Archive for July, 2011

Chester Edisto, the Wonder Dog

July 30, 2011

Pulled: Thursday June 2, 2011 from a local rescue

Rescue commitment: Friday October 21, 2011 by Last Chance Animal Rescue

Poor Chester E. He’s the foster that seems to have become permanent. It’s hard to be the letter “E” and to watch Chesters F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, and Y go to their new homes.

Scott says it’s my fault, for not “selling” Chester E. But, I want to be honest, and, well, Chester E. is a dog I still haven’t figured out.

Scott says that Chester E. is the “weird kid” and my friend, Casey, elaborated by saying that he’s the kid who eats his boogers and is consequently left lonely on the playground.

Chester E. is afraid of nearly everything. Scott was feeding him one morning and dropped some pellets of dog food on the floor accidentally. Chester E. ran and hid under the kitchen table.

I walked outside with Chester E. and a big black and blue butterfly flew by. Chester E. ran and hid under the patio table.

So, yes, Chester E. is afraid of his own food. And of butterflies.

BUT, Chester E. is incredibly determined when he sets his mind to things. See photo, above, in which Edisto is determined to fit into a bed for a 10 lb, rather than 40 lb, dog. “You do not fit, Chester E.” I said. — to which Chester E. seems to reply, below:

“I do not care.”

Oh, Edisto. And, as you can see, he’s determined to fit not only himself, but also his favorite stuffed animal (a horse).

And, indeed, when he sets his mind to it, Chester E. seems to have super-canine abilities. If he wants to escape the laundry room (one of the places we try to get him to sleep at night), he will leap the baby gate in a single bound. The first time he did it, I thought it was because I had used the smaller of the two baby gates. But, then, he jumped the taller one in a single bound as well. So, to prevent Edisto from escaping now, we have to do this:

And, despite being afraid of butterflies, Chester E. tried to steal food from his foster brother Chester X. — a pit bull mix. Chester X. growled politely, as if to say, “This is my food, Edisto. Go eat your own.” A second later, Chester X. was crying and bleeding from the ear, b/c Chester E. went all Mike Tyson on his . . . ear.

I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. And kudos to Chester X, who is still E.’s friend regardless.

So what is Chester E.? He’s both nerdy Clark Kent and hero Superman. He’s a Wonder Dog. Or, as Casey likes to say: “Edisto: You’re such a Goober.”

Worms, worms, and more worms.

July 27, 2011

Chesters Pa(X)ville and York

Pulled: Wednesday July 20, 2011 from Dillon County Animal Shelter/Middle Mutts

Poor Chester York. The kids and I took both Pa(X)ville/Max and York to the vet on Friday. Both had hookworms (yuck), and York tested positive for the dreaded HEARTWORMS.

So, he’ll have to spend 3 days at the vet, getting expensive treatment. The rescue organization I work with, Middle Mutts, has set up a chip-in link to raise money for his treatment. Please consider chipping in at:

(And, yes, I changed Finn’s name to York, to continue with my Chester+SC towns/cities/counties system of naming.) We’ll just say that his full name is Chester Finn York, or Chester York Finn. Either suits him well, I think.

The good news is that Chester Y. seems to be in the early stage of heartworm disease, so I’m hoping for a quick and easy recovery. The medicine will cause the worms to die and to fall off the affected organ/s. From what I understand, the only thing we’ll have to do afterward is coddle him for about a month. We don’t want the little guy to overexert himself, thereby speeding up the whole worm eviction thing and risking a clot. But, Chester Y. is such a cutie that he makes coddling easy, whether required or not.

More good news: Once well, Chester Y. will have a home with Lisa Bailey; human sister, Hannah; and canine sister, Molly. Lisa will be renaming him “Pepper,” which suits him too. And what a lucky guy to be spoiled by a houseful of fabulous girls.

And, yes, I did freak out when I was reminded about the nasty, contagious parasites that are hookworms. They’re very common during the summer in the South, and shelter dogs are prime targets. Our family dogs and foster Chester E. should be fine, since they are all on heartworm preventative. — which also prevents hookworm infection.

However, humans can get hooksworms too! If you’re infected, you may see what looks like the worm beneath the surface of your skin. It’s called a “creeping eruption.” /shudder.

To prevent this: (1) pooper scoop your yard; and (2) wear shoes. To all of those who have teased me about rejecting my Southern roots by refusing to let my kids go barefoot: SCORE! for me.

