Sweetie arrived at our shelter via City Animal Control, after being picked up running in the city. We don’t know how she got there, but we were horrified to see the shape she was in. Sweetie was utterly filthy, covered in ticks, exhausted, miserable, painfully thin...and worst of all, she was full of milk and evidently had puppies needing her. We put an appeal out on Facebook, and thanks to someone who has spotted her previously we were able to go on a rescue mission - several staff members came into the shelter on a Sunday night to team up and find those babies!
We took Sweetie (who by now was clean, de-ticked, and had a full belly and a chance to rest) along with us, with baskets and kennels to carry the puppies, blankets, and other supplies. We didn’t know for sure what we would find - how old would the pups be? How many were there? How long had they been alone (from mama, we guessed a day at the most) and would they still be safe - or alive?
We had hoped Sweetie might be able to guide us to her pups once we were in the general location, but once we arrived the poor girl withdrew into herself. She was terrified and did not want to be there, and simply lay down in the grass and refused to move. One person stayed with her while the rest of us searched possible hiding places by flashlight. Mosquitoes buzzed, odd cars sped by on the highway, and the coyotes howled in the surrounding woodland. An old vehicle stood in the grass, covered by a tarp...and a glance at the right moment showed a little flash of white fur! Scrambling over, we found a pile of squirmy, hungry pups, who quickly started to squeal when moved! Pulling them out and counting, we found nine babies, about ten days old, alive, and safe! Everyone was quickly loaded into the safety of the car, and we headed back to the shelter.
There, in a warm, safe place, we slowly reintroduced Sweetie to her pups. She was incredibly stressed and unsure, but gradually settled down and was able to finally feed her babies. Our staff spent several hours gently cleaning the babies, who were filthy and covered in fleas, but by the end of the night we had three exhausted but very happy staff members (and one super volunteer who was a STAR all evening!) and a comfortable, contented mama dog nestled in warm, soft blankets, with food and water to hand, curled around nine little fat-bellied and sleeping pups.
Over the following weeks and days, we relieved an overworked Sweetie whenever we could - being sure she had plenty of high-quality, nutrient rich food as she gradually gained weight, giving her time to rest and relax away from the pups, and getting to know her. The pups doubled in weight with amazing rapidity - they were growing like weeds! Sweetie was very stressed at first, and it wasn’t until the pups got a little older and began the gradual weaning process that we got to see more of her personality emerge. She was a careful and protective mama bear who watched over her babies with an eagle eye, but we could see her profound relief when finally the babies were fully weaned and ready to go!
The babies (cute little heeler mixes), were named after vehicles in honor of their first ‘home’ under the old truck - Mazda, Mercedes, Honda, Bentley, BroncoBear, Ferrari, Ford, Lexus, and Nissan. Nissan, however, was given the honorary nickname of ‘Beacon’ - as it was his white coat (with just one black spot on his side) that shone in the flashlight’s beam and helped us to find them!
One of our amazing partner rescues took in the nine puppies and they quickly found amazing forever homes. Sweetie was enjoying some well-earned rest, and loving every minute of it! She finally relaxed completely, job done, and got to be the goofy, happy girl that had been waiting to shine all along. Sweetie loved treats (peanut butter was a huge hit!) playtime, and belly rubs, and received her spay surgery to be sure she wouldn’t have to ever be a mama again! After recovery, microchipping, and finishing up all her vaccines, miss Sweetie was ready to find her very own forever home.
Lots of people were passing by the unassuming little dog with the big, goofy ears, but when Santana saw our video of Sweetie daintily licking peanut butter from a spoon, she HAD to meet her! It was love at first sight - on both sides! We couldn’t be more thrilled - Sweetie got to go to a home with previous heeler experience (they are a VERY special breed and super smart!), lots of land to run and play on, and plenty of adventure! She loves to go for rides with her new mom and enjoys her life as a spoiled princess! She hasn’t lost her love of food and is perhaps a little chunky, but we say she’s earned it! Way to go, Sweetie! We are so proud of you!