fosterdogs, fostering, heartworms, puppies

Quarantined with Puppies: Saving Lives in Uncertain Times

If you have to stay in your home for a month, it’s not a bad thing to be stuck home with puppies.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Cara

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.

100 dogs coverFor 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.

Another Good Dog coverIf 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 carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

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: nancyslat@gmail.com.

3 thoughts on “Quarantined with Puppies: Saving Lives in Uncertain Times”

  1. Nice post. Regarding Siobhan’s treatment, under normal circumstances, would she have to stay over at the vet’s for a few days while it happened? My mom and I had a rescued dog that had heartworm and needed treatments, but I forget if he had to spend nights at the vets during his appointments; this was of course during a COVID-free time, back in 2005. I too didn’t grow up with much TV; we didn’t get one until 2004, and after that rarely used it (I didn’t know that Sesame Street, for example, was a TV show until I was almost passed the age when most would listen to it, and my knowledge of classic Disney movies came later for me than others as a result of a tube-free home in my early years). I was never into electronic gaming, but we did have internet as I was growing up. What would your family do before 2015 when they needed to use the internet? I guess that while you didn’t have junk food (not even as the odd treat, say, during a birthday party?) in the house, you’d let your kids have some if they were at a party where others were having it, no? I love my potato chips and the odd soda… but I also like some fruits and vegetables. I’m four years older than Brady, born in 1992. And I don’t feel deprived for not having regular access to TV, electronic games or junk food growing up. I didn’t get a cellphone until I was 21. I’m just fine. .

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    1. It’s good to hear you say you didn’t feel deprived growing up with out TV/internet/junk, etc. As my kids get older they do relent and tell me that they’re glad they grew up the way they did. Back when we were on dial up and had no wifi or real internet, I took the kids to the library to use the computers. It was a perfect situation because they were limited to an hour by library policy instead of mean mom. Plus, they grew up loving that place. Ian even volunteered every summer helping with the kids reading program and other tasks as the librarians got to know him.

      It’s standard for our heartworm dogs to stay one night for treatment because it is a series of two shots given 24 hours apart. Some dogs need three and they stay for two nights.

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  2. Glad your kids now better understand why you raised them the way you did. Once I got a summer job and started earning my own money, I did buy more junk food, but I still ate fruits and vegetables and other healthy things too, and liked them. Before I got my newest laptop in October 2018, I used the accessible computer at my city’s downtown library, and always got friendly service from the staff, who got to know me by name. They had a two-hour time limit, but if I needed more time there they’d log me back on after the two hours were done. While I now have wireless internet, a computer and TV, I still don’t have an iPhone, opting for the old-fashion tiny cellphone. I also still have a landline, and use it the most when it comes to the phone. Some things never get old. And on the canine front, keep doing your part for man’s best friend.

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