Two weeks

Savannah and pups were in good hands while I was away. Sue Bell, founder and Executive Director of Homeward Trails, had offered to care for them. I hadn’t seen Sue in a long time. Years ago, we used to meet to transfer dogs or dog families from one car to another. But since HTAR has grown, so have her responsibilities. Most of Sue’s time is no doubt spent coordinating with staff, setting policies and fundraising while others do the direct work. It was really nice to see her again.

On Monday, Sue arranged for her boyfriend’s daughter Hannah to be home so I could pick up Savannah and her puppies. Sue had borrowed a puppy pen to make a cozy den. When I first came near the pen, Savannah growled and snarled at me. Either she was so protective of her puppies she didn’t stop to see who it was or it had been long enough that she’d forgotten me. Since Savannah had warmed to Hannah while I was away, I let Hannah take the lead in loading Savannah and her puppies in my car.

Once home, I gave Savannah lots of privacy, coming in only to change the newspapers and fill her food and water bowls. She needed to rest and to get re-acquainted with her surroundings. Within a day or two, her behavior changed. Instead of lying quietly with her puppies whenever I came into the dog area, she began leaping out of the whelping box and jumping up on me excitedly. When I reached down to pet her, she’d immediately roll over for a belly rub. It looked like Savannah’s energy had returned and she was ready for a break from her puppies.

Now every morning and afternoon, I go downstairs and after a quick greeting, let Savannah outside. I clean up any overnight messes and fill up her bowls. Then I go upstairs, grab a cup of coffee and head outside. Savannah, seeing me, gets excited all over again. She wanders around the yard. Eventually she’s relieves herself – she’s one of those dogs who needs some exercise first. I sit down on a patio chair and Savannah immediately leaps into my lap. She lies down while I finish my coffee. Some days I have somewhere I need to be or something I need to do and get up as soon as my cup’s empty. Other times we linger, Savannah curled up in my lap, me petting her fur. After a while I start thinking about all the things I could be doing and take Savannah back inside where we find her puppies sleeping contentedly in the whelping box.

Despite being such a little dog, Savannah is able to make enough milk to feed all eight puppies. Besides keeping them well fed, she also licks them clean and sleeps close to them to help keep them warm. They aren’t skinny anymore but have rounded out. Either sleeping or nursing, quiet and content.

Savannah does have one strange quirk. After the puppies were born and I’d cleaned up all the dirty newspapers, I put down clean towels for Savannah and the puppies to lie down on. Later when I checked on them, I found Savannah and the puppies lying directly on the floor of the whelping box with the towels bunched up in front of them. So I spread the towels out again – putting the puppies back on them – only to return later to find Savannah and the puppies back on the floor again, the towels pushed aside.  Several more times I tried to make everyone comfortable on the towels only to find them later on the bare floor. Then I tried newspapers. Which Savannah then shredded. After that, I gave up. For whatever reason, Savannah prefers the vinyl flooring to the towels or newspapers. Since she’s such a fastidious mother, licking up all of her puppies’ messes herself, it’s not a concern for them to be directly on the floor. For now at least. When her puppies start eating solid food, she’ll stop cleaning up after them. Then I’ll need to put newspapers down or there will be an awful mess to deal with every day.

Here’s video from today, the puppies’ two week birthday:



First few days

Tuesday morning, as soon as I open the door to the laundry room / dog area, I hear whimpering and crying sounds. Savannah doesn’t move when I come in. She remains lying with the puppies surrounding her, a few nursing, a few sleeping, the rest crying. Healthy, well-nourished newborn puppies do very little crying. They’re either nursing, sleeping or perhaps making a few sounds before settling down. Something is wrong. Given that Savannah is such a small dog and she has such a large litter, the most likely reason for the puppies’ distress is she isn’t making enough milk yet. In time, her body will probably adjust to the demands placed on her by so many puppies. The more the puppies nurse, the more milk her body will produce. But until then, there’s a risk that some of the puppies will become dehydrated and/or hypoglycemic. Then they’ll become lethargic, lose their appetite and quickly crash.

I head to Petsmart and buy some puppy formula. Back home, I mix up about 6 ounces worth and begin feeding the puppies from a little bottle.

puppy photo from


I don’t find it easy feeding puppies from a bottle. The poor little things are just figuring out how to get milk from their mommies when I come along with this weird rubbery thing with funny tasting stuff coming out of it. Most of the time, they aren’t interested, clamping their mouths shut against the nipple. So I cheat and mix in a little sugar to make the formula sweeter and more appealing during the first few feedings.

