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Catching Dawn by Melissa

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On Monday evening, Mason and I were walking on the Springfield Greenway with eight dogs. Needless to say, our pack attracted a lot of attention. Plus, the greenway was busier than normal because fishing season on the Sulphur Fork Creek kicked off with a free fishing day last weekend, meaning no license necessary. We literally got stopped every fifteen minutes or so.

A white-haired fisherwoman named Bernice asked if we “took in dogs.” When I explained that we had been known to take in a dog or two, she told me her story: a feral pregnant mutt had had a litter of eight puppies that are living in a bramble patch in her backyard, which consists of mostly dirt and weeds.

The pups were one-week-old on June 10th. Bernice had strung a tarp above the pups, but in two days we’ve had several inches of rain, and the thought of them drowning has surfaced more than once. Since the pups are so young, they can’t be separated from their mother, and nobody, not even Robertson County Animal Control, can catch the mother.

On Tuesday night, Mason and I spent four hours trying to capture her at Bernice’s house in a rough neighborhood in Springfield, TN, filled with “crack-heads” and “whores.” I only know about the drug addicts and hookers because Bernice filled me in, claiming one female neighbor gets inside four different cars everyday, and sometimes the men even bring her pizza.

If we cage the mother dog, then Donna, ICHBA’s founder, has found a foster family with a safe and warm barn that is more than willing to let the mom and pups stay until they are weaned. (Thank you, Kristen!!)

At one point, during the four hours we were at Bernice’s house, I wrapped the puppies in a fleece hoodie, loaded them in the backseat, and drove to Nancy and Charlotte’s house, which was less than a mile away. The three of us gave all eight puppies warm baths in a metal tub that Nancy filled with warm water. We used small dabs of Dawn detergent because every one of those pups had fleas, which we tried to individually pluck from their coats, but it was close to impossible with the pure black ones. Afterwards, Charlotte wrapped them in warm towels and put them in a basket, and all nestled together, they looked like something straight out of a Hallmark calendar. Nancy suggested calling the mother dog Dawn and it stuck, so from here on out I’ll refer to her as Dawn.

Around 8 P.M., Mason and I decided to leave Bernice’s house because, by then, the pups had gone without food for too long. We arranged them inside a crate with blankets and hung the tarp over it, hoping Dawn would go inside to feed them, and Bernice could trap her. What ended up happening was she sat outside the cage crying, while her babies whined and whined for milk.

Bernice called me about an hour and a half after we had left, letting me know the mom still wasn’t feeding her pups, which meant those needy little creatures had been without nourishment for five hours. Mace strapped on his headlamp, drove back to town, and carried the puppies to the same bramble patch where we had found them. This morning Bernice reported that Dawn had spent the night inside the thicket feeding the pups.

Our biggest worry now is that Dawn is so angry after our failed attempts to catch her that she’ll move her pups somewhere nobody will be able to find them. Luckily, it hasn’t happened yet. The pups are still alive and well. If ANYBODY has ANY suggestions on how to catch the feral mother, please email us at: thefarnival@gmail.com. We’ll take any help we can get.

Until we figure out how to catch Dawn, all we can do is check on the pups daily and bring food for the mother. Bernice said she likes Kibbles-N- Bits 🙂

You know I’ll be keeping you posted about this little venture, frequently. As soon as the rain stops, a passing thunderstorm, Mace and I are going back to Bernice’s this evening. Wish us luck.






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