• Tragedy befell two mama dogs one night at an animal rescue center in Minnesota.
  • While Poppy passed away after giving birth to 10 puppies, Pepper lost her entire litter of newborn puppies.
  • Pepper and the orphaned litter saw a newfound family in each other as the mama dog nursed and cared for her new litter.

A mama dog who was devastated by the loss of her own puppies dedicated herself to a newly orphaned litter.


According to a report from NBC affiliate KARE 11, rescue dog Poppy passed away unexpectedly on July 8 after birthing 10 puppies at the Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, Minnesota.

Rescue volunteers had to take extra shifts to care for the newly orphaned puppies while figuring out a plan.

Lexi Johnson, a foster parent and volunteer at the center, said, “Another volunteer was over until 11:30 that night helping bottle feed. And throughout the evening, my husband and I were up every 3 hours getting food in their bellies … and it was taking over 1.5 hours each time.”

Meanwhile, rescue dog Pepper tragically lost her entire litter of newborn puppies. The loss of her litter “devastated” her and caused her to grow “depressed,” FOX 9 reported.

So, the rescue volunteers decided to pair up the grieving dog and the orphaned litter to form a new family.

Lexi shared, “When she got to our house, we brought her in the puppy room, and she immediately sat next to the litter. I started placing puppies around her, and she laid down, and the puppies instinctively hobbled towards her and started nursing.” 

Within five minutes after meeting each other, all the puppies were nursing from their new mom.

Lexi described Pepper as “nothing short of a miracle.”

Photo Credit: FOX 9 News

Since Pepper and the puppies are still in the nursing stage, they are not currently ready for adoption. Anyone who’s interested can check their availability by Aug. 25 by heading to the Ruff Start Rescue website.

Lexi wrote last month, “The babies were all thriving with their humans, but the best place for them is with a mama who can not only give them some good milk but teach them dog things, behaviors we as humans can’t.”

Lexi shared how she was overwhelmed with emotion thinking about how “mama Poppy would be so appreciative of Pepper taking over the mama role.”