It was a warm spring day when construction workers in St. Louis, Missouri, noticed a white paw sticking out from an unused pipe. As they rounded the corner, they were immediately met with two crystal-blue eyes and an apprehensive growl. Echos of tiny whimpers reverberated deep within the surrounding pipes, but the dog wouldn’t let the workers get close enough to look.
The workers assumed they’d encountered a protective mom and her pups, so they reached out to Stray Rescue of St. Louis (SRSL) for help. As soon as Donna Lochmann, SRSL’s chief life saving officer, got there, she came to the same conclusion.
“She was kind of sticking her head out of the pipe and growling at us,” Lochmann told The Dodo. “She was just protecting her puppies like a good mama should.”
To earn the dog’s trust, Lochmann started throwing chunks of Vienna sausages in her direction. She carefully inched her way closer to the pipe with each accepted treat, and, soon, she was close enough to slip her leash around the pup’s neck.
After a bit of resistance, Lochmann was able to pull the dog safely out of the pipe. It didn’t take long for Lochmann to realize that their assumptions about the pup’s identity had been wrong all along.
“As I finally pulled her out of the pipe, I saw that she wasn’t a ‘her’ at all,” Lochmann said. “The dog was a male, not a female.”
Lochmann was shocked to find out that the dog, whom she named Peter Piper, was a protective dad instead of a mom.
“I’ve had times when the dad is there with the mom, but I don’t remember another rescue where it was just a dad with puppies and no mom,” Lochmann said. “It’s definitely rare when that happens.”
With Peter Piper safely in her Jeep, Lochmann set her sights on rescuing his babies. She quickly figured out which pipes the puppies were in, then, with her rescue partner’s help, started to push them out one by one with a long pole.
“These guys were a little trickier because they decided to sit right in the middle of the pipes, so it made it sort of hard,” Lochmann said. “But one at a time, we were able to get them out.”
Finally, the pipes were free of puppies, and the tiny family was ready to be reunited again. Peter and his babies, who were estimated to be around 4 months old, drifted off to sleep as Lochmann drove them to the shelter.
“Peter wasn’t still trying to protect the puppies from us after the rescue,” Lochmann said. “You could tell that they were all relieved.”
Another wave of relief rippled through SLSR when the vet gave Peter Piper and his pups, Penelope Piper, Paisley Piper and Patrick Piper, all clean bills of health. The doting dad did a wonderful job protecting his babies, and, finally, he was free to be a dog again.
“Peter Piper ended up being just an absolute sweetheart,” Lochmann said. “Everyone here fell in love with him.”
Luckily, the dogs all went to foster homes soon after their arrival. Penelope has since found her forever family, but Peter, Paisley and Patrick are all still waiting for their happily-ever-afters.
The rescue team at SRSL can’t wait to see the rest of the little pack settle into their forever homes soon. Until then, they’ll keep spreading the word about this incredible dad and his adorable survivor puppies.