A peaceful week

The puppies are thriving.  Each day they seem bigger, rounder and more aware of the world around them.  They’re beginning to paw and sniff at the toys in the whelping box. When I put them down in the yard, they sniff and chew on the grass.  Sometimes being in the big yard will make one nervous and she’ll begin to whine.  I pick her up, her whole body fitting in my hand.  I hold her close to my face and as she stares into my eyes she quickly quiets down.  So calm.  So trusting.  This is my favorite age, between four and five weeks.

It’s also the time to introduce solid food as the mother can’t make enough milk to keep up with the puppies’ growing bodies.  This morning I gave them their first meal, dry dog food softened overnight in water:

June Bug gets to help with the leftovers:

I only have two more days to savor this batch of puppies.  Wednesday June Bug and the puppies move to their new foster home.




June Bug and her Baby Bugs

June Bug and her puppies are doing so well.  In the mornings, June Bug enjoys running around the backyard and sniffing to see where the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks have been and then coming inside to watch me have breakfast.  She sits beside me and stares up into my eyes, occasionally putting her paws in my lap and pointing her nose toward my cereal bowl. A bigger dog wouldn’t be allowed such liberties and would be exiled from the kitchen at mealtimes but June Bug only gets a mild reprimand.

When June Bug first arrived, and her puppies were so small, she wasn’t so interested in food. I’d fill her bowl with kibble and it would take a few days for her to finish it. But in the last week her appetite has increased tremendously.  Every morning the bowl is empty and has to be refilled later again during the day.  Her puppies have grown so much and are demanding a lot more milk.  June Bug appears to be keeping up with them as they are fat and content, no whining or fussing or other signs they aren’t satisfied.

Once puppies’ eyes and ears open I make a point of talking to them whenever I go into the dog area.  They seem to recognize my voice now and hurry to the front of the whelping box, wagging their tails, when I start speaking. They are such a darling batch of puppies with wavy, shiny, soft coats,  round sweet faces, and beautiful black and white markings.  They don’t come any cuter than this bunch.  I regret I can’t keep them until they’re eight weeks old and ready to be adopted.

Speaking of….June Bug and her puppies were supposed to go to a new foster about a week ago, a foster whose home was going to be available once her current foster puppies were adopted.  Unfortunately, her foster puppies came down with Parvo and were too sick to go to their new homes.  So Samantha is on the hunt for another foster.  Thankfully we have a few more weeks to find someone before I leave town.  I can’t say I mind having this beautiful bunch around a little longer keeping me company this spring.

I decided to give them all bug names like their mama:







Bumble Bee:








June Bug plus five

While I missed Abby and her pups after they were adopted, I did enjoy the following weeks.  It was nice starting my morning over a leisurely cup of coffee, rather than having to immediately let Abby out and then see to puppy feedings and clean ups.  We all settled down into a new routine; our cats and dogs seemed to enjoy the calmer house and more attention.

Then two Mondays ago, a request came out for a foster for a dog named June Bug and her five puppies:



I emailed to ask how old the puppies were. Samantha, the adoption coordinator,  responded the puppies had been born that very day.  Unfortunately, travel plans in late May and early June meant I wouldn’t be able to keep the puppies until they were old enough to be adopted.

Samantha emailed the next day that she’d found someone to foster June Bug and her puppies but they weren’t going to be available for a few weeks. Would I be willing to take them until then?

When the mom and puppies are healthy, the first few weeks are simple and calm. So even though I’d been enjoying my break, I said yes.  June Bug and her puppies arrived Wednesday April 18.

June Bug is friendly and sweet and just twenty pounds. Her paperwork says her owner turned her into the shelter and that she’s a beagle sheltie mix (although Samantha was told she was a spaniel mix). June Bug gets very excited when we come downstairs to pet her. When we bring her upstairs, she spends most her time running in and out of all the rooms, sniffing, checking things out. And thankfully she gets along well with our dogs and cats.

