Saturday, February 23, 2008


On Thursday afternoon, we loaded eight-week-old Christmas, Noel, and Star in a carrier—heavier because our sense of loss—and took them to the Central Oregon Humane Society. Born the day after Christmas, the three American Eskimo puppies came to us a day later. When Connie picked them up, they weighed 9 and 10 ounces.

The full story is rarely known when kittens and puppies come to foster care givers. We were told that their mom apparently didn’t want to be a mom and ravaged two of the litter. One other died of hypothermia because of no mother body warmth. Some dogs don’t make good mothers and it’s hard to figure, but it happens.

We learned that the American Eskimo is one of the Spitz families of Nordic breeds. First known as “German Spitz” in the U.S., the name was changed during World War I because of anti-German sentiments.

Connie became their mother, bottle feeding them every couple of hours, and then as they grew gradually lengthening the time between feedings and formula. I observed and went out each morning to build a fire in the shop where they were housed. I played with them, but didn’t have the rigorous feeding schedule or clean up responsibilities that Connie took care of.

When we arrived at the shelter Thursday, we were met by the staff. They knew this was not an easy transition for us, nor for the puppies. It never is. Everybody wanted to hold them. Friday, the puppies were spayed and are up for adoption today. We don’t have to worry about their being adopted. While I feel the loss, and I know that Connie feels a pain much deeper than mine, we are both glad the puppies will soon be off to permanent homes.

I felt guilty about my own tears in the presence of the staff and volunteers who love animals so much, who every day have to make hard life and death decisions, and who love and care for the diseased, old and the crippled animals just like they do healthy puppies. I couldn’t do their job, but I am deeply grateful for the way they and the participating vets do it, investing so much of their expertise and compassion on behalf of these creatures.

Jesus probably wasn’t thinking about orphan puppies or kitties when he said the words, “Inasmuch as you have done it (watered, fed, provided shelter, and visited) to the least of these you’ve done it to me,” but St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) wouldn’t have blinked at their inclusion. That’s good enough for me.

A special visit to your local Humane Society, or other shelter, to thank the staff and volunteers for what they do for “the least of these” and for the rest of us would be in order.
- Milo

Connie’s earlier posts on the puppies: “Fostering Cats, Kittens, and Now Puppies,” January 2, 2008; “Puppy Report, January 21, 2008

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