June 3, 2011

A True Story; A Pack of Plant-Eating Puppies

What a vegan puppy face!
They sleep in a bundle; it is the cutest and warmest thing I've ever seen. We should emulate them.

Considering I have never bred a dog or any animal (including myself), it's interesting that I found myself the caregiver for a pack of 8 vegan puppies. A person in need of help came along to Gentle World with a stray dog that he had bonded with. Because of ignorance, he was irresponsible in allowing her to get pregnant. In a world where there are so few good homes for unwanted domesticated dogs/cats with so many being 'euthenised' (a euphemism for killed), there is no place for a dog breeder. It’s just out-and-out unfair to all the dogs in shelters that are being killed because people continue to breed and make more dogs that will take homes away from those on death row.

The mother of the puppies stopped weaning them at about 4 weeks and grew uninterested in them and their welfare. When she, as well as the young man that had brought her, both had left, I became the full momma of these adorable little orphaned pups. What a handful! Since they were being raised vegan and did not have mother’s milk, I had to be sure that they were getting all the nutrients they needed to grow. And grow they did! Another piece of proof for the adequacy of the vegan diet and its ability to fulfil all the protein and nutrient needs we have. If growing canine pups can do well on a vegan diet, any human certainly can!

They were given commercial VeganPet and then Ami kibble (both cost a fortune to bring into New Zealand!), but they also ate home-made organic wholefood meals. And they were fed a lot! Possibly 10 or more times a day!  I didn’t realize they had worms that I was feeding too! Apparently puppies very often have worms, especially if from a stray mother. They recommend that you start worming at 2 weeks, and then at 4 weeks, 6 weeks, and 8 weeks. I didn’t learn this until they were nearly 7 weeks. When they were wormed, I was unlucky enough to witness a roundworm come out of two of them; it looks like a long strand of white spaghetti. Ick. And the caregiver has to be hygienic because they can be passed to humans.

Every morning, I made a huge pot consisting of a mixture of grains and legumes and a bit of veggies. Dogs need more protein that humans, and these were growing pups, so they got plenty of beans (cooked well and mashed), lentils (the small red ones that cook up in 20 minutes were a staple), or split peas. They also tried seitan (wheat-meat) and a little tofu. The grain portion of their meals was a combo of rice, corn grits, oats, quinoa, barley, or whole spelt pasta. Every once in a while they got peanut butter on bread (folded over so the peanut butter does not stick to the roof of their mouth). They received soy milk that was fortified with Vitamin D and calcium, and sometimes diluted with water. They also received supplements such as Vitamin D (vegan version), and some savoury nutritional yeast that is B12 fortified. I was particularly good about ensuring they got B12, Vitamin D, calcium, and Vitamin A that has been converted by the body from beta-carotene. So I would be sure to give them an orange colored veggie in their meals, such as carrot, butternut squash, or pumpkin (in small pieces, cooked in with the meal). I seasoned with seaweed flakes. At about 7 weeks, they let me know that they enjoyed a treat of raw apple or a raw carrot to chew on.

The most important thing is they were loved…not hard to do with beings that are so cute. They didn’t seem to miss their mom since Kisses (my life companion and canine friend) and I took over the position when it needed filling. Kisses was respectful of Bella, their mother, when she was around, and left the puppies alone. In Bella's absense, Kisses took over, right away. It made me love her more than I do, if that’s possible. She’s beautiful. She taught them the biting response and ‘doggie stuff’ that I don’t quite understand.

This is Peanut Butter, the leader of the pack.
He was the first to roll over for a tummy rub while I watched his little tail wag!
The puppies have gone to ‘Animal Re-homing’ in Auckland (http://www.animalrehoming.co.nz), because saintly Linda Nunn (a vegan) has impeccable integrity with adopting them out. I just was not really happy with any of the people around ‘these neck of the woods.’ I wasn’t sure that the dogs would get spayed/neutered and properly cared for by anyone that came to pick a FREE puppy, as I do not believe in selling sentient beings as if they were a commodity. I have to leave the country very soon to help my ailing elderly parents, so this was the best we could come up with. I would have really liked them to continue to be vegan dogs. But they will each go off to their “person” with a 2 kg bag of Ami vegan dog food. Hint. Hint. Maybe they will get the idea! (Plus it helps their digestion to change the diet gradually.)
Puppies have very sharp claws - when they come at you as a pack with their claws, ouch!
This puppy was the "mellow" one. His mother is also very gentle.
It was a little traumatic for Kisses and I when Paul (Linda’s lovely vegan hubby) took them from my arms, each one – one by one. The first 3 didn’t suspect anything and came right to me, but the last one, Princess, caught on and didn’t want to come to me. I am quite sure they will miss me and all my love for them. Good bye my babies. I hope you have a really wonderful life. You are 8 weeks now and it’s supposedly the perfect time to find you someone to love you forever. There were times I thought about just keeping them and living with all of them, but I don’t have a suitable home, nor enough money. The tears are rolling down my cheeks right now as I think of my baby puppies. Being a 'poop-cleaning machine' and a full-time chef to them (leaving little time to be a chef for myself) - was not enjoyable. But walking as one of a pack of dogs was a feeling I will forever treasure. The way they ate can be described as ‘a nervous pack of dogs’, but no one ever hurt another, or was mean, or pushed another out of the way. It was a loving pack. I was part of a pack where we all were concerned about the other and lived harmoniously.


Anonymous said...

[ Smiles ] Brilliant, M! Well done, my friend!

Kelly said...

You're story is almost identical to mine in so many ways, I still have 5 of ours and they've been vegan since they were 6 weeks old - now coming up to 12 and doing wonderfully! I do worry about them getting enough nutrients, especially calcium - but I'll check out the ingredients of the food you lentioned! Thank you!