Thursday, December 9, 2010

Update: The '30 below' pups are thriving

So, the last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy. ARF is at capacity. We have been for a while now, but it seems that much harder to think about in the winter. There is just something about knowing unwanted animals are out there succumbing to the elements.

The pups in the ‘30 below zero’ post are doing well for the most part. We only lost one, but they were all in really bad shape and very, very young. Probably about 4 weeks old. Being born in harsh conditions to mothers who can not feed them properly due to their own lack of nutrition does not give anyone a good start in life. I was incredibly happy the other day when I received an email from the holding area that has these pups. Our holding areas keep pups that are too young for adoption; sometimes keeping multiple litters of pups at a time. This, to me, is incredible! When I was fostering, I was the one who only wanted adult dogs because I knew that puppies would be way too much work for my liking. Plus, I only wanted one dog at a time. Never mind multiple litters! These particular pups have been a bit of work and for that; I commend the couple who is ‘holding’ them. Now let me tell you a little bit about what’s been going on.

The first four that came in, the week before it got really cold, were quite scared when they arrived. Due to some extra nurturing and attention, they have warmed right up to us ‘two leggers’ and love cuddling. These pups are doing quite well. The last of this litter came in a week later. He was the one found with his two siblings who had perished. This little fellow was incredibly dehydrated and ended up back at the vet for subcutaneous fluids. Thankfully, this is all he needed and he has bounced back incredibly well.

The puppies from under the staircase have had it a little harder unfortunately. There were eight in total. The first three that were rescued right away and the last five rescued the next day, spent four days at the vet. Of this group, one didn’t make it. They were extremely malnourished, so getting their weight up has been a top priority. One female, though small for her age, loves to eat and play! Two of the brothers had a harder time and at one point, the smaller of the two had stopped eating, so he was rushed back to the vet. It was found that his sugar and protein levels were very low and he was diagnosed with coccidia, so it’s highly likely that the rest of the pups had it too. They’ve all been treated for this parasite since, just to be safe. This guy had to stay at the vet for another three days, receiving fluids and at one point even plasma. He’s still tiny, but since returning home, he has grown from about 2 lbs, to 2 ½ lbs and has filled out and also enjoys eating! A good sign, I’d say. The other brother wasn’t as keen on eating, but was eager to take goat’s milk from a bottle. He was then convinced to eat some soft food mixed with goat’s milk and corn syrup. In the last 8 days, he has gone from 2.9 to 4lbs.

The three struggling were the smallest ones rescued first (from under the stairs), and right now, they are sharing a bathroom with their very own heater, to keep them extra safe from the bigger pups and to ensure they stay extra warm. The holding area is very relived to tell me that they are eating well now and no longer look emaciated. These guys have been keeping her busy with feedings every 3 or 4 hours (around the clock!), but now that they are starting to fill out, she’s trying to stretch their meals further apart and add in some softened kibble and canned puppy food. The other nine puppies are all sharing the kitchen and they get along with each other very well!

To keep everything straight, we have the white and white/tan pups from under the stairs and then all the black ones and one dark brown pup (way in the back) from the other litter. Three of the pups from under the stairs are not shown in this photo.

And, just in time for this blog post, I was emailed some information from the foster home that has the two older dogs who were found running along the side of the highway. So this really does get to be a happy ending!

Faelen (the brown dog) and Hannah (the black dog) were obviously thin when the came in, but Faelen had thorns stuck into his skin and his fur was dirty and matted. We can only imagine the pain and discomfort he was in. His foster mom says he was so grateful for a bath and grooming to get all the mats and thorns out. She said he lay for over 3 hours while she brushed him. When she stopped, he would put his paw on her as if to say, “Please don’t stop” and rolled onto his belly for more. Apparently, Hannah loves people to death and her tail never stops wagging. They both mentioned that they would like a forever home for the holidays!

The foster home also included quite the testimonial of which I’m going to quote from.Every pup and dog that comes into a foster home usually transforms so quickly. They all have different personalities but all are obviously so grateful for the simplest things we foster homes offer; a warm home, regular meals and of course the most important ingredient; love. When our foster dogs leave with their new families we know they’re finally getting the love, care and the good life they deserve after the hardship they’ve endured. It’s so obvious to see that’s all they’ve ever wanted and helping them find this is a feeling that I’ve never experienced before.”

I can attest to this. As a former foster home for adult dogs, I was lucky and got a couple really easy dogs. One was even adopted in less than 2 weeks. But, I also had a few of those dogs who really needed to learn what love was. It was so heartbreaking to see a dog; man’s best friend, so frightened of man that his skin flinched when I touched him and he started salivating (from fear) when I got too close. It almost broke my heart. Seriously, once he figured us out though, wow! What a transformation I saw. It was tremendous.

I know that a lot of people have reservations about fostering. One of the most common things I hear is; “I’d love to foster, but I’d probably keep them all”. Believe me, you won’t! For many reasons, not every dog is going to be your type of dog for one. I had a couple whom I cared for and was saddened when they left, but I knew in my heart, they weren’t a good fit for my home. The most important reason for me, and for many other foster homes I talk to, is that for every dog you adopt out, you get to save another life. Literally, when you have room in your home for one more dog, one more dog gets to come in doors from the freezing cold and have a chance at a better life.

If you would like more information on fostering, volunteering or donating, visit our website at You can also come visit us every Saturday at the Chinook PetSmart between 1 and 3 pm. Check out some of our dogs and talk to our many dedicated volunteers about the different positions available through our organization. You can definitely get a first hand view of how wonderful this organization truly is. Hopefully, I will see you there!

p.s. December 11th & 12th we are having a Holiday Adopt-a-thon and Blow-out sale from noon until 4pm at the Chinook PetSmart location. We are hoping to get some of our puppies into forever homes before our adoption freeze starts on December 20th and clear out some of our logo items so that we can start with fresh new stock in the New Year. Some kittens will be at PetSmart on December 11th and then on December 12th there will be a Cat Adopt-a-thon at the Copperfield Tail Blazers location from 1-3 pm.

And, here's some ridiculous cuteness courtesy of Theresa Swain. Enjoy!


  1. I agree that you can foster without adopting them all. I've had my first foster dog for 3 weeks now and I know she'll find the perfect home.

  2. well written... i've got a foster pup (number 6)... kept number 4 but i always remind myself that for every pup that is adopted means there's one more to save... these little guys and gals didn't ask to be brought into this world in such harsh conditions, it's our duty to ensure as many as possible have healthy happy live... and to quote my nephew's plaque "a house is not a home without a dog"...

  3. We didn't have a dog of our own when we started fostering, so we adopted #4, and then #16 (I think he was our 16th!). But in between, we worked with a number of incredibly special dogs - several of which *could* have been the right match for our home, but the time wasn't right for us. As a foster home, the day a dog (or kitten) gets adopted is so exciting for us - and then we love to get updates and photos from the adoptive families. For everyone one that we foster, another one can be saved. We couldn't adopt them all, but we can provide a temporary, loving home until they find their forever homes.

  4. I think it's almost inevitable that you'll end up keeping one of your fosters, especially if you're in the market for a dog. I was close to keeping #1 and #4, but I ended up adopting a dog in a different foster home! Personally, I found it really exciting when a I found a great home for one of my fosters. The man of the house always had a harder time saying goodbye than I did though. I think that was tough on him!