OKEECHOBEE – If you’re in the market for some puppy love, check out the Trail of Hope rescue in Okeechobee Since the first of the year, Trail of Hope, 1201 U.S. Highway 98 N., has taken in five mother dogs who have given birth to 44 puppies.
The pups and their mothers are thriving under the care of Trail of Hope volunteers like Kathie Papasso, a retired nurse they call “the puppy nanny.” Kathie started volunteering at Trail of Hope in 2020, when the pandemic shut down their business, Big Lake Hobbies. “I’ve been here every day since,” she added.
In the past year, she has taken care of 38 litters, ranging from two to 10 puppies. Mother dogs currently at the shelter include Kimmie, Angel, Mocha, Aroma and Georgia.
• Kimmie, a Black Mouth Cur, had eight puppies – four males and four females. Some of the puppies have blue eyes. From their coloring, rescue staff guess the father might have been a Catahoula Leopard Dog. Six of the puppies have adoptions pending. Two pups, and their mother, are still looking for their “fur-ever” homes.
• Angel, a Plott Hound, had nine puppies – five males and four females. Eight puppies have been adopted. One female puppy, now 12 weeks old, is still available for adoption. Angel is also available for adoption.
• Mocha, a Lab mix, came to the shelter 11 days before she delivered her litter of nine puppies – three males and six females. Five puppies have adoptions pending; four are available. Mocha also needs a home.
• Aroma, a Shepherd/Husky mix, was a stray caught in Clewiston. When the rescuers first saw her, she was running with a male Chocolate Lab and two older puppies. They caught the younger dogs first; those went to a different rescue. Eventually they were able to catch Aroma and bring her to Trail of Hope, where they discovered she was four weeks pregnant. Three and half weeks later, she delivered 10 puppies – three males and seven females. Aroma and one of her puppies have adoptions pending. Nine puppies still need homes. Aroma’s puppies look like black Labs. Kathie said they have different white markings on their bellies and that is how she tells them apart.
• Georgia, a Catahoula Leopard Dog and her eight puppies were living in a culvert in Hendry County when rescuers found them. They caught the mother first and then brought her to the mouth of the culvert and the puppies came running out, Kathie explained. She said Georiga’s scars indicat she has had a rough life and the pups were covered in fleas. It took hours to bathe them and remove all the fleas. Kathie said the little ones were so infested with fleas that she cried while bathing them. All of the dogs are thriving now. One female puppy has an adoption pending. Two female puppies and five males still need homes, as does their mother.
Trail of Hope is a no-kill shelter, and runs on donations, with no city or county funding. The adoption fee of $250 includes spay/neutering, all shots, flea treatment, worm medicine and microchipping. Those who wish to adopt must first fill out an application and be approved. The application requires information such as whether you own or rent your home, how many people in the family, other family pets, the name of your veterinarian, how many hours the dog will be left alone during the day and where the dog will sleep at night.
If you want to adopt a puppy or one of the mother dogs that can't leave the shelter yet, once your application is approved you can put down a deposit to hold the dog for you until your new furry family member is ready to go home.