Dogless

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What? It’s a word, look it up. Dogless. I will use it in a sentence.

“Dave and I are DOGLESS and it completely sucks.”

I will be honest. The first day that Cate was gone I was still so sick (I have been battling what I am calling the creeping crud, people more schooled than me would call it bronchitis.) that I didn’t miss not having to watch her. She is still is puppyish and thinks it is boring lying around the house doing nothing. In those cases she is very good at finding something to entertain herself. She doesn’t always choose wisely.

I didn’t really start to feel better until the weekend and Cate being gone still really hadn’t set in yet. Then when I went back to work. After raising three puppies for Canine Companions going to work without a dog is strange. Next  Sabina departed for her turn at the Canine Companions spa. I am used to not seeing her all day as her new job, now that she isn’t in training, is to guard the house. I use the word guard very loosely. However she is ALWAYS at the door to greet me. ALWAYS, without fail – unless of course she is eating, getting a belly rub,  or swimming. The girl does have her priorities.

Here we are without a dog. It is weird. I don’t like it. Alas, this is part of puppy raiser and breeder caretaker experience. It’s not my favorite part through. The upside is that Cate will return in a few short weeks as most pups-in-training do, a bit more mature and happy to return to training. Then Sabina will come home and, will hopefully have precious cargo on board. Meanwhile Max-the-Cat is living large and loving being the only four-footer in the house. Glad someone is happy being dogless.

Max-the-Cat

Max-the-Cat

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Timing and Location

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I have heard time and time again that timing is everything. However I have also heard it’s all about “location, location, location.” I am not sure which it is but I am pretty sure that I don’t have either. Before I start my complaining I have to cede that despite living 2 hours away from the Northwest campus of Canine Companions, that is ALOT closer than most puppy raisers live to their campus. Now that the legal complaining requirements have been met here it goes.

About the location part… while we are closer than many two hours is still two hours, which is a four round trip. That doesn’t even count traffic delays which if there is a race at Sears Point or you get caught in the Bay Area commute your four hours can be – well a lot longer.

When you have an intact female puppy in training and live close enough you have to get her there for what I call a trip to the spa to make sure that no “unauthorized dates” occur. When you have a Canine Companions breeder you have to live in a specific geographic area in Northern California and take your breeder up to the campus when duty calls for what I call an “authorized date.” I am pretty sure you can discern the difference.

Dave and I happen to have both. In case you’re wondering yes girl dogs will “sync” up, and now we are on to the timing part. Let’s be clear though it isn’t sync up like CIA operatives synchronize their watches before a big mission. It is more like the dubbing of english in a Godzilla movie, close but not quite. I knew that both our girls were close to coming into season and that was fine because SURELY, their cycle would coincide with one of the THREE trips we had planned to make to Santa Rosa in February. Nope, didn’t happen, but you knew that part right? Here is how it went, and why I have told you it takes a village to raise a puppy.

February 8th – in San Francisco. Not quite Santa Rosa but we could have squeezed it in. We spent the evening with a TON of people who live in Santa Rosa and could have taken her back with them. Nothing.

February 10th – back in San Francisco. Nada.

February 15th – in Santa Rosa ON the Canine Companion campus. Zilch.

February 17th – two days after we got home from Canine Companions, and four days before we were going back to campus Cate goes into heat. Thankfully Pam (you have read about her before on this blog and has rescued us more than once.) was going up to campus and took her. One down, and one more I knew was going happen anytime.

February 22nd – back on campus to get Sabina’s annual eye exam, and pick up a puppy for fellow puppy raiser. Big fat zero.

February 25th – and, drum roll please, yep Sabina goes into heat. Seriously? Alas good friend and fellow puppy raisers, the Yamada’s, were heading up to pick up their next puppy and took the Bean.

- The precious cargo picked up after dropping off Sabina.

“Dove”, the precious cargo picked up after dropping off Sabina, at her first vet check appointment.

So if it is about timing or location it’s apparent that Dave and I don’t really have either. If it is about friends, community and super cute puppies we win in spades.

Until We Meet Again…

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Quite a bit of things have been written about saying good-bye, how to say good-bye, when to say good-bye, how to say good-bye. I think you get the picture. Some times good-byes are surprisingly easy, sometimes it is excruciating, and some times parting is truly a sweet sorrow.

