Of Miracles and Magic

It was quite a weekend! At least in terms of dog fostering, but definitely not exciting in terms of regular clean-the-house-be-mom-drive-kids-everywhere. Pretty yucky weekend for all that, plus I made the mistake of finally getting on the scale after several months of too much wine and too many new recipes to discover I’d gained five pounds since summer. Ugh. Let’s not think about that – let me tell you about my amazing weekend instead!

First up, John Coffey went home on Saturday with a family that is perfect for him. He knew it immediately. Three boys – all for him!! And fun parents- dad’s even a runner, so score there, too. Sometimes when an adopter turns up, I have to simply trust that OPH did their due-diligence and the pup is the right match, but sometimes it’s completely clear that there is magic at hand. John Coffey was so anxious to get going with his family that he leapt in their car as soon as a door was opened. We had to bring him back out to take a picture, but you can see from the picture how happy he was – what a smile!

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So, super duper awesome adoption. Now I have all my fingers and toes and anything else that can be crossed, crossed that he is not overwhelming them with his happiness and enthusiasm, and that he has NOT broken into the lego room that their youngest son told me about!

Just before John Coffey’s family arrived, I got word that the puppies were being born!

What puppies? (you sound just like my husband!)

These would be the unborn puppies I committed to fostering in five weeks or so when they are weaned from their mama. I tried to stay away, but as I’ve mentioned before, I have a puppy problem. “Hello, my name is Cara and I’m addicted to puppies….it’s been a few hours since I last smelled puppy breath.”

While John Coffey was claiming his people and I was explaining the paperwork, I kept getting texts that the puppies were arriving. (Number three is here!) As we took a picture, handed off the food and forms, and said our last goodbyes, my text went off again. (Four!)

So as soon as their van cleared the driveway, I was gone like a shot, racing across town (almost four miles!) to Chris’ house where Lily, the most amazing mama dog I’ve ever met, was giving birth.

I arrived there amid a crisis. Puppy number two was born with a cleft palate and was fading fast. Chris, Sam (friend), and Caitlyn (daughter) were distressed and scrambling to try to help this tiny soul. OPH medical was advising how to tube feed the pup. Caitlyn held the puppy against her skin to keep her warm, but there was very little any of us could do. She passed quietly and peacefully as Sam held her, and Lily gave birth to puppy number 5.

Part of the reason I had been so intent on witnessing this birth was because I have this crazy plan to rescue a pregnant mama myself. Sadly, many of these pregnant moms don’t make it out of the shelters because taking them in is expensive and difficult and you just don’t ever know what you’re in for. This was the second time Chris has lost a newborn puppy and my heart went out to her. Not easy. As hard as it was to witness, I was grateful to be there because it’s a reality I needed to know before I commit to my own pregnant mama and whatever she has created.

Lily’s labor was long – first pup was born around 11:30 and last one didn’t come until around 5. In between puppies, we marveled at the miracle and comforted Lily. Sam and Chris fed her vanilla ice cream (to boost her calcium) and boiled chicken for strength.

DSC_0928Two of the first pups were camo-gray colored and the rest were black with occasional white markings. Lily lay calmly in a plastic babypool lined with towels. Her beautiful, soulful eyes conveyed an absolute trust. I was amazed that even though she’d never seen me before, she allowed me to sit right beside her for a front row seat to each birth.

I tried to be a calm, helpful guest, but inside I was crazy excited. In contrast, Chris, Sam, and Caitlyn were all so relaxed about everything. I think that’s part of why the birth went so well, and I’m certain it made all the difference for Lily. I have to wonder if I could be as competent and chill. Not sure. (Something to think about.)

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Brand new puppy – only seconds old. I know it’s kind of hard to see since mom and baby are matching.

And Lily! I don’t know how Lily landed in OPH hands, but it was obvious that she felt safe, and she trusted Chris and Caitlyn. She was amazingly calm through the whole process as puppies 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were born! I was happy to see that when it comes to puppy births, the mama dog takes care of pretty much everything. Caitlyn assisted by helping her pull the sac off the faces of each pup as it emerged, but Lily took care of everything- cleaning the pups up and even chewing the umbilical cord. Some of it was borderline gross, but even so, amazing. Nature is incredible, isn’t it?

It was such a peaceful experience. Between births, we chatted, thought up names for the puppies (flower names in honor of their mama), and watched the puppies squirm and wriggle. They looked like skinny guinea pigs to me with their smashed noses (Chris told me they are squished like this to make it easier to nurse, but they probably won’t be like that forever) and their closed eyes (for their first three weeks!). Precious, precious, precious!

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Pile of precious puppies only hours old

When it was all finished, Chris took Lily out to pee and Caitlyn and I cleaned up the baby pool and lined it with fresh towels while Sam boiled more chicken for Lily to eat. Once Lily was settled, Sam took off to take care of her own family and Chris and I opened a bottle of wine I’d brought to celebrate. We sipped our wine and watched Lily with her puppies finally resting. Wow. I want to write something more profound, but really, all that comes to mind is- wow. If you want to follow Lily and the pups, check out Caitlyn and Chris’ facebook page about their canine adventures.

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Foo Foo

By the time I came home to my lone puppy Foo Foo, I was pretty high. This puppy addiction is bad. Foo Foo looked enormous to me, even though she’s only a bitty 13 pounds (the newborn pups were all about one pound). We’re having a great time with Foo Foo which only means there will be tears when she goes. She is endlessly entertaining and pretty much the BEST snuggler. Counting my blessings right now and counting the days until half of Lily’s litter comes to live with us. Here’s hoping I get Sneezewort!

UPDATE: Check out John Coffey’s daddy’s blog  – this post is all about adopting John Coffey!

 

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Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

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