Drinking milk from a bottle is a skill and it requires patience while a puppy learns how. But my hope is this is just a temporary measure, a little extra nourishment for the puppies until Savannah makes enough milk to satisfy them. So if I put the nipple in a puppy’s mouth and he can’t figure out how to get formula from it, I give the bottle a gentle squeeze every moment or so. I keep up the feeding until the puppy turns his head away, telling me he’s had enough. I work my way through all the puppies that are awake and not nursing. A few hours later I come back and feed them again.

Savannah begins interrupting the feedings by licking the face of whichever puppy I’m trying to feed. At first I assume she’s concerned about me handling her puppies. Then I realize she is attracted to the formula. After that to distract her I feed her canned food while I’m feeding the puppies.

By evening, only a few puppies are making whimpering sounds. After feeding them, there’s formula left over; I pour it over Savannah’s food.

Wednesday morning I open the door to the laundry room / dog area and pause to listen.  No crying sounds. I turn on the light and go over to Savannah and the puppies. Savannah’s lying down with all the puppies nestled around her, either sleeping or nursing. No need to give anyone formula. Throughout the day I continue to listen for signs of distress; there are none. Little Savannah’s body is doing its job, nourishing all eight puppies.

Thursday goes much the same as Wednesday. Savannah lying down feeding her puppies – getting up only to eat, drink or relieve herself on the newspapers – her puppies nursing or sleeping contentedly. Tomorrow we go away for the weekend and Savannah goes to her temporary foster. Fingers crossed that everything continues to go well while we are apart!





Labor Day

When I wake up Monday morning, Savannah is no longer on the dog cushion next to my bed. I glance around the room and don’t see her anywhere. Then I call for her and she comes out from under my grandmother’s old dresser. I pat the dog cushion hoping she’ll lie down but she chooses the floor next to it instead. Then she rolls over for a belly rub. When I stop petting her, she begins wandering around the room. So I take her out in the backyard; perhaps she needs to pee. But instead of going in the grass, she jumps up on me repeatedly, looking up into my eyes. I give up and bring her back inside. It still feels early so I try going back to sleep. But Savannah’s restless and continues walking around the room. When she tries to slip between the bed and the wall, I know something is wrong. Her backside is all that’s visible from where she’s squeezed in between the wall and the bed; I see something round, smooth and shiny bulging out. She’s started delivering a puppy. I gently ease her out, pick her up and flip her over so her rear is in the air. Then I carry her downstairs to the dog area and the whelping box and put her down on a towel, laying down newspapers around her.

The puppy in it’s membrane sack is only partly delivered but Savannah doesn’t seem to be having any contractions. Several minutes go by and the puppy remains half in half out. I grasp the puppy and give a gentle tug but it doesn’t move; I don’t dare pull harder. A few more minutes pass and the puppy finally emerges. Using her teeth, Savannah rips open the membrane, then eats it, laps up all the fluids and vigorously licks the puppy to dry him. The placenta hasn’t been delivered yet and the umbilical cord still connects it to the puppy. When Savannah stand up, the puppy dangles from the cord. I encourage her to lie down so the cord doesn’t pull at the puppy’s abdomen (this could give the puppy a hernia). Rather than cutting the cord for her, I wait and let Savannah get around to doing it. There’s no harm in delaying cutting the cord and possible benefits as the placenta delivers vital nutrients to the puppy in the first few minutes after birth.  And when a mother chews the cord herself, there’s much less bleeding than when the cord is cut with scissors, reducing the need for tying it off. A few minutes later the placenta comes out along with a second puppy! Savannah takes care of the second puppy then goes back to chew the cord of the first puppy. I make sure that the puppies aren’t losing blood from their chewed off cords. Sometimes if mother dog chews off the chord too close to a puppy’s abdomen there’s excessive bleeding. If that happens, I tie the cord with dental floss. I move the puppies to the clean newspapers knowing Savannah will follow them. Then I remove the wet newspapers and put down new ones. Savannah is doing a fantastic job caring for her puppies post delivery and I give her lots of praise.

Here she is after delivering the first two:

Steve brings me a cup of coffee and I ask what time it is. 9:40am. I settle down on a cushion and watch as Savannah fusses over her puppies. I’ll be here a while. Puppies are typically born a half an hour to an hour apart but can come within minutes of one another or conversely, hours can pass between arrivals. And without knowing how many puppies Savannah is going to have, it’s even harder to predict how long I’ll be keeping her company.

I turn on the space heater; it’s a chilly morning and it’s important to keep newborns warm. Before long she starts to deliver the third puppy. While Savannah is focused on the new delivery, I slip the first two puppies out of the way, so they don’t get stepped on or wet again.

Here’s the third delivery. Warning! Don’t play this video unless you’re prepared to see one of the messier – and to some grosser – sides of mammalian life!

