A couple who saved an unwanted dog from ‘death row’ in Serbia had quite the surprise when the Labrador-retriever cross gave birth to 12 puppies.
Audrey Hampshire and partner Maynard Dockerty agreed to rescue eight-month-old Boo after reading on Facebook of how she was waiting to be put down at a Serbian kennel.
Boo was transported across Europe and given a new home with the couple in Weymouth, Dorset.
When Boo started piling on the pounds, Audrey and Maynard worried they were overfeeding the dog, but when they took her to the vet they were told she was in fact pregnant with a litter of six puppies.
Weeks later, Boo started to give birth – but after those six anticipated puppies, more kept coming.
The final count of puppies in the litter was 12, with all of them surviving.
No one was prepared for such a large litter. Audrey and Maynard share a three-bedroom cottage with Audrey’s daughters and their boyfriends, so space was already limited.
Boo only has ten teats, too, so her owners have had to take it in shifts to make sure the two extra puppies get enough milk.
As a plumbing and heating engineer, Maynard, 51, has been off work and Audrey, 52, had to stop her job as a school receptionist so they have been able to provide round-the-clock care for the puppies.
18-year-old daughter Georgia and her boyfriend Bryn, 22, and daughter Billie, 25, and her boyfriend Scott, 38, have all been able to lend a hand.
The puppies are now seven weeks old and will soon be going to new homes.
After posting pictures of their new arrivals on social media, the family were inundated with requests from people wanting to take the puppies in.
With 70 offers they were able to be choose and make sure the puppies went to trusted people.
The family are keeping one pup, Lola, the runt of the litter, with the rest going to close friends and family, who have helped cover the cost of food, veterinary care and microchips.
Audrey said: ‘We had three dogs, one was a labrador. She was only three but she had a degenerative disease and got really poorly. When she died it left a big hole in our hearts so we decided to rescue another dog.
‘I found the charity on Facebook, they rescue dogs from kill pounds in Serbia. They treat dogs like vermin there, it’s barbaric so we wanted to rescue one.
‘We met the charity at Cobham motorway services in Surrey and collected Boo.
‘She had never been in a house before, on a settee, on a lead. She hated cars, noise, roads, but loved us instantly as we did her.
‘But then she started getting fatter which we didn’t mind as we were spoiling her. But after about six weeks we thought “she’s really getting big now” and her shape had changed.
‘We thought she may have a phantom pregnancy but our vet did an ultrasound scan and said she was pregnant and thought there were six pups.
‘I was in complete shock, none of us had any experience of dealing with pregnant dogs or puppies. She went into labour at 2am on May 3.
‘It was really scary as it was just us, no vet. Myself, Maynard, my daughters were all hands-on midwives.
‘The first one came out and it wasn’t moving. Boo is only a baby herself and she cried out but she started moving and Boo cleaned it up and the puppies just kept coming.
‘There were no stillborns, which was amazing, we were so relieved.
‘Lockdown puppies have been the most amazing and worrying experience in equal measures for us all, but one we will never forget.’
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