If you've watched the news at all (or you live anywhere from the midwest to the east coast), you know it's COLD. Temperatures here are supposed to creep out of the twenties for highs today, but we are under a winter weather advisory for the next 24 hours. I first started hearing the forecast for this arctic blast the middle of last week. As I said in yesterday’s post, we discovered a nursing mom dog at the beginning of this month. We couldn’t grab her and bring her here because the puppies had to have their mom (and we didn't know where they were). There was a property with multiple, run-down outbuildings, and I wondered if she might have had her puppies in one of those buildings. I couldn’t go traipsing onto private property, so I employed the help of my friend.
Torrential downpours were predicted for Saturday, followed by dropping temperatures, winds of 30 to 40 miles an hour, and blowing snow for Sunday. If those puppies were somewhere outside, they wouldn’t survive that kind of weather. We were able to coordinate our schedules for Friday morning. My friend had to go in to her job briefly, and she would call me when she was headed our way. My younger daughter had classes on Friday, but my older daughter was available.
My friend, my daughter, and I piled into my vehicle and we were off. On the way, we talked about finding the puppies, whether or not anyone even lived in that house, and if we would get permission to look around. It was possible that this dog was dumped, and those puppies could be anywhere. If ever I’d had a Christmas wish, it was to find these puppies before it was too late.
As we turned off the road, and started down the long driveway toward the house, what we saw caused our hearts to clench and then stop. There was our mom dog, and standing right beside her was another nursing mom dog. This one looked so much like the first one that I knew they had to be sisters. The only difference was that this new dog had short hair, making her skeleton-thin frame even more noticeable. As I crept slowly down the driveway, the three of us went silent. I think it was my daughter who finally said in a weak voice - Now what?
We pulled around to a garage on the back of the house, and there was a car parked inside. My friend got out and started toward the house. A man came out and I saw him point in the direction of one of the buildings. I parked and my daughter joined my friend. As I stepped out of my vehicle, I saw the next big shocker. There were cats everywhere. They were coming out of every building on the property. I stepped out and bent down to pet a kitty, and as I stood up I realized that I was in a fog of shock. My hearing had gone hollow, and it felt like I was experiencing tunnel vision. Somewhere inside my head, my brain was screaming at me to stay focused. We were on a mission. I couldn’t let this overwhelm me.
I started toward the little stall that my daughter and friend had gone to. I thought that they must have found the puppies. As I moved in that direction, a woman came outside. My friend moved to talk to her, and I went to my daughter’s side. As I walked, I talked to the man. He said that between the two moms, there were six puppies. He was saying something about the last time they had puppies, only one survived, but it had gotten on the road and been hit by a car. This nightmare was enveloping me. I told myself - Keep your wits about you. Stay focused. You HAVE to get out of here with some animals.
The shed the pups were in had only three sides. It was sort of like a stall, completely open on one side to the elements. I peeked at the puppies, and I heard the woman tell my friend that the pups were too young to be taken from their moms. My stomach knotted up. I could feel panic starting to rise. I had to stay calm and start talking. I walked over, and my friend and I explained that I had a heated kennel where we could take the moms and pups together. (I didn’t actually have any extra space with the holidays, but I would figure something out.) As we talked, the woman was shaking her head no. The two mom dogs were hers. They weren’t going anywhere. I started talking faster. The weather that was predicted for Sunday would make it nearly impossible for the puppies to survive. She said they would be fine. They weren’t weaned and needed to stay with their moms. My friend said that my daughter (who was in the stall with the puppies) was a Vet Tech, and would the woman consider letting us get her opinion as to whether or not the pups could make it without their moms. I motioned my daughter over, and we posed the question. She said the puppies had their baby teeth. They could safely be taken from their moms. The woman said she had tried them on dry food, but they wouldn’t eat. I explained that we started with softened puppy chow and slowly changed them over to eating dry food, and that this was a process we had been quite successful with on many previous occasions.
The woman was staring straight ahead. My heart was beating so loudly in my chest that I was afraid everybody could hear it in the silence of that long moment. Then she said she would let us take the puppies because she didn’t know what she was going to do with them anyway. With no more than the exchange of a glance, we all shot into action. My daughter went for two puppies, followed by my friend. I said to the woman how it must be quite a burden to have puppies coming along every so often. I offered to have her dogs spayed in the near future if she would allow it. She seemed to agree, and I quickly walked over for the last two pups. I knew we had to get out of there pronto before somebody changed their mind.
I put the last two pups on my daughter’s lap in the back seat of my vehicle. My friend was exchanging names and phone numbers with the woman. As I walked back over, I looked down at those two emaciated mom dogs. I told the woman that I had extra food at home (which I did not), and that I could bring some by before the bad weather hit. She said to put it on the back porch, and she pointed to a door just inside the garage. I reached down to pet a cat that was rubbing against my legs. I couldn’t take on the cats. I knew the story for all of the shelters in this part of the country - full and overflowing with cats. There was no transport to northern facilities for cats - those facilities were full of cats, too. NO answers.
The drive out of the property was so bittersweet. We had the puppies. They were in good shape, having been nursed by both moms. They now had a shot at a good life. They would eventually be accepted into a rescue somewhere. As for the mom dogs, I would bring food back. I hoped they would begin to put on weight with a supply of food and no puppies to nurse. I would have to convince the woman to let me take her dogs to be spayed at some point in the near future. But the cats. . . my heart was broken.
Before we left, the woman had told us the story of why the puppies looked like they did. A bulldog had been dumped close by and had come onto her property. She called the county animal control and they came and got the bulldog. (I knew what that meant.) Not a single one of these six puppies looked anything like their moms. These were little bulldogs. Clearly, no other genes had come through.
My daughters traveled to the “big” city an hour from home that night. I sent money, and when they stopped by my parents’ house on the way, my mom gave them money, too. They came home with dog food and cat food. The next day, my daughter and I drove through the sheets of rain, and delivered two large bags of dog food and a large bag of cat food to the back porch just inside the garage. I hoped this would help.
On Sunday, well, you know what the weather did. As the snow blew around outside, and temps started dropping, I sat in the floor of my kennel with six little bulldogs. The story didn’t have the ultimate ending - that would have been to save every animal on the property. But my Christmas wish had been granted. We found those puppies and now they were safe. We call them the “chunkies”.
Don't forget that on Friday, we will launch Pam's Gotcha Day Comment-a-thon celebration right here at the daily dose. All you have to do is leave a comment after her story, anytime between midnight on Thursday night until midnight on Sunday night. For every comment left on this blog during that period of time, Pam will donate fifty cents to our dream of a second cathouse. Oh, do please come by this weekend, and leave a comment.
Your Christmas card for the day.