When Banu departed this world, we vacuumed up her dog hair and donated her doggy beds and bits and pieces to SAFE Broome (Saving Animals from Euthanasia). We thought that’s it. No more trusted friend greeting us at the front door. No more walks and no more hugs.

And then Tinkerbell arrived with seven two-day-old pups that needed fostering. The previous year SAFE had provided a blood donor dog to help our other dog, Coco, so it was payback time. To prepare for the puppies’ arrival, we visited SAFE to get food, bedding and a playpen.

It was dark when we met Tinkerbell and the puppies at Broome Airport. They had flown down from Kalumburu in the biggest doggy crate — too big for our car but luckily, we had a camper at home. Chris, my husband, went to get the camper while I tried to work out if the dog and her squealing pups were okay. I didn’t think it was a good idea to open the crate as we hadn’t met before.

It was a warm September night and Tinkerbell was relieved to be let out when we got home. The puppies too were a bit hot and bothered. We settled them in the playpen and Tinks took over the caring of her brood. She fed them, cleaned them, licked up their messes and kept the pen clean. The puppies couldn’t see or hear yet, so we left the playpen gate open and Tinks came and went as she pleased. A few times, the puppies crawled through the railings and started squealing – their lungs were fully developed!

We hadn’t had such young puppies before, so we surfed the net to make sure we were doing everything right. When we took them to the vet for a general once over, they were checked for cleft palates and weighed. Tinks was microchipped and treated for ticks. At around two weeks, the puppies’ eyes and ears opened and a new world emerged as they wobbled around and started to interact with each other. We gave them free range of the yard, but they liked being in a pack, so they didn’t venture far.

Pixie was the runt and oh so cute. Tanya was pretty and cream with white markings. Bronson was the big male, a beautiful cream, and Dexter was the typical brindle colour with gold flashes. Jett was an almost black brindle, and Bruce and Lee were like twins with distinctive dark faces and light brown coats. Some had long tails and others had stumpy tails — obviously more than one father!

Tinkerbell was around five-years-old and on her fifth litter. She had a quiet persona, enjoyed hugs, did not bark at all and her tail was always wagging. We quickly realised she saw our front gate as her passage to freedom and we put up a sign, so visitors knew not to open the gate. The first time I took her for a walk was a disaster. We only went a couple of doors up before Tinks decided she wasn’t going anywhere. I had to wave a car down and ask the driver to go and tell my husband to come and help. Tinks only decided to move when we went and got one of the puppies. There were a couple of other heart-stopping moments when she escaped, although once called she would come running back. I think she was just disoriented with all the unfamiliar smells.

Four-weeks-old and the puppies had distinctive personalities. Tinks still had tits full of milk but by then the puppies were ferocious eaters and were really pounding her when feeding — she was so patient. We started supplement feeding and the first time it was a feeding frenzy. The dish was too small for seven heads so in the end we used a pot plant drip-tray which worked well.

Five-weeks-old and the puppies were running, playing, biting, yapping and recognising me as the lady with the food. Feeding time was tricky as I had to be careful not to stand on them. They were all around my ankles and screaming for food. The puppies took up hours of our day as we watched them play — far more entertaining than TV.

We nearly had them toilet-trained. They’d run around in the garden deciding the best place to have their constitutional and would then change their minds and try elsewhere — their tiny legs holding them up as they looked like they might roll back onto their mess.

One hot 40+ day, we introduced the puppies to a shower. Using the watering can, we called them. At first, they weren’t sure but by the second shower they got the idea that it would cool them down. And then Mum would come along and lick them dry.

The puppies grew fast — playing and digging and just being young kids. They had their vaccinations, were microchipped and tested for Ehrlichiosis (tick disease). It was time for them and Tinkerbell to be adopted and find their forever homes. We were really sad as they had weaved their little lives into ours, but we knew their first loving eight weeks had been important for their development.

Tinks had been a loving mother and we had a wonderful journey of discovery watching her blind and deaf little bundles grow into entertaining, adorable and destructive puppies. Although we had named them, SAFE renamed the pups so they all had the beginning letter of their mum - Titus, Tyler, Taalah, Ted, Tanya, Tucker & Theo. Eventually they all got adopted out to various places in WA - Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, Broome, Tom Price and Perth. The mum is happy with a family in Perth.

Our house was quiet again, but we had loved the adventure. Although we’ve had dogs for years, it was time to do some dog-free travel before we find our next companion who will melt our hearts. If it wasn’t for our wonder dog Coco, we would possibly never have thought of fostering. She is laid to rest in our front garden along with Banu. SAFE are an amazing group of hard-working volunteers, every day juggling where all the animals were going and spending a fortune on veterinary bills. SAFE are always looking for Foster Parents for dogs and cats that come into their care. Contact them through their Facebook page — SAFE Broome.

TINKERBELL is the mum to these seven pups. A dark brindle soft coat and we think possibly a Staffy cross, kelpie. So intelligent, very obedient, obviously someone really loved her at one time. Loves hugs and walks.

PIXIE– the runt, but knows how to look after herself, even though she is picked on a bit with her 6 siblings Very, very cute. She really looks at you.

TANYA– a very pretty girl and athletic. With lovely markings and will be a miss bossy boots.

BRONSON – he looks like a Labrador. Very needy, does not want to play rough with the others. Gentle soul.

DEXTER – the speedy one. Runs fast, does everything fast. Beautiful markings.

BRUCE – just an all-round boy, nice to most of the other pups, blends into the crowd.

JETT – a real loner. Likes to sleep on his own, actually sleeps a lot. Plays but only when he wants to.

LEE – stocky body, and a little feisty. Likes the rough and tumble life.