Lessons Learned About Myself while Fostering and Volunteering at 100%


I should be well-aware of this aspect of my personality by now, but I always forget just how “bad” it can be until I’m in the thick of it: I am not the kind of person who can only give a little. I can give all or nothing, but the space in-between is a genuine challenge for me, especially if there’s something else that I want to give my all to.

I did not intend to stop posting altogether on Temptalia so quickly, but I ran out of content right as I was bottles-deep in caring for Party’s 14 babies (more on them in a minute!). I told myself, “I said I was going to step back, and I haven’t taken a legitimate vacation probably ever, so I will take one.” The problem is that now that I’ve done that… I don’t want to come back 🙁

I don’t know what I want to do WITH the space either. I feel like I’ve spent more time grappling with my struggle to resume and get back into the swing of things and walking away. I’ve decided that what I’d like to do is go back to basics: write again about something that currently interests me and also sitting down and playing with makeup – just for fun, not necessarily to share, in hopes that I can find that love for makeup again, even if only on a personal level. It was a huge part of my life for such a long time that I don’t think it’s been fully extinguished, but I think I need it to be purely “for fun” to rediscover the love for it.

So, let me share with you what I’ve been doing and the babies I’ve been working with over the last several weeks! Maybe their cute faces will enchant you as much as they have for me. 🙂 They are what I’ve been pouring all my energy into, and while I haven’t been able to save them all, I have been able to help with many and seen four head to their forever homes!

Mittens

Once the Liqueurs were adopted, I was on the lookout for new fosters. While there weren’t any gaggles of orphaned puppies that needed me, there was a one-week old puppy in Casa Grande, AZ (about two hours away from Phoenix) that had been found with a significant leg and shoulder injury. I said yes to taking her in, at least for a little while, until a larger group of babies needed me. I, being totally devoted, ended up being the transporter, too.

Mittens front leg was disgusting–oozing, smelly, and we had no idea how it would resolve–and she had a massive abscess on her back/shoulder, too. That abscess popped on me while she was in my care, which was a new level of gross that I hadn’t yet experienced, LOL.  Once the vet cleaned up her wound, it started to heal quickly  and superbly. Mittens was also diagnosed with puppy strangles, so between her wounds and that, she was on antibiotics and steroids, which did resolve all of her issues within two weeks.

Mittens is one of the best puppies we’ve ever had; she is playful and goofy, but sweet and snuggly. She has been pretty much PERFECT the entire time, and she is still currently our Perfect Girl. I had her for a little over a week before a crisis struck…….. enter the Movie Raccoons.

Movie Raccoons

Another plea was received by the rescue for three two-week old bottle babies, also in Casa Grande, AZ, and we thought we might be able to bring in some friends for Mittens–singletons are hard because they aren’t able to learn from their littermates and can miss out on crucial communication and play skills! Unfortunately, upon transporting and bringing the Movie Raccoons in for intake (which is when they are assessed, named, and photographed), the puppies we thought were “healthy-ish” were more like “at the threshold of death’s door.” One of the three, Rascal, went directly to the emergency room and spend two days and two nights on full support. The other two were sent home with me, but this meant that Mittens had to be evicted, effectively immediately.

Thankfully, my friend Lizzy, who I met through fostering (she fostered two of my Steaklets and three of my Yogis in the past), was ready to take Mittens on a moment’s notice. It was her first true bottle baby, and Lizzy did great helping to raise Mittens for the next two weeks while the Raccoons became well. I took Mittens back and integrated her with the Movie Raccoons, and they all did amazing together. Mittens and Rascal were quick BFFs and total sister-friend rivals. They played together, tried to one up each other, and then would cuddle and snuggle together.

Rocket and Meeko started improving in my care once they had a few meals. We feel like the Movie Raccoons’ systems were overwhelmed by lack of nutrition, hydration, being covered in fleas, and just generally being abandoned with no mama around as they tested negative for a variety of possible illnesses.

In the last week, the Raccoons were all swiftly adopted into amazing homes. Mittens was officially adopted by Lizzy, her part-time foster, and her family on Thursday. 💖

Party & Her 14 Guests

Around the end of October, Party gave birth to 14 (!!) puppies. She is a 40-45 pound mama, so 14 was unexpected and an incredible amount for her to have delivered. 14 would have been a lot for a larger-breed dog! The concern with such a large litter is that a lot of the puppies tend to have a low birth weight, which means they have a significantly higher chance of not making it in those first few days. I volunteered to come in once or twice a day to help supplement some of the smaller babies with bottle feeding, which would help ensure the littler ones gained weight and take some pressure off of Party, who likely would struggle to keep up with the demands of 14 hungry mouths!

Party developed mastitis when the pups were a week and a half old and was producing almost no milk at all–almost overnight!–so I went from doing daily feeds to three feedings and for all 14 puppies each day. When I had the Liqueurs, I had to bottle feed all 11 for almost a week since their mama quit on me so early, so they prepared me for Party’s babes! It took about two hours to weigh and feed all 14 each time, so you can imagine that it ended up being quite the commitment. 😅 Party’s milk never really came back, so I did this for a full week!

Once they made it to three weeks, they were weaned onto gruel, which was a very messy process, but they are now almost 5.5 weeks old and doing amazing. I love this litter with my whole heart and then some!

Horse Coats

When you think about coincidences or being in the right place at the right time… this was one of those moments. I was in the process of unloading the Movie Raccoons from my car to bring them back to the rescue for their adoption date when a car pulled up, opened their window, and asked if I worked at the rescue. I told them I was just a volunteer but what was it they needed? and they revealed a plastic bin full of nine newborn puppies that were so filthy they were stained yellow. They said they found them abandoned in an alley that morning.

We coordinated quickly and were able to get them into the rescue that morning, and as I was relinquishing my fosters, I knew I’d be taking those nine orphans home with me. Shout out to the best and most supportive hubby who disinfected the puppy room, set up the puppy incubator (infrared heat) and oxygenator (to help struggling neonates), and merely replied with, “Faster than usual,” when I told him what was about to happen.

The Horse Coats were in really rough shape; one was already trying to cross over the rainbow bridge while we were assessing them at the rescue. I eventually just took everyone home to get them into the incubator and getting oxygen, and when I took photos of each puppy at home, I knew that we should expect losses. They looked like they might have been born premature, and their bodies had already started to shut down, so everyone was very behind. It is exceptionally challenging to save a premature puppy even in the best circumstances, let alone when it’s had a traumatic start.

After four passed, I took the remaining ones to the ER, and two more passed on that ten-minute drive alone. There were two that the vet felt might make it, so I took those two back and started tube feeding them. Unfortunately, one of those two passed a few hours later after being back home. We lost eight of the nine 24 hours after getting them in our care. The last one, Bay, was our sole survivor and was one of the pups that I had always thought had a better chance than the others to make it. We were rooting for her so much, but her body failed her in the wee hours of Friday morning. She had seemed stable-ish, but she wasn’t gaining weight and we suspected a congenital element preventing her from absorbing nutrition (possibly a liver shunt).

It is hard to lose a puppy, and it is even harder to watch it happen, let alone one after another in such a short time. You learn to take comfort in the fact that they were given a chance to survive, and they may not have been here for long, but they were cared for and loved for what time they had left. They are no longer suffering and can be at peace. I hope the Horse Coats are running free over rainbow bridge 🌈

I’m hoping to have my next fosters in a few days, possibly Party’s pups, but I am really hoping for some healthy-ish pups this go-round. Of course, if there are medically fragile babies that need me, I will always move mountains for them. 💖

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