When a shelter needed to urgently rehome a pregnant dog, there was only one person to call.
Kate Matthews, the board president at Hope Animal Rescue, is no stranger to taking on urgent or hard foster cases.
She took in the soon-to-be mother in June 2020 and prepared for the impending birth, which came just seven days later…
Unfortunately, after 48 hours of hard labor and related complications, the mother and one of the newborns passed away.
They left behind 13 puppies that would need help with, well– everything.
“When Mom passed, we kind of had to think creatively about what we were going to do with these 13 puppies that could no longer nurse off of Mom,” Kate said.
She was determined to make sure the rest of the puppies lived.
But first, she needed some help of her own.
Calling All Heroes
Kate called everyone she knew. Thankfully, her community rallied around her and the puppies.
“We did a quick phone tree through the whole rescue to see who could take bottle babies and do the extreme work of caring for an infant,” Kate said. “We were lucky enough to have great volunteers to step up.”
She took five puppies, while the other eight were split up between the volunteers.
The puppies would need care around the clock.
“When you’re working with newborns, you’re working with this tiny little worm, almost,” she joked. “They can’t see, they can’t hear, they can’t do anything. They’re just these helpless little things.”
They also need help drinking, defecating, urinating, and regulating their body temperature.
Fosters also have to look out for dangerous diseases like coccidia and physical injuries.
Most daunting is a newborn puppy’s feeding schedule. As newborns, the bottle babies would need milk every two hours.
People can help with all of this, but there’s one thing these volunteers couldn’t do: teach a puppy how to be a puppy.
For that, they would need to bring in some true experts on the topic.
Phone a 4 Legged Friend
Only another dog can teach a puppy how to act and provide the socialization that is vital to a new puppy’s development.
“The challenge comes when they get older and don’t have Mom as a role model to learn, you know, how to dog,” she said. “We’re lucky that most of the people in the rescue have their own dogs to treat as role models.”
Kate also had her own helper on hand.
Her dog, Nora, was more than happy to help with the puppies and teach them everything there was to know about being a lovable fur-baby.
“She’s great, she was able to teach them the biggest thing that’s needed behavior-wise, [which is] the ‘no’ behavior, so she’s able to give them a little check when needed,” Kate said.
Thanks to Nora and the other four-legged volunteers, the puppies learned how to interact with other dogs, respect boundaries, and play correctly.
After that, there was only one thing left to do: pick the perfect names.
What’s In A Name?
There’s a long-standing tradition within Hope Animal Rescue of naming new litters based on a theme.
These puppies were all named based on a ‘wilderness’ theme, “which I think was very hippy-dippy and cute,” Kate laughed.
That’s how these pups went from the ‘Bottle Babies’ to Forest, Hurricane, Typhoon, Sunflower, Willow, Meadow, Boulder, Everest, Rain, Lumen, Tupelo, Fig, and Fern.
Though their behavior and names came from other people (and dogs), these puppies’ personalities were all their own.
Kate said each one had a unique personality that shone through over their time in a foster home.
Hurricane was the runt, but also the “most spunky. Typhoon was the most cuddly and laidback.
Willow was “a big roly poly, but oh-so-sweet” puppy that loved to cuddle, while Sunflower was a loner who “wanted to do her own thing.” Forest was a ball of energy with a big heart.
The same was true for the rest of the puppies, who continued to grow, grow, grow– until they were old enough that it was time to think about their next step in life.
As fate would have it, neither these puppies nor their foster parents had anything to worry about.
Finding A Forever Home
Besides quickly learning how to be playful, mischievous, and cute, it also didn’t take long for all the puppies to find their forever homes.
Just like how the community came together to take care of them, people also reached out to adopt the puppies and give them a loving family.
“They all went to great homes,” Kate said. “People follow them on social media. We get a lot of great interest and a lot of people putting in their names, so you have this long laundry list of people that want to adopt these great puppies.”
Some of the puppies stayed local (Kate’s neighbor even adopted one!), while others traveled as far as other states like Virginia.
“As far as I can see from social media and across the street, the puppies are growing fast and doing well,” she said.
Though the puppies have since been renamed and adopted out, the amazing dedication and care they inspired remains.