A Christmas Miracle

Volunteering for OES rescue can be oh, so rewarding! Jane Dempsey of OES Rescue of Southern California called me two days before Christmas to check out a report of an Old English Sheepdog at a shelter in my area. She said it was “a long story” but first ID the dog. So many of the reports of OES in shelters are not really OES.

When I got to the shelter and looked at the dog, all I could see was mats. The OES was huddled in the far back of a run. I was sure it was an OES (no one else can do mats quite as well.) The mats were so massive that it was hard to tell one end from the other. I pulled out my cell phone and called Jane to report my findings.

She told me the whole story – the dog was so matted that they were not able to assess the gender. They had waited 3 days for the owner to come in. When no owner came forward and because of the deplorable condition of the OES, the shelter had decided to deem the dog “an abuse case”.

They brought the OES in to the shelter clinic to administer routine shots, determine gender, and shave off the matted coat. After the first vaccination had been given, they noticed the dog in distress and almost immediately a puppy was delivered. Evidently, the pups were full term. She had a total of seven: five were girls and two were boys.

We figured the pups might be “of mixed descent” as mom was a lost stray found wandering the streets. Many discussions occurred on Christmas Eve between the shelter, our vets and an all-breed rescue. Finally, a decision: since Mom was an OES, OES Rescue of Southern California would raise the litter. If the pups were not OES, an all-breed rescue would help us place them.

Mom and pups stayed in the shelter until after Christmas in case the owner turned up. The day after Christmas, the shelter released the dogs to OES Rescue. I picked up the whole family and took them to our vet for a quick checkup (including docking tails and removing dew claws.) Everyone was amazed that the puppies appeared to be healthy, purebred OES.

Even with the holidays, a whole team of people in the OES world in Southern California got busy and went to work to help out this family.

Volunteers built a whelping box for mom and pups, gathered rugs and blankets, collected newspapers, shaved and clipped Mom (Holly . . . Mom and pups were given Christmas call names.) Others collected food, weighed puppies and lots of other things.

Mom was thin and needed frequent feedings to bring her weight up and nourish her so she could feed the pups. Puppy help and socialization came from all over – the family even had a visitor from Australia. This litter really shows what teamwork can do! Everyone who participated in helping this litter should be very proud of their efforts.

Holly was a wonderful mother who definitely earned her 7 week vacation after feeding the pups and before being spayed. At 6 weeks old, I visited the pups and was overwhelmed at their vigor and how much they had grown. Jane (who has been up many nights caring for the family since their arrival} did a wonderful job as a dog mom!

As a learning experience, many local OES people participated in evaluating the litter at 8 weeks old using the Pat Hastings method. We will see how they turn out as they grow.

A big thank you to all the vets who helped our little family. In addition to dew claws and tails, they checked each puppy over, gave them shots, micro -chipped them, and spayed/neutered each prior to their adoptions. Each puppy also had an eye cerf done by an ophthalmologist.

Mom and pups are in their new homes now. Heidi (Mom) is living in Santa Barbara with another OES rescue girl, Windy.

Ellie and Peggy Sue are together with a very happy couple.

Dorothy is definitely the center of attention with her new family.

Ralph won over his family and even Priscilla, another OES rescue girl.

Chloe goes to work with her new “Dad” and plays non stop at home with Simone.

Maisie (our blue puppy) is almost old enough to go on the long walks her new “Mom” takes.

Rudy is keeping everyone very busy making every moment of the day count.

This has to be the ultimate Nativity story . . . finding shelter, a place to have the babies and be safe and dry over Christmas. If Heidi had not been picked up by animal control, the consequences would have been tragic. We had a very powerful and cold rainstorm over Christmas.

The gratification one derives from seeing all the love and devotion shared by Heidi, her puppies, and the new parents is really magic and a true joy to behold! Circumstances and many people came together with a lot of love to create this Christmas miracle.

February 2004 – At 8 weeks old the puppies posed for this Lupine Collars & Leads ad:

December 2004 – 6 of the 7 puppies (now one year old) posed in the pouring rain at the 11th Annual OES Rescue Parade.