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Dear Chosen New Families – A letter by Laura (PPR Foster)

November 7, 2013
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This is a beautiful letter that our foster, Laura, wrote to the families that were adopting the puppies she bottle fed and nursed back to health from a horrible case of pneumonia. This was Laura’s first time fostering. We rescued a new mamma (Mary Jane) with 8 newborn puppies. Things seemed to go well for a few days, then Mary Jane got very sick, and the puppies started getting sick as well. We had to separate the puppies from Mary Jane, and Laura stepped up to bottle feed four of them.

She did an amazing job. It was a rough road with a (relatively) happy ending. I wanted to share this so you could get a taste of what fostering is like. It is not just about playing with puppies all day. There are good days and bad, anxiety, fear, jubilation, excitement, and emotional crashes. Sometimes all in one day. Thank you, Laura. You are a true inspiration. The letter:

Dear Chosen New Families,

Where do I start? So many feelings and worries and concerns to wade through to tell you just what I want/need you to know! I didn’t know, really, what I was getting into at the start. I felt like it was time for me to step up and help a little more so when I said I’d help bottle feed puppies, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. How hard could it be? It would be adorable!

Well, first of all, I expected one or two puppies. Who on earth would put a novice in charge of any more puppies? So when Mindy called and suggested we each take 4 puppies, I said, “Sure!” Her confidence told me I would do just fine. (REALLY?)

It was beautiful. 4 little tiny guinea pig-looking-beings curled up in a pile expecting nothing of me other than to keep them alive. The mother might get better, right? So it might be a couple nights, maybe. Wait, mom was on major antibiotics. Antibiotics take a week and a half. How long can she keep her milk? It dawned on me my expectations were not realistic. No problem. I already have the puppies. No way I’m giving them back. It’s on me now.

So, with the list of things I needed at hand, the puppies keeping warm in towels in a laundry basket, I took on the task. Bottle-feeding was required every 3-4 hours (I learned you can’t let them go too long or their blood sugar could drop and THEY COULD DIE!) so I became a mother of quadruplets and woke myself up twice a night for weeks. Feeding and grooming (potty time) took about an hour and a half each feeding. Yawn! I kept the mantra, “it’s not forever,” which can get anyone through any amount of sleep deprivation when you have furry little faces that remind you of how lucky you are to be in that spot.

My dog, Dasher, a previous Pound Puppy dog, gave me some warnings that things weren’t right. Normally a very social dog, who hardly leaves my side or leaves visitors without a bath of kisses, Dasher took one smell of them the first night and refused to stay in the same room with them. This lasted a week and a half until we realized they were really sick. I never would have imagined that taking on this huge challenge would actually result in a loss. After worrying and giving extra care to Sneakers, the second visit to the vet showed severe pneumonia and, with great grief, my oldest son and I watched as he was put to sleep. We brought him home to be buried near our pond and I cry even now, so many weeks later. Though our time was so short together, we were heartbroken with his loss. I was left to balance the determination that I was going to keep these puppies alive with the possibility I would have to bury all of mine in the backyard. It was terrifying.

Soon we had more to worry about when Mindy lost one of hers, and then others became really sick. Flip stopped eating, and Slipper had a runny nose. After hearing many worrisome possible diagnoses, we made the decision to medicate all of them. It took three levels of antibiotics before we saw improvement. The third one kicked in almost immediately. It was remarkable!! Things were looking up and with an enormous sense of relief, we were able to sit back and enjoy the tremendous, miraculous growth these puppies were going through. It was only a day and a half after starting meds when Dasher began to join us.

When I picked them up that first night, their eyes were shut tight and people couldn’t even recognize them as DOGS. Now they started to show their puppy shapes, wag their tiny tails, and began to show spurts of energy in lopsided runs through the room. Wow.

So, somewhere between the vet visits and the healthy comebacks, I decided that while giving up these puppies would be difficult emotionally, I was just so ecstatic I might be able to keep them alive and get them healthy enough for adoption. I knew it would be ok. It was such a wonderful thing to help get puppies from a horrible shelter and finally off to a loving, permanent home! I’m grateful for the experience, to put it simply.

But, now they’re showing real personality. They recognize me and jump in my lap and show sheer excitement when I come into view. I see them peek their heads to find where I am and I can tell they are listening for my voice. Their departure will leave my house a lot less full, and a lot more empty. For 8 weeks all I’ve pretty much thought about is PUPPIES. In one hour period, I will hand them over to people I’ve met once.

What amazing people you must be for me to be able to do this!! It is ONLY with the knowledge that these sweet puppies will be as loved by you as they are by me that I can give them up. (Ok, and the fact that I can’t train 3 puppies at one time to keep my furniture and garden in tact, as well as not have my husband super mad. Did I mention he was in Japan when I brought the puppies home? :D ) It is only the sound of your voices and the words you write and the excitement you’ve shown that enables me to be truly happy for this transition.

Thank you for taking over where I need to end. Enjoy your new puppy. They have been loved and they are stocked full of love for you.

Sincerely,

Laura

PS. I would be grateful for pictures from time to time! Feel free to stop in for a visit, sooner or later, too. We would love that.

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