The trip to the vet with puppies was a quite different experience this time around.
The last time I drove there with a small airline crate full of nearly lifeless puppies who didn’t make a sound. I stopped once just because I was worried that Pippin was being smothered (there was no evidence to indicate it was even a possibility but the overtired, distraught mind conjures up all kinds of scenarios on a long drive alone in silence with sick puppies).
Once at the vet’s office, we had to wait in the parking lot like everyone else – only everyone else had an active dog that they periodically walked around while they waited, whereas I sat in the back seat of my car worrying and occasionally poking a too-still puppy.
When it was our turn, I carried the puppies inside and took the top off the carrier. For two hours while the vet poked and prodded and the techs took blood, the puppies only lolled around in a pile. No one complained and no one tried to escape.
Two weeks later, we had a much different scene. The drive there was LOUD. While the puppies were in a large airline crate this time so there was plenty of room, they still had complaints. One puppy (I’m pretty sure it was Dolly because I know her howl) serenaded me the entire drive, with a rotating assortment of back up singers chiming in.
While we waited in the parking lot this time, Dolly had given up, but plenty of others made sure there was a constant soundtrack as I watched dog after dog go in and out. It was a really busy afternoon and we waited much longer this time. My phone died and in my rush to get out the door with nine puppies (and their poop samples), I forgot to bring a book. I practiced swallowing my grumpiness during the nearly 90 minutes we waited for our turn.
In the exam room, removing one puppy from the swirling, frantic mass pushing at the crate door, without any of the others escaping was challenging. It didn’t take me long to realize, I had to commit early. Grab one puppy and as I pulled it out, I used it to push back the others while my other hand closed the door.
Sometimes while the doc was examing one puppy the noise level of the others made me wonder if she could really hear anything with her stethoscope. She was checking hearts carefully as nearly every puppy had a heart murmur last time. It’s unlikely that an entire litter was born with a murmur so she was pretty sure they were anemia induced murmurs and apparently they were. Only two puppies had very slight murmurs and she expected those would both clear up as they grew stronger.
The fecal test came back positive for hookworms in both Mia and the pups. URGH.
Although, the more I’ve thought about it, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a challenge to get rid of worms in any litter of puppies. You expect them and I always tell adopters to be sure to take a fecal sample to their first vet visit – it’s likely their puppy will have some kind of parasite.
If you spent a few hours watching them in my puppy pen as they run through, play over, and even sleep on each other’s poop, you’d know the odds of them picking up a parasite or two are pretty darn good.
Obviously, the hookworms aren’t as serious this time. I was actually kind of embarrassed at how fat the puppies were – like little weebles. She was pleased with their weight gain, their physical appearance, energy, and quite certainly the sound of their hearts. We will dose the puppies with a six-day course of dewormer that should knock out the hookworms and then continue our regular schedule of deworming to try to keep coccidia and giardia at bay.
Before I took the puppies to the vet, I ran up to visit their mama Mia at Katie’s house. I wanted to take her stool sample along with the puppies to see how she was fairing. She looked gorgeous – a healthy, solid weight and a shiny coat. She wiggle-butted her way out to see me and then fell on her back for a belly rub.
It was wonderful to see her happy and flourishing. She is such a sweetheart and is doing well playing with her foster fur-sibling and loving her foster family. Katie says she is protective of them when strangers come near and always excited to see other dogs on their walks. She’s communicating that she needs to go out by ringing a bell and seems to be already housebroken.
As if the puppies aren’t enough excitement, on Friday night, Rockee was returned to us. Rockee is a big plot hound mix we fostered a few months ago. His adopter tried hard to make it work but in the end, Rockee could just not live civilly with cats and his strong nose proved too distracted for the off-leash training his adopter had hoped to accomplish. He also wasn’t the best bud she’d hoped he would be with her other male dog.
I always say dogs are either dog-dogs (like my Fanny is) or people-dogs (like my Gracie is). Rockee is more a people-dog. He’s fine with other dogs, but he’d rather be with people. Fanny was thrilled to see him back. She’s been jonesing for a playmate ever since Shenanigans left. Just like before, Rockee indulges her, playing for a good solid ten minutes or even longer but then retreating to his crate to take a break from her relentless onslaught. Thankfully, Fanny is respectful and simply lays outside his crate waiting until he’s ready to have another go.
I enjoy watching them play. Rockee is so clearly the ‘big brother’. When Fanny gets too wild, he will pick up a toy and hold it out to her for a game of tug (one of her favorite games). Once she latches on, he uses his weight to either stand still while she pulls and pulls, or he will walk slowly around while she ricochets off him like a superball yanking with all her might. Sometimes he’ll even lay down and play tug with her from a prone position.
Mostly what Rockee lives for is to curl up like a snail beside you on the couch. I only learned recently that there is such a thing as a hound curl. I saw multiple pictures of curled hounds on Facebook. I need to get a picture of Rockee’s curl. He can make himself very small. So small that sometimes he resembles just another pillow on our dark brown couch.
Our house is full not just with dogs and puppies but with all my adult children (starter adults as Nancy calls them) home either studying online or working from home. Even Brady arrived from Arizona to take advantage of the meal service, open space, and company that his studio apartment in Phoenix was lacking.
I hope you are staying safe and looking for ways to appreciate this grand pause in our lives.
Nancy came by for a socially distant photoshoot with the puppies…enjoy:
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.