I Don’t Know How They Do It

I don’t know how they do it, I don’t know how they do it.  Today I  helped save a dog from being put to sleep.  Well, what’s so special about this dog?  Why is she any different from any of the others that are saved every day?  She’s special because she is a mother of 9.

When I heard that she was going to be euthanized, I jumped all over it.  My heart ran with it and my mind and common sense was left behind.  This isn’t new to me, I mean, I am who I am.  There is nothing about me that says “emotionally sound”.  I probably do all that I do because I don’t allow myself to think.  If I get an idea in my heart, I am off and running and I am in 110%.  I just couldn’t let something happen to this mom and her little babies.  After sitting back and watching everyone else and waiting for the big move to be made, I saw that the move just wasn’t happening.  I guess most of my friends are smarter than I am.

This morning, I called my vet and I explained the situation and the fact that the momma was ill and she had young puppies depending on her to stay alive.  I asked if they would be willing to let me board her there until I found a solution and despite everything, they agreed.  I truly have the best vet in the entire world.  Around 1:00 today, I named the mom “Heidi” and she made her way to the vets thanks to a great rescue group called Unleashed.  My friend Danielle stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park and I’m totally thankful.  Without a willing rescue to pull her, she would have died.  Danielle got her to the vets and Heidi has been there ever since.

On my way home I stopped in to check on her.  I really didn’t think they would take me to isolation to see her but they were all over it.  When I dropped in unexpectedly, a team formed around me and started giving me updates and then they started to urge me to follow them.  We went through countless doors, down halls and stairwells, through more doors and finally arrived at one final door.  What was waiting behind that door left me teary eyed and feeling empty inside.

The vet tech squatted down to the bottom cage and opened up both double doors.  I asked her if that was a good idea since I found out AFTER the fact that the shelter believed her to be feral.  She looked at me kind of funny and told me that she wasn’t feral, just a scared and sick mom.  Before I could blink, the tech’s hand was inside the cage and was stroking Heidi and her babies.  At one point, she even picked up one of the babies from under Heidi’s tail!  Never did Heidi make a move or a sound.  I felt kind of like an idiot at that point.

I forced my eyes to focus in on Heidi and allowed my mind to understand what was really happening.  The moment I felt it, I was moved to tears.  I reached my own hand out to stroke Heidi’s leg as I spoke to her and told her how sorry I was that she was so ill.  Her breathing was labored and occasionally her mouth would open slightly as she would gasp for more air.  My fingers began to tremble and my arm began to shake as I touched every puppy I could reach.  With tears flowing, I tried to be positive and I silently vowed to each puppy that I would love them.  One puppy stopped nursing and drug itself towards me and the open cage.  It appeared that the puppy sat up and then he opened his eyes and looked right at me.  I didn’t even know their eyes were open!  I started checking all of the puppies and saw no others with open eyes!  Those two cloudy blue-grey eyes bore into my soul and I swear I could feel that pup whispering back to me.

I thanked all of the techs and walked out to my car.  Once I had it started, I broke down completely.  Was I already giving up?  Did I already give them all a death sentence?  How in the HELL am I going to cope with this if I do lose them?  Of course, I was met with silence.  There currently are no answers so all I must have is hope and understanding.

I don’t know how they do it, I don’t know how they do it.  How do rescues ever know when to back up and say, “There is nothing I can do.”  When do they get smart and avoid situations that could have a terrible result?  And most of all, how can they make their heart stop hurting so much?  Does it ever go away completely or do they just carry lots of  little dog  and cat hairs on their sleeve for an eternity?  Do you become immune?  Can you just shut it all off?  I guess I’m not at that point (and doubt I ever will be).  If all that remains is a stray dog hair here and there, I’ll proudly wear it in remembrance.


For updates on Heidi and the pups, please read the comments section.  I will be updating at least twice a day.


Posted on January 12, 2012, in Posts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. michele Chapman

    What is wrong with the Mom? Will you start a “Chip in”?

  2. Patricia Gonzalez-Powell

    i too .. do not know how they do it … that said, please let us know if you set-up a Chip-In for Heidi so we can start sharing it .. and get some funds to get her and her pups well, and on their way to new homes …

  3. I haven’t set up a ChipIn but I am directing everyone to call in to the vets office where she is at and to make any donations to them directly. She is currently at Antioch Dog & Cat and you can reach them at (816) 453-7272. You can also view their website at http://antiochdog-cathospital.com . Thank you for caring enough to ask!

  4. There is not a shut off, nor that safety feature we call “walls” when it comes to animals…it weighs heavily and sometimes is almost too much to take. We all carry on because even one life saved is so worth it. Thank you for sharing! Much love and admiration and I hope for the best!

