People and Places

Syrian pups — Part II: An Update

Posted on January 30, 2013

Many have asked for a follow up on the two pups our friend Phil rescued in Damascus.  Here is his latest.  We have a few people who have expressed interest, but still looking to confirm homes for the little guys, so please continue to share until we have something settled.

While about the pups, Phil’s update also gives some hints at the meltdown underway in Syria today. 

Dear All,

Firstly, thanks for all taking such an interest in the pups. It’s heartening to know there are people like you out there in the world.

Secondly, apologies for the circular email – it just seems the most efficient way to do this. If you don’t want to be getting any more of these, please do let me know. I perfectly understand it can be irritating to get circular emails you don’t want to be receiving. Obviously if there is anyone you think might be interested in the pups who isn’t on the list, please also do let me know and I’ll include them on future updates. In the meantime do also please forward the note to them.

With that said, a brief update.

Both pups are doing well. Mr Brown’s eye infection seems to have cleared up. I’ll be loading both them of them into the vegetable crate on the back of by bike and cycling them round to see the vet this evening, just for another check up. I’ll get him to weigh them both too. They’re quite used to traveling on the bike and last time fell asleep on the short ride home….

They’ve both gained strength since they arrived on Saturday. Their routine these days is sleep, wake up, go to the toilet, eat, play for 20 minutes, then , exhausted, sleep again. They’re getting their sea legs too; a bit less wobbly than they were although they still manage to crash into things when running around.

Mr White occasionally tries out his voice, a little yap that seems to confuse him, as if he can’t quite work out where it came from. He squeaks a bit at food time. The more stoical Mr Brown doesn’t trouble himself with such noises.

They’re eating well. I was feeding them a little every two to three hours but have taken advice from someone who knows about pups (thanks Deanna!) and today they’re on a feed every four hours. I’ll shift them to one every five hours in a couple of days.

They are also eating proper puppy food. The vet had a stash of decent European-made food, for puppies, not just dogs, and I have that. I soak the biscuits in water for a few hours until they’re soft, and the pups wolf them down. I still give them their mixture of egg yolk/condensed milk and yoghurt too. I’m trying to get hold of some goats milk. I’ll try to go out and see the old shepherd this afternoon, when he takes his goats out grazing, to see if he’ll spare me some.

They’re very good at night. I give them their last feed at 9pm and don’t hear a peep out of them until the morning. In fact, this morning I went up at 6.45am and woke them up, not the other way round. That’s a good habit as far as I’m concerned.

They are happy to play together (I can hear them up there now, crashing around a bit) when left alone, and seem perfectly happy too when I sit in there with them. Mr Brown usually comes and sits more or less quietly on my lap. Mr White roams around and looks for trouble, biting the cushions and playing with a ball. Sometimes he comes to wrestle his brother and then they have a little rough and tumble, which wears them out. After which it’s back to bed again.

I got hold of a larger crate for them, one in which they would be allowed to fly together in on the plane to the US (we may all be traveling on or around 22 Feb). That way they can keep one another company on the journey. Providing of course they don’t grow too absurdly in the next couple of weeks – they’re trying; they eat well. I’m pleased to have the crate, a good strong plastic one with decent ventilation and a proper door and no sharp edges for them to get snagged on ; it might be the last one in Syria. The factory that makes them is in Aleppo and the war means there is no way to get another one.

To get them accustomed to it, I’ve put it in their little area, together with a new blanket that I picked up for them yesterday. They slept in there last night and when I looked in on them this morning it’s where they were napping. It’s a sign too, I think, of their growing strength – laying on the hot water bottle in the smaller crate used to be their favourite place. They don’t seem to feel the need for the extra warmth now. They nap together, in a small heap.

Also; this morning I cycled past the area where I picked them up a few days ago. It has been taken over by a group of dirt-poor street kids. They had a fire going in there, in an old tin, and were sheltering from the rain. The little cement block area where the pups had been is smashed up. Still no sign of the pups’ mum either. 

It’s a hard life  for most people here these days – the street kids really have it tough, but at the same time they’re resourceful and seem to get by. Shopkeepers help them out, there are charity drops and so on.
To some extent the street cats are the same – tough and resourceful – and so are the street dogs, once they’re grown up enough to outrun a human. The cats always seem very street wise – they steer clear of people, and the kittens are kept well away from the dangerous hands of bored children. Some of the dogs seem a little more trusting or curious for human company, and that’s the problem, certainly for puppies. Until they can run faster than a kid, they’re really vulnerable.

I’m glad the pups are here, in from the cold and the wet, and with a bit of food in their bellies. Whenever I’ve told anyone that they might be going to the US soon, they ask if there is room in the crate for them to come too.


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