Puppies Ruin Your Life

After over six weeks with these pups, here’s the thing that is getting to me—there are so many of them. Yes, yes, I know. I knew there were twelve when I picked them up. But back then they were tiny. Their little shiny bodies could be held in one hand.

Having fostered a litter of nine puppies last spring, I really thought that twelve wasn’t that many more.

It’s just that it is.

Twelve is a lot.

Adjustments have to be made. Not just enlarging the pen, but in terms of equipment and strategies. You can’t feed twelve puppies with a couple dog food bowls. There would be a riot and little Georgie might get trampled. So, instead, we use a plastic veggie tray which is large and round with six sections, plus another three section serving tray. (Don’t worry— I probably won’t use either again at our parties!)


A water bowl also won’t work for twelve puppies, so instead I use a big, tall-sided plastic chip and dip tray, filling the chip area with water so that six or ten puppies can drink all at once. Puppies tend to do everything enmass. (Again – I promise you probably won’t see this dish at our shindigs!) The chip/dip tray works great unless the kennel attendant steps on a side of it. If that happens the room is flooded and the freshly laid puppy pads are soaked. The residents find that to be a fun situation. Continue reading Puppies Ruin Your Life

Pint Size Puppies and Gallon Size Hearts

“They are so much smaller than they look in the pictures!”

This is pretty much what everyone says when meeting the puppies for the first time.

To me, they’re giant poop-filled monsters compared to the little moles they were when they arrived five weeks ago. At that point most of them weighed less than a pound, with tiny George weighing just 10 ounces and Beatrix weighing the most at 1 pound 1 oz. Hemingway is now the biggest puppy. At nearly nine pounds, he’s four pounds bigger than George. According to the lab growth charts he could top out at 82 pounds! That’s a big dog. Whoopi-size.

So, to give you some scale, I took a few pictures of the puppies with random items. I used Virginia in the first two pictures because she is one of the average size puppies. In the third picture (you’ll note my attempt at free advertising in this one), I used Beatrix because in my absence there had been a rumble and she had the least amount of poop on her. Beatrix is one of the largest puppies, generally trading off second place with Zora. Continue reading Pint Size Puppies and Gallon Size Hearts

The Real Poop, I Mean Scoop, on Fostering Puppies

Each time I think about what I should write in this update on Edith and the Dastardly Dozen (or Darling Dozen depending on the moment and the audience), I can’t seem to begin anywhere but with the poop. I’m not trying to scare you or discourage you from fostering puppies yourself, but there truly is no way around the poop. (I know there are several other OPH foster mommies who will back me up on this.)

My first litter of six shocked me with the sheer quantity and variety of ways that puppies can poop. But I survived it and the puppies more than made up for their messes with their sweetness and puppy breath.


I was ready and knew exactly what I was getting into when I volunteered to take half of Lily’s litter off Chris’ hands last winter. I think that month with just five in the pen was oh-so-manageable.


When Schuyler’s supposedly three puppies morphed into NINE puppies I was decidedly overwhelmed at times, but again I survived and lived to tell. Plus those Hamilton puppies were something special.


But, can I just speak frankly here? Continue reading The Real Poop, I Mean Scoop, on Fostering Puppies

Puppy Progress

It’s been a big week for the pupperoos. They are growing and changing, and believe it or not, getting EVEN CUTER.

They have yet to breach the wall, but every day more of them look longingly across it.


I know it’s only a matter of days (maybe hours) before I walk into the kitchen to find them on the loose. Which is why I’m preparing the puppy room. The puppy room has been empty since spring and in the interim has filled up with all manner of flotsam.

The original use for the puppy room was as a “mud room.” When we renovated our house, we planned to put a large closet with a small sink in our front hall. That way everyone traipsing inside with muddy boots and mitts would have a place to IMMEDIATELY clean up. Best laid plans, you know? Continue reading Puppy Progress

Caring for YOUR Dog’s Heart

Sitting with Edith last night while she panted and panted next to me on the Frank bed, I wanted to do more for her. She’s exhausted. Her pups are growing like little monsters, doubling in size and energy. As I ran my hand over her protruding ribs, I glanced at the pups. I want to resent them. But they are cute, and she certainly loves them. Edith is doing as well as can be expected. She’s strong despite her gaunt frame.


As I sat with Edith, though, my mind and heart were on another heartworm positive dog who gave birth five days after Edith did. Hera’s Hope is also being fostered in York County. She gave birth to six gorgeous puppies who are twice the size of my pups, as they are American bulldogs. Hera’s heartworm is advanced. She’s fighting for her life right now, because in addition to being heartworm+, she is suffering from Bordetella—a common cold to many, but life-threatening to a dog with compromised heart and lungs. Her pups are being bottle fed and also have Bordetella so must be treated with antibiotics. It breaks my heart. Again and again and again. I’m grateful that Edith is doing so well, but I look in her sweet, trusting eyes and I worry as I follow Hera’s story. Mostly, I wish there was more I could do to help Hera and Edith.