At first she really enjoyed exploring the backyard. But lately, she’s developed an annoying habit, digging and then crawling under the house. The first few times she was unable to squeeze back out the hole she’d crawled through and got trapped under the house. So just as I had to with Abby’s puppies, I opened up a panel and climbed under the house to get her. I tried filling up the holes she dug with bricks and rocks but then she just dug around them and made new holes. Now I just leave the panel open so she can get out from under the house on her own. I have no idea why she wants to get under the house so badly.  It isn’t boredom, the moment I let her outside, she heads for the side of the house and starts digging.

So she’s kind of a goofy girl, but pretty darn cute too:




It was so nice out today I decided to bring the puppies out and take some pictures.  The three biggest are nearly twice the size of the smallest two.  Happy two week birthday!





Update on Abby and Pups; Sad news

On Friday, March 16, the day after I wrote my last blog post, while cleaning up the whelping box, I noticed some loose stools. And more concernedly, the puppies weren’t eating as much solid food as they should be. Occasionally, puppies don’t like solid food when it’s first introduced and it can take several days for them to begin eating heartily. But Abby’s pups were nearly six weeks old and had been on solid food for over a week; they should have been devouring it. I emailed Audrey and got permission to bring a stool sample in to the vet on Monday if by then things hadn’t improved.

By Sunday night, the puppies were still eating only about half of what I would have expected them to and it appeared several had diarrhea. So Monday I dropped off a sample to one of the veterinarians Homeward Trails works with, Dr. Bonner (conveniently, her office is only five minutes from my house). Later that day, her office called to tell me that the puppies had three parasites: round worms, hookworms and coccidia. By Tuesday, they – along with Abby – were on two medications, a five day course of Panacur and a ten day course of Albon.

Within a few days of being on the medications, the puppies started eating more and their poop started firming up. By Friday, they were eating well and they continued to be active and playful.

That week potential adopters came to meet the puppies and six were selected. Audrey told me she had plenty of applications for the remaining two.

Saturday, I got sick and Steve kindly took care of Abby and the pups’ feedings and clean ups that day and Sunday morning. I stayed in bed most of Saturday and Sunday, our dog Wendy keeping me company. She wasn’t feeling well either; she had vomited overnight, had loose stools and refused to eat her breakfast. It would be a few days before she felt like eating again, very unusual for her.

Sunday afternoon, March 25, I noticed one of the black and tan puppies, Cashew, seemed less active than the others. Monday night, I noticed vomit and diarrhea in the whelping box. I also saw Cashew refusing to eat.  And when I’d come downstairs he hadn’t run to the front of the whelping box to great me. Tuesday I got permission from Audrey to take Cashew to the vet. By then, he was extremely listless and thin. While we were waiting for Dr. Bonner, he vomited. Dr. Bonner was very concerned; his blood work showed his protein levels were dangerously low.  She recommended he be hospitalized so he could be given intravenous fluids and medications. I left him there and once home called the couple who planned to adopt him to explain that he was hospitalized and seriously ill.

The next morning (Wednesday) I called her office, afraid I would learn Cashew hadn’t made it through the night but the receptionist said he was much better that morning, he was up and moving around in his crate. Then a few hours later, she called to say Cashew had suddenly died. By then, the other three black and tan puppies, were listless; I’d also found more vomit and diarrhea in the whelping box. I texted Audrey and she got permission for me to bring them in. Since Cashew’s illness had proved fatal, Dr. Bonner recommended they be kept overnight. I asked her what was going on and she wasn’t entirely sure. She’d tested for Parvo, a virus extremely dangerous to puppies, but said it had come back negative. Dr. Bonner said before Cashew died, he was still testing positive for hookworms and she suspected that was what killed him. She also speculated that something might have been wrong with the medications I’d given Abby and the puppies, that perhaps they’d failed to work. Back home, I called Cashew’s adopters to give them the bad news.  Soon after, I noticed some of the brown/chestnut colored puppies acting listless too.

Thursday morning, Dr. Bonner’s office called to say the puppies in her care were better and that I could come to pick them up that afternoon. When she heard some of the other puppies were acting ill she asked that I bring all of them in, Abby too. After looking everyone over, she sent me home with a new course of Panacur and Albon, and two additional drugs, Metronidazole, an antibiotic that helps with diarrhea, and Reglan, a drug that helps treat nausea and vomiting. She also gave me some special canned food for young puppies that would encourage them to eat.

