My Dog Problem…

“You know, when you’re hiding how many dogs you have from your family, it’s a sign you have a problem.”

This is what my sister-in-law said to me over a beer Saturday night. I had just confessed to her that we had another dog coming on Sunday, but someone else was holding the dog over the weekend until all the extraneous family left.

We had a weekend full of family visiting to see my daughter perform in YorVoice –  a friendly local a-la-the-Voice competition held at a gorgeous theater in downtown York. (She WON by the way – pardon me while I take a moment to do a proud-mama-brag! You can see it HERE. She’s the third performer.) I told Sherry that I wasn’t hiding the new dog; it was just a crazy busy weekend beyond the visiting relatives and I didn’t want to add to the chaos. (But, really, all our weekends are pretty busy so if I’m honest, the deception was prompted completely by the visiting relatives.)

This would be the first time some of them had been here in a while. Since their last visit, we’ve fostered over 75 dogs. There are now baby gates and dog beds and toys and baskets of laundry creating a new maze of obstacles in our home, similar to when we had three toddlers/preschoolers roaming the land.

There’s a nice, new cozy bed in the guest bedroom, but that doesn’t mask the fact that three whiney puppies are ensconced on the other side of the wall from their bedroom, plus the pushy mama dog who is protesting the onset of weaning and regularly breaks through the baby gate to whine outside the puppy pen. Add to that my snarky, awkward personal dog, and, well, you get the picture. It seemed smarter to avoid having to explain why I could possibly be adding to the chaos.

Eventually I was found out (and teased), but Sherry was right about it probably being wise to be upfront about your problem with your family. I think the days have passed when they could have had me committed involuntarily. For the most part, I distracted them with puppies.

Other than much eye-rolling and head shaking (and the requisite snarling from Gracie), Nelson’s arrival on Sunday went uneventfully. I have many, many excuses for why I signed on to host him. But they are only that — excuses. The real reason is I couldn’t resist him. Because, yes, I do have a dog problem. (Owning that.)

In case you’re interested, here are my excuses – Continue reading My Dog Problem…

Things Happen for a Reason

Finally, finally, maybe, we are out of the woods. Knock on wood. Fingers crossed. Prayers sent.

I still wake up every morning and hold my breath until I see all the pups breathing, and pause at the puppy room door numerous times during the day to be certain I see a steady rise and fall of sleeping puppy bellies. I have a feeling, this paranoia may be hard to shake. I’ll probably be poking and prodding sleeping puppies for years to come.

Bogo is still very congested, breathing like a tiny darth vadar, so I put her in the nebulizer treatment center (aka, the cat carrier covered in a quilt) several times a day. She doesn’t last in there long, whining after a few minutes and then going into full-on howl mode after five. I don’t feel too horrible letting her scream a bit ever since a pharmacist friend told me that when she’s screaming she’s actually taking in more of her treatment.

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Doodlebug sleeps much more than a normal puppy her age. When I enter the room, Puddin’ hops to his feet and attempts to tackle my toes and Bogo lifts her head and watches the action. Doodlebug simply snores away unless I wake her. Of course, this was reason for me to case the internet in search of some mysterious puppy condition in which 4-week-old puppies sleep nonstop – Sleeping Beauty Syndrome? I’m hoping this excessive slumber is only due to a tiny body trying to grow. The pups seem to be at least a week or two behind developmentally, so Doodlebug sleeping like a two-week-old pup is hopefully normal.

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All three pups Continue reading Things Happen for a Reason

The Roller Coaster Quest to Save These Pups

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Up and down. Up and down. Every day in that puppy pen, it is up and down. I’m getting better at riding the roller coaster. Not sure if that’s a good thing. Maybe I’m just becoming numb.

In the beginning, when my pups began to fail, I was frantic, teary, desperate. Now, I’m resigned and accepting and grateful. We are doing everything we can. They will survive or they won’t, but it won’t be because we didn’t try.

My husband reminds me again and again not to think past today. I don’t want to ponder difficult decisions down the road if these pups don’t begin to thrive. Spending so much intense time with them has given me opportunity to know them well and the thought of any of them dying feels unbearable. And yet, I’ve witnessed the death of five puppies now, so I know that if I have to, I will bear it.

Following that thought too far, is painful so I’m trying very hard not to think ahead. Focus on now. What’s in front of me. Three adorable, precious puppies. Continue reading The Roller Coaster Quest to Save These Pups

The Battle to Save These Pups

I really don’t know what I’m doing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that in the course of fostering dogs and even more times in the course of fostering puppies.

