Hand-rearing Jack Russell puppies

Jack Russell puppies Paige Pickle and Pudding © RSPCA

Say hello to Pudding, Paige and Pickle who, with Denzil, Ruby and Phoebe arrived at Southridge Animal Centre at just 11-days-old.

My name is Mona and I’m the deputy manager at Southridge. I want to tell you the tale of these six Jack Russell rascals.  A tale which began when they were abandoned in a box, at an RSPCA shop, without their mother to feed them.

Rehabilitating tiny pups

When the puppies arrived we were short staffed and dealing with a very serious virus outbreak in our cattery, meaning we were in full isolation and working flat out, but everyone immediately stepped in to help keep these little ones alive.

At first they needed hand feeding every two hours, 24-hours per day.

Jack Russell puppies © RSPCAWe were relieved when, after a few days, we had the wonderful news that Mum had been found. But our euphoria soon turned to despair as she was unable to feed them because of a severe infection in her mammaries caused by the separation, so it was back to hand-rearing.

We created a rota system and all staff took turns in taking them home at night, two pups each. Bleary-eyed and tired, they were brought back to the centre every day and slowly but surely they started to feed better and develop into the most gorgeous little creatures.

After three exhausting weeks the puppies weighed just 0.48kg! By now one of our volunteers Joanne Lewis had joined the rota to care for the puppies. She’d had experience of fostering before but, just like the rest of us, she was worried on the first night that she would sleep through the 3am. Of course, everything went smoothly and over the next couple of weeks the puppies grew stronger and their feeds became less frequent.

At the time of writing this they are just over five weeks of age. They can now happily go from 10pm to 7am without a feed. They are eating meat, weight 1.09kg and are almost totally off milk.

‘This is what we do’

Puppies playing with shoe © RSPCAThree of them have been living with me for the last week and it will soon be time to find them new homes. Is it going to be hard to let them go? Absolutely—I adore them!

They have given me so much pleasure and put a smile on my face every evening after a difficult day at work. But this is what we do, and I am so proud of my colleagues for the dedication they have shown to help these little dogs on their way

It’s been so rewarding to see the puppies develop from tiny, helpless and totally dependent creatures having to be fed from a tiny syringe, to lively, naughty and independent little dogs scoffing their food from a bowl. It has been a hard but absolutely lovely experience but, it’s not one we want to have many of, as it is exhausting and difficult to maintain normal brain function when you are sleep deprived.

Sadly animal abandonment’s have been increasing over the last five years and the RSPCA needs your support now more than ever.  Find out more about the animal welfare crisis.

Update: All of these puppies have now been successfully rehomed.

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