I have thought about how I can break this down to introduce each puppy without this blog going on for days and days of reading, so I came up with this: I will condense it to Parts 1 through 5.

As I mentioned, Cleo gave birth to 14 puppies in total. However, only 9 survived. She was a great mom in the beginning. She nursed them, constantly cleaned them and took excellent care of them. This went on for about two weeks and Cleo decided she did not want to nurse any longer. So, without any other options, I stepped in to take over. I purchased nursing bottles, extra nipples, special formula for newborn puppies…..the whole works. In the beginning, the excitement overpowered my desire to tire. It was only after 2 days that exhaustion set in. I was up every two hours trying to feed 9 hungry and demanding puppies and I do not need to remind you I was working with only two hands. I did this for about 2 weeks until I was in the pet store walking through the aisles like a zombie in search of more puppy formula and I had an idea. Why not mix a little human baby cereal in with the puppy formula? Yes, that was a grand idea. That would keep them full for longer and I would be able to get some uninterrupted sleep. It worked and I was extremely relieved. I substituted the baby cereal for puppy chow (still mixed with puppy formula) when they were about 5 weeks old. I was told that may have been too early, but I think it is up to the puppy. I caught a couple of them trying to eat the kibble in one of my other adult dog food bowls and that told me they were ready to slowly and completely step up to the final weening process. So, now I tried mixing puppy chow and a little bit of formula and gradually cut back on the amount of formula until “voila”! The puppies were now entirely weened. Next came socialization skills along with house training and the chewing stages, etc. I will not go into that whole nightmare, but I will say all was a success.

I think it is quite clear, at this point, that I became attached to these puppies. I knew I could financially care for them, but could I handle this number of dogs? I decided I could, so with me they all stayed 🙂 They turned 3 years old this last February and they are a tremendous joy to my family. They all have been spayed and neutered and they all get along with one another, with the exception of an every now and then growl, which is bound to happen with so many dogs.

Master Puppy Joe

I will begin with the first puppy introduction with Puppy Joe. Where do I start? He is the only dog I have ever known who literally watches television. That is only if there is a dog or any other animal on the screen. Once he sees it, he constantly watches for it and, of course, barks and barks until I either have to watch something else or fast forward that particular scene. It is quite funny actually. He also goes completely nuts if he sees other dogs when he is going for a car ride, which is why his car trips are rare.

Puppy Joe (right) with his mama, Cleo. This photo was taken a few days after the surgery from his snake bite.

I decided a while ago to take a sabbatical and travel (with all of the dogs) to New England. I plan on writing a blog on that trip or adventure in the future and believe me some of the things that happened on that trip were incredible and so surreal and hard to believe. I made it to Utah and had stopped at a rest area that had a fenced in dog park. While there, Puppy and one of his brothers were bitten by a snake. I immediately found a Vet where both puppies given IV fluids and medicine. Sadly, Puppy’s brother did not make it and passed away. I was devastated. to say the least. Puppy was struggling to heal and his foot (where the snakebite was) became swollen ….almost the size of a tennis ball. He was very lethargic, would not eat much and I had to make him drink water by first taking it in a straw myself and transferring to him. Once we arrived in New Hampshire, I immediately took him to a local vet where he was hospitalized for a few days and after a few follow up visits, lots of TLC and medicine, he pulled through like a camper. Today, although he is not the alpha dog of the litter, he grew to be the largest in both size and ego. Puppy is one of the more vocal dogs from the others. He loves to snuggle anytime you want to, eat and play. I always say he reminds me of a deer and it is because of his “doe” like eyes. With the combination of his big brown eyes and the memory of the snakebite story and how I almost lost him makes him able to get away with almost anything……and he does 😉

Next blog will be Part 2 and more puppies will be introduced 🙂

E.L. / Septemeber 2011



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My Canine Companions: Chapter Six – Cleopatra “Cleo”


