A RESCUE STORY...
(written by our sister-in-law, Joanne)
Monday morning, bright and early on New Years Day, we returned to the old house. Our hopes were high that we had finally caught the puppy. But we hadn't :-( Two times we set the trap this day and both times the food was gone and the trap was sprung, but nothing inside the trap. Perplexed, we again reset the trap and started to leave. Adjacent to the old house was an equally old, fallen down heap of a barn. It was from there we heard an adult dog barking at us!!! As we walked toward the barking, a medium sized black Lab mix (obviously a nursing mother) bolted from the barn and headed towards the house! As luck would have it, I had not grabbed my camera this time!!! So the Golden we saw the previous day was not the mother! Momma dog jumped thru an open window and went under the house via a hole in the floor! We were relieved to know now that the puppy was not alone and that his mother was still taking care of him. Our efforts now had to concentrate on catching mom too! As we turned to leave, out from the barn stepped the Golden (mix) we had encountered earlier.. Is it dad? We can only speculate. Some of the pups sure resemble him, tho :-)
Just before dark on Saturday,the day before New Years Eve, my sister-in-law Deen called me and said "Get your coat on, I'm picking you up and we're going to go try to save some puppies!" We made it out to the old, dilapidated farmhouse just as it was getting dark.
The kind lady that had called the Shelter met us there. She had traveled by the place earlier and saw 4 or 5 puppies running around the house. Flashlights in hand, we searched around the house but saw nothing. I heard a small whimper and shined the light in the direction of the sound and saw the face of a tiny puppy looking back at me. It was under the house but quickly disappeared as I tried to get close. We could hear other whimpers but was unable to locate or reach them. We decided to come back in the morning and try again when it was easier to see.
We returned on Sunday, armed with crates, food & water, snare pole, live trap and Deen's granddaughter, Kelsey. As we rounded the back of the house, all 5 puppies were standing there, staring at us! They quickly scattered in all directions, and judging by their reactions, they had never encountered humans before! (we guessed them to be about 6 weeks old) Deen was the first to get close enough to one and grab it. I chased 2 that went into the ditch and was able to grab one before it got away. We put those 2 in a crate and with Kelsey's help, cornered a 3rd and got that one. The remaining 2 slipped into a small opening leading under the house. The area surrounding the house was a mess, as you would expect from it being abandoned for 20 years or more. Judging from the amount of small animal carcasses all around the outside of the house, and the large dog prints in the dirt, the mother must have been taking care of the pups. Hopefully we could catch her too. We set the live trap with canned food right next to the opening were the last 2 pups had gone, and took the pups we caught back to the shelter.
We are certain that these babies were born in the wild. They are completely terrified of us, but don't seem to be afraid of the other dogs in the shelter. They scarfed down a full dish of puppy food mixed with canned and mainly stay huddled together in the open crate.
A couple of hours later we went back to check the trap and found one of the remaining pups in the cage barking like mad!
We tried to catch the other pup that was at the opening in the wall, but to no avail..it was just too petrified to let us get close enough to catch it. We reset the trap and left again. When we returned later, we were disappointed to find the trap empty. As we walked to the back of the house we spotted what looked like an adult Golden Retriever.It caught sight of us bolted for the woods as fast as I have ever seen any dog run! We are guessing that it was probably the pups mother and she too is feral. We were still unable to locate the final pup. With heavy hearts, we reluctantly left (in the pouring rain now) and pray that the little one makes it into the trap. It's all alone now and very scared :-( We will return in the morning and will continue to leave food until we either catch it or are sure it is no longer there. As for the pups we rescued, they are going to need a LOT of TLC and patience to get them to trust and love humans but they are thankfully young enough to learn. They are loaded with fleas and worms and will probably need some vet care also.
We returned once again later in the day, this time with Ron to figure out what we were doing wrong in setting the trap. Seems that we had neglected to set the locking bar properly and when the trap was sprung, the puppy was able to escape thru the unlocked door....DUH on our part!!! We AGAIN reset the trap (properly this time) and left. We returned a few hours later with both Ron and Rod as we were sure we were going to need their help. With spirits high, we shown our flashlights on yet another empty trap with the food untouched!!! Certainly the family had left the area, frightened off by our intrusion.
