our Cornwall centre as a pregnant, unloved stray. The animal care team quickly got to work welcoming her into the centre, settling her as best they could and eventually helping her with the delivery of five pups, before tragedy struck and four puppies died inexplicably.

Cornwall Centre Manager Louise recalls: “Thelma was signed over to us from the dog warden as a stray so her background was unknown. At this point we were unaware she was pregnant although it was evident from her teats that she’d had puppies previously. 

“She looked in very good condition, well trained and with a lovely nature. After her assessment, she was quickly put up for rehoming and was snapped up by a lovely lady and her mum. It wasn’t until Thelma was booked in for her spay operation that we discovered she was pregnant.

“Thelma was about half way through so we knew we had four or five weeks to get her fed up and ready. The Cornwall centre hasn’t had any dogs give birth at the centre for over 10 years so the staff were all very excited. 

“Thelma began giving birth in the evening, with lots of gaps in between each pup so it took just over 10 hours. We were all exhausted but all five beautiful pups arrived happy and healthy, or so we thought.

“It wasn’t until week two that, out of the blue, we lost a pup during the night. There were no obvious signs, all the pups had been gaining weight; we weigh them all every other day to ensure they are progressing well.

“There could have been many reasons as to why the pup had died, the other pups were assessed by our vet and there was nothing obvious. In the interest of helping the other pups an autopsy was carried out which gave us some information but still couldn’t pin point exactly what had caused the sudden death.

“Week three we lost another, again very suddenly. The pups were all such big chunky happy healthy pups that it was so sad and frustrating there was nothing we could do, or give them, to prevent this happening again.

“We were getting regular assessments and every test possible to try and suss out what was going on. We lost another two pups a few days before they were four-weeks-old. Absolutely devastated, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to lose them all.

“We got an answer. Finally some test results came back to say that it was Canine Herpes. Thelma had the disease, and this in turn was passed onto the pups via her milk. The virus kills pups aged between two and three weeks, one of the factors being that they can’t regulate their own body temperature. 

“As frustrating as it was going so long without knowing the reason for these devastating events, we soon realised that even if we had the knowledge of the virus beforehand, we still would not have been able to save them. It’s not until pups reach the age of four weeks that they start to regulate their own body temperature, and it stays a little bit higher making it more difficult for the virus to survive.

“Nova is now seven-weeks-old and getting bigger and more courageous each day.” 

The only survivor of Thelma’s litter, Nova is now available for rehoming. However, she does also carry the Herpes virus, which is contagious to other dogs and means she’ll need a very special home. For threat of contamination, Nova will never be allowed to socialise with other dogs or spend time in areas where she might meet other dogs. 

This means she’ll need a place in a special family, where she’ll be spoilt with lots of playtime and interaction to make up for time with her own kind that she’ll miss out on. If you’re able to offer Nova that special place in your family, please visit her rehoming page.

Nova’s story is just one of many that we see at NAWT. Stray dogs regularly come into the care of our five centres, some formerly abused or mistreated, all of them having suffered some form of neglect. It’s our job to save them. To offer them the kindness that has been missing from their lives, to bring them back to good health, train them and help them to find a place in a responsible loving home. Of course, we’re only able to do this with your kind support

The care we offer these animals comes with significant costs; for example in the last financial year, we spent over £280,000 on veterinary costs and this case alone cost the charity thousands of pounds in vet bills. 

The Government doesn’t provide any funding towards this, we rely entirely on the generosity of our supporters. If this is something you can help us with, please give what you can today. We truly appreciate every donation. For some animals, it can make the difference between life and death.

Add new comment