Hestia learns more tricks

Unfortunately Hestia no longer submits graciously to being chained. When I pick up the clip end and walk towards her, she trots away from me. So in the mornings, I feed her first. While she’s busy eating, I attach the chain to her collar. At other times of the day I use a leash to walk her over to the chain. Even when her puppies are playing around her, she resents being restrained and before long begins to complain by whining or barking.  When I can, I let Hestia loose and supervise her. After some playtime in the backyard with her puppies, she’s usually content to lie about the house while I get things done.

One morning last week when I went to let Hestia and the puppies out I was surprised to find Hestia sized dog poop outside of the dog area in front of the washer/dryer. I couldn’t remember letting her linger in that part of the laundry room the night before and I couldn’t imagine failing to see the mess when I put her away. It was very perplexing.

That night I was woken up by a rumbling noise, almost like the sound of thunder, coming from downstairs. And a few minutes later I heard the sound again. And in the morning, I found another mess outside the dog area. As I stood for a moment looking at the mess – unlike Hestia’s usual poop, it was loose and runny – Hestia started to climb the dog area gate! I no! no! noed! her until she stopped then opened the gate before she could try to climb it again. Hestia came barrelling out of the dog area into the very cramped laundry room. She wanted attention and I wanted to clean up the mess before she could step in it. Neither of us were very happy for a while.

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This event repeated itself a few more nights and mornings, me hearing noises in the night then finding poop outside the dog area in the morning. Normally Hestia has no problem holding it until I let her out but looser poop is harder to hold. So why did she suddenly have loose poop? Hestia was one of those rare foster dogs who hadn’t had a single parasite. Her puppies hadn’t even had round worms. Occasionally a dog’s parasite symptoms won’t appear for ten days to two weeks after we’ve gotten them. But Hestia has been with us for over five weeks. And while her poop was loose, it looked fine otherwise. I looked at Hestia. She was brimming with health. Fat even. Fat from eating all the puppy food she wanted. Rich puppy food. With more calories than she likely needs now that her five puppies are getting most of their nutrition elsewhere. So for her next feeding instead of letting her have all the puppy food she wanted, I gave her three cups of adult dog food. The next morning the floor was clean and later when she went outside her poop was firm again. I wish I could say that was the end of her climbing the gate but it wasn’t. When we put her in the dog area we often hear her climbing over. Perhaps she figures once she’s over the gate she’ll find a way through the laundry room door. I bet if we gave her long enough she’d manage to do it.

So while Hestia has been keeping me on my toes her puppies have been exploring the yard, chasing and playing with one another. As much as they enjoy each other, they still prefer being with their mother. Most of the time. Yesterday Hestia was playing so roughly – biting on their necks, dragging them by their legs, ignoring their cries, even chasing them down when they ran from her – I started having to step in. No sooner had I rescued one puppy than she’d go after another. When it was clear she wasn’t going to stop I put her inside. Mother dogs frequently play roughly with their puppies but I’d never seen a mother dog as relentless as this. I wondered if the change in her diet from “all she could eat” puppy food to just three cups of adult food a day might have something to do with it. Perhaps her hunger was triggering some biological response to be aggressive towards her puppies. Thankfully today she was not nearly so rough or determined while playing with them.

All the puppies have found homes now.  And in just three days they start leaving. They – we – don’t have much more time together:

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Allison

Hestia climbs the fence

 

A few weeks ago, I was in the front yard throwing Wendy’s football for her to chase and retrieve.  Hestia was in the backyard and hearing the noise, came and whined at the gate, likely upset to be left out of the fun:

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Soon Wendy was panting and lying on the ground so we went inside. Just as I was heading out back to bring in Hestia the doorbell rang. It was my next door neighbor with Hestia. She’d gotten out!

Later that day when I let her out to go to the bathroom she got out again. She trotted up to another neighbor who promptly brought her home. It was clear from then on someone needed to be with her in the yard.  When she has bathroom breaks out back I need to come with her.  And no longer can I let her out in the mornings with her puppies to eat while I go back inside to make coffee.  So now I make my coffee first, and drink my cup while everyone’s eating.

A few evenings later, Steve and I were playing with her and the puppies in the backyard when we suddenly realized we didn’t know where Hestia was. Sure enough, she’d slipped around the side and gotten out (we eventually realized she climbs the chicken wire attached to the garden gate then launches herself over).  She’d taken no time leaving the court and heading over to the park nearby where thankfully some boys playing basketball found her and were already dialing our number when Steve reached them (our fosters all wear a collar with an old tag of Wendy’s with our address and phone number on it). It was surprising that she’d taken off while we were playing with her and the puppies. Her desire to roam is very strong.

Yesterday I was in the backyard with her, the puppies, Wendy and Little Dog. Wendy and Little were barking so I let them back in the house. In the short time that I had my back to her, Hestia slipped around the corner and went over the gate. I headed out the gate and looked down the street. She was halfway to the park. I called her name. For a moment, she looked back at me but then continued down the street to the townhouses across the road. I didn’t have my phone or a leash but I didn’t want to waste time going back for them. I remember reading long ago that it’s important to immediately go after a dog that gets away from you as they can get far quickly. Unfortunately, my foot is still painful (more surgery coming up) so I couldn’t run after her, just do a fast walk. I caught up to her in front of one of the townhouses but she dodged me when I tried to get her collar. I suppose she did not want me spoiling her adventure. As she continued on, I kept hoping she’d discover some discarded food or trash to distract her and slow her down but she headed on between the townhouses towards an open field, a road and woods.  But then something behind the townhouses distracted her. She stopped to sniff under one of the decks and I was able to grab onto her fur. Along the way, I’d spotted a rain drenched newspaper in a plastic bag and grabbed it. I slipped the plastic bag through Hestia’s collar to make it a little easier to walk back home. It was a little better than just holding onto her collar but not much. When we got home, I attached her to the chain we put in the backyard – the chain I’ve barely used because it makes me feel bad to do so. She plunked herself down on the ground, belly up, her puppies climbing all over her.  Apparently her adventure had tired her out.

Unfortunately for Hestia, from now on, unless I can give her my full and undivided attention, she has to be chained in the backyard.  Thankfully, she doesn’t seem to mind too much.  And the puppies appear happy that their mommy can’t get very far from them.P1060806

 

Otherwise everything is well.  Puppies are growing and thriving.  Four out of five have homes.  Just sweet little Steve left to place (thanks to my daughter Rachel’s friend Katrina for this great picture):

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other than wanderlust Hestia’s escapades we’ve really been enjoying this litter.  Hestia is so friendly and easy going. Wonderful with our animals and a cheerful greeter of all our company.  I even feel comfortable having her around when my three year old nephew is playing with the puppies. And it’s been wonderful experiencing a litter of just five puppies. I’m enjoying them all so much because I have more time to play with and cuddle each of them. Things are simply easier: fewer messes to clean up, fewer pups to gather up if a rain storm rolls in, fewer adoptions to coordinate. Even Hestia seems to be enjoying her puppies more than most mother dogs. She’s been content to be chained up with them most of the day; no barking or whining suggesting she’s unhappy where she is.

Life is good.

Allison