On first glance, gorgeous seven-week-old Nova looks like she would have a queue of people waiting to take her home. But Nova isn’t like other pups.

Her story began when her mother arrived at the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) in Cornwall centre as a pregnant, unloved stray.

The NAWT 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.

Thelma with her pups. Credit: NAWT

“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.”

Special home needed

The only survivor of Thelma’s litter, Nova is now available for rehoming but she will need a very special home. Nova also carries the Herpes virus and as it is contagious to other dogs, she will never be allowed to socialise with other dogs or spend time in areas where she might meet other dogs.

Nova needs a special home. Credit: NAWT

Despite this, with the help of the right family, Nova can still lead a very happy life where she’ll be spoilt with playtime and interaction. If you are able to offer Nova that special place in your family, please visit her rehoming page on the National Animal Welfare Trust’s website. NAWT sees many cases like Nova’s and rely on donations to help pay for care and veterinarian attention the dog’s need. To donate visit their donation’s page.

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