17 dogs and 2 humans in ONE car!

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, April 25, 2023
Maggie from Mr. Rogers Litter

The phone rang at 8:00 am sharp!

It was my NEW administrative assistant, Jody-Lynn, calling for our daily week day check-in.

She helps process the Puppy Adoption Questionnaires so that we don’t fall behind.

Prompt and polite, at your service!

Jody-Lynn in the best.

She also makes sure I am clear on the day’s activities.


Yesterday was JAM packed with things to accomplish.

First, morning chores: feed, water, pickup.

Next, gather all of the “Puppy Health Checklists” with shot/worming info.

After that, set up the DireWolf Express van with enough crates and pads to hold a pile of puppies.

Then, run the puppies until they all go potty and are settled enough to rest for the  road trip and subsequent vet visit.

(OF COURSE… it was raining… and muddy… and the puppies were wet… and dirty.)

So, Jay hauled out a bucket of warm soapy water. We wiped down each puppy before placing it onto a pad in a wire crate in the van.

We puzzled in FOUR medium sized crates and ONE large crate.

Plus, enough room left over for two giant adult American Dirus dogs.

The vet appointment was scheduled for 11:00 am.

It takes 50 minutes to drive there… (going the speed limit, of course). *wink, wink

I looked at the clock on the screen in the front of the van.

It read 10:00 am…

Uh oh!

Better hurry up and place the last of the puppies into the van!

Harbor, Levee, and Jetty from the Dock of the Bay litter were in the large crate with Mr. Rogers, Lady Aberlin, and Audrey.

King Friday and Officer Clemmons rested in medium crate #1.

X the Owl and Daniel rested in medium crate #2.

On top of those two crates, two more were full of the five Miners litter puppies going to their new homes: Canary, Cobalt, Dozer, Excavator, and Baltic Gold.


10:15 am

We were going to be late. Shoot!

No matter, gotta find room for Narissa and Baluster… both weighing over 105 lbs!

Narissa went in first. She could lay down in between the medium and large crates. Perfect for giving her a little stabilization on the turns.

Then, Baluster.

Yeah… he isn’t super familiar with what a leash is yet.

Okay… scratch that.

This was his first encounter being tethered.

(NOTE: Our dogs don’t need a leash being that we live in the forest without any other neighbors. The dogs just go where we go and return to their kennels to eat their dinner and sleep. No leash required.)

Anyway, Baluster moved his head from side to side and wiggled his body out of my grasp the moment that black cotton loop neared his face. (I have a feeling he knew something fishy was going on.)

Time kept on ticking away those minutes, but the first leash introduction training is crucial.

Baluster and I worked on communicating our thoughts with one another.

BALUSTER: Nope! Ain’t no way this is supposed to be around my neck like this!

ME: Come on, buddy. Don’t worry. Step toward me and the leash with loosen.

BALUSTER: I gotta get outta here! Isn’t it time for our walk in the forest? Come on. Let’s go!!!

ME (unmovable anchor with gentle coaxing): I know your instinct is to fight against the pressure, but I promise you, if you move into the pressure it will release.

BALUSTER (after some dramatic flopping around, he finally stood still and used his brain): This is a real dilemma. She’s calling me to her, but I have this urge to pull back. What do I choose?

Baluster tries to pull back again, but gets nowhere, as before.

BALUSTER: This isn’t working. Nothing I try seems to relieve this pressure.

ME (crouching down): Come on, buddy. Come over for some pets. You love pets.

BALUSTER: (slight tail wag of confusion) Should I? I guess I could.

ME (not solving his problem for him): You can do it. Just a step toward me and you’ll see.

BALUSTER (head down, tail wagging, panting heavily in his deep thoughts): Okay. I’ll take one step and see what happens.

The leash loosens completely and a smile broadens on Baluster’s face.

ME: Yay! Good boy. Come on!

BALUSTER: Hey… that worked to loosen the pressure and she’s happy!

Another step.

Same reaction from me.

BALUSTER: Alright! I think I got this!

Then, Baluster walked over to me, loose leash!

I took a few steps back immediately, not allowing his pea-sized brain to forget the lesson.

Sure enough! He followed me. SUCCESS!!

10:25 am

Now, to get the big oaf in the van!

After placing one front foot and then the other on the ledge of the side of the van, Baluster stood up. Jay and I pushed his bum a bit to coax him in. He walked in and sat down. Moving his tail out of the way, we pushed the button to close the door.

Then, we both got into the front seats and headed out.

10:30 am

Oh dear!

What did I say earlier about driving the speed limit? Haha!

No… seriously. We do have to drive the speed limit with puppies in the car.

Puppies cannot take the curves at high velocity. Plus, they need to acquire their sea legs for the trip. We have to go slow around the curves and not start/stop quickly.

No speeding for us.

The puppies were quiet and, apart from Narissa telling Baluster to stop looking at her, we made it without any trouble whatsoever.

Dr. Dale at Davenport Veterinary Clinic is the perfect vet for this peculiar puppy parade. He is patient and calm, no matter the chaos happening around him. The puppies respond so well to his energy.

First, we brought the paperwork in and laid each puppy’s health checklist in a pile according to their litter.

The Mr. Rogers litter was first. Then, the Dock of the Bay. Last, the Miners litter.

All 17 puppies were healthy.

Levee was the heaviest weighing in at 31.2 lbs!

Mr. Rogers was next at 30.6 lbs.

Lady Aberlin was 30.4

Jetty and Harbor were 30.2.

Daniel was 29.2.

X the Owl was 28.6

King Friday was 28.2.

Officer Clemmons 25.6

Audrey 24

Baltic Gold 16.6

Dozer 15.2

Excavator 13.4

Cobalt 13.2

And… Yellow Canary was the littlest weighing in at only 7 lbs!

Once the puppies had their turn, Narissa and Baluster were next.

Baluster weighed 130.8.

Narissa weighed 106.8.

Those are some big dogs!

It took over 2 hours to check everyone thoroughly for any health issues.

One puppy has a tiny umbilical hernia that doesn’t present a big concern.

And… Doctor Dale identified postpartum telogen effluvium in Narissa. (This is where the female sheds her coat profusely after whelping.)

I haven’t seen this before in other females, so I asked for a full blood draw to make sure she was normal otherwise.

It will be sent off to the lab for results.

Then, everyone piled back into the van and we headed back for home.

Two puppies needed a potty break halfway back, but otherwise, everyone slept peacefully through the twists and turns on the highway.

What a great first car ride experience for these 17 precious animals!

Mr. Rogers goes home today.

Levee goes home on Wednesday.

Baltic Gold will remain for another week or two.

Then, I leave out on the “Friendly Neighbor” DireWolf Express trip on Thursday morning!

During the trip, you can track your DireWolf Dog’s journey on the DireWolf Express in real time all along the track to your home. The DireWolf Express uses the free app below to post pictures, videos, and stories about your DireWolf Dog as it travels across our great country. It’s available in both Android and iOS versions for mobile, although you can also log in via their website. It’s free to download and use.


Download the PolarSteps app from Google Play or the App Store and follow Jennifer Stoeckl for your upcoming trip.

This Thursday’s trip is called the “Friendly Neighbor Trip”.

You can also view past rides and how each driver did with the DireWolf Dogs in their care.

With a 4.7 star our of 5 rating and over 42, 672 reviews, PolarSteps is our choice for a free option to share the journey in real time with you!

Don’t forget there are several puppy training articles on the Dire Wolf Project website that you should read prior to your puppy’s arrival. Here’s the link:


There is a multitude of dog training philosophies and trainers with contradictory dog training advice throughout the Internet. Our breed needs a balanced training method with an emphasis on building confidence. For this reason, we highly recommend binge watching the puppy videos produced by McCann Dogs out of Ontario, Canada.

Here is a link to a 9 video puppy training series from McCann Dogs:

Lastly, if you have NOT completed the DireWolf Express paperwork for your new puppy/dog…

click the link below and read up on the instructions:


Last Thursday, we had an exciting major renovation happen at Dire Wolf Project headquarters. Click the link below to find out what it was:

Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.