When Jane asked if I would write a blog about our experience fostering Lindor, I said “Why not, I’ve never written a blog, but then again I had never fostered a pregnant dog either!”. The funny thing is, my daughter Kate and I are actually cat volunteers, and my husband Kevin is not an animal person.
For those of you who have not had the privilege of meeting Lindor – I am truly sorry. For those of you who know and love her like we do, you will understand when I say she is a gift of a dog! Such a patient, sweet, gentle, smart, kind, full of love little puppy!
Lindor came to Cape Ann via a rescue group in Georgia. At only 6 months or so herself, it was surprising that such a young puppy could get pregnant. We had just finished fostering 3 of Zoe’s puppies over the holiday, when Nancy reached out to inquire if we would take in Lindor. After fostering 3 puppies, the idea of a more mature 6 month old didn’t sound too daunting. When Kate and I met Lindor she flopped on her back (as best she could with her giant pregnant belly) wiggled for belly rubs and then proceeded to give us lots of kisses. How could we resist that sweet little girl!! However, we just couldn’t call her “Lindor”! The moment we met her – she just became “Baby Mama”, or just “Baby” or just “Mama”.
Baby Mama easily adapted to our house, got along great with our Golden Retriever, and clearly loved being part of a family. She would follow us around (though her belly prevented her from walking upstairs at night), would give the sweetest cuddles, kisses and delighted greetings to anyone that visited, never had an accident in the house, and even though was just a pup herself never tried to chew a thing other than her toys. She was an absolutely wonderful addition to the family.
Over the next 2 weeks, Baby Mama continued to get bigger and bigger! For such a tiny dog, I was so surprised at how much her belly could expand! By the end of her second week with us – she looked like a turtle, and had a very difficult time navigating through doorways or ever getting comfortable to lie down. We offered her various dog beds & pillows but the floor was her preference.
We had a birthing room ready for her and did our best to be prepared but I was extremely nervous... Initially – we thought Baby Mama might have 6-7 pups since that was the number of fetal heartbeats that were picked up during her last vet exam. I couldn’t imagine how 6 or 7 could fit into her belly. The night before Baby Mama gave birth, I was just as nervous as the night I went into labor w/ my own daughter! I could tell she was uncomfortable so I stayed with her all night – resting on our living room couch while she fretted. At 7 am, with no labor happening, I went up to bed to lie down for a bit and, an hour or so later my husband came running up stairs yelling 2 pups had been born! By the time I got downstairs she was already working on pup # 3! This labor was happening crazy fast!!
Over the next couple of days, my daughter and I figured out a weighing routine, and more importantly a chart to try and tell them apart and name them. A few were relatively easy, since their markings were very distinct (Teeny was the runt, Captain the biggest, Panda looked like a Panda). We even named one of the pups after my husband Kevin (a little inside joke). With 13 babies to watch and ensure all were gaining weight, I was very focused on ensuring the smallest ones always had a spot at the belly. Teeny was ½ the size of her siblings but somehow she always managed to find a spot on top of a brother, or wiggled under Mama when no else else could get there! I was also very focused on ensuring Baby Mama’s was being taken care of. While she would leave the babies very briefly to go outside to do her business, then run frantically back to them, there were times I needed to encourage her to eat and so I would typically hand-feed her throughout the day while she was nursing. She seemed very grateful. I think anyone who has given birth before would appreciate a meal delivery in bed – even a dog!
At night we set up a weighing station and a chart to track the pups weight gain. When the first pup hit a pound (Captain) it was a celebration for sure (I felt like a proud Mama). During the first week, all the pups were gaining pretty well. In fact, they were growing so fast that the “big” bed I bought during the labor no longer seemed so big. By the middle of the second week, many of the pups continued to get bigger. The boys (Captain, Beanie, Cubby, George and Stinky) were gaining the most, while the smaller girls (Teeny, Kevin, Wilson and Ginger) were not gaining as fast, and then one day Wilson’s weight went flat. The next day, she lost a bit. Even though we tried to bottle feed – none of the pups would accept from us.
Then I noticed the a lump on Wilson’s back, and a lump under Panda’s chin.... I took a picture of Wilson’s back, showed it to Christina and the next day she was over to check out all the pups. While fever wasn’t present, a few of the pups were dehydrated, and a number of them had started to develop swollen lymph nodes. After consulting with the vet, the best course of action was to bring them to the shelter where they all were started on a round of antibiotics, some were given intravenous fluids, and all started on a bottle feed rotation. The pups had lower immunity since Mama just couldn’t make enough antibodies in her milk for all 13. While we were sad to see the pups leave our house, it was a tremendous relief that they would be under the constant love and care of all the staff and volunteers who loved them as much as we did. We visited 1-2 times a week to help with bottle feeding and I sure did celebrate when the lump on Wilson’s back finally went away!
Over the next few weeks at the shelter, as many of you know, the personality of the puppies came out. It was so fun to see their eyes open, their ears stand up, see them walk, learn how to play, eat puppy mush for the first time, try a sip of water, and see the little friend groups in the litter form. And, Baby Mama continued to be the best Mama dog even though her sore belly was getting scratched by sharp little nails, and tiny teeth that were forming.