When we got home, I began giving everyone the meds. Unfortunately, three of the four drugs taste awful, so giving the puppies these liquid meds was quite unpleasant. Soon after I gave Walnut her meds, she threw up, let out diarrhea and became listless. By Friday morning she seemed very ill. I brought her back to Dr. Bonner’s office where she debated what to do. It was the start of a long weekend and if Walnut were hospitalized she wouldn’t be able to come home until Monday. After running some tests, Dr. Bonner decided to give Walnut subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids and send her home – she was ill but not so ill I couldn’t attempt to care for her. If she became dehydrated, I could give her fluids over the weekend. Friday night, Walnut’s condition concerned me enough that I tried to reach her adopter to let her know she was ill. The very little she ate, she vomited up. And then a new symptom appeared, her urine turned pink, most likely from blood.

The next few days were a blur of activity. Cleaning up puppy vomit and diarrhea. Giving them all four medications, two of them twice a day – the poor pups tried squirming away from me or shaking their heads as soon as I started squirting the bad tasting medicine in their mouths, and would run and hide from me when I tried to pick them up for the next dose. Coaxing them to eat and taking note of who ate, how much they ate and who didn’t eat. Watching them after they ate and got their medicines in case they began vomiting or got diarrhea. The sickest pups – the ones not eating, vomiting or having diarrhea – I brought upstairs to the kitchen so I could keep a closer eye on them. One by one, the remaining puppies became ill with the same symptoms: listlessness followed by vomiting, diarrhea and rejection of food. The puppies that had been hospitalized were in the best shape, active and playful and even filling out again. But they were picky about what they ate. They completely rejected their dry food and would only eat canned food.

By Saturday morning, I realized that the Reglan was doing more harm than good. If a nauseous puppy was given Reglan she’d get an appetite and eat something, but eating would be followed by vomiting and diarrhea. I assumed that loss of fluids and protein would be more devastating to the puppy’s body than not eating at all. Perhaps I should stop giving them the Reglan. I called Dr. Bonner’s office and spoke to the technician working and explained my reasoning and asked her to tell Dr. Bonner that I was stopping the Reglan unless I heard otherwise. I also mentioned Walnut’s pink urine; a few hours later Dr. Bonner had prescribed an antibiotic for her.

Walnut whined whenever I put her down so I carried her around with me most of Saturday. Late Saturday night, she drank some water and took a tentative bite of food.  No vomiting or diarrhea followed. She also got up, wagged her tail and tried to play with our new kitty Madeleine Albright (Molly for short). Sunday morning, Walnut was livelier, more interested in eating and playing. But she still wanted me to hold her whenever I was around. Sunday afternoon, April 1, everyone was doing well enough for us to sneak off to my niece’s to spend Easter with my family. When we returned early Sunday evening, the last puppy in the litter, Almond, was ailing – not interested in eating – but still up to chasing the cat. By Monday evening Almond was taking small nibbles of food and pouncing on the cat.

By Tuesday,  active and playful again, all the puppies seemed to have recovered. The rest of the week, whenever it was warm enough to go outside, they chased Abby, wrestled with each other, chewed on toys and explored the yard. And slowly they began eating the dry food again. By Friday, when the first puppy was due to be adopted, they were rounding out again; even Walnut looked like a healthy puppy (her pee had stopped being pink by Sunday evening).

I let all the adopters know of the puppies’ illness. Everyone was sorry about poor little Cashew. They all wondered what had happened – so did I.  Dr. Bonner still thought it was the parasites. But I had my own theory. Cashew and my dog Wendy had gotten sick around the same time with very similar symptoms – lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea (in Wendy’s case loose stools).  And Wendy, like the puppies, was slow getting her appetite back, at first refusing to eat her regular food or eat out of her regular bowl. And these same symptoms had eventually affected the whole litter. But not at once, just one or a few at time, over many days, after some had been on meds for the parasites for nearly two weeks. I’ve had puppies with serious parasitic illnesses before but never has an entire litter been affected; usually just a few become ill. The falling ill one after another seems more like a contagious illness than a parasitic one. And it makes no sense that the puppies would get better on the first round of meds and then fall ill while still taking them.

