Monday, October 10, 2016

3 weeks in..

The little pinto beans of love, Maple's "leaves" are 3 1/2 weeks old now. This first three weeks, up until about two days ago has been pretty much a breeze.  Like my last Mama dog, Maple really seems to be trying her best to take care of them and keep them clean.  The problem is.. she just can't do it anymore. I mean, she' really, REALLY tries, but  Maple was so weak and sickly when she came to us. She had barely begun to recover when she gave birth to way more puppies than we thought she could have reasonably held in her tiny body. She's giving it her best shot, but with crap health to begin with, her energy is waning.  I'm feeding her 4-5 times a day, huge amounts with raw egg and liver and yogurt and all kinds of fatty things and.. you can still see her hip bones. All these extra calories seem to just be going straight to the milk production, but it's just becoming not enough. Put it this way, there are eight of them.  They all weigh between 1.5 and  3lbs. That means, collectively, they just swallow her right up. I mean, look at those little porkers.

Like I said, she does her best, but it's time now for me to help take over. She really needs to concentrate on just getting strong enough for heartworm treatment and putting on weight, and that's just not going to happen if she's having to expend all her energy towards feeding eight rabid badgers. So, we've started group feeding several times a day. Some of them are...taking better to it than others. 

Everyone seems pretty healthy so far, despite not coming from the healthiest of mamas. There's one little one that I am slightly worried about but I hesitate to jinx her by mentioning it here because I'm hoping I'm just completely mistaken about what I think might be happening with her. There's really not anything I can do  if it's true anyway (I think she might have some vision problems). So, for now, I'm just going with the more likely option: that I am wrong. 

They're really starting to move around now and play with each other. Mainly, they chew on each other's faces a lot. 

And they still sleep a lot. There's a lot of ridiculous sleeping up in this joint. (this is the same puppy in both pictures, by the way, he has a position and he sticks with it). 

Oh and we got our DNA tests back that showed pretty much what we suspected:  Dog Salad with Cocker Spaniel Dressing. Still, Dog Salad can end up pretty dang cute sometimes. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Scene: breakfast table, early morning.I'm just walking into the room. I haven't had coffee.

Hopper:  ...and THEN, Cara got a case of Karma and tried to kick me in the nuts!

Me: What now? 

Hopper:  Cara, she got Karma and then tried to kick me in the nuts!  

Me: Hop, that is not what karma means. 


Me:  Karma does not mean being kicked in the nuts. 

Hopper: Well, Cara says that she was trying to kick me in the nuts because of Karma

Me: That is still not what it means. 

Hopper: It's Ok though because I just took cover because who wants Karma to kick you right in the nuts! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When Maple's "leaves" dropped..

holy crap yall Friday was ROUGH.  We didn't really know when our foster dog Maple was due to have her pups, only that it was just a matter of time before someone snuck up behind her, yelled boo and she'd explode. I  started a "Puppy Pool" with our rescue volunteers and most everyone guessed she would go into labor within the week. I wasn't allowed to enter, but secretly, I knew that I had a lot of things scheduled for both Friday and Monday, so chances were, she'd pick one of those days. Sure enough, Friday morning, I woke up and saw signs that things were pretty much getting under way. I'm not going to describe for you what those "signs" were, but trust me, you know. So, I texted my boss and told him I was going to take the morning off, got some coffee and Maple and I settled into the "maternity ward" i.e. my bathroom around 6:30am. At this point, I was thinking, "it's just five pups, MAYBE six, we should have this all wrapped up by noon, right?" Why I am ever dumb enough to think that things are going to run this smoothly, I don't know. 

Maple and I sat there staring at each other for almost four hours before anything happened. I'd check her, um, "area" to see what was up and I could tell that things were happening, but she just wasn't getting to the pushing them out phase. She was pretty much stuck in the stand up, shiver, turn around, try to get comfy in one spot and then try another spot while staring at me in confusion phase for HOURS. I kept trying to get up and stretch and go get a refill on my coffee, but she wasn't having it. Anytime I'd try to leave the room, Maple would heave her gigantic tum out of the whelping box and try to follow me with her head as close to my ankles as possible. So finally I just locked her in the bathroom, sprinted to the kitchen to fill up on a days worth of snacks and coffee, grabbed the phone charger and made it back before she could manage to work herself into a panic. So, there we sat until around 10:30am when she finally stood up, walked over to where I was sitting crosslegged on the floor, rammed her head into my stomach, crouched her back end and out came our first baby. 