“Cleo”, Mother of the Puppies

It was an easy and quiet Sunday evening and I was camped out in front of the television. All the dogs were fed and resting. The telephone rang and it was a friend of mine, “Max”, who works as a guard for a Federal Prison Camp in Bakersfield, CA (about an hour and a half from Los Angeles). “Max” explained to me there was a dog who had ended up on the prison grounds and for a little while the warden did not mind, but now that had changed. The warden had visitors who were coming to evaluate the prison and she wanted the dog removed. When one of the guards tried to capture her, she snapped at him and growled. “Max” was afraid she would be killed, because no one made any other attempts to capture her assuming she was dangerous. If they called the local animal control, we both knew once she was in “the system” she had little to no chance of surviving. They would have tagged her as “dangerous and aggressive.” I had until Tuesday morning to come get her. I arrived early Tuesday and had no problem at all getting her to come with me. She was a pretty dog. Very kind, warm eyes. I named her Cleopatra (Cleo for short) because of her eyes. They reminded me of Egyptian royalty, I suppose. Definitely a German Short-Haired Pointer and obviously underweight and a bit lethargic. The ride back to Los Angeles was a piece of cake. She slept the entire trip.

I drove straight to my vet and we were not there more than 5 minutes until he told me the shocking news….Cleo was pregnant. Oh boy, now I had to nurse her back to health fast to make sure the unborn puppies had a chance. She was 2 years old (a guess) and, well, not spayed. I got her vaccines updated and everything else checked out all right. No sign of fleas or ticks or any other parasites. Her coat was short, but a bath was in order.

After her bath, I put her in the now vacant “visitor” room where she slept for nearly 2 days; getting up for an occasional drink of water. this dog was obviously exhausted from being on her own in the desert for who knows how long. After a while, she got an appetite and did she get an appetite. She wanted to eat everything. She got along with my other dogs, but pretty much kept to herself.

I could not wait to call “Max” and let him know why Cleo showed aggression..she was pregnant. He was almost as shocked as I was and asked me what was I going to do with her. I told him my plan was to make sure she was healthy and happy throughout her pregnancy and I would find her and her babies a safe and loving home 8 weeks after delivery.

Cleo was getting bigger and bigger in the stomach area and I was so excited waiting for her to give birth. I bought so many books, researched so many websites on the internet and spoke with several different people, including my vet, on what to expect and do when the big moment finally arrived. That big moment came at exactly 3:00AM February 18, 2008…just 4 days after St. Valentine’s Day. Cleo had been in labor that previous evening and I had everything set up and ready for her and her puppies. She birthed 8 beautiful and healthy puppies. I sat up with her the rest of the night until I had to get ready and leave for work by 8:00AM. I only worked a half a day and came home to an even more shocking surprise. I expected to find 8 puppies, but now I counted 14! I could not believe it! 14…..really? Four were stillborn, though, so that left 10 surviving, healthy pups! So, it only took 2 weeks to pass by before Cleo decided she was tired of nursing. I guess I could not blame her in a way. Now I had to be the “mother” and bottle feed all of these puppies. What an adventure that was! Just think of trying to feed 2 puppies at a time because I only have 2 hands yet all 10 puppies are awake and hungry at the same time. They had to eat every 2 hours around the clock, so to say I was beyond exhausted after just a day is an understatement. Whew! I kept them on puppy formula for a few weeks until I was in dire need of sleep and rest, so I decided to mix “baby cereal” in with their formula and made a mixture for the puppies to eat and hopefully keep their little bellies full for at least 4 hours at a time. It worked and I was thrilled! By the eighth week, they were all weened from puppy formula and now eating puppy chow in a bowl. My “surrogate mother” duties were done.