Savannah is doing great! There at the end, she’s a little too focused on licking up the puddle and forgets about her wet puppy so I get a towel and dry it for her. Then I change the wet newspapers so she and the puppies are comfortable while they wait together for the next arrival. I offer Savannah some water.

Four then five come along. Here’s Savannah with five puppies:

And then puppy number six arrives (watch only if you can’t get enough of this stuff):

Six puppies. By now I’m really hoping Savannah is done. She’s thrown up twice. Shaking and shivering. When she’s not delivering a puppy or cleaning up a puppy post delivery, she’s so weary she just lies there weakly licking her puppies. And she’s such a little thing. I doubt she’s fifteen pounds. Six puppies are more than enough for her to feed and care for.

But nature is greedy and number seven comes along (yup, another puppy delivery video):

And before another hour passes, an eighth puppy is born. I’m stiff from sitting so long in the whelping box with Savannah so I slip upstairs for a moment to stretch my legs. It’s after 1pm.

I go back downstairs with another cup of coffee. Around 3pm I call it. Eight puppies for Savannah. Delivered on Labor Day. I decide to name them after heroes of the American labor movement.

I bring Savannah food and water and check on her throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, I hear a lot of puppy whimpering. The puppies are so very thin. They have no reserves to hold them while they wait for Savannah’s milk to come in. I mix up some sugar water and give it to them using a medicine dropper. In the morning I’ll go buy some formula; Savannah is going to need my help feeding them tomorrow.


Back in business

I had my foot surgery on July 27. After only a few days of discomfort I rather enjoyed the excuse to sit around reading books, watching movies and shows, goofing off online and having a break from the usual routine of laundry, cooking and various chores. But after four weeks or so, I started feeling like a blight on the planet, adding plastic to the landfills, contributing nothing.  Now at the halfway mark to healing, I could begin doing some limited walking in my post op shoe.  So instead of deleting all the list-serve notes I receive looking for fosters I started opening some of them.

Friday, I got a note from one of our Adoption Coordinators, Alana:

Hello everyone!!

We have a momma and her pups and a pregnant momma who need out of the shelter tomorrow…..We still need a foster for both these guys. Shelter not a place for small puppies or a mommy to be. Please let me know if you can help. Need to know by 500pm today or they won’t be able to come.



There was one complication. My mother is turning 85 this month and my family has an out of town celebration planned for this coming weekend, September 8-10.  So I emailed Alana saying as long as we could find someone to take care of the shepherd momma and her pups for the weekend I could foster them.  She replied that someone had already offered to take the shepherd but could I foster the pregnant terrier?

I looked at her picture. Irresistible. But what if she has the puppies right before we were leaving for the weekend? How stressful to move her at that point. Or what if she goes into labor as we are about to leave? So many unknowns. Impossible to plan ahead. But, but look at those eyes. What ever happens, we’ll figure it out. So I said yes.

A kind volunteer, Dawn, drove our pregnant momma, Savannah, up to us early Saturday evening.  I’d gone to Virginia to help my sister babysit her four grandchildren while my niece and her husband went out to dinner bringing along their latest, only two weeks old, who I got to meet for the first time (yes, I’m blessed with little humans to love too).  Steve met Dawn at her car, scaring Savannah with his outreached hand and receiving a growl and a nip in return. Dawn carried her down to the dog area so she could have some time to herself. When I got home, I slipped in to see her and she rolled over so I could rub her belly.

A little before 5am Sunday morning I heard her whining and barking. I ignored her at first hoping she’d settle back down; no such luck.  So I went downstairs to see if perhaps she needed to go out. But the newspapers Steve had put out were already wet and she’d also pooped. She was very glad to see me and rolled over on her back again, begging for a tummy rub. Then I saw at least three fleas running across her tummy.

Before being delivered to their fosters, Homeward Trails dogs go through an intake process at one of our HTAR facilities.  During intake, all dogs are supposed to be given de-wormer, vaccines and tick/flea medications to decrease the chance they’ll bring any diseases, illnesses, ticks or fleas into their foster home. Thankfully, I had a few flea meds leftover from another time I had a foster dog and puppies with fleas. The drug/insecticide is a wonder; within an hour it begins killing fleas and continues killing them for up to 24 hours. It’s rare for a flea to survive the onslaught. It’s ideal for dogs entering/leaving shelters or changing homes. If I’m concerned a puppy or dog may have fleas, I administer this insecticide an hour before they’re to be adopted. But it isn’t an effective drug when a dog isn’t changing locations. Fleas often jump off dogs after they’ve had a meal and set up home along the walls of your house and begin laying eggs. And they can easily go 24 hours between meals. So I can only hope that in the nearly 12 hours she’d been in our house none have done so.