  5. Things aren’t looking so good for Heidi and the pups. Please no “I told you so’s”. I just got off the phone with Dr. Hodgson and he said that Heidi is stable. She did eat last night but has refused today and her milk production is slowing. The puppies aren’t crying so they have not stepped in to aide them, yet. Dr. Hodgson will go down later this afternoon and check her milk supply and if he feels it’s not sufficient he is going to start feeding the puppies extra.

    Heidi had a bath today to remove some of the urine and fecal matter that she was covered in.

    She is not currently coughing and does NOT have a temperature. While she is “mouth breathing” Dr. Hodgson feels like she isn’t too congested considering what we could be up against. He did explain that this could turn in an instant so she is being very closely monitored.

    The puppies seem to be good for the most part. They are attempting to nurse and aren’t crying. One puppy sadly, has nasal discharge. I don’t have to tell you that if one puppy gets it, they all will.

    At this point, we are treating her for severe kennel cough since she is not showing signs of something more serious but they are watching her VERY closely. She obviously does not feel well and is very quiet.

    If you can please donate towards her care, I would greatly appreciate it. I am asking that donations be made directly to the vet. You can reach Antioch Dog & Cat at (816) 453-7272 and let them know it’s for Heidi. Please pray for her and the babies.

    I will update everyone tonight after I stop in and visit them.

  6. Heidi update 1/13/12 6:00 pm:

    I just left the vets and Heidi acts like she’s not doing well at all. Just before I had arrived everyone had their temps taken and they were all normal. She had stopped making milk for the most part so all of the puppies have been taken from her and are separated out into 2 cages above her. She was laying dead still and it scared me because I thought she was gone. I opened of her cage and she didn’t even open her eyes. Dr. Hodgson said she was not doing well enough to handle getting better and taking care of the puppies and he felt that separating them was the best idea for all of them. She is incredibly weak. While I was there she did finally sit up a bit and get a drink of water but that was all. She is still “mouth breathing”. While they said that the congestion and green snot has improved over the day you could not tell by looking at her and seeing how she is acting. She looks drained. She was changed from Amoxicillin to Doxy today after Dr. Hodgson and I talked about the

    The pups are separated into 2 cages. One cage is the smallest of the litter and the other is the big ones. They have heating pads running from time to time to make sure that the pups are staying warm enough and for the most part, all but one seem fine. Of course, the one puppy that I had fell in love is the one that is sick. Dr. Hodgson started him on antibiotics this morning and he’s going to start the rest of the pups on them tonight as a precaution. They are getting bottle fed and are being given Nutri-Cal often.

    I plan to visit them again tomorrow and I will try and take better pictures. It’s hard when my hands are shaking and I’m fighting back so much emotion. Dr. Hodgson told me that I can bring whatever I want to see if she will eat it so I am going to boil some chicken tonight. He said that when he was a fresh and new vet that another vet pulled him aside and told him that the test to knowing if a dog would make is to give them some KFC and if they eat it, you can send them out the door. I did smile at that.

    The entire staff at Antioch Dog & Cat is amazing and they are all interested in helping these guys make it. I heard that some staff skipped lunch so they could sit and feed the puppies and take care of them. Everyone is all over it! When I was there, both of the vets came down to visit me and the puppies and talk about everything.

    I didn’t bother Heidi with my love rape. She looked so exhausted so I just talked to her and I promised her that I would do all I could to help. Dr. Hodgson and the staff told her that they want to see her get better and see her rehabilitated because they think she would be an amazing dog. They also told the puppies that people are lining up for a chance to adopt them. Apparently word has spread from the staff and friends and family are wanting to adopt them. There are quite a few people wanting to help these guys.

    Before I left, I told Dr. Hodgson and the staff to do everything in their power to save them as long as they were not suffering. I explained that if the time came and Heidi or the pups got bad that I did not want them to call me because I’m not strong enough to let them go and I would make a terrible mistake. I asked if he understood and he nodded his head.

  7. Can’t formulate a comment. Just know that you, Heidi and the tiny treasures are in our hearts and I’m praying for all of you. Will call the vet in the morning. Wish I was closer – I’d love to help take care of them all. You’re a blessing, girl.

  8. I have created a ChipIn for Heidi and the puppies. If you can’t call the vet and donate directly, please try and donate online. You can find the ChipIn at http://darath.chipin.com/heidi-and-9-babies .

  9. Is there an update on Heidi?

  10. For those of you wanting to follow Heidi’s progress, there will be a blog in the next few days!

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