Saving Puppies …

We have done our part to control the dog population of our village by having all our dogs, and cats, fixed.  That would be five dogs and two cats so far, if you include the in-laws pets.  Not everyone in the village shares our concern over this matter but one hopes that leading by example will have an effect somewhere down the road.

So the story goes something like this.  One of our neighbors went to work in the big city and left their small black dog with another neighbor who just so happens to be our gardener.  She lives just across from our property and walks to work with the little black dog hopping along on three legs, keeping her company most of the day.  She lounges in the lush grass under our trees and scavenges leftover food which our dogs don’t eat.  She is nearly as good as our cat at catching and eating mice from the neighboring fields which is a plus.

She was run over by a truck sometime back and there was a question as to whether she would survive or not.  She did but one back leg doesn’t work.  When in heat, she is pretty much at the mercy of the male dogs in the area due to her handicap.  Even though our three males are shooting blanks they still have a go at her, as well.  Previously none of her pups survived, perhaps due to her injuries, so nothing was done about contraception.

This time she had a litter of four but they were hidden under a rice storage shack for the first two weeks so nobody was even sure how many there were.  The gardener seemed to think there were three pups.  Suddenly there appeared, in a planter between the stairs and the house, a single black puppy.  The thought crossed my mind, something may have happened to the others and she selected the strongest or remaining puppy and moved it a couple hundred meters to the safety of our house.

To our surprise the next day there were four, one black, one charcoal grey, one brownish and one white.  Perhaps a reflection of the number and variety of partners.  This planter seemed a safe place with one way in and out, a row of Dok Dala or ginger looking plants at the entrance, and a dirt area at the back where one of our dogs likes to sleep on hot days.  The earth had been moved around to the point that a hollow had been created just the right size for the mother and her brood.

I was not all together happy the mother had brought her pups to live at our house as we have enough dogs already and I have suggested they be given away once they are old enough.  They are really messing with Cookie, our golden retriever’s instincts, as she gets very excited at the squeaky puppy noises emanating from the den.

So yesterday my wife was at the university as usual on the weekend, and sent me a text saying it was starting to rain in Chiang Rai.  The haze was thick, making it hard to discern smoke from cloud but I moved a few things that looked like they might get wet if it started to rain a bit.  At first the rain was pretty much what I expected, light and barely enough to create a drip from the eves.

The rain stopped and I thought that was it, when I looked out to see a solid wall of grey that looked very out of place, approaching from the west.  Suddenly the trees were all bending at odd angles and rain was being driven horizontally against the windows and into the covered lanai off the living room.  We have a lot of windows and they don’t all hold up to the firehose test when the rain comes at this angle and intensity.  I was soon monitoring the windows on the west and north side of the house, making sure any leaks would not get out of control.

Even over the noise of the storm I could hear the puppies crying and at first their mother didn’t seem to know what to do.  Eventually she managed to move her pups up onto the lanai and under the table where normally they would be relatively safe.  Soon, however, the entire floor was covered with water from the driving rain, as the pups cried and shook from the cold.  I had enough to do in the house and there was too much flying debris for me to go outside yet but I was keeping an eye on things from inside.  At least they were safely out of their den which was filled with water at this point.

Once the rain stopped I made my way through the debris to find the puppies.  Looking around I couldn’t find anyplace that was dry, when I noticed an overturned plastic tub.  Not a hand bucket but a heavy-duty container they often use to mix up cement on a construction site.  It reminded me of the box I had seen in Hawaii on my recent trip.  There it was made of wood and held 12 Doberman puppies but the idea was the same.  Sides high enough to keep the puppies in but low enough for the mother to climb over.

At first the mother was not keen on this idea and tried moving her puppies but after I moved this container to another area and found some relatively dry rags, she finally settled down and began cleaning and feeding her little ones.  Today, after a rainy night and morning, they are still where I put them and they seem happy in their new home.  Their eyes have just opened and they are still quite helpless but they have a caring mother who is doing the best she can.

I am not convinced they have much of a future but for now we have inherited a situation we can do little about so we will do what we can.  I just hope my wife doesn’t get too attached.  It may already be too late.

By way of update, here is a shot of the puppies today and one of mother and pups with Cookie looking on, taken by my wife with her iPhone 5 a few days ago.