And once again, I am wishing, wishing, wishing that I knew more or was a quicker study when it comes to caring for this litter. Granted, this isn’t an easy litter. In any way. And yet I can’t help but feel responsible, if only for my ignorance.

We lost another puppy yesterday. And whether or not I could have done anything about it, is probably not the point. But that doesn’t stop me from doubting and questioning and sinking into a pit of serious sadness over what feels like my inability to do anything to help them. I go through the same thing with my kids, just now I’m transferring that mama/caretaker guilt to fostering.

I was recounting the story for Nick on the phone yesterday (he is traveling this week) and I said, “I just wish they’d give me another litter – I know so much more now. I could do better.”

And then I thought about that.

How horrible is it that lives depend on me and I’m still learning?

But, you know what? Continue reading The Battle to Save These Pups

The Tale of Three Mama Dogs

Estelle went home on Friday. We all miss that happy little girl with the funny ears, quirky ways, and incredibly sweet nature. Now she gets to be the puppy she was meant to be instead of spending a lifetime having more puppies.

I looked over her paperwork, finally, in preparation for her leaving and saw that she was only ten months old when she arrived here, a puppy with a belly full of puppies.

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While she came from dreadful circumstances, oh what a happy ending. Continue reading The Tale of Three Mama Dogs

Our Tragic Weekend

If it’s painful, you become willing not just to endure it but also to let it awaken your heart and soften you. You learn to embrace it.
– Pema Chodron

The heavy sadness that followed me everywhere this weekend despite the sunshine, seems to have let up a bit. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve had my first real sleep in three nights or that the tide has truly turned in my puppy pen.

If you’ve been following on the Facebook Another Good Dog group, you know that it has been a tragic few days here.

After three nights of nearly no sleep, it’s hard to remember the order of events, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I mix up a detail or two.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Darlin’s temperature dropped soon after she arrived here Thursday afternoon which meant that labor was imminent. Continue reading Our Tragic Weekend

What Difference a Day Makes

What a difference a few days make in the life of a foster dog home. We started this week with two fosters and the certain knowledge that Vera was going home on Friday to her forever family who had come to visit and spent a good hour with her -walking her, playing with her and falling in love. Estelle would leave the next week after her spay surgery with a delightful family who live just over the line from us in Maryland.

Fast forward two days—there is an urgent plea for fosters. Could I take a pregnant dog or a litter of nine puppies who could be flown in (yes, flown in) on Thursday? My puppy room was empty and my two fosters all set. Another litter? A pregnant dog? Either option would be fun and sure, I could use a break from the editing grind to drive to the airport in my favorite state.

I decided to go with door number one because door number two was nine definite poopers and door number one came with the excitement of delivery and the possibility of many fewer puppies. A gamble, I know, but I was taking my chances and going with the devil I didn’t know.

So yesterday, I drove to Warrenton, Virginia to pick up my newest mama dog. She is not a spring chicken and this is not her first rodeo, but gosh, doesn’t she melt the heart?

I had all kinds of silly names picked out (with the help of my family the night before), but upon meeting her silly didn’t seem appropriate. She’d been Darla at the shelter and I took to calling her Darlin’ so that’s her new name—Darlin’. I’m going to give the pups ‘pet names’ like schnookie-puss and sweetems. Anybody got a good one for me?

Darlin’ liked the whelping box and hopped right in upon arrival. She’s been there ever since and her temperature has dropped to 98.9, a sure sign that labor is imminent! I’m spending my day with my laptop on my lap in the puppy room, waiting.

But wait! Isn’t it Friday? Isn’t Vera leaving today? Nope. Sadly, her wonderful adopters had a health emergency. Everyone is going to be fine, but they won’t be adopting a dog at this time. No one in my house was upset at the idea that Vera would have to stick around. That said, four dogs plus who-knows-how-many puppies is pretty much my capacity so please spread the word that I have a 60-pound, cat-chasing lovebug looking for a home!

And if you want to follow the birth, as it happens, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook page where I’ll be posting updates and maybe even do a live feed after everyone has arrived.

If you’d like to know more about me and my writing, I’d be thrilled if you checked out my website, CaraWrites.com, where you’ll find links to all my books, my other blog, and far too many pictures of dogs!