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Puppy Party Reunites “Vikings” littermates

“When I first brought up the idea of doing a puppy birthday party, people looked at me like I was nuts. Like I had finally, fully, become their ‘crazy dog lady’ friend or family member.  But there was something so special about these puppies. Everything they had gone through. The amazing homes they went into. I had to at least try to reunite them.”

The Pet Haven foster mom of 6 puppies rescued in August 2014 proposed an idea several months ago that came to fruition on July 5th. The idea: a 1-year birthday party for 6 amazing, fun-filled, energetic dogs who had once been struggling to survive.  Due to geography and schedule constraints, not all 6 were able to make it, but in attendance were: Maggie (fka Kahlil), Coco (fka Carter), Vito (fka Patterson) Byku (fka Barr) and their families, along with foster mom Meagan and her roommate Crystal, and “surrogate mom” and resident dog, Remi.

The result: a PUPPY PARTY!!  The event was visually documented by the amazing Sarah Beth Photography as seen here:

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Despite there being many other dogs at the dog park, these littermates stuck primarily to hanging out with each other, giving all those present the feeling that the dogs knew there was something “special” about one another.  In fact, science supports this notion.  As young puppies a hormone called oxytocin (also referred to as the “love hormone”) allows canines to develop bonds with their littermates, leading some researchers to believe that grown littermates experience a chemical reaction when in the presence of one another.  Additionally, they seemed to remember Remi, the foster mom’s resident Catahoula Leopard Dog/Labrador Retriever mix, who served as their surrogate mom during their 5 weeks in foster care.

Although we would like to think that reuniting littermates is kind of like those Oprah episodes where [human] family members are reunited after years and there are happy tears and hugging, this isn’t always the case when reuniting canine littermates.  So Pet Haven took several steps to ensure a safe and happy birthday party. A dog park provided a fenced-in area large enough to hold several 70lb energetic dogs, while also serving as a neutral place where no one felt a sense of territorialism. Additionally, since all of the dogs were spayed and neutered before adoption (as are all of our foster care program animals), issues naturally associated with hormones in unaltered pets, weren’t relevant. Lastly, all of the dogs were introduced carefully so that each could provide a dog-appropriate “hello” before any wrestle-mania activity began.

For those who are unfamiliar with our infamous “Vikings puppies,” here is their backstory:

On August 17, 2014 Pet Haven received an urgent call from a Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue volunteer. They had just wrapped up another successful spay/neuter clinic, when a community member came to them with a plea for help. The person’s German Shepherd mix dog could no longer feed her puppies due to her own malnourishment, and they had no resources to care for them. Unable to talk this person into surrendering the mother dog with the litter, clinic volunteers got to work on finding placement for the 12 puppies. Within less than an hour, Pet Haven secured a foster home for 6 of the puppies, and later that day these 6 started their journey to the Twin Cities.

At only 3 weeks old, these puppies were malnourished and incredibly weak, weighing between 1.9 and 2.8 pounds each. All 6 had worms, Coccidia, and later developed demodectic mange. Pet Haven was unsure as to whether all 6 would survive, but with round-the-clock care including bottle feedings every 4 hours, each pulled through and began to thrive. Each puppy was named after a current or former Vikings player forming the “Vikings puppies” roster of: Adrian, Barr, Carter, Kahlil, Patterson and Teddy. With each week the puppies grew stronger and stronger.

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Adrian loved people – if there was a person around, he cared more about following them than wrestling with his littermates. Even as a puppy, he sought out children and was incredibly gentle with them. Barr was the “surfer dude” of the group; always laid back, never easily riled. He had many admirers because of his unique “cow-like” coloring. Carter was the alpha of the group, in every way. He was bigger, faster and stronger than the other puppies and he had the personality to match. He would rather be around other dogs than people and would play, play, play all day long if allowed. Kahlil was the only female in the litter and was definitely the most vocal (her foster mom would say “whatever she is feeling or thinking, you will hear about it!”). She had no idea she was half the size of her brothers; if anyone was up for a wrestling match, she was game. Patterson was the “lap dog” of the group; if there was a lap to sit in, he was in it! He had a personality very similar to a cat, just wanting to lie around and be attended to, with occasional playing. Teddy was the roly-poly guy of the litter and fit his name well. Being short and stocky, he was also the fluffiest, somewhat resembling a teddy bear. He had a knack for digging holes and was often found covered in dirt.

While in foster care, each puppy received daily supervised socialization with humans of all ages, to ensure that any impact of not having their mother around was minimized. None of the puppies were allowed to leave the foster home until they were 8 weeks old, to maximize the natural lessons that dogs receive about dog/dog socialization from their littermates during such a critical age. And all 6 adopters of these puppies were required to complete a puppy socialization class with their new pup, to ensure each would become a breed ambassador, despite a difficult start to life.

 

 

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At the close of the event, Coco’s mom put it best when she said, “I just can’t believe it. Today was the happiest I have ever seen him.”

Register for 2015 Doggy Dash!

Registration is open for Doggy Dash 2015.  Join us August 22nd at Normandale Lake Park in Bloomington for our 3K Walk or 5K Run.  Bring your canine companion and support Pet Haven!  T-shirt and goodies are included.  

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Babies, babies everywhere

Spring brings felines having litters.  Once the days start to lengthen, more daylight, the females go into heat.   Gestation is 9 weeks.

Do you have a stray in your neighborhood?  in your alley?  under a deck near-by?  What about under a shed?  under the cover of a boat that has been idle all winter?  It’s possible that kittens like these will be born in one of those places.

 

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Where was mom?  Was she killed crossing a road in search of food?  We never knew.

 

Anja had her kittens by a garage, right on an alley.  The person who called put a fence that was 12 inches high around her and said she was well protected!  A foster went within the hour to pick them up.

 

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More often than not these mothers were put outside to fend for themselves last fall or sometime during the winter.  It is hard to find shelter, food and water when it is freezing.  Mom is at risk herself – dangers from dogs, people, antifreeze, no secure and warm shelter, a lack of food.  She has parasites from eating mice and birds.  When we are lucky enough to find her, she will probably be very thin with ribs protruding and a backbone too easily felt – we try to feed her with high quality and high calorie food but it is next to impossible to make up for the deficit she is under.  Sometimes we bottle feed the babies to supplement her small quantity of milk, we finger feed the babies canned food multiple times, trying to get much needed calories into them.  At times we pull the kittens from mom sooner than we would like because she becomes dehydrated and loses strength as her body tries to produce the milk their growing bodies demand.

You can be  the rescue hero who helps stop this.

If you have a stray in the alley, in the neighborhood, at work or in your garage efforts  need to be made to capture it.  Humane societies, impounds and limited admission groups will take these unfortunates.  Help us get them off the streets.  Only with your help will we be able to spay and neuter to control the number of cats and dogs being born who are not cared for.  Have a stray?  Call  and make plans to help that cat!  Don’t wait until there are babies needing help too!

Pet Haven dedicates money from our budget every year to subsidize spay and neuter to low income owners, we give grants to  other organizations to help them bring overpopulation under control in their communities.  You can help by donating.

You can help by getting that stray cat – friendly or feral – picked up and surrendered where it can get care.

We named this group after the character PigPen in the Snoopy-Charlie Brown comic strip.  They were pretty funny and needed baths after each meal of canned food we fed (4 times a day).  They had been without mom for an untold length of time and they were voracious!  It was funny – but also very sad.  They grew up, learned they would have full tummies and were all happily adopted.

 

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Help us break the cycle – we can all do it together!