I think all of us could use a happy story right now, so I’ve decided to create another Diary of a Rescue to follow the story of Mama Mia and the Broadway Babes. The last time I did this, about a year ago, I had the same intention but instead the story took a tragic turn right off the bat.
Daisy B, the mama dog featured in that story finally found her forever family the same week that Mama Mia arrived, so that seems like a sort of cosmic seal of approval to try again.
So far, so good.
Below are the dairy entries from our first week with this little family. If you’d like to see them in real time, you can follow along on my writer Facebook page. I also post extra pictures and videos in the Another Good Dog facebook group. Here’s hoping this story proves a heartwarming distraction to all that is going on in this world.
Diary of a Rescue Day One:
I’ve waited to start a new diary hoping my original diary dog Daisy would be adopted. Paws crossed it will happen soon. Today I’m starting a new diary for a last minute rescue of a mama dog and her ten 1-week old puppies.
I got a call last night from our puppy coordinator- this mama and pups is in a NC shelter that will be closing. If they aren’t out by Saturday, they will be destroyed along with, I’m assuming, all the other dogs that don’t get rescue. (I don’t say ‘euthanize’ because that’s not what it is when you kill adoptable, healthy dogs).
Of course I said yes, I want them. So, today I met an amazing pilot, Kay Cross, who has flown rescue for over 500 dogs. She arrived at Winchester airport and brought the mama and pups.
In the coming weeks, I’ll tell you more about them, their journey, and the current situation for too many dogs caught in the wrong place at the decidedly wrong time.
Tomorrow we will work on names, figure how many boys and girls we have, and tell you more about this precious lucky family. Tonight we’re letting them settle in- finally safe. Life gets better for these eleven souls now.
Proud of my rescue family and thrilled to have met another rescue hero today.
Diary of a Rescue Day Two:
After being warned that this mama dog was very protective of her pups, it turns out she’s like some of my other teenage mama dogs – she’s ready to leave them at the drop of a hat if it means a walk or a snuggle or some treats.
She got up at 3:30am for a potty break. When I put her away, I forgot to put on the ‘gate topper’ (a contraption Nick built to keep fence jumpers in the puppy room – she proved she needed it earlier in the evening when she climbed the fence to join me watching Pitbulls & Paroles). When I got up at 7am, mama dog was loose in the hallway and had inspected the shoe cubbies, my bin of sweet potatoes, and overturned a basket of my son’s hats/glasses, but not done too much damage. We will re-think our set up today so she doesn’t hurt herself climbing the fence.
All ten puppies look healthy and happy, but I’ve been leaving them mostly alone, only moving them to clean their bedding. Later today we will weigh them and put on whelping collars so I can track their weights.
Mama seems young and her paperwork says she is only one. She was wearing a pink collar with rabies and microchip tags- I don’t know if that means she was surrendered by someone who cared about her enough to chip and vaccinate her or if she was wearing an old collar the shelter or transporter had lying around. So many questions I have about this sweet pup but I’ve done this enough to know her history will likely always be a mystery but that’s okay because her future will be so much better.
We also have to come up with a name for mama and a theme for the litter. Ideas welcome!
Diary of a Rescue Day Three:
I’ve decided what to name this mama and pups! There were lots of great suggestions from many people. I especially liked the idea of naming them after toilet paper/paper towel companies (Puffs, Cottonelle, Mr. Whiffle, Brawny), but decided against it because I’m hopeful (possibly erroneously) that this pandemic will have subsided by the time these puppies are ready to go home in about seven weeks.
More so, this is a hard time and I don’t want the puppies names to be a reminder or make light of a situation that is likely to have devastating consequences for too many.
So…(drum roll please)…this litter will be the Broadway Babes. Momma dog will be, of course, Mama Mia (she looks like a Mia to me). I’m still figuring out which shows to use – there are so many! Please add your favorites to the comments.
My musical theater major daughter will be home (finally!) tomorrow, so she will likely have plenty of suggestions too. This weekend my son’s high school show should have been in tech rehearsals for Cinderella which would have opened next weekend. (Ian is the lighting director.) So, there will definitely be a Cinderella!
I weighed the puppies yesterday and gave each one a different colored whelping collar. They are feisty puppies who squalled and wrestled and pooped and peed on me as I handled them. Mia watched and occasionally licked a puppy, but mostly seemed unconcerned by their concern.
They each weigh between 1lb 1oz and 1lb 10oz and there are seven females and three males. I know they look brown in the pictures and video, but they are all shades of brown from caramel to dark chocolate, and one of them is a brindle colored pup.
Because watching the puppies is such a calming and comforting thing, I’ve been trying to post plenty of LIVE videos on Another Good Dog™ (my foster dog group) and with Ian’s help, I’m hoping to set up a Live Stream through our Who Will Let the Dogs Out Youtube channel.
There is so much to be uncertain about right now, but one thing I do know is that we will get through this and in the meantime, we must be a comfort to each other.
Please stay safe and sane.
Diary of a Rescue Day Four:
Mama Mia really wants out of that puppy room. She spends a good portion of her day whining to get out and also jumping at the gate. The first day or so, I thought it meant she had to go potty and took her out practically every thirty minutes. Now I realize that sometimes she does need to go potty, but most times she’s just bored and lonely. She whines the worst if she can hear us talking.
