Puppy Love

I’ve been pretty quiet for the last few weeks. The main reason is that all my focus has been taken by Capstone project, which is essentially a group thesis. Working on a thesis is stressful enough, but working in a group brings it’s own challenges. Maybe I’ll write a little more about our project some other time.

Foster pups 046Right now I have puppy pics to share. I hadn’t planned to foster puppies while I’m working on the Capstone, as I had planned to work from the library and wouldn’t be around the house every day. Plus, our last foster didn’t work out so well. Daisy was a Staffie X, I love Staffies, love them but this puppy was crossed with a Collie and even at 10 weeks old was bigger than Ollie and Mia. They didn’t like that very much, a huge puppy bounding at them, so she went to another foster family for her own sake.

Puppy 2Anyway, last Friday I was up at the shelter and a litter of 8 puppies and their mum were coming back from a foster home to get their first vaccination and microchipping. They were separated from mum and paired off to go back into new foster homes for another three weeks, until a week after they’ve had their second vaccinations. Well 8 puppies running around my feet, who could resist.

Puppy 1I weakened, so now I’m working from home and having so much fun with this pair. They’re so easy to have around. With the heatwave we’ve been having we’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden or with the back door open, so we’ve had very few accidents in the house. They’re great at helping with the stress, when things are getting tough with the Capstone one of them will bound across the room and make me laugh.

These two ladies will be available for adoption through the DSPCA, subject to suitability assessment, home check and rehoming fee.

So busy…

I have 4 weeks of lectures left in my Masters and I am literally up to my eyes. As the Dowager Countess of Grantham so succinctly put it “What is a weekend?“.

I have finished a shawl and am half way through another, but haven’t gotten around to blocking or photographing either yet. Soon, maybe.

Dexter 8 week old Jack Russell foster puppy

But I do have a foster puppy called Dexter at the moment. Isn’t he a cutie? Dexter is an 8 week old Jack Russell puppy. His mum was tragically found dead and the kind members of the public who went to check to see whether she was dead or just injured found a 5 week old Dexter beside her. Mum wasn’t so lucky unfortunately, but now little Dexter is thriving.

He’s been with us for three weeks and is great fun to have around. He’s the perfect antidote to all the assignments I have stacked up at the moment. He’s getting his first vaccinations on Thursday will be ready to find his  forever home a few weeks after that. He’s been no trouble at all – he’s so tiny, and although not house trained, when he does go to the toilet it’s pretty tiny too. He’s got the softest coat and has quite long hair, not like most Jack Russells I know so he might be crossed with something else.

Ok, enough puppy talk from me and back to work…

Lil Alvin

Alvin came to the DSPCA as a cruelty case when he was just a tiny puppy. When the inspectors picked him up he has a fractured skull and was immediately treated by the vets at the shelter.

One of his front paws was also deformed because of an old break that didn’t heal properly and it needed to be amputated, although they needed to wait until Alvin was strong enough for the operation. Alvin has been in foster care with one of the members of staff from the shelter. You can see more photos of Alvin on the DSPCA Facebook page.

Alvin had surgery a few weeks ago and is now doing great running around on three legs. However even at seven months he’s only a teeny tot and had been really feeling the cold since his operation. His foster mom couldn’t find a dog coat small enough so I knit him a special little jumper with leftovers from my hot water bottle cover as part of the Pawsitive Knits project. Despite everything Alvin has been through he’s a happy little puppy and a total cutie and is rocking his new jumper.

Hooked

Another crafty weekend, I could get used to that. I spent Saturday at HandmAid teaching in the morning and learning in the afternoon. This year HandmAid was in aid of the Dublin SPCA where I volunteer so I was even more excited than last year. It was great to meet up with my crafty friends and knit and chat, and of course there was cake. I really had so much fun, it was great to catch up with some of the twitter knitters in person.

(c)halfadreamaway.com(c)halfadreamaway.comAnd then there was the market stall with such amazing bargains. I managed to restrain myself, but picked up some Drops Baby Alpaca Silk in purple – my favourite colour and my favourite fibre combination, as well as some Amy Butler Belle Organic DK in green and pink, which I hope will make some nice baby cardies at some stage. Oh and two jars of the most divine Puddle Duck Produce marmalade. Nom nom nom.

Crochet stripesIn the afternoon I learned to crochet. I really enjoyed the class, and although I have a tendency to hold the yarn as if I’m knitting I really took to it. I’ll always be a knitter first, but it will be nice to make small crochet projects or to put edgings on my knitted projects. I think I’m hooked.