It’s been about 9 weeks since Baby Mama gave birth. It is such a thrill that she has found her forever home! When people ask me about her babies, I always say that their Mama is the sweetest dog I have ever met – a beautiful, kind loving soul, so if the babies have just a fraction of that (which we know they do!) they are just as special. As I am writing this – we have Beanie in foster care until his forever home is found. It is remarkable to me when I look at him that he was born in our house only 9 weeks ago! He is just as sweet, smart and loving as his Mama!
Thank you so much to Leslie and the many fosters who took in her and her puppies during the COVID-19 crisis! Check back with us periodically as we share stories from our foster families and more.
Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
As time continues to tick and Governor Baker's Stay At Home Advisory stretches into May, many of us are getting a head-start on some Spring Cleaning. Before you toss your old clothes into a bag to be donated, take a look at how easy it can be to take old clothes and make new toys! These toys are a great way to learn to braid. If you don't want to braid, check out how we used a hol-ee roller toy and simple knots to make a toy.
STEP 1: Gather up old tshirts
STEP 2: Cut into strips & knot 3 strips together
STEP 3: Braid the strips together and knot the end
It's that simple! You can use this as a toy itself, or try braiding other round toys or treats into the toy. Here are a few variations you can try at home, with other toys you may already have:
Bonus! Knot strips together into a small Cat Toy
Have other DIY ideas? We would love to see them! Tag us on social media or email your creative creations to firstname.lastname@example.org
As I sit here, writing this, Etta is assisting me by trying to chew my keyboard. She’s very helpful like that. This is my very first time fostering a dog and it has been quite an adventure so far. I don’t have children but I imagine that waking up at 3 am to take your child out to poop is just one of the many joys of parenthood, no?
All, kidding aside, Etta Place, or Ms. Etta, as I fondly call her, is a 6 month old rescue from Texas. Which would explain why, when it snowed briefly the other day, she fought me tooth and paw, to stay inside all day. (She lost that battle).
I am enjoying every minute that I spend with Ms. Etta because I am learning so much about her and getting to watch her become more confident and social with other humans and pets. From 6 feet away, of course.
For instance, I have learned that she loves to run and chase sticks. She will even occasionally bring them back. Ms. Etta is currently teething, so if she can reach it, she will chew on it. So I went out last week and bought her some chew toys and a teething ring. Did you know those existed for dogs? I did not. I also learned that Etta has two speeds - zoomies at 90 mph and zero. Curled up, asleep on my bed with the fuzzy blanket, snoring softly. Actually, if I don’t shut my bedroom door when we get up in the morning, I will turn around to put her food out, only to find her back in bed again.
My time as a foster mama has been simultaneously the best decision I’ve ever made and one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. I have come to love this little lady. Especially when she curls right up next to me, every morning, or growls at my parents dog for coming too close to “her human”. Seriously, it’s adorable. However, at the end of the day, I can’t make her a permanent part of my family. It’s just not in the stars for me at this point in my life. Deep down though, I know that the time I spend with Etta now, will help her be ready and open for love and affection from the perfect furever family when the time comes. That is the thought that gives me comfort and makes me want to continue being a foster mama and a volunteer at CAAA.
Thank you so much to Emeline and all of our amazing fosters! Check back with us periodically as we share stories from our foster families and more.
Keep up with us on our 4 Paws Blog and on social media to stay up to date on shelter operations during COVID-19, including stories from our foster families and how you can help shelter pets, and your own pets, during the crisis.
In this time of uncertainty, as we are cooped up in our homes, many of us have found ourselves with a furry friend by our side as we work, go about our days, and try to remain optimistic. Now more than ever, gentle purrs and sloppy kisses are helping to keep spirits up and remind us that better days lie ahead. As our pets become a shining light in a world of confusion, Cape Ann Animal Aid is dedicated to helping members of the community keep pets in their homes through this trying time. Families should never need to surrender an animal due to the financial strain of feeding a pet. It’s one of the many reasons that we are partnered with The Open Door, Gloucester’s food pantry, through our Food for Pets program. Surplus food is regularly donated to the pantry, to be distributed to families in need within the community, helping to ensure that they are able to keep their animal companions.
We are continuing this work throughout the crisis, as we know many families are experiencing financial hardships at this time. CAAA dropped off 622 lbs of dog and cat food today at The Open Door to help them continue to provide for families in need. It is our goal to continue providing assistance to these families through our Food for Pets program, to prevent the need to surrender due to an inability to purchase food. If you have UNOPENED canned or dry food to donate, please leave them by CAAA’s front door on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to Noon.
We are continuing to provide food for the pets in foster care, as well. Foster parents have opened their homes to a pet (or two, or more!), and we aim to make this job as easy as possible by providing all necessary food and other supplies. If you would like to donate food and supplies for these pets, you can order through our amazon wishlist, which will be shipped directly to the shelter.
The Open Door operates the Gloucester Food Pantry, open Monday-Friday from 10am-5pm for Curbside Pickup, the Ipswich Food Pantry, open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11am-4pm for Curbside Pickup, and Community Meals, available Monday-Friday between 3pm-5pm for Curbside Pickup of take-out meals. If you work during this time, or are quarantined and unable to pick up groceries, you call 978-283-6776 or email email@example.com Learn more at foodpantry.org.
Cape ann animal aid
An opportunity for you to learn more about the mission and programs of Cape Ann Animal Aid. Sharing candid insights, guest columns, breaking news, and of course, adorable photos of shelter animals.