Diary of a dumpster Pup: Week Five

Bev Keil
Special to the Bonanza

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is a first-person story from Incline resident Beverly Keil, telling her account of caring for Bandit, one of six “Dumpster Babies” that is expected to live after being thrown in a South Lake Tahoe trash bin on July 23. The following article details week four of care. Read parts one through four at, keyword: “Dumpster.”

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Bandit begins week five by putting everything in his mouth — socks, blanket, towels, toys and newspapers. He is teething. Within a few days I see little pearly whites emerging. By the end of the week he smiles, well actually yawns, and I see a mouth full of very white teeth. With his dark blue eyes, shiny brown coat and nice white teeth, he could be a model for a dental commercial.

Bandit no longer uses his crate. He is free to roam about the 6-foot by 8-foot pen I created for him. I leave an open carrier in his new pen but he doesn’t sleep in it. Instead he takes a couple days to drag a pillow and several towels into a corner just under the overhang of a step. This is where he creates the perfect bed and sleeps most of the time.

The rest of the pen is for playing — and he does plenty of that. I have to remember to wear socks when I visit with him. I try to invent puppy games that do not involve my toes or fingers. It is a challenge. His other favorite toys are a vivid orange squeaky Spongebob and a striped catnip mouse that one of my kitties must have given him. I wish the kitties would join us with the games to give me a break, but they aren’t yet interested in dealing with him.

Here’s the biggest news! Bandit eats his first actual food. It is Science Diet Gourmet Chicken from a can, mixed with some warmed weaning formula. On his very first try he devours the entire hefty portion. Just like that the bottle that was the life line binding us together is gone. My baby now eats on his own.

This is the beginning of his independence. He eats this mush four times a day and we both get to sleep through the night. Again we develop a routine. At feeding time, I climb into his pen with the food and formula. He jumps all over me trying to reach the ledge where I mix the gruel.

When it is ready, I place the bowl on the server and he dives in. Literally, head first. He eats so quickly and noisily. Then he does a 360 degree rotation around the dish to slurp up any spills. When he can find no more to lick up, he comes to me and I wipe his paws and face with a damp cloth. Then we settle in for a half hour of play.

Bandit seems to grow before my eyes on his new diet. It is almost as dramatic as Popeye eating his spinach. I can see new muscle development is his legs and chest. He now looks like a perfect small scale model of a real dog. His body has grown to match the size of his head. He has all his parts and they are in the right proportions. Still, I cannot tell what kind of dog he is or how big he will grow. His feet do not seem oversized, a sign that he may be a modest size adult.

Now that I am Bandit’s only playmate, I try to schedule some play dates for him with the pups who visited us last week. But those pups are having a setback trying to adjust to the new food. One of them requires emergency attention and they both are battling persistent diarrhea trying to adjust to the intake of protein.

There could be a congenital problem with the male and I realize we are not yet home free. Again, Bandit appears larger and stronger than his litter mates. I wonder if perhaps he was the first born and benefitted from a bit of mother’s milk during the couple hours it must have taken the dog to give birth to 10 babies.

So, I continue to socialize Bandit myself. I am told to touch his feet often so he will be able to withstand nail clippings. I try to get him to stop biting me when we play. I coach him to use the newspapers for his poop. I wonder what else his mother would be showing him. He receives his first immunization shot and I realize our time together will be coming to a close soon.

Beverly Keil is a board member with the Pet Network Humane Society. Learn more at

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