Happy First Birthday From Your First Human Mama
Happy Birthday Siren, Vienna, Knight, Marcus, Duke, Joey, Hera, Lucy, Makeda, Sadie, Teena, Murphy, and Bear! Being your first human mama was the most rewarding challenge I have ever been crazy enough to dive into.
After bringing home a very pregnant, street dog on February 26, 2020, Tessa went into labor five days later on March 2. Which means, a year ago, thirteen puppies were born in an epically long labor that lasted 38.5 hours with seventeen hours and one minute between the first and last born. Every single one of the thirteen is healthy, happy, and living their best life today.
What a year it has been.
I was a bit protective of my babies. I didn’t want them to go to their furever homes ever, but that was not an option-I couldn’t afford fifteen dogs, nor did I have the space. I sent them to their wonderful furever homes at three months old because I was able to ensure they were vaccinated, were well socialized, avoided the critical time when they could develop neurosis and fears, learned ample skills from their mama, and I was able to catch and solve some health issues. Puppies are adorable, and I loved every single second of my time with them, but those first three months was a massive struggle in every way. I look back and wonder how I did it. The answer: love and support from my closest friends and family. Neither I nor the puppies would have made it through without those heroes in our lives. Having thirteen puppies and a brand new mama dog was taxing in more ways than I can even describe, but I won’t even try because this is a birthday celebration.
What was even harder than getting through those three months: Watching them go to their new homes. I felt so empty when they were gone. (Even though I still had four puppies, Tessa, and Beau, pieces of my heart were missing.) Knowing each puppy was in the very best home for them made it much easier to say goodbye. Every single parent sends me updates, so I have gotten to watch them grow, becoming more themselves in the comfort of a loving home. I was the puppy matchmaker; I gave the puppy to the perfect home for them and a puppy suited to the home each family could provide. Some of the puppy parents have become good friends or were already good friends. Several have stayed for a night or a few when their parents go on vacation or work trips. Puppy play dates happen. They may not be my babies anymore, but they are still in my life. I am so blessed to have found so many wonderful homes for my amazing puppies.
Every day, all day for three months, I was surrounded by thirteen puppies and Tessa. Three months is a short amount of time, but it is a lifetime when you’re watching beings evolve and grow and become themselves. Each one had a unique personality from the moment they were born. Being around them brought me so much joy and filled my heart with love. I was so completely in love with each one. It was impossible to name a favorite, and to this day, the ones I kept are here because a) I wanted to make sure they received the medical care they needed b) their personalities were best suited to Beau and Tessa. I didn’t keep my favorite puppies because I didn’t have any. They were all perfect and still are.
The fact it has been one year since they were born… Is shocking. Where has the time gone? I have watched my four grow into these amazing dogs with huge, unique personalities and needs. Life has been busy and complicated and stressful at times, but I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for my dogs. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my four puppies and the nine others. My heart is theirs. For now and forever.
A year ago, I was given a beautiful opportunity to give fourteen dogs a chance at life, and they are making the most of those lives every day.
Before they went to their furever homes, I took pictures with each of them. They gave me hope and happiness during an incredibly difficult pandemic. There’s no way I wouldn’t remember each one, but I wanted something beautiful to look at as the years fade the memories. I want to share them with you and a little bit about each one.
Siren was born on March 3, 2020 at 3:45 pm, weighing 8.75 ounces. He was adorable and such a sweetheart. He loved to howl and let out an incredibly high pitched noise anytime he wasn’t playing. Rough housing was his favorite activity but I could always count on big kisses from him. He kept his name Siren and lives in Houston.
March was born on March 3, 2020 at 4:50 pm, weighing 11.3 ounces. Named for the March sisters in Little Women. She has a goofy dew claw with two nails. She was always up to play but never dove right into the middle of the pack. Cuddling was just as much appreciated as play. Her daddy claimed her right away and named her Vienna-after the sausages because they looked like fuzzy, brown sausages. She lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Knight was born on March 3, 2020 at 5:35 pm, weighing the least at 7.5 ounces. He gave me so much anxiety from the start because he was so little and refused to gain weight. Sass has never been something he lacks. He still suffers from little man syndrome and hates being pushed around even though he is the second biggest in my house and in the litter. I kept him because we bonded over the ten daily feedings we had, his autoimmune disorder, and his deformed front legs. He still has the name Knight, but I pronounce it phonetically, to his father’s dismay. K-Nig-Hit is cuddly beyond belief.
Hardy was born on March 3, 2020 at 7:15 pm, weighing 7.62 ounces. Named for one of my favorite authors, Thomas Hardy. I’ve never seen such soulful eyes, and he uses them often on his dad. He was equal parts rowdy and lazy. He was always one of the first to curl up in my lap or behind my back. He always had such long legs; there’s no doubt he could be a supermodel. Instead he’s assumed the name Marcus (as in Aurelius) and lives in the lap of luxury in Houston with his dad. Doggy daycare is his jam.