Ranking right up there in the top three questions asked of puppy raisers is “how can you give them up??” The answer is simple (Well aside from the times you do wonder why you decided to do this crazy puppy raising thing this would be at 3:00 am and the whole house is awake on day four of crate training..), it is simply the most wonderful thing I have ever done in my life. The people who volunteer for Canine Companions are given the opportunity to do be part of someone’s miracle. That is not something that happens everyday.

With my first puppy I tried to keep in the forefront of my mind is that she isn’t mine and belongs to Canine Companions. As you might have guessed that didn’t work. I still cried the day I turned her in. With my second puppy I was better prepared for what turn-in day would be like and guess what … I still cried. So now we are on puppy three and I am just planning on crying. Why break a perfect track record?

The simple truth for me is that puppy turn-in parting is sweet sorrow. I don’t want to give away “my” puppy, but I also can’t wait to find out what happens. Picture in your mind (really close your eyes and picture in your mind) your most favorite book (or movie) and right as you turn the to the best part the page is blank except for the words – “we will mail you the rest of the book in a couple of months.” Really? Umm yep, and that couple of months in puppy raising time is generally in 6-9 months. For me that is what puppy turn-in is like, sad that it is sort of over and excited for what is going to happen all at the exact same moment.

Four times a year graduations are held across the United States at the campus’ of Canine Companions. (There are an extra four in Santa Rosa, CA celebrating the graduation of hearing dogs.) Not only are the newly graduating service dogs going home with their new forever person and their families, but puppy raisers also come together to turn-in their charges to the exceptionally skilled trainers and staff of Canine Companions. This graduation included the turn-in of Sabina’s first litter (the “G-men” as we call them.)

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Gromitt and Mary after crossing the stage.

After loving them, raising them, teaching them over thirty commands, and socializing them three of the bestest puppy raisers selflessly turned in our grandpups. We had the privilege of being there for Gromitt’s big day.

Mary and Gromitt before the actual turn in.

Mary and Gromitt before the actual turn in.

After the last hurrah’s, hugs, and of course dinner; Mary turned over Gromitt’s leash to the trainers. Among the tears there were cheers. We called out “think breeder” -puppy raisers and Canine Companion staff alike – as Gromitt led the charge, right down the hall to the next chapter of his life. He didn’t look back. Not even once because he already knows how exciting the next part is going to be and couldn’t wait to get there. We can’t wait till the G-men get there either.

Mahalo.

Gromitt, happily trotting off to the next chapter.

 

A Different Kind of Turn-In

Generally about graduation time I get very excited. I love to go to graduations to cheer on the new graduates and support my friends who are turning in their pups. When Dave and I are turning in our pups graduation is bittersweet. Going to the graduation ceremonies are so important to us, but knowing that we will be leaving without a pup is always hard.

This time; however, will be a bit different for us. This will be the first time our “grandpups” – Sabina’s offspring are being turned in. I have to say I am over the moon, sort of. You see I have become very close to and  lifelong friends with the people who have raised our first “trial-sized” litter. Like my last post the G Litter was my first of firsts – our first litter, our first bean named puppy – I could go on and on. (You know like the first time one of my puppies escaped from their pen, the first time a puppy pooped on my foot, first time I had to rush a nursing mama dog to the emergency vet – but I think you get the picture.) So it is with this graduation I am more happy than sad, excited even, at what the future holds.

Garbanzo & Grimaldi

Garbanzo & Grimaldi

A fellow breeder caretaker told me one of the reasons (besides puppies of course!) that she loved being a breeder caretaker is that through one breeder girl she had the chance to be part of so many miracles at one time. Puppy raisers are amazing, and I love being a puppy raiser, but that is 18 months of committed time to one dog, one graduation. Don’t get me wrong as someone who hasn’t had a graduate dog yet I am working hard towards that goal, and know without puppy raisers Canine Companions wouldn’t be able to place as many dogs as they do. But as a breeder caretaker  you have the opportunity to usher lots of little puppy lives into this world and start them out on the path of being an assistance dog, and that is simply amazing.

