graci
Sherwood's Bulli Bulli
"Graci"
My telephone rang. "Yes, I will come and get her". As a longtime animal lover and animal control officer, I spent much of my life rescuing and assisting animals in need. The call to rescue this orphaned puppy would be no different...of course I would save her.

When I arrived at the animal shelter I was informed she was just three weeks old. I was presented with a tiny, brown and white hippopotamus-shaped puppy...and she was adorable! When I picked her up and felt her warm body I noticed that she fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. Only her little tail protruded over the edge. Her eyes had a pretty blue tint and when I touched her wet pink nose it drew her focus to me...and then it happened. There was an instantaneous bond.

Orphaned puppies require human intervention and someone to play the "mom role". There is something very special in raising an orphaned puppy or kitten before they are able to eat or drink on their own. A very unique bond develops that will likely last for many years, sometimes forever. It is an extremely rewarding experience, caring for such a fragile and helpless little creature. It can be very difficult and challenging, and occasionally, animals succumb to common illnesses typical of orphaned pets. There are a lot of unknowns about the miracle of animals successfully rearing young, even under the best of conditions. Many dedicated individuals provide health care and nurturing which affords them greater odds for a well-adjusted life. Shelters nationwide, regardless of their "no kill" claim will not take on the time consuming challenge of raising an orphaned puppy.

I named her Graci. I could hear myself saying "for the grace of God, please let this little puppy live". Graci... it seemed appropriate. She was dropped off at a local animal shelter after her other mother met an untimely death, and even more sadly, Graci was a singleton puppy. Now she was an orphan.

Now, at eight weeks of age, Graci was diagnosed with dehydration and pneumonia. Graci spent ten days at the veterinary clinic. Finally she was healthy enough to come home. Home. Graci now had a home. I picked her up, with a handful of medications and strict home care instructions if I wanted this puppy to survive. Graci was isolated from my dogs in a room with a humidifier running 24/7. It was humid, all right. The paint peeled off the bedroom ceiling! Her tiny body appeared lifeless each time I raised her tiny head to administer medication. This happened four times every day. I remained dedicated and vigilant, sometimes wiping tears away as I prayed.

Gradually Graci recovered becoming healthy and vigorous. Puppyhood was not lacking in surrogate mothers...all Golden Retrievers. They provided wonderful nurturing unique to the animal world. My wise, elderly Jack Russell Terrier, Faith, instructed her in manners and boundaries. Faith didn't allow shenanigans. Raising Graci was a full-time job and a huge responsibility. Occasionally, it was emotional. Today, Graci is a well-adjusted adult dog, loving dogs and people. We share an uncanny bond requiring no spoken words.

I found the overall experience heartwarming, rewarding and educational...and, given the opportunity, I would raise another orphan puppy. As Charles M. Schultz said, "Happiness is a warm puppy!"
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