Whole Dog Journal's Blog May 25, 2016

Too Busy to Write

Posted at 03:42PM - Comments: (19)

As I mentioned last week, I’m fostering a very skinny Great Dane mama dog and her 11 puppies. After this litter is healthy and ready for spay/neuter and adoption, I’m going to take a little break from fostering for a while, even if I have to block the phone number of my local shelter. This is a lot more work than anything I’ve taken on before.

(I’m kidding about blocking the shelter’s number, of course. I couldn’t be more grateful for the very hard work they do for the animals in this community, year-round, whether they are exhausted or not, broke or not. The hard-working employees don’t slack off because they are tired of the animals’ needs, or because the animals have cost them a lot lately. I have a choice, and I feel privileged to be trusted and able to help when I can.)

This mama was picked up as a stray by a county animal control officer on a Monday. It was obvious mama had puppies somewhere, but where? On Friday, the shelter got a call from the person with all the puppies whose mother was missing. He saw her photo on the shelter website, and called to say that the shelter had his dog, but he didn’t want her OR the puppies, who were now – obviously – in a lot of distress. This is not out of the ordinary behavior, in my area. When I moved here, in the upper Sacramento Valley, about 10 years ago, it felt like I had moved back to the 1960s, at least in terms of typical dog-keeping practices. Spay/neuter rates are low, lots of dogs live outdoors (some on chains) 24/7, wandering/loose dogs are super common – and lots of people seemingly never think to go look for or recover their dogs from the shelter.

A fat puppy and a skinny puppy

Anyway, the first week I had the mom and her puppies, she LOST five pounds, despite the fact that I had a high-quality kibble in front of her all day and night, and was feeding her about four cans of food a day, and letting her drink any puppy formula that I made that the puppies didn’t drink. And some of the puppies were doing way better than some of the other puppies. Two in particular refused to try any supplemental food of any kind, and weighed more than a pound less than their littermates. So I separated the six fat ones from the five skinny ones, and put the skinny ones with mama. She was far more able to feed five than 11, and has since gained back those five pounds and a few more.

One of the fat pups started to drop weight in the pen when he was cut off from Mama, so he went back to the skinny group. There is another puppy that is the fattest of the skinny ones, who I tried in the fat pup group, but he, too, started to sink, so now Mama is nursing six and still holding her own.

The fattest five are doing well and seem stable, so this week, I’m going to send them to a friend’s house. My good friend Leonora, who took on a litter of six tiny Chihuahua/terrier-mixes in November (and foster-failed the littlest one), and took half of the litter of the nine Cattle Dog/pit-mix puppies that I fostered in February, is going to take on the fat group for a few weeks. That will help immensely. Keeping not one but TWO puppy environments clean, and feeding two groups with very different appetites, is, as I said before, a lot of work. It would be one thing if I had a purpose-built environment for doing this – and maybe someday I will! – but my efforts are centered around exercise pens and a portable kennel and a lot of shavings; it’s not perfect by any means. But it’s not a damp concrete pen surrounded by barking dogs at the shelter, either.

It may sound nutty, but this week, the addition of one more dog lessens my stress, rather than adds to it. Cole, my grand-dog, is staying with me for a week while my son travels across the country for his sport. Cole has grown into such a lovely young adult dog, gentle and well-mannered – AND still young enough that he is willing to play with Woody, my now-six-month-old puppy. Neither of my eight-year-old dogs will play with Woody for even a minute, so Cole’s playfulness is a valued commodity. Plus, Cole is already teaching Woody when enough is enough, a terribly important thing for adolescent dogs who are going to mature into big, strong dogs to know and accept. He’s worth his weight in gold to me right now.

By the way, thanks for all your comments and discussion on the last blog, about pediatric spay/neuter and shelter adoption. As more than one person said, there is no single right answer to the pet overpopulation problem; I hope that the combined and different efforts of the people who care about such things and are working to help dogs will keep the tide turning until no so-called adoptable dogs are euthanized anywhere in this country, ever.


Comments (19)

Nancy, I really admire you for helping these puppies, being a foster, and The Whole Dog Journal. If I could get everyone with dogs to read WDJ I would. There is so much valuable information in there and unfortunately, there are so many misconceptions among those who choose to share their lives with these wonderful animals. I too am really bothered to hear about those that have such a cavalier attitude towards dogs and yes, it does all stem from ignorance. To hear someone say "it's just a dog" makes me cringe. Yes, I'm a "crazy dog lady" but I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you again for all you do!

