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.
Ever since our little cow puppy emerged, clearly different from the rest, it has been a magical journey.
Not only was his color different, but his hair was longer and softer, his head shaped differently and his body, well, wider is the kind way of putting it. His enormous hind feet sported six toes and he seemed to need to sleep much more than the other pups.
Estelle arrived early on Saturday morning, a little weeble with a happy wobble. She glued herself to my side and remained there all day, nearly tripping me time and again. I was working on a holiday project in the kitchen and she stuck close periodically circling me and pressing her swollen belly against my side. Here’s the view I had of her for most of the day:
Her sweet attitude endeared all of us to her quickly; her tail wagged nonstop and her appreciation for any affection offered was obvious. I trimmed her long nails and introduced her to the Frank bed. She didn’t seem to have much of an appetite and refused dog food until I fed it to her on the floor.
Edith was very interested in Estelle. Eventually introductions were made and for the remainder of the day Edith stayed on one side of me and Estelle on the other. I walked them together and they engaged in competitive peeing. Gracie gave her usual welcome, snarling from the other side of the gate, before retreating to her crate.
At bedtime I introduced Estelle to her new digs in the puppy room. The whelping box Nick built took up much of the room. I lined it with layers of quilts and towels. With the grow lights and the blooming flowers that share the room, I thought the whole set up looked quite cozy. Estelle not so much. She really didn’t want to be left all alone. It took a little convincing to get her in the box the first time and she continued to hop out of it each time I left, whining at the gate that blocked her escape.
I went to bed imagining I’d find her pressed against the gate in the morning, but was surprised to see that she’d decided the box was hers and insisted on staying in it for most of the morning. She swirled the bedding into a nest and lay in a corner, watching me. The tail wagging had abated. Could she be in labor? But we have two more weeks!Continue reading Our Holiday Treats Came Early
When I woke last Wednesday morning and the election was finally over, I was devastated. I looked out at the rain and it felt like my best plan of action was to crawl back in bed and not get up for four years.
But then I had another thought.
“Suck it up, Buttercup,” I told myself.
I can handle this. And besides, I’m not always right. It is my greatest hope that I am completely wrong on this one. Now, don’t let that sidetrack you. This is not a political post. That’s just a confession of where I was when I made a crazy decision.
I got out of bed, had some caffeine and changed the notifications on my Facebook (I did put on my big-girl panties, but that doesn’t mean I could stomach the taunting or rejoicing of those for which it was a bright sunny morning).
And then I decided what I really needed was some puppies. That would put everything in perspective for me, or at the very least, it would be a grand distraction and a place to channel my excess emotions. Continue reading Election Results
“We’re running low on puppies,” said Ian after he’d poked his head in the puppy room on Sunday and noticed we were down to three puppies.
It’s Tuesday now and the quiet in our house is remarkable. The silence rings like it did when the baby finally stopped crying and fell asleep all those long nights a decade or two ago when we were young parents.
All the puppies have gone to their forever homes. It’s just Edith and Gracie left negotiating territory and guarding their food dishes. Before the pups left, we had one last adventure together that still has me smiling every time I think of it.
With the help of Nancy (Edith’s adopter and OPH photographer) I took all twelve puppies to the vet for their well-visit last Thursday. Remembering my last puppy vet run, I’d packed the car with bags of wet rags, extra towels, garbage bags, and no one (including me) had eaten anything in four hours. We left early so we’d have time to clean up the barf and poop coated puppies that would emerge from their kennels when we finally arrived at the vet. Continue reading We’re Running Low on Puppies
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
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.
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.
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.
Charlotte is the blond puppy with the blue collar
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!)
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!