My New Project – Fostering Rescue Puppies

In my last post, I mentioned a new project that you were going to want to see photos of. Although I’m a bit later showing you those photos than I’d expected because they aren’t many free hours left in my life at the moment, here they are.

The number of dogs needing rescuing is appalling, and rescue puppies often need foster families to get them ready for their forever-homes. The last addition to our family, little Tucker, was a rescue that we adopted through the Yukon Animal Rescue Network (YARN), and I’ve now started working with them in a big way, by fostering a family that’s been rescued from Atlin.

I actually tried to get started with the tiny puppies seen below, a couple of weeks ago. When they got to Whitehorse from Pelly Crossing, though, it was discovered that they had parvo (canine parvovirus or CPV), and I have neither the facilities nor the experience to deal with that awful disease. Luckily, Humane Society Yukon has both at their Mae Bachur shelter in Whitehorse, and agreed to take the puppies and the sick Mom who had been brought down as well. There’s much more to that story, but I don’t know yet whether it has a happy ending, so I’ll move on to one that does.

Rescue puppies from Pelly Crossing

The next request came in to foster 9 puppies (!). I found that initially overwhelming, but offered to take 4, to break into fostering. Things changed, only 4 puppies were caught, and then the mother. Then there was another mother and 2 more pups hidden under a cabin, who couldn’t be coaxed out. I agreed to take the puppies, but not the Mom, as I couldn’t figure out how to keep her separated from Bella and Tucker, whose safety is paramount.

When a photo of the family was sent to me on Wednesday via the man in Atlin who had rescued them, Cathy and I both melted and said that we’d take them all. They would be brought to Whitehorse by the rescuer on Friday.

My first requirement was to get a safe place for them. Another YARN foster family in Whitehorse had a large whelping box that was far too big for their one-day-old litter, so I said that I’d build one more appropriate for them, and take the big one.

Building a whelping box for the YARN rescue puppies
I got the box finished off Friday morning, took it into town, and returned with the large box and a bag of food for the new family. The plan was to have them in the semi-heated garage that normally houses our 2 main cars initially, then see how things play out.

Building a whelping box for the YARN rescue group

YARN uses “group” names to keep track of their rescues/adoptions, and mine was to be the “Berry” litter – Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry, and Blackberry for the pups, and Elderberry for Mom.

At about noon on Friday, the Berry Babies arrived, and I got them as settled as possible in the garage while trying to figure out how best to house them. The puppies were in a large kennel while Elderberry was loose. Not surprisingly, she was pretty freaked out.

YARN's rescued husky Elderberry
The little female I named Blueberry, the only one that has blue eyes and looks like Mom, was the first one to melt my heart.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blueberry
A puppy-pile in the kennel, with Strawberry at the left front.

YARN's rescued husky puppies - the Berry litter

My first job was to get the family to the vet for check-ups and shots. As soon as I’d agreed to take them, I’d made an appointment at the Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre for 2:30, a couple of hours after they were to arrive. Dr. Graham Ellingsen was wonderful with them, as always, and in an hour or so I was headed home with my confirmed-healthy family.

The second job was to get photos of each of the puppies for the adoption page. This is Blueberry again.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blueberry

YARN's rescued husky puppy Strawberry

YARN's rescued husky puppy Raspberry
and Blackberry. I’d get a better photo of Elderberry when she calmed down.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blackberry
A big part of our job as fosters is socialization. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it! 🙂 The different personalities of the puppies was very quickly apparent – Blackberry is the snuggler.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blackberry
Cathy with Blackberry.

YARN's rescued husky puppy Blackberry
The big whelping box didn’t work out – Elderberry said that she couldn’t get over the 2-foot-high walls. So I used it as one wall of a containment area that’s worked out very well. It has a gate, but Elderberry discovered that she can easily clear the lowest wall, which is 22 inches. And that was the plan – the area is to contain the pups, while she has some freedom.

Our containment area for the rescued husky family
Strawberry and Raspberry on the dog bed in the containment area. Everybody learned very quickly what the newspapers were put down for, making life much easier for Cathy and I.

