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.

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.

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”.

Week 2: Pooing machines

Katie and Taylor have been with us for a whole week now and we’re heading into week 2. The changes in them are amazing, they are so much more sturdier, there are no more worms and they have grown so much.

Pit bull X puppyThey’re eating really well and they’re full of energy. All this good quality food has turned them into pooing machines, hence the blog post title. However, because they’re being fed the good quality food their poos (and excuse me here, I’ll try not to get too graphic) are less frequent, more predictable, more solid and less smelly. All reason enough to invest in good quality food for your pooches in my opinion!!

We’re keeping accidents to a minimum by taking them out the back straight after eating, and as soon as they wake up, when they are guaranteed to need to go to the toilet. I wouldn’t say this is house training, they’re a bit too young yet. But it saves us the constant cleaning and it is hopefully setting up good habits.

Pit bull X puppyThey pretty much sleep, eat and poo. But the gaps between sleeping are getting longer and longer and it’s so funny to watch them tumbling and wrestling with each other. They’re also getting more interested in toys in the last day or so. We have plenty of puppy toys left over from Ollie and Mia, which is great because puppies need soft toys that won’t damage their teeth. There are no real discernible personalities yet but they’re beginning to emerge.

Pit bull X puppyOllie is still pretty much ignoring their existence, but Mia is becoming more and more curious. She still isn’t playing with them and growls if they get too close but every so often I find her inching closer and closer to them to have a sniff. With each of our other foster pups it has taken about a week for her to really start playing so there may be hope yet.

Pit bull X puppy

Week 1: Gratuitous Puppy Pics

Last week I talked about fostering, why animals might need a foster home and what is expected from foster parents. This week I’m putting my money where my mouth is and I bring you: cute puppy pictures.

Four week old pit bull puppyMeet Katie and Taylor, two four week old Pit Bull X puppies. They are named after the Irish World Champion [and now Olympic Gold Medalist] female boxer Katie Taylor, because strength and power can be feminine too. I’m not going to go into the politics of Pit Bulls here other than to say I personally believe there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.

Four week old pit bull puppy

Katie

These guys will stay with us until they are nine weeks old and ready to be put up for adoption. They are adorable and I am totally in love already. They are so tiny and ideally would still be with their mother until they are eight weeks old. The Dublin SPCA have given us a crate, blankets, hot water bottle, toys and food. They’re on extra special baby puppy food because they’re so young. When we go our or during the night we have the crate set up in the utility room and the settle down pretty quickly.

Four week old pit bull puppy

Taylor

When you get over the constant cleaning up after them they are so much fun. They want to be in your arms all the time and love wrestling and playing with each other. You don’t need a telly when there are puppies around. I’ll try and post an update every week on their progress, they’re going to grow very, very quickly.

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!