Alfa Bravo Charlie . . . three new foster babies, dumped at the animal shelter less than a week into their lives by, well, honestly, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. I really don’t care, as it is of no consequence. What I do care about is this trio of tinies, named for the first three letters of the ICAO phonetic alphabet: Alfa, the slightly larger male (slightly, because he is 1/2 inch longer than his sibs: a whopping 6″), Bravo, the smaller male, and Charlie, the little sister. According to their kennel card, each pup weighed 0.2 pounds when I brought them home, nestled in a towel-padded shoe box, after a long day walking dogs and showing pups to potential adopters.
If you’ve been following the blog and doing the math, you know we are now the minority species in the house. Keep in mind the title of this blogspot: St. Rocco’s Tails. If Baptists practiced canonization, my husband would most definitely be added to the rolls. Kerry shook his head and smiled as he listened to my story: one of the shelter attendants, Jamaal, a great kid with a big heart and an even bigger soft spot for dogs, approached me as I shuttled puppies (the shelter had been overrun after the Christmas holiday – something close to 100 youngsters surrendered or found stray, most of them larger breed mixes and hard to place) to and from the nursery gallery, hoping a few would find good homes. His head hung low over the shoe box, at the time filled with dirty t-shirts. “They’ve been here all day. I’ve got to find someone to take ’em. They don’t even have their eyes opened.” He’d asked a few of the volunteers before he spotted me. I asked him what he had in the box and he gently turned back the soiled cotton to reveal a huddled knot of black fur tinged with deep brown.
San, a foster mom awaiting the go-ahead to take two other babies home (precious pit or possibly American bulldog mixes surrendered in a litter of nine), gasped, “Oh my gosh! They’re SO small!” They were. Jamaal found some formula for San’s girls and the tiny trio and we sat in an office for a brief feeding. Jamaal then explained a bit about neonatal puppy care:
1. “They need to stay warm, so a heating pad is good.” Check
2. “They’ll need to eat about every two hours or so.” I’ve nursed three kids – no sleep – Check
3. “You’ll need to help them go to the bathroom.” I think I know where you’re going with this, but humor me. You want me to juice a puppy?
I’d read about this recently, so I wasn’t shocked, but anyone who considers fostering neonatals should be aware: you are responsible for simulating the work of the mama dog or cat. Part of that work includes stimulating the wee one’s digestive tract. A mother dog will lick her pup in order to activate digestion, relieve gas and encourage waste removal. We’ve come to think of it as “juicing the puppies.” I gently stroke their backs, bellies and perineums, pretending to be the mommy dog. To take my mind off the subsequent flow of puppy poo into my hand/lap/sink/what have you, I make up silly songs and coo words of encouragement: happy bowels make healthy puppies.
So, here we are on Day Four. I’m replacing the battery in the kitchen scale so we can do regular weigh-ins, but they have grown in length since Saturday:
Alfa is now 8″ long, Bravo measures almost 7″ and little Charlie is at 6.5.” She may be small, but don’t count her out – she’s the most active of the bunch, attempting to crawl from the box, making me very nervous. Alfa’s stools are a little loose, also making me nervous, so we are watching him, adding puppy pedialyte to his diet to keep him hydrated. All of them are cuddlers and I can be found with puppies tucked into my neck or curled over my heart for warmth. I can’t speak for the laundry and dishes – chores take a bit longer with feedings and juicings between to-do items.
I’ll try to update regularly and, when they get a little bigger, we can speculate over their breed. But for now, enjoy the gallery at your peril :0)
Warning: They are dangerously adorable.