Raising a pet: Frustration, joy and sadness

Athos

The little “Valentines Litter” has left and my house and now it seems way too quiet. I have an extra half-hour in the morning and at bedtime; no more cleaning up puppy pads, mopping floors, feeding eight excited little mouths, or any of the other responsibilities that come with raising puppies. When you’re a foster parent, letting go can be tough. But when you see the joy of the families who are bringing home their new little bundles of fur, it makes it all worthwhile.

The timing of hosting this litter at my house was perfect, because in the midst of all the hubbub of raising them, we had to let go of one our own. For those of you who read this column regularly, I’m sure I don’t have tell you how traumatic it can be to lose a pet. It was devastating, and quite frankly I was thankful to have the joy and distraction of those beautiful puppies to help ease the pain.

Late on Christmas Eve, we returned home from a family gathering and our 170-pound, 10-year -old Leonberger, in his excitement to greet us, slipped and fell on the tile. Leonbergers are a giant breed of dog with a typical life span of about 8 years. King was well past his prime and had been struggling with a weak back end for a couple of years. When he slipped and went down, his back legs splayed out at an unnatural angle and we knew right away that he was in trouble. A midnight drive to an emergency veterinary hospital in Delaware ended in our worst fears; he had nerve damage to his back left leg, and recovery for a dog his size and age was pretty much impossible. The vet recommended euthanasia, and at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day we had to put down our big guy.

After the pups left and the full brunt of the loss of King was settling in, I was asked if I had the choice to have my animals live for 30 years rather than their normal lifespan, would I choose that?

Would you? Would you prefer to have just one or two pets in the course of your life and perhaps avoid the pain of losing them every 10 or 12 or 14 years? I found that question virtually impossible to answer. As a true animal lover, I have had many wonderful pets in my life. Thinking back about them, it occurred to me that if cats and dogs lived viable lives of 30 years, I would have only experienced maybe two or three of my previous pets. I feel like I have had special relationships with all my pets. They all had different personalities, they all had special meaning in the different phases of my life, and I have learned many different things from experiencing the unique joys and challenges that each one gave me. So which ones would I have given up if I could only have had a few?
 AthosAudreyBookieBorysBuddyEtelJoanieLouisRingoSnickersSpriteToddWyatt
This is the first time I’ve really been able to talk about losing King. Weeks after his loss, I still find that I brace myself for the gargantuan and enthusiastic greeting that he gave me whenever I came home. Would I have passed up the chance to love and be loved by this big guy rather than still have a dog that I had gotten when I was in my 20s?
I don’t know the answer to this question and I’m glad I don’t have to make a choice. I share this with you mainly to give you pause should you ever you find yourself hesitating to get another pet after the loss of one that you’ve dearly loved. Don’t deprive yourself of finding a new four-legged companion who will typically bring you a little frustration in the beginning, a whole lot of joy for many years in between and, yes, ultimately sadness in the end. That’s life; share it with a shelter animal – that’s a life well lived.

Source: Raising a pet: Frustration, joy and sadness

It’s time to get your dog and cat licenses

We’re all business this week because I need to remind you that it’s time to get or renew your pet’s licenses. Check with the dog registrar’s office at your municipal building for the cutoff date; some municipalities require that you register by March 1 and others by April 1. Some towns require both cats and dogs to be registered. Fees for licenses vary from town to town and are higher for unaltered pets. You should be able to find all the information on your municipal website.

Late fees also vary from as little as $3 to as much as $50, so make sure you are familiar with your city or township regulations. You can receive a summons for an unlicensed pet and the fines start at $100, so best to keep things up-to-date.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind that will help streamline things when you go to register. Most, if not all, townships do not take cash, so you will need a check or money order to pay. Also, your pet’s rabies vaccine cannot expire before Nov. 1 of 2018, or you will not be permitted to get the license without updating the vaccine.

