A special thanks to Auntie Sasa for creating this little video of Alfa, Bravo and Charlie, who are becoming increasingly difficult to photograph. Hope you enjoy.
Tag Archives: ALFA
Well, if there’s one thing we can always count on, it’s change, right? Of course I don’t mean the kind of change that jingles in your pocket. I mean the “things don’t stay the same” kind — the don’t blink or you’ll miss it kind.
Tomorrow marks the third (only the third) week since the puppies came home with me. They have since opened their eyes, found their tiny voices, begun to cut teeth and started walking or, more accurately, staggering like rummies. Alfa, the biggest pup upon arrival, is now the smallest at one pound, one ounce. Bravo weighs a pound and four ounces and baby sister, Charlie, registers one pound, three ounces according to the scale this morning. They have begun to play a bit after feedings, awkwardly tumbling over one another and mouthing each other’s ears and snouts. Alfa vocalizes with a bird-like growl and yip when vexed, while Bravo is a quiet soul. Charlie seems to have the best motor control at this point, though all the pups look a bit like Bambi on ice when they stumble off the piddle pad onto the polished wood floor.
Time has offered other rewards, as well. I am down to only one extra load of laundry per day, as the babies move from true infancy, no longer soiling their bedding at what seemed like five minute intervals. If I feed the littles around midnight, I get to sleep until four, which is only an hour and a half before the first alarms start to sound for the rest of the house. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
Ah, where to begin . . .
It’s been a very busy week around the dog house. The puppies have grown SO much, their eyes are now open and they can no longer be trusted to stay in their nest. Alfa is tipping the scales at a hefty 264 grams and little Charlie’s not far behind at 260 grams. Bravo seems the steady gainer at 256 grams. As I said, all eyes are open – the milky baby blue that will likely turn to some shade of brown – and after hours of googling puppy pics, I can say the tinies look a bit like the “designer” dog Ratshire Chihuahua. Yes, there are people who breed and sell puppies that take the Rat Terrier/Yorkshire Terrier mix and add in a dash of Chihuahua. The dogs are adorable, but I am currently constructing a soap box from which to rant about the foolishness of such breedings. When I was a kid, there were pure breeds and mutts and you could find both at the local shelter. The same is true today.
Mick, our Basenji, still struggles to accept the presence of the two adult fosters, Mike and Duke, but shows an odd tenderness to the babies, issuing a warning growl to the other dogs when they draw too close at bottle feedings. The scrappy little fellow has picked fights with massive Duke, but gently cleans the little ones, enjoying the warm, sweet mix of milk and pumpkin that spills from the corners of their mouths (at some point, I’ll create a page on my neonatal experience, explaining the pumpkin, but suffice it to say, the pumpkin was a lifesaver).
Bailey and Duke show little interest in the puppies and, unfortunately, Mike is indiscriminate in his taste and I have to keep all the soiled bedding well out of reach. To switch gears a bit, however, Mike is showing loads of progress in his fearfulness. Though he seems to meet Dylan, my teenager, with new eyes every day, he has finally allowed Dylan to approach and will, on occasion, lick his hand and accept a scratch behind the ears. Duke is still the showboat. He will need a very smart owner. Last night, I gathered all the toys (which Duke loves to hoard) and placed them in a little lidded basket I keep by the back door for pet supplies. I’ve done it before, but not in his presence. I wanted them out of the way so I could vacuum. In a moment of distraction commonly described as ADHD, I began unloading the dishwasher and making a cup of tea rather than sticking to the task at hand. As I stood at the counter, cradling my warm mug and enjoying the waft of rooibos, fruit and vanilla spice, I spied Duke lurking in the shadow of the pool table. Slinking around a table leg, he craned his neck to the right to locate me and, apparently not realizing I can see, tip-toed Scooby Doo-style to the basket where he gently nosed the lid, discovering he could retrieve his toys. He made trip after trip to the basket, removing one toy at a time, hiding each under the pool table and finding, to his delight, a NEW toy, a plush I’d stored because Mike enjoys nothing more than disemboweling stuffies. Once again, I am astounded at Duke’s genius and determination. His problem-solving ability is such a pleasure to watch and I know I will miss his antics.
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.