Paul Kirhagis and his fianceé Kim Kelderhouse are no strangers to fostering dogs. By mid 2017, the couple, with the help of their daughter, had fostered over 180 dogs.
Working closely with a local pit bull rescue, the family fosters plenty of dogs in need, and they are certainly up to the challenge.
So when they got the call about three abandoned newborn puppies supposedly left in a box on a porch, they knew they needed to help.
The puppies were extremely sick, covered in fleas, and their mother was nowhere to be found. Down to just skin and bones, Paul and Kim didn’t think they’d make it.
The family began bottle feeding the tiny pups, monitoring them every hour to make sure they were doing okay. Although their futures seemed bleak, the puppies were named Wish, Spirit, and Hope for their determination to live.
“Hope was the one that kind of always made us hopeful. She was always the biggest,” Kim said.
“Spirit, she was the smallest, but she had the most spunk. Wish was just kind of — I needed to name one of them Wish because of our wish for them to be okay.”
Day by day, the puppies were slowly growing and getting stronger, but it wasn’t what they needed most.
And shortly after the pups came into their lives, another miracle arrived.
A female dog who’d been nursing had been hit by a car and taken to the animal shelter. Her owners returned for the dog she’d gone to the shelter with, but they left her behind.
When she arrived, her mammary glands were engorged and she was extremely depressed. Her puppies were nowhere to be found, and she was in desperate need of love and affection.
Paul, Kim and their daughter took the dog in and named her Jersey.
“When she got to us, she could not walk,” Kim explained. “She was so heavy from milk.”
“She clearly had puppies somewhere,” she continued. “And her purpose was to be their mom. She didn’t get to do that.”
“I remember saying to her the first day, ‘I don’t think this dog’s gonna make it,'” Paul said. “She feels to me like she’s given up. She doesn’t want to move, she doesn’t want to try, she doesn’t want to eat, she doesn’t want to drink. She just wants to lay there and basically die.”
But after introducing Jersey into their home, they knew she would be an amazing mom to their three foster puppies if they let her.
So after careful planning, they brought Hope, Wish, and Spirit to meet Jersey, and their worlds were instantly bright again.
“I took the puppies upstairs in a basket, and [Jersey] was like, beyond ecstatic to hear a puppy crying,” Kim said. “I slowly introduced all three — instant mother reaction. She had purpose again”
“The difference in just her spirit from one day to the next, after having those puppies back in her life was just astounding,” Paul agreed.
Just over two months after their rescue, Jersey and her girls continue to make huge strides helping one another find purpose again.
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