And then they grew.
They crawled, they waddled, they walked, they climbed. They ran and pounced and pooped and peed. They wrestled and snuggled, they nipped and they chewed.
In just seven weeks, they went through over a hundred pounds of kibble, a dozen rolls of paper towel, three giant size boxes of green garbage bags, a van load of newspaper, three dozen cans of puppy food, eight litres of evaporated milk, three dozen egg yolks, thirty-six packages of gelatin, a bottle of enzyme supplement, twenty syringes of dewormer, six tubs of yoghurt, four boxes of pablum, a cup of corn syrup, three tarps, several pieces of lumber, ten collars, and a never-ending supply of blankets, sheets, towels, detergent, cleansers, air freshner, disposable gloves, and toys. Add to that a half dozen trips to the dump with the soiled papers, a pair of doggy diapers and three boxes of liners for mama Lucy, and of course the meat, broth, oatmeal, rice, eggs and supplements for Lucy’s homecooked food when her intestines couldn’t handle any kibble.
They kept me up night after night, and they left me so exhausted that sleep, when it happened, was deep and dreamless.
My washer and dryer were constantly running, the dishes were always piled high, the counters and table were cluttered with puppy paraphernalia, and there was never more than an hour or two when the floor was poop-and-pee-free.
They squealed, they squeaked, they barked and they growled, they howled and yipped and whined and grumbled.
They tried my patience, and they touched my heart. They made me laugh, and they brought me to tears.
They worried me sick, and they forced me to grow. They helped me define my limitations and know where my strengths in rescue lie. And it isn’t with puppies.
An army of wonderful people became my life-line. SPCA volunteers, neighbours, members of my community donated time and goods which helped me retain my sanity and live within my budget. And there were the professionals: the emergency vet whose voice on the phone guided me through delivering a stuck pup, my own vet who answered my email questions and reassured me when my confidence faltered, the SPCA vet who helped Lucy with her mastitis and intestinal troubles, and the staff at the SPCA who entrusted me with their care, and ultimately will have the responsibility of selecting appropriate homes for the pups and Lucy. To all these people, I am eternally grateful. It was, in so many ways, a joint effort.
And now the squealing, barking, whining, howling, running, pouncing, playing Butternut Squash Kids are moving on.
May their future families be committed to them forever, love them, teach them, feed them healthy food, nurture them, protect them, exercise their bodies and their minds, and share their living space with them. May not one of the pups ever end up in a shelter, may they never be homeless, may they never know fear or pain or hunger or insecurity. May they always be as safe and healthy and happy as they are today; may they truly be part of a family.
I cannot say with honesty that I will miss them, but I will certainly always remember them.
The last of the pups have left the building.