She is at constant attention. Sitting or lying down, her eyes dart here and there, alert to the slightest movement, ready to strike out if anybody gets too close.
She is Xena, our newest foster and she arrived last night, setting off half an hour of snarling and growling by all the dogs. She is a real warrior princess, fiercely protective of her offspring.
Xena is a mother chihuahua mix, with two puppies about 2+ weeks old (I'm guessing, because their eyes are opened). She and her male companion showed up in a town north of Sacramento a couple of weeks ago. Someone took them in and the next night Xena gave birth. I'm not sure the sequence of events, but she apparently attacked someone who got too close ("It was apparently his fault. He did something stupid," I was told) and the original family called the SPCA, but decided to keep the male. Xena apparently got even more wary when she was on her own, the only protector of the puppies.
Megan called to ask if I could take them and of course I said yes. It's a new experience having puppies here that I don't have to feed and can't even touch.
I've named the puppies Itsy and Bitsy, which I know is going to shock certain people--but these are dogs, not spiders. I haven't seen the puppies well, but Itsy is the lighter colored of the two (maybe entirely white; I'm not sure). Bitsy has the brown body.
Ashley says that Xena is actually sociable and thought she would sooner or later bond with me just fine, but I have my doubts, only because she sees Polly as a threat to her babies and Polly has to be in her face all the time. Polly sits in my lap or stands on the chair, trembing all over in her eagerness? discomfort? fear? excitement? Who knows with Polly. But Xena sees Polly as a real threat, so I don't know what it will take to make Xena comfortable enough to actually get out of the cage. I may wait until Polly goes to Petco on Saturday before actually giving her the chance.
I wasn't going to mess with Xena last night, but I know she's a nursing mom and would at the very least need water. I got a turkey baster and a glass of water and gave her water through the wire mesh of the cage. She took it so eagerly (three basters full) that I decided to live dangerously and tried opening the cage door and slipping a small bowl of water to the side of the cage. Xena let me. She finished all the water. Then I put some bits of kibble through the wire of the cage and she ate those eagerly, so I took the water bowl out and filled it with kibble and she let me put that in the cage too. When it was empty, I refilled the bowl, from outside, using the turkey baster, and left it in the cage with her all night.
This morning I took the bowl out, filled it with food, put it in the cage and added a bowl of water. She let me do all of this and finished the food quickly, but when I tried to take the bowl out again she had reached her limit of contact and snapped in my general direction. I don't think she was trying to hurt me, but her low growl let me know I had gone too far. I left her alone.
Later, to give her more room in the cage, I took long metal tongs and removed the food bowl that way, so my hand didn't have to go into the cage. She didn't growl, but her eyes never left the tongs and she was at the ready just in case. I also refilled the water bowl with the turkey baster again.
Each time I try anything with Xena, I lock Polly in her own cage, but of course Xena doesn't know that.Sooner or later the cage is going to need to be cleaned, but I'm not even thinking about that right now. Right now the task at hand is to help Xena feel safe and to help her realize that nobody wants to hurt her or her puppies. I'll worry about how to handle Polly and the puppies when they are starting to explore their world at a later date!