ALTHOUGH: don’t think I haven’t convinced myself, at times, that I have hookworms anyway. I’m perfectly capable of imagining hookworms jumping onto the side of my foot that’s not protected by my flip flop. Chesters Y. and X. should be fine now, after having successfully endured 3-days worth of dewormer, but I still feel my feet itching occasionally all the same.

Chester PaXville: Adopted by Jim Summey; Renamed Max

Chester York: Adopted by Lisa Bailey; Renamed Pepper

Chester PaXville and York

July 21, 2011

Pulled: Wednesday July 20, 2011 from Dillon County Animal Shelter/Middle Mutts

Adoptition commitment for X: August 13, 2011. Adopted by Jim Summey.

Adoption commitment for Y: August 5, 2011. Adopted by Lisa Bailey. Renamed Pepper.

Meet Chesters PaXville

and York.

I’ve figured out how to be able to foster more dogs at one time without Scott divorcing me. Outsourcing. The leg in PaXville’s photo is John Mucklebauer’s, my foster-in-crime. He sweetly offered to foster not one, but two dogs for me. But, PaXville is quite a dog, so we’re starting off with just him.

PaXville is my Chester X. For those of you just tuning in, my system of naming/keeping track of my fosters is to name them Chester + a SC town/city or county, alphabetically. I’m on my 24th foster with PaX, the letter X. But there aren’t any SC towns/cities/counties that start with X. PaXville is perfect, though, because this is a way of honoring Sweet Chester P., who passed away on Sunday. And an X is in there too.

Still, John and I have nicknamed him Max, instead of Pax. Because, well, he just looks like a Max. Chester X.’s paperwork says he’s a beagle/shepherd/lab mix. But, we think he’s a German Shepherd/Bull Terrier mix, which explains why he may not have been adopted. Those are breeds that sometimes frighten people, although you couldn’t find a bigger baby than Chester X. — well, except for maybe Chester Edisto.

Chester X. is a tail-wagging, happy boy. To think that he was scheduled for euthanasia. — twice. He got one reprieve, and I was able to pull him through the organization Middle Mutts before his next death date rolled around.

He’s 2 years old, a stray who hung out at a convenience store. Chester X. looks like he’s been at the receiving end of some brawls, poor guy. He has two scars in the neck/head area and one on his ear. Scott said that someone may have tried to make him fight, seeing the Bull Terrier in him. Seeing the scars and where they are makes me think that he’s eluded death more than those two times at the shelter, which makes him quite a dog indeed.

Chester York, my 25th,¬† is our smallest foster to date. — a mere 8 lbs. I told Arina that he doesn’t weigh much more than Jack did when he was born. And he’s also one of our youngest fosters to date, 9-12 months. Here is the little munchkin, getting a much needed bath:

Poor York:

But, he cleans up so nicely:

Chester Y. thinks that he’s a human, rather than a dog. We bought him a dog bed, and put him behind the baby gate with all of our other dogs. He cried until we finally, wanting sleep, put him in the bed with us. He cuddled right up to us and slept all night. So, now Chester Edisto thinks he has a new bed. And he prefers it to all the other ones that actually fit him.

In Praise of Save-A-Litter; Chesters Iva-Williams

July 20, 2011

Pulled: Tuesday July 5, 2011 from Dillon County Animal Shelter/Middle Mutts

Rescue commitment (the real one): Saturday July 16, 2011

Yesterday, I managed to deliver Chester Iva and her twelve pups to her new foster home in Loganville, GA. That’s right. Me and 12 dogs in my tiny Toyota Corolla. I took the kids’ car seats out and extended the backseat by putting a couple of buckets in the foot with a couple of thin sheets of wood (which Scott, handyman that he is, always has in his shop) on top. Believe it or not, this actually enabled me to fit the kids’ paddling pool, which Iva and the pups have been using as a bed, in my backseat.

They did wonderfully! Iva lounged and they nursed nearly the entire time.

I have to admit, though, that I was a little embarrassed about showing off Iva to her new rescue coordinator and foster mother. Who would have thought that she would go from this:

To this:

I certainly didn’t lose my pregnancy weight that quickly (still haven’t lost it all, in fact). But I also wasn’t nursing fourteen kids at one time, as Iva was in the beginning.

I shouldn’t have worried, though, because Jen, the rescue coordinator, and Carolyn, the foster mom, were so kind. So, now for the “in praise of Save-A-Litter” part:

Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I was in a bit of a panic — well, a full-scale panic, truthfully — because the rescue commitment Iva had when I pulled her from the shelter fell through. That’s why I’ve added the name “Save-A-Fisk” to “Save-A-Litter,” because Jen agreed to take Iva and pups almost immediately after the first rescue denied them.

