Last summer, my kids and I volunteered to walk dogs at a local rescue, Wags and Walks. They had so many dogs coming in and out! One thing I learned quickly, Pit Bulls are so sweet! They were often the easiest to walk and were full of love and snuggles.
Eventually we agreed to foster two chihuahua puppies, Jose and Cuervo, who had been found in a bag in a dumpster. Unbelievable, but people do some deplorable things to animals. Who could dump these faces?
They were about 3 months old at the time and we had them for two lovely weeks before they were adopted. They were easy to take care of, partly because they had each other, slept well in the crate, were friendly and were getting the hang of potty training. You can now follow them on IG @joseandcuervo
Next we fostered the sweetest Bassett Hound mix named Stretch. We only had her for a couple of days but she could not have been easier! She didn’t bark, she was potty trained, she snuggled, she was friendly to all and she was good in the car.
Then came the challenge. I had been following another rescue group on Instagram, @muttscouts and they had rescued a mama dog and her six puppies from Mexico. The pups were only about 2 weeks old and the mama was emaciated and dehydrated. They were desperate for a foster. I commented that if someone could bring them up to Los Angeles I would do it. Mutt Scouts said, “No problem!” So about a week later they arrived.
You can see here how skinny mama was. Her skin was a mess, and she had been diagnosed with Erlichia (a tick-borne disease) which is potentially life threatening. She was completely malnourished.
The puppies were doing ok, but had scabs everywhere from fleas and ticks. Nevertheless, they were doing well thanks to their devoted mama. They hadn’t been tested yet for disease as they were too young.
I decided to name them all after Guardians of the Galaxy characters, including the mama, Meredith Quill. There were 5 boys and one girl.
They were so tiny! I mean, look at the size of my thumbnail compared to Rocket!
At first, they were pretty easy. Meredith took care of them, cleaned up after them, nursed them. They didn’t bark yet, they didn’t even have teeth! I guessed they were around 3 weeks old when I brought them into my vet to have them looked at. The vet thought that age seemed about right.
That’s when the vet did fecal and blood tests and we learned a few things. Like, they all had several kinds of parasites including roundworms. They had been exposed to Giardia as well. On the plus side, the puppies did NOT have Erlichia.
I can tell you that deworming is a very unpleasant experience. Not for the dogs really, but for the humans cleaning up after them. I had to try to keep Meredith from cleaning up their feces herself so she wouldn’t re-infect herself. The first time I saw the roundworms, I almost threw up. But I got over it, if not used to it, and they got well. There were other medications to administer by the teeny tiny dropperful. I got up extra early every day to spend the hour it took to clean up the pen, wash the bedding, give meds, and clean up again before taking my kids to school. The routine got longer as they started eating solid foods.
Those are the unpleasantries, but the delight far outweighed all the clean ups and early morning hours. However, it was a commitment! I basically didn’t get anything else done for two months.
But they got healthy, and grew. It was amazing to watch them develop and learn to play with each other and see their individual personalities come out.
I took pictures of them all of the time! They were such good subjects!
When they were big enough, I started to take them out to backyard for some sunshine and exploring.
Meredith started to wean the puppies and put a bit of weight back on. Her hair (which had fallen out in patches) started to grow back.
By 8 weeks old, the puppies were mostly weaned, healthy, and ready to go to their forever homes. Except Yondu. We kept him for ourselves.
I’ll admit, it was a bit difficult letting them go, however they all went to the most amazing homes and we are all in touch and get together when we can. A full litter reunion with mama Meredith is in our near future.
Look at Mama Meredith (now Frida) now! Even her face has filled out!
The rewards far outweigh the difficulties. It was a beautiful journey for our whole family to go on. I highly recommend fostering to anyone considering it. You don’t have to take in 6 puppies! You can take in one adult dog or a pair of pups, it’s totally up to you. So many wonderful dogs are out there waiting for loving families. Find your local rescue groups, shelters, etc. Give a call and lend a hand any way you can. You won’t regret it.
Sometimes they even just need help transporting a dog, like we did here with Bella…
Here are a few links to some of the products I found most helpful.
This brand of pee pads was great because they have adhesive tabs to keep them in place on the floor.
The Advanced Formula of Nature’s Miracle worked the best to eliminate odors.
I liked this particular pen a lot because of the latching door. I got two of the taller ones and put them together so the pups had more space. Meredith got to be an expert climber, even with the high pen!
I don’t know why but all of my dogs love these circular bully bones. They like the braided ones too but for some reason, the circles!
PS Here’s a pic of our latest foster girl, Patsy! Go to Muttscouts.org for info.