 On a good note, there are free rabies clinics available throughout Cumberland County. There’s one in Vineland this coming Saturday, Feb. 17, and then again on March 17. The last clinic of the season is March 24 in Hopewell Township. You can go to the website for the Cumberland County Health Department for other clinics around the county.

If you are planning on taking advantage of the free clinics, make sure you take precautionary steps to keep you, your pet, the people and animals around you, safe. Pets at events like these are anxious and may exhibit aggressive or unusual behaviors while waiting in line. Dogs should be on a short leash at all times – and by short, I mean within 2 feet of you. If you have a small dog, you may want to keep him in your arms or in a carrier. Cats should ALWAYS be in a carrier – absolutely no exceptions! Too many times I have seen cats escape from the arms of their owners because they are panicked by the presence of all the other animals and people in line at the clinics. Be alert at all times. If at all possible, leave the kids at home; if they must accompany you, never allow your child to handle your dog’s leash.

So, that business over with, let me remind you that Valentine’s Day is Wednesday and we have lots of sweethearts here at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter that are waiting to show you some love! We have kittens, which we don’t normally have this time of year, along with some great adult cats who would be great to snuggle up with on these cold, damp February days. The dog kennels are full – again, a little unusual for this time of year – of love bugs who really need to get out of those kennels and into a nice, cozy living room. Even if you can’t adopt right now, come in and visit our “Kissing Booth” for some special smooches from our pooches!

Source: It’s time to get your dog and cat licenses

Doggy DNA helps solve a mystery

The DNA results are finally in for the “Valentine Litter” of puppies that have been featured in this column for the past several weeks. As we expected, they come from a real hodgepodge of wonderful canine breeds. What we didn’t expect was mom’s lineage; we felt very sure that she was a wire-hair Jack Russell mix, but not so!

We ran a Wisdom Panel 3.0 on one of the puppies, which shows not only what his breed line is, but also shows the family tree of both mom and dad. The test is done by taking a swab sample from the inside of the dog’s cheek and sending it into the lab. The sample is then registered online and, in two or three weeks, the results are delivered by email. I’ve done it for a few dogs, and although there was a glitch for some reason with the initial registration this time, I called and was very impressed with the courteous and professional receptionist that resolved the problem immediately.

  • 25% Schnauzer
  • 25% Yorkie
  • 12.5% Lhasa Apso
  • 12.5% Pug
  • 12.5% Beagle
  • 12.5% Common Terrier mix breed

Valentines Litter

Valentine 3
Valentine 4
Valentine 2
Valentine 5
Valentine 7
Valentine 8
Valentine 1
Valentine 6

It turns out that Molly, the mother of the brood, is half Schnauzer and half puggle. Pu

ggle is a more recent designer breed that came from mixing beagles and pugs. Puggles were first bred in the 1980s and became commercially popular by 2000. Molly’s wiry hair obviously comes from her Schnauzer background. Her coloring, white with grizzled gray and tan patches, must come from the beagle.  Although her snout is not short like that of a pug, some of that trait has been passed down to a few of the puppies. The family tree showed that the father of the pups was half Yorkshire Terrier mixed with a Lhasa Apso/mixed terrier. The puppies definitely reflect the father’s Lhasa influence in their long hair and markings.

It’s been amazing to watch this litter as they grow and transform pretty much on a daily basis. Now that we know what’s behind their development, it’s really interesting to see how their ancestry plays into their different characteristics. Cupid and Romeo have fur that had to have been passed down from their Lhasa-mixed father. Ruby and Valentino are more reflective of Molly’s traits with their coloring and structure. Scarlett, Juliet, Eros and Casanova all look as though they haven’t made up their minds yet about what color they want to be or what length and texture their coats will be; they continue to lighten up with more and more tan and white coming out and their fur is a mix of textures with both the long smooth hairs and wispy, wiry hairs sticking out all over.