Save-A-Litter is one of the only two — that I know of — rescues in the nation that focus on pregnant or nursing dogs and their litters. They rescue these dogs from shelters where they would have been killed, care for them during the pregnancy and delivery and afterward. They fully vet them, spaying mother/female pups and neutering male pups. Then they find homes. For all of them.

In short, they’re amazing. I encourage you to do two things:

(1) If you’re thinking of getting a puppy, please don’t go to a breeder. I say this while admitting that both of our dogs, Emma and Mr. Knightley, are from breeders. But that was before we knew about the overpopulation problem, before we saw all of the animals in shelters, and how frightened and lonely they are there. — and all because of our inability and/or unwillingness to take care of the creatures we’ve designed to be companion animals. Go to a shelter. Go to a rescue, like Save-A-Litter.

(2) Please consider contributing to the fund to care for Iva and her pups. Scott’s first thought when Iva’s original rescue commitment fell through was: “We can’t have 16 dogs.” My first thought was: “We can’t AFFORD 16 dogs.” If each dog’s vetting will be $100+ (and that’s a low estimate), then Iva+12 pups=$1300. And that’s not counting food. And, Iva eats A LOT, as I imagine anyone with 12 nurslings would. Save-A-Litter is a non-profit, so we’ve set up a link to help with Iva and pups’ expenses:

Oh, and “friend” them on facebook, so that you can keep track of their fabulous-ness:

As soon as Iva and I walked into Carolyn’s home, Jen — standing in the midst of a laundry basket full of food and towels, holding a clipboard with all of Iva’s information — set to work. Iva is 3 years old. Iva has a rash under her bottom lip (I just thought she had weird skin there). Iva can have dewormer (something I didn’t give her, because I didn’t know if it was safe in nursing).

Impressive, to say the least. I learned so much just from spending 15 minutes with this woman.

And Carolyn. I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter foster mother. She has a house fuller than mine, with four boys, and dogs and cats of her own. Yet, she was willing to add +13. I fretted over her white rugs in the master bath, where we put Iva and pups (Iva is still bleeding a little), but she laughed and listed all the things the boys have already spilled on them. — and I fretted over her white carpet in her bedroom and living room. “We have carpet cleaner,” she said cheerfully.

Again: impressive, to say the least. Her boys were ecstatic about the new housemates, just as Arina and Jack had been. — although when I went back in for my sunglasses, which I had forgotten (of course), the youngest said, with wide eyes, “She just growled and ran at our dog!”

“Yeah,” I said, “She did that to ours too.”

“Of course she did,” Carolyn explained, “She was protecting her pups. Moms will do anything to protect their pups.”

He nodded, mutely. Clearly, in his mind, Moms had just become a little more awesome.

Chester Patrick: And Then There Were Twelve

July 18, 2011

Born: Tuesday, July12, 2011

Died: Sunday, July 17, 2011

We were really pulling for Chester Patrick, the runt of the litter. As soon as he was born, I went straight to the pet store to get dog formula and the tiniest working bottle I’ve ever seen, because I assumed that I would need to supplement food for this little guy, so much smaller than his brothers and sisters.

But he surprised us by being a fierce nurser. The way he would climb over his much larger siblings to get food was something to watch. They can’t even walk yet, for goodness sake! Scott and I said it looked like he was crowd surfing over a mosh pit. See, below, Chester P. getting ready to climb over his chubby sister.

That’s why we were so surprised to find him, dead, when we changed the bedding tonight for Iva and her pups.

I read that the first week is precarious for pups, and I was so diligent in the beginning: checking them so often I was probably annoying; making sure, as best I could, that everyone got as much nursing time as they seemed to need; making sure that there weren’t any pups tangled in the bedding or behind/under Chester Iva.

But, today’s day 6! I was finally beginning to relax. Now, I wish I had gone more “Mad Eye Moody” on them: CONSTANT VIGILANCE. *sigh*

As I told my friend Kerri: We’ve lost the largest (Chester V.) and the smallest (Chester P.). With Chester V., I’m convinced it was fading puppy syndrome. I just don’t know what happened to little Patrick, which makes me feel so responsible somehow. — like I should have noticed something I missed. So sorry, P.

Rest in peace, sweet boy. Here’s one more photo, of Scott holding Chester P. just yesterday.

