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!

 

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One Super Special Pup

I knew Fruitcake was special the moment he was born.

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He didn’t look anything like his siblings. He was white with marvelous black patches. My little cow puppy! His eyes were ringed in black like a teenager experimenting with liquid eyeliner. And when I discovered he had six toes on each of his back feet, it seemed to underline his uniqueness.

Even the other puppies thought he was special and he was often employed as pillow or couch.

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He grew wide and then wider. Each day it became more evident that he was quite different than his siblings. I thought, “Maybe he had a different dad,” but didn’t really worry until the other puppies began pulling up on all fours and he remained flat like a pancake.

Finally, at just over two weeks it became clear that something was decidedly wrong with my favorite pup. Continue reading One Super Special Pup

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.

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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

Expecting

Not much has gone as expected for the past few days. Okay, well, a few things. My husband took off for France. Ian won his soccer game, and Addie got the part she wanted in the school play (of course it wasn’t the part I expected she’d get as she’ll be Blackstache instead of Molly or any other part normally assigned a girl in Peter and the Starcatchers). The tomatoes continue to produce, as do the horses, and now that school has started pretty much no one puts their dishes in the dishwasher. Those things I expected and they happened. Yay, life behaving itself.

What hasn’t gone as expected is most everything having to do with our 50th foster dog.

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I’d painted this lovely romantic picture in my mind of our 50th foster dog, Edith Wharton, giving birth to a handful of puppies in our kitchen as we all watched and were amazed by the miracle. What a great experience for our milestone foster. I was so ready.

I borrowed a really nice handbuilt whelping box from my neighbors (who at this point are probably beginning to wish they lived on a different road as I hit them up for pretty much every dog dilemma I have). We set it up in our kitchen and Nick ran to the hardware store and bought foam pipe insulators to cover the top edges so Edith wouldn’t rub her heavy belly on it when she climbed in. I set down a layer of soft things and puppy pads in preparation.

I looked through my calendar for the next week or so, making sure I could be home if necessary, already preparing my excuses (“Sorry, you’re on the own. Gotta go. There’s a dog giving birth in my kitchen…”)

I read about puppy whelping and even watched a few badly made YouTube videos of it actually happening. I gathered advice from my knowledgeable dog-breeder neighbor and made a list of the supplies I’d need. A box of some of those supplies arrived from OPH (thanks Gina!) and pretty soon I was ALL READY. Edith was due to arrive in less than 24 hours!

And then I checked my email.

Apparently Edith was not made aware of my preparations and my whelping box and she gave birth to the puppies at the shelter that morning.

I was disappointed and a little bit relieved.

Here’s the other unexpected news – Continue reading Expecting

The Pee Wars

I’ve had about enough of the pee wars. Unbeknownst to you, this quiet war has been waging in my kitchen for three days. I don’t know who started it. I don’t know how it will be ‘won,’ but I’ve had entirely enough of it.

So today I armed myself. I bought a doggie diaper. I’m not sure yet which dog will be wearing it, but I’ve decided to place blame on the dog who should know better, so here she is modeling it for you:

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Let me back up.

On Friday evening, I brought home two new fosters. Continue reading The Pee Wars

Second Chances

Now that I’m back to walking (YES! MRI revealed lots of damage, but nothing to stop me from moving forward and continuing to heal on my own!) I’ve had a chance to catch up on my thinking. So much was backlogged in my brain – ideas, worries, dreams, questions, stories. Lucy and I have increased our walk time each day this week and this morning we wandered the back roads for nearly an hour.

I’m still mulling over the book Rescue Road and pondering the enormous challenges to dog rescue in the US (and in the world). I had begun to feel the same way I did when my elementary school science teacher explained how far away Pluto was – it seemed like an insurmountable distance.

My teeny, tiny part in rescuing dogs couldn’t possibly put even the idea of a dent in the problem. Probably my thoughts were colored by my inability to move without pain. But now, the world looks different. I’m ready to get back in the game. I’m ready to save some more dogs.

I’ve had my moments of frustration with Lucy these past few weeks. She has come so far – she’s no longer scratching and her beautiful tri-colored coat is coming back in, her energy levels are rising (and rising!), and her happiness quotient somehow went even higher.

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Here she is playing with the filling for the Frank bed.

My frustration springs from the fact that she is not accustomed to living indoors. It hasn’t been an easy transition. Part of me wants to put her on a line outside. She’d probably be more comfortable. That’s what she’s known. Instead, we keep her in the kitchen and walk her frequently. We reward her when she pees outside and admonish her when she pees inside.

I think she finally understands she shouldn’t pee on our floor, but this morning when she evidently couldn’t hold it a moment longer, she peed on the Frank bed. I was so angry! Why would she do this? Why? Why? Why? I took her outside and then I closed her in her crate. Continue reading Second Chances

Book Review: Girls’ Weekend

Here’s one of my favorite reviews for my novel which released this past May. And here’s my favorite line from this thoughtful review: “The author reminds us in this story that it’s o.k. to not be satisfied with o.k.”

(Note: I’ve made a valiant effort to keep my ‘dog blog’ and my writing career seperate, so indulge me here. If novels/women’s fiction/women-who-are-fed-up-with-their-lives aren’t your thing, just ignore this post! A regular dog-blog post is coming soon! oh, and if you make it all the way to Jennifer’s blog post, be sure to give her a ‘like’ as book bloggers do all their good work for free!)

“Girls Weekend,” by Cara Sue Achterberg Publisher: Fiction Studio Books; May 3, 2016 Synopsis: Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they …

Source: Book Review: Girls’ Weekend