It’s been a fun and fascinating journey with these little guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed following their progress. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter was flooded with applications for them as well as for Molly and, if all goes smoothly, they will be making nine families very, very happy in just a few days!

If you have a mixed breed dog and are curious about his or her lineage, I highly recommend the DNA testing. It’s reasonably priced and it’s easy to do. The results can not only explain your dog’s physical traits, but also give you insight to some behaviors and be valuable for veterinary diagnosis purposes.

Kissing booth

Stop by the shelter from Feb. 12 to 17 to pick out your favorite SJRAS adoptable critter and have your photo taken with them at the kissing booth.

After your photo is taken, you’ll receive a free ticket for a drawing to win a prize basket. For an extra entry, just share your photo on social media and tag us (CumberlandCountySPCA on Facebook; @ccspca with #IKissedADog or #IKissedACat on Twitter; or @cumberlandcountyspca on Instagram) and we’ll give you an extra chance to win.

Source: Doggy DNA helps solve a mystery

You’ll fall in love with the ‘Valentine litter’

The “kids” are growing up! In a little more than two weeks, our Valentine litter of eight beautiful pups will be ready to start their new lives. The thought of sending them out into the world is bittersweet; I’m happy to have them go to homes where they can be the center of attention, but a little sad to let them go. It’s been quite a while since I’ve fostered an entire litter from birth, and I got exceptionally lucky with this crew – they have been a real joy!

Initially, I was concerned about Molly (the mother) delivering because she’s such a small dog and her belly was so HUGE! I felt sure that she either had pups that would be too large for her to deliver naturally, or that she had too many in there and they might not all survive. She is also very young; this is undoubtedly her first litter, which might have made it very difficult for her to handle a large litter or, heaven forbid, if she were to need a C-section.

In two short weeks, they should be ready to be spayed and neutered, which, barring any hitches, would be done on Valentine’s Day. I’ll then bring them home for a couple of days to recover, and they’ll be ready to go to their homes that weekend. It’s time to start taking applications for them, so it’s time to tell you more about them on an individual level.

You can see from their pictures that they have different coats, and their fur may change as they mature. Even at this tender age, their personalities are starting to develop. This is what they’re telling about themselves so far:

  • Casanova: He’s laid-back kind of guy. He’s very sweet, usually has the tip of his tongue hanging out, and likes chewing on his brothers’ legs and ears. His coat is on the longer side, possibly getting a little wiry as he matures. He’s not as demanding as some of his siblings, and should do well in any home.
  • Cupid: When they passed out the good looks, he was first in line. His coat is gorgeous – long, wavy and shiny black with some brown and a little white mixed in. He’s on the ornery side, having some of the terrier attitude that makes him confident and interested in everything around him.
  • Eros: He’s the brains of the family. He wants to be with his people and he finds ways to get to them, even when he’s contained in his pen. If he can’t find a way to sneak out, he hangs his head and little front feet over the barrier and works you over with his pitiful look until you give in and pick him up.
  • Juliet: She is petite, lovely and full of herself. She’s sporting a medium-length fur coat of lustrous black with white accents. She’s confident and likes being part of things, so she’d fit right in with an active family or someone who wants a dog to do things with.
  • Romeo: He’s the biggest guy but he’s a quiet, mushy and loves to snuggle. His coat is long, wavy and mostly tan with black tips – a real looker! He seeks attention and likes to play. He’ll be a great companion to whoever is lucky enough to have him.
  • Ruby: She does not miss a trick! She’s ready to get out and about and be a part of the real world. As you can see from her picture, she’s super cute and very hard to resist. Her fur, although longer now, looks like it may end up like her mama’s – medium length and a little wiry. She is a doll and will have you wrapped around her little paw in a heartbeat.
  • Scarlett: She is a real character! She’s a little bigger than Juliet but has the same self-assured personality and look. She looks you directly in the eye and is always looking for a little fun. She would make a great family dog.
  • Valentino: This little runt boy reminds me of Eeyore with his big, brown, pitiful eyes. He’s half the size of his brothers, but doesn’t let that hold him back. He is the only one with a short coat, which accents the little wiry tufts on his snout. He’s quiet and loving, which would make him perfect for a more mature home.