Tuesday morning Deen went to the house by herself to check the trap. I had to stay home and groom a couple of dogs :-( When she pulled in, the puppy was outside in front of the house. She called to him but he ran under the house. This time the trap was still set but some of the food was gone! All we can figure is that the puppy is too light (it is small and skinny) to set the trap off. At least he got a little something to eat! Deen then walked around the house calling for the pup and making noises his siblings would, but he remained under the house, barking! Later on in the afternoon I, Deen and her son Mike with us, made the trip back yet again. We could hardly believe it!!! We caught the puppy!! Finally!!! And she was NOT happy about it. We put the puppy in a crate and carried the trap into the house and set it up near where the mother was seen going under the house. Hopefully she will be next. As were were about to leave, we heard barking from another old barn across the road, This one wasn't in as bad of shape as the the house and barn where we captured the pups. Mike said that he saw 2 dogs in the field near that barn when we first pulled in. So off we went to see if they were the "parents" Mike disappeared into the barn and the father (golden mix) ran out from behind. Seconds later Mike emerged from the barn carrying ANOTHER puppy!!! "There's 2 more in there that I couldn't catch!" he yelled. He saw the mother before she escaped and she was the same one that we had seen the day before. This makes a total of 8 puppies!!! The count right now is 4 females and 2 males. We set a smaller live trap in this barn, and with any luck we can get the others. We took these 2 back to the shelter and bathed them. The puppy that lived under the house had the same skin dander as the others, but the one found in the barn did not.
I am so happy to report the difference in the way the puppies are acting has improved so much since yesterday! They are coming out of the crate more and starting to play with each other. They no longer scurry for the crate as soon as they see a human. And they are now even carrying their tails up and wagging them!!!
We hope to have the others before long.
Monday afternoon we decided to give the puppies a MUCH needed bath. They weren't as loaded with fleas as we originally thought, but they did have some. One puppy had a tick embedded near the corner of it's eye. What really shocked us was the amount of skin flakes that was brought to the surface from the bath!! We aren't really certain if it is indeed skin or it is an accumulation of dirt, debris, and insulation from living under the old house. A trip to the vet may be in order if it comes back. At this point, the puppies are all eating and drinking water, They spend most of their time huddled together in the open crate. When they do venture out, if a person enters the room the scurry back to the security of the crate. They are not bothered by the other dogs in the shelter at all.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Deen and I again made the familiar trek back to the old house to check on the trap in there and the one in the barn. Much to our surprise, as we got out of the truck we could here the angry howls of the Golden from inside and saw momma dog circling the house! Momma disappeared as we approached. Sure enough, the male was in the trap. And to say that he was not a happy camper was putting it mildly! He began snarling as he saw us approach and thrashing around in the trap. We were clearly going to need Ron's expertise with the snare pole to get him out. Our hopes that he was not truly a feral dog were dashed. While we waited for Ron and Rod to get there, we went across the road to the barn to see if we had caught a puppy in the small trap. No such luck, momma must have moved the remaining two pups :-( Ron arrived and began the careful task of snaring the angry dog without him getting loose or biting anyone. Once he was captured he was sedated so we could get him to the truck, into a crate and back to the shelter. We reset the trap for momma, and headed home.
Upon examination of the male's severely emaciated body, and the presence of several possible cancerous tumors, and his dangerous aggression, we all agreed that is was best to humanely euthanize him.
With every dark cloud there is always a silver lining, and when Deen returned to the house a few hours later, momma was calmly lying in the trap! Ron came and as a precaution used the snare to get her from the trap. She gave no fight and was walked to the truck and lifted into the crate with no problems. It was almost as if she was relieved her ordeal was over! She appears to be very young, possibly 1- 1 1/2 years old and is an absolute sweetheart!!! Very calm and affectionate, and always wagging her tail! Her head and ears are scarred, possible from a fight with a raccoon to protect her babies. Tomorrow we will be going back to find the two remaining puppies. Wish us luck!!
Thursday morning found us on our way back to check on the remaining 2 puppies..We had resigned ourselves to the fact that without the protection of the mother and the father, these puppies would now be vulnerable to predators and we might not ever find them.. Deen's daughter Missy had checked the trap in the old house earlier that morning and it was empty; food untouched. We went directly to the barn and found the dish of food we had left was empty and saw 2 puppies running away! Deen took after the one that went outside and I did my best to follow the one inside making it's way under all of the debris. Somehow I was able to corner it under some planks but had to lay on the ground on my side to block the opening. Deen ran to the car to get some food to help entice it out as I couldn't reach it. I laid there for several minutes talking softly to the scared puppy. With the help of food, it eventually got close enough for me to pick it up. It never once growled at me. We put the pup in the truck and went to the house and brought the live trap over to the barn and set it with more food. Again we hope that luck is still with us and the last little one goes into it.
