Coming home without Sunny was pretty difficult, for us and for the puppies. For the first two days after she was put to sleep, the puppies looked for her and we often found them crying at the door to the garage. The last few days I’ve been living in the kitchen with them for the most part. Realizing that we are now THE primary care givers – something we’ve been all along but Sunny’s nursing and constant vigilance was something we’ve come to rely on – we realized we had a monumental effort in front of us. It’s up to this family to teach these eight babies how to be proper, well mannered little dogs. The first lesson was teaching them all eight of them a new command, “leave it”. They all recognize “No!” and sometimes it works with them and sometimes they need redirection. But “leave it” was a crucial command as Sunny had taught all eight puppies to eat their own and each others poop and the increase of diarrhea and worms in the puppies’ stools had us concerned. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we worked with them to understand that puppies do not eat their poop or roll in it or, in the case of Marzi, slam each other’s heads into it. By Saturday midday, our big three had their “ah ha” moments and the rest followed suit with the exception of Duncan and not only pooped consistently on the papers but stopped playing around with it and eating it for the most part.
A huge win for us occurred on Friday. Panda, whom we’ve been concerned with for the past 2 weeks, finally started to EAT! Thursday she half-heartedly poked around the food while keening at the back door for her mom. Panda’s been living off Sunny’s milk for the last few weeks and refusing to eat puppy food. I honestly expected we would lose her and stopped plying her with food all the time, figuring I had to let nature run its course. Well boy, did nature run and Panda ran with it straight to the food bowl. And once she started eating, she did not stop!!! Panda ate four meals a day and begged two solitary meals and we gave it to her. She ate smaller portions than her bigger siblings at each meal but made up for it with more meals per day. We added the calorie-rich nutrigel to her solitary meals as well to get some pure fat into her diet and by Monday she had a little round belly and was starting to become fluffy like a healthy puppy should! Once she started eating, she was slowly welcomed back into the pack. I’m not sure what motivated Smokey, our alpha male, to attack her and drive her away from the others last week but this week, Panda was welcomed back. We continued to – and still continue to – watch her when the entire group is playing as she is half the size of the others; however, by Tuesday she was back in the fray, nipping and biting and playing with the others and being counted as one of the pack. To say that we are relieved is putting it mildly. I’m not sure we could handle the loss of Panda, especially so soon after losing Sunny.
On Monday, we took all eight puppies to our new vet practice. We had such drama with our last practice over the last few weeks, that we were a little scared and nervous going in. The constant message from our old vet was that we were ignorant idiots who took in these dogs when we had NO business doing so. So we were holding our breathe as our new vet looked over each pup, weighing them, checking them and making sure they were socialized properly. He was incredibly kind to each puppy, talking to him or her, getting to know them, asking us questions and after a few moments, we started to feel incredibly at ease. At the end of the exam, he told us “good job!!” and I almost cried in relief. Sure, we may not know exactly what we’re doing but we read, we research, we ask questions and we’re loving these babies and giving them the best start we can and our new vet seemed to recognize that and spent some time with us giving us great advice and some information on how to manage the next steps with our eight angels. It was such a different and warm experience and we left feeling more confident than we had in weeks that we were on the right path and that we were doing the right thing for the puppies more often than not. We really liked the vet techs we met and the receptionist was incredibly nice and helpful and worked with me to come up with a plan for bringing in Bear and Meemsy for their well-Bear checkups. So we were incredibly happy with our experience and are so glad we made the switch! The puppies all got their first vaccinations and were total champs about it and promptly passed out when we got them home. They ate well for both night feedings (one at 5, the other at 11) and no one was lethargic, vomiting or running a temperature, normal concerns for puppies after their first shots.
Tuesday dawned clean and clear and I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to the other vet at our new practice. She gently let me know that the puppies had tested positive for giardia and they would need to be medicated for three days this week and again for three days in two weeks. This is a bummer for a number of reasons. First, giardia is highly contagious so having kids around the puppies is not a good idea. Second, we had hoped to start taking the puppies outside into the yard. They need a bigger, better place to play than the kitchen. However, because giardia is so highly contagious we cannot risk exposing our big Bear. Finally, we had hoped to start the adoption process for the six puppies we are going to adopt into their forever families. Also, I won’t lie – I was really, really looking forward to reclaiming my kitchen. That said, we don’t want to send them off with giardia and we do want to ensure they get proper follow-up care. So all eight are with us another two weeks. And we’ll enjoy them and continue working with them on their puppy manners and loving on them and getting them through this. I went online after talking with the vet and read up on how to keep the puppies from reinfecting themselves. The vet gave us some good ideas on how to manage the space they are living in and I immediately dove in to the cleaning job ahead of me. The puppies went into clean rubbermaids and I scrubbed the kitchen from top to bottom. I immediately set up a potty area once the floor was dry and marked it off using their old puppy pen. I then trained the puppies to go into the pen, do their business and leave. I was on perma-loop saying “leave it” constantly. Once all the puppies had used the penned off area once and gotten their rubs and praise, I designated a clean zone in the kitchen, rescrubbed the floor and started the process of bathing each puppy. Clean, dried puppies were put in the clean zone and dirty puppies went into the bathroom for their baths. Everyone did really well with their baths and in less than an hour, everyone was under clean blankets, drying fully and sleeping.
At the 5 PM feeding each puppy was dosed with their meds. Our fantastic vet (both are fantastic in our new practice) had designated syringes by dose and by puppy in separate bags making it ridiculously easy for me to dose each one properly. Everyone kept their meds down and after 2 hours of figuring out how to safely enlarge the poop area for the night, the family crashed after midnight, exhausted and elated that everyone is doing so well and that we’re well on our way to getting them healthy and ready to go to their forever homes. As awful as last week was, what with losing Sunny and the issue with our old vet, this week is a LOT better. We found a new, better vet whom we really like, the puppies are unlearning their destructive behaviors taught to them by Sunny and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In a few short days the puppies have evolved from eating their poop and pooping where they like to hitting their second milestone towards proper house training! Hopefully this means they will be easy to potty train once they go to their forever homes. Everyone is at a proper weight and eating well and we’re loving them all very much. It will be sad to see them go but we’re looking forward to the next big step in their lives and in ours. We’re going to be VERY picky about who gets a puppy as we’re completely in love with these dogs and want to make sure they will get the care, love and training needed from their new families to help them grow into healthy, loved big dogs.
The next few days, I’ll be featuring each puppy starting with our miracle puppy, Panda! Stay tuned!