Naoko and her partner Carsten had only been fostering with HSSV for a short time before they saw Gracie. Our foster team was looking for a foster home for Gracie and her seven one-week-old puppies. Naoko wasn’t sure they were ready to take on a family of eight so soon in their foster journey, but she couldn’t bear the thought of this family spending even one more day in the shelter. She reached out and offered to take Gracie and her pups temporarily. She didn’t know how much the next six weeks would change her life.
When Naoko went to pick up the little family and meet Gracie for the first time, Gracie came right up to her and quietly sat next to her. “It was as though she was telling me that she was ready to go with me,” Naoko said. She couldn’t believe how small the puppies were – all their eyes were still closed and they were curled up in a crate.
Naoko brought Gracie and the pups home, but realized a few days later that Gracie didn’t seem to be feeling well. She wasn’t eating much and her stomach was very upset. She came to our medical center for an exam, but our medical team couldn’t find a reason why she was sick. They gave her different food intended for sensitive stomachs and instructed Naoko to keep a close eye on her.
The next couple weeks were rough for Gracie and her puppies, but also for Naoko and Carsten. The puppies developed an upper respiratory infection that caused them to gag and cough, and they were starting to lose weight. Naoko cared for the puppies day and night – she kept them extra warm, cleaned their space constantly, encouraged them to eat, and even supplemented the milk they were getting from nursing Gracie as much as she could. “It was a scary time,” Naoko remembers. “I really don’t remember how I got through fostering a sick mom and seven puppies while working full time.”
Gracie’s sweet and gentle personality helped Naoko through this difficult time. “Falling asleep with Gracie and the puppies was nurturing me, although I didn’t realize that at the time.”
Finally, after receiving round-the-clock care, Gracie and her pups were feeling much better. The puppies started to grow rapidly and were becoming more active and aware of their environment. They even started to play, a hilariously awkward new behavior for the tiny pups.
Mama Gracie started getting some time to herself too. As the pups began to wean, Naoko and Carsten gave Gracie breaks from her puppies whenever they could. She started spending time hanging out in their backyard and even cuddling on the couch, which she seemed to love.
Meanwhile, the puppies were getting huge. They were all developing little personalities and loved to explore their world. And as much as Gracie loved her breaks from the growing pups, she was such a good mom and liked to play with her puppies and cuddle them too.
Finally, it was time for Gracie and her pups to move on from Naoko’s home and find families of their own. The puppies came back to HSSV and were all adopted quickly into loving homes.
Gracie was adopted by Naoko’s neighbor’s sister and her fiance, who had fallen in love with her weeks before. They had been looking for a laidback dog for a long time and knew they hit the jackpot when they met sweet Gracie. Gracie is now completely pampered by her new family. She goes to work with her new dad and has been welcomed into the family by the resident cat. She gets to see Naoko whenever they bring her to Naoko’s neighbor’s house, which is always a special reunion.
“Gracie healed us in many ways,” says Naoko. “She reminded us that there is so much beauty and love in our lives, even when the world is falling apart.”
We are so grateful to Naoko and Carsten and all of our incredible fosters who help us save and care for animals like Gracie’s family. We truly could not do what we do without such amazing, dedicated fosters who provide immense care and love for animals in need. To help us continue to save and support animals like Gracie and her puppies, make a gift today. And if you haven’t already, sign up for our eNewsletter to get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox!