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:







Velvet Update

A week after we bring her home,  Velvet’s scheduled for her spay.  The next day we’re going to Miami  for our daughter Rachel’s graduation and then a vacation in the Keys so Bethany has agreed to take Velvet after the surgery.

The day after Velvet’s spay, Bethany texts me this picture:


Velvet looks very comfortable at Bethany’s.  Bethany shares with me later that she and Velvet have bonded, that Velvet won’t leave her side, and that she and Matt “have fallen in love with this little girl.”  There’s a good chance if Velvet can be trained not to harass their cat that they’ll adopt her.  Lucky Velvet.