Exhausted new mum Tessa the basset hound is recovering at home after stunning vets and her owners by giving birth to a supersized litter of 14 puppies.
The two-and-a-half year old was rushed into Abbey House Veterinary Surgery in Morley in the middle of the night for an emergency caesarean after she struggled to deliver the huge headcount - the most the vets had ever seen.
The average litter size for a basset hound is understood to be eight to 10 but now her shocked owners - a family of five in Morley - are having to handrear the seven males and seven females as Tessa struggles to feed them all.
Mum Michelle Robinson, 44, said: “We were all absolutely gobsmacked. We knew she was big but didn’t think for a minute she’d have 14.
“I’m absolutely in awe. After what she’s been through - she’s brilliant.”
Michelle said they decided in July to let Tessa have a litter before getting her spayed and an early ultrasound showed seven pups.
“They said they couldn’t see the exact number but could definitely see seven. We thought there might be 10, because she was so big.”
But in the early hours of Wednesday morning she gave birth to one puppy - then struggled to deliver any more.
When an induction at the 24-hour vets only managed to produce one more, the decision was made to operate - delivering a further 12 pups.
Now recovering back home, Tessa is not producing enough milk for all 14 puppies so Michelle, husband Andy, 46, daughter Jordan, 23, Alex, 21, and Joel, 19, are working in shifts to cover the 24-hour feeding needs.
To help with feeding, they’ve colour-coded the pups by painting their fur with seven shades of nail varnish.
“They each need two millilitres every two to three hours and it takes about an hour and a half. It’s time-consuming but that’s just how it’s got to be. We just have to crack on with it. There are enough of us to help out. ”
She added: “They’re doing really well and Tessa is doing well. She is very skinny. If you look at her, you would think she’s been starved. We couldn’t get her to eat at the end because there was just no room. She’s given everything she has got to those puppies.”