When two foster dog parents took their new Pitbull to the vet, they knew she was pregnant. But it still didn't prepare them for the shocking sonogram image showing what was inside their canine's belly...
For Chris and Mariesa, loving and caring for animals, particularly dogs, was an important chapter of their life. And over the years, they had become dedicated parents to 8 different canines.
This meant that they were housing, feeding, raising, and training 8 different dogs at a time - which is no mean feat! And one day, they were called to Cuyahoga County Kennel to pick up a new foster pup. They were open to taking in another animal, but they had no idea what this next pet had in store for them.
Welcome To The Dog House
But first, let’s take a deeper look at Chris and Mariesa’s background as foster dog parents. For some, having multiple pets living at their house temporarily would be out of the question. But these two dog lovers had already decided to open their homes to foster dogs for the long term.
And it didn't end there. The pair also decided to start their own YouTube channel dedicated to documenting their lives as foster parents to all of their super cute dogs. They named the channel OnlyGood TV and started a series of fostering-related YouTube videos called "Life in the Dog House."
Victim To Stereotypes
At the time of this story, Mariesa and Chris had been keeping an eye out for a new dog to foster, as they had an extra space open up in their home. But more than any other breed, they were hoping to find a Pitbull due to the poor reputation of the breed.
Pitbulls had garnered a negative reputation, largely due to their owners, and thus they were one of the least likely dog breeds to be fostered and adopted. Because the couple had plenty of experience with Pitbulls, they were more than happy to take in any misunderstood pups.
We should mention that Chris and Mariesa’s shared love for dogs was no coincidence, which might be why so much of their life was dedicated to these animals. Unlike couples who meet on dating apps, at parties, or through friends and family, this pair actually met because of their mutual passion for canines!
The couple met and quickly hit it off. As things became more serious, the pair decided to move in together, and they both had plenty of family members to bring with them. Chris had 6 dogs of his own - Gremlin, Sammy, Meatball, The Stig, Moses, and Quinn, and Mariesa had two - her dogs, Money and Tejas.
A Major Shock
Thankfully their eight dogs all got along fantastically, but Chris and Mariesa knew that they could handle one more. So when they got the call from Cuyahoga County Kennel about a single Pitbull that needed a home, they quickly arranged a trip to go and meet their potential fur baby.
But what they found when they arrived shocked them. Within a few moments of meeting the dog, named Storie, the couple learned that she was pregnant. Fostering a pregnant dog was a whole other ball game - but Mariesa was convinced that Storie was the one for her.
At A Crossroads
While Mariesa was deadset on taking Storie home, Chris wasn't quite convinced. The couple had planned to make space for a single dog, but fostering this Pitbull meant they would eventually have multiple new pups on their hands. "I'm trying to think, is this going to work?" he recalled. "Is there any way to make this work?"
Despite Chris’ misgivings, Mariesa wouldn’t budge. In her eyes, the decision was an easy one, despite the difficulties that lay ahead. And naturally, it didn’t take long before she had him convinced - and she gave him some very good reasons to give in and take the Pitbull home.
They Took Her In
For one, Mariesa had made a note of the environment poor Storie was in. She was surrounded by other needy dogs in a shelter that was somewhat understaffed. Every dog needed a certain amount of attention, and the shelter workers and volunteers were unable to give Storie the kind of care she needed.
This was particularly concerning for the couple as it was clear that the little Pitbull would be going into labor shortly. Chris and Mariesa knew that if they didn’t take her home, she’d have a very hard time getting proper care for herself and her babies. So they took the plunge, bundling Storie into their car.
A Bittersweet Decision
But the couple still knew that they didn’t have the space to take in all of Storie’s potential puppies for the long term. So on the drive home, they made an agreement. While they would take care of Storie during her labor, they would have to give her puppies away to homes and families that had the capacity for them.
After all, in their eyes, dogs weren’t that different from human babies - they needed a certain amount of individual love, care, and attention. Mariesa and Chris already had a lot on their plate taking care of 8 (soon to be 9) dogs. And they knew it wouldn’t be right to keep extra puppies they couldn’t care for properly.
Storie's Own Story
Of course, the knowledge that they’d have to give up a litter of adorable puppies didn’t stop them from taking Storie home. And it wasn’t just her sweet puppy dog eyes that convinced them - it was her life story too. At the shelter, Chris and Mariesa were told that the Pitbull had been given up time and time again.
Her previous owners simply didn’t want to take on the responsibility of caring for a pregnant pup and eventually her litter. So she was returned to the shelter several times, which was heartbreaking for the pair to hear. “Let’s save the dog, that’s why we’re here,” Chris eventually said.
A New Dynamic
Now that they were heading home with a new dog, Mariesa and Chris had something else to consider. What were their 8 dogs going to think about their new housemate? Not only would they have to adjust to a new dog, but a pregnant one at that. How would it work?