Maple had no idea what had just happened. See, when pups come out, they are esconced in their own individual umbilical sac where they stay until the mama tears the sac open with their teeth  and gnaws off the umbilical cord. It's pretty visceral and gross, but...effective. There's not a lot of clean up the person has to do other than providing some fresh towels.  When Maple pushed the puppy out  she had absolutely no idea what to do next. She was literally just standing there with a puppy hanging out of her looking at me incredulously like, "I thought I was just going to poop!".  So I grabbed the pair of whelping scissors I have on hand, cut a snip in the sac and cradled the puppy with a handtowel and showed it to her. At this point the puppy is still attached to her by it's umbilical cord and I'm trying to explain to her that she's gotta do something about that. Like I'm seriously having a conversation with her, mimicking gnawing on piece of corn on the cob and pointing, "LIKE THIS! USE YOUR TEETH, RIGHT THERE. YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO WALK AROUND LIKE THIS, MAPLE, THERE ARE RULES."  This whole time Maple is looking at me like, "Aw, HELL NO, That is disgusting." So, I cut the cord myself.  Twelve minutes later, another pup comes and:  Same. 

Usually, in my experience, once puppies start coming out, they come out fairly regularly, like maybe 15 to 45 minutes apart. Never really more than an hour or so in between pups. But she had these two puppies and then things just... stopped.  Websites will tell you that it might take up to 2 hours for a puppy to come out but if more than 3 hours goes by and she's been trying to push, something is wrong (trust me, I had a lot of time sitting there to google this, sitting in my bathroom drinking ice-cold coffee).  We were 22 minutes away from the 3 hour mark when the next pup finally made his way out. He was..large, as in, plugging up the puppyworks large. I cut the sac open like I had for the first two was about to cut the cord when Maple turned around and gently grabbed him out of my hand with her mouth. She had finally figured out what she was supposed to do. This was great because by that time, I was so rattled that my hands were shaking and I was afraid if I tried to cut the cord, HE was going to end up a SHE.
That's Biggie McHeads-a-Huge there to the left

After that, next two pups came out smoothly and in a somewhat timely manner in that I wasn't trying to figure out how I was going to schlep everyone into the back of my car and head to the Emergency Vet. Maple got the hang of cleaning them off and was starting to nurse, but she was tuckered out. Sooooo tuckered out..

  At this point, we had five puppies and I knew there might be one more because when we first got her, there were xrays done where they had told us there were 5, possibly 6 pups in there. A week later, we had an ultrasound done to check on pup viability and while ultrasounds aren't great at telling you how many there are (but good at showing heartbeats), the vets thought 5 or 6 sounded about right for what they were seeing.  So, it was no great surprise when number six was born. What WAS a great big surprise when I went to go feel her tum and just check to make sure I didn't feel anything else in there and...there was something else in there. At this point, it's almost 5pm and we had been going at this for almost 11 hours. And we are not done. Shit. On. Fire. 

Number seven arrived shortly after 5'oclock. Ok, I thought, It's just one more. I can handle this. I mean, our last litter was nine puppies, I can handle seven.This is just a little lagniappe.   But, just in case, I felt her tum again and... YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. There was another one in there. Now, it's always possible that when you're feeling the mama's tum to check and see if there's another puppy, what you're feeling is not a puppy. I won't go into mama dog anatomy here, but if you ever find yourself stuck in a bathroom with a dog in labor for eleven hours, you learn things. At any rate, so, it' s POSSIBLE it's not a puppy, just a part of the mom, but I could tell this was a puppy. I just could feel it. Sure enough, the eighth puppy was born at 6:27pm, a mere dozen hours after we first began.

(this look on her face, while seemingly one of joy and relief, is also a little bit of "Well, That Was Intense and HOLY SHIT THERE ARE EIGHT." I know, because I felt it too.) 

Back in the saddle, indeed.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Project Maple

When all nine of our Tiny Texan pups AND Mama Jules were adopted right before I left for vacation, the plan was for us to have a bit of a break. That was THE PLAN.  What I didn't tell yall was that even before I was 3 days into the vacation, our group was already getting asked to take another mama dog and newborn pups. I demurred because I was out of state and I was all pupped out, but that's how quick it was. Not even two weeks and there's already another little puppy family needing help. I did not get that mama and pups, we let another group take them. But that didn't stop The Universe from deciding that "Breaks" are for Sissies because, folks, we got another "Project" up in here this weekend. Her name is Maple.

Maple is, I like to say: Preggo like an Eggo. Specifically, we think there are about 5-6 in there. She's due in a couple of weeks, maybe three.. I'm trying not to be impatient this time. Plus, Maple has some plumping up and resting and getting healthier to do before the babies get here. See, Maple is really anemic.  It's not that unusual for pregnant dogs to get a little anemic, but Maple is a LOT anemic. She's also heartworm positive. What this has meant is that since she got here 2 days ago, she's done a whole lot of sleeping. As in, she didn't get off the dog bed unless I picked her up to take her outside for potty. And even then, she'd get a little tired and just sit down in the backyard.