Top Ten Memorable Mishaps: What I’ve Learned (so far) While Fostering Dogs

July 17, 2011

1) When washing a shelter dog, do not forget to wash his head. I learned this lesson early. When I brought home Chester, my first foster, to say that he “smelled like a dog” would be an understatement. But, then again, I do have a superhuman sense of smell.

One of my best friends, Tracy, and I set about washing him. Scott had given me permission to foster, as long as I would do all the work. “I like my life to be EASY,” he constantly reminds me.

When he got home, though, he said, “He stinks!”

“We know!” Tracy and I wailed. “But we don’t know WHY! We bathed him!”

“Did you bathe his head?” Scott asked.

Oops. No. We did not bathe his head. We couldn’t remember why. — either we didn’t want to get soap in his eyes or we just forgot.

“His head has fur too,” Scott said exasperated, and then gave him a proper bath while T. and I watched. Lesson learned.

2) Do not allow your children to lift dogs half their size. Or put them in situations where they’d think they might need to.

My very petite six-year-old wanted to walk our second foster dog, 22 pound Chester Berkeley. I said, “Sure.” She walks Emma, our miniature dachshund, often with no problem.

I did not predict Berkeley would pull away from her, or that he would take off immediately afterward. Or that Arina would chase him, screaming and crying, not having faith that he would come back to her or to our house. Or that, when she finally cornered him in a neighbor’s doorway, she would try to pick him up and carry him home.

Having heard her scream, I ran outside and watched as they both fell over, Berkeley’s long snout poking her in the eye.

The next morning, it was black and blue and swollen. I was convinced we were going to get a call from the school counselor, demanding to know who had given our first-grader a black eye. I was almost equally afraid of Arina’s explanation: that her mother brings new dogs into the house all the time and that one of them “bit” her, which would take the abusive charge to negligent.

I received no calls, thank goodness, although I wonder what her teacher thought when she read the following in A.’s school journal: “My eye is sowlean. My adopdedid dog bit me under the eye! I’m ok now. My mom put some metusen on it yesterday.”

3) Never promise a prospective adoptive parent that the dog is [fill in the blank here]. One of the selling points I used for Chester Berkeley is: fully potty-trained. And, indeed, he never had a potty accident inside our house. But, as soon as I used that as a selling point, he pooped on the floor in the first two potential homes he visited. Bad boy. And bad foster mother for jinxing it.

4) Dogs are not sheep.

Scott and I went to his parents’ house one weekend with Chester Edisto, with plans to build them a deck while they were away on vacation. Mrs. Fisk has a dog, but she does not let him jump on her furniture. Of course, the first thing that Chester E. did was jump on her couch.

“No, Chester Edisto,” I said pulling him down. “Here’s your bed.”

He jumped up again.

Repeat this at least twenty times.

Enter Scott. “Well,” he said, “Shepherds use crooks to herd their sheep.”

Me: “We don’t have a shepherd’s crook.”

Scott: “We have this,” getting a broom. “I’ll sweep the couch, on the opposite side from Chester E. I’m sure he’ll jump down. And he won’t jump back up b/c who knows when the couch will be swept again.”

I looked at him doubtfully. “It’s herding,” he said.

And Chester E. did, indeed, jump down as soon as Scott touched the couch with the broom. BUT, he jumped so far across the room that he very nearly overturned the Fisks’ new and probably very expensive LCD television.

And Edisto was so traumatized that we had to spend half an hour calming him down. He slept on the couch the entire weekend. Sorry, Mrs. Fisk.

5) Don’t fight in front of your children. Or your dogs.

Scott and I adore each other. We rarely fight, but, when we do, it’s of the Heathcliff/Catherine in Wuthering Heights variety. It’s . . . well . . . stormy.

We know not to have these blow-ups in front of the kids. But the kids were in bed, fast asleep. I don’t even remember what, exactly, we were fighting about. — only that it had something to do with Scott’s Battlefield Two computer game obsession. I always say that we have our fiercest to-dos over the game, because Scott’s adrenaline rush from playing seems to make him particularly volatile.

I probably asked him to stop playing to help me with some mundane chore. He probably told me “no” or that he wants to do what he wants to do. But he said it loudly, whatever it was.

Me: “Stop it. You’re being mean.”

Scott: Not stopping.

Me: “Stop it. You’re being mean.”

Scott: Not stopping.

Me: “Stop it. You’re being mean” as I aim a rotten tomato at his head. [yes, i know that i shouldn’t have done that, and who knew i’d have such perfect aim?]

