Pearl’s puppies all have “P” names.  Presley, Paige and Parker are the three girls and Pax is the boy.  He’s much bigger than the rest and very rolly polly.  If he were mine, I’d name him Fats Domino.  Here’s some video Steve took of him showing off:



Snowy Day

With the holidays and my youngest daughter Rachel visiting, I didn’t have time to write about Pearl and her puppies. Then after Rachel left and the holiday plans with family were all over, I felt a bit of a let down.  And it’s been so very cold.  But earlier this week it got into the 20s, so I decided grab my camera and let Pearl and the puppies have a romp in the back yard.

While I’ve let them out in the small side yard before, this was the first time the puppies had been in the much larger backyard. Pearl especially liked racing around the yard with her puppies following behind her.

We didn’t stay out too long.  Best of all, no one demanded I make hot chocolate for them.


Pearl plus Four

While I miss Savannah and her puppies, it’s been nice being responsible for just our own two dogs and three cats. No whelping box to clean up. No pressure to keep my time away from the house under three or four hours. I’ve been getting to the gym four times a week. I’ve started some long overdue projects.  In short, I’m so enjoying having one less responsibility, one less thing to plan around or worry about. And truthfully, I’m not crazy about fostering in the winter months. Unless the weather is mild, the mothers and puppies have to stay inside. That’s fine for first few weeks of life. But by week five or six the puppies are ready to run, jump and play. They get far too cramped in the whelping box; they need to engage with the outside world. And being inside isn’t just hard on them, it’s hard on me. Having to feed them in the cramped whelping box.  Needing to change the newspapers in the whelping box multiple times during the day (without being able to let the puppies outside while I do the changing). The whelping box that is so huge when the puppies are newborn seems far too small when those same puppies at two months are looking for places to sleep, run, play, poop and pee. Having to face eight, eight week old puppies in a messy whelping box first thing in the morning is daunting, having to do it three or four times more each day is disheartening.

But winter or not, the emails asking if anyone can foster a mom or pregnant dog still keep coming. One day a few weeks ago, I didn’t get around to checking email until the afternoon.  A request to foster a pregnant mom had come out at 7am. By the time I started exchanging emails with the adoption coordinator, someone else she’d been talking with said yes.  I have to admit I was relieved.  Then a week ago Saturday, I got this email and photo from Liz, an adoption coordinator I really enjoy working with:

Hi all,

Pearl, appears to be a collie mix, is nursing 4 3-week old puppies.  She is about 35lb and can’t wait to find her forever home. Please is anyone open to foster this mom and her  babies?  They are 3 weeks old, but are fluffy which is the most sought after pup lately. The only way we can help is with a foster home for them to go to. Please can anyone help?


Only four puppies?!?!?  The whelping box would not get crowded with just four.  Fluffy puppies?!?!? They’d probably be able to handle going outside when temperatures were in the 40’s.  Maybe even in the upper 30’s for short periods (long enough for a quick meal and a whelping box clean up).

I emailed back to ask what the mom’s personality was like; the shelter said she was sweet. So I said yes.

She arrived Wednesday evening of last week. Her name is Pearl. She’s sweet and friendly too; greeted both Wendy and Little Dog with a wagging tail and gentle sniffs. And didn’t seem to mind the cats. And her puppies are fat, furry, cuddly little things. Simply adorable.

Here’s some video I took this morning:


Final Days with Savannah and puppies

I’m about a month late in writing this. Before I got around to sharing these final thoughts and videos, Savannah and her last puppies were adopted. It’s much harder for me to write about my fosters once they’ve left. I go through a period of mourning; I miss them, especially the mothers. When our mom dogs are still in foster but elsewhere I’m motivated to keep writing about them to help them get adopted. But when they leave our home for their final ones I don’t have that incentive. And writing about them makes me miss them, missing them makes me sad. So instead when a dog family leave us, I focus new activities or challenges; there’s always something I can get busy with. But since we now have a new dog family in residence, it’s time to close out the chapter on Savannah and her family.

When I took this video, five of Savannah’s puppies had been adopted. And the weather was no longer mild; it was far too cold for the puppies to be outside anymore. So instead of being able to run and play in the yard together, they had to stay in the whelping box.  Whenever I could, I’d bring them upstairs to play in the kitchen. Yes, there were messes to clean up. But thankfully only three puppies were left to make piles and puddles.

With the holidays coming up (and best of all my youngest in town visiting) I didn’t take the time to edit any of these videos. Forgive me if they’re long or repetitive; skip through them when you get bored.

My favorite part is seeing Savannah playing so happily with her puppies again.

And yes, I do miss that girl and her babies.


