Never a dull moment. That’s what I can say about fostering. Especially puppies.
Two of my puppies have been playing musical chairs in terms of adopters the entire time I’ve had them. First they have an adopter, then they don’t. I’m always extra nice to the currently unadopted puppy- as if they know it – more snuggles, extra treats.
There’s been one puppy available for adoption pretty much the entire time I’ve had the bunch, but which puppy it is has changed too many times to count. First it was Begonia, then Snap Dragon, then Pigweed, then back to Snap Dragon, and now we’re back to Pigweed. But Pigweed may be available just a wee bit longer. She’s going to need a special adopter.
Let me back up.
On Monday, Chris (who has the other half of the litter), Melissa (another foster who is adopting Begonia) and I took the puppies for their first ever vet check. OPH wants to be certain we’re sending home healthy puppies when they are adopted this weekend.
The logistics of getting nine puppies to the vet required two cars, three crates and five people. We arrived after Chris. I recognized the lovely scent of puppy barf, as one of her puppies had thrown up on the hilly ride to the vet (as had one of our puppies). Lucky (or not) for us, the puppies that shared the crate with the car sick pup took care of cleaning up the mess. (Yes, puppies ARE disgusting.)
It was fun to see how much the rest of the litter had grown. Edelweiss was over 13 pounds! And I thought Foxglove was big at 12.5. Although to be fair we aren’t totally certain that’s his weight because FG couldn’t stop wiggling and wagging on the scale long enough to get a clear read. He was also the only puppy to wag his tail enthusiastically while having his rectal temp taken! Talk about a happy pup!
The vet remarked on how healthy they all looked. She also remarked on the fact that some of them are pretty large. She said they looked like they could have some Great Dane in them! Yipes. (It should be noted that OPH has labeled these puppies as LARGE all along!)
Everyone was weighed and had their temperature taken, and then the vet examined each one before filling out each health certificate. Everyone was perfect – except Pigweed.
I immediately worried it was something we’d done. I’m paranoid like that ever since Texas. Then I wondered if it was because she had leaped out of my teenage son’s arms a week ago and landed splat on the wood floor.
But, no, what Pigweed has is a hereditary condition. It’s called Luxating Patellas, which sounds like a delicious Italian dish, but it’s not. It means the knee caps in her hind legs can float out of position. It doesn’t seem to bother her now – which is clear if you’ve watched the videos of her racing around my puppy pen – she’s a wild thing. But later on it could grow worse OR….. she could grow out of it. Who’s to say? Certainly, not me. It is treatable.
Before I’d had a chance to read all the blather on the internet about the condition, I obsessed that we had caused it in some way. I told Nick, “If we broke her, we have to buy her.” Mother-Hen me wants to hold her and keep her safe and not let anyone think she’s less than a perfect puppy.
But here’s the thing – she might be a perfect puppy. She might never have any pain from her crazy wandering patellas. Feeding her well, watching her weight, and making sure she has plenty of good exercise might mean she’s fine all her life.
And besides – there is no such thing as a perfect puppy. The vet pronounced the other eight as just right, but who knows what’s lurking inside their DNA? True for any of us.
Still, I’m not naïve enough to think this puppy will have a hoard of takers. She’ll need a little extra care and she might need vet treatment at some point. But luxating patellas are not a death sentence. They are just a more intentional life sentence.
After all, I would hope that all the adopters plan to feed their pups well, keep them at a healthy weight, and be sure they get plenty of exercise.
All of this has me waxing poetic (in my mind) about how in life there are no guarantees. This morning, I watched a beautiful video of another writer talking about battling breast cancer at the tender age of 33. Near the end of the video, she says something to the effect that having cancer upset her at first because she thought, “I’m going to die!” but then she realized that has always been true.
We all are.
So we should probably take full advantage of the day before us, because tomorrow is no guarantee – for any of us (or for our puppies.)
Which means the only thing we can do is –
Get on it. Live this day.