The birth of 17 puppies, to a dog in Germany, is a heartwarming tale of survival.
The mother is a 4-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback named Etana, who gave birth to nine males and eight females on Sept. 28 near Berlin.
Etana's owner, Ramona Wegemann said, "The birth of the puppies was very special. All puppies were born naturally, no cesarean was necessary."
But the birth was only the beginning of the challenge. It is unusual in a litter so large that all survive. Etana's owner barely slept for the first month, as she had to feed the 17 puppies with a bottle because their mother couldn't cope.
When she was "finished feeding the last puppy, the first was hungry again," Wegemann told the Associated Press.
This is Etana's second litter. Her first pregnancy produced eight puppies, not an uncommon number for a Ridgeback.
Rhodesian Ridgeback's are a breed that traces its origins to Southern Africa and have been used to hunt lions. The canine gets its name from a long ridge of hair running along its back, in the opposite direction of the rest of its fur.
Just to make life a little more hectic, every puppy in this litter has a name that begins with the letter "B." The females puppies are called Bahati, Binta, Bahya, Bashima, Batouuli, Binki, Bora, Bisa and the male ones are Baakir, Banjoku, Belay, Bruk, Bundu, Bayo, Bukekayo, Biton, and Bulus.
Wegemann says, for her and her husband, caring for the 17 puppies is a full-time job and has decided to sell them for $1,315 per dog. But even that won't cover their vet and food costs to date. They plan to sell the puppies only to homes with children and to non-breeders.