Spring is puppy time. Have you seen the puppies in rescue and ever wondered where they all come from? Puppies come from many places—shelters, owner surrenders and sometimes they even show up as strays! Puppies are being sold at flea markets, born in landfills, wandering unsupervised and being caught in traps or wounded by a goats or livestock they are supposed to guard. They can also come as a hidden surprise in unspayed females we take into rescue. We found out late last year that Layla, a recent intake from a Michigan shelter, was pregnant. She delivered 11 puppies around Thanksgiving who became known as the NCIS litter. Zenith (right), a GPRS rescue dog in Texas, is a proud Mom who recently delivered 11 puppies on January 31.
Many puppies come from shelters where people turn entire litters in. Even shelters realize that it's not always the best idea to have pups since they harbor all kinds of diseases that can be fatal to puppies. Whenever they can, health-conscious shelters avoid having puppies dumped there. Shelter volunteers give rescue a heads-up when they've been alerted to puppies being dropped off, so time at the shelter can be avoided.
There have even been cases with shelter volunteers driving around with pregnant Pyr Moms who are about to give birth. In one instance, the transporter didn't make it to the home of a fostering rescue volunteer. With pups being born in the car in route, the vehicle headed to the nearest vet office where the pups were born.
It's not unusual to see pups come off of Craig's List when backyard breeders have given up hope of selling them, sometimes putting rescuers in the embarrassing position of having to bargain for them. Other pups have shown up at yard sales along with old furniture and miscellaneous bric-a-brac. People in the neighborhood have been known to tip rescue off with an anonymous phone call to ensure that pups don't end up in the wrong hands.
Perhaps the most challenging situations occur when pups are located under a building. Nursing Moms will hide the pups to try to keep them safe. Volunteers have crawled under trailers and people's houses and porches to round up entire litters of puppies. We also get puppy alerts on Facebook, as well as emails and surrender forms from people who cannot care for unplanned litters.
Rescue puppies can come from almost anywhere and in the end, where the puppies come from is not as important as where they wind up. We are ever grateful to the puppy fosters who are among rescue's most valuable volunteers.
Fostering puppies is a highly skilled and specialized job in rescue. It includes caring for puppies day and night, bottle feeding when necessary, nursing them through sickness and enduring chewed-up shoes and the other hazards of puppy fostering until the day the puppies can be adopted. They grow quickly from little "potatoes" to curious, active explorers of the world around them. We try to keep the litter together with the Mom until they are 8-10 weeks old. As they grow and become more active, we move them into fosters in groups of two or three so they continue to have the companionship of their littermates and resident adult dogs for socialization. Pups are usually adopted at 12 weeks old. Separation is hard and the Foster Moms are sad to see them go but happy to know another litter has been saved and moved to caring, furever homes. Peppermint (of the Cookie Litter) was found under a house in northern Mississippi in December and adopted to his forever home in Ohio on February 7th.