adopters, dog rescue, foster dogs, fostering, litters, puppies

Last Day of Puppies!

The countdown has begun. Puppies will begin leaving tomorrow!

Normally, we have ‘adoption day’ on a Saturday and all the puppies leave the same day. This keeps it simple for me and less disruptive for the family. I like them all to go on the same day so that I’m not left with one crying puppy.

This will be the first time the puppies leave their siblings and it will be their first experience ‘all alone.’ There tends to be a great deal of crying unless the lone pup is getting nonstop attention. Newly adopted puppies get LOTS of attention at their new house, but lone puppies left here get as much as I have time for.

Somehow, despite best intentions, I’m often left with a single puppy for a few days or even a week.


As I listen to the whining, I’ve wished I’d held onto the front pack I used to carry my babies around in all those years ago. It would be the perfect thing for a lone puppy. Fingers crossed that won’t happen this go-round, as everyone has approved adopters and seven of those adopters have already met their puppies.

Because this is a large litter – large in terms of size and large in terms of number—I decided to break the rules and let them leave as soon as they’re 24 hours past their last vaccines. Nick assisted me last night in the giving of 21 vaccines (pups got two and Bell got one). This means some of them will be vacating the premises as early as nine am Wednesday morning.

If you’ve watched any of the live videos I’ve been putting up on the Facebook group, you can clearly see that we have outgrown our space. I simply cannot keep up with the messes, the demands for attention, or the laundry. I look at the tiny bed that barely holds three of them now and remember (fondly) the days when all ten fit in that space. These sweet pups are really the size of small dogs, in fact, larger than many small dogs. Keystone is 15 pounds!

On Sunday, we took a bunch of them out to a bookstore for an event and for the first time, there were more than enough arms to snuggle them. (photos by Nancy Slattery)

We’ve had a few visitors who have also helped.

puppy visitors

Wearing them out so that they will sleep and not shred the puppy pads and fight endless battles that result in poop scattered all over the pen, is not easy. I think many of them have the same energy level as their gorgeous (and busy) mom.

Speaking of Bell—she is turning into a stunner. Not that she wasn’t gorgeous to begin with. Her coat is shiny and thick and healthy, bizarre for a mom who just weaned her puppies three weeks ago. Normally, the hormone shift results in a patchy, dull, thin coat.

black lab mama in snow

Bell and Fanny play endless games of tug-o-war through the gate.

While they do love each other, they can’t be kept together in the house because the intensity of their play is dangerous and I fear for my furniture, my cats, and my house. It’s been too muddy with the constant snow-rain-snow weather for them to play outside. Our fenced area is small, really designed for puppies, not dogs, and I worry that not only will they destroy the grass, but they play at such high-speed someone could slip in the mud and injure themselves.

Bell is scheduled to be spayed on January 7 and can go home two days later. She is a sweetheart who loves people and is working on resisting the urge to jump on them with hugs and kisses. She needs an active adopter who will hike with her or throw a ball for her all day. If you’re looking for a training partner to assist you with your New Year’s resolution to start running or walking more, she’s your girl. She walks beautifully with a head collar and her leash manners on a regular collar are improving daily.

I took Bell to have her long black nails trimmed this week. It was pretty clear she’d never been in a store before. When we first walked in she was army crawling around with her eyes wide, but by the time we left she was dragging me all over the store to sample all the treats and smooch employees. The groomer said she was excellent for her trim, and judging by the length and condition of her nails (some were splayed sideways), she may have never had them trimmed before.

This didn’t surprise me because she’s just such a good girl. Yes, she’s high energy and impulsive, but she truly wants to please. She’s like a kid who has never had any adult supervision. So manners are the priority here every day. She’s already learned to sit nicely to have the leash put on and to sit nicely again at the door while I open it.

She has crate time every day and handles it well.

black lab in crate

We are pretty close to housebroken and she’s even learning to ring the bell when it’s time to go out. She loves her toys, but (so far) hasn’t chewed anything inappropriate (like shoes) and she rarely takes anything off the counter even though it would be easy for her.

If you or someone you know is looking for a gorgeous, playful, affectionate, active best friend, Bell is your girl. Here’s hoping we can find her a forever family for the new year.

PA Pups Calendars are available for $20 each ($25 with shipping). They turned out beautifully. All proceeds go towards the next shelter trip. Nancy and I will be traveling to Tennessee and Mississippi in early March to raise awareness and deliver donations to the shelters. If you’d like a calendar, email me at Here are a few of the images by Nancy Slattery-

Thanks for reading!


If you’d like regular updates all my foster dogs past and present, plus regular videos of the PA pups, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.

Cara Sue Achterberg with pupFor information on me, my writing, and my upcoming book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One  Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, visit

And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit

Our family fosters through the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes, a network of foster homes in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and south-central PA.

Another Good Dog coverRecently released from Pegasus Books and available anywhere books are sold: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs.

I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at


11 thoughts on “Last Day of Puppies!”

  1. That may be the best litter group shot I’ve ever seen. It’s nearly impossible to get 10 puppies (or even five or six, for that matter) to sit still long enough to make a portrait so perfect. It can be hard enough to get ONE to hold still. I don’t know how you and Nancy did it, although I imagine there were many outtakes! I hope that was your cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was our cover and until Nancy went home and looked at the dozens of images we didn’t think we got it. I just kept repositioning and fetching puppies and she kept snapping – it was only a millisecond but she got it!


  2. That’s all it takes … one shot! I remember back in my photojournalist days when I would rush back to the newsroom after shooting a high school football game, just praying — and I don’t even believe in a god — that I had something, ANYthing in focus and usable. All while the film was in the fixer, I kept saying, “Please please please let me have something to fill the space they’re holding for me! Please” More often than not, the best shot was either the first image of the very last. So maybe there IS a god.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would love to have a calendar. How do I get one? I do not have a Facebook account. So happy to hear the pups all got adopted. Maybe you will have a little more time around the holidays to relax.

    Liked by 1 person

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