I contacted Alana and Jenn our dog coordinator and both were very apologetic.  Apparently intake on Saturday was crazy and whoever processed Savannah didn’t realize the medications were safe for pregnant dogs. Jenn sent a note reminding  everyone involved in intake that no dog should ever be sent to a foster without getting de-wormer, flea/tick meds and vaccines and that all of this was written down in the instructions. It’s challenging running a volunteer organization like Homeward Trails. While we have no shortage of wonderful, well-meaning people, there’s a learning curve. Volunteers are constantly coming and going, so training is ongoing. Leadership requires patience and forgiveness, an acceptance we’re all human and make mistakes. Jenn does an amazing job and I’m so grateful for her responsiveness and support.

After giving Savannah the flea meds, I went back upstairs to see if I could get some more sleep. I didn’t want to risk bringing her, or I should say her fleas, up with me until at least an hour had passed. A few hours later, Steve went to see her and came back to tell me she’d tried to follow him out of the dog area and had hidden herself under one of our shelves. I coaxed her out and brought her up to the kitchen with me. She followed me around the kitchen as I made my breakfast and laid her head on my feet as I sat at the table and ate. Then I gave her a bath. I rarely bathe my fosters. Most have been short haired dogs whose coats stay relatively clean. Shampoos remove natural oils and scents that are important for the mother’s and infant puppies’ health. But Savannah’s coat was so dirty, matted and dull. I wanted to get her cleaned up before she had her puppies.  I would focus on her coat and avoid soaping up her underside. After hosing her down, except for her big belly, she was just skin and bones. She didn’t like being washed but was too little to put up a fight. Once she was clean, I wrapped her in a towel and held her like a baby.  Then I combed her out, finding dead fleas along with matted hair. I thought after all that Savannah would be sick of me. But when I left her in the kitchen with Steve and the other dogs, she immediately began to whine and cry.  So all of Sunday she was either in my lap, sitting at my side or by my feet.

When I was ready to go to bed, I tried putting Savannah in the dog area but she immediately starting barking and whining. She wasn’t even interested in her food; which she hadn’t had access to since the morning. I told Steve if she didn’t settle down in a half an hour or so I’d let her sleep next to my side of the bed. Before long, Steve went down and got her. She jumped up on the side of the bed begging to be let up. I’m not that much of a softie; so before long, she gave up and settled down on the cushion next to the bed. Before I fell asleep I thought about how very clingy Savannah had been all day. Was this just her temperament or could it be a sign of something else?









Hestia, settling in but needs to move soon

Hestia took it hard when her puppies left. She would run around to the side yard looking for them and then come back whining. Back in the house, she’d jump the gate to the downstairs and beg to be let into the dog area. Not finding them there, she’d run back upstairs, check all over the house and finally beg to be let outside again. This went on for four or five days.

She’s since shifted her energy to the dozens of dog toys we have in the house. First she chews up the ones upstairs. Then she jumps the gate to the downstairs to find more toys. A number of sturdy dog toys that have made it through countless fosters have now succumbed to Hestia’s heavy tearing and chewing. About our floors are the carcasses of dozens of them. I leave the pieces there because if I sweep them up I fear she’ll find non-toy objects to chew – last night she sunk her teeth into my comforter, thankfully after a quick no! she let go.

So clearly Hestia has a high need for entertainment. Unfortunately, with my foot problem, I can’t walk her. And since she climbs over our fence – sometimes within moments of my taking her outside – I can’t even let her run around in the back yard.  Steve walks her and Wendy in the evenings when he gets home from work. But that’s simply not enough. All day she runs around the house looking for entertainment. I’ve made available every dog toy we own and at this point she savaged them all. She tries to get Wendy to play with her but Wendy at twelve is an unreliable playmate. Hestia is bigger and stronger than her and I suspect Wendy’s not confident wrestling with Hestia when Steve isn’t around (many dogs feel their most confident when their alpha is present). I do the best I can to keep her company, occasionally tossing toys for her. But poor Hestia is frequently bored and unfortunately bored dogs get into mischief.  Like the days when I had busy toddlers in the house, I long for the moment when Steve comes home and gives us all a break.

Yet Hestia’s so endearing. When I let her on the bed with me, she flops down, rolls on her back, puts her head on me and begs for a belly rub. She’s such a companionable dog.  And so easy going and friendly. She’s warm and loving to everyone who comes in the house, her backside one big wag. When Steve gets home from work she follows him around until their walk and afterwards, she settles down at his feet. She simply needs more exercise than we are giving her. She’ll make a wonderful companion for an active owner, willing and able to give her two long walks a day.

My foot surgery is this week so Hestia needs to leave us Monday. Liz has been trying to find a foster for her but so far no luck. I hope she finds someone able to give her the attention she needs. It’s going to be hard saying goodbye to this goofy girl.



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.