Elaine Nelson-Hozak, never imagined that a house full of playful puppies, and their emaciated mother would be the focus of her family’s Christmas Eve, yet as they were all cuddled up on the couch with her grandchildren Friday, the Nanaimo woman said the once unwanted little family was a perfect Christmas gift.
“It’s definitely a Merry Christmas,” said Elaine Nelson-Hosak, a foster mother for the Nanaimo BC SPCA.
The mother canine, named Celeste, was found abandoned, cold and starving three weeks ago somehow still caring for her five puppies outside, until the Nanaimo SPCA took her in.
“It was heartbreaking. It just gives me chills, it was so sad,” said Nanaimo BC SPCA Manager Bonnie Pequin.
That’s when Nelson-Hozak volunteered her rural home to foster the brave dog who nearly died herself to save her puppies.
“We’re a little bit in love that’s for sure. She’s so lovely. She’s just super kind-hearted and you can see it when you look in her eyes. I think she’s grateful. She’s happy,” said Nelson-Hosak.
“It’s fun, but it’s also sad because of what Celeste was like,” said Nelson-Hosak’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Autumn McDonald.
So the close-knit family is spending the holidays nursing the family of dogs back to health — re-feeding the emaciated Celeste six times a day in a labour of love.
“Celeste is one happy dog, what could you ask for Christmas really,” said Pequin.
Yet as the family cared for Celeste, she was healing them right back as the Nelson-Hosak family was still grieving the loss of their beloved 12-year-old dog Bella in November.
“It’s rewarding. It’s what we should do in life,” said Nelson-Hosak.
“They give you a reason,” she said.
The five puppies will all be up for adoption through the BC SPCA in the New Year, but Nelson-Hozak was reluctant to say whether Celeste will be. The bond has grown fast between her and the family so they are now considering making it permanent.