Take that, antivaxers! This is nearly the end…of 2017, that is—with puppies!

As huge of a pain as it was to move the old blog over to this spiffy new setup, there was one advantage other than the spiffy new setup. That advantage was that the three or four weeks of downtime during which I transferred over twelve years worth of material over to the new site taught me that it’s OK to take time off from the blog every now and then. My traffic recovered faster than I thought it would, for one thing. True, it’s still not up to old levels, but I find these days that I don’t really care about my traffic the way I used to; so it doesn’t really bother me. It also means that, in case you haven’t figured it out already, I’m taking this week off—well, except for this post, which will not be about anything medical at all. I always reserve the right to change my mind if something happens between now and January 3 that I cannot resist. However, most years the week between Christmas and New Years is fairly quiet on the quackery front, as it is usually so on the news front; so I’m probably safe. We also will have a houseguest over the New Years Day weekend, which means that I probably won’t manage to post on January 2.

Because it’s the holiday season, I thought I’d do something a little personal. This is Dora:


Dora was my study companion while I was reviewing for my surgery board recertification last month.

She’s a dog my wife and I volunteered to foster and now want to adopt. We picked her up in October. She’s one of the sweetest dogs we’ve ever met. There was a little catch—or should I say surprise?—six and a half weeks ago. Those of you who follow my Facebook feed and maybe those who follow my Twitter feed already know what the catch was. Dora, it turned out when my wife took her to be spayed, was pregnant with eight puppies.

I had never seen a dog give birth before, and it was fascinating to watch. Over the course of five hours or so (from around 3 AM to 8 AM, of course), each puppy came out, and as it did Dora would lick the membranes off frantically. When it was over, there were eight new puppies, four black and four mixed white and black, overall six males and two females.

Dora's puppies

Dora’s puppies, a couple of days old.

Dora's puppies

Don’t blame me for the cat blanket. The dog shelter supplied that for us with a pile of other blankets.

It wasn’t a lot of work at first because the puppies couldn’t walk and only consumed the milk that Dora provided. They were blind and deaf, as puppies are for the first weeks of life. Of course, as anyone who’s ever raised puppies (which now includes us) knows, as they grow, open their eyes, and acquire the ability to walk, things get…interesting. They also have to be introduced to solid food. Right now, at six and a half weeks, the puppies are pretty much weaned, and all that remains is to get them switched over from blended food to solid puppy food, which should happen within the next few days.

When last we weighed them a couple of days ago, they ranged in weight from around 5.7 to 7.3 lbs. Yes, they’re really getting big fast, and it’s hard to believe that a dog as small as Dora carried eight puppies that large! (They were under a pound at birth.) The hilarious thing is that the puppies, who all used to be able to fit on my lap, still seem to think that they are small enough to keep doing it. Here they are on Christmas morning:

And they’re learning to play, having discovered the joys of tug-of-war with each other and chasing various toys and balls:

And, finally, here they are this morning. They’re really becoming active!

Yes, there’s a lot of pee around. One thing we’ve learned from these puppies is that it’s impossible to keep the pen clean for very long and that we just have to roll with it. And there is a lot of pee and poo to clean up, such that even cleaning it three times a day after feeding doesn’t keep up with it. Also, puppies aren’t the least bit concerned about stepping in it and spreading it all over the pen, but, being dogs, instinctively do not poop near their bed area. It kind of strikes me as a metaphor for life, actually.

We’re still going to adopt Dora, but unfortunately we don’t think we can adopt one of the puppies because training a new puppy from scratch and seeing him through his…energetic…years is more sustained work than I think we can handle after this. I have little doubt that these cuties will quickly find forever homes after they go out in pairs to new fosters in a couple of weeks. We’ll be sad when they have to leave and we’ll miss the little buggers (puppy breath and kisses!), but we’ll have our normal life back, no longer regimented to feedings followed by cleaning up copious poop three times a day, and our basement will no longer have that gross sickly sweet smell of puppy poop always hanging in the air. Fortunately, it’s a lot less intense than poop from an adult dog, but it is…different.

Life’s full of surprises, and this one was a doozy. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun. I might have to do it again—after I’m retired and have the time. Maybe by 2030 or a bit later I’ll be able to do this again. In the meantime, here’s proof that I’m not as evil as antivaxers think I am. I love puppies.

NOTE: The shelter for which we’re fostering Dora and her puppies is I Heart Dogs. Consider an end-of-year donation, if you will.