E.L. / June 2011


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My Canine Companions: A Blog Series (Chapter Five: Freeway)


Rescued from a Los Angeles intersection hence the name "Freeway"

I am up to Chapter Five and not even half way yet. Freeway is my smallest dog. He is 4 years old (estimated) and 16 pounds. He is such a character. This is how he came into my life. It was about 7PM one weekday evening; still peak time for Los Angeles heavy traffic jams. Near the 101/5 freeway intersection, traffic was stop and go and I see a little ball of fur pass by me running toward traffic but along the side of the highway. I pull over and get out, because it would be easier to catch up to him on foot. When I got close enough to him, he panicked and ran under a stopped vehicle. He stayed there next to the front tire, shaking from fear and obviously very dehydrated. The couple in the vehicle got out and the driver came to assist me in grabbing Freeway while the passenger alerted traffic to go around. It only took about 2 attempts and three bites on my arm before I had him firmly enough to pull him to safety into my arms. Amazingly, I did not hear impatient people blowing their horns or shouting out obscenities (unlike New York City). I thanked the couple for their help and Freeway and I walked back to my car. He sat on my lap on the drive back home and into my house I come with yet another “visitor”. I know this did not happen, but I could have sworn when I opened the door with Freeway in tow that my other dogs rolled their eyes as if they were thinking “Not again; not another one!”

He immediately wanted water and afterwards he received a bath and some grooming (he was very matted). I separated him from the other dogs until I was able to get him seen by the vet. In the meantime, I took photos of him and posted them on different websites regarding lost dogs. I posted them in and around the area I found him, including dog parks, animal hospitals, schools, churches, bus stops, pet supply stores, etc. You name it, I posted there. Now all I had to do was wait and hope some frantic person looking for their lost dog would contact me.

The vet determined Freeway was about 2 years old..give or take a couple of months. He was not microchipped, but he had been neutered. Since there is no way to determine whether or not a dog has been vaccinated, he was given updates on all vaccines.

After receiving a clean bill of health, all Freeway and I could do now was wait…wait…wait and hope the phone would ring with someone claiming him. Within a month, I had received about a dozen lost dog calls, but none of the descriptions fit Freeway’s. After three months and I no longer received any lost dog calls, I registered him as my own, which brought me up to five dogs. I thought about it and how hard would it be to have a 16 pound dog as an addition to the family. He quickly settled into his now new and forever home.

I have to include a pretty funny story with Freeway’s introduction Shortly after he came to live with me, he showed small signs of semi blindness. He was not bumping into furniture or anything like that, but he acted as if he would follow my voice by sound and not sight. I was convinced he was losing his sight until one day, we were at the dog park and I usually made sure he did not wander too far, but this one he did. I panicked a little bit as I was calling his name and all I heard was a low growl over and over. I was amazed to find the growl was coming from Freeway who had not one, but two Doberman Pinscher’s backed up into a bush afraid or too confused to move. When I shouted, “Freeway”, in a “you’re being a bad boy” voice, he turned around and looked at me and I kid you not it was almost as if he started to pretend he was blind and had no idea what he was doing. From that moment on, I had his number. The funny part is to this day, Freeway thinks he is the alpha dog and thinks he runs the show. The funnier part is my other dogs let him believe that.


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My Canine Companions: A Blog Series (Chapter Four – Mr. Belvedere)


My Gentle Giant!

Mr. Belvedere is my other American Bulldog. He is mixed with Bull Mastiff, weighs about 104 pounds and is 4 years old. I was helping another rescue organization in Los Angeles and one night I received a telephone call asking if I could foster a dog. I had the room in my place and an extra room I designated as the “overnight (or sometimes longer) house guest” room. Besides, my own dogs were very dog friendly and welcomed any dog or cat into the house without getting territorial. I supposed they looked at it being a new playmate to tease.

I agreed to foster “Barrot”. This was his name when I first knew of him. Barrot had been rescued from an abusive household where he was chained outside of a garage and was hit repeatedly with a baseball bat whenever he would bark. I know, is that not what dogs do…bark? This apparently had been going on for nearly a year before he was removed from this situation. I was to pick him up at a shelter where he had been for about a week or so. When I arrived to pick him up, he was very scared and confused, but came with me willingly.

