(DOG PICTURES/VIDEO) A Rhodesian Ridgeback in Germany named Etana gave birth to 17 puppies, and thanks to her devoted guardian, all eight females and nine males are thriving. Catch the feeding time video and see what it takes to care for this adorable litter. – Global Animal

BERLIN– A dog in Germany gave birth to 17 puppies in September, and thanks to her devoted guardian, all eight females and nine males have survived. When Etana, Ramona Wegemann’s Rhodesian Ridgeback, delivered 17 puppies in 26 hours, Wegemann knew she was in for a challenge.

Normally, in a very large litter like this, several pups die within the first week because the mother can’t keep up with the puppies’ demands. So, Wegemann took a break from her work as an animal psychiatrist and her husband used his vacation days in order to help out. Wegemann said she barely slept for more than a couple of minutes without interruption during four weeks of an “exhausting” struggle to make sure all of the purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies would survive.

At least five times a day, Wegemann gave the dogs a bottle with special milk because their mother’s nipples could not cope with the demand, and when the puppies were not hungry, they wanted to be entertained, she said. When she was finished feeding the last puppy, the first was hungry again, the 32-year-old Wegemann added.

Six of the puppies have already been sold; four of those are already in their new homes. Wegemann and her husband plan to sell most of the puppies, but will consider sending them only to family homes, not breeders.

The puppies were given African names in homage to the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s African heritage. The females puppies are called Bahati, Binta, Bahya, Bashima, Batouuli, Binki, Bora and Bisa; the male ones are Baakir, Banjoku, Belay, Bruk, Bundu, Bayo, Bukekayo, Biton and Bulus.  Wegemann admits that she has trouble telling them apart sometimes.

“But all of our puppies survived. This is incredible and wonderful,” says Wegemann.

Seven Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies from a litter of 17 look out of their box in Nauen, 50 kilometers outside Berlin on Monday, Dec. 20, 2010. On Sept 28, and 29, the 4 years old Ridgeback Etana had 17 puppies. All of them survived. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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