When a Norfolk Dalmatian gave birth to a huge litter of pups, her owner, Bridget, noticed there was something off about one of the newborns. The whole situation seemed to mirror the premise of Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians, based on Dodie Smith’s children’s novel. While that turn of events may seem far-fetched, 2020 proved anything is possible, and Bridget was forced to make a life-or-death decision — quick!
Bridget Heffernan, a Norfolk resident and 40-year-old mom of three, patiently waited for her pregnant dalmatian, Lucy, to give birth to a healthy litter of puppies in August 2020. She anticipated having to help Lucy and the newborns if necessary.
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So Bridget stayed by Lucy’s side during her enervating 15-hour labor, watching as she birthed each of the pups like a champ. But it wasn’t before long that Bridget noticed something was off with one of the babies.
“The minute he was delivered, I spotted straight away that something wasn’t quite right and you could tell he was already really small,” Bridget said. Trouble was brewing.
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He was the runt of the litter, and he wasn’t breathing correctly, which terrified Bridget. Not only could he not breathe, but the weakly pooch was also severely underweight.
“He was only 200g (.44 lbs) at birth whereas his brothers and sisters were around 500g (1.1 lbs),” she continued. After monitoring the pup’s habits and appearance for three days, Bridget was concerned when he didn’t gain even a drop of weight.
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“The mum, Lucy, was busy with the other pups so I broke the bag and brought him round until he got breathing but he struggled to latch on to feed – it was touch and go at first and I was extremely worried,” Bridget explained. It was time to step in.
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On day three, Bridget made it her mission to nurse the spotted runt back to health, using a formula bottle to feed the little guy every two hours, day and night. Bridget wasn’t going to let the claws of death grip onto this pup!
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And as Bridget was reviving the helpless runt of the litter, she realized something was oddly familiar about the situation. “He nearly died at birth but came back to life, similar to Lucky in 101 Dalmatians.”
That’s right! In One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the mama dalmatian, Perdita, gave birth to a litter of 15, and Lucky was the unfortunate runt. Though it’s fairly common for litters to have runts, there was one specific aspect that made the situation even more coincidental.
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Thanks to the valiant efforts of Roger Radcliffe, Lucky escaped death by the skin of his teeth, just how Bridget revived Lucy’s runt. Without Bridget’s attentiveness and patience, the frail hound wouldn’t have made it.
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“He was bottle fed until he was three weeks old before we weaned him onto food and once he got that, the rest was up to him and he managed to get back on his feet,” she said. The runt made a miraculous recovery, but the story of this litter wasn’t over.
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“It’s a real-life fairytale – he wasn’t good at all and if we hadn’t been about he would have died and I’m extremely proud of how far he’s come,” the shift leader said.
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And of course Bridget cared for the rest of the pups as well, literally waking up at 4:30 AM every day to do so. That is what we call around the clock dedication, especially considering how much these pooches ate.
While living with Bridget, those hungry little mongrels went through 12 bags of supplementary food. “Lucy had a scan at around 28 days which showed nine puppies but she then went on to have 12,” she stated.
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“It was bigger than her last litter of nine and it’s amazing how much extra work the extra three added!” she continued. Though she was sad to let the spotty angels go, Bridget knew she couldn’t keep the entire litter, especially because she already owned several dalmatians!
Aside from the (uber-tired) mama, Lucy, there was the dad, Kobe, the grandma, Rylie, and an elder sister from a preceding litter, Lyra. Bridget was not able to own 16 sporting dogs, so she assured that they all went to loving, responsible owners — even the sweet runt.
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As Bridget watched each puppy go to its new owner, she felt a joy that could only be described as gratifying. “It’s very rewarding seeing all the little puppies grow up from birth and finding their forever homes – they started to leave last Friday and now there’s only two left,” Bridget said.
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“I’m used to spending three hours every morning sorting the puppies out because it’s completely manic but now it’s all a lot calmer – I don’t know if I like calm!” she exclaimed.
Bridget will likely remember the rewarding experience forever, especially her precious “Lucky,” happy no heartless heiresses tried to make a coat out of puppy fur! But perhaps Bridget’s biggest success was guiding another dog couple with her quick-thinking.
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Well, to be fair, calling Chris Hughes and Mariesa Caliguire “dog people” would be a huge understatement. Ever since they got their first pup Moses, their lives have revolved almost entirely around their doggos. Some would even say, bordering on obsession?
By 2013, they’d adopted a whopping eight dogs! With critters of all different ages, breeds, and personalities, there was hardly a dull moment under Chris and Mariesa’s roof, and that was what sparked the idea to start sharing their life on social media.
They started their own reality show called Life in the Doghouse, and over the course of a couple of years, the YouTube series gained a loyal following eager to see how the Ohio couple handled such a hectic household.
Though they already had their hands full, Mariesa and Chris still talked about bringing yet another dog into the fold. There were so many needy animals out there, and giving one more a happy home would be a truly good deed.
In the fall of 2013, they zipped over to the Cuyahoga County Kennel, where countless little faces peered out at them through iron cages. It broke Mariesa’s heart that they could only rescue one of them.
But then one interaction convinced Chris and Mariesa of what they had to do. When they walked up to one beautiful pit bull named Storie, it was love at first sight. Of course, something was obviously different about her.
Her enormously swollen belly told Storie’s whole tale. She was very pregnant, and the staff at the dog shelter said she was expecting six puppies any day now. In fact, they were a bit surprised Storie hadn’t given birth yet.
Mariesa and Chris felt torn. On one hand, they really looked forward to the prospect of Storie joining their family. But on the other, could they really handle this pit bull and her puppies on top of their other eight dogs?
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With only minutes to make their decision, the couple followed their hearts. They brought Storie home and introduced her to her new brothers and sisters, who were jumping with joy. Still, the pit bull started showing signs that she was unwell.
Chris and Mariesa could only guess that her state was due to her pregnancy. They did a little research and learned that in high-stress situations, expecting dogs sometimes refused to give birth.
Knowing they had no time to lose, Mariesa and Chris hopped into the car with Storie whimpering in the backseat. The other eight dogs watched as they sped off to see their veterinarian.
Even the vet was concerned. Fearing that something had gone wrong with her pregnancy, they prepared for an ultrasound that would finally provide them with some answers — and hopefully not devastating ones.
It turned out that the animal shelter’s assessment of Storie was all wrong. They sized her up as being pregnant with six puppies. But in reality, she was carrying an unbelievable twelve puppies! And if she didn’t deliver them quickly, Storie would be in serious trouble.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t safe to perform a c-section on the proud mama. Storie would have to birth her litter alone. All Chris and Mariesa could do was make her comfortable and hope for the best. What they saw the next morning was unbelievable.
As if she finally knew she was safe, Storie brought twelve happy and healthy puppies into the world — and not a moment too soon! Chris embraced the new mother as she took a well-deserved rest.
With the puppies safe and happy, Chris and Mariesa had to figure out how to handle all the puppies. They now had 21 dogs in their house, which was enough to trip up even these seasoned canine owners.
The couple realized that they couldn’t care for all these pooches. Fortunately, drawing upon their connections in the animal world, Mariesa and Chris found homes for all twelve puppies. And that wasn’t the only change in their household.
To give the couple a little more space, Chris’s best friend Ryan offered to adopt Storie. They gladly accepted, knowing she would be in capable hands. Plus, the pit bull could still visit them anytime.
After such a whirlwind few days, Chris and Mariesa felt relieved to sit back and relax with their eight pooches. It seemed like things had finally returned to normal — except that before long Chris dropped an unexpected question.
He asked Mariesa to marry him, and of course, she said yes! They happily tied the knot surrounded by family and friends, in a ceremony which naturally included a couple of their canine companions.
Not every dog’s behavior can be so easily explained. When one woman noticed her adopted pet Dobermann, Kahn, was acting strange it became an immediate concern. But when the new dog grabbed her child by his mouth, things took a dramatic turn.
Catherine Svilicic of Australia knew the risks when she decided to adopt a large dog. She’d heard horror stories about rescues who have trouble readjusting to life outside the cage, but she thought Khan was different.
Even though Catherine and her husband knew Khan came from an abusive home prior to adopting him, they still had no qualms about introducing him to their 17-month-old daughter, Charlotte.
Days after Khan’s adoption, young Charlotte was playing with the dog in the family garden. That was when Catherine noticed something that would frighten any pet owner — especially those with kids.
Catherine couldn’t believe what she was seeing: Khan was snarling and pushing Charlotte around. It was every parent’s worst nightmare, and for Charlotte, it must have been terrifying.
Then, before Catherine could react, the large Dobermann grabbed the toddler by the diaper and tossed her across the yard like a rag doll! Catherine raced toward her baby. What on earth was going on?
It was like her loving dog, usually so gentle with the little girl, totally transformed. Catherine started running toward Charlotte when she saw something that made her take pause…
Her 17-month-old daughter was pointing at a suspicious object slipping away into the grass. She suddenly realized what made Khan act out so aggressively.
In the yard was a large king brown snake, one of the most venomous in Australia. Catherine realized Khan wasn’t trying to harm little Charlotte; rather, he was merely trying to get her to safety — fast.
The dog saved Charlotte by flinging her out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, that meant that Khan was the snake’s new target.
There was no time to waste; Catherine had the sudden realization that Khan was in serious danger. She made sure that her daughter would be okay before she turned her attention back to the dog.
Khan might have saved Charlotte, but he’d been bitten on his paw by the snake and he collapsed to the ground. Catherine was in shock.
But she couldn’t give up on the dog, he was family, and he had just saved her baby’s life without hesitation. She knew that she had to take action if the dog was going to survive.
Catherine frantically rushed Khan to a nearby emergency veterinary clinic. Could he receive an anti-venom injection before it was too late? All Catherine could do was move as quickly as possible…
Khan was in bad shape. He had a rough first night at the clinic, but thankfully, he managed to pull through. The staff was amazed to see that he even had an appetite when he woke up the next morning!
He still needed to heal from his wound, but ultimately, he would be okay. It was the best news Catherine could have hoped for. She was overjoyed that her family’s canine hero was going to pull through.
Now, years later, Catherine is just as thankful that she chose to adopt Khan and rescue him from his abusive past. It really is true what they say: adopt, don’t shop. You’re not just buying a pet—you’re welcoming a new member to your family!
When Catherine adopted Khan, she had no idea he would pay back her family for their kindness. The fact that he went above and beyond and put his life on the line for his little sister was astounding.