Back at home, he immediately got a bath and grooming (even brushed his teeth) and I had set up his room with food, water and a very comfy cozy dog bed and, of course, a small basket filled with toys and chew bones. He had been neutered earlier that morning, so he was a bit drowsy still. The night was good….not a sound from him unless I count the snoring and boy did he snore.

I received another telephone call from the organization this time asking me if I could bring him to the pet adoption, which was being held in West Los Angeles the next day. I agreed and the next day I prepared him for his big debut. I just dropped him off and was to pick him back up in 3 hours if he had not been adopted. My fingers were crossed and he watched me leave. I returned to find him secluded from the rest of the group of dogs also up for adoption and the lady running the adoption told me he was not adoptable, because he fiercely barked at anyone who approached him and obviously would scare them away. She and I had a couple of words back and forth ending with me being told he was going to be “put down” for reason being he was too aggressive. I disagreed with her decision and she said I could take him and do what I wanted to, but I would have to sign a legal document with the local police department relieving her of any legal responsibilities. In other words, she did not want to be responsible if he bit someone. I signed all of the paperwork and brought him back to my house.

For 3 weeks, I had a professional dog trainer come to my house and she, I and Barrot worked on his aggressive issues. It took no time at all for him to turn into the cream puff he is today. He stopped barking and growling at people and learned quickly to be well behaved. I changed his name shortly after to Mr. Belvedere, because Barrot was his old name…old life.

He and Daisie Lou immediately had this bonding connection between them and to this day they still are “connected at the hip”. He sleeps right next to me at night taking half of my pillow and every now and then he snores right into my ear, so I have to move around a little bit.

He experiences mild seizures occasionally. This is caused by being hit in the head so often. One of his eyes are a little off for the same reason. But, all in all, he is in excellent health and I do not know what I would do without my Mr. Belvedere.

Also, I had no idea how handy and helpful Mr. Belvedere’s presence would be in the near future as I will explain in an upcoming blog in this series.

E.L. / June 2011


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My Canine Companions: A Blog Series (Chapter Three: Daisie Lou)



One Lucky Girl


Daisie Lou is my American Bulldog Mix. She was the third member of my family and her story is quite an interesting one. She was a victim of dog fighting and was used for bait, which is when a non aggressive dog is placed in a fight with an aggressive fighting dog, usually so the fighting dog gets the taste of blood. In her case, she was only 3 months old and her mouth was taped closed with duct tape so she would not be able to fight back. Amazingly, she was not killed, but instead she was found wandering the streets of South Central (Los Angeles), hungry, scared and in severely bad shape.

When I found her, I immediately took her to one of my vets I work closely with. I have a number of different vets who I bring my rescue dogs and cats to for care. They all are very compassionate and extremely helpful for me when it comes to billing me for the work they perform. Most will not even charge anything for their time; just lab work, some medications, etc. I knew Daisie Lou had a very slim chance of surviving, if any at all. When I arrived to the vet, he rushed her in for observation. After examining her, he informed me that she had the following: a collar that had been placed on her neck when she was a small puppy that was not removed or loosened, so skin from her neck had started to grow literally “into” the collar itself; she had pneumonia; she had 3 types of worms; she had demodectic mange; her bones were making sores on her body where she was way underweight; dehydrated; and simply in shock. The vet did everything he could do and said it was up to Daisie Lou to do the rest. I thought it would be best if I took her home with me, because she had already been through so much and I wanted her to feel the feeling of a “safe” home. He agreed and told me to call him at his house at anytime if I thought she needed to come back in case her condition became worse. That was enough for me. I wrapped her in a blanket and off we went to my place.

