Dog Who Lost Her Pups in Fire Becomes Surrogate to Orphaned Litter

The border collie puppies, who lost their mother shortly after birth, now have a cozy canine to cuddle

Photo: Deanna Murphy-Vest

Losing a dog is so hard.

Losing a beloved dog who just gave birth to eight puppies is even harder.

That’s what happened to Lorna Murphy of Scottsburg, Oregon, on Feb 15, when her family’s beloved border collie Chloe died suddenly following the birth of her puppies. First came grief — then a lot of teamwork.

“We started feeding every 2 hours around the clock. It was exhausting,” Murphy, a retired school teacher, tells PEOPLE. “Everybody pitched in to help.”

Family members lent many hands to the orphaned brood, described as the offspring of “a wonderful, wonderful,” dog.

“It was a terrible first few days of mourning the loss of Chloe and trying to feed eight puppies with a 3 milliliter syringe,” says Murphy’s daughter, Deanna Murphy-Vest. “The puppies needed [feeding] every two hours around the clock. With eight puppies it seemed like by the time you were done feeding them all, it was time to start over.”

When the pups were 10 days old, Murphy-Vest heard about a dog named Daisy who lost her own puppies in a barn fire in nearby Roseburg.

Deanna Murphy-Vest

“She’s just been so sad and so heartbroken,” a woman named Christine Nelson told KMTR News, which reported the story about Daisy’s loss. “She just goes down to the barn and just sits there and tries to look for them still. She quit eating.”

A phone number listed in one article helped Murphy-Vest connect with the dog’s owner, Jessica Woodruff, and on Feb. 24, Murphy brought Chloe’s puppies over for a meet and greet, which couldn’t have gone better.

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“Daisy let them nurse right away,” Murphy recalls. “The puppies were so happy to have mama milk, they nursed and nursed and promptly fell asleep on her.”

Murphy, who lives more than one hour away from Woodruff, has left the puppies with Daisy until they are old enough to wean, which should be around March 14. On Tuesday, she received a video of the runt of the litter nursing, and also learned that Daisy has started to clean each of them.

In a bittersweet ending, Murphy, who misses Chloe “terribly,” plans to keep one of the puppies — which she says are the “only link to my Chloe” — and find the rest of them good homes.

“Daisy has been an answer to my prayers,” Murphy-Vest tells PEOPLE in an email. “I prayed that these puppies would thrive and so far it looks like they are doing fantastic.”

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