Posted by: doglover2135 | May 30, 2016 11:48 AM    Report this comment

When my Bernese had her pups seven she couldn't keep up feeding so I tries a supplement for the vet ,then went back to the good old carnation milk and rice baby food.that was the write choice .Everyone was happy ,they I switch to rice krispeis after a well because they were eating so much and they loved that.all puppies did so well the vet was very pleased.

Posted by: Lenny | May 30, 2016 6:46 AM    Report this comment

You may not get a Mother Day card in years to come,but from what you have related in all your efforts,these pups will not be far from your mind or heart.Sometimes it is only our memories of success and even heart renching failure that we live by. You have given hope,comfort,and life. Know that in your sharing with us,every day is a Mother Day wish to you on all our behalf!

Posted by: Blueboy2 | May 29, 2016 6:55 PM    Report this comment

It has been many many years since I raised a puppy, choosing to adopt adult dogs in the meantime. But someday I would love to have a puppy, especially one given such a great start in life such as you have provided your fosters. How wonderful, Nancy, you are awesome.

Posted by: Carolyn M | May 29, 2016 2:11 PM    Report this comment

I can relate to your experience. I am fostering a 9 month old lab mix who delivered 12 live pups. I also had skinny pups because mom couldn't keep up with feeding. Supplemented with formula but pups didn't like it. At 3 weeks presented gruel and it was like a feeding frenzy. They will be 5 weeks old tomorrow. It is hard to say no when you see these pregnant dogs or pups. There are not many fosters that can do what you do. I believe they come into our life for a reason. They need us or we need them. We are blessed to be able to help them. Thanks for helping the pregnant dogs and pups!

Posted by: M | May 29, 2016 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Nancy-Bless you for again for helping innocent pups. I love all of the information you write both in your blog and in the journal, I have been a long time reader involved in the Greyhound Rescue movement. We adopted 3 within the course of one year and I never realized the ignorance of humans when it comes to the treatment of dogs.

Posted by: SlyBrandy | May 27, 2016 11:35 AM    Report this comment

I am not sure how you have your x-pens set up etc., but if you want to add some stability so they are not moving all over the place, get some PVC pipe and some 90 degree corners and make a frame inside the x-pens and use cable ties to secure. This really helps keep everything from shifting around. If you have jumpers when the pups are older, you can frame the top also the same way, or add side/corner PCV pieces to the corners (those PVC pieces can be hard to find) to hold up the top PVC frame. Good luck and bless your heart for helping foster!

Posted by: stardust | May 27, 2016 8:30 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for your care, compassion, and hard work!

Posted by: Boss | May 27, 2016 7:52 AM    Report this comment

This relates to the spay/neuter discussion. Almost all male horses are castrated and become geldings rather than staying as stallions. Most people who ride and/or own male horses have geldings as they are much more manageable than many stallions. Also the chances of finding a boarding barn that can safely house a stallion are very small.
Colts that are gelded grow up to be healthy, manageable horses that are great to ride or drive and generally have around.
The folks who are so opposed to neutering a male dog might think about the way this works with horses.

Posted by: elva | May 26, 2016 6:58 PM    Report this comment

Two wrongs don't make a right. Setting a dog up to be in constant pain and crippled in the prime of their life is not a better choice than adopting to the wrong people. Poor care &/or diet are things you can work on. There is no "fixing" a dog with bad joints, except killing them. Also, we need to get puppies out of pet stores, where anyone who can pay the fee can take the pup. Puppies need to be sold by breeders or rescues who evaluate and qualify buyers/adopters, and always choose the home based on what best meets the dogs needs. If you really want to learn more about this problem, pickup a copy of Kim Kavin's new book, "The Dog Merchants". After she explores puppy selling from all sides, she offers some really good ideas on how we can all do something to make things better. It is awesome!
BTW, Nancy, I admire your firm stand on taking a break from fostering, especially little poop machines. I know lots of people in rescue who have said the same thing. So far, I don't recall any of them who actually made it happen. But you stick with your plan, girl. We will all be rooting for you.
Penny Reames
Northern New England Westie Rescue.

Posted by: Pennyannie2 | May 26, 2016 6:57 PM    Report this comment

OMGoodness! That's an amazing feat! I have 11 cats and dogs of my own, and a year and a half ago, I agreed to help an acquaintance, and from a litter of 7--no mother, I fostered 3 Pittie puppies. The work wasn't hard, but it was relentless and never-ending. I decided the puppies were little pee and poop machines--they were kept in my kitchen/dining area. I only had them for five weeks. It was a valuable experience, however, my reaction at the time was that I would not do it again! I'm sure my heart would not hold fast on that thought if the need arose, but you get my drift.

