Her kennel name was Olympia, and she was part of a litter of six.

The previous owner of the mama-dog had promised that he would bring the pregnant pup into the rescue’s care, but then changed his mind and instead dropped her off at the shelter where she was scheduled to be euthanized, puppies and all.

The amazing folks at For Belle’s Sake – Rescue/Rehabilitation happened to see her as they were there pulling other animals that were slated for euthanization. They immediately realized what the previous owner had done, and told the kill-shelter that they would also be pulling the pregnant mama to take with them back to their farm, from where they ran their rescue.

Her mama gave birth at the rescue, and the litter received stellar care, nurturing, and feeding for the first eight weeks, at which time they were posted for adoption on the rescue’s website.

For Belle’s Sake Rescue & Rehabilitation was founded by Christian and Shelby, who are active duty military and volunteer their mornings, evenings, and weekends caring for 60+ dogs, cats, goats, sheep, chickens, cows, horses, mules, and other animals rescued from high kill animal shelters, owner surrenders, or found astray who are waiting for their forever homes.          

 “We started the rescue in 2005 in SC and have been saving lives ever since.  It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and love but for us, it is a family affair!  Our children share the same passion for animals and helping and we are blessed to have them sharing the experience and are excited to be continuing efforts in North Dakota!” Shelby said.

Late last year, our building got a new manager after the former property management company was caught embezzling thousands and thousands of dollars from the building owner. Doralee and her ten-year-old son moved in to become the new resident manager. Over the ensuing months, Doralee, the pups, and I became good friends. She loved my dogs nearly more than I did, and that was something I deeply admired about her. Doralee adopted her pup, Brody, from For Belle’s Sake, and I offered to help care for him, as I was already taking care of my two goobers, so Brody was integrated into my pack, expanding our families tremendously.

I had long considered bringing a third dog into our family (besides Brody as part of our extended family), but decided not to as my plans were to leave North Dakota and relocate to Michigan once I got my current work-in-progress completed, obtained agent representation, and sold it to a publishing house. But then…

For Belle’s Sake owner, Christian, with one of the puppies, for scale.

Doralee saw the litter of pups on the rescue website and admitted that she absolutely LOVED the Saint Bernards she’d raised earlier in her life, and wanted to adopt one of this new brood.

The day of Doralee’s meet-and-greet at the rescue, twenty miles east of town, I volunteered to go with her, as in the back of my mind, I was longing to adopt a pup, as I’ve always had three dogs in my home, and have lived with only two for the past number of years. I knew the moment I saw the two males Doralee was considering that I had to have one. But I didn’t want to bring a new dog into the house knowing I would be changing residences within the year. It wouldn’t be fair to the new dog, and it would be a hardship for Arya, Finn, and Aja (the cat), as they loved their home and all the friends they’ve made here in town.

While we were working out the details of Doralee’s adoption, I made the executive decision to adopt my own puppy, though specified that it would need to be one of the females, as bringing another male into a home with a dominant male already in residence was just asking for trouble. This I’ve learned from personal experience.

So we brought Doralee’s new puppy home on Sunday morning, and Shelby and Christian asked me to come back that same afternoon to look at the females. I knew both of them through my adoption of Finn over a year ago. So they seemed to have already decided to allow me to adopt a pup before they saw the application I’d turned in on that Friday. I came home with Olympia, whose new name was to be Saoirse, an Irish word meaning “freedom.” It’s pronounced “SUR-sha.” Her name (as was Finn’s) is part of my personal campaign to reclaim my Irish heritage now that my parents are deceased.

Saoirse is just over eight weeks old, is Saint Bernard/English Mastiff mix, and is probably three times the size of other puppies that age. I absolutely LOVE giant breed dogs, and though I was worried about bringing such a large dog into an already crowded apartment, I knew I could make it work.

It’s amazing to watch her figure out the world she finds herself in. She’s infinitely curious, has readily tormented all of her new fur-fam, including Aja the Cat, and has decided she wants to be part of the family. I look forward to seeing not only how big she actually will become, but how she’ll fit into our joyous household. I’m pretty sure there will be a ton of photographs coming.

Thank you, Christian and Shelby, for all you do for the animals you rescue.

You can view the entirety of my fur-fam here.

Saoirse, 8-weeks-old, November 2022

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