It was a one-night match made in heaven for a maternal dog and a pair of young rescue puppies at Barker's Pet Motel and Grooming in St. Albert on Friday.
The dog in question, an Australian shepherd cross named Maggie, had been boarding at Barker's for a little over a week when the two nine-week-old puppies were brought in by the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS).
After getting the puppies settled into their kennel on Friday, Aldred and her family headed out for the evening.
While out at dinner, Aldred used her phone to check on things at Barker's, pulling up the live feed from the kennel's surveillance cameras.
She saw a curious thing.
Maggie, who had been carefully cooped up when the family left, was sitting in the hallway outside of the pen where the new puppies were being kept. She'd pace a little back and forth to neighbouring pens, but always returned to her post as close to the puppies as she could get.
A subsequent review of the evening's full surveillance footage showed Maggie nudging aside the water dish built in to her kennel's door, and worming her way out through the opening.
"We watched her on the cameras and she went straight around and she found their room. She paid them a lot of attention and you could see her little tail wagging. And she'd do the little bow down to them and poke them through the chainlink gate of their room. She just decided that was where she was going to stay until we came to get her," Aldred said.
"It was really sweet. She just had to be with those puppies."
'The puppies needed her and she needed them'
As soon as Aldred returned to the kennel after dinner, she was greeted at the door by an excited Maggie.
"She came to me and she was really happy, and then she took me back to their room, as if to say, 'I really need to meet these puppies.' "
Aldred let Maggie into the puppies' cage and watched as the group got acquainted — but she quickly saw there was nothing to worry about.
"They were just all so happy to be together. She was nuzzling them really gently and nudging them, and then she laid down and let them cuddle with her.
"The puppies needed her and she needed them. It was pretty perfect."
'I really need to meet these puppies.' - Maggie the dog (as interpreted by Sandi Aldred)
Aldred let the three stay together that night, and found them still in a cuddle puddle the next morning.
Like many great love affairs, however, this one was not meant to last. Maggie's owners returned that day to pick her up.
The pair weren't surprised to hear about their pet's maternal instincts, however. They told Aldred they'd only gotten Maggie a few weeks earlier from the Edmonton Humane Society, where both she and her own litter of puppies were up for adoption. After her puppies were weaned, Maggie had taken an interest in a second litter of puppies at the shelter.
Given Maggie's obvious parenting skills, Aldred jokingly asked if they'd be willing to give up their new pet for a few more days.
"They said, 'Well, we've only had her for a little while so …' They kind of wanted her back, obviously," Aldred said with a laugh.
She did take Maggie's owners back to the puppies' kennel to show them the sweet scene of their new pet taking on mothering duties for the rescue puppies.
"They think they have a pretty special dog on their hands."
As for the puppies, Aldred said they've been getting plenty of extra love from the kennel's two-legged minders.
"A lot of our staff have fallen in love with them, so they'll take them home in the evenings and let them have a home environment for the night."
She expects both will find homes in the next week or so.