So I’m writing about her and I’ve started a fundraising campaign to help Edith and Hera and more heartworm+ dogs whose big, beautiful hearts and lungs are infiltrated with these cruel and ugly worms. Worms that are completely preventable.

Heartworm isn’t something I thought a lot about until recently. Maybe I didn’t understand how AWFUL it is or how CRAZY it is that people don’t do more to prevent it. But now I do. I’m learning firsthand how awful it is, but it wasn’t until I joined OPH that I realized how crazy it was that I wasn’t doing much to prevent it in my own dog.

I’m making this confession, knowing full well that judgment may rain down on my ignorant head, but knowing it is worth it if it causes another dog owner to realize that it is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to prevent heartworm in their own pets EVERY MONTH.

I’ve never quizzed my parents in regards to my childhood pets, but once I became an adult and had my own pets I truly did not understand the risks I was taking by not giving heartworm preventatives to my dog. I could argue that my first dog lived with me in a house trailer on $125/week and even getting her to the vet was impossible. I watched for the free rabies clinics, and somehow lucked out in terms of her staying remarkably healthy and living a long healthy life.

cropped-100_1584.jpgBy the time my second dog rolled around, I was married with a kid and much better about getting my dog to the vet. I gave the heartworm preventative when I remembered, but honestly, and I’ve racked my memory hard on this one, I don’t remember my vet ever telling me how important, in fact, critical, it was that I give my dog her heartworm meds EVERY month, not just when I remembered.

Again, I was lucky and she stayed healthy. We moved to the Eastern Shore of MD, where it should be noted that there are LOTS and LOTS (and LOTS) of mosquitoes (mosquito bites are how a dog gets heartworms). And once again, the new vet did not lecture or insist or smack me, when I told him that I gave the heartworm preventatives most months.

035When we moved to PA and got a new puppy, she was a bit quirky. She wouldn’t take pills of any kind, no matter what they tasted like. When she was little, we could wrestle the heartworm preventative into her, but as she got bigger and snarlier, it got tricky. I tried hiding them in treats, so she refused all treats (still does). I gave them to her in hot dogs and peanut butter, but she quickly caught on and ate around them, spitting them out or hiding them. I was frustrated that we wasted so many pills as they turned to mush or I found them a week later under her dog bed.

I just didn’t get it. I think we in the dog rescue world who are dealing with heartworm and understand its devastation, take for granted that everyone else gets it. We assume all good dog owners give the preventatives because they know their dog’s lives depend on it. But here’s the thing—they don’t know. And it’s not because they don’t think heartworm preventatives are important, it’s because they don’t realize how important. It’s not neglect, it’s ignorance.

We need to keep talking about it and vets need to insist loudly that their clients give their preventatives—explaining the danger and what heartworm will do to a dog. And meanwhile, we need to take care of the animals who suffer because of our ignorance.

I’ve started a fundraiser called, Edith’s Heart. I’ve set a lofty goal of $6500 because that is the approximate conservative rescue cost of treating Edith and 12 more dogs in honor of her puppies. It is only because of generous veterinarians treating our dogs at significantly reduced rates, that $6500 can cover so many dogs.

I hope you’ll consider giving to Edith’s Heart. I plan to send periodic updates to all donors to let them know how Edith’s treatment goes. It won’t be quick or easy. Edith’s Heart fundraiser will run through the end of December because that is the projected time it will take to successfully treat Edith.

We don’t know her outcome, just as right now, we don’t know what will happen with Hera’s Hope. All we can do is tell the story of these dogs and hope it raises awareness about how very important it is that we prevent heartworm before it comes to this.

To donate to Edith’s Heart Click HERE.

Note: Gracie still won’t swallow pills, but I learned that there are other ways to prevent heartworm in your dog. There is a topical treatment, which is what we’ve given Gracie for the past two years. Today she went for her annual checkup and heartworm test. I no longer take her negative test result for granted.

Weigh the costs

Adoption JuJu and Jinxes

So here’s the story I wanted to post last week, but couldn’t because of the jinx factor.

The jinx factor is what happens when I post about a dog’s adopters before they are actually adopted. Seems like the last few times I’ve done this (Whoopi was the latest), the adoption falls through. I was SUPER excited about Lucy’s family finding her, but didn’t want to jinx her, so I held back. Now that she’s happily in her new home with a family who love her, I can share the story I wrote last week and then never posted… Continue reading Adoption JuJu and Jinxes

Still Life with Puppies

Edith and the puppies are all doing well. I’m very proud to say Edith has put on some weight. She is still too skinny to be nursing 12 growing puppies, but she looks better. She’s an excellent mom, yet she’s also become quite independent. She spends portions of her days outside the box, relaxing on the floor (so far she is hesitant to use the Frank bed) or following me around the kitchen. When I sit with her on the Frank bed, she will lean in to me and close her eyes, and I swear she looks like she’s smiling. It’s the only time I truly see her relax. It’s been such a long journey for her to this place and she has so far to go, but I think she knows that she isn’t alone in this anymore.dsc_4858

She’s relaxing more about the puppies, now, too. For the first few days, whenever anyone new came in the kitchen, she would pile up the puppies in the corner and more or less sit on them like a mother bird. The puppies protested this treatment. Now, though, when someone new comes in the kitchen, if she is in the box she’ll glance my way, and if she is out of the box she’ll stick close to me, trusting my judgment as to whether her puppies are in danger.

