Dolly’s babies were born on Wednesday, August 1, 2007 and the struggle to save them began.

My daughter Krystal took a leave of absence from work and I began working part time trying to do everything possible to see that the Dollykins would make it but over a period of several weeks, we would lose all of them but four; two boys and two girls.

I knew we had an uphill battle ahead of us and to make matters worse, we’d never raised a litter of orphan pups. Krystal and I tried every type nipple and bottle made but yet they weren’t interested in nursing. We even found a surrogate hound dog named Rose that had just weaned a litter, but even then they weren’t anxious to eat. To make a bad situation worse, two days after bringing in Rose, we learned that all of her pups had died but one. It seemed all odds were against us and after many failed attempts at getting them to eat, we decided to tube feed. We tried different formulas but nothing seemed to agree with them. Through trial and error, “goat’s milk” was the life saver.  

We were horrified at having to tube feed but after weighing the odds, we knew that was the only way they were going to survive. Our biggest fear was getting milk into their lungs but angels guided our hands and even though there were a few problems, tube feeding proved to be the answer to our prayers.

We were met with one obstacle after another and couldn’t get a break. Stabilizing their body temperature was one of our biggest challenges as it was almost impossible to get it up and keep it up. Their temperature would drop but then we would get them too hot and once they got too hot, they became dehydrated and then we had to start giving sub-q fluids two and three times a day to build back up the fluids they lost from sweating.

They would make some progress but then something else would go wrong. It was frustrating and heartbreaking to say the least. They were a lot smaller than other puppies their age and they didn’t grow at a fast rate but they did grow, just very slowly. Once they were big enough to start eating “mush” we thought we were out of the woods but come to find out, we were faced with a new set of problems. They were unable to tolerate rice, chicken, or lamb so again through trial and error, to our relief, we found fish. It agreed with them and they were able to tolerate it.

We were at the vet’s office more times than I can remember or on the phone with people trying to get some advice on what to do and there were times when we were sure they weren’t meant to be. Tensions were high and frustrations ran deep but we never gave up and even though we lost all but four; the four we managed to save will always have a special place in our hearts.

After months of a horrendous roller coaster ride, the Dollykins are happy and healthy. The four are known as Dozer Full of Promise, Worthy, Freedom Grace and Karma. All four will live out their days at McLendon Land with Krystal visiting them often.

I can’t describe the joy I feel when I look at them as we came so close to losing them. These four are tough as is evident being they had to fight every inch of the way just to survive. I get teary eyed a lot when I look at them; the tears are mostly tears of gratitude but some are out of sadness, sadness for losing Dolly and for those we couldn’t save.

The four are hardly ever apart and they spend their days and nights together. Dozer and Karma always sleep next to each other with Worthy and Freedom Grace doing the same. They don’t know a stranger and love all the other Clumbers and non-Clumbers alike. Each one has a wonderful spirit and overall kindness about them.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t look at them and think of Dolly and when I do, I haven’t any doubt that she is very proud of them.

Update (08/2008) The Dollykins turned a year old on August 1st, 2008. In this past year I’ve cried tears of joy and tears of sadness, but I feel blessed to be able to share my life with the four remaining Dollykins known as Dozer, Worthy, Freedom Grace and Karma.

These wonderful orphans have blessed my home in so many ways. Dozer, Worthy, Freedom Grace, and Karma have taught me more this past year than I’ve learned in a life time. They taught me never to give up hope and that even though things don’t always go the way I think or hope they should, there is a reason for that.

These four think I hung the moon and I think they can do no wrong and I must admit my heart swells with pride just at the sight of them. I cannot describe the bond between the five of us and it grows stronger each day.

Dolly and her babies actually put Clumbers in Need on the map so to speak. So many wonderful people offered help and were there when we needed their support. They brought people from all over the world together. We all had one common goal and it was keeping these babies alive. Friendships were developed over these four  baby Clumbers that probably never would have been formed. People learned to trust each other and to put their differences aside to pull together and “save” them.

The Dollykins had a tragic beginning, but so much good has come from it. I still mourn losing their mom Dolly, and their siblings little Dolly, Destiny, Mercy, Merit, Kismet, and Patience and wonder “what if”. When I do have those feelings of sadness, all I have to do is take a look at the ones that Dolly left behind for me to care for and love, seeing them so healthy and happy, makes me realize that they are the result of what happens when people believe in each other.

Dozer, Worthy, Freedom Grace, and Karma make every day brighter and Dolly lives daily in them and I’m sure she is very proud of them just like I am for they stand for everything that is good.

They each have wonderful personalities and are perfect examples of what a Clumber temperament should be. They’ve never met a stranger and they love anything breathing. I never grow tired of watching them play or just watching them “be” for they are a very important part of my life. I hope to watch them grow old and have many, many happy years of doing nothing but enjoying the life that they nearly missed out on.

Words cannot express how I feel about these four – the hard work it took to “save” them was nothing compared to what they give back each and every day. I love them with every ounce of my being.

19 Trantham Creek Road - Fairview, NC 28730

Kim Smith McLendon ~ Founder of Clumbers in Need

Phone: (828) 230-2499