The Trials and Tribulations of Fostering Puppies

Today’s post isn’t related to travel, but I’ll deviate from the norm just this once to relate this tale.

Some of you may remember the story of how we ended up with 6 dogs in our house. On Valentine’s Day we adopted Luna, a sweet little border collie mix from an animal shelter in Denver. She came from a Native American Reservation, and I expected a challenge. Rez Dogs, as they’re called, often have to learn about riding in cars, climbing stairs, and adjusting to household noises like dishwashers and dryers. Luna was taking three medications, so she couldn’t be spayed until she recovered. Our vet diagnosed her with giardia too, so we added a medication to the list. We had a long road ahead of us.

Well, by the time Luna finished her medications, we found out that she was pregnant. We were devastated, for a number of reasons. There aren’t enough good homes for dogs, and the shelters (like the one she came from) have more dogs than homes. She didn’t seem strong enough to deliver healthy puppies. And to be honest, we live in a small house and weren’t thrilled about raising a litter.

Well, what could we do? Taking Luna back to the shelter was out of the question. She’s an amazing dog, and we wanted to help her through this. Friends in Denver promised that if we could raise the puppies, they would find foster homes for them at 8 weeks. So we rolled up our sleeves and went to work, getting ready for our new family. And despite our fears of a disastrous birth, on March 2 Luna sailed through it, delivering six adorable puppies in Terry’s closet.

Day 1

Day 2

And then the real work began. We lost the little runt of the litter, which was heartbreaking. Luna was not 100% healthy when she gave birth, so we struggled with her health issues along with trying to take care of the puppies. We’re lucky that our vet makes house calls. Martha Stewart would have died if she came into our house, with newspapers and plastic on the floor, piles of towels to be folded all over the couch, and puppy-milk-mixing paraphernalia and dog bowls all over the kitchen. Luna could eat 6-plus meals per day and still be hungry. We gave up our mudroom when the puppies outgrew the closet and Terry built them a dog cave out of a bench and old blankets (they loved it). He enclosed our deck with chicken wire so they’d have a safe place to play. We live in a remote mountain area, and after the coyotes found our house and started scoping the puppies out, Terry had to play security guard as well, scanning the area around our house with a flashlight at 3 a.m. while the puppies ran around the deck, playing and growling. (You didn’t think they would sleep through the night, did you?) We gave them short practice rides in the truck so that they would be ready for their first trip to the vet, which is 1 hour away. And all of this happened at the same time we took on some new projects for clients. We’re still sleep deprived.

Luna and puppies. March 2012

But during the past 8 weeks, we’ve also had one of the most amazing experiences ever. We’ve watched these puppies grow and learn. It is great fun to hug puppies every day and take time out to play, even with pressing deadlines. They’re crazy and funny and loving and adorable. We’ve laughed until our sides hurt. Despite learning on the fly, we did OK. I think we have the biggest, fattest puppies in Colorado (our vet thinks they may be part mastiff). They’re well socialized and healthy, and we feel like we’ve contributed to the greater good of dogdom.

Our giant pile o' puppies, crashed out after playing in the dirt all day. At 7 1/2 weeks, the puppy pile is double the weight of Luna.

So today is the 8-week milestone! I’m delivering our puppies to Life is Better Rescue, where they will be spayed and neutered and placed into foster homes. Next weekend is National Adoption Weekend, so I have high hopes that these little ones will find new, forever homes. We’ve made sure that they’re ready. Luna will be spayed in 2 weeks, and we’ll be able to finally give her all the special attention we wanted to provide for her when we first brought her home.

I’ll probably get a bit choked up when I deliver the puppies, but they’ll be in great hands at Life Is Better. And guess what? We’re keeping two. Raising three dogs may sound crazy. But as Terry pointed out, when will we ever have this opportunity again? These puppies think we’re their pack, and this is the only home they’ve ever known. We know they will be amazing dogs…we raised them! 😉 So Gusto and Dave, are you ready to be our new road trip companions? We can’t wait to show you the world.

Gusto at 7 weeks

Dave at 7 weeks

May 2013 update: Here’s a pic of the family: Dave, Luna, Gusto. Can you believe that little dog had such big kids? We’re amazed every day. 😉

a trio of dogs

One year later…

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21 comments

  1. What a great post! I truly loved reading about the puppies. You all did a wonderful thing. We foster in Denver. It will be hard to take them to get adopted but know that your love and nurturing will ensure they get a great home. What a great story–it brought a smile to my face and happy tears to my eyes. Here are our foster babies: http://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/fostering-kittens-in-the-mile-high-city/
    Have a great weekend!

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  2. Nice one Ruth, lovely story. Fantastic job done by you and Terry. I reckon you’ll have years of fun with Gusto and Dave and be very adequately rewarded for your devotion to them. Well done, and thanks for sharing.

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      • Indeed, many years ago my mother returned from a shopping trip with the most handome puppy I’d ever seen. She’d found him scavenging food from a drain. We all immediately fell in love with him, he was christened ‘Humphrey’ and gave us an immense amount of fun and pleasure or the next 13 years. These things are meant to happen.

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  3. Soobee

    Hey Ruthie, I’m so happy I got a chance to hug three of the babies – they were so sweet! And so huge! Just wait until Gusto starts sleeping on your bed – you’re gonna need a bigger bed.

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  4. Anonymous

    Hi Ruth and Terry, Kenzi forwarded your blog so I could catch up on the new dogs. Great story, lots of work. Love Bob and Laura

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  5. Oh, what a lovely story and seeing the boys all grown up is amazing! The experience Luna had with you helping her raise her pups must have gone a long way to salving any wounds she had from her upbringing. Well done you 😀

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