Last night when the puppies were whining loudly as I changed the towels in the box, checked their collars, and weighed them, Gracie appeared on the other side of the gate that keeps her out of the kitchen. She barked and growled, possibly complaining about the noise the puppies were making. (They tend to squeal when I place them in the plastic bin on the scale.) Edith watched her, but said nothing.

On Saturday, I left Nick and Ian in charge of Edith and the puppies, and spent the day at the New Freedom Fest, volunteering at the OPH booth and also selling/signing my books. The weather was great and we got to talk to lots of potential volunteers, fosters, and adopters. We had two dogs with us – Mademoiselle and Shortcake who garnered lots of attention (but sadly, no adopters). They were troopers, and completely spent by lunchtime.

The New Freedom Fest includes a Pet Parade with prizes and we were asked to be one of the judges. Serious pressure, here, at least for me because all the dogs were the best and I love the kind of enthusiastic people who participate in events like a pet parade. Watching all the dogs (and one cat!) go by brought back memories of when my daughter won the “best overall” category in the pet parade with one of our chickens many years ago. She spent several afternoons ‘teaching’ the chicken to walk in a cat harness, but in the end she towed the chicken in a wagon. Only in a small town, I suppose.


One of my former fosters, OPH alum Chase (Okeriete) won the “cutest dog” category. He was dressed like a hotdog and led by his equally adorable big brother. Of course, they got our vote, but I was happy they got the other judges votes, too!



When I got home from my day away, Edith was happy to see me and the puppies, whose eyes and ears remain closed, didn’t much care or notice that I was home. They still resemble guinea pigs more than puppies, but they are getting stronger. They’re pulling themselves up more, wobbly and unsteady, but nearly standing. Some of their personalities are beginning to show. Zora is quite independent. I often find her sleeping solo.dsc_4883

Charlotte needs constant company and she likes to be the top dog. She generally casts about for a puppy pile and then climbs to the top.

Harper is very attached to her mommy and has a lot to say (as does Virginia).


Hemingway is pretty chill at all times, generally lounging on his back with his legs splayed. (such a boy!) George, perhaps because she is the smallest, can move the fastest. She and Hemingway have a bond and are frequently snuggled together.

Beatrix is a tank and easily the biggest puppy. She also has a racing stripe on her belly.


Jane is a funny girl– very busy and social. She’s a darker blond than the other yellow pups with distinctive white markings. I’ve caught more than one picture of her with what looks like a very contented smile. Here she is with Eudora and Charlotte.


Every now and again they line up like piano keys to nurse and it creates a great visual effect: (The two prominent yellow pups are Louisa and Eudora – they’re quite the twinsies, although Eudora is one of the two runts and is a bit smaller and lighter than her sister.)


Six of the pups have adoption applications. On Saturday at the Fest, I spoke with several more people who are quite interested in a puppy. Maybe we can get them all adoption pending before their eyes even open! Of course, this doesn’t mean any of these people will adopt the pup they’ve chosen (or been assigned to), it only means they get first dibs. So, if you want dibs on any of these babes, I’d recommend that you get your application in pronto. There’s a cheat sheet at the end of this post to help you sort out the puppies on this blog and the Facebook group (which you should join if you need a puppy fix!)


Here’s all 12 – can you find them all?

One more thought (AND an opportunity!)–

I’m pretty sure that the Pennsylvania contingent of OPH is the smallest. While working the booth on Saturday, we agreed that we desperately need more volunteers and fosters. Two dogs, one of them Lucy, were unable to come to the event on Saturday for lack of a ride. We need people who are willing to pick up a dog from a foster’s home and bring it to/from an event. The more exposure the dogs get, the quicker they can find their forever homes. We also need volunteers to do things like reference checking (which can be done from home), taking pictures of dogs, visiting/spending time with dogs in boarding, and most especially organizing and staffing adoption events. If you’ve got any time to give—we could use YOU. To volunteer, go to the OPH website and sign up. I’d love to work with you to rescue more dogs!

NOTE: Several of you have asked about Edith’s expenses in terms of her heartworm treatment. Can I just say that you are the best people with the biggest hearts? I’m working with OPH and their heartworm coordinator to figure out a way to help you contribute to her treatment and at the same time help raise awareness of this horrible condition that is completely preventable and claims the lives of too many dogs. I’m hoping to be able to let you know soon how you can be involved, so stay tuned!

Puppy Key:

blond pup, no collar – Emily Dickinson

purple collar – Virginia Woolf

black pup, no collar, big boy – Hemingway

dark green collar – Eudora Welty

blue collar – Charlotte Bronte

red collar – Zora Neale Hurston

pink collar – Beatrix Potter

brown collar – Emily Dickinson

bright green collar – Harper Lee

orange collar – Harriet Beecher Stowe

yellow collar – Louisa May Alcott

no collar, black pup, small girl – George Elliot