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.


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:



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:


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):











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.


Puppy Milestones

With this past weekend’s warm weather, I couldn’t bear to weed my garden, as badly as it needs it. But I didn’t want to stay inside the whole time either. Giving the puppies their first taste of the outdoors was a great excuse to relax in the shade and just watch.

The puppies whine at first; how big and strange the backyard must seem compared to their small, quiet whelping box. Funny textures below, bright light above and unexpected sounds coming from all around.

The change of scenery doesn’t phase the only girl pup. I keep a close eye on her as she wanders far and wide (so does mom):

Sunday evening I brought them out again. This time both Wendy and Little Dog were outside too. Little Dog enjoys getting a quick sniff of the puppies:

The puppies turned four weeks old Sunday so today, Monday, I introduced them to their first solid food (puppy food softened in water).  Some puppies take to solid food right away, others need time and encouragement. Generally the smallest, thinnest puppies are the most eager and the roundest ones the least.  That holds true for Hestia’s pups:

After eating the puppies began to play and explore:

The puppies seemed happy to be outside so I left them in the side yard by themselves – unfortunately Hestia can climb ( jump?) the side yard fencing so I let her come with me. When I saw storm clouds moving in, I rushed back to return them to the whelping box. I found the puppies all napping comfortably on the towel in the shade.





Wiggly Puppies and Chewbacca

Last Wednesday, Hestia and the puppies had a mini vacation. Every two years or so, my mother’s side of the family holds a reunion so while we were in Harper’s Ferry for a long weekend with around forty of my relatives, Hestia and her litter were cared for by a wonderful volunteer named MJ. MJ not only looked after everyone while I was away, she also did all the transporting.  I’m so very grateful!

picture from MJ:

Hestia 1

Before the weekend, the grey puppy with black spots had been congested for about a week. And several of the others were getting runny noses too. So before leaving I asked Liz if she could get some Clavamox (the antibiotic we give our littlest puppies) to MJ.  They’ve been on it for nearly a week now. Some of them are still very stuffy but otherwise look really good:  eating well, growing, moving and playing.

Hestia is doing well and making herself at home. A little too much at home. Whenever we have a new foster I keep a close eye on them the first few days to make sure they’re housebroken and aren’t inclined to chew on the furniture or anything else they aren’t supposed to. Hestia generally sticks close to me, and only occasionally trots off to find one of the many bones we have lying around the house. Monday morning, while I was having breakfast she wandered away and I soon heard her chewing on something in the sunroom, a bone I assumed. A while later I walked into the sunroom and noticed something pinkish on the floor all chewed to pieces.  I took a closer look. It was the plastic dental device I wear at night for sleep apnea. Like most mornings, I’d woken up, taken it out of mouth and placed it on my night stand. It had never dawned on me that any of my fosters would find it and take interest in it. The device had been specially made for me by a dentist and partially paid for by my medical insurance.

When I spoke to the office manager at the dentist’s she told me I wasn’t eligible for a new dental device for three more years and that without insurance it costs $3250.  We’ve had our fair share of foster damages over the years – it’s almost inevitable when you welcome strange dogs into your home – but nothing close to this expensive before.  I’m doing my best to just say to myself, what’s done is done. There’s no point in beating myself up over it. I’m very lucky to have a husband like Steve who instead of pointing out the obvious, that it was pretty stupid of me to leave my dental device where Hestia could reach it (those long legs of hers!), remarked that we should start calling Hestia Chewbacca. You can bet when (if?) I get around to replacing the dental device I won’t ever leave it where a dog can reach it again.

On to happier topics.  Now that the puppies eyes and ears are open they are taking an interest in the world around them. Especially each other:


The grey with black spots is so big.  He already weighs four and a half pounds while the next biggest is just a little over three pounds.  Four of the five are males, the smallest dark brown one is female. In a few days I’ll take pictures and put the puppies up on Petfinder. I’m thinking about a Wonder Woman theme for the names.


Feeling at Home

I’m delighted to report that Hestia is very sociable, friendly and easy to have around.  Most mother dogs are content to be left alone the first few weeks. But not Hestia. After I check on her and the puppies, she tries to prevent me from getting to the gate door, locking her in and leaving. So now in the mornings I let her out to the side yard while I go back upstairs to make my coffee. If the weather’s nice, we sit together on the patio while I have a cup. She’s happy to be out; she wags her tail so hard, she nearly falls over. And when I sit down on one of the chaises, she climbs up and puts her front paws across me. If I rub her side, she rolls over on her back for a full belly rub. When I go inside to fix breakfast, she follows me around the kitchen and then settles down at my feet while I eat. I let her stay with me until I have somewhere to go or it’s time for the puppies to nurse. I often have to coax her back downstairs with a treat.