The count now is 5 females and 2 males.
Without a doubt God has been on our side this week! We went back to the barn this afternoon and found the trap still set and food untouched. Thankfully Deen's sharp eye caught sight of puppy # 8 scooting out the side door of the barn. We gave chase but it was not easy! Through thick underbrush and piles of old barn lumber it did it's best to get away from us! We were relentless and I finally got a hold of it just as it was about to re-enter the barn, where it would have been easier for it to get away. Deen and I were giddy with excitement!!! We had rescued a whole family of 10 in less than a week!!! We packed up the trap, said goodbye to the farm and headed back to the shelter!
We will be adding updates and pictures on the puppies and Mom until they all go to their new, forever homes!!!
to the wonderful people who have donated towards Mom's and the puppies care!!!
Bad Axe Animal Clinic (Bad Axe, MI) for the generous donations of puppy food and Advantage for Mom and puppies!
Jacque Hutchison (Saginaw, MI) for the generous monetary donation!
Jean & Buddy (Cass City, MI) for the generous monetary donation!
Mary Paisley (LaCrosse, Wisc.) for the generous monetary donation!
Karen Meyer (Lake Orion, MI) for the generous monetary donation!
It has been a week since the first 5 puppies were captured. In that week we have witnessed these puppies go from scared little babies, to a more normal acting puppy for their age.They carry their tails up and are wagging them when approached and are talked to. They still have a long ways to go, and in some ways, may never act in the ways that we are used to seeing puppies act when raised from birth with human interaction. The pups play together normally and are now coming up to the gait when we approach. A couple of the pups aren't progressing as fast as the others, but we feel they just need more time. Yesterday we practiced teaching them to take a treat from our hand. Something you wouldn't normally have to teach a puppy, but this is all new to them. Up until now, their food always was eaten from Mom or on the ground. Every day you can see progress, even if it is a small amount.
A trip to the shelter this day found that ALL of the puppies were at the gate when Deen and I approached! This time even the shiest were there, at the back of the pack, but still there! Deen had been working with them and even had a few of them finally taking a treat from her hand! Progress was slow at first, but seems to be in leaps and bounds now!
Just the other day, the shelter recieved a call from a lady (from the city) who had been traveling in the area and had seen 3 young pups playing in the field by an old barn. You guessed it, the exact same old barn where we had rescued the pups from!!! So, once again, Deen went out, set a trap, and left food away from the trap.. We went back yesterday and checked and the trap wasn't touched but the dish of food had been eaten. No sign of puppies though. We moved the trap and replaced the food in it. For now, we will just keep trying until we are certain there are indeed puppies there or not, or we determine we are just feeding raccoons!
Today found the puppies improving even more! Now almost all of them are eagerly taking treats from Deen's hand! Tomorrow half of them are going to be moved to another pen, adjacent to the one they are in. They are growing and running out of room with all 9 in one pen.
Your'e probably thinking a typo, there are 8 puppies, not 9 right? Well....I forgot to mention that last week a young couple came into the shelter carrying a puppy that looked an awful lot like the 8 we had! Closer inspection showed it to be bigger than the others, and possibly 1-2 wks older. They had found this pup and it's sibling on the road, in the area where we had found the others. Not the exact spot, but not far away. So, that makes 9.........so far :-)
Great news! Just the other day Momma dog (Kelsey had named her Libby) was adoped along with one of her daughters! Hopefully the new owner will let the Shelter know how they are doing shortly. We will be adding individual pictures of the remaining pups to the Available Dogs page of this website very soon.
It has been about 4 weeks since the rescue of the puppies. Mom and one girl have gone to their forever home and are doing great!! Thanks to the monetary donations from 4 WONDERFUL people, the puppies will now be able to have their shots. They are ready to go!!!!
This past weekend two more puppies went to their forever homes! The black male (that looks like his momma) was adopted by someone in this area, and the tan little girl, now named Gracie, is living in the Gladwin area with her new forever family! Her new family has sent updates on her progress and she has settled right in with her family and is living like a Queen! Yeah for Gracie!!!
It's been a while since my last update. In that time Momma dog (Libby) and her daughter were returned to the Shelter due to a change in circumstances in their new adoptive home. One by one each puppies have now gone to their forever homes! Just within the last couple of days Libby has found her new home also. We wish all of the puppies a wonderful life with their new families! We will miss them, but there are Molly's 9 babies to play with to fill the void!