The G Men

The G Men

While I certainly understand the last of the lasts, the tears, and heartache my friends and puppy raisers of the G Litter are experiencing. I also know that they are awesome (dare I say some of the best ever) puppy raisers. They loved these, now not so little, boys with all of their hearts. The G-men simply could not have a better shot at graduating, everything that could have been done for them has already been done. I am proud to think that Dave and I may have played a tiny bit of a role in their success. All of that makes me excited. I can’t wait for them to be turned in and for them to go on to be great forever dogs – whatever that forever is.

Last Play Date with Mom Before Turn-In

Last Play Date with Mom Before Turn-In

Dave and I will get to be there when Gromitt turns in and will be there in spirit when the time comes that Garbanzo and Grimaldi say their good byes. The awesome thing about these dogs is that they seem to know that they still have stuff to do. Both dogs I have turned in and all of the dogs I have seen turned in – snuggle in for that final hug and then happily walk away with their new trainer. Confident, happy, and ready to work. They don’t look back.

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G Litter 3 puppies

The G Litter

They don’t look back because they don’t need too. They know we have loved them with all of our hearts, first their breeder caretakers and then their puppy raisers. They know we would only leave them with people who will love them as much as we do. They don’t look back because we have been preparing them their whole lives to look to the future. They are doing what we taught them to do. It is through a new set of eyes I will be seeing this turn-in. Yes, yes, their will probably be some tears, but mostly I will be looking straight through to the future.

G-Litter turn-in party at the CCI puppy park

G-Litter turn-in party at the CCI puppy park

Good luck G-Men, you are so loved by many, some you haven’t even met  yet.

Garbanzo

Garbanzo

Gromitt

Gromitt

Grimaldi

Grimaldi

 

 

The First of the Lasts

So here it is, the count down to puppy turn-in, or as I like to call it: the first of the lasts. The last time you take your puppy to this park, the last time your puppy goes to work, the last time Grandpa Jane and Next-Door-Neighbor-Bill get to help with excited greetings. They come pretty quickly and pretty soon everything you are doing is the last time you are going to be doing it with your puppy, and that sucks.

I have said this before and I will not stop saying it because it is true. Turning you puppy in is hard. Sure there may be exceptions from time to time – some turn-ins that are harder than others. Still for the most part, my limited personal experience and the experiences I see my friends having every four months is that turn-in is hard. . Here is the simple, humbling truth: regardless if you are turning you puppy in on February 15, 2012 or February 2015 there is someone out there waiting for a dog from Canine Companions. Chances are that their need is far greater than the heartbreak of turning in your pup. And that is why, my friends the very smart people at Canine Companions pair the puppy turn-in, with the puppy graduation.

Graduation day, at least for me, is always magical. Graduation day may be an awesome day for the people who, mostly like after a very long wait, are going home with their new partner. However, it is also the day that the universe reminds me that I am so lucky to be part of an awesome organization and that while I may face trials and tribulations not only do other face them too. Mine often pale in comparison. I will be honest and say that generally the graduations where a service man or women is graduating with an assistance dog from Canine Companions generally move me the most, but there is one that will live with me forever.

After the parade of puppies that are turning in march across the stage the graduates and their families are brough on stage. They wait there one by one as a proud puppy raiser comes up on stage and hands over their leash. At this particular graduation there was a young child probably about 6 and average height for her age who sat with her parents, waiting for her dog. She didn’t make much eye contact with anyone else and sat quietly in front of this huge noisy crowd waiting for her dog. One by one the dogs were presented and with each dog, although not her dog, she perked up a bit. Finally her dog came and she LIT UP!!! (Okay I am actually getting teary right now writing this – geeze) The thing is that her dog lit up too.

So after the initial hugs and exchanges were done there was still more to the ceremony and I couldn’t take my eyes of this young child who had almost seemed like an unlit candle before her dog and then a raging fire of happy emotion after they were reunited on stage. At some point she slipped off her chair and laid on top of this enormous dog that she had been teamed with. I swear they both let out a contented sigh and stayed that way until they were “released” from the stage.

We weren’t turning in a dog that day, but I hold that memory in my heart and I can not only see it like it was yesterday – I can FEEL it like it was  yesterday. I played that moment in my mind when we turned in Sabina and Lacinda, I will rely on it to get me through when we turn in Cate and all of our other dogs to come. I will be thinking of all of my friends and Canine Companions volunteers as they turn-in their puppies in two weeks. I know it will be bittersweet, and the next few months full of excitement and worry as you wait to hear if your dog will graduate. So I leave you with this.