A huge thanks to the organisers of HandmAid for a great day out, it was a triumph.

Heartbroken

“I would find it too difficult to give them back.”

Katie and Taylor at 4 weeks old

Katie and Taylor at 4 weeks old

This is the most common reaction when I say I’m fostering puppies. And the most common reason people have for not doing it.

And yes, it is hard to give them back. I’m heartbroken. We even spent the weekend after giving them back agonising about adopting Taylor, before deciding that three dogs was too much, especially as she will be so much bigger than Ollie and Mia.

Katie and Taylor at 10 weeks old

Katie and Taylor at 10 weeks old

I worry about them because of their breed more than any other puppy we have fostered. I wonder what kind of life they will have and hope with all my heart that they find a wonderful forever home who will love them as a member of the family.

It’s hard to give them back, but it’s worth it. And it gets easier each time and also with time. It’s so rewarding knowing you’ve given them a good start in life. And surely the pain of giving them back is worth it for all the joy they gave us while they were here. And the pain is worth it knowing that you gave two homeless puppies the chance at a better life.

So do it, if the only thing holding you back from fostering is the thoughts of giving them back, just do it.  As Garth Brooks once sang: “I could have missed the pain. But I’d of had to miss the dance”.

HandmAid Craft Day

I had a brilliant day last year at the HandmAid craft day in aid of Oxfam so I’m really looking forward to this year’s HandmAid. And as an added bonus (for me anyway) this year their chosen charity is the DSPCA.

HandmAid Craft Day

I’ve even been pursuaded to teach a class this year too. The classes cost €10 per person and all materials are provided, which frankly is a huge BARGAIN. So I’ll be teaching a class on Party DIY ideas, based on some of the tutorials I’ve shared on my blog running up to the wedding. I’m very nervous about this as I’ve never done it before, and I hope people will enjoy the class. We’re mainly going be making photobooth props (below) but I’ll also be discussing other DIY ideas for your wedding or party to save you some money and have some fun in the process.DIY photobooth props

There are also classes available in knitting, a children’s craft station, spinning on a wheel and origami, with more being added to the list. It promises to be a great day, so come along, support the DSPCA and learn a new crafty skill. Sounds like a perfect day to me!

Week 5: Heart Breakers

My girls are going back to the shelter in the morning. Oh crap, here come the tears already. And they really are heart breakers. Look at their little faces, so full of love and fun. They are going to make amazing pets for the right family.

And I am going to miss them like crazy.

This is a short post because it’s just too hard. But they needed someone to look after them and we stepped up to the plate. We’ve watched them grow from weak four week old babies into boisterous, strong, fun and beautiful nine week old puppies. They’ve spent more than half their lives with us. The transformation has been really amazing, these girls are such a joy to have around. Even if I’m the only one in the house who thinks so. Mia has been very stressed at having them here, so I hope she won’t gloat too much tomorrow.

These heart breakers will be available for adoption through the DSPCA, subject to a suitability assessment, home check and adoption fee.

Week 4: Actual Dogs

I’m pretty sure there is nobody out there waiting for my next blog post. But in case you were wondering why my weekly update on the foster puppies is late, I had a nasty bug. So, although the update is late, the photos were taken at the weekend, heading into Week 4. I’m feeling much better now thanks, but there were a few days there where I could hardly move from my bed.

The title of the post really says it all. My brother commented “They’re actual dogs now.” It’s the exact same phrase that had been going around my head. They’re 7 weeks old in these photos and all of a sudden they have developed personalities and are into everything. They’re not just pooing machines anymore. It has been an amazing transition, from baby puppy (sleep, eat, poo, maybe some play) to proper puppy running around the place, into everything. They recognise us now and recognise the sound of the food bowl, more importantly.

Katie  (above, the brown one) is the crazy one and will fling herself around the place without a care in the world. And she is so moany. They’re both very vocal, but if Katie is not happy about something she will let you know. She’s hilarious but totally nuts. Taylor (below, the white one) is much more laid back and calm. She’s still puppy crazy but is a bit more cautious. She loves to give kisses and loves to climb into your lap for a snooze. I can actually imagine her trying to climb into your lap as a full grown pit bull.

And they are growing so much. Every time I look at them they’re bigger. Taylor, the bigger of the two, isn’t much smaller than Mia now. The puppy barrier needs to be reinforced daily but is really helpful at keeping the carpet clean and keeping peace in the house.

They got their first vaccination this morning. And then we only have them for another week. I’m already dreading it. I wouldn’t say we have completely bonded; they are more interested in each other most of the time, they didn’t have personalities for most of the time they were with us, they’re kept in the kitchen even when we’re in other parts of the house, I always knew they’d be leaving so only gave them part of my heart. But that part of my heart is going to be devastated when they leave.

