Within a few days after giving birth to nine mixed- breed puppies, Marley was struck and killed by a car.
That’s when owner Beverly Birdsong, of Appling, decided to become the pups’ “mother.”
“I took the puppies to Dr. John Ruehle, a Thomson veterinarian, who weighed each of them and gave me a milk recipe,” said Birdsong, a registered nurse who works at Doctors Hospital. “I went online and found goat’s milk to be perfect, with eggs and Karo Syrup. I used a regular baby bottle and fed them one at a time.”
All this happened during the Christmas holidays when her five sons were out of school.
“That was a good thing, because feeding the pups was an around-the-clock chore,” she said. “All of them – Bo, 18; Josh, 16; Jordan, 13, and twins Thomas and Tyler, who turn 9 in February – chipped in to help feed them.”
The Birdsong family named the chunkiest one Bear, followed by Sixtoes, who has an extra toe on one foot, Pugface, Cara, Lucy and Annie. Two black pups are called “The Black Boys.”
While at the veterinarian’s office, a woman told Birdsong, “Those puppies need their mother.”
Birdsong said she replied emphatically, “I am their mother.”
One of the pups died, but the others now drink from a bowl and eat soft dog food.
The mother dog was named Marley after the dog in the book Marley and Me, by John Grogan, she said.
So what does the future hold for the puppies, a mix of Labrador retriever and something else?
“We’ll keep one, maybe two, and try to find good homes for the rest,” Birdsong said.