Scott, with tomato juice dripping from the back of his head: VERBAL EXPLOSION of some sort, while breaking the pepper grinder against the floor.

Chesters Edisto and Florence: Both run upstairs to Jack’s nursery. Edisto jumps in the chair beside Jack’s crib. Florence hides beneath it.

Scott and I, shamefaced, spend the rest of the night (1) cleaning up the stairs, since one dog pooped on the way up them; and (2) explaining to Chesters E. and F. that foster mommy and daddy sometimes fight but that we love each other very much.

And there’s nothing like cleaning up dog poo and comforting fur babies to make you feel like a team again.

6) Do groom your dog. For some dogs, grooming and cleanliness are closely intertwined.

Only having short-haired dogs, I never thought about the importance of grooming until I brought home two very neglected poodle mixes that were recently rescued from the Marion County kill shelter.

Both were so frightened that they pooped when I picked them up. And their tangled mess of hair acted like a net for it. Laurie, who runs Sandy Crest Kennels (where the boys were being temporarily housed), tried to wipe Chester Gilbert before I put him in the car with me, but wiping only seemed to make it worse.

Chester, featured in #1 above, smelled like a dog. Gilbert (and later Hampton) smelled like a sewer. My mother, who was driving, sped home. I mentioned that she was going to get stopped for speeding, to which she replied, “Well, then, I’ll just tell the officer to stick his head in the window, and he’ll see why.”

Something I never thought I’d do: Cut days? weeks? months? worth of dried poop out of a dogs’ fur. I’ve done that now. Twice.

7) Never aim a syringe full of dewormer at the ceiling.

Really, enough said. The vet prescribed Gilbert and Hampton 3-days’ worth of dewormer in a syringe as a precaution. They were both so terrified during their vetting that he didn’t want to traumatize them further with a fecal exam.

The dewormer was of pepto bismol consistency, only white, and each syringe was capped with blue plastic, to keep it from leaking. The plastic cap was stuck. I thought that I would put the tiniest bit of pressure on the end of the syringe to pop it off. The result: Dewormer dripping from the bottom of my kitchen cabinets. Then, me, frantically trying to collect it, so that I could give it to the boys.

8 ) Do not underestimate a pregnant/nursing mother’s ability to get around.

While pregnant, Chester Iva was too big to be believed. Since giving birth, she looks too emaciated to be believed. Chester Iva, in both states, seemed/s like she should not be able to move quickly. But, if she spots Emma or Mr. Knightley or Chester Edisto near her pups, she will level her huge ears and charge towards them, like a bull. They scatter like bowling pins. Needless to say, E&K&E leave Iva’s pups alone, and Scott and I are more careful about assuring her when other dogs are around.

9) You may know the difference between male/female, but don’t assume that you can tell the difference with newborn pups.

I was sure that I would be able to pick up pups on the day they were born and sort them, male or female. I sat down, with a pencil and a sheet of paper, and started inspecting and recording. When I looked at my completed list, I was reminded of those times in grade school when I would throw in a different letter in “ABCD” choice questions for good measure, when it seemed time to see one.

So, I had to educate myself, Hermione Granger style, before I understood the secret to sexing puppies (i.e. boy part is right below the umbilical cord; girl part is between the legs).

Also, puppies are squirmy. But I’ve already written about that mishap:

10) Remember: Sometimes rescue commitments fall through.

After Chester Iva’s pups were born, I got an email from the rescuer in Philadelphia who was planning to take them all a week or two after the birth. She was no longer able to do so. PANIC. I was terrified to tell Scott. This had the potential to be more than a “mishap.” It would be a genuine crisis.

I didn’t tell Scott until I had emailed several rescue organizations, hoping to find another one willing to help. I tried to take a nap that day, but I kept waking up because of strange dreams/nightmares. In one, I secured a rescue, only to discover that Chester Iva had turned into a cat and all of her pups into kittens.

“I’m sorry,” the person who had committed to rescue said. “We’re a dog rescue, not a cat one.”

“But they were dogs this morning,” I wailed, before waking up.

Thankfully, there’s something else to remember; namely, that the world is full of good people. Special thanks to Jen at Save-A-Litter Pregnant Dog Rescue in Logansville, GA. Her organization will be taking Iva and her thirteen. She will find them forever homes and has secured a wonderful foster home for them until that happens.

