I never expected to have 11 new roommates in my home office. It all started quite innocently, really. I was curled up on my couch, bored with my book, done with TV, and wondering how I could make some kind of difference in this world… how could I pay something forward? I think the posting on Facebook read something like, “Sandy Hoban, save this adorable boxer-mix female dog from being euthanized. She’s only one year old and deserves to live. You know you can find her a home lickety-split!”—or something like that. Point is, a spark was ignited. I was ready to take on another foster dog after having failed my last fostering experience, as evidenced by Miles, the sweet beagle mix curled up at my feet.

Before I tell this story, it’s important to explain that my husband is a busy guy who wants to “keep life simple” so that we may travel and frolic on this planet without too many strings attached (disregard our two children, house and two pups). Therefore, right off the bat, I knew he wasn’t going to embrace the idea of fostering a dog at this juncture in time—you know—pandemic, holidays, new, clean furniture and carpets, owning two dogs already—yada, yada, yada. But I saw a chink in his armor after I promised to use my writing skills to find said pup a family immediately—no questions asked. I will not fall in love with the dog!

My daughter and I went to the Evergreen Animal Protective League pickup site and were given our foster pup named No. 10. She was shy and sweet right from the start. I immediately noticed her nipples were a bit extended. I assumed she just had a litter and was working on getting her figure back (not an easy task—I’m still workin’ on it). After giving her some time to assimilate to the new environment, one of my good friends came to visit and instantly connected with No. 10, now named Luna. With a smug smile, I thought, Well, well, well… would you look at that? My job is practically done! See, hubby?

After giving Luna tons of belly rubs, my friend also noticed her pronounced nipples. Hmmm. “They told me she was spayed,” I said. But after closer inspection, neither of us saw the telltale suture scars on her abdomen. Very curious. My friend wanted a new pup, but a pregnant one was a bit much for her life right now. Understood. I tried to have Luna pee on a stick, but she was having none of that.

Off to the vet!

Confirmed—she was smuggling precious cargo alright, but no one knew when she was due, what breed the dad was, and how many little cuties lived in her quickly growing abdomen. My husband acquiesced and as a family, we decided to see Luna through the pregnancy. After all, as my daughter put it, “When will we ever ALL be together again, at Christmastime, with a slew of puppies and little to do in this upside down world?” Deal sealed.

Ironically, Luna’s “possible” due date fell somewhere around the seven-day trip my family had planned. My aforementioned friend and her family willingly watched Luna for us knowing she may give birth at any moment. And she did. And it was exciting, messy and miraculous for them. I am so very grateful for the tenderness and attentiveness my friend and her boys provided Luna and her brood. They claim it was a memory for the records—I’m hoping it was the good records.

We came home to 10 wriggling, multi-colored, five-day-old puppies that looked similar to baby guinea pigs, no bigger than an outstretched hand. So now, we not only had Luna, who was “sure to find a quick forever family,” we had TEN additional guests in our home for a minimum of eight weeks. Superb!

My maternal instincts kicked into gear as I became fascinated, borderline obsessed, with Luna and her litter. Are they eating enough? Should they be sleeping this much? What does a loud squeamish squawk mean? Should I turn the heat up? While I fretted over all the cleanliness, health and well-being, my family cuddled and swooned over the sea of puppy innocence that smelled of all good things in this world.

My office became the quiet space for the pups to nurse from their mama in a tiny baby pool. The strangely intoxicating, earthy “farm” scent invaded my room, and I welcomed the company. Their pink toes are what gets me, so tiny and bright like miniature pomegranate seeds I’d love to pop with my teeth. I’ve learned a new term… it’s called “cute aggression.” Like when I’m holding one of the puppies and it yawns—I want to squeeze it so hard its head will pop off. Other times, I would like to eat it. It’s common (and defined), so I know I’m not crazy.

Let’s take a moment to process all of this.

I have a new home office that smells like a zoo, a ton more laundry, and I sometimes refer to my work zone as the “Chamber of Farts” due to Luna’s unfortunate flatulence. Feeding time is a frenzy of moist smacking lips and primitive grunts. If you’re a “Walking Dead” fan, it’s similar to the sound of zombies feasting on the innards of a fallen human. Then, I have Miles who thinks he’s the baby daddy and wants to religiously lick the puppies. I’m constantly having to shoo him away. Oh, did I mention I have 9 gallons of organic, farm raised goat’s milk in my freezer? Yes, this was precautionary for, at one point, Luna seemed to be done with the whole nursing thing. I could tell she needed a Manhattan on the rocks and a solid girl’s night out. Believe me, I know the look. My husband laughs and says, “Sandy, she’s not human; you can’t project your feelings onto her.” Oh, but I know. It’s a maternal thing; she tells me with her eyes.

I thought I was done with the days of baby milestones and doctor wellness visits. I have witnessed 20 eyes opening for the first time, 40 legs gaining strength for the inaugural wobble that turned into a stumble which ended in a bumbly walk. Now, at four weeks, they are playing with one another and making high-pitched puppy growling noises that intensify when Luna comes into the room; she’s like a rock star. I could only dream of my family being that excited when I put dinner on the table.

Caring for Luna’s litter isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are vet visits/calls, supply runs, extra laundry, floor cleaning, room rearranging, etc. It’s a job I chose to do and feel a true sense of accomplishment. After all the love and effort, 11 families/people will have a new furry member to bring comfort, smiles and snuggles into their home. And in my own way, I’ve made a difference in this world.

If you are interested in adopting one of Luna’s pups, please complete an adoption application on the EAPL website referencing Hoban and Luna: eapl.com