Become a Foster Angel

Foster a puppy, dog, cat or kitten

Most people who know me, know that I am just crazy about animals. In fact, sometimes I think I prefer dogs to humans. So much less complicated, dogs are pretty much transparent about what they expect from you – cuddles, walks and food.

I volunteer with the Dublin SPCA and have done for nearly three years now. In the last little while I’ve also fostered puppies sporadically. Most animal rescues run some form of foster program, with some rescues relying solely on a network of foster families rather than operating a premises. With fostering you get all the benefits of owning a pet without the long term commitment. And puppy cuddles, did I mention the puppy cuddle? It’s so rewarding knowing you’re helping give an animal the best start in life or a safe home to recuperate in. Oh yeah, and puppy cuddles.

Foster kitten

(c) halfadreamaway.com

What is needed from a foster parent?

Your job as a foster parent is to look after the kitten or puppy in your care. With the DSPCA you’ll need to have your own transport to the shelter in the Dublin Mountains to pick the kittens or puppy up. And bear in mind that if the animal is sick and needs treatment you may need to come back to the shelter on a weekly basis.

You also need to be home for large parts of the day as the kittens or puppies are generally very young or are recovering from an illness and can’t be left alone for long periods of time. You don’t need a bit house or a big garden. If you’re fostering kittens they can be kept in a spare bedroom or even bathroom and with puppies you simply need a garden that’s secure.

The DSPCA foster program provides the food, litter trays, food bowls and bedding for you.

Foster puppyWhy do animals need foster care?

Animals may need to go into foster care for a variety of reasons. The animal may be too young and need to go to a foster home until they are old enough to be rehomed. We are in the middle of kitten season so the DSPCA, and I’m sure and other cat welfare groups, are overrun with kittens. Kittens often end up at the shelter from a very young age, even as you as a few days old. Quite often their mother isn’t with them so they need special care and attention. Puppies might also be too young to be vaccinated and then rehomed.

Some animals need to go into foster care because they are have an illness such as mange, flu, kennel cough, ringworm or are even recovering from an operation. In these cases the foster family may need to give the kitten or puppy medication and return to the shelter for treatment throughout the foster period. In some cases a foster home where there are no other animals may be needed.

Older animals may need some socialisation. They may be nervous or simply not used to being in a family situation and need some help adjusting to human contact or living with other animals. Once the animals come back to the shelter they are put up for adoption.

(c) halfadreamaway.com

How long do animals go into foster care for?

That very much depends on the reason for foster care. If they are too young to be rehomed that might stay with the foster family until they have had their vaccinations. If they are recovering from an illness the length of foster will depend on how long they need medication for. In the case of the DSPCA they always state, to the best of their knowledge, how long the animal will need foster care for. This can range from a week to a month to two months in some cases.

What happens if I fall in love?

That’s ok! If you totally fall in love and can’t bear to give the kitten or puppy back you can adopt the animal, but you would be subject to the usual adoption criteria. This is so common it’s known as ‘failed fostering’.

Ok, where do I sign up?

If you live in the Dublin area and are interested in fostering with the DSPCA, you can read more about their foster program here. Otherwise you can contact your local animal rescue to see if they run a fostering program. You won’t regret it!

Need some cute?? (wanna foster a kittens?)

Kitten season has started again. Already.

 

 

These kittens are the first two kittens to arrive at the Dublin SPCA this year. They are three weeks old and it is believed their mother was killed by a car. A kind member of the public brought them to the shelter knowing they could never survive on their own.

 

 

They are currently being fostered and fed every few hours by hand. When they are old enough they will be vaccinated, wormed, microchipped and put up for adoption. When they are six months old they will be neutered.

If you are interested in fostering kittens, cat, puppies or dogs you can read more here. Fosteres form an integral part of the animal rescue system at the DSPCA. Because the shelter is essentially a working hospital, and these very small kittens have weak immune systems, they are put into a foster home until they are ready for their vaccinations. With other cats and dogs they may need some TLC, a bit of socialising or may need some time to recover from an illness like ear mites or ringworm for example.

Fostering is a great thing to do if you can’t commit to having an animal full time, although you will need to be available to come back to the shelter regularly-ish if the animal needs treatment.

The milk used to feed these, and other kittens that will find their way to the shelter, is very expensive. If you would like to donate please contact the Dublin SPCA at www.dspca.ie.

A foster kitten at the DSPCA