 I was getting really, REALLY worried, but we've been giving her some liver water and some iron supplements and that seems to be helping.  She started sitting up some more and sort of interacting a bit, rather than dozing.

As you may have noticed, Maple is not a full cocker spaniel. I don't really know what her mix is. I know she's tiny, other than her big baby belly. She has green eyes. But her face is really pointy and her ears don't really lay down. I spent some time yesterday trying to get some pictures of her where she didn't look like a Stoned Otter. 

I, um, might still have some work to do?   But we've got some time. I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks prepping and I'm really hoping with some good groceries and meds, Maple pulls through all this alright. And that the pups do too. (that's a concern). It's a Project, for sure. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Farm Days 4-6, 2016

It's been a busy week at the farm, and by "busy" I mean, we've had to brush our hair and put on pants once or twice. On Monday we spent some time looking at Art which Rowan found damn near intolerable. 
But Hopper was a bit more reasonable. Now that is a sentence I never thought I'd write.

But as usual, we did get to see some cool stuff, other than the Nudes at The Clark which Hopper declared, "A Lot of Looking at Naked Butt."

On Tuesday we went to Jiminy Peak which, in retrospect, may not have been the best plan for when Sam was injured because the boys are still a little too short/skinny to ride the Mountain Coaster alone, so I had to ride it a LOT. Like, a nauseous amount. To be fair, more than once is really a nauseous amount for me because I get a little green on Merry Go Rounds. Suffice it to say, the day

was a wee bit painful for me. Also painful: the sunburn I got after riding mountain rides in the sun for six straight hours. But the boys didn't want to leave. I love this shot of Hopper on the climbing wall because it makes it look like he's more than 3 feet off the ground. I can assure you, he is not.

I took videos of both the mountain coaster and the alpine slide, even though the guy on the coaster yelled at me, telling me I needed BOTH hands to operate the brakes, which is bullshit because there are no "brakes" on that sucker, there is only near death and vomiting. 

I don't know if the links will work here, but I'll try:

We have also gotten to spend lots of cousin time with Luna. Rowan has previously expressed interest in having a little sister, so it's been great to see him interact with her. And by "interact" I mean she expresses interest in a toy and he then spends the rest of his day trying to hide it. 

Today it is almost 90 degrees which is unacceptable. Luckily for us, we just have to skip up the road and immediately jump into the pond. I have a million photos of this because we've been doing it every single day. 

There are even some (cough) off ME jumping off the dock, but you are not likely to see those any time soon. 

Tonight, Sam and I go to a James Beard Award winning restaurant in Hudson, so I'll be sure to get plenty of photos of that instead.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Farm Days 1-3, 2016

Being at the farm this year has been a little different this year than in year's past because Half of the Horde has already been here for a month! Sam and Hopper left in early July and Hopper got to go to three weeks of summer camp in a place that doesn't feel like the surface of Satan's butt. We'd been Skyping every few days and every time Hopper and Rowan saw each other it was like a tragic war movie where brothers were torn apart. "I loooooovvvee youuuu HOPPAH."  "I miss you Rowan SO MUUCHH."  So, we were taking bets on how long this newfound appreciation for each other might last. Answer: about 15 minutes outside the airport. 

But still, they are having fun seeing each other again even if every morning begins with a 7am argument over whether we are playing Plants Vs. Zombies or Star Wars right now. 
This year is probably my very last year for getting Naked in the Brook photos, which saddens me, but doesn't exactly stop them from taking off their pants every 5 minutes anyway. 

I got a new waterproof point and shoot because I figured I just don't take enough pictures in my life, so now we get to have moments like these:

I know how excited that must make you. But aside from underwater photos I can also take 800 pictures of my kids jumping off the dock at the pond and not worry about ruining my camera. So, wheeeeeee!

Only, I haven't quite figured out the right settings, so sometimes I just get this:
But, I'm working on it.  We go back to the pond in a couple of hours, so I will practice some more. I find that if I make my children just run and jump off the dock 5-6 (hundred) times in a row, they're much more compliant in the evenings. 
The boys are spending this morning doing some yard work with Gram. Someone will need to tell Rowan that his rake sucks. 

 Today's plan for me includes putting on a bubbling clay mask for my face, reading a book and also going to see Yo Yo Ma at Tanglewood. All three of those sound pretty exciting to me, so I'm going to rest up.