A few weeks ago a rather scrawny, rather timid dog showed up in the yard, obviously very hungry. I fed her, and hoped she’d go away, and for a while, she did. I noticed that she’d clearly had pups at some point though how long ago I couldn’t tell, and she wasn’t nursing at the time.
She came back now and again, ravenous, and began gaining in confidence. We weren’t sure if she had a home, and even if she did there was nobody in Kalamos that we were aware of, so it was highly unlikely that she was being fed. She came and went. Came and went. I decided we needed to give her some kind of name, so Bella she became. I bought her a collar which I managed to put on her – she didn’t like it much – so that at least she’d appear to have a home and not be shot as a stray.
Yes, it happens. And yes, there’s no excuse for it, and yes, I’m likely to be arrested for attacking any person I see doing such a thing, but the area is remote and the population outside of the holiday season can be counted on one hand. And the @#$%#@ who do this sort of thing know that. And they know it’s illegal and they know they won’t be caught and frankly, they don’t give a damn.
We didn’t see Bella for a while, and then she arrived, fat with pups, her face, head and neck bloodied with many tiny wounds. “Birdshot,” Ron said. “Birdshot. Some bastard has shot her full in the face.”
We cleaned her up and put Betadine and Fucidine on the wounds. She shook her head violently at the Betadine, making the nasty wound on her ear worse, so now I only use the cream. It’s slow going, but is getting better.
It was obvious that she was very close to birthing puppies. What could we do? We still have the kennel that my beautiful dog, Sophia, who broke my heart when she died, hardly ever used; her bed was in the house with us.
I persuaded Bella to get inside it and she settled in. For one night. The following night she wasn’t in it, but she didn’t show up for breakfast either. “She’s had the puppies somewhere,” I said to Ron. We started looking through the grounds, and although we couldn’t see her, we could hear little noises in the forest. The forest is dense; no way could we have penetrated to search for her.
We left a large bowl of food which was eaten at some point during the day. We left another that night. And that night it poured and poured and poured, and was cold. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t appear. Why she didn’t come to the kennel. It’s a very big one, very nicely made. The bedding was clean. I worried that harm could come to Bella and the pups she surely had, and spent most of the following day calling and calling to her.
And then, late in the day, as night began to fall and I was filling the drinking troughs outside, I saw Bella racing across the yard to the kennel. She’d definitely had the pups. She dashed into the kennel and emerged in a flash with the teensiest of puppies dangling by the scruff. Hardly bigger than a large mouse. It was all kinds of colors, but the way it dangled, and the way Bella was keening, I realized it was dead. She raced into the forest with it. There was no other puppy in the kennel and there hadn’t been all through the day. It was very strange.
I went back upstairs, not knowing if there were other puppies. Not knowing what had happened. Suddenly I heard heart-stopping screams and squeals and just managed to get a glimpse of Bella running from the forest with a most indignant pup clutched in her mouth.
For such a little thing it had a massive voice! She ran back and forth some 100 yards in a matter of mere minutes from forest to kennel, kennel to forest, and brought the rest of the family to their new home. She’d finally seen the light, or felt the warmth, or had some sort of epiphany and brought the babies in out of the cold and danger. So rapidly did she make the transfers that I barely had time to grab my camera, and take pics from the balcony.
Five. There are five of them. Had she brought the teensy one first? Was it already dead? Did she change her mind? And what did she do with it when she fled into the forest with it? It was much, much smaller than the rest of the litter, so perhaps it had no chance. I’ll never know what happened.
Bella’s pups were born sometime through the night of 19th /20th March. She brought them to the kennel on the 21st, and they’ve not moved since. They’re growing at such a pace that she can’t pick them up in her mouth anymore.
Their eyes started opening yesterday, and they are cute, cute, cute. The black and white one’s already a live wire. He keeps tumbling out of the kennel…you’ll note ma’s keeping him firmly underfoot. Not yet two weeks old and their characters are becoming evident.
Somehow I have to find homes for them. And that’s going to be a real battle.