Survivor puppy is young boy’s best surprise yet

Beau hugging Mac the puppy
Despite his mom needing emergency surgery when he was just days old, Mac is a healthy puppy and a young boy’s best friend.
By Nicole Hamilton

Happiness comes easy for Mac. Trying to keep his body still when he makes a new friend is what’s hard. “He has full body wiggles every time he greets anyone,” says his adopter, Lauren Adams, who, from the moment she met him, knew he’d fit in perfectly with her family. “When he’s not giving kisses or playing, he’s sleeping on his footstool like a little king.”

Equally happy these days is Beau, Lauren’s 10-year-old son (and Mac’s best buddy) who for years had been on the campaign trail for a puppy. Beau had no idea that his parents heard his wishes loud and clear one day when he hopped in the back seat of the car. And he also didn’t know that on the ride home, Mac would be sitting next to him — on his way home, too.

Big support for a big litter of puppies

When Mac, his mom (Linda) and six siblings arrived at a shelter in Northwest Arkansas, there was no denying that he was the runt of the litter. Weighing less than a pound (about a third of the size of the other puppies), Mac was so tiny you could hold him in the palm of your hand.

Ali Paepke, Best Friends supervisor, was at the shelter when Linda and her puppies arrived. “(Linda) was a fantastic mom and fed her babies well,” she says. “And she loved attention for herself, too.” Ali was at the shelter a couple days later and asked how the little family was doing.

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It turned out that they needed help (and fast). Linda had come down with pyometra, an infection of the uterus that can be life-threatening, so the shelter team arranged immediately for her to be spayed. And while the procedure was necessary to save her life, there also was a good chance it would lower her milk supply. If this happened, it would be necessary to bottle-feed the pups to ensure they got the nutrients needed to continue to grow and stay healthy.

This possible development most affected Mac, who was still much smaller than his siblings. So, Ali arranged for him to come to her home, where she could foster him and provide him with all the care he needed. Meanwhile, a rescue organization found a foster home where Linda and the rest of her pups could stay until they were adopted.

Growing up fast in a foster home

Ali had never before fostered a puppy, let alone one needing bottle-feeding, an experience she likens to caring for a newborn kitten. For the first two weeks that Mac was at Ali’s home, he was bottle-fed every four hours on the dot. “Once we got the hang of it, it was a piece of cake,” she says.

Ali also had to stimulate Mac to go to the bathroom, a task that lasted for a couple of days until he was able to go on his own. Then, she put down pee pads and started the process of potty-training.

By week four, Mac was growing at warp speed. Around that time, he also started learning how to interact with dogs, including Poppy, Ali’s senior small dog, and another puppy Ali had brought home to foster. “Having a playmate was really nice for Mac as he started to learn about bite inhibition and how to play with other puppies,” says Ali.

[Long search leads to puppy love at first sight]

After about five weeks, Mac was no longer the runt he used to be — not by a longshot. With care from Ali (not to mention a couple of four-legged friends who showed him the ropes), he had grown into a healthy, happy puppy.

Ali fostered Mac for about a month before he went to stay in another foster home. That’s where Lauren first saw him. She’d been looking online for a puppy to adopt for Beau, and as soon as she saw his sweet face and read his story, she contacted Best Friends. And then she started planning the best surprise ever (and certainly the cutest).

Surprise puppy adoption

When Beau turned 10, Lauren decided that he was old enough to help care for a puppy. So, she made all the adoption arrangements ahead of time while planning to surprise Beau at Mac’s upcoming vet appointment. On the big day, Lauren told Beau they were going to see a veterinarian, but she didn’t say why. Since they live on a farm and take animals to the vet regularly, Beau didn’t think anything special was about to happen.

When Mac was brought to the waiting room and placed in Beau’s arms, he didn’t quite understand what was happening. Even when someone said, “This is your puppy,” he couldn’t quite believe it. But then reality set in, and Beau hugged Mac like he’d been waiting for him for years.

Today, Lauren reports that Mac is doing wonderfully. He gets along great with Possum, the family’s dachshund, and he’s almost always at Beau’s side. They’re both growing up fast.

Lauren says it’s sometimes hard to believe that Mac used to be so small that you could hold him in the palm of your hand. Now, the puppy who was once the runt of the litter has a life that brings him so much joy that the biggest challenge is simply finding a way to contain it.

Fostering one pet helps many

Fostering a pet like Mac from your local shelter, opens up space to help even more pets in need.

Foster a pet

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