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My Canine Companions: Chapter Six – Cleopatra “Cleo”

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)

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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