You did your best and gave your dog everything you had to give. You gave of your time, heart, and soul and your effort is more than admirable. It is now their turn to go and figure out where they fit in this world. It may be as a Canine Companions assistance dog or it might not. What I know is that regardless of where they do end up or what their job is, they will always be in your heart and you in theirs.

 

Graduation Trial Run

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When you raise a puppy who graduates as a Canine Companions assistance dog, the task of handing over the leash at graduation is reserved for the puppy raiser. Obviously from time to time a puppy raiser is not available to hand off the leash. In northern California breeder caretakers are often close enough to stand in if the puppy raiser can not attend.

Before you scream at your screen and say you can’t believe that a puppy raiser would miss that, or maybe you’re a graduate who thinks that they would feel like your missing something by not meeting the person who raised your puppy there are somethings to consider. First of all some puppies are raised in a correctional facility, in that case the puppy raiser(s) literally cannot attend graduation. Sometimes life, illness, or miles prohibit puppy raisers from going to graduation.

Hearing dogs that come from Canine Companions are only trained in Santa Rosa, California – regardless of where they were puppy raised. Puppy raisers attend graduation at their own cost. When you are coming from far away like Florida, tack on a couple of hotel stays and the shuttle or rental car from San Francisco and you have quite the tab going. Maybe a puppy raiser has other commitments like children, work, or school that keep them home. Sometimes the puppy raiser may just not be able to bear the hard good-bye. Selfish you ask? I don’t think so, if you can’t hand over the leash with a heart full of only love, it might be best to sit it out.

The graduation day is really about the graduate. How they are starting a new chapter when they walk off the campus with the best new support system – ever. At the last graduation I had the honor of filing in for a puppy raiser who couldn’t attend the ceremony. I will be honest I was super excited and nervous all at the same time. Armed with a letter and pictures from the puppy raiser and a few little tokens we picked up, we headed out to campus.

Arriving just in the nick of time we had a briefing before meeting our graduates. I was apprehensive, particularly because I didn’t raise their puppy, what would we talk about, would they be sad I was there and not their puppy raiser. In hindsight I have no idea what I was worried about. These dogs always end up being right where they are supposed to be, and bring people together in amazing ways.

In addition to the graduate and his wife we were joined by my friend and longtime breeder caretaker Emily W. Emily is the breeder caretaker who whelped our Sabina, and as it turns out she whelped the graduate, and they have the same mom. The graduate family lives about 45 minutes from Dave and I, and the graduate and his wife are both retired public safety employees. Pretty much Kismet.

So this was our graduation trial run. It was absolutely amazing, humbling, and joyous – so pretty much like every other graduation I have attended. I can’t wait when it isn’t a trial run, when it is our real thing. Thanks to everyone who let me be part of their special day, it will be one of my most memorable days ever. 

 

And the World Keeps on Turning…

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Every day things happen that leave someone completely changed, for a moment they stop breathing, and it feels like the world has stopped turning – but it doesn’t. The world, just keeps on turning.

In my life I have lost six dogs who now reside at the rainbow bridge. Some were lost too young and to unfortunate circumstances, and some lived long and still I think their time was all too short. I think that, even though I know their passing made room and paved the way for the next pup who snuggled their way into my heart.

Some of them passed on to the rainbow bridge on their own, some relied on me to help them with their journey. The decision is never easy, the brain and the heart competing, arguing over what is the right thing to do. That doesn’t even take into account the noise of all of the free advice and unsolicited opinions, that creep into the decision-making process. The heart and mind wage a war over:  is it time, is it passed time, are they happy, are they in pain, and do they have quality time left? Nothing that is said, heard, or felt helps change the simple fact that dogs don’t live long enough.

I remember the passing of each of my dogs, like I remember the way to early passing of a friend when I was in high school, of my beloved grandmother who gave up her retirement to raise me, and the loss of a dear friend and mentor only a few short years ago. I remember how hard the final moments were, how I felt like I couldn’t breathe in as they let their last breath out, how I just felt like life wouldn’t be the same and couldn’t go on with out my pup.

If all that sounds dramatic to you that’s okay because grief is different for each of us, just as our relationships with each of our pets are different. It is however, exactly how I felt. I felt like my world stopped. Maybe I wanted it to stop, I don’t know. I do know that each day it got a little easier and while life wasn’t the same I didn’t want it to be and I found it didn’t need to be. I know that breathing stopped being such a chore and at some point the reminders of my departed fuzzy partners brought smiles and even laughter instead of tears. I know that the world never stopped turning, but that I had wonderful friends and family that acknowledged my grief. While the world did continue spinning, they made sure that my world slowed down enough that I could get back in the normal rotation on my own terms. I know that each time I am faced with this situation that I forget all of that stuff I just wrote and go through it again. I also know that each little tiny second I get to share my life with a dog, makes me strong enough to go through this (in hindsight) relatively short, albeit horrible, part. I am constantly amazed at the resiliency of the heart, it’s ability to keep on beating, to keep on loving even when I am sure it will never love again.

Today the world stopped turning for a fellow Canine Companion’s puppy raiser, and it indeed stopped way to soon. There is nothing that anyone can say or do to help her catch her breath, to start her world turning again tonight. But in the coming days we can just be there, breathing – showing her how to start breathing again, showing her it is okay to start breathing again. We can be there watching and waiting for when those reminders become smiles and not tears. That is our job now to wait and then keep him alive through stories, memories, and photographs that will remind us all how this wonderful dog graced us during his short time on this earth.

Rest in peace Hercules. Your time was too short, but the legacy you leave behind is immense.

Hercules

Hercules III

My Dog Is a ROCK STAR!

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There comes a time that every puppy turns a corner, today was the day for Cate. Cate was a rock star.

Don’t get me wrong Cate has been an awesome puppy. I have enjoyed pretty much every moment we have had with her. She has been very reliable with her hurry training, she sleeps well in her crate, and has over come some challenges – like scary dust pans. One of Cate’s biggest challenges is that she has been a pop-up puppy. She knows down and is able to hold one for a while, but she still pops-up quite a bit.

Today was a meeting marathon it was back to back meetings from 10am straight through (including lunch) to 4:30, home real quick and then back out to a night meeting from 6-7:30, and dinner out. My pop-up puppy, didn’t. She just laid there, like a lump! Wahoo my puppy is a rock star lump! I had really started to worry about the pop-up part, I keep forgetting that there is the moment that the light comes on.

I am sure that there will be more challenges ahead, possibly even some set backs. That is all part of the puppy raising roller coaster. These are the days that keep you going, that make the day they throw up in your bosses’ office or have an accident in the mall seem not so bad. These are the days that make all the sleepless nights crate training or tears over why they just don’t get it or say – won’t hold a down – or something like that, so worth it. These are the days where a little teeny tiny part of your heart starts to see a graduation day in your future.

Today Cate was a rock star and made a Monday the most spectacular day of the week – and that my friends is simply amazing.

Whose Afraid of the Big Bad Dustpan?

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Cate.

Cate is afraid of the big bad dustpan. However in her defense we do have a freakishly large metal dustpan. For some reason when I bought the industrial sized dust mop from our local big box hardware store I must have thought we needed the biggest dustpan they had and bought that too. We have a mostly tile house, that I like to say we have because of my allergies, but mostly I couldn’t keep up with the muddy paw prints on the carpet.  We also have a world champion of a shedder – hence the dust mop.

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The big bad dust pan on 12×12 tiles.

When you break something in a house where there are frequent puppies who think that everything has to be investigated with their tongue it takes sweeping up messes to a whole new level. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t as if I would leave broken bottles scattered about if we didn’t have a parade of puppies. But lets face it, it is infinitely less expensive to pull a little shard of glass out of a bare human foot at 3:00 in the morning than it is to have that same little piece of glass taken out of puppy intestine anytime of day.

We had another Christmas bulb casualty. The darn thing  couldn’t have fell softly on the near-by puppy bed. Instead it hit that same previously mentioned tile floor and shattered into a zillion pieces. I got the broom and the dustpan and went to work. Well sweeping under the tree led to sweeping under the piano, and that led to moving the couch and crawling around to fish out a dust puppy from under the china hutch. Somewhere along the line as I was collecting Sabina’s “Dust-Puppy” litter I set the dust pan on the edge of the couch – which came clattering down to the floor.

Not sure how close Cate was to the dust pan or if she was just completely taken off guard but she was not happy at all and took leave to the security of her kennel. After a little bit of coaxing she came close to the dust pan but I could see she wasn’t going to get any nearer to it than she had to. Here lies the puppy raisers quandary. How fast and how hard do you push something like this? My otherwise bomb proof pup lost her mind over this and I don’t want to make it worse.

While on the surface you might be thinking – uh yeah it was loud as hell I would have taken my 10 month old self off to my kennel too. The deal is that it can startle her, and she can not like it, but retreating is not an option for a service dog. Imagine her 15 pounds heavier and on the other end of a leash held by a person in a wheel chair who is leaving work in her office after a long late day. The grad team passes the janitor in the hall (who probably should have a dust pan of this size) and it clatters to the floor.

This could unfold one of two ways – either Cate takes note and looks to her partner for reassurance or direction or she bolts, running her fool head off and pulling her graduate out of their wheel chair on to the floor. Now do you see why this is a big deal? Thought you might.

So on one hand this is a HUGE deal, and on the other she is 10 months old and hasn’t shown any real fear before so this could be a phase and the only job now is to get her through it. I did what any rational puppy raiser would do – I looked at my husband and said “well I guess Cate will be eating her dinner out of this thing until she realizes it isn’t scary. Oh and we should leave it out and kick it around let it make noise from time to time.” And he looked at me and didn’t say I was crazy – nope he said “Good idea!”

So for the past few days the big bad scary dust pan has been living in the hallway where the dogs play, serving as Cate’s dinner dish, and as our trainer suggested I have been dropping occasional treats in it too. Part of the problem is that this thing is a little bent so it makes noise when you walk by it, step on, or eat out of it (yes I cleaned it before I fed her in it, geeze I am not that bad). She is a lab so the eating out of it wasn’t all that big of a deal – tummy desire trumps any level of fear ALL the time.

The real battle has been the in between time – I walk by and kick it or watching her skirt it as the girls play. I have dropped it a couple more times and each time I was getting less and less reaction – until this morning. This is the part where I remind you readers that my scaredy pants girl is also super-duper smart, she is a Bean baby. All day today, any time I make noise with it or she sees it she runs to it and does a perfect sit. Weird right? I am happy and didn’t think anything else about it until Sabina started to do it too. Light bulb moment for puppy raiser.

Seems we no longer have fear for the dust pan – just reverence. Reverence for the magical kibble dispensing dust pan. Smart girls have I!

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Cate and her new friend the magic dust pan.

I am telling you I need a shirt that says

Never underestimate the power of kibble

and I mean it. Puppy poop might be the stickiest substance in the world, but kibble is still the most powerful. At least in the Johnson house and I suspect it is the same for all Labs in the magical world of Labrador.

Poop – Everyone Does It

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I can’t stress enough how much of a puppy raisers life is about puppy poop. Did they poop? When did the poop? What did the poop look like? I truly hope you never have a poop-in-the-store-story. (Don’t worry you will, but I hope you don’t – here is an awesome blog about that by Alex Wegman.) Puppy raisers trade poop stories like WWII pilots talk about their missions. Seriously.

When you become a breeder caretaker you life still evolves around poop. Really it isn’t that bad, as the first few weeks the mom “takes care of it.” Then when the pups get on solid food it becomes the BC’s duty to clean up. Again if you are lucky enough to have a Sabina litter, it hasn’t been that big of a deal as they all like to hurry in their potty box. Even when they don’t make it all the way in (the boys are notorious for getting their front paws in and the important part still on the outside), you can see they are making an effort to get there. Yay! Good hurry!

That is until your litter has diarrhea. It is akin to the end of days. If it is really bad you begin to hope and wish for the Mayan apocalypse. Really really hope for it. Now some of you might be saying “yeah – so what? all dogs get diarrhea.” You are right they do, and as puppy raisers you must likely will have to deal with it a time or two. However as your rolling your eyes remember this – it isn’t ONE dog with diarrhea it is NINE-NOT-HOUSEBROKEN- PUPPIES who think that EVERYTHING should be investigated. Did I mention this is INSIDE your house where the temperature is probably close to 80 degrees?