I’ll be writing a special post for them when the time comes, but until then, look up Save-A-Litter Pregnant Dog Rescue on facebook and give them a big thumbs up, on Iva’s (and Jefferson’s, Kline’s, Lydia’s, Marion’s, New Ellenton’s, Oates’s, Patrick’s, Quinby’s, Ruby’s, Sumter’s, Taylor’s, Ulmer’s, and William’s) behalf.

Chester Jefferson-Williams, A Baker’s Dozen

July 16, 2011

We still have thirteen pups! A baker’s dozen!

And I’m starting to be able to tell them apart more easily. Who would have thought that they’d start developing their own little quirks so soon?

For example: Chester Taylor, one of the black female pups, has a habit of “playing dead.” When she sleeps, her legs go stiff and her tongue lolls out one side of her mouth. She frightened me several times a day yesterday and today, though I *think* I’m finally used to it. I was showing Scott last night. We were both laughing at her stiff little legs, until she rolled her eyes back and stuck out her tongue. Then, in near unison, we said, “Okay, Chester Taylor. You’re freaking me out,” and both reached to pick her up and move her, thereby forcing her to change her position.

Chester Marion, the largest tan/white female, is the squirmer. — so much so that she’s been dropped (short distances, thank goodness) three times. I lost my grip when I was handing her off to Scott, who lost his grip and ended up handing her off to the floor. Chester I. did not look at us disapprovingly, however, because Marion is the one pup that Chester I. also dropped when she was transporting them one day. Poor Marion. You just wouldn’t expect such a young pup, and a chubby one at that, to be able to get around so quickly. Needless to say, all three of us handle her as little as possible now.

And, yes, I was a basket case after Scott and I fumbled with her. I was googling, while shamefaced, “Dropped newborn puppy” and making Scott look for signs of white gums/tongue. — apparently signs of internal bleeding. Fortunately, Chester M. made it easy for Scott to examine her, since she was getting bored with us fussing over her, and yawned repeatedly. At last, I consented to let her nap like she wanted to, though I was tempted to shake her every few minutes, to make sure she didn’t have a concussion. Scott kept reminding me that (1) she didn’t fall on her head, and that (2) we both had our hands on her (trying to catch her) nearly her entire way down. Whatever. I’m pretty sure I saw him check her too, at least a couple of times when he thought I wasn’t looking.

And Chester Ellen is the easiest to tell apart, because she’s the one black&white pup of the group. I’ve already featured her in a photo, but I have to include another. Notice the cutest pink and black nose ever.

And guess who is loving all of the puppies in the house? Baby Jack! He’s fascinated by them. I let him hold one (under close supervision and while he was sitting down, of course). He was so protective of her. Mr. Knightley, our dachshund, tried to get close for a sniff, and Jack said, “No, no, no, Ni-ly!” He screamed when we took the pup away. Note: We chose Chester Taylor for him to hold. — the one that rests in the super stiff rather than squirmy position.

And, Arina loves them too, of course. But, you can tell in the following photo that she’s well aware of Mommy’s and Daddy’s mishap with Chester M. She’s holding her pup so closely that you can’t even tell she’s holding one. And she still looks a little freaked.

Chester Vaucluse

July 14, 2011

Born: Tuesday, July12, 2011

Died: Thursday, July 14, 2011

Before Chester Iva delivered, Scott said, “You know we’ll lose at least one puppy, right?” I said that I did, but I thought to myself, “We don’t *know* that.” I knew it was likely. I remember our family dog having pups when I was a child. The runt of the litter died the first night, I think. And it never nursed. We tried to feed it with a syringe, and I tried to keep it extra warm in my baby carriage, complete with blankets and a heating pad.

But Chester Iva’s pups were all thriving on Wednesday. Even the runt, little Chester Patrick, eats with gusto. By Wednesday evening, though, the chubbiest girl of the litter, Chester Vaucluse (there aren’t many “V” S. Carolina names from which to choose, by the way) had started crying. Very loudly. And incessantly.

Chester I. and I did everything we could think of to soothe her. I shuffled puppies around, so that Vaucluse would have a nice nursing spot. She wasn’t interested. Then, I thought, chubby girl that she was, that she had overeaten and had a tummy ache. So, I stacked her in the middle of a pile of pups, hoping the warmth would help. Finally, Scott suggested that she was just having a 6:00 meltdown, like Jack does nearly every night. At one point, both baby boy and dog were wailing together.

Scott and I would walk by Chester I., who looked at times stricken, and at other times exasperated. She’d roll Chester V. over and examine her, try to get her to nurse, cuddle with her. Nothing helped. “We sympathize, Iva,” we’d say, pointing at Jack. “See. We have one too.”

