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.
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: