I awaken shortly after four to the sound of heavy panting in the mud room, adjacent to my bedroom. Charley comes pit-patting down the hallway and noses open my door. "Mom, Mom, Lucy needs you!"
Groaning from lack of sleep and morning stiffness, I stumble to the mudroom. Lucy is lying near the x-pen door, panting and looking at me pleadingly. (Yesterday I pulled out the power tools and made a tarp-lined wood frame for the x-pen so she can no longer push it around the room and my floor will be better protected from puppy piddlings. The tarp is covered with newspapers and a sheet, and the frame is rigged in a way that allows me to easily open one section of the x-pen if I need to get in or out in a hurry. And it works - the x-pen has not migrated across the room one inch!).
I let her out through the x-pen door and take her to the back yard where she has a long pee, supervised by Charley who is the Top Cop Dog in our house. Gotta make sure everyone else does what it expected of them!
Relieved of her full bladder, Lucy trots into the house and runs to the kitchen at full gallop. I follow behind her and arrive to see her sitting up as tall as she can in front of the treat jar, tail wagging briskly and happily from side to side.
She has clearly learned the routine at our house, if not the appropriate start time - once the dogs go out to pee in the morning, they get a treat to tide them over while I fix my coffee and feed the cat.
Treat over, she moves to the cupboard where I keep the dogfood - she's ready for breakfast! A bit ahead of schedule (Sadie has to wait a half hour after her meds before she can eat), but her enthusiasm convinces me that she is not in labour, panting notwithstanding. She is just happy and eager to start the day.
I check her temperature and - surprise! - it is back up to 37.4 and, though still below normal, no longer in the "labour will start in 12-24 hour" mode. Hmmmm...... the vet didn't mention this and neither did my canine health reference books or online materials, but a forum member who breeds collies did post last night that the temperature can go up and down for several days prior to birth.
And so we continue to sit and wait. It is raining today, but with patches of blue and glints of gold where the sun is trying to make its morning debut. I shall walk the dogs and then perhaps tidy the office or read a book while I wait for Lovely Lady Lucy to go into action. It looks like it could be a bit of a wait yet.