Misty, Roxy & Ginger

In summer of 2004, 3 stray dogs were wandering around our family owned business. I left food out for them when I arrived in the morning and before I left at the end of each day.
Only one of the dogs stayed around. We assumed she was pregnant. Finally in late Sept. we could hear pups crying in a cave. The mom still came out morning and afternoon to eat. She would carry the dish away with the food in it. I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t stay and eat. I thought it was because she was too afraid to take the time. I’d talk to her as she passed through, but could never get close, she always walked away from me.
In October we saw 3 pups asleep at the opening of the cave. I placed food there but was hesitant to get too close. I didn’t know where momma was. That night we told our brother-in-law who was interested. He came to the yard the next day in hopes of seeing the pups. We went up in back & couldn’t hear anything. As I started to walk away, I noticed something to the left of the cave, up higher on a level part of the bank. I called out & 6 little heads started popping up. They were beautiful, healthy puppies. I started handing the pups down to my husband & brother-in-law. One of the pups was squirming so much she slipped back down into the cave. Just then, they shouted to me to move out of there because Momma was on the other side of the fence. She just laid there watching. I didn’t know what to expect from her so I left the one pup and got out. I then called animal control for assistance to retrieve the other pup. The officer went back to the cave and got the other pup. I placed a plate of food out and they all dove into it. I wondered how they knew how to eat like that, if they had only been nursing. The animal control officer assumed they were at least 8 weeks old. They were all clean, free of parasites and chubby. Momma did a great job!

Animal control took 4 pups to the shelter to put up for adoption. I decided to keep 2 females. The next day Momma was hanging around the buildings frantic to get at her pups. I received a called from Animal Control informing me the other 4 pups were checked out by a vet and were only 5 weeks old. They needed to capture Momma & bring my 2 pups to the shelter so they could nurse another 3 weeks.
I knew it would be difficult to capture Momma. Two officers came and they used my 2 pups as bait. They put them in a trap to lure Momma in. She circled all around the cage but wouldn’t go inside for fear of entrapment. She even tried to dig underneath. They then put the pups on leashes & Momma came back and cried & pleaded with them to let her have them. She continued begging & crying, but never got vicious. She could have bitten them at anytime to get them to release the pups, but she didn’t. They tried to get a loop around her neck when she came close to the pups but failed. Momma moved around too quickly. They decided to crate the pups & put them into their van with the side door opened. They hid behind the van & when Momma went in they would slam the door shut. They set it up and Momma came around & slowly crept into the van. As the door was pushed closed, Momma jumped out & the door hit her in the head & it popped back open. Momma ran off under the fence and stayed up in back and pleaded (barking franticly) for 15 minutes. The women decided that she had lost trust in them, so they had to leave. They told me I had to try to capture her. We then closed the three overhead garage doors. We placed the pups in the center of the garage in a crate. The side door to the garage was opened and we attached a rope to the doorknob. An employee was in the garage working. I hid behind a piece of equipment with the rope in my hand. Momma was going all around the building. She finally passed by the open door. She placed her front paws on the threshold. A tool had dropped, startling her and she fled. Again she came to the open door and started talking to the pups. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. She moved her mouth (opening & closing it) and was making sounds almost like whispering to them. I knew she had to come in a lot farther before I could pull the door shut. She came in farther stepping past the loose rope. I slowly pulled the rope taunt. Just then another wrench dropped. I froze.

If Momma bolted she would have run right into the taunt rope at her neck. Instead, one of the pups made a sound and she had a decision to make. Leave, or go to the pups and be captured. She chose her pups. She ran toward them and I pulled on the rope, the door slammed closed. She ran past the closed crate, startled by the noise of the slamming door. She ran under a truck. I called Animal Control as instructed. We didn’t approach Momma or her pups until they arrived. They told me to carry the pups over to their mother. I placed the pups near her and they began to nurse. Momma never moved. Her only concern was for her babies. We realized what bad shape she was in. A front tooth had been imbedded in her lip. Most of her teeth were either broken in half or missing. The two teeth on the bottom lay flat. Her nose had a split in it. She was thin, dirty, wet and tired. That’s when I realized why she had been carrying the plates of food away to be eaten. It was hard for her to eat quickly with the condition of her mouth and she couldn’t chance being caught and taken away from her pups. She stayed the night with the pups because the ordeal was too traumatic. The next morning we entered the garage & Momma couldn’t be seen. All of a sudden she came out from under a truck and slowly walked toward me. I knelt down. She came as close to me as possible, licked my face and put her head on my shoulder and sighed as if to say “thank-you, I don’t have to run anymore”. At that point I knew I loved her and wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her. I had to care for her no matter what. She trusted me! Animal control arrived & Momma was being led out when she suddenly stopped, turned back and looked at me. I went with her to the van to let her know it was okay.
Momma and her 6 pups spent the next 3 weeks at the shelter. A Vet removed the tooth embedded in her lip to make her more comfortable. We visited them weekly. She was excited to see us every time we visited and she knew I would be back for her.
When they were returned to us, I made appointments for them with a Veterinarian for exams and shots. Momma was in dire need of medical attention.
We named Momma “Misty” because of the weather the day of her capture and the pups Roxy & Ginger.
The vet told us Misty was in between stages 3 & 4 of heartworm infestation. She had eye infections, ear mites and parasites in her intestines. Misty was carrying a heavy load in her heart and bloodstream. It was getting harder for her to care for the pups on her own. We concluded that she wanted us to take over for her and that is why she put the pups out for us to take at an early age. The vet said her chances of surviving the heartworms was good as long as she survived the first treatment without incident. Misty made an amazing recovery. She was hospitalized twice for her treatments and her last two treatments were done here. She also developed some liver damage from the medications but recovered with additional medicine. Misty would vomit everyday, sometimes twice. We had her stomach x-rayed and it showed nothing. I started noticing she would only vomit when she was in the presence of the pups right after she ate. I came to the conclusion that she had acquired a habit of eating and vomiting to feed her pups. She was weaning them. That is the reason why they all ate from that plate of food the first day. It’s also why she was so thin and anemic and they were so healthy. Misty was interested in saving the lives of her babies the only way she knew how. She was sacrificing herself for them.

Today, Misty, Roxy, and Ginger are very healthy, happy, active, loving dogs who have brought much joy to us. The three are strongly bonded. Misty is a very strong and courageous animal and she continues to show her gratitude everyday. She has come a long way but is finally home.

Linda from CT