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.
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.