Both Emme and Jasper (my two dogs) knew Daisie Lou was very sick, so they did not try to play “territorial or alpha dog” with her. If I could only tell them Daisie Lou was only a “visitor” and I was only fostering her until she became well enough to place for adoption. They left her alone except for the occasional sniffing. For 3 days and 2 nights, I stayed up pretty much around the clock with her. We had to rush in the middle of the night, twice, to see the vet. Both times were close calls where she had severe labored breathing, but managed to pull through. I remember those frantic drives as I tried to remain calm and positive. I would chant “nam myo renge kyo” (a Buddhist chant) the entire drive.

I had empty kleenex boxes all over the place where I had to wipe her nose constantly. She had such a hard time breathing from having the pneumonia. She was taking the highest strength of medications she could (considering her very young age). I even put a dab of Vick’s vapor rub on a kleenex and place it near/under her nose so it would help her breathe easier, which seemed to help for a little while.

In about two months, she made a complete recovery. Her coat had grown (no more mange), her appetite had increased dramatically (no more skin and bones) and all other ailments had diminished. She became strong enough to run and play with the other dogs, including her new friends at the dog parks.

I mentioned my plans was to foster Daisie Lou, but somewhere along the way I became attached to her. Maybe it was the nights of lying next to her and making sure she was breathing, or maybe when I prepared her food in a blender and fed it to her using a syringe, or maybe it was a combination of many things. Nonetheless, I thought , “Two dogs was easy enough…..what is three”. So, now Daisie Lou’s next visit to the vet was getting a microchip with my name and address as her permanent one.

E.L./ June 2011



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My Canine Companions: A Blog Series (Chapter Two)

This is part 2 of my blog series titled ‘My Canine Companions: A Blog Series’.


Jasper Jones Getting Some Shade

Jasper is my 13 year old German Shepherd. He was Scott’s dog (one of my very good friends in Los Angeles, California.) Scott found Jasper one night in the middle of the road. He thought he was hit by a car so he rushed him to the 24 hour emergency animal hospital where he then discovered this dog had not been hit, but shot in the chest instead. Miraculously, the bullet missed all vital organs, so Jasper had a chance. He recovered within a few weeks , but he was imprinted with fear whenever he heard loud noises, such as thunder of fireworks.

Scott lived in Hollywood Hills, but worked in Huntington Beach (about an hour drive depending on traffic), so I would watch Jasper for him during the day at my place. It was great, because he and Emme got along great and she enjoyed having a playmate around. Scott’s work hours increased and the days turned into overnight stays and then into weekend stays. One day, Scott and I sat down and agreed it would be best for Jasper to live with me permanently.

Having two dogs was easy enough. Jasper fit in as if he had been there from day one. He loved to do everything Emme enjoyed; car rides, daily trips to the dog parks, walks, sleeping and of course treats and toys. It was exceptionally nice that Jasper respected Emme’s toys and marrow bone baskets. She had one for every room. The baskets were filled with her favorite toys she had accumulated since she was a young puppy to date. I, of course, replaced the marrow bones with fresh ones periodically. I started a basket for Jasper and even though Emme tried at first to bring all of the contents to her basket, she eventually “got it” that it was Jasper’s basket of fun.

Jasper turned 13 years old this past March and is still very lively. Everyone loves him. He is great with kids of all ages, people and other animals…..even cats! His health is good for a dog his age and so far no problems with hip dysplasia. He gets a bit stiff in his back legs and needs a boost to get in the car, but I think that is just from old age. Just loud noises, as I mentioned above, so I make sure I keep a couple of bottles of “calm pills” around whenever there is a thunderstorm in the forecast. The pills are all natural with the main ingredients being Valerian root, ginger and chamomile. It minimizes effects of stressful situations and seems to work for him and us.

Although Jasper is old in years, I believe my other younger dogs keep him quite youthful. He still participates in playful activities and is always around for cheese….his favorite. My very good friend, Cindi, has a 5 year old daughter named Charlotte (Lotty for short) and Jasper just adores her. When she comes by to visit, he perks up with excitement yet he knows to be gentle with her. It is funny, because Lotty calls Jasper “Jaspert” and even though I corrected her and explained how to pronounce his name, she stuck with Jaspert because she said she liked it better. I find myself calling him that, as well, and I think I may like it better, too!  As far as Jasper liking it, it does not matter either way.  As long as you have a piece of cheese in your hand, he will answer to any name.

