Monday, October 19, 2015

Romy's Story (Part III — Naming Puppies)

A quick recap:

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.)
With a litter of seven pretty uniformly colored — and uniformly sized — puppies, it was hard to tell them apart.

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.
Nap time!
(See the puppy with her head hanging out of the basket?
Yep. That's The Girl.)
Both of these, though — The Girl and Short-Tail — were black. Two other black ones, and all three brown ones, remained interchangeable for at least the first week. Maybe even the full ten days until they opened their eyes. They grew at the same rate, they seemed to have the same amount of energy, and exhibited the same apparent dominance in fighting for a teat or for the 'top of the pile' sleeping spot.

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
The others took a bit more thinking, but eventually I came up with names:

(Dec 12, 2012)
(Dec 11, 2012)
Two of the brown puppies were getting lighter, and seemed to have shorter, less furry hair than the others. And, dammit, they looked like twins. I named them, but for another month or so, I wouldn't be able able to tell them apart unless I had them both in front of me. Look at them:

The twins, Benny and Dennis, Dec 12, 2012
There was another pair of quasi-twins, but I never had any trouble telling those two apart. You see, one of them was that wandering puppy, the one with the white-paint-dipped toe (although, by then, a few others had developed white toes). And I was smitten.

(Dec 12, 2012)
Duncan and Sam were very, very close in coloring. In the photos above, the one on the upper right has Duncan sleeping in the foreground and Sam behind him. You can see the similarities... But Duncan was lighter than Sam. And, besides the white-tipped right hind toe (you can see it in the bottom right photo, if you look closely), Duncan also had that white star on his chest. And a white-tipped chin. And... I don't know, we had a bond. From the day he could see me and interact with me, something passed between us. He was my dog, and I was his human. Period.

Sam (left) and Duncan (right), playing in the patio.
Dec 12, 2012
Except, of course, we already had more dogs than we ever expected, or could handle. Aside from our own canines (Panchita, Rusty, Sasha, and Winter), in Dec 2012 we were fostering another dog, Blondie, who wouldn't get adopted any time soon (she'll get her own post soon and I'll explain)... And five dogs were already way, way far beyond the limit of 3 we'd agreed on as a family.

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


  1. Wow! Those puppies grew bigger than their mom at a quick pace. I would be terrible with puppies because I'd want to keep them all.

    1. I did want to keep them all, hahahahahaa... At one point, though, you realize that if you already have 5 dogs, these babies will have a much better life at a new home where their humans' attention won't get divvied up so much. But it's a hard, hard thing to do, letting them go. I cried with each one...

      Thanks for the visit, MK :)

  2. Oh wow! You know the mom's face looks like my Wallace!! Same Fawn colouring and the big ears standing up straight. She is such a tiny thing and to have all those puppies inside her with all her health problems. I hope she got a nice home or is she with you(which would mean a nice home)

    1. I remember that, Birgit! Who knows, maybe Wallace is Romy's long-lost... third cousin? ;) Yeah, she was a trooper all the way, and such a good mama... She loved feeding them, didn't want to be away from them for more than a few minutes. And she was skin and bones, poor baby. She actually got a FANTASTIC home—way better than anything we could ever have hoped for. I'll post some photos of her and her new (well, not so new anymore, ha!) family in the next post :)

      Thanks for coming by!

  3. Those are some awful cute puppies. I can't imagine NOT falling in love with all of them.

    1. I hear you, Marcy... Yep, it's impossible to not fall in love. I would've kept them all in a heartbeat :D Thanks for the visit!

  4. Oh my gosh these pictures are so precious. I couldn't help but feel for the poor Mom when the pups were so big! I'm so glad to read in your comment above that she now has a wonderful home. Looking forward to the next part of this story.
    Great blog!

    1. Julie, what a treat to find your name in the comments here! Yeah, Momma had a rough time... And she was such a good mom, loved to suckle the pups, would even choose to nurse over her own food. If she'd had the puppies in the wild, she probably wouldn't have lasted more than one or two months... She was really, really skinny, once she gave birth, and she was so small. I'm forever grateful to the woman who spotted her, befriended her and fed her for two weeks, and then brought her in.

      Thanks for the visit!


No love like Dog Love--or Blog Friend Love!