One family in North Carolina rang in 2021 when they were met with a surprise from a surrendered dog.
However, this surprise gift soon turned into a challenge that left them with a difficult decision to make.
Keep reading to uncover an adorable rescue journey and watch these puppies grow right before your eyes!
A kind family had recently come into possession of a lab mix after the original owner surrendered her.
Little did they know, this sweet dog had a secret: she was pregnant!
At first, the family didn’t realize that she was pregnant, but it soon became clear.
The mom gave birth to seven healthy puppies, all adorably wrinkled and ready to meet the world.
At first, everything was going according to plan. That is, until a new challenge unfolded.
Trouble in Paradise
“Things were going well and seemed to be under control. The mom and puppies were healthy,” Kate said.
Whereas other people might have immediately taken the dog to a shelter, this family had decided to try and take care of the mom and puppies on their own.
“They thought that they could handle it so they allowed mom to give birth in their care,” recalled Kate Matthews, who knew the family and serves as the medical director for Hope Animal Rescue.
After a few weeks, the family realized that they’d taken on more responsibility than they could handle.
A Change of Plans
Everything changed when the puppies started walking.
“Once the puppies started getting mobile and eating on their own, the family realized that caring for seven puppies was quite a big endeavor that they weren’t able to take on,” Kate said.
The family contacted Hope Animal Rescue, who agreed to take the puppies and place them in foster homes.
Kate and her partner received three puppies, while the remaining four were split between two other homes.
“Mom stayed with the family, so we just got the puppies. Lucky for us, the family kept mom with the puppies until they were weaned,” Kate said.
She estimates the puppies were roughly four or five weeks old, which is an early but safe age to wean.
The puppies were physically healthy, but their emotional health was another story.
A Fresh Start
When the puppies first arrived, Kate recalls they were mostly confused.
“It worried me for the first couple of days because they slept most of the day and were a little unsure,” she said.
It was a hard transition leaving mom and being separated from their siblings, but it’s something that all puppies inevitably face.
She knew that puppies were resilient and bounced back quickly. But that still didn’t stop her from being anxious.
Kate noticed the puppies also shivered a lot, which was concerning despite their clean bill of health.
Thankfully, her fears were quickly relieved.
“After a few days of general around the clock eating and getting to know us, they opened up and now love to chew on my hair,” she laughed.
Besides gnawing on braids and ponytails, the puppies love exploring the apartment in between bouts of long naps.
After confirming the puppies were healthy, it was time for the next big step: naming them and finding homes.
Welcome to Neverland
Kate eventually settled on the perfect names for the trio: Peter (AKA ‘Big Boy’), Wendy, and Tinkerbell.
“Peter’s biggest quirk is that he’s very much a mama’s boy,” Kate said. “I can’t do anything without him wanting to be by my side.”
Though admittedly adorable, they’re currently working on teaching Peter that he can’t hog all the attention.
On the other hand, Kate called Wendy a loner who turned into a sweetheart.
“Once you get her in your arms, she just wants to cuddle with you,” said Kate.
Tinkerbell’s namesake had small shoes and big personality, and the pup more than lives up to this.
“Even though she’s the runt, she is the most spunky of them all and she will remind you every day about it. She’s very much an adventurer,” Kate said.
As the puppies grow day by day, their adoption date moves closer.
The mandatory two-week holding period for the puppies will end mid-January, and Kate said families are already lined up to adopt them.
Kate and the fosters at Hope Animal Rescue have fell in love with these sweet pups and are confident their adopters will be just as smitten with them.
Though these puppies won’t have to travel to Neverland to find their forever home, they’re sure to have a magical life ahead of them.