In Sept 2012, a small female dog was rescued from a garbage dump on the west end of the island and we offered to foster her. She was about a year old, of the nicest temperament... even though life had thrown her its worst. Not only had she been dumped (thrown out like garbage... Really, who does that???) and had suffered hunger, but she also had tick fever (ehrlichiosis), a host of intestinal parasites, and she was heartworm-positive. A month later, we found out she was also pregnant—and, in spite of the high-risk birth due to the medication she'd been on, it was a higher risk to terminate the pregnancy. Romy—that's her name—gave birth to seven big, healthy puppies on the night of Nov. 4-5, 2012. All of them survived.
And now the challenge was to raise them properly—socialized, well-behaved, loving—so they could find excellent homes.
(You can check out the full story at Parts I and II.)
|Nov 5th, 2:52 AM. Six newborn puppies.|
(Unbeknownst to me, there was a seventh still to come.)
Now, Romy's wasn't my first birth. I've seen my share. And usually, even with uniform coloring, you can keep track by how dry their fur is, or at the very least by size.
But this time, as soon as Puppy #2 came out, I was clueless. In the end, we had four black ones, three dark-brown, and among them the only ones I could identify were The Girl (only one female in the litter), and a black male who was born with a short tail. (I'd never seen that happen, by the way. I didn't even think it was possible.)
|Nov. 11th, 2012|
Romy handling motherhood like a boss.
(See the puppy with her head hanging out of the basket?
Yep. That's The Girl.)
Except for The Girl; from the first, she was the Alpha of the litter, undisputed.
But going on a week later, it got easier to tell some of these babies apart. Mr. Short-Tail also had a white streak on his nose, and a thunderbolt down his chest. The Girl grew brown eyebrows and socks, kind of Rottweiler-ish. Of the brown batch, previously unidentifiable, one developed a white spot on a hind paw. Just the tip of the toes, like his foot had been dipped ever so daintily in white paint.
Remember this. It will change lives.
Sixteen days after they were born, we caught said white-paint-toe-dipped puppy on camera, exploring the world...
Not long after, the den had become too small for them. I started bringing them out to the patio for an hour or two at a time.
|The first patio incursion, Dec 2, 2012.|
The puppies were 3 days short of a month old.
And, because they were so big—and growing bigger by the day, almost by the hour—and because Momma Romy was so small and so skinny, we started giving them puppy formula to 1) supplement their nourishment and 2) begin the weaning process.
|Dec. 4, 2012|
"What's this? Milk not in a boob?"
You can see how quickly they took to the formula. And you can tell they were no longer unidentifiable. Our once-interchangeable puppies were becoming little individuals... And it was time to give them names.
The first one, perhaps the easiest one, was The Girl. From very early on, I started calling her Nena, which is "baby girl" in Spanish. (So sue me for lack of creativity.)
|Meet Nena (aka The Girl). Looks like a little Rottweiler, doesn't she?|
Dec 12, 2012
Another easy one was Bunny—Mr. Short-Tail with the white streaks on nose and chest.
|Bunny, Dec 12, 2012|
(Dec 12, 2012)
(Dec 11, 2012)
|The twins, Benny and Dennis, Dec 12, 2012|
(Dec 12, 2012)
|Sam (left) and Duncan (right), playing in the patio.|
Dec 12, 2012
So I said nothing about Duncan. I kept this thing between us to myself. I thought, life will sort it out. Maybe when we got adoption applications, the perfect family would come up. Maybe this attachment I felt was just puppy love (literally), and I'd grow out of it. Maybe... Or maybe not.
To Be Continued