Duke was born March 3, 2020 at 9:00pm, weighing 9.21 ounces. He was a big derpy goofball from the moment he was born. Chewing has been his favorite thing since they got teething toys at two weeks old. To this day, he has a toy or shoe (yikes) in his mouth. If there is a free lap or hand he will claim it. If there’s no free lap or hand, he will still claim it. At eight months old, he had dental surgery to correct his severe overbite, which gives him the derpiest smile on earth. He’s my forever baby. It was a happy accident.
Nosky was born on March 3, 2020 at 9:05 pm, weighing 8.57 ounces. He has four white paws, so I named him “socks” in Russian. He had, and still does, a predilection for starting squabbles. He loved to antagonize and then walk away. It was irritating and funny; I’m certain he enjoyed his practical jokes. I was incredibly stressed out at eight weeks because he developed a joint problem, luckily his forever mama is on top of it. He’s living the best life and is incredibly spoiled. He is now named after Joey from friends and lives in Pearland, Texas.
Hera was born on March 3, 2020 at 9:55 pm, weighing 10.12 ounces. She was the first to crawl into a lap. She could never get enough of those cuddles, although she was happy to get her play on whenever a tussle started. She was quiet, sweet, and an all around easy puppy. Today, she still goes by Hera and lives in Ames, Iowa with my parents, so she’s got a pretty cushy life with her sister, Teena and brother, Barney.
Boudica was born on March 3, 2020 at 11:13 pm, weighing 10.2 ounces. Named for Boudica the 60 ad Iceni queen. From the very start, she didn’t live up to the warrior queen she was named for. She stayed far away from any romp, preferring cuddles to literally anything else. She was skittish and shy, which only made me love her more. With adorable dots on her nose, she is gorgeous, perfect, and ridiculously easy to take a nap with. Her new name is Lucy, and she lives with her feline sister, Juniper, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Star was born on March 4, 2020 at 12:10 am, weighing 9.63 ounces. She was hoppy, happy, and ready to love on anyone from the moment she was born. It became evident very early on that we would keep her because she had enough energy to keep up with Beau. I started referring to her as “Joy Incarnate” at three weeks old because she always has been. I renamed her because I wanted a more unique name, so she’s gone by Makeda-an Ethiopian warrior queen-since she was three weeks old. She’s shy yet rambunctious, playful yet cuddly, happy yet reserved. She’s a dichotomy, and I fall in love with her more every day.
Lily-May was born on March 4, 2020 at 1: 20 am, weighing 10.48 ounces. Named for Lily Bart in House of Mirth and May Whelan in The Age of Innocence both by Edith Wharton. Shy yet ridiculously lovable, she was always excited about everything once she felt safe. It was impossible to stay away from her because she followed me everywhere any chance she got. Today, she goes by Sadie and lives in Houston with her rescue dog brother, Cooper.
Athena was born on March 4, 2020 at 5:20 am, weighing 10.26 ounces. She was sweet but always a little funny. She wanted to cuddle but not that much. She wanted to play but not too much. She was curious but super cautious. She would frighten incredibly easily. She had such a soft coat, I loved burying my face in her neck and covering her with kisses. My dad has a knack for giving funny nicknames. He started calling her Teena, and it stuck. Today, she lives with my parents in Ames, Iowa with her sister, Hera, and their rescue dog Barney.
Oryol was born on March 4, 2020 at 6:08 am, weighing 11.99 ounces. Named after Ivan Turgenev’s hometown in Russia. He was a chonk from the start and all about the cuddles. I was obsessed with his ears; they never knew what they were doing and changed day to day. He was so laid back that he earned the nickname “Stoner Puppy.” He loved playing, cuddles, and diving face first into food: the messier the better. He hated bathtime, though. For such a lazy puppy, he popped right to life the moment I tried to bathe him. I hope for his mama’s sake, he’s gotten better with age on that front. He lives in Houston, Texas with his mom and goes by the name Murphy.
Bear was born on March 4, 2020 at 8:46 am, weighing 12.1 ounces. Last but definitely not least, Bear is unforgettable. He was the last, the largest, and the most headstrong of the bunch. Where there was a will, Bear would find his way. He was a cuddly challenge from day one, but he’s impossible not to love even when he was causing me a great deal of frustration. His dad fell in love with him, and he ended up staying in my personal pack. I wish I could say he’s gotten easier, but all I can say is: he’s gotten bigger! He lived up to the name Bear and weighs about 100 pounds with the biggest head he could muster. Luckily, he’s more lovable than he is frustrating.
Happy Birthday my babies! I can’t believe you’re all a year old. I can’t believe I survived. I really can’t believe I’m the mama to four of you. To my other nine babies: I miss you all every single day, think of you often, scroll through the thousands of pictures I took, and talk about you endlessly. I am beyond lucky to have watched you grow into the puppies you were, and I am even more blessed to be able to watch you all grow into the dogs you are becoming. One year down forever to go!
bisous und обьятий,
RaeAnna (Your First Human Mama)
Originally published at https://onthebl.org on March 3, 2021.