Dogs on the Run

During the stretch of nice weather we had last week, the puppies and Savannah spend most of their days outside. The puppies loved racing around tackling one another and exploring the yard while Savannah kept herself busy stealing their toys. One afternoon I got a call from my neighbor saying a puppy had slipped through the fence pickets. This has happened with other litters but never by eight weeks. Savannah’s puppies are such little things, the largest weighs just 3 3/4 lbs. So I went out to the side yard to see if I could figure out where the puppy were making their escape. When I found two pickets that were farther apart than the rest, I wedged a rock between them.  But then I saw that the three smallest puppies were missing from the yard, Maida, Lucy Parsons and Mother Jones. I called and they came running, happy as could be. Reaching through the fence, I slid them up one by one, grabbing them over the top rail.  Back on the ground, they immediately ran to the corner of the yard and disappeared. Hidden behind the grass was a gap below two of the pickets where the puppies could squeeze through.  Leaving them safely in my neighbors fenced yard, I gathered up some old bricks. Then I pushed one under the gap in the corner, collected the puppies again and watched to see if they had any other escape routes. Sure enough, they did. It was a challenge at first as they disappeared behind the bushes and went through the fence before I could catch up to see where they’d escaped. I had to retrieve them repeatedly as I continued to plug up the gaps. Then the puppies started getting confused.  They’d run up to a gap between the pickets, try to push their heads through, fail, then run to the next gap and try all over again.  Before long, slender little Maida was the only one succeeding. Soon after I thought I had found and blocked all the escape routes.

But then she managed to find one last space to slip through and enjoy a final adventure in the neighbor’s yard:

After getting her back over the fence I found her final escape route.  But I guess she’d had enough of me ruining her adventures. When I put my arm through the fence, she stayed just out of reach.  Putting a plastic chair on either side of the fence, I climbed over and  grabbed her.  I watched for a while as she banged her head in frustration against all the just too small gaps.  Before long she gave up and joined her brothers and sisters in play.

Little Maida is with her new family now. I wonder if she’s keeping them on their toes too.


Always learning

Now and then someone will ask me, how did you learn so much about dogs? What I want to say is, I hardly know anything, I’m just an amateur. But I don’t want to discourage the questioner. So instead I tell them I ask a lot of questions of people who own or work with dogs and do lots of googling. In addition, I try to keep an open mind. Our ideas about dogs – how their minds work, how best to train and care for them, keep them happy and content – continue to change so it’s important to keep reading and listening. Some ideas and methods developed from them are best forgotten.* As in all areas of my life, I try to make the best decisions I can with the information I have at the time. When I make mistakes, I try to learn from them and move on. Lingering regret and forgiving myself are what I struggle with the most.

Savannah and her puppies have given me many opportunities to learn. The puppies and Savannah are listed on Petfinder as small dogs. Nearly all my previous fosters have been medium or large dogs. As a result, their potential adopters have had different experiences.  Instead of having mostly owned Labrador Retrievers and other large and medium sized dogs, the folks visiting Savannah’s puppies have mostly owned small dogs. One visitor noticed Cesar’s bi-color eyes and said that Dachshunds sometimes have that trait. Then another noted all the Merle/dapple coats and said that also was a Dachshund trait:

picture from:


Having never seen a dachshund puppy before, I had no idea the resemblance many of Savannah’s puppies have to that breed.

And then Saturday, a third visitor told me she suspected Savannah was part Wire Haired Dachshund based on her appearance and personality. She described her Dachshund as devoted to her people but aloof to others, mostly indifferent to other dogs and calm for a small dog, not apt to bark or behave anxiously as some do – zen is the term she used.  This is just as I would describe Savannah! With this new information, I updated Savannah and her puppies’ Petfinder pages in hopes that Dachshund enthusiasts would find them in searches.

With my trip to Florida and Alana’s vacation, we haven’t yet found homes for all the puppies. Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons and Eugene Debs still need adopters. And of course Savannah needs a home too. I’m not worried as they are all darlings. But new visual material always helps so when I let the puppies outside for a romp today I took some new video.

If this one doesn’t get us a few applications I’m hanging up my hat:

Even though the 70 degree weather days appear to be behind us, I try to let the puppies outside everyday (until the shivering begins). Yesterday’s rain made that impossible. As a result, today they seemed extra energetic:

The puppies aren’t the only ones who enjoy racing around:


The puppies are eight weeks old today.  It’s possible that most if not all of them will be adopted and in their new homes by this time next Monday.  Fingers crossed everyone.


*An example, based on a flawed study of captive, unrelated wolves, people believed for many years – some still do – that wolf and dog communities are hierarchical , i.e. there alpha wolves/dogs, beta wolves/dogs but studies of wild wolves showed they naturally live in family groupings. This new knowledge completely changed the philosophy of dog training from one of dominance and submission to that of positive behavior.


Labor Day Puppies meet the Caps

Monday while I was still in Florida, the puppies had a field trip. They, along with a number of other dogs from Homeward Trails, went for a photo shoot with the Washington Capitals hockey team. It’s hard to say whether they had a good time or not, but it sure looks like the players enjoyed cuddling them. And it wasn’t just for fun, it was for a good cause. The photos will be used in a calendar which will be sold to the public.  Proceeds will be used to pay veterinary bills for dogs we would not have been able to rescue without these funds. So we can say our little Labor Day puppies – only seven weeks old – have already volunteered for charity.

Caps Canine Photo Shoot

P.S.  Lucy and Dolores stayed home to keep Savannah company.