Imagine both of our shock to be awakened by Iva at 2:00 in the morning, to find a cold and lifeless Chester V. Scott wouldn’t quite believe it. He thought she had gotten separated from the warmth of the pack, that he could rub heat and life back into her,Roger Radcliffe style in 101 Dalmations. If it worked, he said, we’d rename Chester V. “Lucky.”

Alas, it didn’t.

While Chester Iva took a bathroom break, I wrapped Chester V. in a towel and removed her from the litter for good. I tried to decide which would be worse: letting Chester I. sniff her before I removed her, so she’d know why I did it. Or, spiriting her away.

The latter concerned me, because I remember my mother telling me about a similar incident with her chihuahua, Penny. Penny had three pups, one stillborn. She knew that something was “wrong” with the third pup. She had separated it from the other two healthy pups. But when my mother removed it, Penny was distraught. She ran to my grandmother, complaining loudly, as if telling her that my mother had stolen her pup!

I thought, though, that with thirteen other pups, Chester I. may not notice. So, I took the “spiriting away” option. And either she didn’t notice, or she did but knew that it was a necessary action.

What could have happened? Scott and I wondered if Chester I. had smothered Vaucluse accidentally. But she has been so careful with the pups, and we’ve been super-vigilant, moving pups from behind her to the front of her. We wondered if she got separated from the pack, getting too cold. But we’ve been careful to monitor the temperature since the puppies were born. I covered the vent in their small room and have been setting the air conditioner on 80-85 at night, much to Scott’s chagrin.

Then, I read about “fading puppy syndrome.” Dr. John Kohnke writes, “Many of these puppies [that die from fading puppy syndrome] are vigorous and healthy at birth, but within 2-10 days lose their interest in nursing. They often ‘cry’ in a monotonous way as though they are in pain and discomfort. They lose body weight, crawl into corners away from the rest of the litter and die, despite careful nursing.”

That sounds like what we experienced with Chester V. At least, we’re going to pretend it was “fading puppy syndrome.” Somehow, the idea of her fading away is more palatable than the idea of her being cold or smothered.

Scott buried her this morning, in the flower garden. Rest in peace, sweet Chester V.

So, now we have 13 puppies, and they all seem to be thriving [knocking on wood and crossing fingers now]. We keep a careful watch over Chester P., who is nearly a full half size smaller than the other pups. See Chester P. below, with his sister Chester Ruby.

We decided to call him Patrick, after the Newark pit bull, Patrick, that survived shocking abuse. Chester P. hasn’t had as much to overcome, thankfully. — although managing to get a belly full with a dozen much larger siblings is impressive, just the same.

And, to end on a thoroughly positive note, I offer the following photos of puppies, cuddling on a warm bed of puppies.


Chester Jefferson-Williams

July 13, 2011

Pulled, in utero: Tuesday July 5, 2011 from Dillon County Animal Shelter/Middle Mutts

Rescue commitment: Saturday July 16, 2011 by Save-A-Litter Pregnant Dog Rescue

Meet Chesters Jefferson-Williams

That’s right. Chester Iva has birthed FOURTEEN puppies: 7 boys, 7 girls, 9 tan pups, 4 black pups, and one very special black&white pup.

So, in keeping with my system of naming (Chester + SC towns/cities/counties), the boys are:

Chesters Jefferson, Kline, Oates, Patrick, Sumter, Ulmer and (William)s.

The girls are:

Chesters Lydia, Marion, New (Ellen)ton, Quinby, Ruby,(Taylor)s, and Vaucluse.

Fortunately, Chester Iva decided to stop at fourteen, since there aren’t any SC towns/cities/counties that begin with X, Y, or Z. Scott says that this means we can no longer foster.

And it’s true that I’ve met my original goal of 22 fosters, rescued in honor of the Chesterfield 22, the dogs shot at the Chesterfield County Animal Shelter. In fact, Chester William makes 23 total fosters.

Now, I’d like to get to 28 at least, because that’s how many dogs a family of four would have to foster in order for the City of Columbia Animal Shelter to be a no kill shelter.

And, I *think* I can talk Scott into it. After all, how can you resist such puppy cuteness. See Chester Lydia, below:

And Chester Ellen:

And sweet brothers, Chesters Jefferson and Kline, who are always snuggled up together, in one position . . .