My take on the spay/neuter controversy: From my experience and observation, I have determined that animals are at far greater risk for serious health problems from poor diet, vaccinations, topical remedies, toxic yard and household products, and guardian's smoking than the *possible* effects of spay/neuter. History has shown that there are far worse tragic consequences from neglectful ignorance, making profit-machines out of animals, and *NOT* spaying and neutering.

Nancy, thanking you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. It had been invaluable in my quest to eliminate my PhD in ignorance.

Posted by: Doris Muller | May 26, 2016 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Yes Yes Yes to pediatric spay/neuter.....send people who comment negatively about this to a shelter and have them watch as healthy beautiful puppies are euthanized because the shelter and the rescue group fosters are FULL! And thank you so much for fostering that mom and her puppies. We are all exhausted but we must keep going forward and save as many as we can.

Posted by: Olivia | May 26, 2016 10:54 AM    Report this comment

Please please, Please, read the research on the possible harmful consequences of spay/neuter, especially when it's done before the dog reaches sexual maturity, generally considered to be 2 years - some of the many harmful side effects can occur up to 30% more often in spayed females than unspayed females - the list of unwanted side effects is long and many are devastating

Posted by: Al Magaw | May 26, 2016 10:21 AM    Report this comment

Impulse buying when it comes to purchasing a dog should stop! Or gift giving to someone with a pet should stop! When a person decides that they are truly ready for a pet and especially when you are talking about the over population of dogs and cats in the world. Please consider your living quarters, your ability to take care of this animal- time that you will be able to spend with it, money you will be able to pour into the maintenance in care of.
Decide what type of animal you are getting if getting a dog please make sure the breed you are choosing is the right one for you. Do your research and read all the material there is about the breed you can find to make your decision.
The last thing the new dog needs is to be dropped off at a shelter because you cannot commit to this relationship due to your ignorance.
These animals deserve better than that.

Posted by: Peanut33 | May 26, 2016 10:19 AM    Report this comment

You are wonderful! What an undertaking!! I have huge respect for those who take on mama and puppies to save them from shelters.
A friend of mine has a GD and informed me that it's best to wait until 2 years old to spay/neuter Danes because the hormones regulate growth. They can grow to be too large with lack of hormones and they should have their stomachs tacked at the same time to prevent Bloat or Torsion.
I know this presents a problem for foster pups but there are some that have contracts to spay/neuter and require proof and receive part of the adoption fee back.
Just food for thought...I'm not a professional and do not mean to criticize or judge.

Posted by: Seeley's Mom | May 26, 2016 9:59 AM    Report this comment

Wow - you have come up with some great fostering strategies out of necessity. Thanks for sharing your stories about fostering and the spay/neuter conversation. It's tough and must be addressed on a case by case basis.

Posted by: Robin Chaffey | May 26, 2016 9:13 AM    Report this comment

You are an angel! We adopted an un-neutered, 110-lb. (overweight), 5-year-old lab in October who had never been on a leash, socialized by a more mature dog, or trained in any way. As you can imagine, we have lots of socialization problems. All he knew how to do was "Kennel" since he spent most all day in his crate. Our 11-year-old Scottie is thorougly put out with him. Can't say I blame her! He's learning but it's slow. We need more people like you!

Posted by: seay459 | May 26, 2016 9:10 AM    Report this comment

I admire you for all that you are doing especially with these young puppies. I foster kittens which I believe are much easier to care for than puppies. I can certainly understand how busy and at times overwhelming caring for so many puppies can be especially without a designated purposeful area. Again thank you for your compassion and love for animals.

Posted by: Genie | May 26, 2016 9:07 AM    Report this comment

God bless you for helping that mama and her pups. I can only imagine the time that you have put in to this. It really bothers me when I here that communities have such a cavalier attitude towards dogs. People in the community that have a lack of responsibility toward their pets translates into ignorance. Ignorance breeds ignorance . Starting at unwanted children all the way to unwanted pets. I firmly believe in spay and neutering all pets and breeders should have to pay for a license. Sorry breeders but change has to start somewhere set the example for being responsible .

Posted by: elgartbasquegirl | May 26, 2016 9:02 AM    Report this comment

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