We are accepting applications both online or at the shelter. Check out our “Puppy Bowl” video at thedailyjournal.com or southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org for a close-up look at the Valentine crew getting fired up for the Super Bowl. You also can check out our “Underdogs”: a few of our special pets who have “wonder dog” potential but have been overlooked by potential adopters. In celebration of Super Bowl LII, a select group of pets are available for a reduced adoption fee of $52.

Source: You’ll fall in love with the ‘Valentine litter’

New NJ animal cruelty law is game-changer

After several months of frustration and anticipation, we are very pleased that our former governor signed into law a bill that moves the enforcement of animal cruelty laws away from the New Jersey SPCA and into the county prosecutor’s offices. This is a much-needed advancement in the protection of domestic animals that, quite frankly, was decades overdue.

Our society in Cumberland County received its charter as a county branch of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1915. Perhaps, more than 100 years ago, the system of having a charitable organization of volunteers was adequate to respond to reports of animal cruelty and neglect – but certainly not in today’s world.

The new law requires the county prosecutor to establish “within the office of the prosecutor, a county prosecutor animal cruelty task force which would be responsible for animal welfare within the jurisdiction of the county, and enforce and abide by the animal cruelty laws of the state.” It also requires all municipalities to have a humane law enforcement officer properly commissioned to enforce the cruelty laws.

The transition of enforcement powers from the SPCAs to the prosecutors must be achieved within the next six months, but it will certainly take much longer to educate the new enforcers and to establish an effective and committed task force. We hope to work with our own county prosecutor’s office to make the transition as smooth as possible.

As far as the big picture for our organization is concerned, the only major difference is that we will not be responding to reports of cruelty once the transition has been made. We will, however, continue to act as advocates for the pets in our community as well as for our residents that need help with animal-related issues. Our shelter and clinic services will continue without interruption.

2017 was a very difficult and trying year for us, both as the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter and as the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And 2018 promises to be challenging as well. But with the changes in law enforcement and new contracts being negotiated with the municipalities whose stray animals we house, we are hopeful that it will be a year of growth and progress. Through all of the trials and tribulations of the past year, your voice has been invaluable in helping us secure our future. We want to thank all of you who have supported us by communicating with our local and state government officials on our behalf.

Source: New NJ animal cruelty law is game-changer

New NJ animal cruelty law is game-changer

After several months of frustration and anticipation, we are very pleased that our former governor signed into law a bill that moves the enforcement of animal cruelty laws away from the New Jersey SPCA and into the county prosecutor’s offices. This is a much-needed advancement in the protection of domestic animals that, quite frankly, was decades overdue.Our society in Cumberland County received its charter as a county branch of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1915. Perhaps, more than 100 years ago, the system of having a charitable organization of volunteers was adequate to respond to reports of animal cruelty and neglect – but certainly not in today’s world.

When I first became involved with the Cumberland County SPCA back in the 1980s, almost every report of cruelty or neglect that we received involved a skinny dog, a dog without water or a dog without shelter. Rarely, if ever, did our agents need to have a police escort into any of our neighborhoods; it was a very different time. The nature of abuses that the animals suffer has become more heinous. By the mid-1990s, we saw dogs being hanged in a city park and drowned in weighted crates in the river, and an incredible rise of the popularity of dogfighting and cockfighting throughout the county. The perpetrators have become violent and there often are other concerns, such as weapons and drugs, on the properties to which we respond. The cases are much more complicated to prosecute, and the streets much more dangerous for our investigators.More: Fanucci keys on business in State of the City addressMore: Juvenile uninjured after crashing school busThe new law requires the county prosecutor to establish “within the office of the prosecutor, a county prosecutor animal cruelty task force which would be responsible for animal welfare within the jurisdiction of the county, and enforce and abide by the animal cruelty laws of the state.” It also requires all municipalities to have a humane law enforcement officer properly commissioned to enforce the cruelty laws.

