INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — We’ve settled into a routine of feeding, belly rubbing and sleeping. I can finally take a moment to really look at my brown pup. He has bald spots over his eyes. I learn this is where his eyelashes will appear. His whiskers are just beginning to emerge.
His umbilical cord has dried up. He is very wriggly and wants to suck my fingers. What kind of dog is he? His coloring is beginning to appear and it looks like he has a black mask across his eyes and nose.
It’s time to give him a name. “Bandit” comes to mind. The mask makes him look like a thief, and the little guy has stolen my heart.
When I open the door of the carrier to wake and feed him, he responds quickly, wobbling toward the open door. He can’t hear yet, but perhaps he smells me or feels the jolt from the door opening.
He can’t stand up but he pivots and crawls on his forelegs. He is very quick. He makes small peeping sounds. I am on sensory alert. At one point I hear him and rush to pick him up, but he is asleep. It was just a squirrel outside the window. False alarm.
My chest and neck are red and splotched from Bandit’s sharp little nails. He squirms to crawl up my neck or into the sleeve of my kimono robe at feedings. At 4 a.m. I think about his future.
Wouldn’t it be something if he were trained to become a rescue dog and ended up saving someone? Pay it forward.
My cats are surprisingly uninterested in Bandit. But they are clearly annoyed at the attention he is getting.
I learn that another pup has died. A necropsy is done. I am called at 7 p.m. to rush to Pet Network for antibiotic medicine. It is a vivid reminder that Bandit is not out of the woods.
We’ve just finished a feeding and I am called to Pet Network again. Channel 4 News is coming to do a story on the pups. Although we are exhausted, publicity is a good thing for the pups and for the shelter, so we rush out.
Some of Bandit’s litter mates are also there and the story gets taped, edited and airs that night at 11 p.m. with Elias.
I have a 3-day, 2-night trip planned. It’s my birthday treat. It’s been decades since I’ve given any thought to babysitters. I have to leave Bandit in foster care while we are away.
I want to write a long note on how he likes his bottle held, where to stroke his belly, how to warm his water bottle and fluff his bedding.
We enjoy our time away but I think of Bandit often. When we get back, I pick him up. He has grown fat and his head is larger.
His eyes are little slits just beginning to open. He seems calmer. He has a new, bigger bottle. So much change in only a few days, and more to come.
— Beverly Keil is a board member with the Pet Network Humane Society. Learn more at www.petnetwork.org.