Tag: Foster puppies

Jan 06

Top Ten Lessons Learned While Fostering Puppies

About a month ago, my family fostered five puppies for a couple of weeks. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, but it was also a learning experience. These are the top ten lessons we learned while fostering puppies:

1. Seventy-five-pound Golden Retrievers will try to escape three-pound puppies by attempting to climb inside refrigerators. (*He’s since decided the puppies are the greatest things since Milkbones.)

2. Puppy food apparently tastes much better once it’s been spilled and chased across the floor. Puppy paws are the perfect tools for setting food free.20161227_094041-2

3. If a puppy wants to climb out of its pen, no matter how many times a human tries to put it back inside, the puppy will always win.

4. Hoodie drawstrings serve as perfect puppy pacifiers in a pinch (say that five times, fast).

5. If puppies do something extra-adorable, like tugging one another around in a doll stroller, the Laws of the Universe state that it cannot ever be caught on film.
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6. One of the first skills puppies learn is how to capture the prized delicacy called “laundry.”

7. A puppy can and will hunt down a sheet of newspaper, bring it back to its den, and kill it. Repeatedly.

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8. The antidote to fussy puppies is Bob Ross’ Joy of Painting. Turn on an old episode and puppies will be calmly snoozing before you can say, “Happy little tree.” It’s true, Bob Ross really does make all things better.20170106_111909-1

9. Few things make better puppy toys than the boingy kind of door stoppers. They’re equally appealing to kittens and human babies. As adults, it’s almost our obligation to install them everywhere.

10. Puppies have the ability to erase memories. No matter how challenging they can be, all it takes is one squeaky puppy yawn, one puppy “play with me” prance, or one puppy showing up with a stuffed animal in its mouth, asking to be cuddled, for all troublesome recollections to evaporate into thin air.20161208_133050-2

In case you’re wondering what happened to our five foster pups, two went to live with families (with kids!) and one went to live on a horse farm(!) with a new doggy brother. As for the final two, if you saw my post about Instant Puppies, you’ll know my kids fell in love with them and they joined our family. Cheers to all the foster fails out there!

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Nov 28

Instant Puppies, Just Add Water

Turns out I’ve become an instant puppy mom (and, yes, they do need water). Food, too. Plus, lots and lots of newspaper for potty time.

I volunteer at a wonderful animal rescue, where dogs and donkeys, peacocks and pigs, egg-layers and an emu named Simon all live on a lovely little farm with a spectacular view. Once a week, I get to visit all the newly arrived dogs, as well as the long-time residents, a trio of little old men–two Doxies and a Chihuahua–who each own a part of my heart. There’s one place I don’t often go, though, and that’s the puppy room. Sure, I take a peek every once in a while, to see all those darling baby faces, but my volunteer job isn’t to walk the puppies, so I keep my distance. Too much tugging at heartstrings. I’m sure you understand.

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Simon: emu, flirt.

Well, the pups tracked me down, anyway. In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, a large litter of ten puppies arrived at the shelter. Five were in good shape and five were smaller and underweight. With ten mouths to feed, it’s a wonder their poor mother was able to keep any well-fed. A foster home was needed for the five neediest puppies, but volunteers were scarce because of the holiday. Cue: me.

“Sure, I can do it,” I offered. It’ll be tough, I thought, but how hard can it really be? They’re only puppies.

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C Puppies: Cassie, Carson, Clara, Charlie, Cooper

My mantra soon became: what’s harder than taking care of five puppies? Answer: taking care of five sick puppies.

They weren’t sick, not really. They’d been through a lot. Shifted from one place, to the next, until they landed in my home. Their environment was new; their food was new. That can be difficult on puppy tummies. Very difficult, apparently. Now cue: round the clock digestive troubles. I went through several rolls of paper towels, several containers of cleaning wipes, and a large pile of newspaper, carefully saved since last winter, intended to help start our fireplace. Also, I gave up sleep. Lots and lots and lots of sleep.

Regardless, we got through it without any crying. Close, but no crying. I promise. I’m also not talking about the puppies.

All that tough stuff aside, can I tell you? Puppies. A-dor-a-ble. Sweet, round, shiny eyes. Soft, downy fur. Little tiny feet. Darling smily faces.

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Carson and Charlie, and Charlie and Carson

Now might be a good time to confess that we’re adopting two of the five. Yes, “No more puppies,” has been my go-to response, my eternal vow–for the last three years, anyway. My Bodhi was supposed to be it, the last of our puppies. Adult-only adoptions from here on out.

“I don’t have any puppies left in me.” I’ve actually said those words to people. Turns out, there were two puppies hiding.

Why two? Because: Murphy’s Law. Why would my animal-loving children fall in love with the same puppy, when they could fall in love with two different ones?

Why not five, though? Don’t get me wrong. These are all wonderful, sweet, adorable puppies. We’ve fallen in love with every single one of them, truth be told. If it were at all possible and if I’d fallen even farther off my rocker, we might actually keep these five. (Thank goodness we didn’t agree to foster all ten.)

Itty Bitty Cooper, full of spunk

It’s just the tiniest one was so tiny, and he needed to be held a lot when we first got him. We weren’t sure he’d make it. So, there was the first instance of puppy love. My daughter fell hard. Even my oldest son, who was with me on the “No more puppies” train, admired the little guy’s spunk. Then, a quiet, gentle female happened to remind us all of our dear black lab mix, Missy, who we’d lost years ago to old age and cancer. Another son, down.

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Sweet little Cassie, gentle and quiet

Honestly, I was right there with my kids, but I was still holding firm. No more puppies, remember? Hello? Anyone, remember? (My husband remembered well, but let’s quietly give that topic a little space for now.)

So, what can I say? Time passes, love grows, and mom vows wither.

We’re adopting two of our five foster pups. We’re also hoping friends, neighbors, family–people we trust and care for–are the ones to provide homes to the other three. Heck, the other seven would be nice. No pressure, anyone, but we’re counting on you. 😉

Why do we do it? Why foster? Why adopt? Because there are so many–babies, adults, seniors. So many going hungry and unloved, so many mistreated. One is too many, so we do what we can.

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Carson, showing his interest in the big game, Clara waiting for a ride, Charlie trying to help her make the stroller go

As for us, I can’t say we pamper our dogs. They don’t go to salons or wear bows in their hair. Although, Nellie does occasionally get her nails painted. (It’s a thing she and my daughter share.) Still, one thing all our dogs do get, in big, heaping doses, is love. Oh, plus toys. Toys, and of course they regularly take over our sofas. Still, love is the big one.

Yes, two more puppies will be an adjustment; they’ll also mean I’ve become the crazy dog lady I vowed not to be. I’ll be honest–I’m worried, but I’m not too worried. What they’ll need most is love and that’s one thing we have in large supply. Turns out, the more love you give, the more there is waiting in reserve. So crazy how that works, isn’t it?

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Puppy love

I sincerely hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Turns out, despite all my anti-puppy mantras, I’m thankful not only for all my wonderful, kind, amazing and loving loved ones, but also for puppies.