The transition of enforcement powers from the SPCAs to the prosecutors must be achieved within the next six months, but it will certainly take much longer to educate the new enforcers and to establish an effective and committed task force. We hope to work with our own county prosecutor’s office to make the transition as smooth as possible.

As far as the big picture for our organization is concerned, the only major difference is that we will not be responding to reports of cruelty once the transition has been made. We will, however, continue to act as advocates for the pets in our community as well as for our residents that need help with animal-related issues. Our shelter and clinic services will continue without interruption.2017 was a very difficult and trying year for us, both as the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter and as the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And 2018 promises to be challenging as well. But with the changes in law enforcement and new contracts being negotiated with the municipalities whose stray animals we house, we are hopeful that it will be a year of growth and progress. Through all of the trials and tribulations of the past year, your voice has been invaluable in helping us secure our future. We want to thank all of you who have supported us by communicating with our local and state government officials on our behalf.

Source: New NJ animal cruelty law is game-changer

Special help available for senior dogs, owners

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland is proud to have been selected as a Grey Muzzle Organization grant recipient this year.

The Grey Muzzle Organization is a wonderful organization that funds programs run by shelters and rescues that benefit senior dogs. We have had this honor in the past, and our Grey Muzzle grants have helped to form and sustain our shelter’s Senior Society. This year’s grant is extra special because it allows us to expand our Senior Society to include community outreach and owner surrender prevention.

In addition to providing medical care for senior dogs who have been released to the shelter, were found as strays or are cruelty cases, we are now also able to offer assistance to members of our community who own senior dogs they want to keep but just need some help to be able to do so. We recognize that the best place for senior dogs is with the family who loves them, and now we have the ability to provide assistance to some families to keep them there!

We also have had situations where it’s not possible to support the dog staying home. We always strive to respect owners and their particular situation. The welfare of the animal is most important, but as a community-based program, working with and respecting owners is a part of our program as well. When these situations arise, we try to determine if it’s in the dog’s best welfare to be immediately brought to the shelter for care or if we have time to try to find a home or rescue for the dog so he can skip the often stressful shelter stay.

We are currently working with both situations:

  • Scooter’s family reached out for help and he was released to the shelter this weekend because he had developed a medical condition that needed medical care. He’s now receiving medication and soon will be looking for a new home.
  • We are also helping Mikey, a 15-year-old Corgi mix whose family is unable to care for him. They are keeping him at home until we find a family that can better meet his needs.

We also provide hospice care for senior dogs who have medical conditions that we cannot fix. We can give them lots of love and comfort and dignity as they finish out their time with us. We are currently providing a beautiful Labrador named Buddy with hospice care; he’s very loved in a foster home and receiving medication and special food to keep him feeling his best. We are seeking sponsors for Buddy’s prescription food, as we hope to be able to need it for months to come! This is a wonderful way to help us help our seniors.

And, of course, we continue to provide care for the many senior dogs that arrive as strays. We try to get our seniors into foster homes, where they are more comfortable. That’s the case with Amigo, who has been waiting for over 100 days to find a home! He’s a staff and volunteer favorite, and awesome just pours out of him like rays of sunshine! He’s perfect with other dogs and cats, and housebroken. He’s an outdoor enthusiast – loving trees and water and leaves and sunshine and dirt. If you need a devoted companion in your life, he’s the perfect AMIGO for you.

We also are caring for Jack, another favorite of staff and volunteers, who hasn’t found a forever or a foster home yet. Jack is a boxer/bulldog mix who is 8 years old and just about as lovely as they come.  He’s very well-trained, housebroken, neutered and just waiting to offer you his big paw as a sign of goodwill. He loves when volunteers snuggle in his kennel with him. He’s been a bit stiff, living in a kennel during the winter, but fortunately our Grey Muzzle Organization grant has allowed us to keep him comfortable with medication. Jack is a big boy; the only thing bigger than his paws are his heart. Jack would love to find a warm home to curl up in sooner rather than later. Come visit him at the shelter.

For more information about adoptable Senior Society dogs, sponsorship opportunities, fostering or hospice opportunities, or to seek help with a senior dog, please contact me at Rescuepartners@cumberlandcountyspca.org.

Source: Special help available for senior dogs, owners

SPCA urges pet shelters for frigid weather, tethering law violators reported

VINELAND – Frigid temperatures and a forecast for snow have the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals phones buzzing with people reporting animals left outside.“We are getting slammed with calls,” SPCA executive director Bev Greco told The Daily Journal on Wednesday.People are reporting violators of the new “tethering law.” Greco hopes education will encourage compliance with the new legislation that cracks down on keeping dogs chained outside and leaving them unattended for prolonged periods of time.
Dogs may no longer be tied up outside between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., Greco said. If a dog is chained more than a half-hour during the day, it must be attached to a lightweight chain or rope that’s at least 15-feet long, giving it access to clean water and adequate shelter.During harsh weather conditions, like those the area is now experiencing, dogs may not be tied up outside for more than 30 minutes without supervision, the law states.The SPCA is trying to respond to each reported violation but are now facing manpower and shelter space issues, Greco said. All 58 dog runs are occupied.On Wednesday, the shelter took in four dogs from Millville and four dogs from Stow Creek.

To reduce the number of violations, Greco urges pet owners to take some basic steps to give their animals adequate shelter.

When possible, bring the animal into the house, she said. If the pet isn’t permitted in the living area, Greco suggested sheltering the animal in the basement or garage.If that is not an option, she said a shed may be used but only if the dog house or cat box is moved inside too. These smaller contained shelters help an animal retain its body heat, she said.A dog house should be just large enough for a dog to stand in and be able turn around, Greco said. It should also have a flap to keep out the rough weather.The shelters should have straw for warmth, she said, discouraging the use of blankets because they hold moisture.Thanking the public for being vigilant, Greco said, the two SPCA cruelty investigators are responding to as many calls as possible.

Municipal animal control officers and Vineland Police are also pitching in, she said.Greco urged the public not to wait until extreme conditions to call if they see an animal welfare issue. It can help if animal investigators can address these condition issues over time.Those who fail to comply with the new law may be issued a summons, Greco said.

Source: SPCA urges pet shelters for frigid weather, tethering law violators reported

Big moment arrives: 8 puppies before dawn

Holy moly! If you read the column last week, you know that I was pacing the floors waiting for my foster dog to deliver her pups. It turned out to be a VERY LONG wait. Throughout the day she was restless, up and down, in and out of the closet that she chose for her “birthing suite.” We knew by 6:30 in the morning that she was ready and we were vigilant all day, but by 11 o’clock that night, I was exhausted and nothing was happening.I finally decided to try to get some rest. She had other ideas.At midnight, I heard a decisive yelp from the closet and, sure enough, the first pup was working his way out. I had never heard a mother dog cry out during delivery, but I have read that they experience contractions much like human mothers and therefore must have similar pain. She cried out two more times with the second and third pups, but after that she seemed to settle in and take the deliveries with stride. I think she is a first (and last!) time mother, so her agitation and lack of experience probably added to her discomfort.

