Lifestyle & Human Interest

Days After Losing Her Entire Litter, Grieving Mother Dog Adopts Orphaned Pups as Her Own


Sometimes things happen that make it clear there’s a plan behind everything, even when we least expect it. What started off as a heartbreaking story for one rescued dog turned bittersweet and then just plain sweet last week, making a case for more than mere coincidence.

Secondhand Hounds is nonprofit rescue in Minnetonka, Minnesota. On its website, the organization says it “rescues dogs from kill shelters around the Midwest and from owners who can no longer provide care for their dogs” and does the same for cats.

Recently, that included a little long-haired chihuahua. In mid-November, the adorable dog gave birth, but sadly all of her puppies were born prematurely and passed away.

The rescue made it clear in comments on their post that they spay/neuter all the dogs they get, and they told NBC’s “Today” that the chihuahua — named “Rosa” — was one of several breeder dogs they’d recently rescued.

“She’s been a mom before, many times, so we can only assume she was confused,” the group shared on Thursday. “A little worried. She was still full of milk.”

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Many times, dogs who lose their litters can become depressed. Thankfully, the rescue didn’t have to wait long before a potential solution presented itself.

Rachel Mairose, founder and executive director of the rescue, told “Today” that they got a call that changed everything.

“They said that they had a mama dog with puppies, and the mom had died of a seizure that morning and left her five 2-week-old puppies ‘orphaned,'” she said.

Her thoughts instantly went to Rosa.

“We kind of all did that gasp moment of, like, could this work?” she said. “We coordinated to have them come to the office that night. It was, like, a last-minute whirlwind, all hands on deck, to see if we could get these guys together as a family.”

The rescue’s post explained that while it had experienced bottle-feeders who would have been ready and willing to take on the new adorable little charges, there’s no substitute for the devotion and care of a real momma dog.

So, they carefully arranged an introduction. Rosa perked up when she heard the puppy cries.

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“She heard the puppies whimpering, and her tail started wagging, and we were all like, ‘Oh, my gosh. This could happen,'” Mairose said.

Still, they weren’t in the clear yet.

“Introducing puppies to an adoptive mom is always a toss up,” the rescue’s post continued. “Some mommas smell other puppies and immediately decide not to accept them.”

“Not this momma. You would have thought we gave her the 5 best presents ever. She started cleaning them. Letting them nurse. She dutifully snuggles them and counts them and loves them. They are her puppies now.”

Based on the photos, it’s clear that Rosa has accepted the new litter as her own. They needed a mom, and she needed them.

Many readers commented on the size of the puppies and expressed concern over whether or not Rosa would be able to care for them adequately, but the rescue reassured people that despite how big they look, they are also a small breed (chihuahua/pug, according to the comments), and the person fostering Rosa and her puppies is experienced, monitors them and is able to supplement their meals if necessary.

“We see a lot in rescue, but it was so touching and it felt so serendipitous, like it was fate, kind of a little miracle,” Mairose said. “It felt like it was meant to be. We don’t get phone calls about neonatal puppies on a daily basis, and we certainly don’t get phone calls about mommies who have lost their entire litter on a regular basis. The fact that they happened on the same day was incredible.”

“She has been just an amazing mom the whole time,” she continued. “She absolutely adopted them. … It couldn’t be more perfect. She now has her little family, and I think they needed each other equally.”

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