A few months ago, my sixteen year old cat Precious got sick and stopped eating. My vet, Dr. Hileman ran a whole series of tests. In the end she determined Precious had gotten a virus. I was surprised. How does an indoor cat get a virus I asked? Dr. Hileman told me that we can carry viruses into our homes on our shoes or belongings, on bags of pet food or kitty litter for instance.

So I wonder if when I brought the fecal to Dr. Bonner’s office or picked up the medicines the next day or perhaps when someone came to visit the puppies, or even when Wendy came home from a walk with Steve, a dog virus hitched a ride back to our house and Cashew and Wendy were exposed.  Then the virus was passed along to the rest of the litter. Dr. Bonner doesn’t think this is likely because there are only a few known fatal dog viruses which she tested for (such as Parvo).  But perhaps Cashew’s body was still weakened from the parasites. Perhaps it was a combination of the parasites and a virus, not normally fatal, that killed him.

I’ll never know for sure what the cause of this illness was but it’s a reminder to me to make a point of watching even my older foster puppies eat at least once a day. After starting them on the Panacur and Albon the puppies began eating well and I didn’t watch them as closely. And in just a matter of days, Cashew became dangerously, fatally ill. Cashew was a beautiful sweet puppy with a lovely couple waiting to give him a wonderful home.  It pains me to have lost him, to have let them all down.


This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday, adopters for all the puppies came to fill out adoption contracts, pay adoption fees and bring their puppies home.  Even Abby found a loving family. The house is quiet now.  No sounds of Abby begging to get a break from her puppies, no whining from puppies begging to be picked up.  I always think I’m going to be relieved to have them all gone but find myself missing them instead.  All our own four cats and two dogs happy though, I have time to give them loving caresses again.

Friday, the last afternoon we were together, I finally had a free moment, so I took some pictures and videos of them happy and healthy together one last time:
















Abby and Puppies settle in

Abby and the puppies are doing great.  Since it’s been so cold out, I’ve been filling the large round dish with puppy food and putting it in the dog house so the puppies so the puppies can stay warm while they eat. Abby spends most of her brief morning time outside pacing around the yard, keeping watch.  She’s a bit territorial and barks at our neighbors’ dogs.  If the puppies aren’t around, I can coax her over to the fence and she’ll stop barking and sniff the other dogs. But when her puppies are near, she doesn’t let her guard down.

This afternoon, temperatures got up into the upper 40s so I was able to leave Abby and the puppies outside for nearly two hours. The puppies enjoyed exploring and chasing each other in the yard:

Catching mom is what they like best:




Goodbye Betsy and Hello Abby

While I was still fostering Betsy and her puppies, an email came out requesting a foster for a dog and her eight young puppies.


Requests were sent three more times and by the evening before they were due to arrive, a foster still hadn’t been found. So I offered that if the adoption coordinator, Audrey, could find someone to foster them until the weekend of March 10 and if Liz could either get adopters or another foster lined up for Betsy and Noel I could take them after that.  Audrey emailed me back and said that would be great as she’d found someone who could keep them until March 17th. That gave Liz an additional week to find homes for Betsy and Noel.

Then Tuesday, I got an email from the temporary foster Victoria – who coincidentally adopted our beautiful Hera – to ask if we could coordinate moving the puppies this Saturday, March 10. I forwarded her note to Audrey asking, I thought we’d agreed on the 17th? and Audrey answered back that she did too.  I mistakenly thought that Audrey would email or call Victoria to sort it out and when I didn’t hear anything more I thought it was all settled. But then Friday afternoon I got another email from Victoria about wanting to coordinate the transfer for the next day. So, long story short, gobs of emails went flying around to sort this out then finally to find volunteers to take Betsy and Noel to a new foster in Leesburg and bring the new momma, Abby and her puppies up to me in Gaithersburg from Arlington. Betsy and Noel left Saturday morning at 10am and Dolores’ adopters picked her up around noon. Then I rushed to clean up the dog area, removing all the old newspapers, washing out the whelping box, scrubbing the floor and washing the dog beds, toys and towels. Finally, I put out clean newspapers, fresh towels and toys. To complicate matters, Steve and I were going to a play in DC that afternoon, so I called my kind neighbor Betty and asked if she would come over with a key and help the volunteer driver settle Abby and puppies in. Betty has two dogs of her own so I knew this dog family would be safely welcomed in our absence. Then I jumped in the shower to get ready for the play.  As soon as I climbed out, Steve told me he’d checked google maps and thanks to a beltway accident, we’d have to take a different route to get to the show and the trip would take an extra half hour, meaning we needed to leave ASAP.  So I threw on the first thing I could find and with wet hair and no make up, a banana and chunk of bread for my lunch, climbed into the car. Steve drove like a New Yorker and I kept my mouth shut for a change.