A little after 3 a.m., she finally delivered the last of her eight – yes, EIGHT – puppies. That’s a very large litter for such a little dog. As I stated last week, I was sure that she was either carrying a few big pups or a lot of little ones, but I didn’t expect EIGHT! Typically, small dogs have small litters; five would be considered large for them. The last puppy took the longest between births, and by that time she seemed to be exhausted and lay down, almost nodding off, until a few seconds before the last little girl popped out.After she had finished removing the sack from the pup and getting her settled, I wanted to get mama cleaned up and get her outside. I felt terrible, because it was the night that it snowed and I hated like heck having to send her out in it, even for a minute, with what she had been through. I needn’t have worried. After letting her out, I peeked through the window to make sure she was getting off the deck and doing her business. Imagine my surprise when I spotted her doing the “snow plow,” running her chin and belly through the new snow and rolling in it excitedly on her back. She came back in and was zipping around, acting crazy, like dogs do when they have just had a bath. She drank some water, ate a huge predawn breakfast and finally retired with her new babies for a few hours.In spite of her being new to motherhood, she has been fantastic with the puppies. She probably will weigh in at 13 or 14 pounds after her milk is dried up, but right now she’s eating more in the course of a day than my 85-pound sheep dog does. She gets a cup of kibble and a half-cup of canned food three times a day, snacks on dry food in between, and gets a handful of treats at bedtime. Eating for nine is obviously a big job!

The puppies will be ready for adoption around Valentine’s Day, and I will keep you updated on their progress as they mature. Right now, they look like little bubble-headed mice, with eyes not yet open and just able to slither around a little on their bellies. Check out thedailyjournal.com for a video! Those of us at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter hope that you are enjoying your family and friends over this holiday season and please keep in mind that we have many pets here that are waiting still for a safe, warm and loving home like yours.

Source: Big moment arrives: 8 puppies before dawn

Santa paws: A special delivery for Christmas

This Christmas will be will be very exciting at my house. Although I don’t have little kids anxiously awaiting Santa and all the wonderful gifts he brings, this year I will have the pitter patter of teeny, tiny little feet. Probably lots of teeny, tiny little feet.As I sit and write this column, I have a small dog at home who is just starting her delivery rituals. She’s a young Wire Hair Terrier mix who came in as a stray just last week. I took her home to foster her rather than leave her in the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter because it was very apparent that the “buns” were coming out of the oven very soon.

After spending a little time with her, I fully expected a frantic owner to be calling in a lost report for her. Silly me. It will never cease to amaze me, and I will never understand how we receive so many wonderful pets as strays that no one ever comes to claim. In spite of the fact that she was found running loose and obviously “in the family way,” it was clear that she has been a house dog and is used to having a strong bond with her people. She is loving, attentive, housebroken and arrived in very good physical condition given her situation. Her legal seven-day stray hold has just expired, and there has been no sign of an owner.

Along with the expiration of her stray hold has come the end of her pregnancy. She has made herself completely at home in my house and, in spite of supplying her with a couple of very accommodating delivery locations, I believe she has opted to make her own decision. She scoffed at the whelping box that we lined with the finest of big, comfy blankets. She left her crate that she willingly sleeps in, eschewing the lovely, high-sided dog bed and quilt provided therein. She has her own idea of where her children will brought into the world, and that looks to be my walk-in closet.All this week her belly has grown to what must be very uncomfortable proportions and her milk has come in generously, adding further to her bulk. Yesterday, I noticed that she had “dropped” and this morning she refused her breakfast. For a few hours, she was a bit restless with occasional whining. She is typically like Velcro, following me everywhere, but a little later in the morning she removed herself and settled in the bedroom. After deciding on the closet as her delivery suite, she is, as I write this, up and down, either curling up restlessly or scratching at her newly provided blankets.

Given the size of her belly, she either has a bunch of little pups or she was caught by a big daddy and has a few large pups. Our vet is on standby in case she needs assistance. If everything goes well, we will have puppies just opening their eyes in time for Christmas Day.Fortunately, after a lot of effort on the part of many people, the shelter will still be here in February 2018 when those little pups will be ready to adopt and start their new lives as someone’s beloved pets. Merry Christmas and stay tuned – I’ll update you on the delivery in next week’s column.

Source: Santa paws: A special delivery for Christmas