Belza Louise (now affectionately known as Bella) traveled to Harrisburg with me on Friday January 25, and was transferred to Margaret Hilliard, who met Crystal Nolen outside Warrenton VA to get Belza on her way to Crystal's house in the Richmond VA area. She was set up Friday night in Crystal's home and whelped her litter on Monday, January 27 with the capable assistance of Crystal and Angela Wrenn. There were some tense moments after the first puppy was born, when Angela texted me that Bella had no milk and wasn't showing much in the way of maternal instinct. I suspected she was stressed and her hormones hadn't kicked in yet-something I had with my very first whelping with Kismet. So I asked them to hang in there and monitor her progress, check with the vet about whether a supplemental oxytocin shot may be in order, or if she just needed some time. Bella's milk ultimately came in and she began caring for the six boys and a girl just like she was supposed to. The first-born, a male nicknamed Tiny because he was the smallest at under 8 ounces, developed feeding difficulties and it was evident he required veterinary care by Wednesday morning. He was taken to see a vet at Angela's practice, who determined he had a small cleft palate that did not allow him to nurse adequately. He felt that it may close on its own and he should be tube fed for awhile to see what would happen. He did not feel there was a reason to euthanize Tiny at this time. Angela Wrenn, experienced in tubing technique, took Tiny home with her and tube fed him every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night, through Thursday afternoon. She reports that he tolerated the feedings very well, was active and she even identified his tickle spot behind his right ear. The Mia Foundation of Rochester NY agreed to adopt Tiny and see to his tube feedings and eventual surgical correction of the palate defect. Shannon Gandee, the WSSCA Rescue Coordinator and Cindy Ford, the WSSCA President were consulted about this request and agreed to move forward to place this special needs puppy. Since the Mia Foundation had a representative in the VA area picking up another puppy, Tiny was transferred to their care on Thursday evening by Crystal and Angela. This is a wonderful opportunity for him to have a great life with people expert in the care of cleft palates. As to Bella's forever home, that is yet to be determined. Her breeder in Wisconsin had expressed interest in getting her back, and that may still be a possibility after the litter is placed. People interested in acquiring one of Bella's puppies can see the information on Crystal Nolen's web site regarding how to apply.
Katie Louise (known as Katie) was picked up on Saturday January 25 to be fostered by a couple in Florham Park NJ. There is an elderly Beagle in the house, so she won't be alone, and her new family hopes to transition Katie from a foster dog to become a part of their family shortly. A followup call indicated that she was doing fine in adapting to her new environment, but that it looks like she's come into season. This means that the planned mandatory spay surgery will be delayed for 4-6 weeks until her season is over and the swelling subsides. She needs to be taught how to walk on a leash since she is a tugger. Her yard is not fenced and Katie has a history of running free, so she'll get a lot of practice walking on a leash for awhile. The family is also considering fencing a portion of the yard for her to use for daily exercise and running. There's an excellent chance that Katie has found her forever home, and we are grateful for her foster parents seeing to her safety and care during this time.
Jasper Lou (known as Jasper) was picked up on Sunday January 26 to be fostered by a young man in Schwenksville Borough, PA. Jasper became fearful upon exiting the car and backed out of his collar and ran towards the woods near his new home. His fosterer and his mother prepared flyers and flooded vet offices and the neighbors with Jasper's information, and various lost pet web sites were contacted with information, also. The dog refused to come towards anyone or to accept food from anyone, but did stay in the area. Multiple sightings of Jasper were reported for several days. The foster parent and his mother were quite distraught, but we were all hopeful that eventually Jasper would be hungry enough and cold enough that he would approach someone for safe haven. A HaveAHeart trap was acquired and food was placed in it, but Jasper was not fond of crates and refused to use the shelter it provided. We asked Katie's owners if they would be willing to bring her to Schwenksville on Saturday to see if a familiar dog would entice him out of the woods, as a longshot. On Friday morning I got a text from Jasper's foster parent that they 'got the dog'. It turns out that a neighbor was able to entice Jasper inside his house or into his car, and the dog was transported to a local vet's office. We don't even know who the neighbor was at this point. Because the vets in the area had all been given Jasper's Lost Dog flyer, the staff recognized him as the missing dog and called the foster parent and sent him a photo of the dog to verify. Jasper was pronounced a little thinner but healthy in spite of being outside from Sunday night until Friday morning. He has been reunited with his foster family and will be securely harnessed and leashed from now on. He is due to be neutered and microchipped, and I've sent them the information for registration with AKC Reunite to assure he's never unidentifiable again. There's an excellent chance that Jasper has also found his forever home, and we are immensely thankful that there was a happy ending to this Lost Dog tale.
As you can see, doing any sort of rescue 'takes a village'-people to collect the dogs, people to transport them, people to care for them, and people to adopt the adult dogs and the puppies. The success of Bella's whelping experience was entirely in the hands of Crystal and Angela, and we couldn't have asked for a better outcome. They volunteered their time and effort and care and knowledge to Bella and her puppies to assure that the puppies were all healthy and well cared for. The next 7 weeks will be full of untold hours of training and cleaning up after those puppies, and socializing them properly and sorting through applications for adoption. While other breeds may routinely have pregnant dogs arriving into rescue, this is a first for us involved with WSSCA Rescue, and we're learning as we go along. But the selfless volunteering that Crystal and Angela have displayed is way above and beyond the call of duty, and we are eternally grateful to them for their efforts on behalf of WSSCA Rescue and Bella. Please take a moment to acknowledge them both for doing their best for a pregnant dog in need of some love and care.