She is an absolute love bug. No doubt she will make some family a wonderful pet, but for now she still has mothering duties. She is a good mom, if not a truly involved mom.
Definitely no helicopter parenting going on here. She climbs in and out of the whelping box as needed, but most of her time is spent sitting at the gate or lying in her dog bed. Unlike other mama dogs I’ve had, she never builds ‘nests’ of the towels or rearranges her puppies. She’s a just-the-basics housekeeper, so I have to change the towels and pads under the puppies quite often.
All of her meh-ness aside, the puppies are growing and fat and healthy, so she is getting the job done. Lucky for her, she’ll never have to do this job again. She’ll likely wean these puppies at about 5-6 weeks and a month after that will be spayed in preparation for her real life. Too many female dogs in the south have litters every year, sometimes more than once. When I see their struggle up close like this, it just breaks my heart.
I can hear some of the excuses voiced when I’ve encountered dog owners who refuse to spay/neuter or contain their pets, mostly in the south. They shrug shoulders and wonder why they should go to all that trouble for ‘just a dog’ or they say this is what they were born to do. I don’t know if they really believe those things or if they neglect their animal out of apathy, ignorance, or poverty.
I wish the world were different, but I remind myself often that not too long ago, situations like Mama Mia’s were commonplace everywhere in this country and now they are rare in vast parts of our nation. I believe we will someday solve this crisis. I believe it will happen in my lifetime. I’ve seen lots of sad situations when I travel south to write about shelter dogs, but I’ve also seen some incredible miracles happening in the most unexpected places.
Diary of a Rescue Day Five: two weeks old!
My how time flies (joke)…the puppies are a wonderful distraction. Tonight we will give them their official names and in the morning they (and Mia) will have their first deworming.
Be safe and be sane.
Diary of a Rescue Day Six:
The puppies received their first deworming. They are strong little pups who decidedly didn’t appreciate having anything forced down their throats. They squalled and I am sticky with dewormer. (Mia watched from a safe distance and happily gobbled her dewormer.) This is the dewormer that most puppies love – the only one that actually tastes good, so I know the upcoming dewormings will be even more challenging.
Between now and when they are adopted, I will deworm the puppies nine more times. including a dewormer that is administered six days in a row, so actually it feels more like I deworm the puppies 15 times. Doing the math on that one, it means I will be force-feeding dewormer 150 times in the next six weeks. Ugh. Makes me tired just thinking about it!
Along with the deworming, they all got their first nail trim. It’s taken me about three days to get to all 90 toenails. Thankfully, this bunch does not have dewclaws! It’s easiest to do when they are sleepy, but that drowsy state only lasts for about one foot and then the rest is a wrestling match. If I don’t get those little daggers clipped, they will snag on the towels, not to mention the discomfort to Mia as they nurse. I use a baby nail trimmer and will trim nails every two weeks from here on out.
The other monumental accomplishment was finally naming this bunch! I hashed out the ideas with two of my kids who are both theater buffs and we tried to pick unique names or names that had significance for us. Here is the color key to who is who:
Purple collar (girl) Cinderella (in honor of our high school’s spring show that is indefinitely postponed)
Brown collar (girl) Pippin (a role Addie has always coveted, she played Fastrada in our school’s production. Because Pippin is such a different kind of character/show, we gave the name to the brindle puppy)
Green collar (girl) Kiss me Kate (an excuse to gather puppy kisses)
Yellow collar (girl) Hello Dolly (and excuse to sing to her)
Orange collar (girl) Thoroughly Modern Millie (another favorite role of Addie’s)
Red collar (girl) Elphaba (a unanimous favorite in this household and on Facebook)
White collar (girl) Calamity Jane (because not only do I like Annie Get Your Gun, but I just like saying the word ‘calamity’)
Light blue collar (boy) Evan Hanson (because)
Bright blue collar (boy) Usnavi (Lin Manuel Miranda’s role in In the Heights – Ian’s favorite, plus, c’mon, won’t it be fun to have a puppy named Usnavi?)
Black collar (boy) Mr. Mistopheles (because we have to name at least one puppy after a cat. In fact, I’m seriously considering naming an entire litter after the characters in Cats next time!)
Now you’ll know who’s who in the weeks to come (or at least until they outgrow or destroy their whelping collars!).
Stay safe and sane. Hold the ones you love close, even at a social distance.
Diary of a Rescue Day 7:
Mia is so over this mom thing. She spends her days darting in and out the box but mostly waiting at the gate for me. The puppies are fat and healthy so I know she’s doing her job but gosh, is she ready to be over it.
The puppies grow cuter every day but they are still basically little lumps. I don’t know when they will cross that line between lumps and puppies but I think we’re getting closer.
I am trying to appreciate this easy time because soon enough they will be a serious amount of work.
Hug your fur babies- they were once this tiny. Do any of you have pictures of your dogs when they were two weeks old? I might have pictures of a few of your pups….
Thanks for reading!
If you’d like regular updates of all my foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips from OPH training, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com. I have a new book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, coming out in July. If it sounds like something you’d like to read, I’d be beyond grateful if you’d consider preordering it. Preorders contribute to the success of the book, not only giving me and my publisher some peace of mind but hopefully attracting media attention.
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 WhoWillLetTheDogsOut.org.
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.
If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs . It’s available anywhere books are sold.
I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.