Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Escape! Escape!

This morning I forgot to count puppies, and when I turned around I almost stepped on Sweet Pea. What was she doing outside the maternal wading pool?

This evening when I came in, there were three on the floor. Miss Nell was frantic. “I’m not a herding dog,” she whined. “What am I going to do about these children?”

We put our heads together and tried to figure out how they made it over the wall. Climbing is clearly an option. I understand that if you stand on your brother and your brother and your sister, you get a lot taller. Puppies like to pile on, and it is the more aggressive ones like Sweet Pea who usually end up on top, while Mr. Greenjeans always seems to be—quite literally—at the bottom of the heap.

Alternatively, it may have been a trapeze escape. Just hang on and swing your fat little puppy body over the edge of the pool. Hang on to what? Think about it. Does this start to explain Nell’s distress?

We really must get these puppies weaned. They are making progress with the slurry recommended by Tam’s breeder, an unappetizing blend of dry milk, yogurt, baby chicken or veal, rice cereal, and soaked puppy food. Snowflake and Cherry are usually in first, followed by Baby Blue, Pig, Violet, little Jack and the perpetually squealing Daisy. They lap up a bit of it, then somehow manage to smear it all over ears and tails, shoulders and paws. Then they lick it off each other. Finally, Miss Nell cleans up. And everybody gets a new clean quilt. Aaaah.

And I have been out in the utility room constructing the plywood pen that I meant to build last week. It’s not complicated. It’s just that I have more fun with the planning and design than the execution. But in the face of nine renegade puppies, motivation kicks in….and I’m mopping floors and pounding nails.

Two hours later….the puppies are relocated. All I had to do was proceed in the logical order: food in first, followed by Nell, then puppies, little Daisy screaming as always. And I can sit back and contemplate my work. I wonder what it’s going to cost me to run that little electric heater for a month. I wonder how I managed to build this nice little enclosure without a gate for Nell. I wonder how she will deal with jumping over a two foot wall. In the short lives of puppies—they are three weeks old now, and I only have them for eight—we go through many adjustments very, very quickly. I wonder what the big dogs will think of it all.

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