Hestia is also friendly with Wendy, Little Dog and the cats. She greets them all with a wag and a sniff, open and interested, not pushy or aggressive. If she sees one of the other dogs getting attention, she comes over too. But she waits her turn; she doesn’t push her head in between us and the other dog.

She has a few quirks – don’t we all? In the backyard, she likes to jump up on our patio table and lie down. In the kitchen, she tried to jump up on the cats’ window seat. It quickly collapsed under her weight. Steve put it back up and now when she’s in the kitchen we block it with a chair so she doesn’t repeat the stunt.

While I like names from Greek Mythology, Hestia doesn’t suit this mom dog.  It seems to serious and dignified. For now I’m calling her Momma Dog but realize I need to pick something soon.

As for her breed, the shelter thought she was an Australian Shepherd mix and Liz guessed hound mix. I considered Australian Shepherd mix for a short time too because of the color of her coat and the coats of some of her puppies.

Australian Shepard:



But her personality isn’t very shepherd like.  Based on both personality and appearance I’d place my bet on her being a Catahoula Leopard Dog – hound mix:





Catahoula Leopard Dogs are not technically a breed but a mix of several breeds, what is called a “cur.”   So their appearance can vary more than most types of dogs.

As for the puppies, they are two weeks old today and thriving. With only five of them, there is milk aplenty and they’re getting fat. This morning I noticed one had opened its eyes.






Never a smooth road

A well-adjusted, friendly mother dog, arriving in late May,  when the weather is nicer, and likely staying through mid July. I had hopes this was going to be a calm and uneventful foster situation. But circumstances change quickly.  On Thursday evening, I noticed one of the puppies lying on her side crying. Healthy newborn puppies don’t do much crying.  If they are hungry, they find their mother and nurse, if they are sleepy, they quickly fall asleep. Lengthy crying is a sign that something is seriously wrong.  Sometimes “fading puppy syndrome”  is the cause. Remember Holly the first dog I blogged about? This is what I suspect caused some of her puppies’ deaths.

The crying puppy was very thin, thinner than when the puppies had arrived Wednesday. And I noticed several others were very thin as well. And when I picked her up, she was cold. For about an hour and a half, Amanda and I took turns warming the puppy next to our skin. Then I returned her to her mother, helping her find a nipple, and supporting her while she nursed. Afterwards, I placed her in the midst of the other puppies so she would stay warm.  When I came back to check on her a short time later she was already cold.  Not a good sign. The next morning, Saturday, she was dead.

That wasn’t all. Two more puppies were now lying on their sides crying. When I picked them up, they too were cold.  So I warmed them next to my skin then fed them sugar water with a syringe. These efforts were unsuccessful. One was dead by mid-morning, the other by evening. And a fourth puppy had begun crying and would be dead by Sunday morning.

There was a fifth puppy who was just as thin as the ones who had died.  All Sunday, I waited for her to begin crying too.  But she kept sleeping and nursing normally.  Monday, Tuesday and now Wednesday morning have passed with no new puppy deaths.  I’m beginning to feel hope the final five will make it.

Hestia making herself at home:



puppies 10 days old:





Another appeal

Monday, May 22, three days after we returned from our trip to Florida, I got the following note from Jenn, Homeward Trails Dog Program Director:

Hey Allison!! Is there any chance you are open for a litter? We just had one born at Fayette- the pups are only a day old and really need to get out of there asap- we have a transport running Weds let me know your thoughts? Pic attached!!


Hasty picture, probably not her best.  And when it comes down to it, have I ever said no because the dog wasn’t a looker?  So, I replied yes and started getting the dog area ready once again.

Wednesday evening a kind volunteer drove the mom – Hestia –  and her nine puppies from N. Va. to me.  Liz, the adoption coordinator I’ll be working with this time, said the shelter reported Hestia was sweet and friendly.  And they were right.  When I spoke to her through the crate door she wagged her tail and put her nose close to be petted.  I brought her into the house where she greeted Wendy and Little Dog  with tail wags.  Then I led her downstairs to the dog area. Taking them out of the crate, I placed all nine puppies on towel, folded the four corners together, carried the bundle downstairs and opened it up in the whelping box.

Here are pictures and video I took the next day: