When a pregnant dog urgently needed a home to give birth in, one heroic couple didn’t hesitate to say yes.
But the mama dog had other plans!
Keep reading to find out how one foster mom cared for seven puppies while gaining the trust of a protective mama dog.
Kate Matthews, Medical Director of Hope Animal Rescue located in Durham, North Carolina, was called to urgently foster a pregnant Siberian husky.
Mamma dog, later named LouElla, needed a safe place to give birth.
“We were planning on her giving birth in our home, but she had other plans,” said Kate.
The night before Kate picked her up, LouElla gave birth to seven puppies at the shelter – five all white just like mamma LouElla, and two all black with brown eyebrows.
Kate would later nickname these fluffballs ‘the polar bear puppies.’
Little did Kate know, she was about to have some hard work ahead of her!
LouElla’s life hadn’t been easy. She had been rescued from an unfortunate hoarding and breeding situation.
Although she didn’t have any serious medical conditions, LouElla was malnourished and had been mistreated. She didn’t trust humans.
“Getting her before she gave birth would have been ideal. We would have been able to gain her trust a little bit more because we would have been able to help with the birth,” explained Kate.
With her babies only hours old, Kate was just a stranger to LouElla, moving her and her babies from one seemingly scary place to another.
Kate was faced with a challenge: caring for the babies under mammas guard and teaching mamma to love and trust humans.
Love & Patience
The first week was the most difficult for Kate, mamma LouElla, and the polar bear puppies.
“She was trying to protect her babies and no one could blame her for that. She had come from a place that she didn’t know trust or love,” said Kate.
But Kate needed to handle the puppies daily to weigh and properly care for them.
So, Kate had to give LouElla a mild relaxer and her husband would take LouElla outside for fresh air. Then, Kate would safely handle the puppies.
“It was a slow transition to get to know mom before we could actually get to know the puppies,” said Kate.
And slowly is exactly how Kate won over LouElla.
Learning to Love
“I would sit in a room with her and just read a book so she would get used to my being.
And learn to trust me a little bit more, that I’m not trying to hurt her or her puppies,” said Kate.
Slowly, Kate could sit in the crate with LouElla. Then, Kate was able to hand feed her treats.
Then, she could pet LouElla. Eventually, Kate could pet and play with the puppies near LouElla.
“It was kind of like this beautiful opening up,” recalled Kate.
Suddenly, LouElla loved Kate and her husband so much that she wanted to spend all of her time cuddling them on the couch and in bed!
She wanted to spend so much time with Kate and her husband that the polar bear puppies needed to be weaned from mom’s milk a little early – which was okay, the puppies were perfectly healthy and on their way to a full life.
The puppies were born at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. The polar bear puppies, just like the small businesses closing their doors, had needed hope.
So, the puppies and mamma were all named after local small businesses.
LouElla, after LouElla Wine, Beer, & Beverage; Dirty Bull, after Dirty Bull Brewing Company; Cloche, after Cloche Coffee; Wolf Gang, after Wolf Gang Bakery & Grooming; Bull City, after Bull City Ciderworks; Bottle Rev; INDY Week; and Sacred Mandala, after Sacred Mandala Studio.
These hopeful little puppies wasted no time becoming mischievous and following their curiosities.
As soon as they could walk, they learned how to get out of their pen.
“We had to ramp up our security pretty much every day,” laughed Kate.
The polar bear puppies and mamma were ready to explore the possibilities of a new life with their forever families.
Looking Toward Forever
Adoption day can be a bittersweet experience for fosters. This was the case for Kate, mamma LouElla, and the polar bear puppies.
Kate had built such a special relationship with LouElla, and all in one day – everyone went to their forever homes!
“It was a difficult day for me,” recalled Kate. “[The adopters] all just came the same day and they were gone.”
Everyone went to their most perfect homes.
LouElla went to a very sweet family with another Hope Animal Rescue alumni dog and Dirty Bull was adopted by an employee of Dirty Bull Brewing Company!
It takes a special person to dedicate the time to special fosters like LouElla.
Because Kate had hope that LouElla would learn to love and trust, she and all of her puppies will enjoy a life full of love.
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