While the couple was worried about changing the dynamic of the household, they knew there was nothing much they could do but arrive home and see how things went. At the end of the day, their furry family would have to get used to Storie. They were almost home, but they had one more thing to do.
Before they could get her settled in, the pair wanted to take Storie to a veterinarian first. It was standard practice to get a new foster dog checked out before taking them home. And in the case of the pregnant Pitbull, it was especially important to arrange a check-up and make sure everything was fine.
In fact, the poor Pitbulls stomach was bulging so much that they thought she might actually be overdue to give birth. It didn’t help that the shelter workers confided in the pair, admitting that they were also concerned about Storie’s condition. A visit to the vet was at the very top of their agenda.
A Funny Feeling
So on the way home from Cuyahoga County Kennel, Chris and Mariesa made a stop at their local veterinarian, eager to have Storie’s condition cleared so they could take her home. But there was no denying that both of them had an unsettling feeling about what they were going to be told.
This was in part due to her enormous stomach and also the dog's anxious, unusual behavior. Mariesa, in particular, couldn't help but feel that something wasn't right, even if she couldn't put her finger on exactly what it was. Sadly, her gut was more right than she knew…
While they waited for Stories' veterinary appointment, all kinds of thoughts were racing through Chris and Mariesa's minds. Why hadn't she given birth yet? Why was she acting so strangely? They hadn't even had Storie for 24 hours, and they were already feeling anxious and fiercely protective.
They were worried most of all that the nervous Pitbull might lose her precious babies. And all they could do was sit, wait, and hope for the best. Little did they know that once they stepped through the clinic doors, they were going to get some news they could never have expected.
An Ultrasound Tells All
Soon, the doctor was ready for her patient. Mariesa and Chris rushed their new pup into the office, updating the veterinarian on Storie’s background and current situation, as well as their concerns about her health. The doctor set up a sonogram machine in order to get a better idea of what was going on.
So they scanned Stories’ belly to see what was inside, and though the couple had no personal experience operating an ultrasound, they could still make out the shocking image on the machine. It was so shocking, in fact, that even the veterinarian couldn’t believe what she was seeing…
Making Room For 12
According to the sonogram, the vulnerable Pitbull was carrying a whopping 12 babies inside her belly! For a pet the size of Storie, it was normal to have 8 puppies or less. But at her size, 12 puppies were an incredible amount - so much so that the vet had never seen anything like it.
It’s safe to say that Chris and Mariesa were completely blindsided by the news. They knew they had to prepare for extra puppies when Storie eventually gave birth, but they could never have anticipated welcoming 12 extra dogs into the family home.
Panic Kicks In
The news was finally beginning to sink in for Chris and Mariesa while they grappled with the idea of helping Storie birth - and raise - 12 tiny pups. But as they looked at the poor mom-to-be, they had another deeply distressing realization about the situation they were in.
What was going to happen to Storie? It was extremely unusual for a dog her size to be carrying so many puppies, and it was already putting a lot of stress on the Pitbull’s body. It seemed likely that even if the birth was successful, it would be very traumatic for their new foster pup.
Everything's Gonna Be OK
So the couple turned to the flustered vet and began bombarding her with questions, desperate for some explanation of what they could expect in the next few days. Even though they had only known Storie for a few hours, they were deeply invested in her health and wellbeing.
So it was a huge relief when the veterinarian explained that Storie would most likely be fine, and it was highly likely she would deliver 12 puppies safely with her health intact. Using the sonogram images, the doctor showed the anxious couple the 12 puppies - who all looked normal and healthy.
Of course, there were still plenty of things Mariesa and Chris could do to support Storie and ensure she had a safe and comfortable birth. The vet gave them a laundry list of tips and predictions and informed them that the fragile Pitbull was likely to give birth in just two days!
Before they left, they were also instructed to return to the clinic if she hadn’t given birth by then. So the couple packed Storie back into their car and finally returned home, ready to get their new foster dog settled and help her bring 12 new fur babies into the world.
A Welcome For Storie
For Mariesa, one of the most important things they could do for Storie was to ensure that she didn’t experience any extra stress. In her condition, maintaining a calm and safe environment was of utmost importance. Of course, that wasn’t going to be easy when sharing a home with 8 other dogs!
So the pair took the initiative, setting up a special place for Storie where she could have some extra privacy. They had a small nook in their bedroom where the Pitbull would have some space from the rest of the dogs, and she could wait out her pregnancy in comfort.
The Next Morning
After the trip to the kennel and the veterinary clinic, Chris, Mariesa, and Storie were all understandably exhausted. The couple had settled their new foster dog into her comfortable bed, surrounded by soft blankets and pillows. Once Storie was asleep, they went to bed.
Chris and Mariesa slept through the night and awoke early in the morning, prepared to check on their pregnant pup. As they began to stir and sit up in bed, they both looked over to the corner of the room. To their surprise, Storie was already nursing a dozen newborn puppies!
