When I heard that there was a box of newborn puppies left to die near our camp, I took a quiet minute to myself. News of border closures and virus spread had been consuming us. How in the world could we raise puppies right now, we thought, especially with no supplies or modern amenities. But that’s exactly what our hearts told us to do and we sprung into action. We ran into the village for a list of items to blend a makeshift puppy formula thanks to our friend’s @minimalistfarm recipe.
The kids stayed back to help move the box from the road to our van and we all got to work cleaning and feeding. There were six puppies in total, most still with their umbilical cords attached and all with closed eyes and ears. And they all got names: Belly, Wolfie, Dumpling, Peppa, Blue Glee and Squeegee.
A lot of the other campers were interested in peeking and coming into our van after hearing the news of the puppies. It was personally overwhelming for me. Dan did awesome letting everyone know that these were newborns with odds stacked against them and that I needed to focus on their care and not showing them off.
Our new friends, Cheri and Simon, invited us over for crepes while the puppies were napping.
A nice little break while the puppies were sleeping.
We also took a quick walk from our van to the ancient carvings that were literally a stone’s throw from our van.
Everyone helping feed and we are all surprised how noisy they are even when sleeping.
Feed, make them potty, clean, and repeat.
How am comfortable just helping random animals? Well, pre-kids I volunteered as a wildlife rehabber when we lived in Ventura. I worked with organizations in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Ojai where I mostly raised orphaned wildlife and released them back into the wild. It turned out to be my dream “job” and it’s something I miss very much in this lifestyle.
All of the puppies seem okay to me so far except for the runt that Luka named Squeegee. I don’t give this one too much more time unfortunately. It’s going to break their hearts, especially Luka since he named him.
My first night with them was rough. Woke up for 2 hours for the runt and every 3 hours for the other puppies so I could feed and clean around the clock. Am I tired? So tired.
We knew camping here was not sustainable for us or the puppies so we packed up and headed for the coast. We heard about a caring organization that rescues animals in need called @moroccoanimalaid so we headed their way to give the puppies the best possible chance to survive and thrive. We actually didn’t hear back from @moroccoanimalaid but just decided to take our chances and start driving towards them. In hindsight, it was because of all the care and attention they put into their animals.
The puppies need a lot of water to keep clean and that was something we didn’t have while dry camping in the desert. If we couldn’t connect with @moroccoanimalaid, our plan was to end up at a proper campground with running water and an easier time with laundry.
On the way to the coast, we drove past rows and rows of Argan trees, whose fruit the local goats can not resist. So much so that they climb up the trees to chomp on the flesh of the fruit.
Dan pulled over on the side of the road so we could take a closer look. Unfortunately, when we got out of the van, we noticed a small goat hanging dead from one of the trees. Mila took it hard and decided to stay in the van while these two joined me. Before yesterday, we would have lingered at this stop but today was different. The runt, which we named Squeegee, wasn’t looking too good. He was quite a bit smaller than the rest and had trouble with the baby bottle. We were crossing our fingers he would come around and had to keep moving to get to @moroccoanimalaid.
I knew it was coming as soon as I first opened the box of newborn puppies. The runt of the litter, which the kids named Squeegee, passed away surrounded by the warmth of his brother and sisters.
We found a beautiful Argan tree to bury him under. Dan dug a hole, Ava picked flowers, Mila carried him to his final resting spot and then the four of us gently covered him with earth, an engraved headstone and flowers. Luka’s heart couldn’t handle it so he watched from inside the van. We saved Squeegee’s location to our Google maps and continued our drive to @moroccoanimalaid.
Once we arrived in town, we immediately drove to @moroccoanimalaid where it was decided that it would be best if we continued fostering the puppies while they worked on finding a local foster to raise them.
They immediately handed over puppy bottles and formula. With proper puppy supplies and a campground with running water, we continued our fostering journey with the remaining five little ones.
Every three hours, around the clock.
I don’t ever remember being this exhausted, mentally and physically. Not from my human newborns, not from my wildlife rehabilitation days. At one point, I broke down and admitted that I didn’t think I’d be in a good position to fight any viruses. That’s when I knew it was time to hand over the newborn puppies I was raising. I don’t say this about many things but I’m really good at raising orphaned animals. It’s what I really miss about stationary life. In times like these, decisions need to be made for myself and my family. Thankfully we were able to find the puppies a safe place to grow up with love.
Here are some photos from our last few hours with the puppies. The five puppies are now safe in the hands of a wonderful organization called @moroccoanimalaid. Raising them for nearly a week took a lot out of me but giving these puppies a chance at life was well worth it.
Everyone in the family stepped up. The kids helped with feedings, created tracking charts, and made sure puppies were kept on schedule. Dan picked up all of my normal daily duties and was my emotional support. This was a family effort and I’m damn proud of that what we accomplished together.
We recently learned more about the puppies’ situation. The rumor is that all the strays in the town they were found in had been killed the day before the king was scheduled for a visit. But his trip ended up getting canceled. So these babies were probably not dumped by a local but actually placed in a box near our campground in hopes someone might save them.
There’s little to zero chance these puppies will get adopted locally and getting them into Europe is difficult due to their rabies restrictions. It is actually easier for them to get adopted into North America and can be flown out at 8 weeks of age. If a dog adoption is something on your mind, we are willing to help organize and pay for them to be flown to a loving home when the time is right.
Our last few glimpses before Lucy from Morocco Animal Aid came by our campground to pick them up. Lucy made handing them over easier. You could feel her kindness for animals from the first moments we met her. Thank you, Lucy. Thank you, Morocco Animal Aid.
Thank you, Peppa, Wolfie, Belly, Blue Glee and Dumpling. I will love you forever.
Here is a video Dan created to accompany this post.
Thanks for following along our family’s adventure,