Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Monday the puppies started the next phase of their journey to become service dogs. They left the breeding home and their mother and went to live with their foster homes. Helping Paws does not have a kennel facility. All of the dogs, whether they are breeding dogs or service dogs in training, live in a volunteer home. We are the caretaker home for Tiga. We have agreed to raise her, socialize and train her, have one to three litters of puppies at our house, and of course love her. These eight wonderful puppies that have been at our house have now moved on to their new homes and families.

Midge is now a potential breeding dog and has gone to her caretaker home. When she is two years old she will have her hips, elbows, eyes and heart certified and if everything looks good she will become a Helping Paws breeding dog.

The other seven puppies are now service dogs in training and are living with volunteer foster homes. Foster homes are very special people who take these puppies into their homes and hearts, work with them daily, attend weekly training classes, socialize and train them in public and of course, love them. They will teach them approximately 80 skills, including retrieving, turning on and off light switches, opening doors, snuggle and getting help. After two to three years the foster homes will give these well trained, wonderful dogs to an individual with a physical disability, other than sight or hearing.
At the end of the training, a Helping Paws dog is valued at $15,000. The people who receive them pay only a $50 application fee and an equipment fee of around $200. This is made possible through the generous donations of individuals, corporations, foundations and grants. If you would like to follow these puppies' progress as they develop into life changing gifts, please consider sponsoring one of them through the Helping Paws Blue Coat Benefactor program. For more information on how you can help, please visit the Helping Paws website, or email me at
Going home day is always exciting, for the foster homes who have been anxiously awaiting these little pups and also for the caretaker home who has spent hours caring for them over the last eight weeks. The puppies were handed out amid smiles and laughter and when it was all over, I went home, laid on the couch, and Tiga and I crashed. I slept nine hours Monday night and when I woke up I automatically went into the dining room to check on the puppies. Part of me was a little sad to not see those cute little faces looking for me. The part of me that is saner and has a better grip on reality, sat down, enjoyed a cup of coffee and didn't have to worry about cleaning up puppy poop.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


The puppies woke me up early this morning (5:00 am). I came downstairs to one of the nicest surprises - no poop in their pen. No odor, no mess. All eight of them were standing with their front paws up on the gate, grins on their faces and looking at me like I was the best thing in the whole world. I thought what a great way to spend our last day together. We went out on the deck and played and had breakfast. Several hours later Steve and I put them back in the pen and went to have breakfast with his parents. When we returned I could smell the puppies when I walked in the house. There was poop covering every inch of the pen - the biggest mess we have had in two months. All eight were standing at the fence again, grins on their faces and looking at me like I was the best thing in the whole world. Even though I was holding my breath and my eyes were burning, I still thought they were the cutest things.

I tried to get a video of the puppies skateboarding today, but every time I tried to record them they quit and came to see what I was doing. I finally gave up and just took some more photos.

Tomorrow they will be puppy tested in the morning. Eileen will then determine which puppy will go to which foster home and then at 3:30 the big event. The puppies will meet their new families and start their new journey as service dogs in training. I hope all of the foster homes are getting a really good night sleep tonight.

Here are photos of our last day together.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


I am not sure where the time has gone but it has been eight weeks (or will be tomorrow) since the puppies were born. They are now between 12 and 15 pounds. After their baths we decided to take their eight week portraits. Unfortunately, they were more interested in going to sleep so they don't look too lively in these photos. For those of you who heard me say last week that the puppies weren't that cute any more, don't believe it for a second. I was a little sleep deprived, tired of cleaning up diarrhea and worrying about sick puppies and basically not quite myself. Now that I am thinking clearly let me just say that these puppies are extremely cute.

"The Girls"

Pink Tail - "Midge"
Pink Left Shoulder - "GeeGee"

Pink Right Shoulder - "Ellen"

Pink Left Hip - "Spots"

Pink Right Hip - "The Peanut"

"The Boys"

Blue Tail - "Stitch"

Blue Left Shoulder - "Houdini"

Blue Right Shoulder - "Beckham"


The puppies were scheduled for their spa treatment (hair and nails) on Friday but due to their being sick we cancelled the bathing team. We were just going to send them to their new homes stinky. Well today I had some extra time so with the help of my kids and friends (thank you Kelsey, Brenda, Connor and Jordan) we at least got them washed and dried. We will try to work on nails tomorrow. There is a good chance in the next two days they will get pretty dirty, but for today at least they are soft, fluffy and smelling good.


I always thought that to comfort a puppy and help it sleep you were suppose to give it something warm, like a hot water bottle. Last year when Tiga had her first litter Eileen set me straight on this matter. The best puppy pacifier is a frozen water bottle. My freezer is full of them now and when it is time for the puppies to settle down and sleep I just throw the frozen bottles in the pen and watch them curl up to them.

Friday, June 15, 2007


A virus swept through the litter this week, starting with Stitch and ending three days later with GeeGee. Midge was the only puppy who didn't get sick. I think she is just too much of a tough girl to succumb to an illness.
The hard part of having a litter of eight sick is watching them to determine who threw up or who had diarrhea or who isn't eating. To make it a little easier, during the day I kept the sick puppies inside in the pen and the yet to be sick and recovered puppies on the deck. At night the well puppies went in the pen and the sick ones in a crate - yes foster homes, some of them have slept in a crate. This made it easier for me to monitor their progress. Fortunately this virus seemed to follow the same pattern with each sick puppy; they skipped a meal, threw up a few times, slept a lot, eventually we got some water down them, they had diarrhea (really horrendous by the way), able to eat a little and have some medicine, back on the deck playing like nothing had ever happened. The whole process took about 16 hours.
The decision was made that it would be better to delay the puppies going home day to make sure they are completely recovered before they have the stress of leaving their litter mates and starting on their new journey. So instead of leaving on Friday as originally planned they will go to their new homes on Monday. I feel bad for all of the foster homes who were expecting to spend a fun filled weekend with their new pups, but look at it this way - you get an extra three nights of sleep and with each day, the puppies are getting bigger and sleeping through the night better.
Here are the little darlings - back on their feet again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


It has been a while since I have mentioned the other dogs that live with us.

Tiga is still being the good mom. She regurgitates food for the pups when she can and will still tolerate their nursing, but only for a short amount of time. I don't think she will miss them when they are gone.

Charlie was away being evaluated for 3 weeks. I really missed him while he was gone but it was good for him to be somewhere where he could keep up with his training and get the attention he needs. I just don't have the time to devote to him right now. Thanks to Lynn and her family for taking such great care of him (he even got to go on two vacations with her.) When he left the puppies were still small and in their pen. Now they are on the deck and are free roaming piranhas. He has handled it very well and is very tolerant of them. When he has enough space he loves to romp with them and bat them around. The puppies must like it because they keep coming back for more.

Tori is still supervising from the couch.


Sunday was a beautiful sunny summer day in Minnesota. We moved the puppies out into the yard and filled up the pool for them to enjoy. Every single one of them seemed to have fun wading through the water. After having the freedom to run (and skateboard) across the entire deck, the pen in the yard seemed a little small to them and they wanted the whole yard as a play ground. We did take them out a few at a time and let them explore and play with the big dogs.

In typical puppy fashion, they ended their playtime with a nice nap in the breeze.