'Mining puppies': 10 dogs rescued from hole near dump north of Winnipeg

A litter of puppies are enjoying the finer things in life after they were rescued from a hole in the ground next to a dump north of Winnipeg on Saturday night.

Puppies named Coal, Amethyst, Topaz etc. because rescuers felt like they were mining for dogs

Ten puppies were rescued from a dump north of Winnipeg on Saturday night. (Submitted by Meg Norton)

A litter of puppies are enjoying the finer things in life after they were rescued from a hole in the ground next to a dump north of Winnipeg on Friday night.

Members of Manitoba Underdogs Rescue were out of the city, returning spayed and neutered dogs to their homes, when the volunteers were told there were puppies spotted at a dump about two hours north.

When they arrived, the foster coordinator for the rescue, Meg Norton, said the team saw puppies run into the bush next to the dump. When they followed, they were led straight to the den where the dogs had been born.

At first, Norton thought there were just four puppies in the burrow, but as the team worked to pull them out, they saw a total of 10.

"We quickly realized that there was a few more puppies in there besides the four, and we just couldn't reach them. They were well out of arm's reach. We could see them kind of huddled in the back of the den," Norton said.

Eventually, members of the team began to dig around the hole — which contained obstacles, like tree roots — to make the puppies easier to access, while others held their phone flashlights up to help with visibility.

"We kept digging, making a hole big enough that we could pull them out and then for the next couple hours, worked at the front of the den, in the back of the den, kind of pushing and pulling them back and forth so somebody could reach them. And it kept going, there just kept being more and more puppies," Norton said.

"It kind of felt a little bit like ... where the clowns keep coming out of the car and it just kept going, oh my gosh, there's one more and there's one more." 

All ten puppies seem healthy and doing well and will soon be put up for adoption, Manitoba Underdogs says. (Submitted by Meg Norton)

Norton said it felt a bit like the puppies were being rescued from a mine, so they're named to reflect their origin, including Topaz, Coal, Amethyst, Garnet and Amber.

"We named them after gemstones, things that you would mine for, because that's really what we felt like we were doing. We were mining puppies out of this little this little hole underground," she said.

'Gentle giant' stood by

All the while, the team had some company.

A "gentle giant" — a stray dog the volunteers found at the dump and named Baron — stood by to keep watch.

"You could hear other dogs and coyotes howling off in the distance and he would get up and he would let out like a low growl, keeping things away from us. And then he would come back and he would lay with us. And that's when somebody would be taking a break from digging, and [Baron] would go and sit with them," she said.

"It was honestly something that I feel like movies are written about."

Baron the 'gentle giant' was found stray at the dump and taken in by Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. He watched over the volunteers as they pulled the puppies out of the hole and protected them from other feral dogs and coyotes that were nearby. (Submitted by Meg Norton)

Along with the puppies, Baron was also taken in by the rescue, and the dogs are all being checked out by a vet.

'Swimming' in vet bills

The puppies' mother is still at the dump, Norton says, but the team will head back out and attempt to take her and the other dogs living there into safety, and get them all fixed to prevent more puppies from being born.

"Just so we can stop the cycle from happening," she said.

As soon as all of the dogs are cleared by a vet, they will be put up for adoption.

Meanwhile, Norton says Manitoba Underdogs Rescue is over capacity because of the pandemic.

Normally, the team will visit different communities and offer spay and neuter clinics, but that's not possible because of travel restrictions and lockdowns.

That means more puppies are being born and more dogs are being surrendered.

"We are swimming in medical bills and just the normal bills to run a rescue with over 100 dogs in care, so we're calling on anybody who is able ... to donate and help the rescue," she said.


Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Email story ideas to


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