YARN's rescued husky puppies Strawberry and Raspberry
The best photos aren’t staged, they’re records of events that just happen when you have a camera handy. The difference in the whole family is wonderful, but it’s particularly heart-warming to see Mom already enjoying her new life, and trusting that it’s all going to be okay.

Rescued husky and one of her puppies
Elderberry is a very patient Mom. We’re pretty sure that there are puppies from 2 litters here, though, and that Blueberry is her puppy. They have a special bond beyond what the other puppies have with Elderberry. Why she only has one puppy is one of those questions that you quickly learn not to ask in rescuing – you very well may not want to know.

Rescue puppies playing on top of Mom
We have deck chairs set up in the garage now, and snuggle puppies and Mom several times a day, and sometimes just sit and watch them. Watching the changes in them, becoming more confident and more affectionate, is a very special experience. It appears that Elderberry has never been in a house, and has certainly never been on a leash. She really wants to come in the house, though, and Cathy got her into the kitchen this morning. Not surprisingly, she has some food aggression issues, but is very, very affectionate.

Rescue puppies playing on top of Mom

Elderberry and the puppies were posted on the adoption page last night, and as I write this at 06:00, there are already 3 applications in from potential adopters. The puppies are probably just over 6 weeks old, so although they can be adopted now, we’re keeping the family together for another couple of weeks (until December 15th), as Elderberry is doing some important teaching now. Then we have 2 days to get those who have been adopted to their new homes before the Christmas “no-adoptions” period. See an article I wrote quite a few years ago, Puppies for Christmas, to understand why there are no adoptions for 2 weeks.

We’re still open to the idea that if the other mother and puppies are caught, we’ll take them as well. With temperatures nearing -40 coming on Thursday, we actually hope that that’s what happens.

Many of our friends don’t think that we’ll be able to let all 5 get adopted. It’s a simple decision for us, though. In the summer I hike a lot and simply can’t safely handle more than 2 dogs on the trail. So my part in this process is very clear in my mind.

I’m going to finish this post off with a poster I created this time last year, using a photo of baby Tucker.


My New Project – Fostering Rescue Puppies — 10 Comments

  1. Wonderful….wonderful…wonderful ! What a great project. I’m sure we will follow this blog even better to keep up to date with this new adventure. Murray & Cathy, you are both wonderful people with great big hearts.

  2. This post made me cry. What y’all are doing is so special. This is what I would like to do when I retire. My pets are rescued cats & everyday that I am with them, all I can think of is the joy they’ve brought to my life. I printed your pic of Tucker & I’m going to put it on my refrigerator so my friends/family that continue to buy their dogs from breeders will see it – not that it will change their attitude but it gets my point across.

    • Thanks, Cindy. I actually do have hope that some people will understand the “Adopt, Don’t Buy” message. The world has enough dogs for every family who deserves one, and the more dogs that are bred on purpose, the more dogs that will be killed and sent to the landfill. I think that’s a terrible, disgraceful, appalling situation. Thanks for help spreading the message.

  3. Murray, your ‘stock’ continues to rise in my book (not that there was any worry there)…what a wonderful, necessary and timely project to get involved in and you guys seem naturals at it…and the rewards and returns are quick and many!

    Thanks for making my morning just that much brighter…

    • It’s now been 6 days since the Berry family arrived, and although it’s a lot more wok than I had expected, it’s also more fun, and a great deal more rewarding. In the next post, in 2 or 3 days, I’ll explain why, but a big part of it is watching the huge changes in both the puppies and Mom. As of last night, the puppies have a play-and-sleeping area in the house, and that seems to have brought about even faster changes. Each is unique, all are adorable.

  4. What a wonderful gift for the puppy family, and a wonderful family to foster them. I love reading your blog, though it has been a while. Merry Christmas to you and Cathy.

  5. Murray what a wonderful job you and Cathy did with the puppies, I followed you on Facebook , but seeing it on here is much more interesting.