Adopting a dog means welcoming a new family member to the family. So what about when they bring a few more four-legged friends with them, too?
One common problem
The dating game can be tough. It can be even harder when you have a four-legged family by your side. Mariesa Caligure had been on a handful of dates, but they all had one thing in common: they didn’t get along with Mariesa’s adopted dogs. It turned out that Mariesa had been fostering dogs for many years and ultimately ended up adopting two of the greyhounds that she had cared for in that time.
Although they were a huge part of her life and family, Mariesa struggled to find someone that accepted all three of them. She wasn’t going to give up her life with dogs just because other people didn’t like it. Mariesa knew that she needed to keep looking to find the right person.
Expanding the family
Just when Mariesa thought that the perfect partner would never come along, she met someone else that knew just how she felt, Chris Hughs. It turned out that Chris understood Mariesa’s predicament better than most people because he had adopted six shelter dogs over the years. However, no one would ever take all of them on board, and Chris had always chosen his animals over a relationship.
They were perfect for one another. In fact, their love of dog was what brought Mariesa and Chris together in the first place. They just had to hope that all the dogs got along. Thankfully, they were worried about nothing as the dogs all settled in an instant. Suddenly, the new couple was looking after eight dogs.
Another mouth to feed
Although living with eight dogs would be enough to keep most of us busy, Mariesa and Chris soon decided to welcome another member to the family. The couple knew there were plenty of dogs out there that needed their help, and one more dog wouldn’t take up that much space, right? The pair decided to head to the local Cuyahoga County Kennel the following day to see if they were drawn to any of the dogs.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time that either of them had adopted a dog from a shelter, but the pair had more practice than most. Almost as soon as they became a couple, Mariesa and Chris decided that they wanted to help as many dogs as they could.
Earning their reputation
It’s thought that pit bulls could have been around as early as the 13th century as people in England bred various terriers with one another to create the ultimate muscle machine. People would often capture bulls and bears before placing them in a pit with the new pit bull breed and watching them fight one another.
Eventually, when baiting became illegal in the 19th century, illegal fighting rings where the dogs would fight one another took over the nation – and soon, the rest of the world. Their time as fighting animals means that many think pit bulls are aggressive. Now, the likes of New Zealand and England have banned the breed while parts of Florida and Denver have made owning a pit bull illegal.
Changing people’s views
Although the breed has a bad rep, pit bulls are pretty misunderstood. They are loving family dogs that can often be friendlier than most other breeds. In fact, they were once adopted by families all across America as people loved the breed so much. That all changed when more and more illegal fighting rings came to light.
Thankfully, with the right training and socialization, pit bulls are perfect additions. Hopefully, they will soon be able to shake their reputation. Mariesa and Chris want to try and help speed things along. They use their social media to show off how great the dogs are in their home. It looked as though this was going to be another chance for the couple to showcase pit bulls.
Hitting the internet
Mariesa and Chris were confident that they could care for another dog and were keen to share their story on social media. The couple started their own web series titled ‘Life in the Dog House’ back in 2013 to try and raise awareness about the work they do and the importance of adopting shelter animals rather than buying them from breeders.
It wasn’t long before everyone was asking the same questions as people wanted to know how the pair coped with so many pets under one roof, how they could afford all the food, and what happened if they had any emergency vet bills. Mariesa and Chris made it their mission to answer as many questions as possible. Thankfully, their channel soon took off.
Introducing the pack
In the first episode of their new series, Mariesa and Chris showed off each of their eight dogs and told everyone all about them. The couple care for dogs from all walks of life and those of all ages. There’s never a dull moment in their house. The best bit? These eight dogs are often joined by new four-legged friends.
Mariesa and Chris foster as many dogs as they can before finding them a permanent home. They just want as many dogs as possible to feel loved and learn what it feels like to live in a loving home. Their social media channel helps to pay toward the cost of fostering these dogs as well as raising enough money to donate to the shelters.
The perfect breed
Mariesa and Chris had some tough decisions to make. Would they adopt another dog or foster one instead? They thought long and hard about the right thing to do and eventually agreed to foster a pup and see how it went. Now, all they needed to do was choose the dog they wanted to welcome into their home.
The couple headed to the shelter in September 2013, and there was a good reason they had this one in mind. The shelter often welcomed a host of pit bulls. Mariesa and Chris had nothing but positive experiences with the breed but knew that not everyone felt the same way. Pit bulls have a bad reputation across many parts of the world. The pair wanted to try and change that.
Sticking to their decision
As soon as they walked through the door of the shelter, the couple was greeted by wagging tails and eager faces in all directions. However, there was one dog that stood out to Mariesa than all the others. There was something about her that Mariesa couldn’t shake. She had to know more about the dog and asked the shelter if they could take her out of the cage and get to know her a little better.
While Mariesa was distracted by one dog, the couple both knew there were still plenty of others that all needed their love and attention. They had agreed to take one dog home. However, that decision was getting harder and harder. Mariesa and Chris couldn’t help but look around the room.
Learning her story
Someone from the shelter soon explained all about the dog that had grabbed Mariesa’s attention. She was a pit bull named Storie. Tragically, she had already been through a lot before she made it to the shelter. Storie once belonged to a backyard breeder that used her for puppies. That was until they realized they had run out of money to keep Storie or pay for the new arrivals on the way.
They decided to hand the pit bull over to the shelter where she had been living ever since. Mariesa could see that Storie was pregnant. The shelter staff guessed that she was pregnant with six puppies, but they were surprised that she still hadn’t given birth. After all, the dog looked like she was ready to burst.
Strengthening their relationship
This was another chance for Mariesa and Chris to welcome a new dog to the family, but there was plenty to think about. They wouldn’t just be welcoming Storie to the household; they could also have six puppies running around. 15 dogs would certainly take up a lot of room and cost a lot of money. However, this was just why Mariesa and Chris welcomed so many pups into their lives.
The couple spoke to Honest to Paws, where they confessed that heading to the shelter and adopting dogs gave their relationship more depth. They feel that sharing something they are both so passionate about brings them closer than most other couples. Now, they can’t imagine a life without the dogs by their side.
Thinking long and hard
The couple had a lot of thinking to do. Chris sat on a bench in the outdoor space, trying to figure out if they could welcome a heavily-pregnant dog into their lives. After all, there was so much to think about. As well as looking after all the puppies, they would have a lot more to pay for and could end up forking out thousands on vet bills.
While Chris was trying to figure out if they could welcome Storie to the pack, Mariesa had already made up her mind. She sat on the floor playing with Storie and knew that there was no way they could leave her behind. After all, the pit bull needed a warm place to settle so that she could welcome her puppies.
Plenty of concerns
While Mariesa was ready to take Storie home, the staff at the shelter confessed they had something else they needed to tell the couple. Apparently, the pregnant pit bull was supposed to give birth a week earlier. That was if the breeder had been honest with them when they dropped her off at the shelter. However, Storie still didn’t look any closer to welcoming her puppies.
The staff were worried about the dog. As if that wasn’t enough, Storie seemed to be growing larger every day. The team had no idea what to do. It didn’t help that Storie was upset about being in the shelter and often looked worried. The staff didn’t want to pressure Mariesa and Chris, but they also wanted Storie to have a happy ending.
Making their decision
Mariesa now had to work hard to bring Chris around to the idea of bringing heavily-pregnant Storie back home. However, Chris didn’t need much convincing. He had already seen how much Mariesa had bonded with the pit bull and could see that Storie needed some help. As Mariesa sat on the floor with Storie, the dog rested her head in Mariesa’s lap and looked up into her eyes.
She knew that something wasn’t right. Now, she was being given the puppy dog eye treatment. The pair finally agreed they would take Storie home and give her somewhere safe to say. Hopefully, they wouldn’t have to wait long for the puppies. As soon as they were born, the couple could set about making more permanent arrangements.
Taking things slowly
Little did the pair know that welcoming Storie to the house would mean bringing home more than they ever intended. Now, they needed to hope that the other dogs would accept Storie into the house. Thankfully, they had taken to every other dog that had joined the family. However, this was different. Storie was pregnant and could be more vulnerable than others.
Mariesa and Chris had plenty of experience at how to welcome new dogs into the home. They started by introducing Storie’s scent into the home before bringing her into the house. Everything seemed to be going well, but they set up a separate area just in case Storie needed somewhere of her own. Mariesa and Chris were overjoyed when everything went to plan.
A little research
Even with all of their experience, Mariesa and Chris had never come across a case quite like Storie’s before in their lives. They started to wonder if they should get some professional help. Mariesa thought the best thing to do was search online to see if anyone else had ever had a similar experience. The pair had never heard of a pregnant dog that refused to give birth.
However, a little research soon showed that Storie wasn’t the first dog to go through this strange moment. Mariesa read that if pregnant dogs are stressed or feeling highly anxious, they can hold onto their puppies and refuse to give birth. There was a good chance that Storie was stressed at the shelter.
Getting emergency help
If what they were reading was true, then Storie could be in a lot of danger. She was supposed to give birth an entire week before. This was a long time past her due date. Holding onto the puppies for too long could be dangerous for the mother and her babies. Mariesa and Chris took one look at each other and knew just what they had to do.
The pair gathered Storie and her things and took her straight to the veterinary clinic. They needed to make sure that their new member of the family wasn’t in any danger. All of a sudden, their heavily-pregnant dog in need was causing more of a commotion than either of the couple ever realized.
A moment to reflect
As soon as they got to the vets, Mariesa and Chris ran inside and started looking for help. This was the best place for their new dog, but the sudden trip might not be helping Storie’s stress levels. After all, heading to the vets can be tricky enough for our pets, let alone when they have just come home from the shelter.
The pair knew this was the best chance that Storie and her puppies had to make it out the other side. For the first time since they got the pit bull home, the couple realized how things could have quickly been so different. If they had left Storie in the shelter, then she could have been stuck there for months.
Explaining their story
There was no point thinking about all the horrible things that could have happened to Storie if she had been left in the shelter. She might have been forced to welcome her puppies in the cage, or she may have lost them. Mariesa and Chris just had to keep positive and try and get their new pit bull help as soon as they could.
The pair explained everything they knew about Storie to the vet. They spoke about how she was supposed to have given birth to six puppies already, but she had just been getting bigger and bigger. Mariesa and Chris also told the vets about the article they had seen about how some dogs have held onto their puppies when they are stressed.
Taking a closer look
The vet listened to everything that the couple had to say and immediately agreed that Storie needed medical help to find out what was going on. They decided that an ultrasound and x-ray would be the best scans to see if there was something going on they needed to know. The vet set about getting Storie ready for her scans.
Thankfully, the pit bull appeared to be taking it all in her stride. The vet prepped Storie for the ultrasound and set about looking for answers that could help them make the next decision. She expected to see six healthy puppies on the screen. That was until the vet looked closer at the black and white image on the screen.
Triple checking the results
It turned out there might be a good reason that Storie had been holding onto her puppies. The vet did another scan to make sure that she wasn’t seeing anything before turning to Mariesa and Chris with her diagnosis. There weren’t six puppies on the screen, but twelve. That’s right; Storie was carrying double the number of puppies they had been expecting.
The couple looked at one another, and the color drained from their faces. No matter how many times they counted the shapes on the scan, they were still counting twelve puppies. This was practically unheard of. To top it off, Mariesa and Chris had no idea how they would ever care for them all. They felt as though they had bitten off more than they could chew.
The next steps
It wasn’t long before Mariesa and Chris had all kinds of questions for the vet. How were the puppies doing? What did this mean for Storie? When would she ever give birth? The couple soon became worried parents in a way they never thought they would. However, they weren’t any closer to getting an answer.
Mariesa and Chris were both worried that Storie and her puppies were in danger. The vet explained that it looked as though all twelve puppies were thriving and doing well. The vet also thought the best thing to do was take Storie home and keep a close eye on her. The vet gave Mariesa and Chris a long list of instructions and things to look for and sent the couple on their way.
Going out of her mind
Neither Mariesa nor Chris could believe that they were supposed to take their dog home. After all, it looked as though Storie was ready to burst, but there was no point in arguing. The couple read through the list of things they needed to do and set off home with their pregnant pup. Mariesa hoped that their trip to see the vet would help to put her mind at rest.
The reality? She was now more worried than ever. Mariesa later recalled that she sometimes fights with Chris about the fact that she wants to be rescuing dogs all the time. However, landing herself with a pit bull that was expecting twelve puppies any day soon was enough of a reminder of why they sometimes take their foot off the gas.
The waiting game
The vet had told the couple to call up and take Storie back for another check-up if she still hadn’t given birth in 48 hours. They would then have to think about another plan to make sure that both Storie and the puppies pulled through. All Mariesa and Chris could do was sit back and wait. That was easier said than done.
Although the rest of their dogs had welcomed Storie into their pack, the pair decided to make a separate area for the pit bull. Luckily, they had an outdoor dog house that would be the perfect place to help her feel as safe and settled as possible. Mariesa took it upon herself to fill the shelter with Storie’s bed and plenty of blankets.
Creating her space
Mariesa and Chris hoped they would have a little more time to get to know their new addition before they were joined by twelve more pitter-pattering paws, but time wasn’t on their side. Chris helped Mariesa to set up the space for Storie. They finished it all off with a host of pillows so the pit bull could snuggle down and settle into her new home.
It also meant that Storie could get some peace and quiet after spending so long in the shelter as she wouldn’t have the other eight dogs around her. Mariesa and Chris kept checking on the expecting mother while still giving her as much space as possible. Thankfully, it seemed as though their plan was working.
The sudden arrival
The pair decided there was nothing more they could do other than head to bed and see what a new day had in store. However, Mariesa and Chris struggled to sleep as they wanted to keep an eye on Storie. It wasn’t until the sun went down and things settled that the moment they had been waiting for finally arrived.
Storie started to welcome her puppies just 18 hours after she had been brought home from the shelter. This was the ultimate thank you to her new family. After all, Storie suddenly felt so comfortable and safe that she could welcome her puppies. The best bit? All twelve puppies seemed to be healthy and thriving. The couple weighed the pups and got back to caring for mom.
Going from strength to strength
Chris later took to the couple’s social media channel to share the news that Storie had welcomed her puppies. He was just glad that the pit bull was in a safe environment when she had her puppies. Chris was worried about how stressful it could have been for the mom and puppies if she had still been in the shelter.
Thankfully, Storie never had to find out what that would be like. Mariesa added that the puppies had “cauliflower ears” when they were born before they pinged out the floppy ears that many of us recognize. It took the puppies around two weeks before they started to open their eyes. All of a sudden, they were becoming wiggling and growing dogs.
Finding loving homes
It wasn’t long before Storie settled into her new role as mom. The puppies and mom would often run around the backyard together as they continued to grow and explore the world. Sadly caring for 21 dogs all living under the same roof was proving to be quite the challenge. It wouldn’t be long before they would be fully grown and needing more space and food.
Initially, the couple thought about keeping one or two of the puppies as they fell for one each, but they later decided to save space in their home to foster more dogs. As if that wasn’t enough, all the puppies had loving new homes waiting for them by the time they were 10 weeks old.
Spreading their wings
It wasn’t long before people from across the world heard their story, but someone a little closer to home soon wanted to help. Chris’ best friend, Ryan, had grown close to Storie and wanted to help. He decided to adopt the pit bull as his own. The first thing Ryan did was take his new friend to the vets to make sure she never had to have twelve puppies again before returning home to give Storie all the love that she deserved.
Mariesa continued to work with her rescue dogs, including the late Mr. Mo. He appeared in a spin-off cooking channel with his owner and even inspired the couple’s charity. Mariesa and Chris now aim to help as many senior shelter dogs as they can.
The perfect big day
While Storie was busy enjoying her new chapter in life, it looked as though she wasn’t alone. Chris had a grand plan to surprise Mariesa. In 2017, the couple announced they were engaged before tying the knot a few months later. Thankfully, Mariesa and Chris had grand plans for their big day as they wanted all eight of their dogs to be by their side on the big day.
To top it off, the pair decided to have two of their rescues as a larger part of the day. Gremlin joined Mariesa in a flower headband and pearl collar, while Stig was by Chris’ side in a bow tie collar that was complete with blue rhinestones. Some guests even surprised the newlyweds with a Gremlin cake to honor their dog.
The finishing touches
Even though the couple was settling into their new life as newlyweds, they still wanted their dogs to be the most important priority in their lives. However, there was an issue. Mariesa and Chris would often wake up in the night to find that the bed was covered by their dogs. Chris decided that enough was enough.
He spoke to his friend, who worked as a carpenter, and merged two beds together. Now, everyone had enough room to sleep in peace throughout the night. As well as having all of that room, the bedframe is also complete with storage for all of the pet toys. The entire frame is finished with a custom paw-print from the couple’s dog that passed away shortly before the bed was completed.