. . . or another:

When a friend of mine inquired about the mother, Chester Iva, I admitted that she was a champ! — that I didn’t even have to re-watch The Adventures of Milo and Otis, like I had planned. Iva gave birth with ease and has been a busy and attentive mother ever since. I joked that I may let her adopt Arina and Jack, since she’s so much more of a capable parent than I am.

If a dog could roll its eyes at a human, I think Iva would have done so with me and Scott.

1) The first evidence of our clueless-ness: We had no idea *where* Iva should give birth. Scott thought she needed to do so inside, where it’s air conditioned. (And he pretends that he’s the one who doesn’t care about rescuing dogs).

I thought she’d prefer to find a nice place outside, because I read that dogs seek isolation and quiet when about to give birth. One thing our house is NOT is quiet. We have miniature dachshunds that bark at everything they see outside the window, and a toddler and six-year-old who run and scream and cry and throw things. — well, moreso Jack than Arina.

The compromise: We opened up the door to the crawl space under the house. That way, Iva could benefit from the air conditioner, which leaks cool air below, and be in a quiet, dark place. Scott made a makeshift fence out of some spare boards, so that she wouldn’t stray beyond our reach, in case she needed help.

The result? Iva jumped Scott’s makeshift fence (quite a feat, considering her size; see photo below), tunneled far underneath the house (way out of our reach), and tore down some itchy installation, from which she made a nice nest. *SIGH*

Fortunately, we do not have a photo of me and Scott, army-crawling underneath the house, to bring out the newly born pups. Even more fortunately, we do not have a photo of me doing so, before Scott arrived to help. I would crawl out with one pup, and while I was fetching another, Iva would pick up the previous one in her mouth and carry it back. Needless to say, we didn’t get far. But, I can’t say I blame her for not trusting our judgement.

Now she’s in the house, in our tiled half bath, in a plastic swimming pool, behind a baby gate. I alternate old blankets/towels for Iva and the pups to lounge on. This has worked well so far, because she seems to feel safe behind the gate, and we can help her keep an eye on the pups. There are so many that she sometimes loses track, and we’ll have to move one from underneath a blanket or behind her back, so that it can nurse. — although my mother nearly had a fainting fit at the thought of eighteen dogs in one house.

2) The second evidence of my clueless-ness: I honestly thought I was going to be this dog’s midwife and have an active role in delivering the pups. Rather, I watched as she tore off each amniotic membrane, bit off each umbilical cord, licked each pup clean, and then tidied up the mess by, yes, eating it. /shudder

So, my midwife role was regulated to holding up water for her to drink, bringing her the occasional dog biscuit, and saying “Good girl” while awkwardly petting her.

But, I suppose when you’ve sat, hugely pregnant, for weeks in a small-town kill shelter, you can handle just about anything. — even birthing fourteen puppies in a house full of pampered pooches, incompetent adults, a toddling terror and an incessantly chattering six-year-old. Still, kudos to you, Chester Iva. And welcome to the world, Chesters Jefferson, Kline, Lydia, Marion, Ellen, Oates, Patrick, Quinby, Ruby, Sumter, Taylor, Ulmer, Vaucluse and William.

Chester Edisto Models the Male Wrap

July 9, 2011

Pulled: Thursday June 2, 2011 from a local rescue

Rescue commitment: Friday October 21, 2011 by Last Chance Animal Rescue

Introducing the greatest invention ever: the washable male wrap by Simple Solution, modeled by Chester Edisto.

As mentioned in a previous post, Chester E. feels the need to mark his territory whenever a foster dog goes to his new home or Emma and Mr. K visit the grandparents. We think that he thinks we decide to get rid of dogs at random, and that marking our house as his will make us more likely to keep him. So wrong, Chester E.

I’ve loved my fostering experience, but one thing that I’m incredibly paranoid about is the dreaded dog smell. My sense of smell is my superpower. I can smell everything from a drop of pee in Jack’s diaper to the faint odor of food that Arina tries to sneak now and then.

I do not want my house to smell like dog. Or dog pee. So, lots of doggie wipe downs, sweeping and mopping, and now: Chester E.’s male wrap. To call it a doggie diaper would be too insulting. We pretend it’s a doggie accessory. And it looks and works like a belt; it straps around his belly, covering his — um, masculinity, as it says on the instructions — and Velcro-ing at the back.

We haven’t had a single marking incident since. — b/c for Chester E. to do so, he’d have to mark himself. And, that’s just gross. Even for a dog.

See Edisto, below, sleeping in a sun beam, on a soft blanket, with a toy beside him. Life is sweet.

And even sweeter with a friend: