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.
And then there is the poop. I’ve already expounded on the obscene quantity of poop involved with twelve fast-growing puppies, but there’s no way around mentioning it again. All my previous semi-successful systems will not work when up against these numbers.
Starting with the poop receptacle. Here’s a picture of the one I was using to clean up after my first litter of six and the one I use now with twelve puppies.
With twelve puppies, you learn as you go and necessity is the mother of invention. Here’s what’s working (a relative term) at this point –
Step one: Start with clean puppy pads (five jumbo size), overlapping them and trapping them with the edge of the pen. Completely cover one half of the space. I must note, at the risk of jinxing myself, that this litter of 11 girl puppies and only 1 boy puppy are the first litter I’ve had that actually use the puppy pads. They don’t poop on their bedding, water bowl, or toys, just the pads. (Girls rule. Just saying.) Cover the remaining space with clean towels which can be changed periodically during the day when they become covered with poop paw prints.
Step two: After laying down the clean pads, wait for a minute until everyone has pooped (which they will—fresh pads being irresistible and all), clean up as many as possible so the pups won’t track them all over the pen.
Step three: When it’s time to feed the pups, in preparation for the onslaught, lay newspaper over the now quasi-dirty pads while the pups are eating. Await the output, then roll up the newspapers (be sure to count twelve deposits before rolling up paper).
Step four: Later in the day when the pads become completely overwhelmed, cover the dirty pads with the cheap, smaller pads (the ones I have in huge numbers). The clean puppy pads will stick to the dirty puppy pads (poop is quite effective glue).
Step five: At some point when there are 2-3 layers, move the pen fence to trap all the puppies on the clean side and roll the whole nasty mess up and toss before starting the process again.
There, that’s WAY more than you ever wanted to know about managing the poop of twelve puppies.
I could bore you to tears with tales of the laundry required when you house twelve puppies, but I won’t. Suffice it to say everyone in my house has reached the clothes at the bottom of their drawers and the back of their closets.
Perhaps the biggest challenge (after the poop) is paying attention to twelve puppies. I try to be mindful that I pick up each one—equal time and all that, but sometimes I can’t keep track, and some puppies are pushier than others. Zora, Beatrix, Eudora, and George insist on their share of attention, but Emily, Jane, and Hemingway sometimes miss out. I always welcome puppy visitors because there are never enough arms or hours in the day to give each of these precious babes the attention they deserve.
This morning on my hike while listening to my favorite podcast, Sounds of the Trail—(yes, I listen to a podcast about hiking while hiking), I heard this quote:
Thru hiking ruins your life in the best possible way.
I think puppies do the same thing.
Puppies ruin your life in the best possible way.
Everything for me right now, all day long, is about the puppies. Of course, this blog is all about them, but even my other blog, the one where I write about writing, spiraled its way to the puppies in my last post.
All I talk about is puppies. Somehow they worm their way in to every conversation. I think about them and worry about them nonstop.
I suppose it can’t be helped. The house smells like puppies and sounds like puppies. There’s no avoiding them. When we have had just a few puppies, you could close the puppy room door and it was almost like they weren’t even here (until things started crashing), but in an effort to give them more room in their room, Nick took the door off. So, really, there’s no avoiding them.
But then again, why would you want to? Much better to simply let them ruin your life for eight whole weeks. In the best possible way.
If you’d like to see more pictures and videos of the puppies or catch updates on previous fosters, join the Another Good Dog facebook group!
And if you’d like to donate to Edith’s Heart, the fundraiser I started to raise money to treat the pup’s mother Edith for heartworm and save other heartworm positive dogs like here, click here.