Edith Wharton, fosterdogs, oph, puppies

The Real Poop, I Mean Scoop, on Fostering Puppies

Each time I think about what I should write in this update on Edith and the Dastardly Dozen (or Darling Dozen depending on the moment and the audience), I can’t seem to begin anywhere but with the poop. I’m not trying to scare you or discourage you from fostering puppies yourself, but there truly is no way around the poop. (I know there are several other OPH foster mommies who will back me up on this.)

My first litter of six shocked me with the sheer quantity and variety of ways that puppies can poop. But I survived it and the puppies more than made up for their messes with their sweetness and puppy breath.


I was ready and knew exactly what I was getting into when I volunteered to take half of Lily’s litter off Chris’ hands last winter. I think that month with just five in the pen was oh-so-manageable.


When Schuyler’s supposedly three puppies morphed into NINE puppies I was decidedly overwhelmed at times, but again I survived and lived to tell. Plus those Hamilton puppies were something special.


But, can I just speak frankly here? Twelve is too many.

To quote Hamilton, The poop is nonnnnnnn…stop. (I can no longer listen to a recording of Hamilton and not replace those words.)

One thing I’ve learned after so many puppies is that whenever anything goes in, something comes out. There just isn’t the real estate to accommodate half a cup of puppy food (more in the case of Hemingway and Harper) or even a few sips of water inside such tiny little bellies. Sheer necessity means as soon as the meal ends (or as Charlotte proved during today’s breakfast- while the meal is happening), the clean-up crew must be standing by.

We are down to three puppy food meals and three short nursing sessions a day, so, yep, that’s a minimum of six poops per pup and with there being twelve pups – that’s 72 POOPS PER DAY. So, when I’m saying The poop is nonstop, I’m not joshing. At all.

The truly frightening part of all of this is that my pups are only 4 weeks old. They are all between 4-6 pounds. They’ll be here for 4 more weeks. By that time they will be twice that size. So you know what else will be twice that size, right?

I’m bracing myself. Meanwhile, here’s what I’m grateful for more than anything else—

  1. Five cases of giant size puppy pads that were donated to OPH and found their way to me. They are a god-send.
  2. A litter full of girl puppies. This is the first litter I’ve had that understands the puppy pads are for pooping on, and not meant to be chew toys with icing or used for a game of keep away. I’m attributing this to the fact that 11 of 12 of these puppies are girls. The only boy pup, Hemingway, is a laid-back guy who is more lover than leader, and seems happy to follow the girls’ lead.
  3. An agreeable family. While none have volunteered to clean up the pen, none have complained about the smell, mess, or backed-up laundry. And Nicholas has helped me modify the pen to make more room for the pups, reattached the tiles that fell off the whelping box when I cleaned it, dashed to Home Depot for trashbags, and only nodded when I told him I’m going away all day Saturday for work (book expo in York come see me!) and again on Sunday overnight (book club in Easton, my former hometown – can’t wait!).

So that’s the latest. This morning I made a little video tour of the puppy pen. The camera work is pretty bad and as usual, I forgot to turn the phone sideways, but hopefully, it’ll give you a peek into the puppy’s world.

p.s. Edith (who you will hear barking in the background) is well on her way to weaning the puppies and is beginning to reclaim her dog-status (as opposed to mama status). She even tried to engage Gracie in a run-around game and stole the bowl of Addie’s leftover Chipotle chicken and rice off the counter! As you can see in the picture, she’s still skinny, but now that the varmints are almost finished nursing, I’m hopeful she’ll start packing on the pounds.


If you’d like to support the work OPH is doing helping heartworm positive dogs, like Edith, consider giving to Edith’s Heart, a fundraising effort I began to help offset the cost of treating heartworm, a COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE CONDITION. And please, please, please don’t forget your own pup’s monthly preventatives!

If you’d like to see even more pictures (and videos!) of the pups and some of my other past foster dogs, join the Another Good Dog Facebook group.


10 thoughts on “The Real Poop, I Mean Scoop, on Fostering Puppies”

  1. I will count myself lucky that with the current litter of six (female) baby kittens we are fostering that at least they use the litter box. It may be stinky (what goes in still comes right out) but at least easier to clean!


  2. Those darling little puppy faces…sigh! So hard to pick just one! Is there any way to funnel the pups from the laundry room to an outside enclosed area where they can go outside? Tremendous amount of devotion. You make it look so easy, even though I know it’s not! How do you keep the puppies clean when they traipse through the poop? Oh and by the way, let me know if you are ever in Dallas for a book signing. I would love to come say Hi!


    1. With smaller litters I fed them outside and that made it easier, but the process of moving all 12 outside for meals is daunting. Hoping to enlist a few teenagers to help me do that this weekend for a meal or two. The poop is much harder to see on the black puppies than the yellow, but I bathe a lot of paws. My little brother is in Dallas, so there’s every chance I’ll get there some day. I’ll let you know. Thanks for reading!


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