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

A Hamilton Birthday Party

Every time I have the opportunity to see one of my former foster pups, I always wonder if they will recognize me, and pretty much every time I go away both sad and glad that they don’t. Or if they do, they keep it to themselves.

I’m sad they don’t recognize me because I still love them and remember the bond we had. Some of them were with me for months. At the same time I’m so very glad that they are happy in their new lives and not pining for me. As I said to someone who asked me about it at the Hamilton puppy birthday party over the weekend, “If they did, there would be 70 dogs roaming around the mid-atlantic (plus one in Indiana and one in Massachusetts) feeling depressed.” I’m glad they’ve moved on. I’m grateful dogs are so resilient.

On this past Sunday, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Schuyler and six of her nine pups a year after they consumed my life and solidified my puppy addiction. When I agreed to foster Schuyler and her newborn puppies, through a simple miscommunication or perhaps an assumption on my part, I thought I was getting a mom dog and three pups. That seemed manageable and my husband was game.

Then, a day before I picked them up I discovered there were actually nine puppies coming. Luckily, my marriage survived it. And I do still wonder if I would have ever volunteered for that many puppies had I known. Either way, it set my course and explains why since then I’ve fostered 26 puppies in less than a year.

When they left my house, the Hamilton puppies weighed 10-12 pounds and now they are all between 45-65 pounds. They are still a happy bunch and took over the dog park where the party was held. The Hamilton pack was back in action. They wrestled over sticks, just as they had in the puppy pen last spring.

Continue reading A Hamilton Birthday Party

The Other Foster Dog

So, you may have noticed that I haven’t written very much about my other foster dog. Vera Bradley has been with us for a month now, and in that time her presence has been eclipsed by puppies leaving, Estelle leaving, and then Darlin’ giving birth. That’s my official excuse.

My unofficial excuse for not mentioning Vera often is that my family is in love with her. All of them.

Well, except the cats.

The cats are beyond terrified of her. One has even taken to living up the hill with the barn cat. There is good reason for this fear. I have little doubt that Vera would (best case) run them out of town or (worst case) shred them into little bitty pieces, if given the opportunity.

In fact, it is this very threat to the cats that keeps my family from kicking me out and keeping Vera instead.

And Vera, for her part, loves them. Every one of them. Even Gracie…. Continue reading The Other Foster Dog

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!