At intermission I checked my phone and saw that all had gone well with the drop off and that everyone agreed Abby was a sweet girl. When we got home, I went downstairs to see for myself. She happily greeted me with a wag and let me pet her. She’s a pretty girl with large brown eyes and a beautiful golden orange coat. She looks like she is part German Shepherd. The shelter thinks she’s also part Golden Retriever which would explain her coloring.

After letting her outside one last time, I turned off the lights in the laundry room. We heard nothing all night. And in the morning, her newspapers were dry and clean and she and the puppies were all happy to see me. Although it was rather cold out, I wanted to feed the puppies outside. While they ate, I quickly cleaned up the whelping box. Then I brought them back in.

In the afternoon, I fed the puppies outside again and after they finished eating I put them all in the dog house together.

Most of them had the good sense to stay inside it:


I wanted to get pictures and video of the puppies for Petfinder, so I took them inside and upstairs two at a time.

A friend recently suggested I give some puppies nut names. So here they all are:

















Oh and I’ve decided to name our newest kitty Madeleine Albright since she appears to be the family ambassador.


Betsy hurts her toe and other events

A week ago Sunday, after Steve let Betsy inside, he noticed she was limping.  One of the toe nails on her back right leg was bent backwards, almost as if it had been partly pulled out, and her foot was bleeding. We suspect that as she was climbing over our wire fence, she got her nail caught in it.  By Monday morning, she still wouldn’t put any weight on her back leg.  So I got permission from Liz to take her to the vet.  Homeward Trails works with a number of veterinarians who’ve agreed to give us a generous discount.  I’m extremely fortunate that on of them is only about a mile from me. Before being able to go to Dr. Bonner, I used to have to drive to Cabin John, MD or DC.  When Dr. Bonner examined Betsy, she thought that since Betsy wouldn’t put any weight on her foot she may have broken or dislocated one of her toes.  Unfortunately, nothing can be done to treat those conditions;  – you can’t put a cast on a dog’s toe.  Dr. Bonner did prescribe some pain medication to make Betsy more comfortable while her toe healed.  Back at home, Betsy was impatient with the puppies crowding around her, growling and snapping at them. They were likely stepping on her foot. So while she was healing, I let her spend most of her time upstairs. This weekend, she began putting weight on her foot and by Monday she was running around on all four legs again.

Meanwhile potential adopters began visiting. As of last Thursday, the puppies started going home.  As of today, we just have two puppies left.

Dolores whose adopters can’t pick her up until Saturday:P1070079

and Noel who is still in need of a home:


We also have a new cat, a nine month old orange tabby we’ve yet to name:


We got this kitty to be a buddy for our youngest cat Pad Thai who has been bored lately, following us around the house meowing.  For help finding a kitty, I emailed Shana, who’s in charge of the cat side of Homeward Trails.  I told her I wanted a young playful kitty who’d be comfortable joining a busy household (three cats, two dogs, a revolving door of foster dogs and puppies).  I.e. a cat who could handle chaos. And boy did Shana deliver.  Within a few days, this little orange tabby had completely adjusted to our crazy household.  Dodging the claws of her angry elders – Precious and Igy are not thrilled – accepting the cold wet noses of curious dogs and adjusting to Pad Thai stalking her around the house, watching her every move.

What surprised us most is her interest in the puppies.  Perhaps they are just the right size to be wrestling companions. And while it’s hard to know how the puppies are feeling, they always come back for more:

But I think the puppies love playing with their momma the most: