EDMONTON - She was a young, homeless single mom trying to raise a
family of five, but true to the spirit of the season there was room for
Esperanza had been badly injured when she was hit by a
car, but the young shepherd-cross with the thick white coat was still
managing to care for her newborn puppies - and a kitten - when she was
found on a central Alberta reserve.
Criss Gerwing, who runs a
small animal rescue group, discovered the dog earlier this month and
couldn't believe it when the canine led her to her blended brood.
cried because she was in such bad condition with her leg, but she was
obviously nursing her puppies and this kitten,” Gerwing told a media
Gerwing took the entire family to the Edmonton Humane
Society, where veterinarians thought they'd have to amputate the mother
dog's bad leg.
But local vet, Dr. Milton Ness, volunteered to do a special surgery that saved Esperanza's hind quarter.
He calls her a “special soul.” Shawna Randolph at the humane society couldn't agree more.
“She is such a sweet, sweet dog. She has such a wonderful personality,” Randoph said.
amazing when you think about it. You have this dog who is just so
giving of herself, caring for these newborn puppies and the kitten,
making sure they were cared for even though she was obviously in a lot
Jacob the cat was already four months old and
shouldn't have been nursing at all, so humane society vets weaned him
and he's now being cared for by a staff member.
But he's brought to the shelter every day to visit his adoptive
mom and her babies. His canine step-siblings are too young to pay much
attention to him - their eyes are barely open - but Esperanza is always
excited to see Jacob and gives him lots of baths.
acting more like a dog than a cat,” Randolph said. “Kittens are very
rambunctious and playful, but he just wants to hang out. As soon as he
gets to the dog family he's ... cuddling. And even with his (human)
foster mom, he follows her around like a dog does.”
background is a mystery. No one has come forward to claim her, yet
she's well socialized. She's only about one, but has had a definite
taste of freedom - she loves to be outside and run around. It's not
clear how long she may have been on her own or when Jacob came onto the
scene and turned on his feline charm.
The devoted mother is
recovering well. She and her pups will go into foster care after the
holidays until permanent homes can be found for them. But the humane
society ideally would like Esperanza and Jacob to be adopted together.
Randolph said their story is especially heart-warming at this time of year.
“It's all about family, isn't it, at Christmas time, and here you have the ultimate family.”
And Esperanza's name bodes well for her and her furry family's future - it means “hope” in Spanish.