Several months ago, I was scrolling through facebook as usual when I saw a plea for help – a girl claimed she had found a box of puppies down by the boatramp and didn’t know what to do with them until she could take them to the SPCA the next day. Cue a 10pm drive out to the other side of town, with my own dog of course to deter murderers (it was South Auckland, after all!)
There I found six beautiful little fat, warm rolls of puppy. Five females and one male. Considering they had supposedly been left outside in the cold, and had been without food for several hours, they were pretty content. Due to lame things known as a exams, I only managed to love them for one night before I delivered them to the rescue’s trustee to find a foster home. How easy is it to find a foster home for six, very small babies who needed around the clock care? Quite hard it turns out. In the end another rescue offered to handrear them for us, with the plan of rehoming 3 when they were old enough and returning 3 to us for rehoming.
The first few months of a puppy’s life are a crucial learning period. The interactions they have with the world around them can shape their behaviour for the rest of their life. If they don’t get enough good socialization with other animals and people they can have severe behavioral issues for the rest of the life. Luckily for most puppies, their siblings and mother provide a good start to life – unfortunately for these guys, they didn’t have their mother, just each other – so naturally keeping them together was extremely important. As they grow, they learn how to interact with other dogs by playing with each other and learning how to tell off and be told off.
Imagine how we reacted when we discovered these puppies had been separated from each other into pairs and sent to three different houses to make it easier to care for them. As hard as I knew it would be to raise three little puppies that had barely opened their eyes by then, I took three back. The “D” puppies – Dalia, Daffodil and Duffy.
They didn’t like the nipples I chose for them, and I had to change it frequently as they changed their mind about what they wanted. Dalia was fat and eager to feed whereas Duffy and Daffodil were slow, taking extra convincing to feed. Duffy was particularly flat, and would sometimes become lifeless, at 3am in the morning I was heating up a heatpad in the microwave, cuddling her and trying to get her to brighten up, terrified I would have a dead puppy in my arms. Feeding all of them took an hour and I did it every three hours.
But they grew, and grew, and grew – it was incredible to watch. One of them would escape the box and wouldn’t settle until I let her sleep for a bit in my bed. Dalia, the big girl.
The girl who “found” the puppies in a box got in touch with us to say that it was a neighbor who dumped the puppies, as another neighbor had seen their bitch give birth and then the puppies disappeared. She told us their birth date was Friday the 16th of September, making them two days old when they came to me.
They started to respond to the world around them, chewing on each other and wrestling, howling for milk, trying to escape their bed.
Before I knew it, I had three bouncy little dogs on my hands that spent most of their day napping and dragging gross objects out of the garden and into the house.
And then it was time to find new homes. First to go was miss Daffodil, who went all the way to Wellington with her new family and became Charlie.
Duffy was next, adopted by a free-spirited couple who planned to take her roadtripping all over New Zealand with them and renamed her Nomad.
Dalia was extra cautious of the world, despite early socialization to everything we could think of, she took her time stepping slowly out in the world, the opposite of her rambunctious siblings.
And then there was none… my beautiful little Dalia found her forever home and became Nahla.
During the time I was fostering Dalia, she had turned 10 weeks old. I was on facebook one day and I saw a post by the girl who had found the tiny puppies. She was celebrating her own puppy’s 10 week old birthday… a puppy who looked almost identical to Dalia. She claimed it came from her family in Tokoroa, and posted a photo of the mother, who was also very similar to our Bear Cubs. When confronted, she became defensive and said they were not the same – her puppy was born on the 16h of September. The day she told us our Bear Cubs were born.
I don’t know what would make someone lie and say they had found a box of abandoned puppies when they were just trying to get rid of them themselves, but I suppose it’s an easy way to get a rescue involved. Who knows how many more puppies were of this litter or what happened to them?
I don’t know where the other three that went to a different rescue are. Although I have asked for updates and photos since they were just weeks old, I haven’t seen one. I have never seen them advertised for adoption. Supposedly they were all adopted. I hope they also have lovely homes, but I regret not hanging on to them and giving them the best start to life that my three had.
As for my three… I get regular updates and they are growing ears and legs all over the place. They all have such different personalities.
This past week I was travelling past Nahla’s home and I stopped in for a visit. So good to see her!
Despite many sleepless nights, a lot of time and money and ruined carpet, I wouldn’t change it… fostering is truly worth it. To this day I have fostered many dogs and cats and most of them I still get updates of. If you’ve ever considered fostering, now is the time – you get the chance to save amazing little lives and pass them on to families who adore them.
At the end of the day, the easiest way to put a rescue out of a business is to desex your dog or cat. If the mother of the puppies had been desexed that would have been at least six less dogs. If these puppies had grown up to breed they could have had six or more puppies each – per litter. That’s 36 puppies if they just have one litter each!
There’s no excuses for puppies left in boxes or given away to any tom, dick or harry on the internet when desexing is so readily available.