It all started with an email. I gets lots of emails from the animal community: transports needed, foster homes needed, permanent homes needed. Usually, my heart breaks a little and then I file them under my “dog” folder. There’s not too much I can do. I work Saturdays when most of the transports happen and I already have dogs coming out of my ears. I keep all the emails because once in a blue moon (and we’re having one of those this month, btw) a client will ask about a certain size or breed of dog for themselves or a friend and I’m always up for helping someone adopt rather than buy.
This email was a little different. It wasn’t a forward of a forward or from someone who sends out regular “help me” pleas. It was from someone who worked at a local animal hospital and someone whom Dawn and I had come to respect highly. She wrote of a man, not a bad man, who had brought his female hound to the clinic. The hound was sick from complications of giving birth to 9 puppies 2 days earlier. Our friend wasn’t sure that the mom would get better and even if she did pull through, she wasn’t going to be able to nurse the puppies. She told the man that he would have to bottle feed the baby hounds every 2 hours. He had a 12 hour per shift blue-collar job that he could not afford to lose. He took our friend’s advice but said that he couldn’t bear this responsibility for long and may have to kill the puppies. She swooped in and told him that she would find people to care for the puppies, just please keep them alive for 1 or 2 days. He agreed.
The day after the email was sent, Dawn came in to MoJo’s to drop off her dogs and said, “Did you see the email?” I have a big soft spot for hounds. Dawn has a big soft spot for dogs. We both agreed to take 2 puppies each, bottle feed them and keep them as fosters at MoJo’s until they were adopted to their forever homes. That night we had our little black and white amoebas delivered in a cardboard box.
Their eyes were closed, their ears were the size of a thumbnail and their hair was soft like a bunny. I named my two MooShu and Tetsuma. Tetsy had the wider white strip down his head. Dawn named hers Lucas and Leia. Lucas had more brown on his face than all the other dogs put together and Leia was the only girl. All they did was eat, sleep, pee and poo. But you had to make sure that they were doing all four. From what I’ve heard the mortality rate of bottle fed puppies is apparently pretty scary. Jerritt and I kept tabs on everything and set our alarm to go off every 2 hours. Most of the time, you had to wake up the babies to eat, stimulate their tummies to poo and lay them back down to sleep. It was good times.
2 weeks later, their eyes started to open, they were rooting around more and started to look like little dogs. They still slept a lot but when they were awake, they drunkenly stumbled around, investigating everything with their hound noses and mouths. Their ears grew floppier and their stumpy little legs carried them into all the trouble they could possibly get into.
Several more weeks and Dawn and I had our hands full. She was sheltering 6 dogs at her house and Jerritt and I were caring for 5 in our tiny little apartment. We transitioned from the bottle to wet food mushed up into their milk. They transitioned from chirpy, palm-sized jellybeans into howl-y, wriggling jumping beans. The effects of still waking up every 3-4 hours to make sure they were eating was taking its toll on me and once they were old enough to sleep through the night, Jerritt and I gave MoJo’s the full responsibility of caring for the pups.
Dawn’s little girl was the first to find her forever home. Lucas was second (he found his way into Dawn and Chris’ hearts and became their 5th furchild). Mooshu and Tetsuma had to wait a little longer. Moosh was finally adopted by a MoJo’s Backyard regular and became a great little brother for Fido, a handsome brown hound-ish mix. After a year came and went and Tetsy had still not been adopted, Jerritt agreed to let him come home with us for a weekend. We had just moved into a bigger place with a fenced in back yard which for me was just enough room for another dog. Jerritt wasn’t quite convinced but after a weekend turned into a week, he gave in and let me have my 2nd hound. (Not to make Jerritt out to seem like the bad guy. He’s my balance because without him, I would have too many dogs. Way too many dogs.) Now my handsome boy is 3 years old and it’s hard to think of a time when he was a 2nd thought, a nuisance to someone’s way of life, disposable even.
So if you’re in the holiday spirit, caught up in the gift-giving season, or just a big softie like me, you can donate through MoJo’s Backyard. I, of all people, understand not having room to bring 1 more dog into your home but still longing to. The next best thing is to give to organizations that have the room but not the money or the supplies. You can drop off gift-certificates, food, blankets or other useful items at MoJo’s (we also will take checks or money!) and we’ll make sure it gets to 1 of 2 worthy charities: Boxer Aid and Rescue Coalition or The Humane Society. Everyone that helps will have their name put into a drawing and on Christmas Eve, I’ll pick one lucky dog to receive 5 days of free daycare. And if you can’t make it by here, donate on their website, show us proof of your contribution and we’ll enter your name. Keep it for yourself or give it as a gift. Either way, you’ll be making sure that more than 1 dog has a Happy New Year.