A Blessed Birth
The shaken foster parents quickly jumped into action. Chris and Mariesa checked Storie and her babies to make sure everything had gone smoothly. Not only was the Pitbull mama happy and intact, but her 12 babies were safe and healthy. They were elated.
In just 18 hours, they had picked up Storie from the kennel, taken her for a check-up, and given her a place to deliver her litter safely. It seemed as if the exhausted mama had been waiting for the right environment to give birth - and now she was happily nursing and sleeping with her puppies.
A Sad Farewell
For the first two weeks following her birth, everything had gone smoothly for Storie and her pups. She was a very attentive mother, and her babies were all happy, slowly starting to open their eyes and move and play. But it was becoming increasingly clear that Chris and Mariesa could not continue to care for 12 extra dogs.
They didn’t have the time, energy, or resources to care for 21 dogs, and as much as they loved all twelve of their little Pitbull pups, it was time to find them all a forever home. To their surprise and delight, securing new families for the puppies was going to be much easier than expected.
Finding Forever Homes
Mariesa and Chris began their search for potential homes, and in those early days, they even considered keeping one or two puppies in their home. They knew it would be hard for them... and even harder for Storie, who had been raising them for weeks.
But eventually, they knew they would have to rehome all 12 of the puppies. After all, they needed any extra space in their home to help foster other dogs in need. It was for the best. So they posted a video about their puppies on their YouTube channel and were stunned by the interest they received.
A Helping Hand
And it wasn’t just their YouTube channel that was calling for new homes for the puppies. Mariesa and Chris also reached out to Pibbles and More Animal Rescue (PMAR), a no-kill shelter based in New York that had a special interest in accepting and rehoming Pitbulls due to the stigma around their breed.
"We dream of a day when we are NO longer needed. Shelters are empty," their social media reads. "Shelters are empty, Puppy Mills NO longer exist & Humans & animals live together peacefully without abuse, torture & abandonment." They were more than happy to spread the word about the couple's 12 Pitbull puppies.
Everything Works Out
Thanks to pooling together these social media resources, all 12 puppies were quickly rehomed with loving, reliable new families. Before officially sending them to their new home, Chris and Mariesa wanted Storie to have a few more weeks with her babies so they could be weaned off their mother.
But that wasn’t all - the couple also needed to find a new home for Storie, as they only planned to foster her until they could find a forever home. Thankfully, the search didn’t last long as their good friend Ryan was eager to take her in due to his past experience as a Pitbull owner.
After such an overwhelming experience with Storie, it’s no surprise that the dedicated couple fell even deeper in love with one another. Just a few weeks after the events of this story, Chris popped the big question to Mariesa. Of course, she said yes, and they even tied the knot with two of their dogs in attendance.
“I don’t really care what others think about Gremlin being at the wedding because I couldn’t imagine how I ever lived without her before I met her,” Mariesa said about Gremlin and Stig’s appearance. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without her.” They even dressed the dogs in bells, wedding collars, and rhinestone bowties.
The Next Stage of Life
Despite how intense and pivotal their experience with Storie had been, Chris and Mariesa had no intention of giving up on fostering. And after finding a new home for the formerly pregnant Pitbull and hosting their wedding ceremony, the couple jumped straight back into caring for dogs in need.
Nowadays, the couple is juggling around 18 different dogs at their home! While that may seem like a superhuman effort, the pair are well aware of how many dogs need help across the country. They’re willing to push themselves to help more canines and are still inspiring many people in the process...
These days they have a steady following of people who want to keep up to date with their fostering adventures. They still post videos on their Life in the Dog House series and also regularly update @barks_n_barbells and @mrmoproject, their respective Instagram accounts.
And it’s not just wholesome content about their 15+ foster dogs. Their posts and videos regularly share bits and pieces of their day-to-day life, with both Chris and Mariesa sharing cooking videos, exercise videos, as well as advice on how to manage a house full of foster dogs.
Mr. Mo Project
But what exactly is @mrmoproject? Thanks to their YouTube channel and general social media presence, Mariesa and Chris were able to launch a non-profit charity organization called The Mr. Mo Project. They named it after their dog Moses who had recently passed away.
The Mr. Mo Project was started to help elderly canines find secure homes where they can spend their last days, as senior dogs are some of the hardest dogs to find homes for. The non-profit works on finding these homes, as well as subsidizing their vet bills, transportation, food, and more.
Surrounded By Love
While they hopefully haven’t bitten off more than they can chew, it’s safe to say that these dog lovers are surrounded by sweet and loving fur babies. Though they do run a charity and consistently maintain their social media, most of their time is still spent dedicated to their 18 foster dogs - so much so that they even share a bed!
They’ve since added an extra bed frame to their original bed with two mattresses so they can all sleep together, with painted paw prints to memorialize their dogs that have passed on. Despite all the energy it takes to run a foster home for so many dogs, Chris and Mariesa aren’t about to stop anytime soon…