First day back from Singapore noticed a litter of puppies living under a car that has been sitting in the same spot for months in the vacant lot next door. Didn’t go over because didn’t want to get attached to them in any way. I love puppies, but with the litter mortality rate here it’s too much pain for too little joy.
The lot is the worst place near my apartment for puppies. The mortality rate has been 100% since I moved in. Usual causes are road kill, some say by getting stepped on by the horses and cows that are staked out in the lot to graze and, most tragically, by being unintentionally physically abused by 3 boys who lived on the other side of the lot.
Long story short: Spike, the dog I feed every day, stopped eating all or part of her food. I couldn’t bring myself to throw food away when there are so many homeless dogs around, so I gave the leftovers to the nursing mama. Spike and mama conspired so now at feeding time Spike is under the car with the pups. Mama decides if she or the pups eat first and Spike takes what’s left, if any.
Since I’ve been feeding, visiting and photographing the pups I’ve noticed they are being fed by many in the neighborhood. They’re the healthiest and happiest looking litter I’ve seen here.
The number of pups dropped from 7 to 4 and it puzzled me how that happened. The three biggest and most active ones disappeared. They range the farthest from the car but usually Spike or mama is there to herd them away from the road. It’s dry season so goats are the only animals grazing. Spike and/or mama face off with the goats whenever they get too near to the car or the pups. So what happened?
Spike keeping an eye on the goats.
In the late afternoon when the road has the most traffic mama sits out by the road which means before too long some of the pups join her. My landlord told me she’s seen people stop, select a pup and motor away. Three of the remaining 4 pups are growing fast now that there is less competition for food. They’re also becoming more outgoing now that they’re not being dominated by the big pups. Maybe they’ll get picked soon too. Maybe my conclusion about the 100% mortality rate in previous litters is wrong.
Even the timid runt is getting bigger, but he’s still scared of most things and competes poorly for food.
Don’t know if Spike is digging just for the hell of it or making a better home for the pups. My landlord told me why she thinks Spike is caring for the pups and their mama. She is also Spike’s mama.
[Updated 1 hour after posting] Went out to feed Spike and the car was gone. WTF? A neighbor was feeding mama and 2 of the pups. Asked about the other two she smiled and said somebody took them. The runt has a home, that’s a relief. Spike ate a bit then left the rest for the 3 who needed it more.
[Updated 16 Dec] The landlord and family plugged the hole and built a shade structure out of scrap wood and cardboard big enough for the pups and an adult dog.
Here is where the story turns to bad news. Consider if you wish to keep reading.
Mama dried up and has abandoned the last 2 puppies. She still wants the food I bring for them but Spike chases her off. Spike has been teaching the pups that trying to share food can be dangerous. The little guys usually don’t finish the bowl, then Spike starts in slowly on the rest. When the pups come back Spike growls and snaps if needed to keep them away. Pups have learned quickly, now a short low growl is enough to make them back off. They’re going to need that skill when they venture out of the lot in search of food. The plaintive cries last night and today tells me that it will start soon. When it does it will include opportunities to learn about drivers and riders who do not brake or swerve to avoid a puppy.
A friend and long time resident told me today that the ‘adopted’ puppies will most likely be played with and fed for a month or two and then abandoned.
I need to move some place without soi dogs. Either that or apply the lesson from my history with soi dogs by stopping all involvement with them. I’ll stay connected with Spike and keep feeding her for as long as I live here, but it ends with her.