The truth is that there has been a little bit of diarrhea in the earlier litters. Generally each little one gets a touch of it for a day or so and then it moves on. This litter was all diarrhea, all the time. To the point that we decided a little medical intervention was needed in the form of Keopectate for dogs. Dogs shouldn’t take the current over the counter formula of Keopectate due to the chemical compound. However there is a hideously pink chalky concoction that is vet approved, BC tolerated, and puppy hated.

Of course I personally don’t have a jug of the stuff lying around so I call a longtime Canine Companions BC as she usually has some. She does but has just left for an out-of-town trip. No worries she says, just let yourself in and take what I have. She gives me directions not only to her house but how to let myself in. You know I am telling you this because you already know there is a story here right? Right.

I get there – no thanks to the new Apple Maps on my iPhone, that want me to drive through the northerly neighbors yard and pasture. Once there I let myself in through the front gate and walk up to the house. (Which is quite charming on a lovely plot of land – perfect for puppies!) and that is where I skipped over an important part of the directions.

I am not going to list all the directions here but lets suffice it to say it involved looking in a pot for the key. I looked in half a dozen pots but couldn’t find the key and really didn’t want to call (I don’t know why) before I realized that I wasn’t looking where I was supposed too. Probably because it is at this point I heard the sirens in the distance I was secretly praying they weren’t for me because some kind neighbor had called the cops.

Once I found the key and let myself in I was in doggy heaven. You people think I have a doggy room, my room doesn’t have ANYTHING on this room – which has it’s own doggy washing station. I would love to have this puppy room. I have decided to have this puppy room I would either have to bust through the closet wall into our guest bathroom or completely take over the garage. I don’t need to ask I already know Dave’s answer is no. I mean his answer is NONONONONONONO!

I find the pink stuff, some syringes and head home.

Once there I pick up the puppies I know who are having diarrhea (including Bizzy who earlier pooped right on my foot) and begin. This is when I realize how much easier this would be if a) it tasted like chicken, and b) I had two or three more hands. I didn’t taste it but I could tell it didn’t taste like chicken and I really couldn’t wait around until Dave got home.

So with a pup snuggled in and held tight by squeezing him between my elbow and side and using that same hand to apply a tiny bit of pressure on the sides of his mouth so he would open I shoved in the loaded syringe with the other. Now this isn’t an injection, but I give great injections so that was the easy part. Then drop the syringe in the sink and use that now free hand to stroke the throat to encourage swallowing. That part wasn’t quite fast enough because the puppy snarfed pink stuff all over me.

For those of you who have kids who might have ever threw up pepto bismol on you – yeah you know what this is like then. Too tired to clean it up I move on to the others and before the end of the day everyone is on it. I have all the doses noted on the white board, a med schedule etc. Dave rolls his eyes when he gets home. What does he know he isn’t covered in bubble gum pink droplets of snarfed vet approved Keopectate. Thankfully diarrhea round one began to clear up in a couple of days. We had a couple of diarrhea free weeks and then another little outbreak but we managed that one too.

Truthfully, besides the horrendous smell, the only real worry about the diarrhea is to make sure that the pups are still eating and gaining. If they aren’t  then you can get into problems. If they are gaining it isn’t really that big of a deal; however, for the comfort and the mental wellbeing of the BC the quicker you can remedy it the better.

Puppy poop – puppy diarrhea specifically – is the most powerfully sticky substance on the planet. NASA should really take a look at the molecular structure of this stuff, or at least the KrazyGlue people should take note. It gets everywhere and on everyone. You really don’t want to be bathing puppies but you have to keep them clean, so it is a battle. Did I mention the smell? It isn’t like puppies and raising litter is all rosy smelling or anything, but man this stuff is enough to raise the dead.

In the end, all the end’s cleared up, and we got on to what we call “good” poop. Nice solid little packages that are easily cleaned up and tossed away. When you visit a litter most if not all BC have you remove your shoes, hand sanitize etc. They will tell you it is so that the puppies don’t get sick, and they are being honest. While there is always a risk of an unvaccinated puppy getting Parvo or Distemper the much higher and almost more feared is the big D. Diarrhea.

Diarrhea 2 / Breeder Caretaker 2

Alls well that ends well, mainly things end well when the ends are well.