If you have to stay in your home for a month, it’s not a bad thing to be stuck home with puppies.
Caring for this little family is a wonderful distraction; it gives me a purpose and is defining the days that have begun to blur together – is it Tuesday or Friday?
Mia, for her part, is happy for my help and desperate for my company. If she hears my voice in the house, she will whine. She spends her days at the gate waiting and wishing she could play with the other dogs or follow me everywhere I go or pop outside for a walk.
She’s an efficient mom – I call her the no-frills mom. She cleans up after the puppies and makes sure they have plenty to eat, but that’s it. She does not spend hours in the whelping box snuggling with them. She doesn’t rearrange the towels and pads into a comfy nest, as so many of my other foster moms have. She sleeps in a dog bed on top of a raised bed next to the box, where she can see the puppies and hop into the box when necessary.
I’ve always been a bit of a no-frills mom myself. I don’t coddle my kids. One of my kids labeled me a ‘walk-it-off’ mom years ago because unless there’s blood or you’re throwing up, I always told them, “You’ll be fine, keep playing/going to school/doing whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.” I didn’t baby them.
That’s not to say I wasn’t invested in their childhoods –in that regard I spent hours creating meaningful holidays, fun vacations, indulging their interests, and documenting it all in scrapbooks. We never subscribed to cable or bought a gaming system, never bought soda or junk food, and didn’t give them cell phones until they were driving. We didn’t even have wifi until five years ago. They thought they were deprived but I think it made them healthy, self-sufficient humans. Maybe that’s what Mia’s mothering will do for the Broadway Babes.
With no volunteer help allowed in and kids who are ‘over it’ in terms of cute puppies in the house, the socializing of these puppies will fall to me. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. For now, I spend lots of time in the puppy room keeping Mia happy (and quiet). Mostly, I read or make videos of the puppies; she’s content with just my presence.
Every day, I handle the puppies, getting them used to human touch. They are starting to notice that I’m more than just hands that shovel them from one side of the box to the other as I change padding and towels. Now, they focus on me and paw at my feet, growling at me when I pick them up out of a dead sleep. They squirm less when I hold them and finger their toes, so I hope next time I trim nails it won’t be such a wrestling match.
This fourth week is always when they seem to become less guinea pig, more like puppies. Their personalities begin to emerge. The quarantine is giving me plenty of time to focus on them and get to know them. Truth be told, I’m grateful they’re here. Their steady growth is marking the days on my blank calendar.
The only event on this month’s calendar is Siobhan’s heartworm treatment. She has been a model foster dog, endearing herself to all of us with her excellent manners, happy energy, and her chattiness.
Tomorrow she will go to Hanover for her heartworm treatment. Thanks to social distancing practices, Ian will drive her there and wait in the parking lot as the vet techs take her in to double check her heartworm status. Once they affirm that she is positive, he will give them her bag that contains her blanket, favorite toy, and food for two days. If all goes well, we’ll pick her up again on Thursday night.
Please send her some positive energy, or if you’re inclined, a few prayers. Siobhan is six and a half years old and came from Mississippi, a state with plenty of mosquitoes and consequently plenty of heartworm positive dogs. It’s entirely possible that Siobhan has been heartworm positive for some time and her condition could be advanced, making her treatment more risky and more painful.
We love this dog. Her approved adopter who hasn’t even met her in person yet, loves this dog. Siobhan is on the brink of finally having the life she deserves but first, we have to save that life.
Please stay safe and hold each other close (at a distance).
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.
Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact: email@example.com.