E.L./ June 2011


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My Canine Companions: A Blog Series

Many of you know that I have an extreme passion for dogs and animals in general. You may also know that I have taken in 14 dogs into my home and heart. Yes, I did say 14. This blog will be part of a series of blogs as I will list each dog in chronological order they entered into my life.


My Sui Generis!

Emme Woo is my canine soul mate and as you read her story, it will explain why.  It was 1999 and I was living in Santa Monica, Ca. I would have loved to have a dog then, but the place I lived in did not allow pets of any kind. I had decided that once my lease was over, I would seek out and move to another place that was pet friendly. That was the plan. I have to point out that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for tomorrow.

One evening I received a telephone call regarding my best friend, Butch Berrei. He had been experiencing chest pains and was taken to the emergency room where he soon after discovered he had suffered a heart attack. A few days later he was discharged and I was his ride home. While at the hospital, I had a conversation with his doctor who agreed with me that it would be wonderful for Butch to get a dog. It has been proven that pets, especially dogs, aid in helping to keep blood pressure down (in addition to the strict diet Butch was now on).

It took a lot of attempts to convince Butch, and then one day I received another telephone call. This time it was Butch and he wanted me to accompany him to pick out a puppy. A lady living near UCLA was trying to find homes for 7 puppies. They were Akita/Chow/Pit Mix and about 5 1/2 weeks old. I was ecstatic! When we arrived at the lady’s house, we went around back to a fenced in yard. She opened the gate and 6 puppies came clumsily running out all around us. Butch picked up one of the puppies and asked me what I thought. I noticed immediately this particular puppy was the largest of them all and obviously the “rebel rouser” of the group. Before I could respond, I heard a faint cry in the background. It was coming from a part of the yard we could not see. I heard it a second time…and then a third. Finally, I asked the lady what was I hearing and she informed me that it was the 7th puppy, who was also the runt. She continued to say she did not feel this puppy was going to survive, because being the smallest, the other puppies would not allow her to nurse, therefore she was very under nourished. I looked at my friend and told him that was the puppy he wanted. I had not laid eyes on this puppy, but knew in my heart she was the one…..the sui generis (one of a kind)!

The agreement between Butch and I was that I would house train his new puppy before giving her to him for good. I figured I could convince my landlord to permit this arrangement on a temporary basis. After her very first bath and some puppy formula in a bottle it was time for bed. I tried to get her to sleep with me in my bed, but it was too high and she just cried and cried.  I set up a comfy cozy place for her to sleep on the floor beside the bed, but she cried when I left her. So, I ended up cuddling with her for the night. I assumed it was only for the night.

The next morning I woke up with a smile as I realized she was licking my face. I knew at that moment she was home. Now how was I going to tell Butch that I already became attached and he was going to have to pick another puppy? I thought to myself I would just simply explain to him the truth; he would understand and be all right with it. That afternoon, I called him (after “dodging” a couple of his phone calls) and as I hoped, he completely understood. In fact, he told me Emme was actually an early Christmas present for me. He thought it was the perfect opportunity to “trick” me into picking out a puppy for myself.

Butch never got a puppy or dog in the end, but he saw Emme practically everyday.  I believe she somehow knew if it was not for Butch, I would have never known her. Today, she is still very much in my life. Boyfriends, some friends, jobs, etc. have come and gone, but through thick and thin, high and low, and good and bad….she has always been there. She turned 11 years old this past January and is still going strong. I love all of my dogs, but Emme has a special place in my heart and always will.  She was the snowball that started the avalanche in a funny way of speaking.

EL/ June 2011

My next blog coming will be a continuation of this series. It will be Chapter Two: Jasper Jones.


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