Change can happen overnight. Transformation usually takes a bit longer.
Within 12 hours of Bea’s arrival to our home, she went into labor. Eleven puppies later, we knew this could be one of our more challenging litters.
For the first week, this little mama ate her meals in the baby pool (aka whelping box). Her emaciated body – visible ribs and backbone – told a story of depletion and neglect. Her eyes told us that she was resigned to her current task, but hinted at something more.
Over the next couple of weeks, our job was to keep Bea nourished so that she could care for the puppies. We kept a close watch on Bea to make sure she stayed healthy. Around day 10, she started shaking her head. Vets weren’t taking new patients. So a trip to the emergency vet revealed foxtails, old ones, in her ears, throat, nose. They scheduled her sedation (and foxtail removal) between puppy feedings; not an easy feat, when you have 11 pups and a subset of them was always latched on.
We were also on high alert for any respiratory issues. Bea had only spent one night in a shelter, but in her condition, was susceptible to contracting any disease that was floating around. And our previous litter all came down with an upper respiratory infection, which required nebulizer treatments as a group and individually, for a couple of weeks. One of those pups didn’t make it; I was determined to learn from the experience and keep these guys healthy.
Then it became all about the puppies. Those little squirmy blobs developed into little bundles of personality who needed to learn everything they could about the world.
Our little Bea used this time to bulk up! Slowly her body recovered. The pups started eating more and more solid food, nursing less and less often. And one day, I couldn’t see Bea’s backbone and ribs anymore!
One of the puppy enrichment activities is to get them out into the world. But we need to do this safely since they don’t have any immunity built up to protect them from things like parvo and distemper. Stroller time!
It’s also a great time for mama dogs to get out into the world. It took a couple of weeks for Bea to work up to leash walking. I don’t think she had ever known a harness or leash. The first time we tried, she just pancaked flat on the driveway, 1 foot away from the backyard. Treats, encouragement, a few steps at a time, taking it sloooooooow, resulted in huge gains all in one day.
Today, this girl walks nicely on a leash. Bea doesn’t pull; she stops to sniff the important stuff; she ignores dogs that we encounter; she likes to greet polite people.
After an easy walk, she’s ready for some relaxing in the sun.
Bea has been through some sudden changes from pregnant stray dog fending for herself on the streets, to a one-night shelter stay, to new home & becoming a mama. She’s transformed from an unwanted little brown dog, into a loyal companion and the perfect walking buddy.
Now, Bea needs just one more change – a home of her own – and her transformation will be complete.